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Nation at a Glance

Notices to Centre, Jaya on Hindu plea

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government on a writ petition filed by the former editor of The Hindu challenging the constitutional validity of Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code that provides punishment for “defamation”, reports our legal correspondent.

The notices were issued by a division bench of Justices Y.K. Sabharwal and S.B. Sinha on a petition filed by the former editor, . Ravi, who also sought a stay on the 20 defamation cases against the newspaper by the Jayalalithaa government.

The petition challenging the defamation law contended that “if the tax-payers’ money was utilised by a democratically-elected government for instituting defamation cases for articles written in a newspaper, it would have a chilling effect curtailing the right to free speech guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution”.

Senior counsel for The Hindu, Harish Salve, contended that in India the law provided that it would not be defamation if an article written in a newspaper against a public figure was true, not malicious and in public interest. He said the defamation law has undergone a lot of development and in countries like the US, the right of free speech has been recognised as a basic right of newspapers and criticism of public offices was not construed in the strict sense of defamation.

This is the second petition by The Hindu against a series of actions of the Tamil Nadu government. The newspaper had been hauled up by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly which had passed a resolution ordering the arrest of five of its journalists. The Hindu challenged it in the Supreme Court which stayed the arrest and referred the matter to a five-judge Constitution bench.

Indo-Pak film triggers unrest

Mumbai (PTI): Security was tightened in city cinema halls showing Dil Pardesi Ho Gaya after activists of the Republican Party of India stormed into a theatre in suburban Bandra to protest against certain dialogues in the film.

RPI activists on Saturday raided the Gaiety theatre and raised slogans demanding that the film, depicting relations between India and Pakistan, be banned as certain dialogues had “hurt Indian sentiments”.

Sawan Kumar, the director of the film, said he had been informed about the incident and had been assured by police commissioner P.S. Pasricha that security would be tightened.

Kumar, who is also chief of the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association, said he had earlier held a special screening for RPI workers when they had raised objections. “I don’t know why they are using such terror tactics now when it has already been cleared by the Censor Board.”

Youth held for raping baby

Mumbai (PTI): Police today arrested a youth for allegedly raping a five-month-old girl at Mahim in central Mumbai on Sunday night.

The baby’s mother had asked the youth, who is a neighbour, to look after the child as she was busy with her household chores.

When she went to fetch her daughter, she found that the baby was bleeding. She rushed her to hospital, where doctors confirmed the rape. The baby is stated to be in serious condition.

Extortion arrests

Ahmedabad (PTI): Three persons were arrested from Mehsana district on Monday for their alleged role in an extortion-related case and links with gangster Dawood Ibrahim. Sources claimed that the anti-terrorist squad police busted an operation of the Sharif Khan Pathan gang in Unjha town with the arrest of Gopal Patel alias Captain, Babu Solanki and Chandresh Patel.

Girl murdered

Jaipur (PTI): A minor girl, who went missing from Udyog Vihar Colony, was found murdered near her residence here on Monday. Police said the eight-year-old had also been raped.

HC heat on navy

New Delhi (PTI): Delhi High Court has issued showcause notices to the Centre, the chief of naval staff and bureau of sailors’ commodore after the navy punished four sailors for approaching the court for redressal of grievances.

Onion fraud

Nasik (PTI): Seventeen persons, arrested for alleged misappropriation of funds in an onion purchase scheme in Malegaon, were remanded in judicial custody till December 20. The CID arrested the 17 accused, including former chairman of Malegaon’s Agricultural Products Marketing Centre and senior ncp activist Ratan Lathar, for allegedly embezzling Rs 89 lakh.

Elephant calf dies

Baripada (PTI): The carcass of a seven-month-old elephant calf was found in Similipal National Park near Lulung on Sunday. Sources said the body had no external injury marks.

Tick

A high-level parliamentary delegation from Indonesia on Monday witnessed the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament. The group was welcomed by Speaker Manohar Joshi in the Lok Sabha and chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in the Rajya Sabha.


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