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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear a plea by Ajit Mohan, the India head of social media giant Facebook, challenging a notice sent to him by the Delhi assembly.

The petition is listed before a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari.

On Sunday, the Delhi assembly panel on peace and harmony served a fresh notice to Mohan to appear before it on September 23, after no representative from the social-media company appeared before the committee earlier to clarify allegations of “deliberate inaction on the part of (the) social media platform to apply hate speech rules”.

Earlier in the month, the panel had issued the first notice to Facebook India head and sought his presence before it. The plea questioning the notice said, “Whether the privileges of Respondent No. 1, the Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi, include the power to compel the appearance of non-members before Respondent No. 1 to express their views or subject them to examination?”

The plea has urged the apex court to set aside the summons issued on September 10 and 18, and also restrain the Delhi Legislative assembly from taking coercive action against the petitioner in furtherance to these summonses.

The plea said on September 2, 2020, at the request of the Parliamentary Committee, Mohan appeared before the Parliamentary Committee and offered his views.

Specifically, the Committee is seeking to make a “determination of the veracity of allegations levelled against Facebook” in the Delhi riots, which intrudes into subjects exclusively allocated to the Union of India”, said the plea.

The “Peace and Harmony” committee was set up by the Delhi assembly after riots over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which left 50 people dead and hundreds injured. The plea said the committee improperly seeks to exercise its powers and privileges in a manner that exceeds the constitutional limits of the Legislative Assembly.

Mohan cited that Delhi Police, which filed a 17,000-page chargesheet in connection with the riots recently, reported to the Centre and not to the Delhi government.

The committee summoned the social media giant after reports by US publications alleging non-application of hate speech rules in the case of inflammatory posts by BJP leaders and right-wing activists.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

India’s reaction to aggression left China rattled: RSS chief

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NAGPUR: India needed to increase its power to be able to respond to China, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said on Sunday. “In our military and economic preparations, in forging relations internationally and with our neighbours, we will need to be bigger than China,” he said. China was surprised by the vigorous Indian response to its aggression in east Ladakh this year, but Beijing’s reaction to the new situation it faces couldn’t be easily anticipated, he added during his annual Vijayadashami speech here.

India’s resolve in standing up to China had led to more countries realising the need to confront the expansionist power that had been taking on several nations. “Unwavering caution, vigilance and preparedness are the only ways to respond,” he said.

“This time China was surprised as India stood up resolutely… just how it will respond is not known,” Bhagwat said. “If we do this (increase our power and forge close ties with neighbour), we can stop China. Our neighbours like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal are not just our neighbours. We have had ties with them for thousands of years and more or less they are countries with the same nature and temperament as us. We should quickly associate with them… there will be disputes when borders are shared. We should move faster to remove this issues,” he said.

In fairly explicit references to the border situation with China, the RSS chief said India’s hand of friendship to all should not be mistaken for weakness. “The erroneous impression of those who felt that (India) can be bent this way and that should have been cleared up by now. The bravery of our Army and the self-esteem reflected in the policies of our leadership and the unity of our people should be recognised by China. There is an air of self-confidence in the nation,” he said.

“A haughty China locked horns with a number of countries at a single point of time. Of course, it has been an expansionist regime and has been encroaching upon other’s territories, be it Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and even America. However, India’s reaction to its aggression has left it rattled. Rather, China was taken aback by India’s response,” he added.

Bhagwat said there was a need to be vigilant against internal challenges as well. Political competition was a fact of democracy but there should be some wisdom in this and elections were not a war between enemies, he said, warning against bitterness within society. “This is not politics, there are forces that want to see a society at conflict with itself, these are in the world and in the country,” he added.

He said the anti-CAA agitation was used to create conflict by propagating the view that it was intended to reduce Muslim population. “These people speak of Bharat ke tukde but use certain situations to present themselves as secular and constitutionalists. They actually have no regard for the Constitution at all. They teach society the wrong things (ulti patti) and they speak the grammar of anarchy as Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar said. They have worked against the Sangh, only that they are not effective today,” he added.

In a departure from tradition, the event was held at a hall inside the RSS’s Smruti Mandir premises and not on the grounds adjacent to it. A limited number of around 50 swayamsewaks, sporting saffron masks, attended.

“The diversity among people of country is being used to fuel separatism. We need to be careful of such elements who are carrying out their activities in the name of saving the Constitution but they only intend to divide the country for their gains,” he said.

On protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, Bhagwat said a misconception was spread that it was an attempt to reduce population of Muslims in the country. “It was only meant to facilitate immigration of minorities facing religious persecution in some of the neighbouring countries. Such people had nowhere else to seek refuge but in India. The existing law on getting Indian citizenship remains and the amendment only gives certain facilitations to such people,” he said.

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INDIA

Snowfall in Gulmarg, other areas of Kashmir

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SRINAGAR: Gulmarg and other places in the higher reaches of Kashmir received fresh snowfall on Sunday, causing the mercury to drop across the valley, officials said.

Gulmarg, the famous ski resort in north Kashmir‘s Baramulla district, received light snowfall in the evening. It continued for most part of the evening before making way for rain, they said.

Snowfall was also recorded in Sonamarg tourist resort in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district and Zojila Pass along the Srinagar-Leh highway, according to the officials.

There were reports of snowfall in several other areas in the higher reaches of Jammu and Kashmir including areas along the Mughal Road – the alternate roadway connecting the valley with Jammu, the officials said.

The road has been closed for traffic, they said.

The snowfall in the higher reaches of Kashmir led to a drop in temperature across the Valley.

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INDIA

All citizens in the country to get free Covid-19 vaccine: Union minister

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BHUBANESWAR: Union minister Pratap Sarangi on Sunday said that all people of the country will be given free Covid vaccine, amid the demand by opposition parties in the country for it and not only in poll-bound Bihar as announced by the BJP.

The BJP announcement of free Covid vaccine for Bihar, where assembly polls begin this week, had kicked up a controversy with the opposition parties tearing into the NDA government alleging that the ruling party was using the pandemic for political reasons.

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the announcement was in order as it was an election manifesto announcement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that all people will be provided free of cost vaccines. An estimated Rs 500 odd will be spent on vaccination of each person, Sarangi told reporters after addressing a campaign meeting for the November 3 assembly by-poll in Balasore.

Modi had in a televised adddress to the nation on October 20 said that Indian scientists are in the process of developing several vaccines that are at different stages of clinical trials and the results seem encouraging.

Sarangi, the union minister of state for animal husbandry, dairy, fisheries and micro, small and medium enterprises spoke in reply to question raised by Odisha Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister, R P Swain.

Swain had earlier in the day sought clarification from Dharmendra Pradhan and Sarangi, the two union ministers from Odisha questioning them for their silence on their party BJP’s stand on free Covid-19 vaccination for the people of the state along the lines of the one being promised in Bihar.

The governments of Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Puduchchery have already announced free of cost Covid vaccines for the people of their states, while Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has demanded free vaccine for all citizens across the country.

Swain had tweeted “I am asking questions to two Odisha union ministers from Balasore soil to clarify as to why the people of the state will not get free of cost Covid vaccine. The union ministers should clarify BJPs stand on the corona vaccination in Odisha.

On the state governments steps for vaccination, Swain said it has signed an agreement with a vaccine manufacturer and is committed to extend the facility to all people of the state.

He, however, did not say whether the state government will provide the vaccine to the people free of cost.

BJP deputy leader in Odisha Assembly Bishnu Charan Sethi said the Centre has been supporting Odisha fully during the pandemic and has granted Rs 22,000 crore for the purpose.

“But large scale lapses have been detected in the utilisation of the fund,” he alleged.

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