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Supreme Court quashes sedition case against Vinod Dua

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has quashed the sedition case registered against journalist Vinod Dua in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, news agency PTI reported. The case was filed against Dua by a local BJP leader in Himachal Pradesh over his YouTube show.

A bench of Justices U U Lalit and Vineet Saran had on October 6 last year reserved the verdict on the petition after hearing arguments for Dua, the Himachal Pradesh government and the complainant in the case.

On the issue of protection of freedom of speech and expression of media personnel, it said, “Every journalist is entitled to protection under the Kedar Nath Singh judgment (the famous verdict of 1962 on the scope and ambit of offence of sedition in the IPC).”

While upholding validity of section 124A (sedition) of the IPC, the top court in 1962 had ruled the sedition charges could not be invoked against a citizen for criticism of government actions as it would be in conformity with the freedom of speech and expression.

On July 20 last year, the top court had extended till further orders the protection granted to Dua from any coercive action in the case.

Dua was charged under sections 124A (sedition), 268 (public nuisance), 501 (printing matter known to be defamatory) and 505 (statements conducive to public mischief) on the basis of a complaint by BJP’s Mahasu unit president Ajay Shyam. The BJP leader claimed that Dua made bizarre allegations on his 15-minute YouTube show on March 30.

The complainant had alleged that the journalist accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using “deaths and terror attacks” to get votes.

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India Latest News R-Day Special

R-Day celebrated in Himachal amid chill

Shimla: The 72nd Republic Day was celebrated across Himachal Pradesh with gaiety despite a sunny but chilly morning.

Governor Bandaru Dattatreya unfurled the national flag at the historic Ridge in the state capital where Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, his cabinet colleagues and government functionaries were among those present during the occasion.

In the snow-marooned Keylong, headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti, and Rekong Peo in Kinnaur district, people took part in the flag unfurling ceremonies and also witnessed the march past by the security personnel as well as cultural programmes staged by several children.

Cabinet Ministers Ram Lal Markanda and Sukh Ram Chaudhary presided over the functions in Keylong and Rekong Peo, respectively.

In Shimla, the Governor took the salute at an impressive parade by contingents of the Police, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Home Guards, Army, NCC and ex-servicemen.

A cultural programme and tableaux highlighting development activities of various departments were part of the celebrations.

A skit based on the development and welfare schemes of the state performed by artistes of the Information and Public Relations and a skit by the cyber cell of the Police Department were the special attraction to the audience.

A drill performance by Naga Regiment was lauded by one and all.

Tableau of Himachal Pradesh Electricity Board was given the first prize.

The Governor also honoured Janak Raj, Medical Superintendent of Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital in Shimla for his best performance in Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.

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Modi takes dig at Congress for stalling key infrastructure projects for decades

New DelhiWhile inaugurating the engineering marvel of Atal Tunnel Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a dig at the Congress Party for lack of political will and stalling important development projects for decades. 

He said despite the longstanding demand to improve the infrastructure and overall development of the border areas, plans were made only to languish for decades without any progress.

The Prime Minister said Atal ji laid the foundation of the approach road for this tunnel in 2002. He said after Atal ji’s government, the work was so neglected that only 1300 metres i.e less than 1.5 Kms of tunnel could be built till 2013-14 i.e only about 300 metres each year.

Experts then explained that if it continued at that pace then the tunnel would be completed only in 2040.

The Prime Minister said that the Government then fast tracked the project and the construction went on at a speed of 1400 metres each year. He said the project could be completed in 6 years where the estimate was 26 years.

He said infrastructure should be developed at a fast pace when the country needs to progress economically and socially. Shri Modi said this needs unflinching political will and commitment for the progress of the nation.

He said the delay in the completion of such important and major infrastructure projects causes financial losses and deprives people of economic and social benefits,

He said in 2005, the estimated cost for the construction of the tunnel was about Rs. 900 crores. But due to continuous delays, today it has been completed after spending more than 3 times i.e. 3200 crore rupees.

The Prime Minister said many important projects were meted out the same treatment as the Atal Tunnel.

The strategically very important air strip in Ladakh as Daulat Beg Oldi remained uncompleted for 40–45 years though the Air Force wanted an air strip.

He said work on the Bogibeel Bridge also started during Atal ji’s government but work on it languished later. The Bridge provides key connectivity between Arunachal and the North East region. He said the work gained unprecedented momentum after 2014 and was inaugurated about two years ago on the occasion of Atal ji’s birthday. 

He said Atal ji also laid the foundation stone of Kosi Mahasetu to connect two major regions of Mithilanchal in Bihar. After 2014, the Government expedited the work of Kosi Mahasetu and the bridge was inaugurated a few weeks ago.

The Prime Minister said the situation now changed and in the last six years the border infrastructure – be it roads, bridges or tunnels- is being developed with full impetus and great speed.

The Prime Minister said taking care of the needs of the security forces of the country is one of the highest priorities of the government. But this was also compromised earlier and the interests of the country’s defence forces were compromised. 

He listed many initiatives of the Government to take care of the needs of the defence forces like implementation of One rank One pension scheme, procurement of a modern fighter plane, procurement of ammunition, modern rifles, bulletproof jackets, harsh winter equipment which were laid on hold by the previous Government. He said governments earlier did not have the political will to do so and said this situation is changing in the country today.

The Prime Minister said major reforms such as relaxation of FDI in Defence manufacture have been made so as to produce modern weapons and ammunition in the country itself.

The Prime Minister said reforms were initiated in the form of creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff and establishing a better coordination in both procurement and production as per the requirements of the Defence forces.

He added that to match the rising global stature of India, the country has to improve its infrastructure, its economic and strategic potential at the same speed.

The Prime Minister said the Atal Tunnel is a shining example of the country’s resolve to become AatmaNirbhar (Self Reliant).

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