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"Gandhi is dead, Who is now Mahatmaji?"
Solar scam reveals decadent polity and sociery
A Dalit poet writing in English, based in Kerala
Foreword to Media Tides on Kerala Coast
Teacher seeks V.S. Achuthanandan's intervention to end harassment by partymen


31 October, 2018

Court clips parrot’s wings

BRP Bhaskar
Gulf Today

The Supreme Court of India, acting with great finesse, last week clipped the wings of the Central Bureau of Investigation’s interim head whom the Narendra Modi government had installed in office in a midnight operation after sending the agency’s topmost officers on forced leave.

The CBI, established in 1963, had established an early reputation for professionalism by solving some sensational crimes the state police could not unravel.

Its stock fell later as political meddling dented its professionalism. Five years ago, a Supreme Court judge, exasperated by its submissiveness towards political masters, dubbed it “a caged parrot”.

To enable the CBI to function fearlessly the court stipulated that its Director must have an assured tenure of two years.

Under the law the Director is appointed on the recommendation of a selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or a judge nominated by him. The Chief Vigilance Commissioner supervises the agency’s work

On becoming the Prime Minister in 2014, Narendra Modi brought Rakesh Asthana, an officer of the Gujarat cadre who was a favourite of his when he was the state’s chief minister, into the CBI and manoeuvred to pitchfork him into a key position.

In 2016, before Anil Sinha’s retirement as Director, his deputy was moved out as Special Secretary in the Home Ministry and Asthana appointed interim head although he lacked the seniority to be considered for the Director’s post.

The three-man committee picked Alok Kumat Verma for the job . Modi then promoted Asthana, who was Additional Director, as Special Director, and started dealing with him, bypassing Verma when he deemed it necessary.

There were now two centres of power in the agency and inevitably there was feud at the top. The first indication of a rot came last month when the CBI stated that Asthana had made a malicious complaint against Verma to the Chief Vigilance Commissioner.

It came to light last week that the Cabinet Secretary also wrote to the CVC. It is not clear whether both made the same allegations againt Verma. 

Matters came to a head when the CBI filed a first information report in a court alleging Asthana had taken a bribe of Rs 30 million for favouring a meat exporter whose activities were under investigation.

It said an extortion racket was operating in the agency under cover of investigation.

Early this month, Prashant Bhushan, a prominent activist-lawyer, and Arun Shourie, a former leader of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, submitted to Verma a memorandum seeking a proble into the alleged scam relating to the Rafale jet fighter deal. Modi, during an official visit to Paris, had re-negotiated the deal to drop the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and bring in a newly formed Anil Ambani firm as the French arms makers’ Indian partner.

Later there were reports that Verma had called for papers relating to the deal from the Defence Ministry.

When the CBI arrested an officer working under Asthana for allegedly forging documents to implicate Verma, and Asthana’s arrest appeared imminent, Modi called both of them to his office. He could not bring about a rapprochement between the two. Then came the midnight operation.

The Cabinet’s appointments committee sent both Verma and Asthana on leave and appointed M. Nageswar Rao as Interim Director, on the CVC’s recommendations. The whole process, including takeover by Rao, was completed at the dead of night, evidently to prevent Verma securing a court order to maintain status quo.

The CVC’s report states that its recommendations are based on the complaint received from the Cabinet Secretary in July. It offers no explanation for the long delay in initiating preliminary action on the complaint. It makes no mention of Asthana’s complaint against Verma.

Both Verma and Asthana approached the Supreme Court with pleas to quash the actions against them. It, however, took up immediately only Verma’s petition, which alleged political interference in some extremely sensitive matters which were before the CBI and accused Asthna of stymieing certain investigations.

Faced with a fait accompli and needing time to hear all the parties and comie to conclusions, he court ordered interim measures designed primarily to limit the scope for mischief under the interim set=up.

It asked Nageswar Rao not to take any policy decisions. It also told him to provide it in a sealed cover all decisions taken by him after taking over as Interim Director.

The court directed the CVC, who is looking into the complaint against Verma, to complete the inquiry within two weeks under the supervision of retired Supreme Court judge AK Patnaik.

The final outcome of the Supreme Court proceedings in this case will have a bearing on the issue of political control over investigative agencies.-- Gulf Today, October 30, 2018

24 October, 2018

Congress can’t afford to ignore smaller parties

BRP Bhaskar
The Tribune
THE Congress leadership may be inclined to view the decision of the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party to not have any alliance with it in the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh as a minor matter as they are small players in these states and the grand old party alone is in contention with the Bharatiya Janata Party for power.
Currently, all the three states are under BJP rule. Rajasthan has lately voted the BJP and the Congress to power in alternate elections, but the BJP has had three successive wins in both MP and Chhattisgarh. Early pre-poll surveys have indicated that the Congress can come back to power in Rajasthan and take at least one of the two other states in the November-December Assembly elections. The survey results must not delude the Congress into believing that it can afford to ignore small parties.
The Assembly elections in the three states must not be viewed in too narrow a framework. They are crucial in the context of their common desire to keep Hindutva at bay.
The key to stopping the Hindutva juggernaut in next year's Lok Sabha elections lies in denying the BJP the opportunity to consolidate its position in the Hindi region. Ten states of the region accounted for 180 of the 282 seats which gave the BJP a majority in the Lok Sabha in 2014. Rajasthan, MP, and Chhattisgarh gave it 62 of their 65 seats.
The BJP had gained power in all three states in 2013 with a minority of votes — 45.17 per cent in Rajasthan, 44.88 per cent in Madhya Pradesh and 41.18 per cent in Chhattisgarh. The Congress polled 33.01 per cent in Rajasthan, 36.38 per cent in MP and 40.29 per cent in Chhattisgarh.

In the Lok Sabha elections the following year, the BJP made a big surge, thanks to the noisy campaign its prime-ministerial candidate Narendra Modi mounted and the quiet work the cadres deployed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh did at the grassroots level. It took all of Rajasthan's 25 seats with 55.61 per cent votes, 27 of MP's 29 seats with 54.78 per cent votes and 10 of Chhattisgarh's 11 seats with 49.66 per cent votes.
The lesson to draw from these figures is that these states have a substantial number of people who are liable to be swayed by a focused campaign which creates a winning air.
In the last Assembly elections there was a wide gap between the vote shares of the Congress and the BSP and an even wider one between those of the Congress and the SP.  Small as these parties are, they are known to draw support from specific social groups and an alliance with them may help the Congress to create a winning air in these states.
Seat-sharing in elections is a ticklish issue. It can become extremely difficult when larger parties overestimate their strength and smaller ones are overambitious.  Rarely do parties approach the issue with a sense of realism.
A rule-of-thumb formula which can smoothen the process is for the parties to accept the vote share in the previous elections as a measure of their strength in a state and divide all the seats in that state among them in that proportion. It may be a good idea for the two largest parties to first divide all the seats between them and then part with some from their shares to accommodate other, smaller parties which they wish to bring into the alliance.  
In Rajasthan, this formula will require the Congress and the BSP, which had secured 33.01 per cent votes and 3.21 per cent votes respectively, to share the state's 200 seats in the ratio of 33:3. This will give the Congress 183 seats and the BSP 17.
In MP, the Congress had a vote share of 36.38 per cent and the BSP 6.29 per cent. When the state's 230 seats are shared in the ratio of 36:6, the Congress will get 197 and the BSP 33.
In Chhattisgarh, the Congress polled 40.29 per cent votes and the BSP's 4.27 per cent.  Division of the state's 90 seats in the 40:4 ratio will give the Congress 82 and the BSP eight.
As the largest opposition parties of Uttar Pradesh, it will be for the SP and the BSP to take the lead in seat-sharing in that state for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Quite often different considerations weigh with the voters in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. It will, therefore, be appropriate to use the'2014 Lok Sabha vote share as the basis for division of LS seats.
The BSP and the SP are parties which grew up in opposition to the Congress. The history of past hostility and the fear of possible future hostility are bound to cast a shadow over their efforts to reach an electoral understanding with the Congress to forge a united front against the Hindutva forces. They must realise that while the Congress is down, it is still the largest party in the secular camp and at this stage it is in their interest to work hand in hand with it.
The Congress leaders, on their part, must realise that the social forces which sustain the BSP and the SP moved away from their party because it had failed to fulfill their legitimate aspirations. Now its best chances of attracting these sections lie in working with these parties.
Such a realisation on both sides will clear the way for working out suitable adjustments ahead of next year's elections.
It is still not too late for the non-BJP parties to review their election strategy in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. As a first step, the Congress and the BSP should explore the possibility of seat-sharing on the basis of their strength, as reflected in the Assembly vote shares. Thereafter, they should try to bring the SP also in even though it does not have a single seat in the outgoing Assemblies and its vote share in the last elections was in the low range of 1.20 per cent to 0.29 per cent. That may encourage the SP and the BSP to be generous to the Congress while sharing the Lok Sabha seats next year. -- The Tribune, October, 23, 2018.

23 October, 2018

Political battle on the hill

BRP Bhaskar

The small Sabarimala hill shrine in Kerala, which attracts about 20 million devotees annually, received worldwide media attention last week as a few young women joined the pilgrimage and goons, donning the role of protectors of tradition, blocked them.

The women were exercising their right to visit the temple, upheld by the Supreme Court in a recent judgment. Orthodox elements, led by erstwhile caste supremacists, oppose the judgment, claiming a long-standing tradition bars women of menstruating age from the shrine as the deity is an eternal celibate.

Four of the five judges on the Supreme Court bench declared the ban violated the Constitutional guarantee of equality of sexes. Ironically, the lone woman judge dissented, viewing the issue as one of religious practice in which the court should not interfere.

Discrimination against women at places of worship is not entirely a new issue. Shrines of different faiths which barred women have ended the practice recently following public pressure and court orders.

The trustees of the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai threw open its sanctum sanctorum to women two years ago. The Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district lifted the ban on women last year.

The Sabarimala deity is referred to variously as Ayyappa and Dharma Shastha, both of which are names used to denote the Buddha. It is believed to be a part of the large Buddhist centre in the Western Ghats to which Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang (Huan Tsang, in earlier renderings) refers in his seventh century travel accounts.

A 1931 official document of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore mentions that all Shastha temples, including the one at Sabarimala, were originally Buddhist shrines. 

The current tussle between pro-form and anti-reform groups over Sabarimala is not so much a battle over religious practice as one for supremacy by political parties with an eye to next year’s Lok Sabha polls. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which now heads the Central government, has not won a single Lok Sabha seat from Kerala so far. Even an Assmbly seat had eluded it until 2016. 

The BJP was unable to make headway in the state as its Hindutva ideology is widely seen as one that runs counter to the secular ethos of the renaissance movement which swept Kerala in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Muslim and Christian minorities account for about 45 per cent of the state’s population. The comparatively low proportion of Hindus in the population has also limited the BJP’s growth.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological parent, has said it is not against women’s entry into temples. It modified its position last week to allow the BJP’s state unit to spearhead the agitation against the Supreme Court verdict.

In the last four decades, two alliances, the United Democratic Front led by the Congress and the Left Democratic Front led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), have alternated in power in the state.

During the 12 years the Sabarimala issue was before the Supreme Court UDF and LDF governments filed contradictory affidavits, the former opposing women’s entry and the latter favouring it. Both the UDF and the LDF have found it necessary to mollify the faithful to safeguard their electoral interests.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who welcomed the Supreme Court judgment, has allowed his party’s Kerala unit to sing a different tune. While Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has affirmed the LDF government’s commitment to implement the court verdict, CPI(M) State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has made nuanced comments to pacify those protesting against it.

The President of the Devaswam Board, who is a CPI(M) leader, has been flip-flopping in a bid to please both sides. Since last year the BJP was trying, with little success, to whip up a national campaign against the LDF government with focus on the recurrent clashes between the RSS and the CPI(M) in the Kannur district, which has claimed many lives. It views the Sabarimala issue as one which can bring all Hindus together and propel it forward.

The temple is located three to five hours of trek away from the nearest road. Goons mobilised by Hindutva elements are camping along the route to prevent women, including media persons covering Sabarimala developments, from reaching the temple. 

The Central government has asked the state to provide women pilgrims a safe passage. However, eager to avoid a major law-and-order incident, the state police has been playing it safe. It provides security to women devotees on the trek but dissuades them from entering the shrine.

Various steps taken by both the Congress and the CPI(M) in the last few decades to appease caste and religious vote banks have eroded the renaissance spirit considerably. It is, however, not clear to what extent this will benefit the BJP. --Gulf Today, Sharjah, October 23, 2018.

18 October, 2018

The Sabarimala Story in Pictures

Motorcycle-borne goons roaming the roads to enforce Brahminism's order superseding Supreme Court judgment allowing women of all ages to offer prayers at Sabarimala

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoor

Hindutva's masked foot soldiers

New York Times reporter Suhasini Raj trekking to Sabarimala shrine

New York Times reporter Suhasini Raj returning, escorted by police,  after failing to reach the temple

Libi from Cherthala who was forced back by goons said police advised her to return

Madhavi of Andhra Pradesh, who came with her family, returning without being able to proceed to Sabarimala. DGP Loknath Behra declares if Madhavi wants he is ready to arrange police protection to go to Sabarimala!

16 October, 2018

Misogyny in media exposed

BRP Bhaskar

A #MeToo wave sweeping across India is knocking down the reputation of some well-known figures of news and entertainment media.

The best known public figure among those exposed by survivors so far is Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar. Ten women journalists, including two foreigners, have made accusations against him, all dating back to his days as newspaper editor.

Akbar was abroad on an official tour when the allegations surfaced. On his return he denied the allegations and threatened legal action against his accusers.

Several Bollywood celebrities also attracted charges. Tanushree Dutta, an actor and model, accused Nana Patekar, a veteran of Hindi and Marathi films and winner of many awards, of sexually harassing her on the sets of a film 10 years ago. She said the film’s director, producer and choreographer were complicit in her harassment.

Patekar denied the charge and sent her a legal notice demanding an apology. She responded by filing a police complaint against him and the director, producer and choreographer. The matter is now under investigation.

While Dutta’s allegation against Patekar relates to conduct on the sets of a film, the charges against some others include attempts to lure young co-workers to locations away from the workplace.

Actor Salomi Chopra, who had once worked as assistant to film maker Sajid Khan, accused him of personal abuse. Following this, several stars working with him on a new film dropped out. Among them was Patekar.

Sajid Khan stepped down as director, assuming moral responsibility, but asked friends to not pass judgment until the truth was out.

Subhash Ghai, maker of many box-office hits, and Alok Nath, lead actor of popular television serials, were among the others at whom women colleagues pointed fingers.

Ghai said he was a #MeToo supporter but some were diluting the campaign for fame. Alok Nath’s wife filed a defamation case against the script writer who had levelled charges against him and demanded a compensation of Rs 10 million.

On Sunday 11 women film makers, including Nandita Das, Konkona Sen Sharma and Zoya Akhtar expressed solidarity with the survivors and vowed not to work with sex offenders.

The first to name Akbar was a journalist who had started her career under him in the 1990s. Her disclosure prompted others to come out with their own #MeToo accounts.

Akbar, who began his journalistic career with the Times of India group in 1971 at the age of 20, had made a mark quickly as a feature writer. He was one of the young editors who blazed a new trail as the press, suppressed during the 1975-77 Emergency, regained freedom. He helmed The Telegraph which within a few years of its launch in 1982 ended The Statesman’s century-old primacy in Kolkata.

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi drew him into politics, and he became a Congress member of Parliament. Returning to journalism later, he launched the Asian Age, associated himself with a Hyderabad-based newspaper chain and helped the International Herald Tribune to print in India circumventing government regulations. Taking to politics again, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party before the 2014 elections.

Akbar appears to be digging in, relying excessively on one accuser’s statement that he “didn’t do anything”. However, her account and those of the other accusers contain much that falls within the ambit of the legal definition of sex offences.

His best protection is his political affiliation. Parties go to great lengths to shield their members. In Kerala state, two legislators belonging to the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), one of them an actor, have attracted sexual harassment charges, but the police is not in the picture.

The #MeToo campaign has already extracted a price from some media persons. The Times of India sent its Hyderabad resident editor KR Sreenivas on forced leave. Business Standard principal correspondent Mayank Jain resigned following allegations by colleagues.

A common feature of the allegations is that the accusers were very young and highly vulnerable when they came under attack from men in powerful positions who would not take no for an answer.

There are signs of the #MeToo campaign spreading to other areas too. A columnist has called out popular novelist Chetan Bhagat and celebrity consultant Suhel Seth. Lawyers and human rights defenders have asked survivors in their spheres of activity to speak out.

There is enough material in the public realm to conclude that misogyny is still widespread and the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in 1997 and the steps taken by the government subsequently are not adequate to address the issue of sexual offences effectively. -- Gulf Today, October 16, 2018

09 October, 2018

Overcoming US pressure

BRP Bhaskar

The emerging strategic partnership with the United States and Washington’s threat to impose sanctions did not deter India from signing an agreement with Russia to buy a $5.43 billion missile system during President Vladimir Putin’s visit last week.

After the signing ceremony, Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke in glowing terms of Indo-Russian relationship. Putin described it as unparallelled and Modi termed it unique.

The Trump administration had wanted India to scrap the proposal to buy the Russian missile system and to stop purchase of crude from Iran from November. 

Alluding to the waiver given to India when the last US administration imposed sanctions against Iran, Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton had told media persons some time ago, “This is not the Obama administration”.

Ahead of the Putin visit, India lobbied for waivers and sought to reassure Washington that the Russian contacts will not compromise operational secrecy of US military equipment.

While the US has not announced any waiver so far, India is going ahead also with purchase of crude from Iran, which has been one of its major sources of oil since long.

Quoting industry sources, the Russian news agency Sputnik said the state-owned Indian Oil Corporation, which had planned to buy about 0.75 million metric tons of Iranian oil every month during the year ending March 2019 was importing the usual quantity.

It also said Indian refiners had placed a contract for 1.25 million metric tons of crude, to be delivered next month. As Iran gives India a short credit, payment will be due only two months later. Since a second set of US sanctions will come into force before that India has arranged with Iran to receive payment in rupee instead of US dollar.

The US had offered to make good India’s oil shortage resulting from stoppage of purchases from Iran. But, citing traders and the French shipping intelligence company Kpler, Sputnik said India bought from the US only 64,000 barrels per day last month as against 347,000 bpd in June.

The US imposed sanctions against Russia and Iran under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act passed by Congress last year. The law targets North Korea too.

While signing the bill into law, Trump had said it was “significantly flawed” as it restricted the executive branch’s authority by limiting its flexibility in foreign policy matters.

The Putin-Modi meeting was the 19th annual Indo-Russian summit. This has served as a major forum for sustaining the warm relationship forged before the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was India’s major source of military hardware.

India-Russia defence cooperation continued in the post-Soviet period and has led to acquisition and joint development of weapons and equipment. The modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which the Indian Navy acquired in 2013, start of work on first India-built aircraft carrier INS Arihant and development of BrahMos supersonic missile are among its major achievements.

It was at the 17th summit held in 2016 that India agreed to buy the S-400 Triumf air defence system. This decision has now been firmed up through a formal agreement. 

At that meeting the two countries had agreed also on a project to construct four frigates, one to be built in Russia and the other three in India. It was also decided to set up a tripartite joint venture of a Russian export firm, Russian Helicopters and the Indian public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to manufacture 200 light utility helicopters for the Indian army. There is no word on the fate of these projects. 

After defence, the most importnt area of Indo-Russian cooperation is that of nuclear power production. Two units of the Koodamkulam plant in Tamil Nadu, built with Russian help, have been completed, despite strong objections from the local population on grounds of safety and environmental protection. But a three-year-old proposal for Russia and India to collaborate in building a nuclear plant in Bangladesh appears to be in cold storage.

One of the agreements signed at the latest summit envisages Indo-Russian cooperation in space exploration. 

All these point to continued Indian cooperation with Russia in sensitive areas, notwithstanding the Modi government’s pursuit of strategic defence partnership with the US.

Army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat outlined India’s approach in a speech on Sunday: “While we may be associating with America in getting some technologies from them, we follow an independent policy.” 

Russia is keen to boost economic cooperation with India as well. Last year India participated in the St Petersburg International Economic Forum as a guest member. Putin has invited Modi to be the chief guest at an investment conclave planned at Vladivostok to boost economic development of Russia’s far eastern region. --Gulf Today Sharjah, October 9, 2018.

02 October, 2018

Mixed signals from court

BRP Bhaskar

India’s powerful Supreme Court, which, generally speaking, has been conservative on social issues, confounded orthodox elements recently with a series of landmark judgments.

Last month it decriminalised adultery and gay sex, which were punishable under the Indian Penal Code, introduced by the British colonial administration a century and a half ago.

Human rights groups, especially those voicing the demands of sexual minorities, had been seeking changes in the law for some time. Public opinion on the issue was not strong enough to compel the government to accept the demand and change the law.

When the matter was brought before it, in a break with the past, the Supreme Court took a liberal view in the light of the personal freedoms which the Constitution guarantees to all citizens. In effect, the recent judgments have taken the Indian legal system out of the confines of Victorian morality in which the British had set it.

Last year the Court, by a 3-2 verdict, declared instant triple talaq unlawful. While two judges said it was inconsistent with the Constitution, a third judge struck it down on the ground that it was against the Sharia and the basic tenets of the Koran. Last week the court, rejecting the arguments of a section of Hindu orthodoxy, overturned a supposedly traditional practice of barring women of the 10-50 age group from trekking to the Sabarimala shrine nestling in the Western Ghats.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who delivered the main judgment, said the bar was a clear violation of Hindu women’s right to practice religion. Interestingly, the lone woman on the five-member Constitution Bench, in a dissenting judgment said the question was one of faith and the court could not go into it.

The Preamble of the Constitution, which outlines its objectives, grants primacy to “justice — social, economic and political”. As the sole authority for its interpretation, the Judiciary is the ultimate arbiter of what is constitutional and what is not.

Initially, the higher courts took care not to upset powerful elements. When a petitioner belonging to a so-called upper caste approached them claiming she could not get admission in a medical college because of the reservations favouring backward communities and arguing that the reservation system was against the principle of equality enshrined in it, they readily accepted it.

To get over the courts’ objections, Parliament amended the Constitution and added a proviso that permitted special provisions for socially and educationally backward classes of people. The Supreme Court upheld the amendment.

Later on the Judiciary moved forward to ensure political justice by coming down on authoritarian acts of the Executive. There was a setback when Indira Gandhi’s government declared an Emergency and the apex court upheld its contention that it could suspend all fundamental rights, including the right to life.

On economic justice, the court inevitably lagged behind as the expensive legal process is weighted in favour of the rich and casts a disadvantage on the poor.

If the recent Supreme Court judgments on social issues have warmed the hearts of the liberals, some decisions with a bearing on civil and political rights have disappointed them. As they say, you win some, you lose some.

Last year a nine-member Constitution Bench declared right to privacy a fundamental right. This led to hopes that it would rule that the Aadhar card project, under which the government has gathered a good deal of personal data about citizens, unconstitutional. But it only provided partial relief.

The Aadhar project was initiated by the previous United Progressive Alliance government. At that time the Bharatiya Janata Party opposed it and Narendra Modi unleashed a Twitter campaign against it. On becoming Prime Minister he enlarged its scope and compelled linking of Aadhar numbers with bank accounts, mobile phone numbers etc.

The court stopped linking of Aadhar with bank accounts and mobile numbers but did not interfere with the scheme itself.

The Court made a quick intervention and denied the Maharashtra police custody of five reputed social activists it had arrested in a multi-state swoop in late August and ordered to keep them in their own houses. Since then it has been granting piecemeal extension of their house arrest, without going into the points raised in the petition challenging the arrests, betraying Hamletian indecisiveness.

On Friday, Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar allowed the Maharashtra police to go ahead with the investigation while Justice YV Chandrachud, in a dissenting judgment, virtually accused it of trying to muzzle dissent. There has been speculation that the majority judgment was a last-minute development. --Gulf Today, October 2, 2018.