chennai l friday l March 26, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 14 l vellore EDITION Army’s criteria for women officers discriminatory: SC The Supreme Court asked govt to grant permanent commission to women officers who were excluded on grounds of fitness standards file photo Fitness standards created for men The court observed that these fitness standards were created by male officers for male officers and, hence, were discriminatory towards women. The verdict came on a batch of pleas which said the Indian Army had not granted permanent commission to even 50% of women Short Service Commission officers despite a Supreme Court order mandating the same ■ Feb 2020 Superficial equality: Chandrachud The judgment quoted Justice R B Ginsburg of US Supreme Court, “I ask no favour for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” Justice D Y Chandrachud in his judgment When THE S.C. directed army to grant said, “A superficial sense of equality is not in the true spirit of the Constitution and attempts to make equality only symbolic.” women officers permanent commission CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Centre to HC: Pondy’s 10% NEET quota scheme nixed EXP R E S S N EW S S E R VICE @ Chennai THE Central government on Thursday informed the Madras High Court that it has rejected a resolution passed by the Puducherry Cabinet, allowing 10 per cent horizontal reservation to government school students in admission to medical courses. The issue pertains to a section of students moving the court seeking approval of the scheme after the previous Lt Governor of the Union Territory Kiran , Bedi, had differed from the views of the then Congress government. Bedi had referred the matter to the Centre. The Narayanasamy-led government had introduced the resolution after Tamil Nadu brought in a similar 7.5 per cent reservation for government school students here. During the hearing before a single-member bench of Justice B Pugalendhi, the Central government informed that it has rejected the resolution after examining it in consultation with the Union Ministries for Health and Education. The Puducherry government was also informed accordingly by a letter dated March 24, it added. Opposing the same, the petitioner’s senior counsel, P Wilson, told the judge that the Centre’s stand would sound a death knell to a similar scheme introduced by the TN government. The power to grant inservice reservation was permitted for a State in the interest of the welfare of students, and the Centre cannot term it illegal, he added. The plea was adjourned to the first week of April for further submissions. Axe hanging over 7.5%? The petitioner’s counsel argued that the Centre’s stand would sound a death knell to a similar scheme introduced by the Tamil Nadu government CJI suggests ad-hoc judges to cut pendency Fear, loathing and a new minority politics EXP R E S S N EW S S E R VICE @ New Delhi THE Supreme Court on Thursday said ad-hoc judges can be appointed in high courts to clear pending cases. “There are suits pending for 30 years which also include criminal trials. It is not a matter of opinion but fact that judges who have been there for 15 to 20 years can continue to dispose of matters,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde. The bench was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Lok Prahari seeking appointment of retired Indian Supermodel for Covid predicts national peak of second wave by mid-April with 70-80K new cases daily Highest global Covid contact rate in India R i c h a S h a r m a @ New Delhi Amid the galloping Covid-19 cases, it turns out that India is witnessing the world’s highest coronavirus contact rate, whereby an infected person is infecting another one every two days. What is worrying is the massive jump in contact rate this month, according to the Indian Supermodel for Covid-19. The latest analysis through the model, initiated by the Department of Science of Technology, predicts the peak of the second wave by mid-April, when daily infections will be between 70,000 and 80,000, primarily driven by Maharashtra. According to scientists analysing the model, the cause of this unexpected jump in contact rate is likely to be a combination of more crowding in public spaces like schools and colleges, markets and public places and public transport and faster spreading mutations. “The contact parameter seen in India is reported nowhere in bigger, better & virtual ThinkEdu E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e @ Chennai It was this time last year that our world changed forever. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a nationwide lockdown and we were all confined to our homes, grappling with a new reality But amid such uncer. tainties, there’s one thing you could always rely on to happen like clockwork — the TNIE’s ThinkEdu Conclave. Over the past eight years, The New Indian Express has brought you a niche, curated and thoughtprovoking event in Chennai with some of the biggest names in the Indian education space and beyond in the form of the ThinkEdu Conclave. This year, with the pandemic refusing to recede, we’ve taken ThinkEdu virtual. We will bring 35 speakers streaming directly to your homes with some of the most vital and stimulating conversations around education, jobs, life after a pandemic, the new National judges to clear pending cases. The ad-hoc judges would be The bench said the Constitu- considered the junior-most so tion allows appointment of ad- that they don’t become a ‘threat’ hoc judges and taking that to anybody in terms of seniorroute has become a neity the CJI added. , cessity in view of the The SC also clarified out-of-hand pendency . that it’s not creating a The Centre’s counsel new convention but is Additional Solicitor only suggesting to use General R S Suri said a provision in the Conad-hoc appointments stitution. “Article 224A can be made after vais a Constitutional procancies for regular S A Bobde, Chief vision... We will lay posts are filled. To this, down guidelines statJustice of India CJI Bobde said, “We ing if pendency goes are not sure how much coop- beyond certain limit for, say, eration we are receiving from more than eight or 10 years, you regarding that. But ad-hoc then the Chief Justice will aujudges are not a threat.” tomatically recommend the ap- Education Policy and so much more that centres around this year’s theme Lessons for a new world. This year, we have Union ministers Ramesh Pokhriyal and Nitin Gadkari, Infosys Co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, Education Secretary Amit Khare, intellectuals like Makarand Paranjape, AICTE Chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe, CSIR’s DG Dr Shekhar C Mande, among others talking about how the country can be truly Atmanirbhar. We also have authors like Amish, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Anuja Chauhan discussing their books and offering lessons for our young. ThinkEdu kicks off on March 26 at 7 pm. And this year, instead of two days, we have extended the event to five days — till March 30. You can catch the sessions live at newindianexpress. com, edexlive.com, eventxpress.com and our social media channels — Facebook, T w i tt e r, L in ke dI n a n d YouTube. the world and a massive jump in contact rate is causing the sharp rise in cases all over. Early March, it was around 0.24 (an infected person infecting another in four days) and today it stands at 0.48 (every second day). The spike in many states is primarily due to a significant increase in contact rate,” said Manindra Agrawal, Deputy Director at IIT, Kanpur, who is part of the supermodel study . Agrawal expects the second wave peak around April 15-25. “In Maharashtra, the contact rate has been high for a while (0.38 now though it was around 0.45 when there was no lockdown). The peak will be bigger than during the first wave around 40,000 new infections per day It . is likely to arrive in early April. Even in Punjab, the second peak will be bigger than the first one with around 4,000 new infections per day, but there is a significant increase in reach,” said Agarwal. In Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka and TN, the contact rate is around 0.5, while in Punjab it is 0.3. Express Impact pointment of ad-hoc judge. After Collegium approves, they can sit and it (term) can be extended,” it added. The court also wanted to know the status of the 55 names cleared by the SC Collegium for appointments to various high courts but have not been notified by the government yet. The top court noted that there should be a reasonable timeframe for the law ministry to respond to the the Collegium’s recommendations. After seeking suggestions from the Centre and high courts, the SC adjourned the matter to April 8. TN’s TRYST WITH COVID A look at the increasing number of fresh cases in TN 474 543 671 695 759 1,779 1,636 1,437 1,289 1,087 836 867 3,95,192 India's total active Caseload 1,00,738 Fresh cases in just 2 days 53,476 Fresh cases recorded in the last 24 hours Double whammy The reach parameter measures the fraction of the population affected by the pandemic. At 40%, reach is the highest in Maharashtra, making it a double whammy along with high contact rate railway backtracks on its ‘mistake’ Of replacing the Tamil letter ‘ka’ in the name board of Mahadanapuram railway station with Sanskrit letter ‘ha’ | P2 Promising the moon to voters, literally! S HO B A N A R ADHA K R I S H N A N @ Madurai TAMIL NADU is known for its “freebie culture”. From free television sets to fans, grinders, mixers, DAyS TO GO and bicycles, the State has seen, and received, almost everything. This time, when even the big parties were scratching their heads for new ideas, a candidate in Madurai decided to up the game. He has promised his voters iPhones, helicopter, and even a 100-day trip to the moon. Meet R Saravanan, an Independent contesting from Madurai South constituency . Saravanan, a media person by profession, also promises other things in his manifesto. The list includes a three-storey house with swimming pool for all, `1 crore per year for every household to be deposited in the bank account, `20-lakhworth car and a mini-helicopter for every household, a robot to carry out daily chores, gold jewellery weighing 100 sovereigns for each woman’s marriage, `1 crore for start-ups, `10 lakh per month to persons with disabilities, digging of canals and a house boat each to every household, an artificial 300-foot-tall snow mountain to maintain the temperature, a space research centre, and a space port. But wait, don’t get carried away just yet. Speaking to Express, Saravanan says that the manifesto is sarcastic in nature and is intended to spread public awareness on how they were being cheated in the name of freebies. P4 11 Mar 1 Total cases 5 10 13 8,73,219 14 15 active cases 16 19 10,487 21 23 24 Mar 25 Toll 12,641 Source: Directorate of Public Health s itting inside his dirtcoated, poorly-stocked provision store next to a rural road at Joypur village in Assam’s Kokrajhar district, Akbar Ahmed is reticent about the ongoing state elections. “I am so busy in my shop that I have had no time to think of it. Let voting day come then I will apply my mind,” he said as cacophonic traffic blowing gas horns raced past, kicking up plumes of cough-inducing dust. A little later he dropped guard a tad, saying in the 2016 Assembly elections he had voted for the Bodoland People’s Front, then an alliance partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party . Ali-ur-Zaman in Kaziranga is similarly circumspect. Originally from Bongaigaon district in eastern Assam, he and his wife have been running a dhaba for the past four years on the national highway that cuts through the rhino sanctuary “I will see, I can’t say any. thing about voting right now,” he answered in one-liners, suspicious of every question and refusing to even make eye contact. His wife hemmed and hawed in greater measure: “We are confused.” About 350 kms away inside a weather-beaten, tin-roofed tea stall in Bagbari village, Dhubri district, Noor Islam is watching a video on his mobile of the arrest of civil rights activistturned-candidate Akhil Gogoi. Unlike Akbar and Zaman, Islam is not fearful of discussing the elections with a stranger. He declares his support for the Raijor Dal, Gogoi’s new political party and spews venom on , Assam Polls H Khogen Singh @ Kokrajhar/Dhubri the BJP and its local candidate, Ashok Kumar Singhi. The tea shop owner, Usman Moni, in between blowing out betel nut from his paan-stained mouth and teeth every 15 minutes, is also vocal about the polls, the BJP and Singhi, describing the saffron party’s nominee as “Hitlerian”. It’s not difficult to understand why the Muslims of Kokrajhar and Kaziranga were suspicious while those in Dhubri were open, expansive and even polemical. Continued on: P9
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