chennai l friday l may 6, 2022 l `9.00 l PAGES 30 l late city EDITION Article 19 can’t be invoked against private firm: Meta Account suspended for violating contract Freedom of speech can’t be invoked against a private company like Meta, its lawyers told the Delhi High Court on Thursday Meta may have violated IT rules, 2021 Meta was responding to a petition filed by Wokeflix—which publishes political satire over social media—against the suspension of its account by Meta-owned Instagram for violating the platform’s “community guidelines”. Meta said Instagram users enter into a contract with it when they sign up to use it, and action was taken against Wokeflix for violating the said contract ■ Responding to Wokeflix’s claim it was not informed or given an opportunity to be heard before its account was suspended, Meta said the user is entitled to be heard only once the action is taken ■ However, the Centre had told the court in March that rules require big social media firms to notify users before taking action | P9 May 17 When the court hears more petitions against actions by social media firms CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI 4.7 mn more Covid deaths in India, says WHO E x p ress N ews S er v i c e @ New Delhi India saw 4.7 million more Covid19 deaths by 2021-end, which is 10 times the official figures of half a million and almost a third of Covid deaths globally according to es, timates put out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday. Shortly thereafter, the Union government issued a strong rebuttal questioning the validity and robustness of the models used by the global health body and its methodology of data collection. WHO estimates suggest the full toll associated directly or indirectly with the pandemic (described as excess mortality) between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021 was approximately 14.9 million (range 13.3-16.6 million). Excess mortality is calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would be expected in the absence of the pandemic based on data from earlier years. Excess mortality includes deaths associated with Covid-19 directly or indirectly due to the pandemic’s impact on health systems and society . India saw the largest absolute excess mortality numbers as compared to any other country in the world. The estimates put around 8,30,000 excess deaths in 2020 and 3.9 million in 2021 — most of them during the second wave. Men accounted for 57% of the estimated excess deaths. As many as 78% of the excess deaths were in the 60plus age group. Jab-o-meter May 4 12,04,711 doses Take your May 5 14,41,596 doses shot Total: 1,89,79,28,542 NATIONWIDE may 4 may 5 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths tamil nadu may 4 may 5 3,205 3,275 Fresh cases 2,802 3,010 Recoveries 31 55 Deaths 37 58 0 58 59 0 The health ministry strongly pushed back, saying “Despite India’s objection to the process, methodology and outcome of this , modelling exercise, WHO has released the excess mortality estimates without adequately addressing India’s concerns.” India told the WHO that in view of the availability of authentic data published through Civil Registration System by the Registrar General of India, mathematical models should not be used for projecting excess mortality data. Most of the excess deaths (84%) are concentrated in South-East Asia, Europe, and the Americas. TN to privatise bus ops, maintenance to cut loss C S hi va k u m a r @ Chennai THE State government is planning to bring in private participation in running State Transport undertakings (STUs) under which procurement, operation and maintenance of buses will be carried out by external entities through Gross Contract (GCC) or public-private partnership model, says a policy note tabled by the transport department in Tamil Nadu Assembly on Thursday . The responsibility of managing transport network and revenue collection, however, will remain with the STUs, the note said. The move comes against the backdrop of STUs reporting a revenue shortfall of `6,488 crore in financial year 2021-2022. According to the note, the STUs will be responsible for providing quality service to commuters and they will also specify the minimum distance that has to be covered every day by private operators who will be paid on a per-km basis. The main advantage of the GCC is reduction of large upfront capital expenditure in procuring buses and reduction of cost in maintaining an inventory of spares and other consumables, the note said. The salary cost of maintenance staff can be reduced and STUs can also ensure considerable saving and enhanced level of efficiency throughout the contract period, the note said. The STUs, however, should maintain a minimum number of own buses with enough staff for use in case of emergencies, said the note. Interestingly, this model has been tried in Delhi Integrated Multimodal Transit System (DIMTS) where buses were hired from a concessionaire. The move help reduce cost of operating buses by 30%-50% in the capital. Even in Ahmedabad, 70 specially-designed diesel buses were provided to private operators on GCC basis for seven years. continued on: p5 SC quashes eD case against sekar reddy E x p ress N ews S er v i c e @ New Delhi The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case filed by the Enforcement Directorate against industrialist Sekar Reddy. The court, which set aside a Madras High Court order that dismissed his plea seeking quashing of the proceedings, said the ED is unable to collect and produce before the court any incriminating material even after more than five years to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. “We are of the firm opinion that chances to prove those allegations in the court are very bleak... The HC by the impugned order has recorded the finding without due consideration to the letter of the I-T DeSekar Reddy partment and other material in right perspective. Therefore these findings of the HC cannot be sustained,” the Supreme Court said in its order. “Accordingly we set aside the impugned order passed by , the HC. Consequently, this appeal is allowed. ECR CEZO 19/2016 including complaint bearing No. 2 of 2017 stands quashed,” the order said. In December 2016, the Income Tax Department, Chennai, conducted searches on Sekar Reddy’s official premises and seized a large amount of currency notes and gold. continued on: p4 Hole story Border Security Force personnel inspect a suspected underground tunnel detected near the India-Pakistan international border in the Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday | PTI e x p r e ss r e a d CAA will be implemented after Covid subsides, claims Shah Kolkata: Touring West Bengal, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday said the CAA will be implemented once the Covid wave subsides. Launching a blistering attack on the Trinamool government, Shah said, “The TMC is misleading people by saying we (Centre) will not be able to implement the CAA. I would like to make it clear that the CAA will definitely be implemented once the Covid situation subsides.” Mamata Banerjee responded saying the BJP is practicing divisive politics | P10 Cattle smuggling syndicates shift bases from Bengal to Northeast New Delhi: Cross-border cattle smuggling syndicates have shifted their bases from West Bengal to parts of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura in the last three years. Strict measures adopted by the BSF in West Bengal and weaker vigilance by the force and the police in the three states led to the shift. According to a BSF official, due to effective local measures by the force in West Bengal, networks in states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal have simply activated their resources in the three northeastern states | P10 SC to examine if pleas against sedition law need larger bench New Delhi: The Supreme Court said on Thursday that it will examine whether petitions challenging the sedition law need to be referred to a larger bench and granted time to the Centre to file its response. “Validity of the section is an open vista. We will hear you on that, but we need to decide first whether we should hear it in the three, five, or seven-judge composition,” the bench said. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought a few days’ time for filing the reply, saying the draft awaits approval by authorities as the issue is of extreme importance | P9 TNIE takes a close look at the major milestones in health dept as the Stalin government steps into its second year Inside keeping Tn in fine form The State Health Department was largely successful in keeping pandemic under check and vaccinating people Page 4 interview Ma Subramanian Minister for Health & Family Welfare up close & personal Before end of my term, I would like to see people from all walks of life visit govt hospitals for treatment full report: p4 WIT H T H IS ISSUE CHENNAI’S BEST WEEKEND GUIDE 30 PAGES, INCLUDING 16 OF INDULGE Day after RBI’s rate hike, banks raise interest on loans R a m S a h g a l @ Mumbai Commercial banks on Thursday started increasing their lending and deposit rates a day after the RBI raised the repo rate — the rate at which it lends to banks. While ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda and DCB Bank were among the first to raise repo-linked lending rates, Kotak Mahindra Bank raised the deposit rates by 30-35 basis points. This will make home, auto and SME loans costlier by 40 basis points (0.4 percentage point) as banks pass on their increased costs of funds to fresh and existing borrowers.ICICI Bank said that its external benchmark lending rate or IEBLR is referenced to the RBI Policy Repo Rate with a mark-up over the rate at 8.10% effective May 4. Bank of Baroda on Thursday raised retail loans linked with Baroda Linked Lending Rate to 6.9%, which is at a 250-basis point mark-up over the repo rate. DCB Bank also hiked its EBLR from 8.44% to 8.84% and EBLR for home loan to 8.56%, up by 40 bps. The RBI on Wednesday raised the repo rate by 40 bps to 4.4% to contain inflationary pressures. Kotak Mahindra Bank raises FD interest rates Kotak Mahindra Bank on Thursday announced it will increase interest rates on fixed deposits below `2 crore by 30-35 basis points from Friday The rate hike comes amid expectations of consumer price index inflation having possibly risen to 7.5% in April from 7% in the preceding month, way above the Central bank monetary policy committee’s upper tolerance limit of 6%. Many retail and SME loans are linked to external benchmarks like the repo rate and the 3- and 6-month G-secs. Last month lenders, including SBI, BoB, Kotak Bank and Axis Bank raised the marginal cost of fund-based lending rate (MCLR) by 5-10 basis points. Delimitation done, J&K poll clock ticks Two nominated seats for Pandits part of panel’s final report F aya z W a ni @ Srinagar Decks were cleared on Thursday for the first-ever Assembly polls in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir after the final Delimitation Commission report rejected objections of three of the five associate members and Kashmir-based parties on redrawing its constituencies. Elections can be expected within the next five to six months. The commission allotted six additional seats to the Jammu region and only one to Kashmir, though the latter has 15 lakh more population. Also, nine constituencies for were reserved for Scheduled Tribes for the first time in J&K’s history . Two nominated Assembly seats for Kashmiri Pandits and some seats for refugees from Pakistan occupied Kashmir were part of the recommendations of the commission headed by Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai with Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and J&K State Election Commissioner K K Sharma as members. One of the nominated Pandits should be a female, the panel recommended. It suggested such members be given powers at par with that of nominated members of the Puducherry Assembly . The panel’s report was notified and published in the Gazette. In the outgoing J&K Assembly comprising 87 seats, Kashmir had 46 seats, Jammu 37 and Ladakh 4. In all, J&K will have five parliamentary constituencies with 18 Assembly seats in each of them. The Anantnag-Pulwama seat in south Kashmir has been renamed as Anantnag-Poonch. It J&K Delimitation Commission members Ranjana Prakash Desai, Sushil Chandra (L) and K K Sharma, in New Delhi on Thursday | PTI will now comprise three south Kashmir districts and the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri of the Jammu region. Nine of the existing Assembly c o n s t i t u e n c i e s h ave b e e n changed. Following suggestions from political parties and the public, the panel renamed Tangmarg seat as Gulmarg, Zoonimar as Zaidibal, Sonwar as Lal Chowk, Padder as Padder-Nagseni, Kathua North as Jasrota, Kathua South as Kathua, Khour as Chhamb, Mahore as Gulabhgarh and Darhal as Budhal. Besides, some existing Assembly seats were deleted and new constituencies created. J&K has been under Central rule since mid-June, 2018 when the BJP withdrew support to the Mehbooba-led PDP-BJP coalition government. The Delimitation Commission was set up in March 2020 to redraw the Assembly and parliamentary constituencies in J&K after Article 370 was hollowed out and the state bifurcated into two Union Territories. On March 14 this year, the panel put its interim report in public domain and invited objections and suggestions. Final deal 90 seats in all in J&K 43 Total seats in Jammu 47 Total seats in Kashmir region 6 additional seats allotted to Jammu 1 additional seat allotted to Kashmir ST quota Jammu: 6 seats Kashmir: 3 seats SC reservation Jammu: 7 Kashmir: 0 5 Lok Sabha seats 18 Assembly seats in each parliamentary constituency
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