At the media briefing to announce the Union Cabinet’s decision to ban e-cigarettes, Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan lost her temper briefly after several journalists questioned the rationale behind banning e-cigarettes and not banning regular cigarettes. Sudan had said that there are international studies highlighting the adverse effects of e-cigarettes, and that several Indian institutions have also sought a ban, but the journalists appeared not convinced. Losing her cool slightly, Sudan said that “the entire next generation” will “go down the drain”. She also maintained that she was proud of the country for being the world leaders in banning e-cigarettes. Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar came to Sudan’s defence and said that suggestions of the journalists will be considered. This, he emphasised, is called “suggestion for action”.
The Congress high command has stepped in to resolve the crisis in its Tripura unit after state Congress chief Pradyut Manikya Deb Barman indicated that he would resign over differences with Luizinho Faleiro, the AICC general secretary in charge of the state. Congress general secretary in charge of organisation K C Venugopal met Barman and party secretary in charge of Tripura Bhupen Kumar Borah. Barman is not willing to take back his plea in Supreme Court seeking implementation of NRC in Tripura. He is also upset with Faleiro’s alleged attempt to replace him with Subal Bhowmik, a leader who rejoined the Congress from BJP in March this year. At the same time, the Congress high command is not willing to accept his resignation and is asking him to continue. Barman may meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday to tell his side of the story.
Not Too Happy
Environmental lawyers in the capital are not too happy with the National Green Tribunal’s dedicated courtroom, with state-of-the-art video-conferencing facility to hear cases from regional benches in Chennai, Pune, Bhopal and Kolkata. Lawyers now have to travel to the regional tribunals and argue from there, instead of appearing before the principal bench in Delhi, even when they are based in the national capital. Since Delhi-based senior lawyers are engaged in big-ticket cases, clients are billed for airfare even when the case is heard by judges in Delhi. The regional tribunals have been virtually non-operational for over six months due to lack of judges and expert members, and the principal bench in Delhi has been making efforts to hear important cases through video-conferencing.