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Beginning today's evening bulletin with the top national news: Amid the deepening impasse between the executive and the judiciary, Union Minister for Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju said the Supreme Court making public the government’s objections on the appointment of three advocates as judges of the High Court is a serious issue. On January 19, the Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud had reiterated its decision to appoint five advocates as High Court judges. In at least three cases, it made public both its reasons for reiteration and the government’s objections. The government had sought reconsideration of these names on November 25 last year. Before this, the law minister had shared an interview clip of R S Sodhi, a retired Delhi High Court judge, who said the Supreme Court had “hijacked” the Constitution by deciding to appoint its own judges.
Next up: In a 6,629 page chargesheet, the Delhi Police has said that Aftaab Poonawaala, the accused in the Shraddha Walkar murder case, allegedly killed her on May 18th after a fight broke out between them over Walkar meeting an old friend. According to the police, ‘fit of rage’ has been recorded as the motive. Meanwhile, the Saket court has extended Aftaab's judicial custody by two weeks to February 7. Poonawala was produced before the court through video conferencing on expiry of his judicial custody on Tuesday. He informed the court that he wanted to change his present advocate M S Khan.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Mayoral polls have been stalled for the second time with the House being adjourned till further notice, prompting a protest by Aam Aadmi Party councillors and MLAs. There was an unusual security arrangement for the House proceeding with personnel deployed on the Civic Centre premises, and in the House as well. However, a heated discussion took place between the BJP and the AAP members following which presiding officer Satya Sharma, a BJP councillor, adjourned the House without holding the poll. All AAP councillors, their 13 MLAs and three MPs sat in the House and demanded BJP councillors come back so that the mayoral polls could be conducted.
Moving on: Top wrestlers Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia took to Twitter to express their disappointment over Sports Ministry appointing an Oversight Committee, led by six time boxing world champion MC Mary Kom, to run Wrestling Federation of India. On Monday, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur had named the five-member committee to run the day to day affairs at WFI for the next one month. The committee formation comes in the aftermath of the Sports Ministry asking WFI president, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh to step down following major wrestling names across the country including Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat accusing him of sexual harassment followed by a three day protest.
Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has termed as “ridiculous” party veteran Digvijaya Singh’s remarks questioning the surgical strikes conducted in 2016 on terror camps across the LoC in Pakistan. He said he completely disagreed with Singh’s remarks. Singh’s remarks had drawn a swift backlash from the BJP, which said the Congress was “blinded by hate” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and had “insulted” the country’s armed forces. Asked why action was not taken against Singh, who has in the past too left the party red-faced with his remarks, Gandhi said the Congress was a democratic party and not a dictatorship.
In news from South: Kerala government has informed the high court that properties of 248 leaders/activists of the banned Popular Front of India have been attached towards realisation of damages to the tune of Rs 5.20 crore caused by the outfit’s flash hartal held in Kerala on September 23 last year. Last week, the high court had rapped the government over the delay in attaching properties of the PFI leaders/activists for their failure to deposit Rs 5.20 crore, as directed by the court, towards damages caused during the hartal held in protest against the nationwide raids on the premises of PFI and its leaders.
In other news: The US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, while addressing a question posed by a Pakistani journalist on the recently aired BBC documentary based on the 2002 Gujarat riots, said that the US was not familiar with it. The documentary, titled ‘India: The Modi Question’, focuses on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his then state government’s response to the 2002 Gujarat riots. India had dubbed the documentary as a “propaganda piece” designed to push a particular “discredited narrative”. Addressing a press briefing in Washington, Ned Price told reporters that the US shares an “exceptionally deep partnership” with New Delhi based on values that are common to both the US and Indian democracies.
In international news: The deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office has quit after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pledged to launch a staff shake-up amid high-level corruption allegations during the war with Russia. Kyrylo Tymoshenko was asked to be relieved of his duties, according to an online copy of a decree signed by Zelenskyy and Tymoshenko’s own social media posts. Neither gave a reason for the resignation. Deputy Defence Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov also resigned, local media reported, alleging his departure was linked to a scandal involving the purchase of food for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
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