CBI court acquits 3 police officers in Ishrat Jehan encounter case

Newsroom24x7 Network

Ahmedabad: A special CBI court here on Wednesday 31 March 2021 discharged three accused police officers in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case.

The Special CBI Court of Special CBI judge V R Raval on Wednesday allowed the discharge applications of G L Singhal, Tarun Barot (now retired) and Anaju Chaudhary. The three police officers had on March 20 filed discharge petitions.

In response to their petition, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told the court that the Gujarat Government had refused permission to prosecute the accused in the encounter case.

The Court said “There is nothing on file, even prima facie, to conclude that the victims weren’t terrorists, or the IB inputs weren’t real”.

The court had observed in October 2020 that the accused had “acted in their official duties,” so the probe agency was required to obtain prosecution sanction.

The CBI had named seven police officers — Pandey, Vanzara, Amin, Singhal, Barot, Parmar, and Chaudhary – as accused in its first charge sheet filed in 2013.

Poceedings against former police officers D G Vanzara and N K Amin were dropped by the Court in 2019 after the state government refused permission for their prosecution. P P Pandey , former in-charge State DG Police, was discharged from the case in 2018 and Parmar died during the course of hearing.

on June 15, 2004 ,Ishrat Jahan, along with Jishan Johar, Amjad Ali Rana and Javed Shaikh, was killed in a police encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. According to Ahmedabad police, those killed in the encounter were Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists on a mission to kill Narendra Modi, who was then the Gujarat Chief Minister. Police had identified Johar and Rana as Pakistani nationals, while Sheikh was the link for their local network.

Income Tax: Government extends time for intimation of Aadhaar and certain other time limits

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: Keeping in view the difficulties faced by the taxpayers, the Central Government has issued notification on Wednesday 31 March extending the last date for the intimation of Aadhaar number and linking thereof with PAN to 30 June, 2021.

The extended last date for intimating Aadhaar number under the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the Act) for the purposes of linking Aadhaar with PAN was 31 March, 2021. Representations had been received by the Government from taxpayers that the last date for intimating the Aadhaar number may further be extended in the wake of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

The notification also has extended time-limits for issue of notice under section 148 of the Act, passing of consequential order for direction issued by the Dispute Resolution Panel (DRP) and processing of equalisation levy statements to 30 April, 2021.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain time limits specified under the various tax and Benami laws have been extended by the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Act, 2020 and subsequent notifications issued under this Act.

It is not possible to pinpoint how humans in China were first infected with SARS-CoV-2

Newsroom24x7 Network

Until the source of this virus is identified and controlled, there is a risk of reintroduction of the virus into the human population and the risk of new outbreaks like the ones we are currently experiencing.

Geneva / Washington DC: The WHO report on Origin of SARS-CoV-2 says at this stage, it is not possible to determine precisely how humans in China were initially infected with SARS-CoV-2. However, all available evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 has a natural animal origin and is not a manipulated or constructed virus. SARSCoV-2 virus most probably has its ecological reservoir in bats.

A number of investigations in the area believed to be the source of the outbreak in China are currently underway or planned. These include investigations of human cases with symptom onset in and around Wuhan in late 2019, environmental sampling from markets and farms in areas where the first human cases were identified, and detailed records on the source and type of wildlife species and farmed animals sold in these markets.

On Tuesday, March 30, when the report of the international team on their Wuhan field visit, from 14 January -10 February 2021, was published, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for further studies, including data on origin of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Who has reiterated that all hypotheses remain open.

WHO chief said the report advances our understanding in important ways, while raising questions that will need to be addressed by further studies.

We have not yet found the source of the virus, and we must continue to follow the science and leave no stone unturned as we do,” said Dr Tedros

Throughout 2020, WHO continued to discuss with China and other Member States the need to study and share information around the virus origins.

In July 2020 WHO sent a small team to China to plan a joint study comprising Chinese and independent international scientists.

It was agreed that WHO would select the international scientists. The Terms of Reference for the Virus Origins Study were completed by fall 2020.

The World Health Assembly resolution of May 2020, which was adopted by all Member States, cited a need “to identify the zoonotic source”:

The team of scientists came from around the world: Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Qatar, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Viet Nam.

The joint international team comprised 17 Chinese and 17 international experts from 10 other countries as well as the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE); and WHO.

Members of the international team:

Prof. Dr. Thea Fisher, MD, DMSc(PhD) (Nordsjællands Hospital, Denmark)
Prof. John Watson (Public Health England, United Kingdom)
Prof. Dr. Marion Koopmans, DVM PhD (Erasmus MC, Netherlands)
Prof. Dr. Dominic Dwyer, MD (Westmead Hospital, Australia)
Vladimir Dedkov, Ph.D (Institute Pasteur, Russia)
Dr. Hung Nguyen-Viet, PhD (International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Vietnam)
PD. Dr. med vet. Fabian Leendertz (Robert Koch-Institute, Germany)
Dr. Peter Daszak, Ph.D (EcoHealth Alliance, USA)
Dr. Farag El Moubasher, Ph.D (Ministry of Public Health, Qatar)
Prof. Dr. Ken Maeda, PhD, DVM (National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Japan)

The Governments of the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom on Tuesday issued a joint statement sharing concerns that concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples. Scientific missions like these should be able to do their work under conditions that produce independent and objective recommendations and findings.

Together, we support a transparent and independent analysis and evaluation, free from interference and undue influence, of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, we join in expressing shared concerns regarding the recent WHO-convened study in China, while at the same time reinforcing the importance of working together toward the development and use of a swift, effective, transparent, science-based, and independent process for international evaluations of such outbreaks of unknown origin in the future, the joint statement says.

Taking note of the findings and recommendations, including the need for further studies of animals to find the means of introduction into humans, these countries have laid stress on momentum for expert-driven phase 2 studies. Going forward, there must now be a renewed commitment by WHO and all Member States to access, transparency, and timeliness.

In a serious outbreak of an unknown pathogen with pandemic potential, it has been underscored that a rapid, independent, expert-led, and unimpeded evaluation of the origins is critical to better prepare our people, our public health institutions, our industries, and our governments to respond successfully to such an outbreak and prevent future pandemics.

2nd jab of Covid vaccine: Light at the end of the tunnel

Tapan Misra

Today, on the last day of March, I got the second shot of Covid vaccine. Made in India. Unbelievable.

Just a year back, in the fourth week of March, last year, we started taking Covid seriously or should I say, so seriously that we became panicky. We did not know the nature of invisible enemy. We did not know the nature of ailments, did not know what are the treatments. We started to learn what is lockdown. How to cover our faces with masks. How to use sanitizers. Worst part was, we started avoiding known people, even blood relations, as pariah.

But our country rose to the occasion. We learnt through trials and tribulations. We built medical facilities, expertise, industries to produce equipment, all supporting items like masks, sanitizers, ventilators. We discovered and produced our own vaccines.

Countless people lost jobs. Economy got devastated. Still the images of faceless labourers, their families, little children, trudging along highways, railway lines are etched in my mind. Looked like reenactment of haunting description of Chinese famine by Pearl S Buck. But Government showed the presence of hearts. Thousands of trains started crisscrossing the country, transporting jobless migrant labourers to their homes. Thank God. Free rations kept lives fed all across India, saving crores of marginal, helpless population.

Schools, colleges were shut. I thought end of enlightment has dawned. Soon, even toddlers started attending classes through mobiles, pads, lap tops. Suddenly people have started working from home. Coat and tie on top of dhoti or lungi or shorts have become formal attire. All the laughter and warmth of personal proximity are replaced by dry computer screens, converting three dimensional human beings to two dimensional images, tucked at an obscure corner of mobile or laptop screen.

So many people lost jobs. When around 600 contract workers were fired from Space Application Centre (SAC), my heart cried. Powers that be decided to remove them. So many of them just married, took loan from banks to buy flats or motor cycles. So many of them used to write to me. But I was out of power. Helpless witness to heartless reality.

So many of my known faces, acquaintances, relatives, school classmates, neighbours were devoured by this invisible enemy. I feel lucky to sail through this difficult time.

Despite the fresh surge in Covid cases in many States, one is confident that the vaccination campaign will deliver results and also by sticking to the prescribed norms and following the Covid guidelines, we are going to come out of the nightmare. Keeping fingers crossed. I realised that the best part of bad times is that they do not last long.


Tapan Misra, is a distinguished scientist, who has earlier headed India’s Space Application Centre (SAC) and was also Advisor in the Department of Space, Government of India.