DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2021, LUCKNOW, LATE CITY, 12 PAGES `5.00 WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 MURDER REMARK: MADRAS HIGH COURT’S CENSURE OF EC SCstrikesbalance:HCremarkswereharsh;free speech,opencourtkeytocitizens’righttoknow HC’s intent was stricter compliance…oral observations not part of judicial record so no question of expunging: SC ANANTHAKRISHNAN G NEW DELHI, MAY 6 DAYS AFTER it said it would strike a balance, the Supreme Court did so Thursday. “Harsh,” and “inappropriate,” was how it described the Madras High Court’sremarksthattheElection Commission of India (ECI) “should be put on murder charges” for “not stopping politicalparties”fromviolatingCovid protocol during their campaign rallies last month. The apex court also under- BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY lined the need “for judges to exercise caution in off-the-cuff remarks in open court”. But the bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah rejected the ECI’s prayer to direct the media not to report oral observations but only what is part of the judicial records saying: “The freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution extends to reporting the proceedings of judicial institutions as well”. “Balancing the rights” of the two constitutional bodies, the HC and ECI, the bench said the former’s “anguish” must be understood in the light of the fact that it “was faced with a situation of rising cases of Covid- 19 and, as a Constitutional Court, was entrusted with protecting the life and liberty of citizens”. The judgment said that the HC’s oral observations were not part of any judicial record and hence the question of expunging them does not arise. It added that the court’s observations“wereharsh”and“the metaphor inappropriate”. If the HC, indeed, made the remarks, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Dissenting EC had offered to quit; poll body contradicts itself on media gag RITIKA CHOPRA NEW DELHI, MAY 6 THE DISSENTING Election Commissioner hadofferedtoresign as “punishment” if the Madras High Court (HC) so desired. This was among the key points the Commissioner had made in his affidavit, The Indian Express has learned. In his affidavit, he is said to have stated that the court’s oral observations — on the Election CEC Sushil Chandra (left) and EC Rajiv Kumar. Express Commission’sroleinconducting elections during the second Covid wave — had demoralised DISTRICT MUZAFFARNAGAR Here, nurses are doctors, ward boys are nurses, families are ward boys UP Covid curve will shape India’s — The Indian Express follows it across small towns the EC’s rank and file. Urging the court to not punish the institution but the individual, he is said to have requested the court to withdraw its oral observations or hold him personally accountable. For the latter,heofferedtotakepersonal responsibility and resign. Butthisaffidavitwasrejected by the Election Commission and never filed with the HC nor attached with its Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Health infra fully exposed, oxygen not only issue: HC to Delhi: SOFI AHSAN NEW DELHI, MAY 6 Centre sends team to West Bengal, asks for a report in 48 hours DEEPTIMAN TIWARY NEW DELHI, MAY 6 THE HOME Ministry on Thursday despatched a team of four senior officials to West Bengal on a fact-finding exercise ontheviolencethathasfollowed the Assembly election victory of the Trinamool Congress. “The team left this morning and is likely to begin its work in Kolkatashortly.Ithasbeengiven 48 hours to comeback witha report,” a Home Ministry official said. Sources said the team, which is headed by an additional secretary-rankofficial,willmeettop officials of the West Bengal Police, apart from the chief secretary and other officers in the administration. The team will also visit some places from where violence has beenreportedsinceSunday,and speak to affected families, the sources said. TheHomeMinistryhadwritten to the state government on Wednesday, accusing it of not takingstepstostemtheviolence, and asked why a report sought by it had not been received. Home Ministry sources said the letter had been sent to West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay, reminding him of the Ministry’s May 3 letter, in which he had been asked to take immediate measures to check the post-poll violence. The letter had also asked for a detailed CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PAGE 1 ANCHOR Relatives of Covid patients queue up to refill oxygen cylinders in Muzaffarnagar. Praveen Khanna COVID IN THE COUNTRYSIDE UTTAR PRADESH AN EXPRESS SERIES PART-1 DIPANKAR GHOSE At the Muzaffarnagar district hospital. Praveen Khanna AT 10.45 in the morning, next to thegatewithanirongrill,anambulance is parked with its door open. Inside, the Covid patient is lying on his back, an oxygen mask on his face. Next to him is his wife, her hand clasping his. For five minutes, there is silence, thenshoutsoutside.“Wherewill we take him?” asks a family member angrily. “What can we do if there is no space,” a nurse responds. She turns to the pa- tient’s wife: “Just don’t let him fall asleep.” It’sareplayof familiarscenes outside Covid isolation wards across the country since early April when the second wave startedwreakinghavoc.Butthen, this is the district hospital of Muzaffarnagar,inUttarPradesh, astatewhichhasthefourthhighestactivecaseloadinthecountry with over 2.6 lakh cases. UP has recorded more than MUZAFFARNAGAR, MAY 6 MUZAFFARNAGAR Lucknow ACTIVE CASES 1,492 APRIL15 4,664 MAY6 7.82 lakh infections since April 1, which is 55 per cent of the country's entire caseload. And, nearly 40 per cent of its death toll of 14,151 has been recorded after April 1, with high caseloads in smaller towns like Gorakhpur, Bareilly,MoradabadandMeerut. WithMaharashtrastartingto level off, how the Covid curve plays out in UP will define its national spread. To get a sense of this,TheIndianExpresshassetoff on a journey, beginning with Muzaffarnagar in western UP to track the second wave in India's most populous state even as next-door New Delhi fights a bruising battle. On April 29, Muzaffarnagar had 4,719 active cases and an overall cumulative toll of 163 deaths. On May 6, it had 4,664 active cases — the district recorded 21 deaths on Thursday alone, taking the total to 193. Outside the district hospital, the ambulance staffer, Rahul Kumar, pulls aside the patient’s CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 THE DELHI High Court Thursday said medical infrastructure in the national capital has been “completely exposed” when put to the test during the pandemic, and rejected the Delhi government’s submission that oxygen supply was the only issue ailing its health sector. Thecourtsaidthesystemhas failed because people do not demand enough and elect governments without asking for accountability. “Now you are also behavinglikeanostrichwiththe head in the sand,” the division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli told the Delhi government, adding it had earlier given a similar response to the Centre. In several hearings on differentmattersrelatedtoCovidover the last two weeks, the High Court has repeatedly pulled up the central and Delhi governments on a range of issues — fromlackof oxygentonon-availability of beds. On Thursday, the court's observations came on a petition froma52-year-oldCovidpatient CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 US backs IP rights waiver for Covid vaccines, EU says ready to discuss PRABHA RAGHAVAN & AANCHAL MAGAZINE NEW DELHI, MAY 6 IN A move that could potentially help increase production of Covid-19 vaccines around the world, the United States on Wednesday announced its support for waiving intellectual property (IP) protections for these vaccines. Subsequently, the European Union (EU) agreed to discuss such a waiver, after having opposed the proposal made by India and South Africa last year. A waiver on IP protections would mean pharmaceutical firms and vaccine makers across theworldcanlearnhowtomake these vaccines without fear of lawsuits from companies that originally developed them. However, such a waiver can only be enforced if the final proposal, which will have to be reworked through discussions, is accepted by all members of the WorldTradeOrganisation(WTO). LUCKNOW, MAY6 CLOSE TO midnight on Wednesday, the Lucknow administration filed an FIR against a city hospital accusing it of spreading "false rumours" over shortage of oxygen. On Thursday, the hospital administration, which had put up a notice on May 3 asking relatives to take away patients as it was facing oxygen shortage, said it would move the Allahabad High Court over the FIR. A WAIVER on IP protections would mean vaccine makers around the world can produce them without facing legal action from companies that originally developed them. However, such a waiver can be enforced only after the proposal is debated at the WTO. “Countries such as Canada, South Korea, and Bangladesh have all evinced interest in producing Covid vaccines if they have a patent waiver, so we should utilise whatever global capacity is there,” Public Health CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BMC chief: If someone laughs at us, how do I share Mumbai model I told Delhi no hospital should be forced to add beds overnight: Chahal EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE MUMBAI, MAY 6 THE COVID curve in his city on its way down, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said that the “Mumbai model” could work in other cities and statesonlyif therewas honestyabouttheseverityof the coronavirus problem. "Two months back I used to get calls from my colleagues in the government of India, asking why only Maharashtra has Covid. And they would laugh at us. If someone is laughing at us, how do I share my model with them?... When calamity hits, there is no time to learn, don’t have the cushion time to copy thosemodels,"hesaidattheIdea Exchange interaction with The Indian Express newsroom Oxygen notice: Lucknow hospital slapped with FIR, says will move HC ASAD REHMAN Some distance to travel still Sun Hospital, located in Lucknow's Gomti Nagar area, was declared a Covid facility around a month ago. On May 3, the 45-bed hospital had 38 patients, with the hospital claiming all were on oxygen support at the time. On Thursday, it had 28 Covid patients, with 20 on oxygen support. The FIR, filed at 11.30 pm on Wednesday,cameadayafterthe Allahabad High Court, during a hearing,calleddeathsduetolack of oxygena"genocide"andmentioned the notice put up by CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Chahal at the session Thursday. (A detailed transcript will be published May 10.) He said he had attended a meetingofDelhigovernmentand Central officials on Wednesday night, hours after the Supreme Court told them to “draw from the (Mumbai) experience.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 THE EDITORIAL PAGE NEEDANATIONAL COVID ACTIONPLAN BY PRATAP BHANU MEHTA PAGE 8 THE WORLD US COVID OUTLOOK REACHES MOST HOPEFUL POINT YET POST-BREXIT ROW: FRANCE, BRITAIN SEND PATROL BOATS TO JERSEY PAGE 10 The accidental politician who mastered the art of sharp turns MANOJ C G NEW DELHI, MAY 6 AN IIT graduate who stumbled intopoliticstotakeupthe legacy of his legendary father Chaudhary Charan Singh, Ajit Singh would go on to become a consummate politician who moved effortlessly from the BJP to the Congress, and from the Socialists to Communists — as the situation demanded — to keeptheRashtriyaLokDal(RLD) relevant above and beyond its electoral strength. On Thursday, the RLD supremo, who had handed over the baton to his son Jayant Chaudhary, passed away in Gurgaon due to Covid-19 complications, at the age of 82. While never rising to the heights of Charan Singh, who served briefly as prime minister, the affable and ever-smiling Ajit Singh ensured that the RLD remained a key contender in Hindi-beltpolitics—retainingits fertile support base among farmers, cutting across regions. As recently as February, parties seeking to tap into the farmer anger against the Centre were knocking at RLD doors. However,Singhwasoftenaccusedof usinghisastutenessand deal-making skills more for short-term political survival. And of not allowing ideological rigidities to come in the way as he sought out partners in his long-nursed dream of a third front. The RLD supremo remained constrained in this due to his limitations as a leader, particularly when compared to his father, with his electoral appeal not growing beyond Western Uttar Pradesh and, more specifically, the Muslim and Jat communities of the region. Over the years, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav got the betterof himandemergedasthe A J I T S I N G H 1 9 3 9 -2 0 2 1 Singh at the farmers’ mahapanchayat in Baghpat in February, among his last public appearances. Express/File undisputedsocialistleaderof the Hindi belt. Analumnusof IIT-Kharagpur and Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Singh was working in the US when Charan Singh took ill in the early 1980s and suffered a paralytic stroke. With his father hospitalised, Singhreturnedandtookoverthe leadership of the Lok Dal (as the party was known at the time) in themid-1980s,andneverlooked back.InJuly1986,hewaselected to the Rajya Sabha. Less than a year later, after Charan Singh's death, Singh took over as president of the Lok Dal (A). Singh’s old colleague and senior JD(U) leader K C Tyagi remembers him as an accidental politician.“AjitSingh was not interested in entering politics. But because of the unexpected demise of his father, he had to... fill the vacuum.” Around 1988, as several Janata factions including the Lok Dal (A) merged to form the Janata Dal, Ajit Singh became its president.Chandra Shekharwas believed to have helped him become the president to counter V P Singh. However, Singh soon shifted loyalties and joined hands with V P Singh — in the first of his many somersaults. In 1989, the Janata Dal won the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, and Singh was touted to be the chief minister with V P Singh'ssupport.However,atthis stage, Mulayam Singh Yadav — who was to take over as Deputy CM — unexpectedly threw his hat in the ring. After much behind-the-scenes drama and political lobbying, Yadav trumped Singh in a secret political ballot. Singh could never catch on with theSPchief afterthatinthestate. When V P Singh became the PM after the 1989 elections, he picked Ajit Singh as Industry Minister.WithhisfootprintinUP confined,Singhwouldfromthen CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Lucknow
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