Hello, this is your daily dose of news from Onmanorama. I'm your host, Vishnu, and these are the major news stories of the day:
1. Pegasus spyware row: 29 phones examined, SC panel to submit probe report next month
2. 1988 road rage case: Navjot Singh Sidhu surrenders
3. MeToo case: Vijay Babu's passport cancelled, actor suspected to have fled UAE
4. 2017 Actress Assault Case: Trial court orders prosecution to produce evidence following plea to revoke Dileep's bail
5. Kerala receives 112% excess rainfall since March 1
Let's get into the details:
1. The Supreme Court on Friday extended the time for submitting the report on the Pegasus spyware row. Probed by the apex court-appointed technical and supervisory committees, 29 supposedly infected mobile phones are being examined for the spyware and the process should be over in four weeks.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said the technical committee has been examining mobiles for the spyware and has also recorded statements of persons, including some journalists.
Standard operating procedure for testing the 'infected devices' will be finalised too, said the bench, adding the probe by the technical committee may be over by May-end. The final report is expected to be submitted in the top court by mid-June. The matter will be heard again in July.
The Supreme Court, in its order passed on October 27, 2021, constituted a technical committee under the supervision of Retired Justice RV Raveendran to enquire, investigate, and determine certain matters relating to the complaint of unauthorised use of Pegasus spyware against Indian citizens, in the matter of Manohar Lal Sharma vs. the Union of India and others.
An international media consortium had reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillance using the Pegasus spyware.
Several petitions were filed seeking an independent probe into the Pegasus snooping allegations.
2. Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday surrendered before a court in Patiala a day after the Supreme Court sentenced him to one year rigorous imprisonment over a 1988 road rage case in which one person died. While delivering the judgement the court stated that any undue sympathy to impose an inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice system and undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of the law.
Soon after the verdict, however, the former India cricketer had approached the apex court seeking a few weeks' time to surrender to undergo the sentence imposed on him. Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Sidhu, mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar and said Sidhu needed a few weeks to surrender. "It is after 34 years. He wants to organise his medical affairs," Singhvi told the bench, which suggested that they take up the matter with the Chief Justice.
3. The Union External Affairs Ministry has revoked the passport of Keraite actor-cum-producer Vijay Babu, who is reportedly hiding in a location in the Middle East, suspected to be Dubai, ever since he was booked in a sexual assault case a month ago.
As per reports, Babu, anticipating such a move, has likely crossed over from the Gulf city to a country which does not have an extradition treaty with India on handing over wanted criminals.
The passport was cancelled by the Ministry on the basis of the report filed by the Kochi City Police. Subsequently, the actor's visa will also get automatically cancelled.
Kerala Police was planning to arrest him from Dubai with the help of the Interpol immediately after the cancellation of his passport and visa. However, Babu has managed to escape the team yet again.
Babu's earlier plan was to stay put in Dubai till the Kerala High Court pronounced its verdict on his anticipatory bail plea. But the swift move to get his passport cancelled changed his plans, forcing him to leave Dubai. This comes at a time when Babu's lawyers were preparing to approach the Supreme Court in case the HC verdict went against the actor.
It was on April 22 that the actress, a newcomer, had complained to the Kochi Police that she was sexually assaulted by the actor many times.
4. The trial court handling the 2017 actress attack case has directed the prosecution to produce evidence to back its reasons for cancelling accused actor Dileep's bail and gave time for the same till May 26, when the matter will be heard next.
As a premise for cancelling the bail, the latter relied on a couple of audio clips that suggested that the accused tried to influence the court and witnesses.
The court has sought to know from the prosecution whether being accused in another case pertaining to the conspiracy to eliminate investigation officers is reason enough for cancelling Dileep's bail in the previous case registered over the sexual assault of the actress.
The court pointed out that Dileep's bail order did not contain any condition that the actor is not supposed to become an accused in any other criminal case during the bail period.
The court has taken a position that cancellation of bail granted to an accused is not similar to rejecting a bail application or granting bail in a case. The prosecution should be able to produce concrete evidence before the court for cancellation of bail.
At this stage the prosecution informed the trial court that the high court had earlier pointed out that the conspiracy case against Dileep was prima facie maintainable. At the same time, the prosecution raised a grave argument before the same trial court that Dileep, the eighth accused in the 2017 case, tried to influence the witnesses besides the trial court.
The prosecution also submitted two audio clips which were found in the mobile phone of Dileep's brother-in-law T N Sooraj as evidence of an attempt to influence the trial court.
Meanwhile, the public prosecutor’s statement that "the court believes that Dileep's version is completely true and the prosecution's version is totally wrong," angerred the trial court.
The court warned the prosecution against making such statements. Trial court judge Honey M Varghese said in the open court: "the duty of the trial court is not to save the prosecution or Dileep but to ensure justice."
5. Kerala has been witnessing strong pre-monsoon or summer showers this year following an atypical rainy season last year. The State recorded 535.9 mm of rainfall as against the normal of 252.8 mm from March 1 till Thursday, according to the figures from the India Meteorological Department. Thus, the southern state has received 112 per cent more than its average rainfall in the period from March 1.
Eight out of the 14 districts received over 100 per cent rainfall and all districts recorded above 50% excess rainfall.
Ernakulam registered the highest rainfall, receiving 228% excess above the normal.
Other districts which received heavy rainfall are Pathanamthitta and Kottayam with an excess of 112% and 167% respectively.
The pre-monsoon season corresponds to March 1 to May 31.
That brings us to the end of this episode. Be sure to come back tomorrow. As always, thanks for listening to Daily News Dose.