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Delhi Violence: Is Justice S Muralidhar’s Transfer Politically Motivated ?

Justice S Muralidhar removed from the Delhi violence case. This is as blatant as it can get. He was asking hard questions and pressing for an FIR against hate speech.

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Justice S Muralidhar removed from the Delhi violence case. This is as blatant as it can get. He was asking hard questions and pressing for an FIR against hate speech.

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Ever since the violence erupted in the national capital, there are several claims which are doing the rounds on social media. One political ideology is accusing others of rioting and vice versa. We were flagged to fact check a claim which states that the Delhi High Court judge S Muralidhar was removed from the hearing of the Delhi violence case. A verified Twitter user namely ‘Saikat Datta’ shared this claim on his handle along with many others who accused the government of giving free passage to the rioters or who instigated the riots.

As we began to fact check the claim, we first searched media reports on the issue. We found a report published by the news portal The Wire. As per ‘The Wire’ report, the counsel representing Al-Hind Hospital in Delhi filed a plea for urgent hearing following which Justice Muralidhar and Justice A.J. Bhambhani held an emergency sitting at 1 a.m. on Wednesday.

Modi Government Wastes No Time Moving Justice Muralidhar Out of Delhi High Court

New Delhi: The gazette notification effecting the transfer of Justice S. Muralidhar from the Delhi high court on Wednesday couldn’t have been more curiously timed. On the day the judge held three key hearings on the Delhi riots and passed orders that annoyed the Modi government at the Centre, the law ministry issued a notification formally shifting him from the crucial Delhi high court to the Punjab and Haryana high court.

The aforementioned ‘The Wire’ report also informs that the Delhi violence case was heard by Justice Muralidhar in the first place since Chief Justice Patel was on personal leave since Monday. An excerpt from ‘The Wire’ report reads, “These matters landed on Justice Muralidhar’s docket by happenstance as the chief justice of the Delhi high court, Justice D.N. Patel was on leave. The second senior judge, acting on behalf of the chief in his absence, handed the hospital’s late-night writ to Justice Muralidhar.”

During our investigation, we also found a report by ‘Bar and Bench’ that backs ‘The Wire’ report. An excerpt from the report reads, “The matter, which was initially supposed to come up before the Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel, was posted before the Bench headed by Justice Muralidhar, as the former was on leave.

Mander’s plea related to the Delhi Riots will continue to be heard today, by a Bench headed by Chief Justice Patel.”

 

[Live from Delhi High Court] You are an inspiration, lawyers tell Justice Muralidhar as he sits as Delhi HC judge for the last time

The Delhi riots matter in relation to registration of FIR will not be heard by Justice Muralidhar

We also found a series of tweets by Live Law that informs the same as of the two reports states above.

 

Basis the information available in the public domain, we found that the Delhi violence case was not listed to be heard by Justice Muralidhar initially but since Delhi High Court Chief Justice DN Patel was on leave since Monday, the matter was posted before the Bench headed by Justice Muralidhar.

As we searched further, we found a tweet by media agency ANI in which Law Minister of India Ravishankar Prasad has said that the transfer of Justice Muralidhar was done pursuant to recommendation dated 12.02.2020 of the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India. While transferring the judge, the consent of the judge is taken. The well-settled process has been followed.

We also found a tweet by Utkarsh Anand, who is also the legal editor for News18. Utkarsh’s tweet reports the notification for the transfer of three High Court judges. Notably, the transfer was recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium on February 12 which is way before the riots in the national capital erupted.

 

We also searched the Department of Justice website of Indian Law Ministry and we found a memorandum for the appointment and transfer of High Court judges. Point No. 25 of the memorandum talks about the transfer of High Court judges. Point No. 25 of the same memorandum reads, “Article 222 of the Constitution makes provision for the transfer of a Judge (including Chief Justice) from one High Court to any other High Court. The initiation of the proposal for the transfer of a Judge should be made by the Chief Justice of India whose opinion in this regard is determinative. Consent of a Judge for his first or subsequent transfer would not be required. All transfers are to be made in public interest i.e. for promoting better administration of justice throughout the country.

Memorandum of procedure of appointment of High Court JudgesDepartment of Justice | Ministry of Law & Justice | GoI

Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, is responsible for the administrative functions in relation to the appointment of various judges at various courts in India, maintenance and revision of the conditions and rules of service of the judges and other related areas.

Hence, it is evident from our investigation that the High Court judge S Muralidhar was not removed from the Delhi violence case as he was not originally listed to hear the matter. He could hear the matter only because the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court was on leave. It is established from our fact check that the transfer of justice Muralidhar was initiated on 12 February 2020 and the violence erupted in Delhi on 24 February only.

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Result: Misleading

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Did Qatar cancel all Air India flights under Vande Bharat Mission? No, it’s a false claim

An image which states that Qatar cancelled all Air India flights under Vande Bharat Mission is false.

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An image we received on our Whatsapp verification number claims “Qatar cancelled all Air India Flights Under Vande Bharat Mission.” See the image below. 

Factcheck

The above image also claims that earlier Air India got exemptions from their airport charges on account of Vande Bharat being an evacuation mission. Later, on realising that passengers paid 700 riyals for these tickets, they cancelled all the flights. 

We found similar messages being circulated on Facebook and Twitter, examples below. 

What an image we build !!

Người đăng: Shrikant Prabhu vào Thứ Sáu, 15 tháng 5, 2020

You can view another example here

Through a keyword search we came across a clarification on the official Twitter page of the Embassy of India Doha, Qatar. It denied the rumour by stating that a flight was cancelled due to technical reasons. And is being rescheduled for 12 May. 

A subsequent tweet on 11 May by the Embassy of India, Doha expressed that a few media channels were making a baseless claim about flight IX-374 from Doha to Thiruvananthapuram was cancelled because of differences over landing and handling charges. None of it is true. 

Conclusion

We found the claim in the image which states that Qatar cancelled all Air India flights under Vande Bharat Mission to be false. 

Tools Used

  • Google search
  • Twitter advanced search 

Result: False 

(If you would like us to fact check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill the form)

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Coronavirus

Photograph Taken in 1985 Shared on Social Media in the Backdrop of COVID-19 Pandemic

A photograph is being widely shared on social media, which shows a woman holding a child in her hands, claiming that this picture was taken before the mother succumbed to the novel coronavirus in Italy.

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A Facebook user shared a photograph of a woman holding a child her in her hands claiming that this picture was taken before the mother succumbed to the novel coronavirus in Italy.

बेटे से माँ की जुदाई…है भगवान हर माँ की रक्षा करों !इटली की महिला कोरोना की तीसरी और आखरी स्टेज में थी सामने उनका 18…

Người đăng: Subham Chouhan Lalla Bhaiya vào Thứ Ba, 21 tháng 4, 2020

The caption of the viral image, when translated to English, reads, ‘Such a disheartening incident. Female Corona patient in Italy was in the third stage and her 18-month-old child was crying a lot. The patient expressed her last wish that she wanted to hug her child once. The doctors covered her entire body, and as she holds the child, the child stopped crying, but the mother succumbed to the coronavirus.’

We found that the photograph was being shared on Facebook and Twitter with identical claims.

Several readers sent the viral pictures to Newschecker’s WhatsApp helpline number for verification.

Fact Check

With the help of reverse image search, we found the same image in Magnum Photos. The image viral on social media was clicked in 1985 at a cancer treatment centre in Seattle, USA by photojournalist Burt Glinn, before the baby’s bone marrow transplant and has no connection with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The caption of the image reads, “USA, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, 1985. Fred Hutchinson CancerCenter- Infant inside Laminar AirFlow Room protection from infection. The child has been irradiated prior to marrow transplant.”

We also found that the original photograph clicked by Burt Glinn is vertical, and one can see the mother in a standing position with her hands and face inserted into the laminar airflow box, whereas the image viral on social media is in a horizontal position. You can see the comparison here:

Conclusion

It is clear from our fact check that the photograph viral on social media, which shows a woman holding a child in her hands, is neither from Italy nor does it has any connection with coronavirus pandemic. The image was taken in 1985 at a cancer treatment center in Seattle, USA, by photojournalist Burt Glinn before the baby’s bone marrow transplant.

Sources

  • Google Reverse Image Search
  • Google Search

Result: Misleading

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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Patients Are Not Being Segregated On The Basis Of Religion; Media Outlets Falsely Report

Since the government has denied the allegations of segregation of COVID-19 patients on the basis of religion and the doctor whom the outlets claim to have spoken, alleges

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News outlets such as The Hindu, The New Indian Express, and others claimed that the COVID-19 patients in Gujarat are being segregated on the basis of religion at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital. The reports published by media outlets were further amplified by several verified and prominent Twitter handles.

Fact Check

As it is rightly said, the world is fighting a pandemic and an ‘Infodemic’, Indian media is justifying the statement in its truest sense. In the past few days, cases of misreporting by media outlets have seen a spike, besides a strict warning by the Supreme Court. Indian media was recently criticized for the religious profiling of COVID-19 cases in India but even that could not stop the media from reporting COVID-19 cases on the basis of the religion. 

The latest outlet to join the communal cacophony of Indian media is ‘The Hindu’ which is otherwise known for its quality journalism. The paper tried to undo the damage though by removing the ‘Hindu/Muslim’ words from its report after realizing they had misreported on the matter. 

The Hindu on 15th April carried a report titled ‘COVID-19 patients segregated on the basis of religion at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, according to reports’. The report carried by ‘The Hindu’ is based on the alleged segregation of COVID-19 patients at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital. The report was later updated and certain changes were made to the report. 

Here’s what was in the initial report and what all changes were made to the report.

Note: ‘Red’ color stands for words removed in the updated report and ‘Green’ color for words added.

An archived version of the first updates report can be found here.

An archived version of the updated report can be found here.

Interestingly, the aforementioned ‘The Hindu’ report was updated within a few minutes after publishing. The original version of the above-mentioned report is not available on the web and it is nowhere specified in the report what was updated and when.

Another news outlet The Indian Express, which has a history of publishing reports through unverified sources, made the same claim as that by ‘The Hindu’.

An archived version of the first updated version of The Indian Express report can be found here.

The latest version of The Indian Express report can be found here.

The Indian Express in its report claims to have spoken to the Medical Superintendent of Ahmedabad Civil Hospital namely ‘Dr. Gunvant H Rathod’. The report further claims that Dr. Rathod told the publication, “Generally, there are separate wards for male and female patients. But here, we have made separate wards for Hindu and Muslim patients. (On being asked about the reason Dr. Rathod said) It is a decision of the government and you can ask them.”

The aforementioned report further claims that there are almost 150 COVID patients in the hospital, out of which, at least 40 belong to the Muslim community.

The report published by The Indian Express was further amplified by many prominent journalists and politicians such as Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, TMC MP Mohua Mitra, India Today Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai and his journalist wife Sagarika Ghosh, Rana Ayyub, Kavita Krishnan, Prashant Bhushan, Sanjay Singh, Saba Naqvi, Swati Chaturvedi, Shama Mohamed, Alfons Lopez Tena, moneycontrol, Smitha Nair, Nirjhari Sinha, National Herald, Mitali Saran, Ali, Real Report, Ashok Swain, Man Aman Singh Chhina, Tarek Fatah, Jignesh Mevani, Ajit Anjum, Isaac Chotiner, Swaraj India, Khaled Beydoun, Lt Gen H S Panag (Retired), Seema Chishti, Rakesh Sharma, GK Zhimomi, Muzamil Jaleel, Kawalpreet Kaur, Karuna Nundy, Pooja Pillai, Snehesh Alex Philip, Avinash Dutt, Spandan Srivastava, Vimlendu Jha, Saif Ullah Khan, Omar R Quraishi, Niraj Bhatia, Bumbai Ki Rani, Paranjoy Guha Thakurata, Nishita Jha, Zafar Sareshwala, Suresh Mathew, Parmesh Shahani, Faraz Arif Ansari, Dushyant, Liz Mathew, Aamer Javeed and Debasish Roy.

We searched the social media accounts of the concerned hospital and we found the statement of the doctor, The Indian Express claims to have spoken to, has alleged that the outlet has misquoted him.

The statement of the doctor can be viewed below.

When we searched further, we found a tweet by the official Twitter handle of The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom where the body has condemned the segregation of the patients on the basis of religion.

Replying to the aforementioned tweet, Anurag Srivastava who is the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, India, has suggested that the USCIRF  ‘stop adding religious color to India’s national goal of fighting the COVID 19 pandemic.’

Additionally, we found a tweet made by the Gujarat arm of Press Information Bureau which has denied the allegations levied against the concerned hospital.

Similarly, in a tweet, the Department of Information in Gujarat,, rubbished the claims of segregation of COVID-19 patients on the basis of religion. 

The Health & Family Welfare Department of the Gujarat Government has also clarified the issue in a Twitter thread.

Since the government has denied the allegations of segregation of COVID-19 patients on the basis of religion and the doctor whom the outlets claim to have spoken, alleges to be misquoted, here’s a list of questions that make the report carried by the two news outlets look suspicious.

  1. If Dr. Rathod said that the segregation is taking place on the orders issued by the government, did the outlets try to ask for a copy of the order? If yes, did they get the same? If yes, why was the copy of the order not mentioned in the report?
  2. The Indian Express claims to have spoken to Dr. Rathod and some of the patients as well, is there a video/audio proof for the same? If yes, why is the same not mentioned in any of the updated versions of the report? Since the Government has denied the acknowledgment of any segregation on the basis of religion, the best practice would be to produce the proofs of the conversations which according to the outlet took place inside the hospital.
  3. The Indian Express claims to have spoken to the district magistrate of Ahmedabad and the Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat and both have categorically denied the acknowledgment of any such segregation. Now, since the outlet has not been able to produce a copy of the order, how did the outlet reach the conclusion that segregation has taken place based on an order issued by the government?
  4. In the report published by ‘The Hindu’, the outlet has mentioned that the said information was provided by a special correspondent, why did the outlet not ask for the proof of testimony of the patients or the statement made by the ‘anonymous doctor’ it has mentioned in the report?

Basis the statement of Dr. Rathod of Ahmedabad Civil Hospital and a clear denial of several government bodies, we reached the conclusion that the two outlets mentioned above, published a ‘False’ report which was later amplified by several verified Twitter handles. Also it is noteworthy that despite being called out by the government, both ‘The Hindu’ and ‘The Indian Express’, in spite of adding proofs to their respective reports, have merely updated the reports by adding the government’s denial. 

Sources

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Result: False

(If you would like us to fact check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill the form)

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