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Demonetisation: 60 lakh depositors put Rs 7 lakh cr in banks since 8 Nov

New Delhi: Armed with information about Rs 7 lakh crore deposits made by some 60 lakh individuals and companies, the government today warned of hauling up anyone unable to show legal means saying mere depositing in bank does not convert black money into white.

Top officials said while the government will not hound any genuine depositor, it will not hesitate to litigate at any forum to catch any black money holder trying to convert illegal wealth into white.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Post demonetisation, unaccounted wealth holders have an option to avail of a tax evasion amnesty scheme Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) and pay their dues, failing which the government’s long arms will surely catch them, they said.

“People are thinking that money has come into the banking system and it has all become white. This is not so. We have been getting daily information of all the deposits above Rs 2 lakh, Rs 5 lakh and the number and amount deposited and we have been collating this information with past information about the same person,” a top government official told PTI.

“So, there is a huge scope for taxing now which has arisen and we do hope that people will understand that simply because they have put in bank it has become white that is not the case. We do hope that people themselves will come forward to participate in the scheme. But if they don’t, they are not going to be happy,” the official further said.

The tax department is armed with systems to track those with multiple banks accounts as well as those who are depositing in accounts of others and tax department will not leave anyone who is trying to evade taxes, he added.

“Even if you take deposits of more than Rs 2 lakh, we have information about more then 60 lakh individuals, companies and institutions who have deposited more than Rs 7 lakh crore of money. That’s an astonishing number. We will be looking at it. For individuals the deposit figure would be Rs 3-4 lakh crore. “We do expect a lot of revenue buoyancy because of this either in this year or in subsequent years but nobody will go scot-free,” the official said.

Following the demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes on November 8, government has come out with PMGKY under which people can disclose unaccounted cash and come clean by paying 50 per cent tax. Besides the scheme provides for a mandatory deposit of 25 per cent of such income in the zero-interest bearing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016, for four years.

PMGKY commenced on December 17 and shall remain open for declarations and deposits up to March 31, 2017.

The official said that tax department is doing data analytics. The purpose of demonetisation was to bring the money into the banking system so that there is a money trail with regard to the anonymous cash holding.

“We don’t want to send any inspector to people but at least we would like people to know that we know about them. Now this is a big change. Earlier, people used to keep a lot of black money and think that nobody knows about it. Now, the entire black money has come into the banking system,” he said.

The official said that at least 70 per cent of bank accounts have PAN numbers and are linked with Aadhar, and hence all deposits can be easily tracked. Besides, RBI has already asked banks within two months all accounts have to be linked with PAN or else there will be restrictions.

“It is better to disclose the deposits under the PMGKY and pay the tax rather than keep it hidden as the tax department will eventually be able to track them,” the official said.

The PMGKY scheme provides an opportunity to persons having undisclosed income in the form of cash or deposit in an account maintained with a specified entity (which includes banks and post office) to declare such income and pay tax, surcharge and penalty totaling in all to 49.9 per cent of such declared income.

Besides, the scheme provides that a mandatory deposit of not less than 25 per cent of such income shall be made in the zero-interest bearing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016, for four years.

“When there is a scheme of 50 per cent tax payment available, no one should keep money at home. Unless it is a case of corrupt officer he doesn’t disclose. Business people will put money in bank and relax,” the official added.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 17:42 IST

Election Commission notifies five poll-bound states to prepare for schedule announcement

New Delhi: In an indication that assembly elections to five states could be announced anytime now, the Election Commission has asked the Centre and the state governments to implement the model code of conduct as soon as the schedule is out.

In a letter sent to the cabinet secretary and chief secretaries of the poll-bound states of Uttar Pradesh,
Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab, the Commission has compiled a set of instructions issued in the past to drive home the point that model code should be implemented effectively with the announcement of poll schedule.

Poll time. ReutersPoll time. Reuters

Poll time. Reuters

The list of dos and don’ts issued by the Commission includes prevention of misuse of public place, avoiding use of official vehicles for campaigning, removing pictures of political functionaries from state government websites and bar on use of public money for advertisements to help the ruling party.

The poll panel has also reminded political parties to approach the Media Certification and Monitoring Committees at district and state level, for pre-certification of their political advertisements proposed to be issued in the
electronic media.

Sources in the Commission said assembly polls could be announced by 4 January to the five states.

Except Uttar Pradesh, which may go for a seven-phased election, the other states could have elections on a single day.

While the term of the Uttar Pradesh assembly expires on 27 May next, the terms of four state assemblies end in March next.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 17:09 IST

Punjab elections 2017: Amarinder Singh promises to bring special law to crack down on drug mafia

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vowing to eradicate the drugs menace in Punjab within four weeks of coming to power, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh promised on Wednesday a special law to crack down on the drug mafia and asserted that all those found guilty would be jailed and their property confiscated.”All drugs cases would be dealt with on fast-track basis under the new law, which would be brought immediately after (government) formation if elected to power,” he said. “Nobody would be spared,” Amarinder said. In a statement issued in Delhi, the PCC chief said the proposed legislation – part of the 9-point action plan of Congress — would provide for deterrent punishment and confiscation of property of all those found guilty of ruining the lives of Punjab’s youth with drugs.Accusing the Badal government of “allowing unchecked proliferation of drugs in the state to further their own vested interests”, Amarinder said an entire generation of youth had been destroyed because of the “patronage” accorded to the drug mafia by the present dispensation in Punjab. He made it clear that all steps would be taken, on priority basis, to tackle the drugs cases and ensure strict, deterrent punishment for drug dealers, suppliers and distributors.He welcomed the Election Commission’s decision to appoint a special team of narcotics control officers to check flow of drugs in his state during the Assembly polls. “The EC move on drugs was a clear endorsement of the Congress stand that the drugs menace was rampant in Punjab under the Badal regime,” he said.

Tripura TMC launches movement to ‘restore democracy by ousting Left Front Government’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Tripura Trinamool Congress (TMC) has declared agitation against the ruling Left Front on various issues including investigation against chit funds, duped depositors, involvement of elected members including minister of the state in crime against women, unemployment, state government employees deprived from the Seventh Pay Commission and few other issues. President of the newly formed Tripura unit of the party, Asish Saha told the media that the Trinamool Congress announced that it would launch a continuous movement in the state to “restore democracy” by ousting the Left Front Government in the assembly elections scheduled for 2018.”In this state, 142 chit funds were active and the party in power had made all arrangements and provided them license to do business. The Chief Minister of the state along with various ministers, ruling CPI(M) party MLAs and leaders attended programmes organised by different chit funds which were active in this state and thus encouraged people to deposit money and brought credibility for these chit funds, which duped around 14 lack depositors of the state. Moreover, due to wrong decision of the cabinet these chit funds could flee from the state leading to economic breakdown but the state government did not take any step against them,” said Saha.”The people of the state faced huge monetary loss and there was a repeated demand to take measure against these chit funds but the government did not do anything so that those were duped could get back their money. So very soon the Trinamool Congress will organise state wide protest on behalf of all depositors who had lost their money to these chit funds,” he added.Saha alleged that neither the state nor the Central Government is serious in taking step against the chit fund or the corruption in various block offices by siphoning of fund from central schemes and so the TMC will organise protest against all these. “We have noticed that in all our neighbouring states investigations are taking place against the chit funds by the CBI, ED and the union government is also giving importance to the loss of the depositors in those states. But in our state, despite our repeated demand the centre or the state government is not declaring any investigation. Here the party in power had siphoned depositor’s money in connivance with the chit funds and so no steps are being taken against them. So on coming January 19 we shall organise rally for pressing various demands including investigation against the chit funds,” he said.He also alleged that the state is among those in crime against women and no legal step is taken against those who are involved in such crimes as they are leaders and elected members of the Left Front. Saha said, “Besides protesting against corruption, we shall also protest against the crime against women in the state. We shall also fight for the unemployed youths, the government employees who are deprived by the state government from their 7th Pay Commission scale. For these demands we shall also go for six hours state wide agitation on coming January 19.”He claimed that only TMC can oust the corrupt Marxist government from power like Mamata Banerjee ousted the Marxist government from power in West Bengal. The TMC has formed a 74-member Tripura Pradesh unit with Saha as its president.

Panchayat polls in Odisha to be held in five phases between 13-21 February

Bhubaneswar: The State Election Commission (SEC) on Tuesday announced dates for panchayat polls in Odisha.

The panchayat polls, which has been scheduled in five phases, will begin on 13 February, 2017, and end on 21 February, said a release.

With the announcement of poll dates, the model code of conduct came into effect in the state from Tuesday. It will be in force until the end of the last phase of the poll, it said.

Representative image. PTI

Representative image. PTI

“The aspiring candidates can file nominations between 11 January and 17 January next year. The papers will be scrutinised on January 18 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations is 21 January,” said State Election Commissioner R.N. Senapati.

The final list of contesting candidates will be declared on the same day.

The SEC has asked the district collectors to maintain law and order for smooth conduct of elections in their districts.

The elections will be held for the posts of 853 Zilla Parishad members, 6,802 Sarpanches, 6,801 Panchayat Samiti members and 92,052 ward members, in which 2,60,92,507 voters will exercise their franchise.

The state government has reserved 50 percent seats for women candidates in the panchayat elections.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 16:04 IST

US woman gangraped: Delhi court sentences four accused to two days of judicial custody

New Delhi: Four men, arrested for allegedly raping a US tourist in a 5-star hotel earlier this year, were on Tuesday sent to two-day judicial custody by a city court.

Metropolitan Magistrate Harvinder Singh sent the accused to Tihar Jail after Delhi Police moved an application seeking their judicial custody.

Yesterday, the police had arrested a tour guide, a driver, a cleaner and a hotel staff in connection with the alleged gangrape of the woman in April this year.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The US national arrived here a few days ago to join the probe and recorded her statement in front of a judicial magistrate where she reiterated that she was gangraped by five persons in a five-star hotel here.

Four accused were arrested after the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) issued a notice to Delhi Police asking them why the Rape Crisis Cell of the women’s panel was not informed when the victim’s statement was recorded.

Earlier, the complainant had said she was not “satisfied” with the probe and was ready to come to India to identify the accused.

The woman had alleged that she was raped by the men for two days and also threatened with dire consequences if she reported the matter to anybody.

She had also stated that the accused had made a video of the act and threatened to make it public if she reported the matter to anyone. She had also told the police that the accused had claimed to have sexually assaulted a couple of other female tourists as well.

A team of psychologists and psychiatrists have been assisting the lady in recalling the details of the incident. The team is also working with the police in their investigation to tie up loose ends.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 14:54 IST

US woman’s gangrape: Court sends four accused to 2-day custody

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four men, arrested for allegedly raping a US tourist in a 5-star hotel earlier this year, were today sent to two-day judicial custody by a city court.Metropolitan Magistrate Harvinder Singh sent the accused to Tihar Jail after Delhi Police moved an application seeking their judicial custody. Yesterday, the police had arrested a tour guide, a driver, a cleaner and a hotel staff in connection with the alleged gangrape of the woman in April this year.The US national arrived here a few days ago to join the probe and recorded her statement in front of a judicial magistrate where she reiterated that she was gangraped by five persons in a five-star hotel here. Four accused were arrested after the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) issued a notice to Delhi Police asking them why the Rape Crisis Cell of the women’s panel was not informed when the victim’s statement was recorded.Earlier, the complainant had said she was not “satisfied” with the probe and was ready to come to India to identify the accused. The woman had alleged that she was raped by the men for two days and also threatened with dire consequences if she reported the matter to anybody.She had also stated that the accused had made a video of the act and threatened to make it public if she reported the matter to anyone. She had also told the police that the accused had claimed to have sexually assaulted a couple of other female tourists as well. A team of psychologists and psychiatrists have been assisting the lady in recalling the details of the incident.The team is also working with the police in their investigation to tie up loose ends.

Why has AAP removed list of donors from its website? Yogendra Yadav asks Arvind Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Alleging that the list of donors AAP has submitted to Election Commission and tax authorities is different from the one it has put on its website, Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj India challenged it for a debate on its sources of funding. The allegation and the challenge come a day after the AAP challenged the Congress and the BJP for a public debate at the Jantar Mantar on their sources of funding.On December 23, Anna Hazare had castigated Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for not putting its list of donors on its website.The AAP, which had taken the donors’ list off its website in June this year, has alleged its donors are “being targeted” by tax authorities. “Why did the party presents two different list of contributions, one to the tax authorities and Election Commission and another to the public on its website? Why do the two lists not match? What did the party wish to conceal?” Swaraj India’s spokesperson Anupam said.He also alleged the AAP “collected crore of rupees in cash” in Punjab and questioned where has the money been deposited since it “does not have a bank account in Punjab”.Here are the five questions:1. Why has this party, ostensibly committed to financial transparency, taken off the list of its past and current donors from its website since June this year? Why has this not been restored despite repeated appeals and public outcry?2. Why did the party present two different lists of contributions, one to the tax authorities and Election Commission and another to the public on its website? Why do the two lists not match? What did the party wish to conceal?3. What has the party done about the four contributions of Rs. 50 lakh each received in April 2014, now that it is proven that those contributions came from shell companies with benami directors?4. Where did the party deposit the hundreds of crores of rupees collected in cash from aspiring candidates in Punjab, since it maintains no bank account in Punjab?5. What is the party’s financial relationship to Shri B. D. Aggrawal of Sriganganar, Rajasthan? Why did the party leadership have a clandestine meeting with Mr. Aggrawal immediately after demonetization?Earlier, Anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare today castigated Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for “not fulfilling the promise” of putting his party’s donors list in public domain, at a time when the AAP has been questioning the Congress and BJP over their source of funding.In a letter to Kejriwal, dated December 23, the veteran activist, popularly known as Anna and also a ‘father-figure’ for the AAP, took a dig at the Delhi Chief Minister and said if change has to be brought into the system, then the leadership should “walk the talk”.”For the betterment of country and the society, I kept aside several important works related to people in Maharashtra and gave you my time without any selfish interest and dreamt big for the country. But my dream has been shattered,” Hazare, who launched an anti-graft crusade, said.He also referred to a letter written to him by Munish Raizada, a US-based medico and suspended AAP member, pointing out that donors’ records have gone off the party website since June 2016. Raizada also launched ‘no chanda’ (no donation) satyagraha at Raj Ghat today.AAP’s national treasurer Raghav Chadha claimed that Hazare was being misled by Congress leaders on the issue while the BJP is using state agencies to threaten its donors.On behalf of Kejriwal, he also challenged BJP President Amit Shah and Congress President Sonia Gandhi to come out clean on party donors and have a debate on the issue at Jantar Mantar.”You made several promises, which includes putting the donations received by the AAP on the party website.”The talks of social change, which we espoused, are fading and politics and money are becoming important. The sense of humility is also fading.”Or else, you would not have taken off the names of people from your website who gave donations to the party during trying times,” Hazare said.He also expressed displeasure over functioning of the AAP. Hazare said that while other parties get donations from people for their “selfish interests”, people give funds to AAP to bring in change.”You penned a book on Gram Swaraj. The way you are going…is this the way to Gram Swaraj? This is the question before me. What is the difference between your party and other political outfits?” Hazare said.”You promised change to me and the people. It pains because the promise has not been fulfilled. You have made several such promises to me and people,” Hazare said.Chadha said AAP is the only party that has transparency in its source of funding and 92 per cent of its donations come through banking channels like net banking, credit and debit card and cheques.”Congress leaders like Muish Raizada are misleading Anna while BJP uses state agenices to harass our donors. Raizada has joined the Congress,” Chadha claimed.With inputs from agencies

Tripura panchayat by-polls: Left Front wins 43 out of 47 seats

Fri, 23 Dec 2016-10:50pm , Agartala , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ruling Left Front in Tripura on Friday swept the by-polls to the three-tier gram panchayat by winning 43 out of total 47 seats in the state, elections for which was held on December 21, officials said.Secretary of the State Election Commission Prasenjit Bhattacharya said the by-elections were held in 44 Gram Panchayat seats, of which the CPI(M) alone won in 38 seats, CPI in two seats, BJP won in two seats and TMC in two seats. “Besides gram panchayats, by-elections were also held to two Panchayat Samiti seats at Durga Chowmuhani in Dhalai district and at Gournagar in Unakoti district, where the ruling CPI(M) registered their win. By-poll was also held to one Zilla Parishad seat in Unakoti district, which was also won by the CPI(M),” Bhattacharya told reporters here.The by-polls were necessitated due to deaths and resignations of the candidates.

Rajasthan govt tries to assure Gujjars on quota after stir threat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Gujjars threatening to launch a fresh agitation for quota, Rajasthan government has assured the communities under the special backward classes that it would go for appropriate solution within the framework of law to protect their interest.The Rajasthan High Court had on December 9 struck down Special Backward Classes quota given to Gujjars and five other communities by the state government as the total reservation exceeded the permissible limit of 50%. “State Government is waiting for a certified copy of the Rajasthan high court judgment so that an appropriate solution, within the framework of law, can be arrived at,” a statement said.The government said that it always showed its commitment to the welfare and uplift of Special Backward Classes (SBCs) of the state and concrete steps had been taken in the past. “The decisions taken in the interest of the communities include convening a special session of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly. “The Chief Minister had directed that all efforts have to be made to defend the legislation of 2015,” the statement said.The Rajasthan High Court has directed to suspend its December 9 order for a period of six weeks and that the appointments/admissions given by the Government of Rajasthan, pursuant to the 2015 Act, shall not be disturbed, it said Even before the orders of the High Court were passed, the Cabinet Sub-Committee constituted to look into and address issues related to the welfare of SBCs, met several times, it said.After the court order, the Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti had threatened to launch a fresh agitation for quota. On November 28, 2012, the Rajasthan Cabinet had decided to provide a separate 5% quota to the SBCs without touching the 21 per cent reservation available to Other Backward Classes and taking the overall reservation in jobs and education to 54%.This had left Gujjars dissatisfied as it was susceptible to judicial rejection since its inception.Earlier too, an attempt was made to enhance five per cent of reservation over and above the prescribed limit in 2008 which was not permitted by high court. Then in 2009 and 2010, the high court had asked the OBC commission of the state to revisit the concession made by state government and after the study and recommendation of OBC Commission again, the Gujjars and five other communities were given 5% extra reservation in 2012 that has been struck down.The state has witnessed violent agitation by Gujjars several times since 2007, when the community members blocked national highways and railway tracks and were fired upon by the police.

Solar scam: Oommen Chandy deposes before judicial commission

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy deposed on Friday before a judicial commission probing charges in the solar panel scam, allegedly linked to his staff.The panel headed by Justice Sivarajan had directed the senior Congress leader to be present for cross-examination today. Chandy was cross-examined in January last, in a sitting of the Kochi-based commission held in Thiruvananthapuram, when he was the Chief Minister.Outside the Commission office, Chandy had said that he had already told the Commission whatever he had to say with regard to the scam occurred during his tenure. During the deposition, he had maintained that the charges against him and his office were “politically motivated” and denied any wrongdoing.The state government had appointed a retired High Court judge Sivarajan to head the one-man commission on October 23, 2013, to probe the scam pertaining to alleged duping of investors by one Biju Radhakrishnan and his partner Saritha S Nair, who allegedly collected crores of rupees for a solar power project. The two had allegedly canvassed business by using top level names, including that of Chandy.While Saritha was granted bail after remaining behind bars for about nine months, Radhakrishnan is still in jail in connection with the alleged murder of his wife.

Unprecedented acrimony marks Jung’s tenure as Delhi LG

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The tenure of Najeeb Jung as the Lieutenant Governor saw Delhi’s complex administrative structure stretched to the limit with unprecedented rancour marking his relationship with the elected Aam Aadmi Party government. The Arvind Kejriwal dispensation, having won a brute majority in the February 2015 election, repeatedly accused Jung of “stalling” governance and acting at the BJP government’s behest and as the “agent” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.But, Jung steadfastly maintained that he was merely following the constitutional provisions in letter and spirit and asserted at one point that “in respect to the NCT (national capital territory) of Delhi, the government means the Lieutenant Governor of the NCT of Delhi”. Earlier this year, the Delhi High Court’s verdict came as a shot in the arm for Jung as it stamped his primacy as the city’s administrative head. However, the ruling AAP has challenged the order in the Supreme Court.The die was cast during AAP’s 49-day-stint spread across 2013-14 as the dispensation had clashed with Jung over his objection to the tabling of the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Delhi Assembly. The party also referred to Jung’s stint with business house Reliance to caste aspersions on his decisions.
ALSO READ AAP v/s LG: Najeeb Jung’s sudden resignation leaves bete noire Arvind Kejriwal ‘surprised’In AAP’s second term, the first stand-off occurred within days of Jung appointing senior bureaucrat Shakuntala Gamlin as acting Chief Secretary of the city government in June 2015, notwithstanding strong reservations by Kejriwal who termed the decision as “unconstitutional”.Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) became another sticking point with the body being headed by two simultaneous heads at one point, LG-appointed MK Meena and the other, SS Yadav, authorised by the AAP government. As matters came to a head over the appointment of Swati Maliwal as Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief in July 2015, Jung proclaimed, “In respect to the NCT (national capital territory) of Delhi the Government means the Lieutenant Governor of the NCT of Delhi.”
ALSO READ LG v/s AAP: A timeline of the battle between Najeeb Jung and Arvind KejriwalA fresh round of confrontation started in December 2015 once Jung, in his communication to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), questioned the legality of a Commission of Inquiry set up to probe alleged irregularities in Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), an issue over which the AAP was training its guns on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, demanding his resignation.In September last year, Jung had directed all officers, including IAS and DANICS, not to follow the Delhi government orders which were declared by the Centre as “null and void”. This year, soon after the verdict of the Delhi High Court, Jung set up a panel to examine over 400 files pertaining to the AAP government’s decisions.
ALSO READ Home Secretary met Najeeb Jung two days ago, was unaware of his resignationThe panel headed by former CAG VK Shunglu submitted its report last month. According to sources, it pointed out many discrepancies in decisions. The report has not been made public yet. Terming the Delhi High Court verdict as “historic”, Jung had then said, “When we get elected, it doesn’t mean we are rulers and instead we will have to work and confine ourselves to our roles and jobs which are in the framework of the Constitution.” The genesis of the confrontation, in many ways, lies in the ambiguity of powers of the elected government as Delhi continues to be a Union Territory while enjoying a special status with a Legislative Assembly.

LG v/s AAP: A timeline of the battle between Najeeb Jung and Arvind Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On a day when Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi were exchanging barbs, Delhi LG and Arvind Kejriwal’s bete noir, LG Jung, suddenly dropped a bombshell by claiming that he was resigning. The move came completely out of the blue and even the officials had the Home Ministry had no clue about his impending move. While the Congress asked if the plan was to bring ‘someone close to the RSS’, firebrand right-wing leader Subramanian Swamy called the move ‘long overdue’!DCW chief Swati Maliwal termed it the ‘end of dark days’ for women of Delhi but AAP leaders, particularly Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, seemed bittersweet about the move.Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal described the resignation of Lt Governor Najeeb Jung a “surprise” move while his deputy Manish Sisodia said working with him was a “bitter-sweet” experience, but the AAP government and Jung did a “good job in Delhi together”. Kejriwal and Sisodia spoke to Jung over phone and wished him luck for his future. The Delhi Chief Minister said it was “good” working with him.But despite the late words of reconciliation, the AAP government and LG Jung were continuously at loggerheads. It came to appoint when Kejriwal even likened Jung to ‘Hitler’ and accused him of selling his soul to Modi so that he could become Vice President.Here’s a timeline of their Jung:2013July 9: Najeeb Jung appointed Lt Governor.Dec 28: Kejriwal becomes Chief Minister after taking outside support from Congress.2014Feb 3: Delhi Cabinet clears draft of Jan Lokpal Bill. Feb 10: Jung sends it to Law Ministry which says Centre’s nod mandatory to introduce Jan Lokpal Bill.Feb 14: Kejriwal resigns as Chief Minister.Feb 17: Delhi assembly kept in suspended animation, President’s Rule imposed.2015Feb 14: Kejriwal is Chief Minister again, as AAP wins a staggering 67 out of 70 seats.April 1: Jung says not obliged to route files through CMO after Kejriwal’s order send files related to police, public order and land through him. April 29: Kejriwal tells officials not to ‘bother’ LG with all the files.May 16: Kejriwal accuses IAS officer Shakuntala Gamlin of lobbying for power companies.May 20: Jung annuls all bureaucratic postings by Delhi government, says power to appoint and transfer rests with him.June 2: Five officers of Bihar Police join Delhi Government’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB). Jung rejects it, says he is the ACB boss.June 8: Jung names Joint Commissioner of Delhi Police M.K. Meena new chief of ACB. Kejriwal cries foul.June 9: Delhi government replaces Home Secretary Dharam Pal. LG vetoes order. July 20/21: Delhi government appoints Swati Maliwal as Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson. Jung asks why his approval was not taken.August: Kejriwal hikes circle rates in Delhi for agricultural land. Jung objects.Aug 11: Delhi government forms Commission of Inquiry to probe CNG fitness scam. LG again objects.December: AAP government sets up Inquiry Commission to probe Delhi and District Cricket Association. Jung questions its validity. Dec 15: CBI raids Chief Minister’s Office. Kejriwal blames Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jung.Dec 31: IAS and DANICS officers go on mass leave a day before flagship odd-even scheme. 2016Jan 1: Kejriwal blames LG, Centre for strike. Odd-even scheme a success.March: AAP government appoints former Chief Income Tax Commissioner Krishna Saini as Chairperson of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission.June 1: ACB probes Delhi government’s app based Premium Bus Service. June 20: ACB files FIR against Kejriwal and former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in water tanker scam after Jung’s okay. Aug 4: Delhi High Court gives primacy to Lt Governor in Delhi’s administration. AAP government moves Supreme Court. Aug 30: Jung axes Delhi Health Secretary and PWD Secretary. Kejriwal says Modi hell bent on destroying Delhi through Jung.Aug 30: Jung sets up panel to probe over 400 files related to decisions taken by Delhi government. Kejriwal calls it illegal.Sep 16: After chikungunya outbreak, Jung asks Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to return from Finland.Sep 17: Jung refuses to meet AAP ministers. Oct 7: Jung appoints IAS officer Alka Diwan as DCW Member Secretary. Diwan stops payment of salaries to contractual employees of DCW. Kejriwal seeks her removal.Dec 6: Jung replaces Diwan with IAS officer Dilraj Kaur. Kejriwal rejects the move, calls Jung “Hitler”.Dec 22: Jung resigns.

Madras HC quashes appointment of 11 members of TNPSC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Madras High Court quashed the appointment of 11 people as members of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC), holding that the process was “deeply flawed” and conducted without following any transparent process. A batch of petitions including one by TKS Elangovan of DMK had been filed challenging the appointment of these 11 members in a hurried manner by the AIADMK government.The vacancies for the posts had arisen from 2013 when members completed their tenure and demitted office and the last one demitted office on January 31, 2016.These posts were suddenly filled by a government order, dated the same day (Sunday/non-working day), in anticipation of the election notification for the state Assembly polls, which were ultimately held on May 16.The petitioners claimed that the Commission was sought to be packed with party loyalists “having no eminence and not possessing the requisite merit and abilities to function in the capacity as members of the Public Service Commission”. The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, in its 108-page judgment, said, “We are unhesitatingly of the view and conclude that the process of appointment of the eleven members of the State Public Service Commission was deeply flawed without following any transparent process and defeating the very constitutional scheme for such appointment, the result of which is natural, i.e., all these appointments are quashed.” The bench observed, “It is trite to say that from the very inception qualification of high moral values for the person recruited to the administrative service forming the very backbone of the nation was emphasised.””It is the selection based on merits. If this is the principle, then persons who are Chairman or Members of the Public Service Commission have to be equally, if not more, of such competence and high moral values as they are the ones who are conducting the selection process for the Administrative Service Officers.”The government, on its part, submitted that right to make appointment to the State Public Service Commission under Article 316 of the Constitution is left to the state government and the court ought not to interfere with the same, especially as there are no charges or allegations against any member. Quashing the appointments, the bench in its order said: “There was no comparative evaluation of merits, qualifications, administrative experience, competence or integrity of the pool of candidates. “The process was completed in one day, on 29.3.2013, and the file was placed before the Governor, who approved the proposal on 31.3.2013. No character or antecedent verification was really done and the issue which arose for consideration was whether the state could have said to have applied its mind to the relevant facts, i.e., suitability, competence and integrity of the candidate.”Thus, where the deliberative process suffered from constitutional infirmity of being arbitrary, the appointment had to be struck down, it said.”In our opinion, this appointing process or lack of it was on account of a misconception that the appointment to the post of members of the Public Service Commission was part of the spoils system based on the patronage of the state government and not requiring men who are ‘independent’.” “This lack of process appears to have escaped the attention of the Governor himself while making the appointments,” the bench said.Referring to Supreme Court judgments, the bench said: “It is an admitted position that there was nothing put in public domain to indicate that persons who were interested in this post could give material in support of their candidature and on our query, we were informed that the bio-datas may have been received from persons in normal course or may have been called for specifically from persons.”The bench referred to an apex court judgment which stated that the appointment to the PSC could not be equated with an appointment to a purely administrative position and in the context of appointment of a Chief Secretary or a DGP the question of Chief Minister of the state government having confidence in such a person may be a requirement.The bench said, “This would not arise in the appointment of a Chairman or Member of the Public Service Commission, as the Commission does not function at the pleasure of the Chief Minister or the state government, but has a fixed tenure and the oath of allegiance is to the Constitution of India and not to the Chief Minister.””In the case on hand, the bio-data alone was examined. Nothing was found to show that any background check was carried out to ascertain whether the Chairman appointed had come in for any adverse notice in a judicial proceeding or any police inquiry. It was, thus, held that inbuilt constitutional checks had, unfortunately, broken down.”

Jagannath temple reform panel gets final submissions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gajapati Maharaj of Puri, Dibyasingha Deb, has submitted an affidavit before Justice BP Das Commission of Inquiry suggesting reforms in rituals and management of Shree Jagannath Temple. The Commission Secretary collected the copy of the affidavit from Deb’s residence in Bhubaneswar today, which was the last date for submission of affidavits. The Puri district administration through its Collector and Shree Jagannath Temple Administration through its Chief Administrative Officer too submitted their respective affidavits before the Commission during the day. The Shankaracharya of Gobardhan Peeth at Puri had earlier conveyed his suggestions to the Commission on the reforms for Shree Jagannath Temple. A whopping 10,344 affidavits collected from across the state were submitted to the Commission on Monday. Hundreds of holy men and devotees under the aegis of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) marched in a massive rally and submitted these affidavits at the Commission’s office here. The holy men also submitted a seven-point proposal for reforms in the temple. The Commission had extended its deadline for submission of affidavits twice, the last one being on December 3. The Commission had then claimed that it was extending the deadline since it had only received 350 affidavits.The judicial Commission had been instituted by the state government to suggest measures for better security of the temple, safety of the visiting devotees, timely conduct of temple rituals, and welfare of deities and servitors.It was set up in July this year after the Niladree Bije fiasco which took place at the concluding ritual of the nine-day Rathayatra festival this year when the servitors allowed devotees to climb the chariots defying a ban by Orissa High Court. The state government had announced the formation of the one-man judicial commission in September after the Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal was manhandled by servitors during the incident when the matter reached a tipping point.Television cameras had zoomed in to show a young girl climbing down the chariot of Lord Balabhadra, in the last leg of the Rath Yatra 2016 at Puri. Moments later a few servitors got into an ugly scuffle with the district collector of Puri and other media personnel. The Jagannath Temple has since become a battle ground for control between the servitors, the political class and the temple administration.Rath Yatra, the annual chariot festival is the most prominent religious temple festival of India, and holds a special place in the hearts of the Odia people. At this year’s Rath Yatra, major deviations in rituals resulted in a ruckus in full glare of TV cameras, angering millions of devotees. After a prolonged debate last year and intervention by Odisha High Court, the climbing of devotees atop chariots was banned. A similar diktat was issued by the Shankaracharya and an understanding between Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and servitors to ensure the ban was reached. However, a few relatives of the servitors defied the ban. When Arvind Agarwal, district collector of Puri intervened, servitors manhandled members of district administration and media personnel. The ritual of Niladri Bije, that of the deities returning to their temple after a nine-day-long sojourn at their aunt’s place, was delayed causing anguish to many devotees. Following legal action, some servitors were suspended; others arrested. The state government, whose law minister, Arun Sahoo was present on the occasion, constituted a one-man judicial commission, headed by retired judge of Odisha High Court, Bimal Prasad Das, to suggest reforms in management of Sri Jagannath Temple, Puri. On July 25 it was alleged that the state government paid Rs 2 crore to servitors as compensation for the loss that prevention of taking devotees atop chariots brought about to honour the Odisha High Court verdict. There are nearly 6,000 servitors in 119 categories that help run the Jagannath Temple.

Bihar: Nitish Kumar govt set to approve 7th Pay Commission

Patna: The Bihar government on Wednesday paved the way for providing benefits of the 7th Pay Commission to the state officials and pensioners by announcing the setting up of a fitment committee for the purpose.

The decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of state Cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Patna.

The three-member fitment committee would be headed by retired bureaucrat and former state Chief Secretary GS Kang while Secretaries of Finance and Rural Works Department Rahul Singh and Vinay Kumar respectively will be the members, Principal Secretary, Cabinet Coordination Department Brajesh Mehrotra told reporters.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. PTI

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. PTI

The committee would be asked to submit its report in three months, Mehrotra said.

There are around 4.5 lakh employees under Bihar government and 3.5 lakh pensioners who will get the benefit of new pay scale.

Ever since announcement of the 7th Pay Commission benefits for the central government employees, demand for similar benefits for the Bihar government have been coming.

The state Cabinet at its meeting today approved 20 proposals of different departments.

In another important decision, the Cabinet gave its nod to a proposal of the Home Department to enhance honorarium of SAP (State Auxiliary Police) personnel.

While junior commissioned officer of SAP would get a monthly honorarium of Rs 20,700 now in place of Rs 18,000 earlier for jawans the hike would be Rs 17,250 from Rs 15,000, Mehrotra said.

The cabinet also gave its nod to a proposal of state Civil Aviation Department to hire a new 7+2 seater helicopter on wet lease for five years at a cost of Rs 93,15,00,000.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 22:25 IST

Foodgrain output in the country may scale peak next year

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The agriculture sector is all set to bounce back leaving two years of drought behind and may well pull off record foodgrain output of 270 million tonnes in 2016-17 on good rains, but farmers’ woes may continue due to adverse impact of notes ban and low sales realisation.The farm growth is estimated to rise at over 5% this fiscal, from 1.2% in the previous year, on the back of record kharif foodgrain production at 135 million tonnes (mt) and likely bumper output in the ongoing rabi season, helped by good monsoon in most parts of the country.”The agriculture sector has done well during the year. We received good monsoon after facing the drought year. Kharif in general was very good and rabi sowing has been brisk. We are hopeful of bumper production this year,” Agriculture Secretary Shobhana Pattanayak said in an interview.Although agri-experts have raised concerns about impact of demonetization on rabi crops and the likely effect of forecast of warm winter on wheat crop, the secretary said the government is not “downgrading” the target for 2016-17 crop year. “Our target is to achieve foodgrain production of 270 million tonnes while our last peak production was 265.04 mt in 2013-14 crop year (July-June),” he said.”Agriculture sector growth was lower last year because of drought. But from that level, we will move higher.” On farm sector growth, NITI Aayog Member Ramesh Chand said: “It will be spectacular growth after facing two drought years. We are expecting a growth of 5.5% this year.” The growth rate of agriculture and allied sectors will be 5.3% even if wheat productivity throughout the country is lower by 3% due to rise in temperature, he said.Asked about adverse impact of demonetization on farmers, Pattanayak said there is not much impact as the credit system has been strong in rural areas and farmers have become more resilient over the years. “Our farmers have witnessed very strong drought in last two years and yet they have bounced back. I don’t think it has really impacted,” he said. However, farmers’ organisations as well as former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar have expressed deep concern about impact of demonetization, saying farmers are unable to buy quality seeds and fertilisers for their rabi crop and are also facing problems in selling crops for want of demand.Despite record kharif production this year and expected good crop in the rabi season, farmers’ conditions continue to be grim due to lower sales realisation, with domestic and global commodity prices staying depressed. The demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has also affected the domestic demand of fruits and vegetables, forcing farmers to sell their produce at throwaway price.About farmers’ woes, agri-economist Ashok Gulati said: “This year, production is likely to bounce back and therefore, much better than last year. However, farmers are already under debt. And prices of cotton, basmati rice and, with demonetization, many fresh fruits and vegetables are depressed. Because of that, despite higher production levels, farmers have not gained much.”2016 began on a sticky note as the country’s overall foodgrain output remained flat at 252 mt in 2015-16 crop year due to second straight year of drought. Pulse output fell to 16.5 mt resulting in high prices for most part of the year that kept the government on its toes, which took various steps to cool prices and bring relief to consumers.The measures like domestic procurement and import to boost local supplies helped ease the prices of tur and urad from about Rs 200 a kg, but chana continues to rule high. As per the official estimate, wheat output rose to 93.55 mt, from 86 mt, but FCI’s procurement fell sharply and domestic prices of wheat and its products began to rise towards the end of the year. The government scrapped import duties on wheat to boost domestic supply. To provide relief to farmers hit by the cash crunch, the government has given them an additional two months to repay their crop loans due in November-December and said prompt repayment will be eligible for the extra 3% interest subsidy.The government had earlier allowed farmers to buy seeds through old Rs 500 notes from central and state-owned seed companies as well as from ICAR and central varsities. It had also asked fertiliser companies to sell soil nutrient on credit basis to farmers. To check food inflation, import duties on palm oils and potatoes were reduced. Stock limit on sugar mills were also imposed to check prices although improved domestic rates helped industry clear arrears to farmers.The year also saw the successful rollout of the landmark National Food Security Act (NFSA) across the country. Programmes like new crop insurance scheme and eNAM to link all 585 mandis on an electronic trading platform were announced to augment farmers’ income.In this year’s budget, the government raised agri-credit by Rs 50,000 crore to Rs 9 lakh crore for the current fiscal and levied 0.5% Krishi Kalyan cess on all taxable services to fund farm initiatives. Eminent scientist M S Swaminathan hailed the new schemes, but stressed on proper implementation. He also wanted the government to pay farmers 50% more than the production cost as part of the minimum support price (MSP).Expressing concern over poor implementation of agri schemes, Gulati, the former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, said: “The government should focus completely on agriculture and try to implement some of the programmes properly.”The year also witnessed the government fixing the maximum retail price and royalty for cotton seeds, including Bt cotton, based on its order issued at the fag end of 2015. The move was opposed by biotechnology firms while the domestic seed manufacturers were in favour of the decision.Global biotechnology major Monsanto threatened to re-evaluate its India business. It plans to introduce new products, besides entering into the legal battle against this order. However, NCP supremo Pawar recently attacked the NDA government for taking such a move, saying “Indian agriculture is being brought back to licence and control raj which is detrimental to the growth of the sector”. “The government of the day should not have hostility to improve systems and technologies,” he said, adding that the government is overly “cautious” on the technology front. In May, the agriculture ministry had come out with a notification to regulate the cotton seed market with provisions for compulsory legislations and capping of royalty rates at up to 10% of the retail price. But it was forced to withdraw this notification amid protest from biotech companies.Genetically modified (GM) mustard, developed by the Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, was in news throughout the year as regulatory body GEAC was vetting the proposal for commercial cultivation amid strong protest from green activists as well as RSS-backed Swadeshi Jagran Manch.Amid uncertainty over the government’s likely stand on GM crop cultivation, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Director General Trilochan Mohapatra said: “From the research side, the transgenic crop which we have developed should be ready, irrespective of whether the government will release them for commercial cultivation or not.” Five transgenic crops — brinjal, tomatoes, banana, castor, shorgum — are ready for large-scale field trials (BRL1), he said, and many GM crops are ready for confined trials.It will be interesting to see the government’s approach in the new year towards allowing cultivation of GM crops, particularly in food crops. At present, the government has allowed commercial cultivation of Bt cotton and there is moratorium on Bt brinjal due to protest from green activists.In 2017, the ongoing legal battle involving global MNC Monsanto, the government and the domestic seed industry will be keenly watched as the outcome will shape the future of regulations for selling GM seeds.

Election Commission to ask I-T authorities to look into finances of 200 parties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Election Commission is set to write to the Income Tax authorities asking it to look into the finances of over 200 political parties it has ‘delisted’ over a period of time for not contesting elections.The Commission has, over a period of time, identified various parties which have not contested polls since 2005 and has ‘delisted’ over 200 of them.The poll panel believes that most of them exist on papers to help people convert their back money into white by accepting donations.In the next few days, the Commission will send the list of the delisted parties to the income tax authorities seeking action against relevant laws if they are found to be involved in money laundering.While the poll watchdog has the mandate to register a political party, it lacks power under electoral laws to deregister any party.
ALSO READ Government to check misuse of tax exemptions by political parties: Arun JaitleyAs its demand to get power to deregister a party is pending with the Law Ministry, the Commission used its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to delist parties for being dormant and not contesting elections for a long time.There are over 1780 registered, but unrecognised political parties in the country. Besides, there are seven national parties — BJP, Congress, BSP, TMC, CPI, CMI-M and NCP — and 58 state parties.
ALSO READ EC recommends govt to amend laws on IT exemption, anonymous donations for political parties Seeking to stem flow of black money in elections, the Commission has proposed a slew of electoral reforms but most are pending with the government.

DNA Evening Must Reads: From India’s win in Chennai Test to BJP-SAD’s victory in Chandigarh Municipal polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Ahead of Punjab elections, BJP-SAD alliance sweeps Chandigarh Municipal Corporation polls The BJP-Shiromani Akali Dal alliance on Tuesday attained clear majority in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation polls winning 20 out of the 26 wards. BJP won in 20 wards, rival Congress 4 and Independent one, an election office spokesman said. Read more here.2. Germany: Angela Merkel says Berlin Christmas market attack likely a ‘terror act’A man was arrested under suspicion of ploughing a seven-tonne truck through a Christmas market in the heart of Berlin, killing 12, has been named as Naved B, a 23-year-old asylum seeker of Pakistani origin. Read what Merkel said here.3. RBI’s currency stock can last beyond December 30: Arun Jaitley”There was full preparedness. There was not a single day when RBI had not released adequate currency to banks. There was a certain level of currency that was to be released and there was full preparedness for it,” Jaitley told reporters. Read his full statement here.4. IND vs ENG: Virat Kohli and Co win Chennai Test, equal Sunil Gavaskar’s 3-decade-old recordRavindra Jadeja ripped the heart out of England’s batting order to bowl India to a thumping innings and 75-run victory in the fifth and final test on Tuesday. Read more here.5. EU accuses Facebook of giving misleading information during WhatsApp takeoverThe European Commission has charged Facebook Inc with providing misleading information during its takeover of the online messaging service WhatsApp, opening the company to a possible fine of 1 percent of its turnover. Read more here.

India boycotts international tech meet in Pakistan signalling tension between two nations

Islamabad: India has pulled out of an international conference on transfer of technology being hosted by Pakistan in the latest sign of heightened tensions between the two neighbours.

Ministry of Science and Technology officials said New Delhi initially confirmed its participation in the three-day session of the Governing Council of a UN affiliated institute that promotes transfer of technology from small and medium sized enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region.

The conference of the Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT) kicked off in Islamabad on Monday.

Representational imageRepresentational image

Representational image

“Just hours before the meeting was to start, the Indian delegation cancelled its trip saying their head delegate had contracted food poisoning,” an official of the ministry told the media.

Bangla­desh and Iran were the other countries who did not participate in the conference. China, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Samoa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam attended the meeting.

The council, which meets once a year, advises on the future and reviews the working of the centre located in India under the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Esacap).

The meeting will approve projects to be undertaken in 2017. Out of the total five projects, India has submitted one titled “Feed the Future India”.

The project is aimed at enhancing food security in selected least-developed countries through the establishment of an agricultural innovation accelerator platform in India with USAID funding of $1.5 million.

India had earlier in November boycotted the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) that was to be held in Islamabad.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 13:27 IST

Rohith Vemula aftermath: 12 recommendations from HRD ministry and Podile stays on as V-C

A year ago, on 18 December 2015, Rohith Vemula — Dalit PhD scholar from the University of Hyderabad — wrote a letter dripping with sarcasm to the vice-chancellor of the university, V Appa Rao Podile, about the discrimination being meted out to Dalit students.

He wrote, offering a ‘solution for the Dalit problem’:

1. Please serve 10mg Sodium Azide to all the Dalit students at the time of admission. With direction to use when they feel like reading Ambedkar.
2. Supply a nice rope to the rooms of all Dalit students from your companion, the great Chief Warden.

As we, the scholars, PhD students have already passed that stage and already members of Dalit Self-Respect movement unfortunately, we here are left with no easy exit, it seems. Hence, I request your highness to make preparations for the facility “EUTHANASIA” for students like me. And I wish you and the campus rest in peace forever.”

A month later, on 17 January, 2016, Rohith Vemula committed suicide. The suicide rose to national importance as it shed light on a deeply disturbing, yet ignored facet of Indian universities: Caste discrimination. The February 2016 protests in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) sparked important and much needed debates on freedom of speech and the right to dissent. The two incidents awoke a new political consciousness among students — spreading across various universities and campuses, students took to the streets in the national capital demanding justice for the Dalit scholar and an adequate response to the JNU crisis.

A file photo of Rohith VemulaA file photo of Rohith Vemula

A file photo of Rohith Vemula

While the goal should have been to introspect, what was achieved was nothing material — it was probed whether Rohith Vemula was in fact a Dalit, his mother was questioned.

He was a Dalit.

Then, he was not.

Then again, he was — mere distractions from addressing the elephant in the room. Political mileage was gained, Vemula’s name was on the Opposition’s lips hoping to score brownie points and Vemula’s name probably occupied a larger corner in the minds of those running the government.

Why are we going over these tiresome details of case forgotten? Didn’t we move on to other news? The National Anthem directive, perhaps? (no, we seem to be over that one too). These tiresome boring details must be revisited to address the people who haven’t forgotten, those who feel wronged by a system that perhaps isn’t there to support them in the first place.

What has come out of the Vemula suicide and the subsequent political storm?

One, a 12-point recommendation from the Ministry of Human Resources and Development on how to prevent campus suicides. The HRD ministry added six points to Roopanwal Commission’s six recommendations to curb campus suicides. The measures suggested by the ministry include a “strong induction programme  for better acclimatisation and establishing a local guardian system for outstation students,” “grievances of students should be discussed and dispensed with on weekly basis and vice-chancellors should hold monthly meetings.”

Two, Appa Rao Podile’s continued tenure as the the vice-chancellor of the University of Hyderabad. On Sunday, Dontha Prashanth, Seshaiah Chemudagunta and Vijay Kumar (Pedapudi), Vemula’s friends, fellow Dalits and PhD students who were also suspended along with Vemula from the University of Hyderabad wrote a letter to the President of India, urging him to remove Podile as the vice-chancellor of the university. He was reinstated even while protests were in full-swing, just a few months after the suicide. If the idea was to allay the burgeoning anger amid students, why wasn’t a man with sub-par academic qualifications, especially one with a history of unethical academic practices such as plagiarism allowed to continue as the university’s vice-chancellor?

Students asking for Podile’s removal is not new, such demands have been made earlier by the student body of the University of Hyderabad. Prashanth, Chemudagunta, Pedapudi had earlier written an open letter to the Prime Minister of India in August this year:

What action was taken after a committee appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development brought out the institutional lapses that led to Rohith’s suicide? Why did you not speak, Mr Prime Minister, when Smriti Irani spoke utter lies in Parliament? What happened to the Judicial Commission appointed by HRD Ministry which was supposed to submit its report by 1 August, 2016?

The anger in the University of Hyderabad has been simmering for a long time. 189 academics had written a letter to the President of India, seeking his intervention in the Rohith Vemula, asking for the dismissal of the vice-chancellor. JNU’s Kanhaiya Kumar and the face of the Indian student politics for well over a year wrote a dramatic letter to Smriti Irani about Vemula (and the state of Dalits in the country).

The three other students will perhaps continue writing letters because everything else has been done, yielding little to nothing. Simmering anger, growing resentment and disappointment make for powerful ink, but what if the system ends up being illiterate?

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 10:20 IST

Justice JS Khehar appointed 44th Chief Justice of India by President Pranab Mukherjee

Justice JS Khehar is set be the next Chief Justice of India after President Pranab Mukherjee formally gave his nod to his appointment. He will succeed CJI TS Thakur as the 44th Chief Justice of India after the latter demits office on 3 January.

The Chief Justice of India, the highest authority in the judiciary, is traditionally appointed on seniority basis, on the recommendation of the incumbent Chief Justice. As Justice Khehar was the senior-most judge after the Chief Justice TS Thakur, his name was recommended to the government on the principle of seniority. As Chief Justice, Khehar will have a tenure of over seven months as he would be retiring on 28 August, 2017.

Justice Khehar in a file image. Twitter/ @airnewsalerts

Justice Khehar in a file image. Twitter/ @airnewsalerts

Justice Khehar will be the first Sikh to occupy the highest office. However, as a report in Live Mint states, his appointment assumes importance as doubts were raised that Justice Khehar might be superseded by the government. A group of prominent lawyers had, earlier this month, urged the government to overlook Justice Khehar’s seniority, citing his verdict on the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) case.

Justice JS Khehar was heading the five-judge constitution bench that junked the National Judicial Appointments Commission for the appointment of judges as unconstitutional holding that it intruded upon the independence of judiciary.

Incidentally, Justice Khehar also presided over the five judges’ constitution bench that had quashed the then Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s decision to advance the assembly session from January 2016 to December 2015, as it directed restoration of ousted Chief Minister Nabam Tuki’s government. But subsequent political developments in Arunachal Pradesh took a different course.

Having done LLB and LLM from Punjab University, Chandigarh, Justice Khehar was awarded gold medal for securing first position in the university LLM examination.

Before being elevated as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh on February 8, 1999, Justice Khehgar had practised before it as well as the Himachal Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court. He was twice appointed as the acting Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court from 2 August, 2008, and again from 17 November, 2009.

He was elevated as Chief Justice of Uttrakhand High Court on 29 November, 2009. Later, he was transferred as Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court.

Justice Khehar was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court on 13 September, 2011.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 21:46 IST

Maharashtra: 72% voter turnout for 3rd phase of local body polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The tentative voter turn out for the third phase of local body elections, in which polling took place for 19 municipal councils and two nagar panchayats in Maharashtra on Sunday, was 72.76%, officials said.The voting took place in Aurangabad, Nanded, Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts. 1,947 candidates were in fray for 409 seats, whereas there were 111 candidates for the direct elections to the 19 posts of municipal council president in this phase, officials from State Election Commission (SEC) of Maharashtra said. “The tentative voter turn out for the third phase was 72.76%,” officials added.”For a total of 5,16,478 voters, 683 polling booths were established. Counting of votes at all these places will start from 10 AM tomorrow,” they added. The election to the Desaiganj municipal council in Gadchiroli has already attracted a lot of attention. The Maharashtra Election Commission has countermanded the election to one ward of the municipal council after Rashtriya Samaj Paksha president and state Dairy Development Mahadev Jankar allegedly tried to pressurise a poll official and influencing the election process. However, Jankar has denied the allegation.

EC recommends govt to amend laws on IT exemption, anonymous donations for political parties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Seeking to check the use of black money and money laundering in politics, the Election Commission has recommended that the government amend laws to allow exemption from tax only to parties that win seats in elections and ban anonymous contributions of Rs 2000 and above to parties.Section 13A of the Income-tax Act, 1961 confers tax exemption to political parties for income from house property, income by way of voluntary contributions, income from capital gains and income from other sources.Only income under the head ‘salaries and income from business or profession’ are chargeable to tax in the hands of political parties in India. The Commission has now proposed that exemption of Income Tax should only be extended to political parties that contest elections and win seats in Lok Sabha or assembly polls.The Commission said, “There could be cases where political parties could be formed merely for availing of provisions of income tax exemption if the facility, that are at the expense of the public exchequer, is provided to all political parties.” There is also no constitutional or statutory prohibition on receipt of anonymous donations by political parties. But there is an “indirect partial ban” on anonymous donations through the requirement of declaration of donations under section 29C of The Representation of the People Act, 1951. But, such declarations are mandated only for contributions above Rs 20,000.As per the proposed amendment, sent by the Commission to the government, and made part of its compendium on proposed electoral reforms, “anonymous contributions above or equal to the amount of Rs two thousand should be prohibited”. Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia clarified that political parties cannot accept old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes as donations as both these bills have ceased to be legal tenders.”All reports on the alleged privilege to political parties are false & misleading. Political parties have not been granted any exemption or privilege, post demonetization & introduction of Taxation Amendment Act, 2016,” he said in a series of tweets.”Post demonetization, no political party can accept donations in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes since they were rendered illegal tenders. If there is any discrepancy, political parties are as liable to be questioned by IT authorities as is anyone else. They enjoy no immunity,” Adhia added.In yet another recommendation to check black money, the EC has asked the Law Ministry to ensure that political parties are made to register details of donors for coupons of all amounts on the basis of a Supreme Court order of 1996. Coupons are one of the ways devised by the political parties for collecting donations and hence are printed by the party itself. There is no cap or limit as to how many coupons can be printed or its total quantum. Currently, the details of donors is not required for coupons with small amounts such as for Rs 10 or 20. “These smaller sums aggregate into a bigger amount and hence, they need to be accounted for, to ensure transparency,” the Commission said.

Army chief Bipin Rawat appointment: Opposition corners govt, BJP says don’t politicise

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A political slugfest broke out on Sunday over the new army chief’s appointment by superseding two officers with Congress asking the Prime Minister to spell out the “compelling reasons” for it and the Left questioning the move even as BJP hit back saying they should not politicise an issue related to defence forces.Congress leader Manish Tewari slammed the government for “playing with institutions” and doing politics in the army even as he wondered if it was “whimsical cherry picking”. His comments came a day after the government appointed Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the new army chief superseding his two senior officers — Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Southern Army Command chief Lt Gen P M Hariz.CPI leader D Raja also questioned the government’s move and said appointments whether in the army, judiciary or those of CVC, acting CBI director and to Central Information Commission have become controversial.Commenting on the matter, JD(U) MP Pavan Varma said, “Every question that is being raised is not about politicising an issue but about seeking a clarification for an answer.” BJP condemned Congress for its attack on the government over the army chief’s appointment, saying there should be no politics on defence forces and asserted that Lt Gen Rawat has been elevated keeping in mind the current security scenario.BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said the new army chief was picked up from a pool of five senior-most officers, who are all competent, and Lt Gen Rawat’s appointment should not be seen as a negative against others.Lashing out at the opposition party, Sharma said Congress by “politicising” the appointment of the army chief was showing its “frustration” after it has been pushed to the “margins” of national politics following successive electoral defeats. Tewari said, “While Lt Gen Rawat, who is being appointed the COAS, may perhaps have all the requisite credentials but the fact remains that in a hierarchy conscious organisation where the principle of seniority is almost sacrosanct, the supersession of three senior officers, Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, Lt P M Hariz, and perhaps even Lt Gen B S Negi, raises extremely serious and critical questions of institutional integrity.”However, senior army officials said that Lt Gen Rawat has only superseded Lt Gen Bakshi, the seniormost army commander and Lt Gen Hariz.Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself should spell out the “compelling reasons” behind this supersession, Tewari told reporters at the party office here. “Why the principle of seniority which has held the field for two decades now not respected by the government. Is it that these officers who were superseded unqualified in any manner? Or is it whimsical cherry picking which has been done by the BJP-led NDA government,” he said.”Why does the army have to go through unnecessary bloodletting at the top? If it has been done, then reasons need to be put out in the public domain,” he said.Raja said, “Appointments in the army have become controversial, the appointments in the judiciary are already controversial, the appointments of CVC, CBI director and to Central Information Commission, all these top-level appointments are becoming very controversial.”

Maharashtra: Polling on for third phase of local body elections

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Polling is being held for the third phase of elections in 20 municipal councils and two nagar panchayats in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad, Nanded, Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts.The voting is on in Aurangabad and Nanded, which fall under Marathwada region, and Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts of Vidharbha region.There are 1,623 candidates in fray, including 119 for the posts of president of municipal councils.As per a report of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), there are 90 crorepati candidates in the third phase.The election to the Desaiganj municipal council in Gadchiroli has already attracted a lot of attention.The Maharashtra Election Commission has countermanded the election to one ward of the municipal council after Rashtriya Samaj Paksha president and state Dairy Development Mahadev Jankar allegedlytried to pressurise a poll official and influencing the election process.However, Jankar has denied the allegation.

Violation of code of conduct: Amit Shah gets clean chit by UP Police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh Police has given clean chit to BJP President Amit Shah in two separate cases of alleged violation of code of conduct during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.While filing the final reports on Saturday, police said there was no evidence against Shah.Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Arun Kumar has fixed dates for filing of objection by the complainants in the two cases.The court has fixed January 17 in Baburam case while January 3 in Ramkumar case for filing of objections, according to the prosecution.Earlier this year the court had returned the final report to police in the Barwar case filed by Baburam, saying they were deficiencies and asked them to rectify it.Police had registered case against Shah on the complaint of the then Sub Divisional Magistrate Baburam under sections 188 IPC (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 123(3) of Representation of People Act (relating to appeal by a candidate to vote on basis of religion, race, caste, community or language) and on the complaint of Assistant Returning Officer Ram Kumar separately in Kakroli and New Mandi police stations in the district.The BJP leader was accused of making objectionable speeches in Barwar village.Shah had allegedly said that, “If (Narendra Modi) Modi wins, ‘mulla’ Mulayam’s government will fall”.The cases against the BJP leader were registered on the directive of the Election Commission which had banned the leader from campaigning in UP.

NCP edges BJP in second phase of Maharashtra municipal council polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sharad Pawar-led NCP scored an edge over the BJP in the second phase of municipal council polls held in two districts of Maharashtra, bagging 93 seats out of 324 even as the ruling party won 5 municipal council president seats. The polling to elect 324 councillors and 14 municipal council presidents in Latur and Pune districts was held on Wednesday, with 72.18% voters exercising their franchise.As per the results declared on Thursday, the BJP, which had emerged as the top grosser in first round of local bodies polls held last month, was pushed to second position with 81 seats, followed by Congress (45), Shiv Sena (23), Independents (26), AIMIM (6), while Others, including unrecognised parties (36) and local ‘aghadis’ or fronts (14), won 50 seats.Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena drew a blank in all seats. BJP, however, has the consolation of having bagged five municipal council president seats, pushing behind NCP and Congress who won two seats each, while its alliance partner Shiv Sena could win just one. While the BJP put up an impressive performance in Pune district, the NCP demonstrated its supremacy in Pawar’s home turf Baramati, retaining the municipal council as well as the post of its president.BJP won municipal council president posts in Lonavala, Talegaon-Dabhade and Alandi (in Pune district) and Udgir and Nilanga (in Latur district), state Election Commission officials said in Pune. Congress bagged two municipal council president seats in Indapur and Jejuri (both in Pune district), NCP won Baramati (Pune district) and Ausa (Latur district). Shiv Sena won Junnar municipal council president seat in Pune district.While Daund municipal council president seat in Pune district went to an Independent, three seats in Saswad, Shirur (both in Pune district) and Udgir (in Latur district) were won by ‘Janmat Vikas Agadi’, ‘Shahar Vikas Aghadi’, and ‘Bahujan Vikas Aghadi’, respectively.Hailing the results as the victory of BJP, state unit president Raosaheb Danve said, “Like in the first phase, the results of the second phase of polls showed that people have displayed their faith in PM Narendra Modi’s demonetization decision. “People have liked the performance of the Modi and Fadnavis governments,” he said, adding the results show that BJP continues to be the “number one” party in Maharashtra.He said the NCP could win only Baramati civic chief’s post on its own symbol. As many as 1,326 candidates were in the fray for 324 seats while 106 candidates were competing for the post of municipal council president in the two districts.Pune district Guardian Minister Girish Bapat said, “The BJP has received a massive success in the second phase as around 50 councillors have won in the 10 municipal councils and at three municipal councils, three president posts have been won.”He attributed the success to the rallies held by Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis and Danve. In the first phase of elections held to 147 municipal councils and 17 Nagar Panchayats across 25 districts on November 27, the BJP came out on top, notching up the highest number of seats (893 as against 396 in the 2011 polls). BJP had won 51 of the 147 municipal councils, which was the first time after 2001 that direct elections were held for council presidents. It was followed by Shiv Sena with 25, Congress 23 and NCP with 18 posts. Eleven independents and 19 other candidates were also elected as municipal council presidents.Fadnavis, who addressed several campaign rallies for the polls, had then received praise from Modi, who thanked people of Maharashtra “for placing their faith in BJP” in the local body polls. “This is a win for pro-poor and development politics of BJP,” Modi had said.

Hike in salaries of Supreme Court, High Court judges expected soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supreme Court and high court judges may soon get a fatter pay packet as the government is likely to bring a bill in this regard in the next session of Parliament. Chief Justice of India TS Thakur had recently written to the government seeking a hike in salaries of Supreme Court and high court judges.Sources in the government said the issue is under active consideration and a bill to amend The High Court and the Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Act may come up in the Budget session of Parliament which may begin in the first week of February next.While the sources refused to share details of the quantum of hike sought by the CJI, they said to affect the pay hike, the Act has to amended. As the Winter session of Parliament is coming to an end on Friday, they said the bill would now come up in the Budget session. A Supreme Court judge at present gets Rs 1.5 lakh a month in hand after all deductions from salary and allowances. The CJI gets a higher amount than this, while the judges of the high court get a lesser amount. This amount does not include the rent-free residences provided to the judges while they are in service.After the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission, the matter was already under the consideration of the government.

Modi Degree row: AAP workers protesting outside Gujarat High Court detained

Ahmedabad: At least 40 Aam Aadmi Party workers, including senior leader Kanu Kalsariya, were detained by police on Thursday for protesting outside the Gujarat High Court before the hearing of a case challenging an order of CIC regarding academic degrees of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We have detained around 40 Aam Aadmi Party workers, including Kalsariya, for protesting outside the High Court. They will be released later,” Sola police inspector D V Rana said.

A case pertaining to the degrees obtained by Modi while studying at Gujarat University has been listed for hearing today in the High Court.

The petition in this regard was filed by Gujarat University against the order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) on the degrees earned by Modi.

Earlier in July in 2016, the Gujarat High Court had issued a stay on the CIC’s order asking Gujarat University (GU) to provide information on degrees earned by Modi to Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal.

File photo. PTI

File photo. PTI

Gujarat AAP unit media coordinator Harshil Nayak said their party workers were detained while raising slogans.

“Since there was a hearing of a case related to Modi’s degrees, AAP workers, led by our Saurashtra zone in-charge Kanu Kalsariya, staged protest outside the high court,” Nayak said.

On 29 April, the CIC had directed Delhi University and Gujarat University to provide information to Kejriwal on degrees earned by Modi in 1978 (graduation in DU) and 1983 (post-graduation in GU).

The CIC’s order had come a day after Kejriwal had written a letter to Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu, saying he does not object to government records about him being made public and wondered why the Commission wants to “hide” information on Modi’s educational degree.

The Information Commissioner had treated Kejriwal’s letter as an RTI application and passed the order.

Soon after the CIC issued the directive, GU Vice Chancellor M N Patel had informed the media that Modi completed his Master of Arts (MA) in Political Science as an external candidate in 1983 with first class.

However, Patel had expressed inability to share the same details under the RTI Act citing technical grounds.

According to Patel, details of marks can only be provided to the candidate himself. He further claimed that the varsity does not provide details of records beyond 20 years.

Later in June, GU approached the high court demanding a stay on the CIC’s order.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 16:53 IST

Sit with builder and iron out differences: Supreme Court to MoS Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court asked Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore to sit together with the representatives of Parsvnath Developers and settle the dispute with regard to the possession of a flat in the Exotica project in Gurgaon.A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and A M Khanwilkar asked the the realty firm to remove the deficiencies in the flat as pointed out by Rathore and the panel of lawyers which had visited the site and hand it over to the Minister. The counsel appearing for Rathore said that the court should direct the builder to given some other flat in the project which had access to common facilities that were promised to him at the time of booking.Counsel appearing for the firm said that the prayer cannot be accepted as all the flats in the project have been sold out.”You (Rathore) have to be reasonable in your demands. We cannot compel the petitioner (Parsvnath builders) to allot another flat to you,” the bench said. The court directed that both the parties should sit together and try to sort out the issues with regard to the flat. Earlier, the apex court-appointed lawyers’ panel had said in its report that their was no access to common facilities from the flat of Minister of state for Information and Broadcasting but the parking problem pointed out by him can be rectified by the builder. The court had asked the builder to file a response to the finding of committee in ten days after Rathore claimed the flat was “uninhabitable”.He had said that the tower in which his flat was located had a ‘kachcha’ access road which opened into a slum cluster, there was no parking facility and the tower did not have even the occupancy certificate.Rathore had booked the flat in Parsvnath’s Exotica project in Gurgaon in 2006 and paid around Rs 70 lakh for it.The firm was to deliver the flat in 2008-09. In January this year, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission had directed the builder to refund the principal amount with interest and compensation to Rathore. The apex court had on October 21 directed Parsvnath Developers to hand over possession of the flat to Rathore in two days, saying he should not pay any more amount to the builder. The court had said the issue of compensation to be paid by the realty firm to Rathore for the delayed possession would be dealt with at a later stage.

Sedition, hate speech laws are being revised, says Law Commission chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a move that is likely to trigger intense political debate, the Law Commission is working actively on revising existing laws related to the controversial offences of sedition and hate speech.Law Commission Chairman Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan told DNA, “The biggest job we have right now is revision of criminal law. We are revising chapters related to sedition and hate speech.”The commission is working on providing an exact definition for sedition and hate speech—the laws on which are often misused in the name of nationalism.A source in the commission, on condition of anonymity, said, “We are presently in a dilemma as to what exactly constitutes hate speech and when can a person be booked for sedition. These are no specific guidelines on them. In fact there are contradictory judgments from the Supreme Court on the definition of sedition and hate speech. The commission has realized the problem and has prioritized working on these two laws.”Section 124 (a) of IPC which relates to sedition had come under focus after the JNU row in which three students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University were arrested for allegedly raising anti-national slogans.Section 153 of IPC, dealing with hate speech came to the fore, in 2015 when BJP leader Subramanian Swamy challenged the constitutional validity of the section in the Supreme Court. Swamy approached the apex court after he was booked in a hate speech case for writing a book which allegedly promotes enmity between two communities.Critics of sedition law have even demanding scrapping of the law by calling it a “draconian law”. Over the years, the governments have been accused of abusing the law for targeting people who speak against the government. Earlier this year, even the government had admitted in Parliament that the definition of sedition is “very wide”.Justice Chauhan said the commission received a special reference for consideration of the law on sedition from the government while the reference for consideration of the law on hate speech had come from the apex court.He said that the commission has had several discussions with stakeholders to discuss problems related the two laws. Sources said that the commission recently had a high-level meeting with officials of the Bureau of police research and development in this regard.In November, the commission organised a conference on the two laws in which many judges—both retired and sitting, senior lawyers, and academicians participated. Some of the attendees of the conference were Justice Multa Gupta, former chairman of law commission Justice AP Shah, senior advocates Indira Jaising and Pinky Anand.Justice Chauhan said that many stakeholders have sent written suggestions to the commission on revising these two laws, adding that commission is examining those suggestions and will soon come out with a report on revising the two laws.It is worth pointing out that in May 2014, Justice Chauhan, then judge at Supreme Court, had himself sent a referral to the then Law Commission to define the expression of “hate speech” and make recommendations to Parliament to strengthen the Election Commission to curb the menace of “hate speeches”.However, nothing much happened in this regard and things started moving forward only after Justice Chauhan himself took over the charge of Commission in March, this year.According to the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2015 alone, 424 cases were registered and 888 people were arrested under sections of 153 IPC. If the government and Parliament decide to go by the Law Commission’s revised version of these laws, the misuse of these laws would certainly come down.

Ahead of assembly polls, pay hike for UP govt employees gets cabinet nod

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a New Year bonanza for state government employees ahead of UP Assembly elections, Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday decided to implement recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission.The decision is likely to benefit 16 lakh state government employees and six lakh pensioners.”Wetan samiti ka faisla liya hai. Aaney waley samay mey lakhon karmchairyon ko laabh hoga. Issey kai crore ka bhaar aayega (We have taken decision of pay committee recommendations. It will benefit lakhs of government employees. It will put additional burden of crores of rupees on the state exchequer,” Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said.He was briefing reporters after a meeting of the state cabinet charied by him.The pay recommendations will be implemented from January 1, he said, adding in the days to come these employees will help Samajwadi Party form government in the state again.

Exclusive: Courts must see to cases, leave legislation to MPs, hints Ravi Shankar Prasad

Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s Law and Information Technology Minister, has an unenviable task cut out for him: To maintain a delicate balance at a time when the ‘Judiciary versus Executive’ debate has become sharper than ever.

In addition to this, Prasad, as one of the most articulate leaders in ruling BJP’s ranks, is also expected to pitch for the party to counter the Opposition’s narratives and to try and build a positive public opinion of the party.

In a free-wheeling chat with Firstpost’s Sanjay Singh, Prasad spoke on a wide array of subjects including demonetisation, judicial overreach, government’s conflict with the Judiciary over appointment of judges, triple talaq, and Rahul Gandhi‘s earthquake statement.

FP: The Supreme Court had asked the government whether it had a plan on demonetisation at all. Did the government anticipate that the apex court could take such a serious stand on the move?

RSP: The Attorney General is explaining the government’s position. It will not be proper for me to comment on the case, as it is still pending.

FP: Confrontations between the Judiciary and the Executive have become more frequent recently. How do you, as Law Minister of India, see it?

BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. PTI

BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. PTI

RSP: Our (BJP’s) commitment to the independence of the Judiciary is complete and total. This government is led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and there are four-five senior ministers in the government – Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu and Ravi Shankar Prasad. More or less, all leaders, some senior in age while some juniors who were prominent student activists, have fought against the emergency in one form or another. I myself began with the Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) movement. In Bihar, we started the movement much earlier with JP. In the fight against emergency, we fought for three freedoms – individual, media and independence of the Judiciary.

FP: Judiciary is blasting the government on appointment…

(cuts across) RSP: I’m coming to that. Therefore, we belong to a government where we have suffered for the cause of independence of Judiciary. Now you must understand the broader framework…70 years down the line, India has become independent. Some constitutional issues have become well settled. India will always be governed by democracy and popular franchise. Elections have to be free and fair. People know that they can unseat any leader or any party at the Centre, howsoever popular.

Number two, individual freedom, media freedom, freedom of speech and expression are sacrosanct in the country, subject to limitations under the Constitution. Number three, the Judiciary has got the power of judicial review, which means that they can satisfy any government order, they can annul any law passed by the Legislature, and they can give any direction.

But, there is also an ethos of the Constitution, which I personally articulated on Constitution Day before the Supreme Court lecture by MN Venkatachaliah – Governance must be left in the realm of those elected by the people of India and legislation must be left to the realm of those elected to legislate by the people of India. These constitutional parameters are also well settled.

FP: This is a very loaded statement…do you mean that there is a settled parameter for the Judiciary and that it should understand that?

RSP: I’m not saying anything more than what I feel as a student of India’s Constitution.

FP: Recently, the Supreme Court asked high courts to not encroach in the domain of the Executive and Legislature. As a student of the Indian Constitution, and as the law minister of the country, do you think that judicial overreach in the Executive domain is creating tensions? 

RSP: No. The Supreme Court itself keeps cautioning about certain things; as you saw in the case of Allahabad High Court. The Supreme Court said that ‘don’t go for judicial overreach seeking legislation’. I’ll leave it to them. We trust the Judiciary completely. But we also uphold the institution very dearly in the growth of Indian constitutional democracy.

And I speak because you know my background in the fight against the fodder scam, and in seeking accountability for loot of public money in the bitumen scam. I know the Supreme Court and have great respect for the Judiciary. But acknowledgement of the constitutional ecosystem is also required.

FP: If you recall the Chief Justice of India crying, choking with emotions over the appointment of judges…

(cuts across) RSP: I would not like to make any comment except for flagging two or three things. We passed the order in the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) and it was unanimously passed in both Houses of Parliament, without a single dissenting point. It was also unanimously passed by 50 percent of state legislatures, without a single dissenting note. The Supreme Court chose to set it aside. We respected the judgment.

I have two comments on that. Since 1990, on an average, 80 judges are appointed every year. In the year 2016, we made about 125 appointments, the highest in a year. The previous high was 121 appointments, in the year 2013.

FP: Where is the problem then?

RSP: We have made four Supreme Court judges’ appointment, and 124 additional judges have been confirmed. Many high court chief justices have also been appointed and transferred. As of 30 June, 2016, there are about 5,000 vacancies in the district courts of India (4937 to be exact). The Centre or state governments have no role to play in the appointment of the subordinate Judiciary.

As a senior journalist, you would know that it is done by the high courts themselves, or on their recommendations by the public service commission. Of the 430 vacancies in high courts, names have not been given for 280 seats. When the high courts will give the names, we will recommend them…we’ll surely expedite.

The same Supreme Court judgment had also held that the Collegium system needs improvement, as it lacks transparency. There has to be fairness, objectivity, some degree of screening appraisal etc. It’s all part of the 15 December judgment. They had asked us to submit the Memorandum of procedure (MOP), which was to be decided by the Supreme Court chief justice, in consultation with the four-member Collegium unanimously.

The government’s stand is pending before the Supreme Court since 3 August. Therefore, if the judgment is binding on us, it is equally binding there, due to the mechanism. About 4,000 suggestions were requested by the people of India, as per the Supreme court and 1,200 were filtered by a community…so I think there is a need to improve the Collegium system as well. There is a judicial mandate and we have done our best.

FP: Now lets turn to the issue of triple talaq. The Allahabad High Court had called the practice ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘unfair to rights of Muslim women’. What are your views on the matter?

The Allahabad High Court had called the practice of triple talaq 'unconstitutional'. Reuters

The Allahabad High Court had called the practice of triple talaq ‘unconstitutional’. Reuters

RSP: The Supreme Court had asked the government of India to explain its position on triple talaq, in a pending case. Our stand is basically three-pronged. First and foremost, various parts of the Constitution, particularly the fundamental rights, highlight the abiding values of gender justice, gender equality and gender dignity. Our founding fathers chose to give the right to vote to women, the right to live with dignity, and the barrier against non-discrimination, even before other parts of the world thought of including these provisions.

Triple talaq squarely fails on the benchmark of gender justice. How can you, in a constitutional India, allow such a discriminatory practice to survive?

The second point is that we respect the freedom of religion and the freedom of conscience. That’s a part of fundamental rights as well. But every undesirable or pernicious practice does not form the core of religion, or the right to freedom of conscience. Can anyone say that I can practice untouchability against the Dalits because my religion tells me to do that?

(cuts across) FP: Do you mean that the Allahabad High Court judge was right in his observation?

RSP: My affidavit has been filed earlier and the matter is pending before the Supreme Court. I’m speaking on a larger issue. The third point is that about 20 Islamic countries have either regulated triple talaq or have completely prohibited it – like in Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The point is that if in acknowledged Islamic Republics or countries, regulation of triple talaq through state action has not been found to be in violation of Sharia law, then how can this argument be raised in a secular country like India?

FP: Why do you think triple talaq has become a huge political issue?

RSP: I think it is a question of redrawing the whole minority narrative in the country.

FP: Why, in your opinion, have Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party refrained from taking a position on triple talaq?

RSP: The minority are equally a part of India. The prime minister had said, quoting Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, in the BJP National Council Meeting that, “you neither over-patronise them, nor you over-ignore them. You just adopt them. Unko Apnao.

FP: Modi had come out strongly against triple talaq in a rally in Mahoba, Bundelkhand. Is the BJP trying to play triple talaq as an excuse to push for Uniform Civil Code (UCC)?

RSP: No. First of all, UCC covers a much larger canvas. UCC is being debated in the Law Commission and we have instructed that anyone should be allowed to weigh in on the subject. Once the debate and consultations are over, the government will see how to go about it.

FP: Are you going to ask Congress and other political parties for their position on UCC?

RSP: The Law Commission will enquire, not the government. Even the BJP may be required to explain its stand before the Law Commission. In our view, there should be a wide and open debate on the matter.

FP: When Rahul Gandhi said that the earth would shake if he was allowed to speak in Parliament, how did you respond. Are you not letting him speak? Are you, as Gandhi says, afraid of his speech?

Rahul Gandhi had recently said that the earth would shake if he was allowed to speak in Parliament. PTIRahul Gandhi had recently said that the earth would shake if he was allowed to speak in Parliament. PTI

Rahul Gandhi had recently said that the earth would shake if he was allowed to speak in Parliament. PTI

RSP: He (Rahul) has already shaken the roots of his party under his leadership. I think the more he speaks the more there will be earthquake in his own party. But I can understand his frustration. Since the day he took over the leadership of his party, there has been nothing for him to comment on; except for the 22 Vidhaan Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh.

Congress is struggling pan-India, from Lok Sabha to state elections; even in Arunachal Pradesh BJP is winning…Assam we are winning. The people of India don’t find Congress worthy enough for even Municipality elections – as you saw in Maharashtra,Gujarat and Rajasthan.

FP: What do you make of it then when Gandhi says that Modi will be rendered speechless when he speaks?

RSP: I’m not supposed to sit in judgement over his arrogant self-certification. But I am very keen to hear him speak and I have said so publicly as well. Let him read his speech…no problem.

FP: Will you then give him an opportunity to speak?

RSP: The question is over the kind of language he uses in political discourse and in criticising the prime minister. Is he living up to the legacy he claims to represent with this kind of language?

FP: So does that mean that you will not let him speak?

RSP: Why not. But on the condition that he must also hear our reply. This can’t happen…

(cuts across) FP: Which means that you will not allow him to speak until a structured debate takes place?

RSP: It cannot be that you speak and when our turn comes, you start creating disorder in the House…not even heeding to sage advice of the honourable President. Let it be on record that when the 16 November debate had started, Anand Sharma, Sitaram Yechury, Ram Gopal Yadav, Mayawati…everybody had spoken. We even heard pearls of wisdom from former prime minister Manmohan Singh after a long time. And even though he didn’t take a single step against black money in his tenure and a series of scams had completely overpowered his government, he still spoke.

FP: Why do you think….

(cuts across) RSP: No, first listen to me. What happened thereafter? They said let the prime minister come; he came. They said let him come beyond the question hour; he came beyond the question hour. Then they again gharoed him. So who is running away from the debate? We are very clear…we have heard you. And in spite of the fact that you showered abuse on the prime minister, we will hear you again…but, be reasonable and hear our side as well.

FP: Why do you think all parties are against you on the issue of demonetisation?

RSP: Not everyone. The people are with us. Nitish Kumar, Naveen Patnaik and some other chief ministers are also with us. The major issue here is that how the BJP is perceived, how Modi is perceived. He is seen as someone who is standing for the rights of the poor in the fight against black money and dishonesty. We have redefined the political architecture of the country. It used to be Congress versus the rest; now it’s BJP, plus the BJP allies, versus the rest.

Their opposition is a result of the great metamorphosis we have brought to the Indian polity. There were certain common factors that we used in our fight against the Congress; now they have gone to the Congress in their fight against the BJP. Good luck to them.

FP: Do you think that the cash flow restriction is going to hurt the BJP, as people are now getting agitated?

RSP: People are whole-heartedly supporting demonetisation. The prime minister had earlier said that there will be 50 days of inconvenience to implement an initiative of this magnitude. Even today, people are appreciating his move. I can assure you as the IT minister of India. I will talk to you separately about how India is making big strides towards becoming a cashless economy in detail.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 09:02 IST

Bhopal jailbreak: CISF to conduct security, fire safety audit of Indore, Jabalpur, Gwalior jails

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A security audit report by the CISF on Bhopal Central Jail, from where eight SIMI operatives pulled off a daring jailbreak, has been submitted to the Madhya Pradesh government with suggestions to bolster manpower and technical surveillance at the high-security facility.An exhaustive report has been prepared by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) experts for the jail in the state capital recommending “augmentation of human resource, and infusion of latest gadgetry and technology was suggested for making the jail security foolproof”, a senior official said.The proposed security features include enhancing perimeter security, deployment of more CCTV cameras and strict monitoring of entry and exit in the prison premises. The eight SIMI under-trials had escaped from the high- security Central Jail on the intervening night of October 30- 31 after killing a guard, before they were gunned down in an alleged encounter by police on the outskirts of the city on October 31 morning.The state government, the force said, has further asked the central paramilitary to similarly conduct a security and fire safety audit report of three other jails in the state in Indore, Jabalpur and Gwalior. “Appreciating the consultancy services rendered by our experts to the Bhopal Jail, the state government has now requested us to further provide the same expertise to three other jails located in Madhya Pradesh. Our teams will soon conduct the audit of these jails too,” CISF Director General OP Singh said.The force has a special consultancy wing within its establishment that conducts audit of critical installations and establishments, in government and public domain, by way of suggesting them the required access-control, deployment of watch towers and sentry posts, usage of gadgets and positioning of security personnel and surveillance gadgets to enhance protection.The force does this job on a government-approved fee and has provided consultancy to a total of 134 organisations till now. Some of the important clients of CISF security consultancy services are TISCO Limited, Bangalore Metro, the National Security Guard (NSG) headquarters in Delhi, Allahabad High Court, Tirumala Tirupati and Devsthanam in Tirupati, British High Commission in the national capital and assemblies of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Union minister Ramdas Athawale bats for transgenders’ reservation in government jobs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union minister Ramdas Athawale has batted for reservation for transgenders in government jobs on the lines of quota fixed for disabled people.”They (transgenders) are also humans and they should be given reservation. The quota for transgenders should be fixed similar to what is fixed for the disabled,” he said.There is three per cent quota for the differently-abled people.The government had introduced Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, in Lok Sabha during the Monsoon Session. The bill seeks to define the term transgender and prohibits discrimination against the community.There were reports that in draft of this bill, the government had proposed bringing transgender under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category, which was rejected by the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).The bill has now been referred to a parliamentary panel, which has invited public suggestions to involve the community in making of the law which seeks to protect their rights.The bill confers the right upon transgenders to be recognised as such and also grants them the right to “self- perceived” gender identity.According to the 2011 Census, India has six lakh people belonging to the transgender community.The community is among the most marginalised in the country because they don’t fit into the categories of the two recognised genders of men and women.They face issues ranging from social exclusion and discrimination to lack of education and medical facilities, and unemployment.

Compensate acquitted innocents: Justice AP Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One of the biggest pitfalls of arresting a person on malicious and wrongful intent in terror cases is that while innocents get behind the bars, the real culprits go scot-free which can be very dangerous for the society, observed Justice AP Shah, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, while releasing the first Peoples’ Tribunal report on acquitted innocents.“We need to improve the efficiency of our investigating agencies to ensure that such pitfalls that have ruined and are still ruining hundreds of lives are removed. The trial in such cases takes seven to eight years or more to complete, and by the time the accused is released, his or her life is in a shambles,” said Justice Shah, citing the case of Nisaruddin, who was acquitted by the Supreme Court in 2016 after spending 23 years in prison.The tribunal, first of its kind, heard depositions from nine acquitted innocents over a period of two months who were picked up by the police in terror cases but later exonerated by the courts for want of evidence but in the process had to suffer the humiliation and social stigma of being a terror accused.One of the acquitted victims who spent 14 years in jail, Mohammed Aamir Khan, termed the report as a milestone but found it lacking in spelling out what could be done to save the terror accused within the four walls of prison.“I was acquitted after 14 years. Our jails are no better than Abu Ghraib where accused like me go through the worst kind of torture and are always at the mercy of police and other convicts. Many get killed like what happened in Bhopal jailbreak case,” said Aamir.Giving its recommendations to save, compensate and rehabilitate exonerated accused of terror cases, the tribunal observed that the government should grant compensation to the exonerees for violating their right to life and liberty and the torture they underwent under Article 21 of the Constitution.“It is shameful that India does not have any such provision,” said Justice Shah, adding that the cost may be recovered from the officers responsible for the wrongful arrests and prosecution.The tribunal recommends greater accountability and transparency of investigating agency for which they should be subjected to initiation of departmental enquiry against the officers concerned and the erring officers must be suspended with immediate effect pending enquiry. “If found that the criminal prosecution against the acquitted persons was malafide and amounts to offences under IPC Sections 194, 196 and 211, the officers named by the exonerees should be prosecuted,” the report said.The report recommended enactment of law to compensate for miscarriage of justice, pass the prevention of torture bill that is pending in the parliament for four years, shifting the burden of proof in offenses related to custodial violence and torture by bringing amendment in section 114B (1) of the Indian Evidence Act as proposed by the Tenth Law Commission.On MCOCAThe tribunal explicitly recommended repealing Section 18 of MCOCA thus calling for an end to the admissibility of confessions as evidence and bringing all undergoing trials in repealed and lapsed TADA and POTA under ordinary law.

Devendra Fadnavis unveils slew of measures for Marathas

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Blaming the erstwhile Congress and NCP led government’s for failing to protect the interests of the Marathas, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a slew of measures aimed at placating the community, which along with the Kunbis is estimated to form around a third of Maharashtra’s population.He was speaking in the state legislative assembly on Friday. The Marathas have organised a series of silent protests across Maharashtra for demands like quota, amendments to the Atrocity act to prevent its misuse, and death sentence for youth who raped a girl from the community.Fadnavis questioned former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan who had participated in this discussion in the assembly on the decision to grant quotas (for Marathas and Muslims) only after the Congress- NCP lost 42 of Maharashtra’s 48 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. “While taking such an important decision a special session should have been convened and a law must have been framed… An ordinance can enforce the law but the court gives more importance to a law,” he said, referring to the high court striking down the quota decision.The BJP-led government will also present a strong case in the apex court to press for Maratha reservations. Fadnavis also praised the silent morchas being organised by the community and added that the state would seek the death sentence for the accused in the Kopardi rape, which had triggered off the protests.Pointing fingers at the erstwhile Congress and NCP governments for neglecting the Marathas, Fadnavis said the community was removed from the quota ambit in 1963 without sound reasoning. The state had also not contested the contention of the Mandal Commission which had ruled against classifying Marathas as other backwards. “I do not want to blame anyone. It is a question of giving justice to the community,” said Fadnavis, while pointing that while some were trying to give the issue a political twist, it was the opposition which was in power when these developments took place.

Manipur to have 16 districts now, cabinet decides formation of 7 new ones

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Manipur government, led by Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, has decided to form 7 more new districts, bifurcating the existing 9 districts of the state, a state cabinet secretariat source said on Friday.The decision for formation of seven new districts was taken in a state cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister last evening at the CM’s secretariat, the source said. “Manipur will now have 16 districts and the decision for formation of 7 new districts was taken for administrative convenience and to enable the state government take up development works effectively even in the remote and underdeveloped parts of the state,” the chief minister said over phone this morning.The newly formed districts are Kangpokpi, Tengnoupal, Pherzawl, Noney, Kamjong, Jiribam and Kakching, the cabinet secretariat source said.Posting of the new Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police for the newly formed districts were also effected in the government order issued on Thursday, the source said.Manipur earlier had 9 districts – Imphal West, Imphal East, Bishnupur, Thoubal, Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong, Churachandpur and Chandel.The chief minister explained that inauguration of the new districts would be taken up as soon as possible before the announcement of state assembly elections by the Election Commission of India.The move came in the backdrop of the United Naga Council (UNC) launching economic blockade in Manipur for more than one month since November one last in protest against the formation of Sadar Hills (Kangpokpi) and Jiribam districts.

Do not announce exam dates without consulting us: Election Commission to 5 states

Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa were asked not to announce examination schedules without consulting Election Commission. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Assembly elections due early next year in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, the Election Commission on Thursday asked the poll-bound states not to announce examination schedules without consulting it. “The Commission is aware that the annual examination at various levels of educational institutions in the states are generally due in the first half of the next year.”The Commission wants that there is no clash between the programme of the elections…and the examination schedule that may be framed by various state education boards,” the Commission told the states.The poll body pointed out that it is a Constitutional mandate to hold the elections well before the expiry of the term of the Legislative Assembly and it is in the “advance stages” of considering a schedule for holding the elections. While, the term of the Legislative Assemblies of Goa, Manipur and Punjab are coming to an end on March 18, that of Uttarakhand will expire on March 26. The term of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly will expire on May 27. The EC is likely to announce the poll schedule for these states sometime later this month or early January.

President Mukherjee talks about EC’s recommendations to hold simultaneous elections

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Backing electoral reforms in the Indian political system, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday asked the government to come up with necessary amendments and hold public debates on a set of recommendations proposed by the Election Commission to hold simultaneous elections in the country. Acknowledging that the administration is feeling the pinch due to frequent elections hampering the developmental works, he said, “Many of you would aware that frequent elections are a costly affair, putting stain on the administrative resources and drainage of financial resources for holding and conducting elections. But we are ready to pay this price for the democracy, but it should not be at the cost of development in a developing economy like ours.”He was delivering a lecture on the 4th Defence Estates Day in the national capital. “I do feel that these do not affect the electoral process to that extent that voters would be influenced by the announcement. This is some sort of illusion with which the political activists believe. And here the Election Commission and the government can sit together with political parties to have discussion,” he added.The President also said that President’s Rule should be extended to more than a year in a state if general elections are around the corner. “As per the present constitutional amendment, after 44th amendment of the Constitution, president’s rule is only confined to one year subject to the ratification of both Houses of parliament at every 6 months. And if a consensus develops around simultaneous elections, there can be consensus on that as well,” he said.”During general elections, it is imperative that the President’s Rule should be extended beyond one year so that it can synchronise with the general elections of the parliament,” he added.President Mukherjee also pressed for the increase in the number of Lok Sabha seats in concomitant with rising population in the country. “We have 543 members in Lok Sabha, our electors are more than 800 million, a country of having a population of 1.28 billion which is going to much larger very soon, we must think whether we can have larger number of seats and for that constitutional amendment for delimitation is needed. We shall have to think especially under electoral reforms,” he said.The President also raised concern over women’s participation in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies, and called for passage for of the Women’s Reservation Bill. “Women’s population is almost 50% whose representations is abysmally low which is totally unacceptable and with the experience of 16 Lok Saha elections it is being said that whatever be the reason, political parties are not magnanimous enough to give adequate number of representations to the woman in parliament,” he said.

No intention to add to strain in ties with Pakistan: VK Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that it acted in interest of national security in expelling a Pakistan High Commission official in October, Government on Thursday said it has no intention to add to the strain in ties with Pakistan caused by Islamabad’s continued policy of cross-border terrorism.Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh, replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, said tension in the relationship between the two countries has been caused by Pakistan’s continued policy of directing cross border terrorism against India and supporting other anti-India activities. India had expelled Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar on charges of spying, triggering a tit for tat action by Islamabad, which also expelled an Indian High Commission official posted there.”In declaring Mehmood Akhtar persona non grata and asking for his return to Pakistan, the government acted in the interest of national security.”It is not government’s intention to add to the strain in the relationship with Pakistan, which is caused by the latter’s continued policy of directing cross border terrorism against India and supporting other anti-India activities,” Singh said. Days after Mehmood’s expulsion, Islamabad had recalled six staff members from its High Commission here.Subsequently, India had withdrawn eight of its officials posted in Indian Embassy in Islamabad after Pakistan Foreign Ministry on November 3 alleged that they were found involved in subversive activities there.India had rejected the charges as totally baseless and unsubstantiated, saying they represented an afterthought and a crude attempt to tarnish image. Replying to a separate question, Singh said a total of 787 Indian fishermen were apprehended by Sri Lanka in the year 2014, 454 in 2015 and 254 were caught this year.He said a total of 1,045 Indian fishermen were released by Sri Lanka in 2014 which included 273 caught in the previous year. Singh said 375 Indin fishermen were released in 2015 and 333 this year which included some caught in previous year. Asked about functioning of MADAD consular service portal, he said a total of 15,849 grievances were registered since its inception in February 2015 out of which 9,811 were resolved while 6,038 are at various stages of resolution.To another question, he said the government had drawn up a list of 68 countries, which have not been covered at the ministerial or higher level since the current dispensation assumed office.He said visits have so far taken place to 29 out of these 68 countries.

BJP supports EC’s appeal for curbing money power and paid news in polls: Subramanian Swamy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday supported the appeal of the Election Commission of India to take measures to curb the increasing use of money power and paid news during elections. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said, “If a political party is involved in money laundering instead of using funds for political purposes, then this is serious. It can happen because there are a lot of tax benefits for political parties. This case should be investigated.” Earlier, Chief Election Commissioner Dr Nasim Zaidi said released 47 proposals of the ECI for law making, which have also been examined by the Law Commission.He said the important proposals included the recommendations pertaining to decriminalisation of politics, prevention of abuse of money, transparency, making bribery a cognisable offence, criminalising paid news, empowering ECI to countermand election in cases of bribery and abuse on the lines of countermanding in event of booth. He further said the ECI and the Law Commission recommendations are being scrutinised by a task force in the Law Ministry and the outcome is eagerly awaited.

‘No personal law board above Constitution’: Allahabad High Court’s observation on triple talaq ruffles feathers

The debate on validity of triple talaq intensified after the Allahabad High Court on Thursday termed the system as unconstitutional. The court added that it is the Constitution of India that is supreme and not the Muslim Law Board. The high court bench said that Triple Talaq violated human rights and that personal law of any community cannot be above the Constitution.

The observation comes in the wake of discussion and debate getting vocal about the validity of Muslim Law Board and this statement by Allahabad High Court is a boost for women petitioners involved in the case of triple talaq.

Speaking with CNN-News18 Kamal Farooqui of All India Muslim Personal Law Board said, “This is not a judgment, just an observation.” Adding to that Congress’ Rashid Alvi said, “This view of the Allahabad High court won’t stand in the Supreme Court. I don’t agree with what the Allahabad HC has to say. No one is above the Constitution and nobody should interfere in the practises of any community.”

Other ministers reacted to High Court’s observation:

The Muslim Law Board has announced that it will file a petition against the order. The issue is expected to gain more ground and the matter of arbitrary divorce debated upon after this order. The controversial Shah Bano maintenance case in 1986 raged a debate on the rights of Muslim women and their exploitation on the grounds of Triple Talaq, a personal law that allows muslim man to divorce his wife by uttering the word ‘talaq’ three times.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

This order will also embolden the advocates of Uniform Civil Code and bring the personal law boards under pressure. Considering the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, this decision gains more significance. On 23 November, Union home minister Rajnath Singh had said that muslim women cannot be treated like second class citizens in a developing country like India and he termed the Triple Talaq as a burning issue.

On the issue of ‘triple talaq’, the Centre had in an affidavit in the Supreme Court last month opposed the practice. The AIMPLB and various other outfits have objected to the affidavit and Law Commission’s questionnaire on Uniform Civil Code and announced their boycott of the move, accusing the government of waging a “war” against the community.

In an appeal issued on 7 October, the Commission had said the objective of the endeavour was to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise various cultural practices.

In the appeal, it has assured the people that the “norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”. Indicating need for wider consultation before taking a call on Uniform Civil Code, the government had in June asked the Law Commission to examine the issue.

The move asking the law panel to examine the issue assumes significance as the Supreme Court had recently said it would prefer a wider debate, in public as well as in court, before taking a decision on the constitutional validity of triple talaq, which many complain is abused by Muslim men to arbitrarily divorce their wives.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 13:16 IST

Modi will never make a Muslim the Vice President: Kejriwal hits out at ‘Hitler’ Jung

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Miffed over the appointment of Dilraj Kaur as the member secretary of DCW, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hit out at Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, likening him to “Hitler”. “LG is acting like Hitler, following in footsteps of his masters Mr Modi n Amit Shah…Najeeb Jung has sold his soul to the Prime Minister,” Kejriwal said in a series of tweets. The appointment of member secretary to the DCW (Delhi Commission for Women) recently emerged as yet another flashpoint between Kejriwal and Jung. He also claimed that Jung was selling his soul to become the Vice President, but Modi wouldn’t make a Muslim the Vice President. Kejriwal had termed as “unconstitutional” the earlier appointment of Alka Diwan to the same post, saying Jung had overlooked the name suggested by the government. DCW chief Swati Maliwal had alleged that the appointment of Diwan led to the stalling of the functioning of the Commission and was subverting its autonomy.

Delhi HC declines to hear PIL alleging discrimination against jawans

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined to entertain a PIL challenging grant of lesser military service pay (MSP) to personnel below officer rank (PBOR), like jawans and alleged discrimination against them, saying the appropriate forum is the Armed Forces Tribunal.”We are not inclined to entertain the PIL. Dismissed,” a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said while noting that “alternative remedy is available under the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT)”.The order came after the Centre contended before the bench that the appropriate forum was the AFT.The PIL, by an NGO, had alleged that there was a trend in the defence forces of “sidelining” the PBORs who, according to the petition, comprise 97 per cent of the three armed forces.The NGO Voice of Ex-Serviceman had claimed that all service-related benefits, including monetary, “are hijacked by the officer lobby”.The petition had opposed the grant of MSP in Seventh Pay Commission to military nursing service (MNS) contending that they are non-combatants.It had contended that MSP should be paid only to combatants and equally without considering the rank.As per the petition, under the Seventh Pay Commission while PBORs will get an MSP of Rs 5,200, those in the nursing service and officers would get MSP of Rs 10,800 and Rs 15,500, respectively.It had contended that despite the jawans facing more hardship, they are given the lowest MSP.The NGO had also raised the grievance of the PBORs being compulsorily retired before attaining the age of 60 years in the name of keeping the force young.

Hindu temple vandalised, 7 idols smashed in Bangladesh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Hindu temple was vandalised and seven idols of goddess Kali were today destroyed by some miscreants in two separate incidents in Bangladesh, weeks after over 10 temples of the minority community were attacked in the Muslim- majority nation.The first incident came to light after people of Mymensinghorohi village in Netrokona district found the doors of a temple open this morning. Upon entering its premises, they noticed the temple was vandalised. Four broken idols of goddess Kali were also found lying close to the temple, a senior police officer told PTI. Immediately, police launched an investigation.”We have collected evidence of the vandalism and started a probe. It was learnt that the temple’s doors were not locked. We are looking for those behind this heinous act,” Netrokona sadar police Officer-in-Charge Shahnur-e-Alam said. Netrokona Additional District Magistrate Abdul Matin said those responsible will be punished.”We are treating the case with priority. A group with vested interests may have carried out the crime to disrupt communal harmony,” Netrokona Superintendent of Police Joydeb Chowdhury. In a separate incident, unidentified assailants vandalised three Kali statues in clandestine predawn attack on a Hindu temple in northwestern Pabna district.”Three statues of Hindu goddess Kali were found broken at a temple at Bera (sub-district) of Pabna… the miscreants visibly entered the temple early in the morning and damaged the statues,” a police officer told reporters in Pabna. Badal Ghosh, secretary of the Sharifpur Kali Temple committee, demanded immediate arrest of the attackers.There have been several incidents of attacks on Hindu temples in the past. In October last week, miscreants set on fire at least six houses of Hindus in a predawn attack in Brahmanbarhia district’s Nasirnagar, the place where at least 15 temples and more than 20 houses were vandalised after a Facebook post deemed offensive to Islam sparked outrage in the country.A cyber cafe owner was arrested last month for allegedly masterminding attacks on Hindu temples and houses. The attacks on several Hindu temples in Bangladesh were carried out under a well orchestrated plan aimed at grabbing lands of the minority community, National Human Rights Commission had said.

Punjab Elections 2017: Sonia chairs first meet to finalise candidates

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The all-powerful Congress Election Committee met today to take stock of the Punjab elections and commence the task of finalising candidates for the 2017 state elections.Chaired by Congress President Sonia Gandhi and comprising party vice president Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the committee held a one hour meeting to assess the current political landscape and devise suitable plans to counter Aam Aadmi Party and the ruling combine of Akali-BJP. Congress sources said the panel did not discuss specific seat situation in the state which has 117 assembly segments and will meet again on December 8 to start those specific discussions.The Election Commission is yet to notify polls in Punjab with a section of the Congress leaders of the view that hasty ticket allocation should not be done. AAP has so far declared 91 candidates and Akalis have declared around 65. Congress is yet to start the work although the state screening committee headed by former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has done the short listing and sent panels in each seat to the CEC for a final decision.The CEC is also learnt to have discussed the recent entries to Congress including that of Pargat Singh and Navjot Kaur Sidhu and how conflicting interests within the Congress would need to be balanced to accommodate these people. At least 10 seats in Punjab are single applicant seats including Patiala where Punjab Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh will be contesting. Sitting Patiala MLA and Amarinder’s wife Preneet Kaur will vacate the seat for him.From Lehra in Sangrur Lok Sabha segment, the sole applicant is sitting MLA and ex Punjab CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. From Abohar ex CLP leader Sunil Jakhar is the only candidate. A leader said single applicant seats would in normal course get cleared as such. Candidates will now be discussed on December 8.

EC reviewing laws to cleanse political funding: Chief Election Commissioner

New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) is working towards a “comprehensive review” of the election laws as it is “eagerly awaiting” government’s response on its slew of proposals to decriminalize politics and cleanse political funding, CEC Nasim Zaidi said here today.

The poll watchdog, he said, is also seeking to empower itself to countermand elections in cases of money power abuse, drawing from the recent experience of Tamil Nadu elections where candidates in countermanded polls contested again with impunity.

Zaidi, while delivering inaugural address at the ‘National Interactive Conference on Electoral Laws’, said the legal researchers of the poll body, in collaboration with legal luminaries and institutions, are working to address the need for a comprehensive review of the Representation of People (RP) Act.

“Electoral reforms is another important area which needs to be addressed in a very systematic manner. We are happy to release a compilation of 47 proposals of electoral reforms sent by the Commission from time to time for law making.

“These have also been examined by Law Commission and many proposals of EC have been endorsed for legislation,” he said.

Election Commission of India building. IBNlive

Election Commission of India building. IBNlive

Zaidi said while he understands that the recommendations made by the EC and Law Commission in this regard are being “scrutinised” by a task force in the Law Ministry, their “outcome is eagerly awaited”.

“Of these, recommendations pertaining to decriminalization of politics, prevention of abuse of money, transparency in funding of political parties, making bribery a cognisable offence, criminalising paid news, empowering EC to countermand election in cases of bribery and abuse of money in election on the lines of countermanding in event of booth capturing are important,” he said.

The CEC went on to add that it was important to undertake a “comprehensive review” of the RP Act in view of issues and challenges that have been thrown up before it from time to time and hence the poll body should “come up with a draft RP Bill which can then go through the motion of examination by competent authority in due course to time”.

He added that such a review of the said Act is “overdue for past few decades”.

Recounting the Tamil Nadu instance, he said “if law had been amended in time enabling EC to countermand elections on account of abuse of money or bribery, it would have served as a deterrence in the recently held elections.”

“So, it is a classical example how a challenge thrown in one set of election needed legal amendment to plug loopholes in subsequent cases and how it led to litigation,” he said, adding many writ petitions were filed in the Madras High Court in this incident.

The CEC said while election disputes have gone down after Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were introduced, the legal fraternity needs to study the present trend of number of disputes like in the nomination process, campaign and corrupt practises under the RP Act and find ways to “minimise” them.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 18:01 IST

Government approves inclusion of 15 new castes in Central OBC list

The National Commission of Backward Classes (NCBC) had recommended a total of 28 changes in respect of 8 states — Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Government on Wednesday approved inclusion of 15 new castes and modification in 13 other castes in the Central list of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the proposal. The National Commission of Backward Classes (NCBC) had recommended a total of 28 changes in respect of 8 states — Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand.Out of these 28, 15 were new entries, 9 were synonyms or sub-castes of the castes which were already in the list and 4 were corrections. “The changes will enable the persons belonging to these castes/communities to avail the benefits of reservation in Government services and posts as well as in Central Educational Institutions as per the existing policy,” according to an official statement.They will also become eligible for benefit under the various welfare schemes, scholarships etc being administered by the Central Government, which are at present available to the persons belonging to the Other Backward Classes, it added. On the NCBC recommendation, a total of 2479 Entries for inclusion, including its synonyms, sub-castes, etc in the Central List of OBCs have been notified in 25 States and 6 Union Territories. The last such notification was issued till September, 2016.NCBC examines requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists. Its advice is binding upon the Central Government. Meanwhile, the Centre is already considering to relax the creamy layer norms for the OBC and note in this regard was already under consideration.

Kerala: Pakistani national languishing in prison due to ‘lack of assistance’ from Islamabad

Kochi: A Pakistani national, who was set free by an NIA court in Ernakulam, has been languishing in a Kerala prison for several months due to “lack of assistance” from his country’s High Commission in India, a senior Congress MLA said on Wednesday.

PT Thomas, also a former Lok Sabha MP, said he met Pakistani national Abdul Qadir on Tuesday when he visited the Ernakulam district jail at Kakkanad here as a local MLA to inspect the basic facilities provided for jail
officers and inmates.

Congress leader PT Thomas. Twitter/ @PTThomasINC

Congress leader PT Thomas. Twitter/ @PTThomasINC

He said Qadir (53) was part of 11 crew members of the Iranian vessel ‘Barooki’, which was intercepted off the Kerala coast in July last year.No offences were found against the crew members, comprising 10 Iranian nationals and Qadir, the lone Pakistani citizen, by the NIA Court in March this year.

Following the court order, the Foreigner Regional Registration Office initiated procedures for deportation.

“I met Qadir who has been lodged in the jail. While his colleagues from Iran left for their country after they received assistance from their embassy in New Delhi, Qadir is still lodged in the jail here due to lack of assistance from the Pakistani High Commission,” Thomas told PTI in Kochi.

He hoped that the Pakistani High Commission would intervene and coordinate with Indian authorities to facilitate deportation of their national languishing in the jail.

Thomas said Qadir has provided two addresses to the jail authorities. “According to one document, he belongs to Jeevani Village, Bstivan, Baluchistan.”

“Another one says Qadir belongs to Jan Mohammed Kaloi Village under Dalel police station limit in Sanghar district of Sindh province,” the MLA said. Thomas said Qadir is the sole bread winner for his family
comprising wife Sareena, ailing mother Bechel and sister Sobha. He has no children.

The court had released them after NIA, which conducted a probe into the case, had stated that the crew had no links either with any terror outfit or international drug mafia.

The Iranian dhow “Barooki” was intercepted by the Coast Guard and state police following intelligence inputs in July last year off the coast of Alappuzha and brought to Vizhinjam.

The crew members were detained by the CG and police which recovered a satellite communication set and a Pakistani identity card from the vessel.

The case was later handed over to the NIA and a team of the agency and scientists of Geological Survey of India had conducted a mission onboard a research vessel ‘RV Samudra Ratnakar’ off Kerala coast to recover objects allegedly dropped in the deep sea from the dhow.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 15:21 IST

Pakistani national languishing in Kerala prison

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Pakistani national, who was set free by an NIA court here, has been languishing in a Kerala prison for several months due to “lack of assistance” from his country’s High Commission in India, a senior Congress MLA said on Wednesday.Thomas, also a former Lok Sabha MP, said he met Pakistani national Abdul Qadir on Tuesday when he visited the Ernakulam district jail at Kakkanad here as a local MLA to inspect the basic facilities provided for jail officers and inmates.He said Qadir (53) was part of 11 crew members of the Iranian vessel ‘Barooki’, which was intercepted off the Kerala coast in July last year.No offences were found against the crew members, comprising 10 Iranian nationals and Qadir, the lone Pakistani citizen, by the NIA Court in March this year.Following the court order, the Foreigner Regional Registration Office initiated procedures for deportation.”I met Qadir who has been lodged in the jail. While his colleagues from Iran left for their country after they received assistance from their embassy in New Delhi, Qadir is still lodged in the jail here due to lack of assistance from the Pakistani High Commission,” Thomas said.He hoped that the Pakistani High Commission would intervene and coordinate with Indian authorities to facilitate deportation of their national languishing in the jail.Thomas said Qadir has provided two addresses to the jail authorities. “According to one document, he belongs to Jeevani Village, Bstivan, Baluchistan.””Another one says Qadir belongs to Jan Mohammed Kaloi Village under Dalel police station limit in Sanghar district of Sindh province,” the MLA said.Thomas said Qadir is the sole bread winner for his family comprising wife Sareena, ailing mother Bechel and sister Sobha. He has no children.The court had released them after NIA, which conducted a probe into the case, had stated that the crew had no links either with any terror outfit or international drug mafia.The Iranian dhow “Barooki” was intercepted by the Coast Guard and state police following intelligence inputs in July last year off the coast of Alappuzha and brought to Vizhinjam.The crew members were detained by the CG and police which recovered a satellite communication set and a Pakistani identity card from the vessel.The case was later handed over to the NIA and a team of the agency and scientists of Geological Survey of India had conducted a mission onboard a research vessel ‘RV Samudra Ratnakar’ off Kerala coast to recover objects allegedly dropped in the deep sea from the dhow.

BJP, Congress withdraw appeal in foreign funding violation case from Supreme Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP and Congress withdrew their respective appeals from the Supreme Court on Tuesday, wherein they had challenged the Delhi High Court verdict holding them prima facie guilty of violating the law on foreign funding. The counsel representing the political parties informed the apex court that in view of the 2010 amendment made in the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), they cannot be held liable for receiving alleged foreign funds in violation of the law.”The petitions are dismissed as withdrawn,” a bench comprising Justices JS Khehar, Arun Mishra and AM Khanwilkar said when senior advocates Shyam Divan and Kapil Sibal, representing BJP and Congress respectively, sought to withdrew the petitions.Divan said that the 2010 amendment in the FCRA provides that a contribution to a political party is not a foreign contribution if an Indian holds 50% or more shares in that firm. He further said that the Indian subsidiary of a company, registered in foreign country can donate funds and those donations cannot be regarded as foreign contribution in view of the changed law.Earlier, on November 22, Congress, which had challenged the Delhi HC verdict, sought time from the apex court to clarify the effect of the amendment brought this year to the FCRA in their matter.Congress had told the bench that amendment introduced in February this year has retrospective effect and their appeal against the Delhi High Court judgement has become infructuous. The amendment brought in the 2010 Act is aimed at easing the flow of donations from foreign companies in the name of corporate social responsibility.The high court, in its judgement pronounced on March 28, 2014, had said that by receiving donations from UK-based Vedanta Resources’ subsidiaries, the two mainstream political parties had violated the law concerned. It had also directed the Centre and Election Commission to take appropriate action against them within six months.Challenging the judgement, Congress had contended that the high court had erred in interpreting the law and “there is no concealment or suppression of such contribution which were duly reflected in the returns submitted to the Election Commission”.It had contended that Vedanta was owned by an Indian citizen, Anil Aggarwal, and its subsidiaries were incorporated here. Hence, they were not foreign sources. The high court had held that Vedanta was a foreign company as per the Companies Act and therefore, the Anil Aggarwal-owned firm and its subsidiaries, Sterlite and Sesa, were foreign sources as per the FCRA.The verdict was delivered on a PIL by a NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms and EAS Sarma, a former Secretary in the government, who had alleged that the two parties had violated the Representation of the People Act and FCRA by taking donations from government companies and foreign sources.

Demonetisation: Modi moves needle again, asks BJP MPs, MLAs to come cash-clean

When 282 Lok Sabha and 55 Rajya Sabha MPs of BJP assembled in Parliament House premises to attend their weekly parliamentary party meeting they were in for another surprise by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This time Modi’s “kadak chai” (strong tea) dose was meant for all his party MPs and MLAs. Party office-bearers both at the central and state level can hope to relax for a while but it’s possible that in days to come, BJP president Amit Shah may issue a similar directive as the one meant for MPs and MLAs.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFPPrime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

All BJP parliamentarians and legislators have been asked to submit their bank account statements detailing all the transaction between 8 November to 31 December, from the day Modi addressed to the nation announcing demonetisation move till the day the deadline for depositing old currency notes ends. Modi has told them to get relevant details and submit that to Amit Shah.

As it is this is for the third time in the last two and half years the BJP MPs will give details about their accounted liquid wealth. With the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the possibility of having unaccounted cash with them is practically nil, one has been very enterprising keeping cash in smaller denomination notes.

It is mandatory for any person contesting election to submit details of his assets, cash, real estate and jewellery to the Election Commission. Ahead of 2014 parliamentary elections, they gave that detail to the EC. Second, they then had to submit an affidavit that they don’t have a foreign bank account and now for the third time, they will have to submit these details.

But there is a difference. In their submission to the EC, they just had to state their current balance, now they not just have to give a statement but also the bank account numbers and so on.

This effectively would mean that party headquarters will have all the details of their legitimate deals of these 51 days, between 8 November to 31 December. But if required the party leadership can access everything, present and past transactions, with their account number and KYC.

Party MP from Bettiah, Sanjay Jaiswal said, “The move will enhance levels of transparency and probity within the party. As it is our banking details are with the EC and is in public domain. We all will comply with Prime Minister’s idea and submit details within given time frame.”

The prime idea behind Modi’s latest move for the BJP MPs and MLAs is to take additional moral high vis-a-vis other political parties. While his political rivals are not expected to follow the suit, at least in immediate future but this will give Modi a talking point when he goes to people. In politics, public perception about a party and about an individual leader matters the most.

He wants to convey a message that he is unsparing to his own party men and women on the issue of public transparency. It comes at a time when some Congress, AAP and some other parties had been claiming that Modi had given prior intimation about demonetisation to his party men.

Not everyone in the party would be pleased with this task but since the directive comes from Modi there would be any alibi the leaders concerned.

Modi also explained proposed amendments in Income Tax Act and how the money received through taxation, penalty and other provisions would benefit poor in the country. In that context, he explained how the initiative taken from Lok Kalyan Marg, the new name of Race Course Road where the prime minister’s residence is located were actually meant for the welfare of the poor.

“The amendment is not for turning black money into white but to spend the money looted from the poor on their welfare,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said quoting the prime minister.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 16:54 IST

24 ISI agents arrested in 2016: Govt

Nine were detected in Rajasthan, six in Punjab, two in Gujarat, two in Jammu and Kashmir, one in Uttar Pradesh and four in Delhi, said the Centre. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 24 ISI agents have been arrested for spying for the Pakistani intelligence agency so far this year, the Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.”In addition to these 24 agents, one Pakistani spy agent detected in October 2016 was Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi based intelligence officer Mehmood Akhtar,” Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said replying a written question.Of those, who were arrested so far this year, nine were detected in Rajasthan, six in Punjab, two in Gujarat, two in Jammu and Kashmir, one in Uttar Pradesh and four in Delhi.Ahir said some of the staff posted in Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi is suspected to be involved in running espionage network.The official who was apprehended by the Delhi Police for spying was consequently declared persona-non-grata by the Indian authorities. “The Government is taking adequate steps to counter such incidents in future. The Government is resolutely committed to take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the nation and the safety of our citizens,” he said.

India can be a seat for international dispute resolution: President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has the potential to emerge as a leading seat for international dispute resolution, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday. “I am convinced that India has the potential to emerge as a leading seat for international dispute resolution. Prime Minister has also declared that an enabling alternate dispute resolution ecosystem is a national priority for India and that we need to promote India globally as an arbitration hub,” Mukherjee said in his address at a conference to mark 50th anniversary of United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).He said while India has had a long history of peaceful resolution of disputes from the Panchayat system onwards to several enactments concerning arbitration prior to Independence, the year 1996 marked a watershed in the development and modernisation of arbitration in India. Critical amendments were made to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act to ensure timely and just resolution of arbitral disputes.India last month launched a national initiative towards strengthening Arbitration and Conciliation.The Prime Minister has also declared that an enabling alternate dispute resolution ecosystem is a national priority for India and that there is a need to promote India globally as an arbitration hub. The President expressed confidence that the deliberations in the Conference would explore ways and means of fostering a healthy and sustainable culture of international arbitration and conciliation. The President said India is delighted to host the golden jubilee celebrations of UNCITRAL as part of India’s commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations and the evolution of its specialised programmes and agencies.It is a glowing testament to India s commitment to the rule of law that India is only one of eight countries that has been a member of UNCITRAL from its inception, and has recently been re-elected for a term of six years, he said. India recognises that the impact of UNCITRAL has been far beyond mere facilitation of international trade, he said, adding that its exemplary work over the years has provided significant thought leadership that has inspired transformation of several domestic legal regimes to facilitate both domestic and transnational commerce and trade.

Give list of people facing sedition cases, ‘martyrs’: CIC to MHA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With tags of ‘patriots’ and ‘anti-nationals’ being at the centre of debate, the Central Information Commission has asked the Home Ministry to make public the list of people who are facing sedition charges for indulging in alleged anti-national activities.The transparency watchdog’s directives came on a petition by Moradabad-resident Pawan Aggarwal, who had sought from the Prime Minister’s Office through an RTI application the list of persons declared as “martyrs” and “anti-nationals”. Aggarwal’s petition was forwarded by the PMO to the Home Ministry which responded that there was no list available with it in which people were categorised as “patriots”, “martyrs” or anti-nationals, hence the information cannot be provided.The Ministry had said that it did not categorise any person as a “patriot”, “traitor” or a “martyr” based on certain yardsticks and specifications or maintained any data of such categories of persons. “The respondent further submitted that under the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, a public authority is under obligation to provide an applicant only that information which exists in the records and is held by or under the control of that authority,” Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava noted in the order.During the hearing before Bhargava, Aggarwal contended that sedition cases have been filed against a number of persons. Hence, MHA should be having details about persons who are being involved in anti-national activities. Similarly, the Freedom Fighters Division, MHA will also be having information about freedom fighters/martyrs, he argued. “The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and perusing the records, observes that as per National Crime Bureau Research (NCRB) 47 cases pertaining to sedition were registered in 2014. Hence, information about persons indulging in anti-national activities should be available,” Bhargava said.Bhargava said in case the information was not available with MHA, the RTI application should have been transferred to the public authority which holds such information.The Information Commissioner pointed out that he had come to know from another case that Indian Council for Historical Research has been working on a project of the Culture Ministry entitled as “Dictionary of Martyrs: India’s Freedom Struggle (1857 to 1947)”.”The Commission had also observed that MHA should have a credible repository of information on freedom fighters. The Commission, therefore, directs the CPIO, MHA to provide point wise information as available with them to the appellant and point(s) for which the information is not available with them, forward the RTI application to the public authority concerned,” Bhargava directed.

CIC asks Home Ministry to provide the list of people facing sedition charges

New Delhi: With tags of ‘patriots’ and ‘anti-nationals’ being at the centre of debate, the Central Information Commission has asked the Home Ministry to make public the list of people who are facing sedition charges for indulging in alleged anti-national activities.

The transparency watchdog’s directives came on a petition by Moradabad-resident Pawan Aggarwal, who had sought from the Prime Minister’s Office through an RTI application the list of persons declared as “martyrs” and “anti-nationals”.

File photo of Rajnath Singh. AFP

File photo of Rajnath Singh. AFP

Aggarwal’s petition was forwarded by the PMO to the Home Ministry which responded that there was no list available with it in which people were categorised as “patriots”, “martyrs” or anti-nationals, hence the information cannot be provided.

The Ministry had said that it did not categorise any person as a “patriot”, “traitor” or a “martyr” based on certain yardsticks and specifications or maintained any data of such categories of persons.

“The respondent further submitted that under the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, a public authority is under obligation to provide an applicant only that information which exists in the records and is held by or under the control of that authority,” Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava noted in the order.

During the hearing before Bhargava, Aggarwal contended that sedition cases have been filed against a number of persons.

Hence, MHA should be having details about persons who are being involved in anti-national activities. Similarly, the Freedom Fighters Division, MHA will also be having information about freedom fighters/martyrs, he argued.

“The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and perusing the records, observes that as per National Crime Bureau Research (NCRB) 47 cases pertaining to sedition were registered in 2014. Hence, information about persons indulging in anti-national activities should be available,” Bhargava said.

Bhargava said in case the information was not available with MHA, the RTI application should have been transferred to the public authority which holds such information.

The Information Commissioner pointed out that he had come to know from another case that Indian Council for Historical Research has been working on a project of the Culture Ministry entitled as “Dictionary of Martyrs: India’s Freedom Struggle (1857 to 1947)”.

“The Commission had also observed that MHA should have acredible repository of information on freedom fighters. The Commission, therefore, directs the CPIO, MHA to provide point wise information as available with them to the appellant and point(s) for which the information is not available with them, forward the RTI application to the public authority concerned,” Bhargava directed.

First Published On : Nov 27, 2016 13:53 IST

Wadakancherry rape: Insensitivity by police sparks anger; woman victimised due to politics again

The Wadakancherry rape case is fast becoming a political fist fight between the ruling CPM and the Congress with the latter calling for a dawn to dusk hartal in Thrissur district on Saturday. This comes after the local MLA Anil Akkara and other congress workers were injured in police lathi charge on Friday.

A group of Congress workers led by the MLA were protesting in front of Thrissur District Collectorate on Friday. The march soon turned ugly with Congress workers pelting stones at the police who then resorted to lathi charge injuring the MLA and several other workers including women.

When all this happened on the streets outside, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was himself present at the collectorate attending a public function. The party was quick to call a hartal and has said it would intensify protests in the coming days.

“It is very clear that the police is hand-in-glove with the accused in this case. Even after the woman had given a statement before the magistrate that rape had indeed happened, the cops are not ready to book the culprit and arrest him. All this is because he is a party man,” said Congress legislator Anil Akkara.

The Wadakancherry rape

Akkara was referring to what is now being called the Wadakancherry rape case. On 3 November, a young woman, with her face covered, opened a can of worms at the Thiruvanathapuram Press Club. With unstoppable tears rolling down her eyes, the homemaker from Wadakkanchery, victim of an alleged gangrape, recounted how she was violated again and again, not only by the perpetrators, but by the very system that she had sought asylum in.

That the prime accused in the case is a corporation councillor belonging to the CPM that is ruling the state, has only toughened the odds against the victim.

“Who among those who raped you gave maximum pleasure — is what the circle inspector of Police asked me while recording my statement,’’ said the victim as she broke down. Her husband and prominent women’s rights activists looked on helplessly.

Representational image. News 18Representational image. News 18

Representational image. News 18

“He then went on non-stop with his indecent comments like asking me the size of the male organ and where all did they touch you. My husband and I were treated like dogs at the Peramangalam police station. They took me from one place to another for four whole days in the name of gathering evidence. I could not take the torture anymore and decided to withdraw the case,’’ she added.

It took the Kerala Home Department four days to suspend the erring Inspector despite enough prime facie evidence that he had violated every legal norm while dealing with the alleged rape victim. What also startled many was the initial support the inspector received from the Director General of Police (DGP). He had initially ruled out any action against the Inspector, causing many to believe that the rot perhaps begins from the top.

Speaking to Firstpost, the State Women’s Commission expressed its deep concern over the deteriorating standards of policing in Kerala. “We are gravely concerned about the falling standards while dealing with rape victims in police stations. Even now we do not have a situation in Kerala where a woman can go to a police station without the fear of intimidation. Many cases go unreported because of this and even if some women show the courage to report it, a number of them go on to withdraw later because of the treatment at the stations,’’ said KC Roasakutty, Chairperson of Kerala State Women’s Commission. The Commission added that it would be issuing strict guidelines to the state government in the coming days.

The Commission’s concerns are further endorsed by the claims of the alleged rape victim. The woman has alleged that she was coaxed into signing a compromise petition drafted by the police favouring the accused. This petition was then presented before a magistrate as a statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). But it had no mention of rape, although the FIR clearly speaks of gang rape.

The victim went on to claim that her husband was held captive in a car outside when she went to speak with the magistrate. She also said that although she had no choice but to withdraw the case then, she had categorically told the judge that the rape had indeed happened. Activists are now asking what stopped the judge from taking up the case suo motu when he was aware that the crime had taken place.

Parvathy Tiruvoth, who along with renowned dubbing artist Bhagyalekshmi had brought the issue to light through the social media says, “Here in Kerala the situation is such that every rape victim needs to carry a character certificate with her when she goes to the police station. The issue is with the mindset which believes that a woman entering a police station has loose morals. From then the onus is on her to prove that she is the victim.”

A week after the revelations, even as the police continues to debate whether to file a fresh FIR or not, the ruling CPM resorted to face-saving measures by suspending the prime accused from party membership. But to make matters worse for the party, its Thrissur district secretary and former Speaker of the state Assembly K Radhakrishnan went on to name the victim at a media interaction. When his error was pointed out he asked — “So you are saying you can repeatedly take the name of the accused but you cannot say the name of the victim?’” The Women’s Commission has meanwhile recommended the police to file a criminal case against Radhakrishnan.

Systemic Failure?

If Delhi is being dubbed the rape capital of India, Kerala could well be the capital for police shoddiness in dealing with violence against women. The Wadakkanchery case is only the tip of the iceberg. Six months ago when a law student Jisha was brutally raped and murdered, it took the police five days and continuous media pressure to even file an FIR.

Two Dalit girls had to run to the media to get justice after getting falsely implicated in an alleged assault case against a local CPM leader in June. Their attempts to register a case against the leader at the Thalaserry police station failed repeatedly.

The infamous Soumya rape and murder case in 2011 was a black mark for the state prosecution as it miserably failed to get the culprit Govindaswamy a sentence of capital punishment.

This shoddiness comes at a time when rape cases in the state are skyrocketing. According to the State Crime Records Bureau, close to 1200 cases of rape have been reported in the last nine months alone. Compare this to 1263 cases in 2015 and a mere 500 about eight years ago.

Thiruvananthpuram, the state capital ranks highest in terms of the number of rape cases filed, followed closely by Kochi and Malappuram. The State Police Complaint Authority (SPCA) set up as a watch dog against police excesses in the state, has been getting hundreds of complaints from single women and families about police misconduct at stations in the last few years. The Authority is now calling for major corrective steps. “I have told the government that the entire batch of 2014 Sub Inspectors needs to be recalled and trained more effectively. It is from 2014 onwards that this trait of misconduct against complainant has been on the rise. We need to act quickly,’’ says Justice Narayan Kurup, Chairman of the SPCA.

The writer is a Thiruvananthapuram-based independent journalist with The Lede

First Published On : Nov 27, 2016 08:57 IST

Power Dept urges LG to form a panel to appoint DERC head

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi government’s Power Department has requested Lieutenant Governor (LG) Najeeb Jung to constitute a three-member selection committee to appoint chairman for the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC).”A proposal to this effect has been sent to the LG for approval,” said a senior Power Department officer. He added: “As per Section 85 of the Electricity Act, 2003, the selection committee is to be constituted by the state government. The power and functions of the state government were delegated to the LG vide a Government of India notification. dated 20.2.2004.”Former DERC Chairman Krishna Saini, a 1981-batch Indian Revenue Service officer, who was appointed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, was removed from the post on November 4, following Jung’s direction to withdraw his appointment order. Saini was appointed without Jung’s approval, which had led to a major confrontation between the AAP-led government and the LG.Interestingly, the Delhi Cabinet had to approve his removal, which has still not happened.In its judgment on August 4, the High Court had declared Saini’s appointment illegal following which Jung set aside his appointment on grounds of “illegal infirmities” on September 22.Taking a serious note of Jung’s order, Kejriwal had shot off a lengthy letter to the LG, asking him to reconsider his decision in public interest. The state Cabinet requested Jung to reconsider the decision thrice, but all in vain. Thereafter, the Power Department issued an order to remove Saini with immediate effect.

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