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RBI’s refusal to share details under RTI is sheer arrogance, says activist Shailesh Gandhi

The most shocking aspect of the decision to demonetise the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes by NDA government is the lack of transparency. The government and the RBI, the monetary authority, have not yet revealed the exact reason why the decision was taken or even about the current status of the economy and cash supply. There have even not been regular press releases or statements from the authorities through out the last 51 days.

The country’s central bank remained silent in the initial days of the demonetisation when the citizens had a harrowing time with cash crunch at banks and ATMs coupled with long queues that also led to even a few deaths of senior citizens. The role of the Reserve Bank of India and its new governor Urjit Patel has come for severe criticism.

Shailesh Gandhi. Image courtesy Shailesh Gandhi's Facebook pageShailesh Gandhi. Image courtesy Shailesh Gandhi's Facebook page

Shailesh Gandhi. Image courtesy Shailesh Gandhi’s Facebook page

Shailesh Gandhi, former Information Commissioner with the Central Information Commission (CIC), New Delhi, filed a complaint with the CIC over the RBI’s refusal to answer queries under Right to Information Act by a non-disclosure policy put up on its site on November 30. In a conversation with Firspost, Gandhi explains why the RBI is on the course to setting a dangerous precedent by its refusal to answer queries and setting up its list under its non-disclosure policy which goes against the exemptions laid under the RTI Act, passed by the Supreme Court.

Excerpts from the conversation:

Your take on RBI’s unwillingness to respond to RTI queries.

This is sheer arrogance on the part of the RBI. Almost everyone in power dislikes transparency for themselves, be it the courts, bureaucrats, the RBI and even the media for that matter. Arrogance weighs with everyone who will say that in theory the RTI is good but when asked to release information, will remark: I am not corrupt. I am honest and clean and why should any ordinary citizen question me. Even the honest dislike the RTI and are happy to tell others to be transparent. It takes time to get used to being questions. It is 11 years since the RTI Act came into force.

What the RBI is doing by refusing to answer queries under RTI is denying citizens their fundamental rights. There are ten exemptions under the RTI. These do not include what the RBI is stating as exemption for itself. The central bank has also not given any reason for its actual rejection to the questions posed to it under the RTI.

Our RTI Act is the best in the world and we now rank at number 4 in terms of provisions of law and at 66 with regard to implementation. The Act is grossly misrepresented. The courts also have not been very enthusiastic about it.

You have filed a case against RBI’s refusal with the CIC

Yes, I have filed a complaint with the CIC on 16 December that the RBI is arbitrarily claiming exemption and have spread the net very wide in the garb of following the law and are actually defying the law. I did that because the RBI could set a bad precedent which is dangerous that could lead other public authorities to follow it, which could lead to increase in the load on the CIC. Everyone will compile their own non-disclosure list like the RBI has done and the CIC will not be able to penalise them. I hope the Supreme Court and the CIC takes cognisance of it.

The RBI has in its Disclosure Policy on its site on 30 November said that the list of information which shall not be given is justified by the proclamation that: ‘While compiling the ( nondisclosure) list, it has been the Bank’s endeavour to attain the objectives of the RTI Act, without jeopardizing the financial stability and economic interests of the State.’ Effectively it means that RBI arrogates to itself the right to lay down exemptions to disclosure of information in line with the objectives of the Act. This is the sole prerogative of Parliament which has provided the exemptions to disclosure in Section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act. The RBI’s disclosure policy is actually a non-disclosure. They are the masters and the judges themselves.

What are the 10 areas that are exempted under the RTI Act?

1) To give information, disclosures which would affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence; 2) information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court; 3) information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature; 4) information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; 5) information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; 6) information received in confidence from foreign government; 7) information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes; 8) information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; 9) cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers: Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over: Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed; 10) information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information, which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.

When Supreme Court orders are not being adhered to by the RBI, can no action be taken on the institution?

When you defy SC orders, the CIC cannot do anything. The commission has the authority and power to say that the list you put up is too wide ranging and can’t be accepted. That’s all.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 12:24 IST

Govt hopes Consumer Protection Bill to pass in Budget session

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government on Friday said it is hopeful that the new Consumer Protection Bill 2015, that aims to impose harsh penalties on endorsement of misleading ads among others, will be passed in the forthcoming Budget session of Parliament.In August this year, the Centre had introduced the Consumer Protection Bill 2015 in Lok Sabha, to repeal the 30-year-old Consumer Protection Act. A Parliamentary Standing Committee had also submitted its recommendations in April.The Consumer Affairs Ministry has accepted some of the recommendations of the panel and finalised the draft Bill, which has also been vetted by the Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. “We were expecting the passage of the Consumer Protection Bill in Winter Session but that did not happen. We are hopeful that it will be passed in the Budget session of Parliament,” Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters.The Minister said that the government has made sweeping changes in the Bill as it now provides huge penalties on celebrities endorsing misleading advertisements and ban such offenders for up to three years. It also seeks to create a Consumer Protection Authority to fast-track grievance redressal of consumers on the lines of US and European countries. The Bill has a provision for product liability and penalties in certain cases of food poisoning.Highlighting the major achievements of his ministry in 2016, Paswan said that it came out with direct selling guidelines for the Rs 80 billion industry and companies have been asked to submit their declarations by January 24, 2017. That apart, the government has revised the Legal Metrology (Packaged commodities) Rules, 2011 to enable the competent authority under the Essential Commodities Act 1955 to fix standard quantities and retail sale prices of essential items.On pulses, the Minsiter said that the government has created a buffer stock of 7 lakh tonnes so far, both through imports and domestic procurement. The pulses from the buffer are being released to states and agencies for direct distribution to public at reasonable rates. So far, 55,000 tonnes of pulses have been released from the buffer, he said.Paswan said that the national food security law, under which highly subsidised foodgrains are distributed to the poor, has been implemented in all states this year.He said that significant reforms have been undertaken in Public Distribution System (PDS) to make it more transparent and leak proof and better targeting of food subsidy.

NEET to be held in eight languages from 2017 onwards

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission in medical colleges will be held in eight languages- Hindi, English, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu- for the academic year 2017-18. Also, the candidate qualifying NEET will be eligible for all India quota and other quotas under the State governments and Institutes irrespective of the medium taken by candidates, subject to other eligibility criteria, the Union Health Ministry said in a statement.In May, Union Health Minister JP Nadda had held a meeting with the Health Ministers and Health Secretaries of 18 states/Union Territories towards implementation of NEET across states. Joint Secretary, Medical Education, AK Singhal said, “The collaborative efforts of Central Health Ministry with the state health ministries have lead to this decision so as to bring parity for the students who have taken the State Board exams.”NEET has replaced AIPMT and has been made mandatory for admissions in all-India medical/dental colleges which means no other state can conduct its separate medical entrance.

Split in opposition? Some parties pull out out of Cong-led meeting with President

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Leaders of some opposition parties led by Congress met President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday, apprised him of the problems caused by demonetization and complained that the government did not allow Parliament to function and “stifled” the opposition voice. While leaders of Trinamool Congress, RJD, JD(U) and AIUDF and some other parties joined the Congress-led delegation, NCP, DMK, Left parties, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party stayed away.The fissures in the opposition unity cropped up at the last minute after a Congress delegation met the Prime Minister separately in Parliament House on farmers’ issues and demanded loan waiver for farmers. The delegation, led by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, party Vice President Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, with a host of leaders from various opposition parties being part of it, later handed over a memorandum to the President. “We are extremely pained by this trampling of our democratic rights and the suppression of our right to present our views and make our voices heard in Parliament. We are deeply concerned that our parliamentary democratic system itself is under severe threat.”The demonetization decision has brought about a disastrous situation in the nation. We beseech you, as the protector of the Constitution, to kindly intervene to save the people from economic disaster,” the memorandum said.Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the leaders apprised the President of the situation arising out of demonetization and the problems being faced by them. “We told President that we wanted a discussion on demonetization in Parliament and on problems faced by farmers, small traders. We wanted debate in Parliament but the government flouted all democratic values and blocked it,” he said.Speaking on the manner in which the winter session of Parliament functioned, he said, “The government completely failed in running the proceedings in Parliament. Ministers holding placards did not allow Parliament to function.”

Goa CM Parsekar cries foul against two sacked cabinet ministers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar who sacked two of his ministers from his Council of Ministers late night on Monday said that they had made certain allegations against him wherein he decided to drop them.”The reasons are well- known. They had made certain allegations against me wherein I decided to drop them. It’s my prerogative as well. As of now, the portfolios (held by the sacked ministers) are retained by me,” Parsekar said .In a letter to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, Parsekar recommended the removal of Ramkrishna, alias, Sudin Dhawalikar and Pandurang, alias, Deepak Dhawalikar from the Council of Ministers.”Under Article 164 of the Constitution of India, I hereby recommend you to remove the following Ministers from the Council of Ministers: Shri Ramkrishna Sudin Dhawalikar and Shri Pandurang Deepak Dhawalikar. The portfolios allotted to both the respective ministers shall be retained by the undersigned, till further arrangements,” Parsekar wrote in his letter.The decision to drop the two ministers Sudin Dhavalikar (PWD) and Deepak Dhavalikar (Weights and Measures), both of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, came after several days of bitter acrimony between alliance partners Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and MGP over the choice of Parsekar as chief minister.

Vasundhara Raje reshuffles cabinet, six new ministers introduced

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In her second cabinet reshuffle, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje inducted six new ministers on Saturday including a Dalit woman MLA, elevated two state ministers to Cabinet rank and dropped two state ministers. Five Parliamentary Secretaries were also appointed separately.With two years to go for assembly elections in the state, Raje said the second cabinet reshuffle was an exercise to work with a “full team” to complete the government’s goals in the remainder of its tenure. BJP MLAs Srichand Kriplani (Nimbahera) and Jaswant Singh Yadav (Behror) were inducted as Cabinet rank ministers while Banshidhar (Khandela), Dalit face Kamsa Meghwal (Bhoplagarh), Dhan Singh Rawat (Banswara) and Sushil Katara were inducted as State Ministers.State Ministers Ajay Singh and Baboo Lal Verma were also elevated to Cabinet rank while Jeetmal Khant and Arjun Lal Garg were dropped. They tendered their resignation which was forwarded to the Governor Kalyan Singh. The Governor administered oath to the 8 ministers (6 new and 2 elevated) at a ceremony in Raj Bhawan.The council of ministers, apart from the chief minister, now has 29 members with 17 Cabinet and 12 State Ministers. The portfolios will be announced soon. Before the reshuffle, there were 13 cabinet and 12 state ministers. After the swearing-in ceremony of the newly-inducted ministers was over, five Parliamentary Secretaries were also appointed by the chief minister.Shatrughan Gautam (Kekri), Kailash Verma (Bagru), Narendra Nagar (Khanpur), Omprakash (Mahwa), and Bhima Bhai (Kushalgarh) were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries. Chief Minister Raje administered them oath in her office. “Team Rajasthan is working good and now this is an opportunity to work with the full team. In the last two years, the full team will work with dedication which will benefit all,” Raje told reporters at Raj Bhawan.Newly-inducted Cabinet minister Jaswant Yadav said he would fulfill all the responsibilities given to him. “I am thankful to the chief minister and the party’s leadership for giving me this chance. I will do my best and work to make the state progress and reach new heights and will discharge my duties to the fullest,” Yadav said after taking oath.The members of council of ministers and newly inducted ministers were asked to remain present in Jaipur for a meeting on Saturday. The ministers and MLAs started visiting the official residence of the chief minister where they were informed about the development. After their meeting with the chief minister at noon, the six MLAs left the her residence for the BJP’s state headquarters where they were felicitated and garlanded by the party’s state president Ashok Parnami and other leaders before the swearing-in ceremony.This is the second cabinet reshuffle since Vasundhara Raje was sworn-in as the chief minister on December 13, 2013. The first reshuffle took place in October 2014.

Govt had reservations but accepted SC verdict on scrapping NJAC Act, says Prasad

New Delhi: Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday defended the NJAC Act, saying Constitution maker BR Ambedkar had said the power to appoint judges should not be in one hand.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. PTI

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. PTI

During a discussion in ‘Agenda Aajtak’ event, Prasad said that the government did not want to interfere in the judicial process, and it had accepted the Supreme Court’s ruling scrapping the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act.

“According to the Constitution, the President appoints the judges in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. However, Dr Ambedkar has said during discussion on the Constitution that ‘we do not want to give right of appointment of judges to one hand, be it Prime Minister, Council of Ministers or the Supreme Court’,” Prasad said.

Prasad said, “Both Houses of Parliament had passed the NJAC Act and half of the state assemblies had supported it. Even (former CJI) JS Verma had found discrepancies in the Collagium system. But, the Supreme Court reversed it.”

“Yet, we accepted the decision. Yes, we have reservation about the decisions and there is nothing wrong in criticising it,” Prasad said.

Prasad added that the Union Law and Home Ministers were part of the appointment process from 1950 to 1993.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 20:00 IST

O Panneerselvam sworn in as Tamil Nadu CM after Jaya’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his third stint in the top office, O Panneerselvam was on Monday night sworn in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu hours after his predecessor and party supremo J Jayalalithaa passed away after a prolonged illness.A grim-faced Panneerselvam, who was also seen sporting a beard, was sworn in around 1.15 AM by Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao at the Raj Bhavan amidst a scene of gloom.After he took oath of office, a total of 31 Ministers, all of them members of the previous Jayalalithaa cabinet, took oath in a simultaneous swearing-in.Panneerselvam was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Rao, who air-dashed here from Mumbai yesterday after Jayalalithaa suffered a cardiac arrest.Panneerselvam (65), often hailed as Jayalalithaa’s ‘Man Friday’, took oath in the name of God.
ALSO READ AIADMK chief & Tamil Nadu’s beloved Amma J Jayalalithaa passes awayThis is the third time he is helming the state, acting as a stop-gap arrangement on earlier both occasions when Jayalalithaa was convicted in two separate corruption cases in 2003 and 2014.Earlier, AIADMK MLAs elected him as their Legislature Party Leader, paving the way for his elevation as Chief Minister.

Important to end terror for stability in Asia: PM Modi tells Sartaz Aziz

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Premier’s foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz along with foreign ministers of four countries on Saturday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi who told them that it was important to end terrorism and violence for fostering stability in Afghanistan and the region.The Foreign Ministers of Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Slovakia, which holds the European Union Presidency this month, along with Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Aziz called on Modi ahead of the 6th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process on Afghanistan here.Prime Minister Modi welcomed the Foreign Ministers and stressed it was the collective responsibility of all those in the region to work together to help Afghanistan out of its current difficulties, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.The Prime Minister stated that his several interactions with both the common people of Afghanistan and the country’s leadership had convinced him that the Afghan people were tired of the continuing violence and terrorism.Prime Minister Modi stressed on “the need to end terrorism and violence for fostering stability, security and development in Afghanistan and our region,” Swarup said.In this context, the Prime Minister hoped that discussions in the Ministerial Conference tomorrow will produce good results.Agreeing with the Premier on the need to end violence in Afghanistan, the Foreign Ministers shared Prime Minister Modi’s view that Afghanistan’s stability, security and prosperity are integral to the region’s, Swarup said.”They greatly appreciated the continued commitment and engagement of India and its leadership for these ends. The Foreign Ministers warmly thanked India for hosting the Conference and expressed confidence that all friends of Afghanistan will work together for realising the aspirations for peace and development,” he said.

RSS urges to implement ‘Uniform Civil Code for stronger, integrated India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>RSS on Thursday said the nation should come out of the prison of identity politics to make the Uniform Civil Code a reality and people, irrespective of differences, should arrive at a consensus to make it a reality.Delivering a keynote address on ‘Uniform Civil Code: The Need of the Hour here, senior RSS leader Arun Kumar said that UCC is essential to make the nation stronger and a more ‘integrated, progressive and developed’ one.”To ensure freedom, equality and justice, about which our Constitution professes, uniform civil code should be ensured. But unfortunately, every time when this topic comes up for discussion, it becomes an issue of identity politics,” Kumar, Akhil Bharathiya Saha Samparka Pramukh of the outfit, said.”This issue of identity politics was cultivated by Britishers…and carried on by our politicians…every time when the discussions start, our politicians come to this identity politics. Basically, this issue has become a victim of identity politics,” he said.Pointing to the need to put an end to identity politics, Kumar said the menace has come to such an extent that if it goes on, “our society will never be one. It will be segregated to so many parts that we cannot remain as one.” “If we want to remain as an integrated nation, we should come out of this identity politics,” he said.Stating that debates on UCC should be taken out of the issues of minority and religion, he said priority should be given on the interest of the nation.”The important thing is that what is the interest of the nation…what is the interest of the society…and what is the interest of our values and ethos which we accepted and made as the basis of a progressive country,” he said.Kumar also urged people to be ‘proactive’ to address all these issues and make the uniform civil code a reality.He reminded that former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi had batted for uniform civil code once.In the Shah Bano case, Rajiv Gandhi had pitched for uniform civil code. But later he surrendered to appeasement politics, he alleged.Discussion on the topic should go on but this should not be ‘misquoted and miscarried’ any more, he added.The talk was organised by RSS’s district branch here.

Make public all financial & land dealings of BJP & RSS in last 6 months: Congress to PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Tuesday dubbed as yet another ‘jumla’ (gimmick) Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to party legislators to submit bank account details after demonetization and dared him to make public all financial and land dealings of BJP and RSS in the last six months.Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Modi’s move is also an attempt by him to deflect public attention from the alleged leakage of demonetization decision, which he termed as the “biggest scam” in the country so far.Surjewala along with party leader Sushmita Dev, accused BJP of buying properties in 18 districts of Odisha on the lines of those purchased from in Bihar.”The manner in which revelations are coming out whereby BJP and its leaders are buying land in Odisha and Bihar, Modiji fears that all this will come out.”All these things point out that there is need to hold a detailed probe into the alleged scam. There is need to hold a detail and thorough JPC probe into the matter,” he said.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi should stop doing theatrics and should stop hiding behind rhetoric. He should stop hiding behind ‘jumlas’. Modiji your real face stands exposed and time has come that you remove the ‘mask of jumlas’ and follow ‘Raj Dharma’.”If you have nothing to hide, you should make public accounts of BJP and RSS and affiliate organisations six months prior to demonetization,” he told reporters at AICC briefing.The Congress media in-charge alleged that this is being done by Modi to divert the attention of public so that they do not ask details of accounts of his partymen before demonetization.Dev said, “Modi government has time and again deflected the attention of public from real issues. It is nothing but a sham and a hoax.”Attacking Modi for bringing yet another scheme to “help black money hoarders legally convert their money”, he said, “The truth is that Narendra Modi is trying to give protection to black money holders and is devising new ways and means in doing so.””He is the new 50:50 PM who shares and grants concessions to black money holders,” he alleged.Surjewala said, “the truth will come out as how much money was actually being changed from black to white, who had prior information of the demonetization decision?”.The Congress leader said Modi first brought out a fair and lovely scheme from June 1 to September 30, 2016 and then announced the ‘Tughlaqi decision of demonetization’.”When that did not work, now another new scheme under the name of ‘black money holder welfare scheme’ has been brought now. This is Modiji’s and his government’s pledge in fighting black money.”To avoid any questions being raised, he brought this new bill in the form of a Money Bill which was passed amid din in Lok Sabha without holding a discussion,” he said.Surjewala said by bringing the money bill in Lok Sabha and getting it passed today, amounted to “trampling of democracy” and was a “complete affront” on authority of country’s Parliament and Constitution. Surjewala said the narrative of BJP Government in reality is that the “tax penalty of 132 per cent has been brought down to 50 per cent” and BJP is hiding behind the “smokescreen” that it will provide this black money belonging to the rich for the welfare of the poor.”Modiji said he will impose penal tax and 200 per cent penalty along with prosecution of those depositing black money. Now, there is change of heart by imposing 49.9 per cent tax only,” he said.He also questioned the legal sanctity of the Chief Minister’s committee constituted by government to look into issue of demonetization.”Constitution of a committee of Chief Ministers 20 days after the decision of demonetization is putting wool over eyes of people of this country. I will decide first and I will think later and will listen to no one. And if anybody questions me, I will brand him or her as anti-national. This is the usual style of Narendra Modi.”May I ask Narendra Modi today, is a Chief Minister’s committee higher than the combined cumulative wisdom of India’s parliament. Is Prime Minister now accountable to Parliament of India, elected by people of India, or will he be accountable to people in rock concerts or a selective band of a Chief Ministers committee,” he asked.Surjewala wondered what the legal or constitutional authority of such a Chief Ministers committee to dictate to government to either reverse or course corrected its unwitting decision of demonetization.”Modiji stop hiding behind smokescreen and start addressing the problems,” he said.Dev said, “I believe it flies in the face of the Prime Minister s statements that the Finance Ministry in future is going to take many more steps to look at the huge surge in the Bank Accounts of the Jan Dhan accounts.”If the Finance Ministry is any way going to look in to why this surge has happened, the question is why does the President of BJP need to look into the Bank Accounts of the his MPs and MLAs,” she said.”Prime Minister Modi has today had a sell out and he has actually led the corrupt and black money hoarders walk away.Why there is need for this deflection the reason is very clear that he is not willing to disclose what is in the Bank Accounts and what the transactions of the RSS and BJP are,” she said.”There is need to hold a detailed and thorough JPC probe into the matter. If they have not done any wrong, they should tell the country as to how much property they have purchased and what is the source of their money.

Demonetization: First meeting of panel of CMs on December 2

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The first meeting of the panel of Chief Ministers set up by the Centre to suggest measures to minimize the inconvenience to the people post the demonetization drive will be held on December 2 under the chairmanship of Andhra Pradesh’s N Chandrababu Naidu.Sources said the Chief Ministers of Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry and Bihar will also be present in the meeting. In order to blunt the opposition on note ban, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley yesterday held talks with Naidu and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The Central Government yesterday decided to form a sub-committee of Chief Ministers to deal with the demonetization issue.This come as a united opposition is leaving no stone unturned in taking potshots at the government post the decision. Demanding that this decision should be rolled back for not being implemented properly, the opposition parties have also alleged that this exposed the ‘anti-poor’ stand of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government as the general public is the worst hit.So far, only two Chief Ministers Bihar’s Nitish Kumar and Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik – have voiced their support for the Centre. Nitish has said he supported the currency ban as he is ‘convinced’ that it would help in the fight against black money while Patnaik has praised the move as a bold step. The ruling BJP at the Centre is also facing the wrath of its alliance partners as the Shiv Sena has alleged that the implementation of demonetization has not been done in an appropriate manner and said it is not only ‘one party’s monopoly’ to end corruption.The government has recommended the use of cashless methods of payment not only to tide over the cash shortage being experienced by people due to demonetization but also to curb corruption and generation of black money in the future.

SYL row: Punjab and Haryana representatives meet President to plead their case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Council of Ministers led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday met President Pranab Mukherjee and urged him not to accept any advice on the SYL canal issue that violates basic Riparian rules.The delegation apprised Mukherjee that acceptance of such advice would irretrievably prejudice the dictates of justice and fair play and handed over a memorandum in this regard. It urged the President that nothing should be done to deprive the people of Punjab of their legitimate rights regarding waters of rivers of the state in violation of the universally accepted Riparian principle. Any advice or decision which violates the Riparian principle would run against the dictates of constitutional framework of the country, it said.Seeking justice from the President as the custodian of the Constitution which fully respects the Riparian principle, the delegation impressed upon him to keep in view that the Punjab government has already filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging Section 78-79 of the Punjab Reorganization Act 1966 and seeking a decision on the river waters in accordance with the nationally and internationally accepted Riparian Principle.Badal, his deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, and other Cabinet colleagues informed the President that “a highly volatile situation” has arisen in Punjab following the opinion of Supreme Court upon the Presidential Reference on this issue. This, he said, has given rise to extreme public reaction and severe unrest and anger among the residents including the farmers arising out of.”The opinion of the Supreme Court has further caused immense stir and fear of sustained losses on all socio-economic parameters among the people of Punjab who have consistently faced the challenges of partition, the brunt of the wars with Pakistan and the period of social unrest,” the delegation said. A Punjab government statement said the state has been constantly making endeavours to meet the challenges of water scarcity, depleting water table and lack of availability of potable water. The new development has delivered a big blow to residents of the State as they reel under the fear of non-availability of sufficient water resource. Haryana all-party team meets President An all-party delegation of Haryana led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar today called on President Pranab Mukherjee here for considering Haryana’s appeal for implementation the Supreme Court verdict in Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal case. After hearing them out, Mukherjee assured to sympathetically consider Haryana’s appeal on SYL issue after the delegation urged him for implementation of the order at the earliest.After meeting the President, the Chief Minister said Haryana should get its due share of water.The State is asking for its rightful share and not Punjab s share, he said. Khattar said while both states had been allotted equal share of 3.5 Million Acre Feet (MAF) water under the water sharing agreement, Haryana was getting only 1.62 MAF. Since 1981, Punjab has been utilising 1.88MAF water that rightfully belongs to Haryana. He said the Supreme Court had already dismissed the proposal of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to terminate the agreements.Khattar said that the people had complete faith in the Constitution, and the people of the State believe that Haryana would get its rightful share of water so that maximum food grains could be produced and they could get adequate drinking water. Ministers and leaders of other parties in the State also appealed to the President to consider favourably the interests of the people of the State.The delegation included top BJP Ministers from the state and Congress leaders Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is a former chief minister, state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar, CLP leader Kiran Choudhry, State INLD President Ashok Arora, Leader of Opposition Abhay Singh Chautala and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Tek Chand Sharma. Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma, Finance Minister Abhimanyu, Agriculture Minister OP Dhankar, Health Minister Anil Vij, Urban Local Bodies Minister Kavita Jain and State BJP President Subhash Barala were also present.

Sri Lankan Navy damage GPS, nets of Indian fishermen

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Sri Lankan Navy damaged the nets, GPS and other equipment of Indian fishermen near Katchatheevu, an uninhabited island administered by the island nation, earlier on Friday.Following the hostile action, the fishermen were ordered to turn back and set a course for home. This comes after at least 11 Indian fishermen along with their trawlers were detained by the Sri Lankan Navy last week.Earlier this month, an 11-member delegation of Sri Lankan fishermen arrived in Delhi for talks with their Indian counterparts on resolving all issues related to fishing.After holding ministerial level talks, the governments of India and Sri Lanka agreed to set up a hotline between the coast guards and a Joint Working Group (JWG) on fisheries to meet every three months in a bid to address the long pending fishermen issue.Both countries also agreed to hold a meeting between the Ministers for Fisheries every six months.The bone of contention between the two sides is the Palk bay, the 137 kilometers long and its breadth varies between 64 to 137 kilometers. An International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) separates five Indian (262,562 fishermen) and three Sri Lankan districts (119,000 fishermen).The local fishermen in Indian have been demanding a lasting solution to the problem of Sri Lankan Navy apprehending them whenever they are fishing near international maritime boundary line. They want to secure the rights to fish in traditional fishing zones near Kachatheevu and Palk Straits.Fishing is the economic mainstay of northern Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan fishermen has been demanding their Indian counterparts to stop bottom-trawling that they content has been damaging the marine ecosystem. Since 2014 Sri Lanka Navy has seized more than 100 fishing trawlers; while they have released the Indian fishermen, they refuse to release the trawlers.

Demonestisation LIVE: PM Modi in Agra, assures people’s sacrifices won’t go in vain

Unnecessary panic spread on demonetisation; no roll back: Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: Digging in his heels, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday ruled out the roll-back of the demonetisation decision and slammed Delhi and West Bengal chief ministers accusing them of spreading “unnecessary panic”.

He said the move to demonetise the high value notes was “very well planned”, and added that the rush in bank branches is “significantly” coming down and 22,000 ATMs are getting recalibrated daily in order to dispense Rs 100, and new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes.

Criticising senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s comments in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley said opposition has developed “cold feet” to debate the issue of demonetisation and criticised Azad for making irresponsible political comment.

Jaitley said he expected every responsible citizen, political party, state governments to support this huge effort because this will mean that India’s formal economy will increase, access to banking will increase, taxation quantum will increase, banks will have far more money to support the economy in terms of trade, interest rates will come down, and therefore the kind of economy it will generate is huge.

“Now unnecessary panic is being spread particularly by some individuals and I didn’t expect Chief Ministers of one or two states to join in this effort,” Jaitley told ANI.

Rejecting the demand of political parties like Aam Admi Party and Trinamool Congress, he said, “whatever AAP and Trinamool Congress said about the roll back, there is no question of that.

It is a clear decision of the Prime Minister and government to cleanse politics and economy of the country. We will stick to it (demonetisation)”. Jaitley questioned the “vested interest” of Congress party in opposing government’s effort to root out black money.

“At the end of the day, this exercise will only succeed in rooting out black money, crime money and make the Indian economy cleaner. Congress as a national party must support this,” he said.

Jaitley also criticised certain comments of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and senior Congress Ghulam Nabi Azad during the debate on demonetisation.

He added: “What is the vested interest of Congress party in opposing this campaign to root out black money, crime money and make the Indian economy cleaner. Congress as a national party must support this.”

On why the government was targeting only cash to unearth black money, Jaitley said it was necessary to squeeze cash to prevent generation of more black money.

“You have to squeeze cash because black money generates more black money. Not whatever is in assets is a matter of assessment by the income tax authorities. But whatever is lying in hard cash so that it does not generate anything for the future, has to be squeezed out,” he added.

Jaitley also dismissed the criticism that banks have written off loans belonging to large industrial houses.

“That is completely a false statement. These were loans given during the Congress government. Obviously there is no write off, only the column changes. Some of performing assets become non-performing. But you still keep chasing the loan for recovery.

“Write off in the banking parlance, does not mean loan waiver. It just means, that a performing asset has become a non-performing asset. And therefore the opposition must understand the banking terminology before making an irresponsible statement,” he added.

— PTI

Demonetisation: Arun Jaitley says execution could not have been better

New Delhi: Unfazed by criticism of the demonetisation move, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said replacing 86 percent of the currency in circulation with new bank notes could not have been executed in a better way than currently being implemented.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTIUnion Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

Ten days after the government withdrew Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes, he said the move will help banks lend at a
cheaper rate to businesses, trade, agriculture and infrastructure while at the same time getting rid of the shadow economy.

“On the execution part, I don’t think this could have been better executed than how it has been executed now,” he
said at an ET Now event in Mumbai.

He said replacing such a large currency without any social unrest and any significant economic disruption was an
“achievement”.

“When currency replacement takes place, initial inconvenience takes place, but there is not a single major
incident in the country. It’s moving smoothly as everyday passes by. The queues are getting smaller,” he said.

“In the next 1-2 weeks, we have to make sure currency reaches rural areas because that is where it’s required. This is the largest currency exchange in the world probably in recent times.”

Indian shopkeepers, traders and retailers, according to Jaitley, will realise that formal official trade is certainly superior way of doing business than just a shadow economy.

“It has its own pitfalls. And therefore by this shock therapy, everybody enters into cleaner system of economy. In the long run, it will be welcome by all,” he said.

Stating that there is not any parallel of such a large decision in Indian history in several decades that was
ethically and morally so correct, he said every honest man felt that he had no reason to be worried.

The decision has “popular support because there were people with crime money, black money or wealth accumulated by not paying taxes”.

In a major assault on black money and terror financing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 November announced
demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes and asked holders of such notes to deposit them in bank accounts.

Jaitley said Rs 14 lakh crore or 86 per cent of India’s currency has been withdrawn and replacement is being done and printing of the new currency was done in adequate by the RBI much in advance.

“The whole thing is a very well planned and executed exercise. Obviously in the first two-three days there was a
lot of rush, last three days I have been going everyday myself to look at bank branches and I can say with full confidence that the rush has significantly come down… and today it has come down substantially,” he said.

Jaitley said 22,000 ATMs are being recalibrated in a day on war footing and in next few days all would be dispensing money. “RBI has provided more than adequate currency to the currency chest, there is absolutely no shortage”.

He said the earlier currency exchange limit of Rs 4,500 was being “misused”. Following complaints that people are
being hired to convert money and that is responsible for big queue, the government decided to start using indelible ink and reduced the limit of currency exchange to Rs 2,000 per person till 30 December.

“For me, there is a great regret that some people have been inconvenienced, which was bound to take place in an
operation of this kind because the larger object in the interest of country that we have to squeeze the quantum of currency, we have to withdraw the quantum of currency which was used in generation of black money, counterfeit. And we had to allow normal volume of currency in the market…,” he said.

He said most Chief Ministers across the country have not only supported this but they have in a big manner used the apparatus of state government to support this entire move.

On why the government was targeting only cash to unearth black money, Jaitley said it was necessary to squeeze cash to prevent generation of more black money.

“You have to squeeze cash because black money generates more black money. Not whatever is in assets is a matter of assessment by the income tax authorities. But whatever is lying in hard cash so that it does not generate anything for the future, has to be squeezed out,” he added.

Jaitley also dismissed the criticism that banks have written off loans belonging to large industrial houses.

“Write off in the banking parlance, does not mean loan waiver. It just means, that a performing asset has become a non-performing asset. And therefore the opposition must understand the banking terminology before making an
irresponsible statement,” Jaitley said.

First Published On : Nov 18, 2016 22:47 IST

Demonetisation LIVE: Modi should apologise to families of those who died, says Congress

Unnecessary panic spread on demonetisation; no roll back: Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: Digging in his heels, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday ruled out the roll-back of the demonetisation decision and slammed Delhi and West Bengal chief ministers accusing them of spreading “unnecessary panic”.

He said the move to demonetise the high value notes was “very well planned”, and added that the rush in bank branches is “significantly” coming down and 22,000 ATMs are getting recalibrated daily in order to dispense Rs 100, and new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes.

Criticising senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s comments in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley said opposition has developed “cold feet” to debate the issue of demonetisation and criticised Azad for making irresponsible political comment.

Jaitley said he expected every responsible citizen, political party, state governments to support this huge effort because this will mean that India’s formal economy will increase, access to banking will increase, taxation quantum will increase, banks will have far more money to support the economy in terms of trade, interest rates will come down, and therefore the kind of economy it will generate is huge.

“Now unnecessary panic is being spread particularly by some individuals and I didn’t expect Chief Ministers of one or two states to join in this effort,” Jaitley told ANI.

Rejecting the demand of political parties like Aam Admi Party and Trinamool Congress, he said, “whatever AAP and Trinamool Congress said about the roll back, there is no question of that.

It is a clear decision of the Prime Minister and government to cleanse politics and economy of the country. We will stick to it (demonetisation)”. Jaitley questioned the “vested interest” of Congress party in opposing government’s effort to root out black money.

“At the end of the day, this exercise will only succeed in rooting out black money, crime money and make the Indian economy cleaner. Congress as a national party must support this,” he said.

Jaitley also criticised certain comments of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and senior Congress Ghulam Nabi Azad during the debate on demonetisation.

He added: “What is the vested interest of Congress party in opposing this campaign to root out black money, crime money and make the Indian economy cleaner. Congress as a national party must support this.”

On why the government was targeting only cash to unearth black money, Jaitley said it was necessary to squeeze cash to prevent generation of more black money.

“You have to squeeze cash because black money generates more black money. Not whatever is in assets is a matter of assessment by the income tax authorities. But whatever is lying in hard cash so that it does not generate anything for the future, has to be squeezed out,” he added.

Jaitley also dismissed the criticism that banks have written off loans belonging to large industrial houses.

“That is completely a false statement. These were loans given during the Congress government. Obviously there is no write off, only the column changes. Some of performing assets become non-performing. But you still keep chasing the loan for recovery.

“Write off in the banking parlance, does not mean loan waiver. It just means, that a performing asset has become a non-performing asset. And therefore the opposition must understand the banking terminology before making an irresponsible statement,” he added.

— PTI

Demonetization | Mamata, Kejriwal launch joint attack on PM Modi; seek info on currency from RBI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday tore into Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetization with the AAP chief asking the government to roll it back in three days while the TMC supremo said such a crisis was not seen even during Emergency.Addressing a rally here, Kejriwal alleged that demonetization was the “biggest scam” in Independent India’s history while Banerjee said Modi should not run the country through “dictatorship”, calling the protest a fight to save the country.The Delhi Chief Minister alleged that demonetization was being carried out to write-off around Rs 8 lakh crore of loan owed by Modi’s “corporate friends” by collecting Rs 10 lakh crore from the people through the exercise.”Black money is flooding the market again. Notes are being home delivered to some people. This is independent India’s biggest scam. The government wants to amass Rs 10 lakh crore by forcing the people to deposit their money in banks and use that amount to write off loans of Modiji’s friends.”Modiji sent Vijay Mallya, who has huge debt, to London one night. He has also brought people to the streets (following demonetization). People are being cheated. Why did IT not raid former BJP Minister G Janardana Reddy who spent Rs 500 crores in his daughter’s wedding? And they want us common people to spend Rs 2.5 lakh in a wedding,” he said.Kejriwal also took a dig at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wondering if he spent only Rs 2.5 lakh in his daughter’s wedding recently.”Modiji, do not fool people saying standing in line is patriotism. Who is responsible for the death of 40 people standing in queues?,” he said, addressing traders at Azadpur wholesale fruit and vegetable market.The Delhi Chief Minister also made certain allegations against Modi pertaining to his tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister, claiming to base his allegations on documents given to him by a someone sitting in a top position in the Finance Ministry.In her address, Banerjee attacked the Prime Minister and made light of the argument that people should use plastic money, saying only 4 per cent people in India use cards for transaction.Asserting that she will continue her fight for the people, Banerjee challenged the government to take any action against her. “I am not scared. I will continue my fight. If you have courage, put me in jail, shoot me.”Calling her fight against demonetization a fight to “save the country, a fight for the poor and hungry people”, the West Bengal CM said India had not witnessed such a crisis even during Emergency.”This decision may take the country 100 years back. The government is coming out with a decision every day. The day before yesterday it was said the limit for exchange is Rs 4,500, today you say it is Rs 2,000.”The other day it was said indelible ink will have to be put on fingers. What is going on? Are we servants, are we thieves and you are honest. Is everybody a thief?” she said.On plastic money, Banerjee said use of cash has been basis of India’s economy, adding if money does not reach people, then there may be severe problem of food in the country.”The Prime Minister who goes abroad so frequently, has forgotten the smell of our land…The provisions of the Constitution are being breached. We did not have this kind of a situation during Emergency,” she said.She also rejected the demand by some opposition parties to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe demonetization, saying such committees in the past to probe various issues did not yield any result.Questioning the government’s committment to check black money, she also asked what steps it has taken to bring back ill-gotten wealth stashed abroad.Kejriwal and Banerjee also held a demonstration outside Reserve Bank of India in Delhi, wanting to know availability of currency.Both the Chief Ministers drove straight to RBI office in Parliament Street from a rally in Azadpur wholesale market in East Delhi where they made a blistering attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetization.”How much currency needed? How much printed? What is capacity? How many more days will it take? Myself and Mamta di at RBI to get this info,” Kejriwal tweeted.Banerjee said they came to RBI to know whether the Central bank has enough currency or not. “Our main apprehension is shortage of currency. We are here to check whether there is enough cash to disburse among the people.” TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, who along with some other TMC MPs accompanied Banerjee, said officials of RBI failed to come up with satisfying answer when asked about availability of currency for distribution.”They gave us last year’s report on the availability of notes. Ultimately the two leaders had to go without getting any satisfying response,” she said.Few RBI officials spoke to Kejriwal and Banerjee when they were camping outside the bank.Security personnel struggled to maintain order as a huge crowd gathered with some raising pro-Modi slogans while some others cheered for Kejriwal.One Rachna Wadhwan who was waiting to take out money from RBI complained to Banerjee and Kejriwal that she has been standing since morning to take money to buy medicine but the line has barely moved. “I am a patient of blood pressure. I have been standing since morning. I told them about my plight,” she told reporters later.

Demonetisation a ‘bold move’ to curb shadow economy: Bill Gates

New Delhi: Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s demonetisation decision, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has said it is a “bold move” and will deflate India’s shadow economy.

Bill Gates file photo.Getty ImagesBill Gates file photo.Getty Images

Bill Gates file photo.Getty Images

Delivering the Second Transforming India Lecture organised NITI Aayog here on Wednesday, Gates said that shift to digital transactions will enhance transparency and reduce leakages. Modi, in surprise decision on November 8, demonetised currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination, replacing them with new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 bills.

“The Prime Ministers bold move to demonetise high-value denominations and replace with new notes with high security features is an important step to deflate India’s shadow economy,” Gates said.

India, he added, “has all the pieces in place for a compelling vision for digital financial inclusion. Aadhaar will convert a cumbersome, paper-based account opening process into a 30-second, all-digital system.”

He was of the view that Aadhaar will also create a centralised data repository.

The impending rollout of payment banks and the ubiquity of mobile phones can enable access for all Indians to digital accounts connected to a fraud-resistant interoperable payment system, he said.

Referring to health issues in India, the Co-Chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said, “If I had a wand and could fix one health issue in India, it would be the malnutrition crisis. There are states that have made great progress, but there also are regions where malnutrition is the norm, not the exception.”

Observing India has the largest number of stunted children in the world, he said, “If (malnutrition) is unaddressed, the lifetime earnings potential of children who suffer from malnutrition will cost the Indian economy a staggering USD 46 billion by 2030.”

About 44 million children under the age of 5 are stunted, that is nearly four of every 10 children. Besides the huge toll this takes on children and their families, malnutrition takes a toll on the economy, he added.

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 15:32 IST

War on Black Money: Rajnath, Jaitely take stock of situation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley took stock of the prevailing situation in the countryon Sunday in the wake of demonetisation of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes. In an hour-long meeting, the two Ministers were briefed about the situation in different states where heavy rush were witnessed in banks and ATMs to change old notes and withdraw cash.Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and other top officials of the Ministries of Home and Finance attended the meeting, official sources said. The Centre has already asked all states to ensure proper security in all banks, ATMs and vehicles transporting cash in the wake of demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. The Home Ministry has deputed three too officials to be in touch with state governments to ensure security of banks, ATMs and cash transporting vehicles.The three officials are taking regular feedbacks from the Director Generals of Police and the situation in respective states, official sources said. However, so far no report of any major violence or untoward incident has come from anywhere in the country. “We have conveyed to the states that if they require any assistance, we will provide immediately,” an official said.The Central government is expecting the financial situation to be normal in next few days.Two separate advisories were sent to all states in this regard, the official said. The Reserve Bank of India had yesterday said that currency printing presses are running at “full capacity” to sustain demand for new notes.Adequate stock of all currency notes has been kept ready at more than 4,000 locations across the country, and bank branches are linked to them for sourcing their requirements, RBI said. Long queues were witnessed at bank branches across the country to withdraw money and also to exchange the demonetised Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes.

Decision on defence reforms including CDS in few months, says Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: The defence ministry could in the next “few months” finalise higher defence reforms to bring in jointness among the three armed services which will include creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar admitted that the services did not want to leave their “turf” but they have
“slowly” come to understand that jointness would be much better than individual separate forces.

“I am very clear on it but there were certain aspects which need to be also taken along. I have to take all the
three services on board. Let me be very clear, no one wants to leave his turf,” he said during a book launch on Thursday.

Underlining that he was not speaking in Indian military context alone, Parrikar said across the militaries, the same situation prevailed.

He added that the question was whether one will “force it down the throat” or get everyone on board.

“I think, I have been discussing with the chiefs and slowly they have also come to understanding that jointness
would be much better than individually separate forces,” he said, seeking a “few more months”.

However, the defence minister made it clear that the final call would be taken by the Prime Minister.

Incidentally, the chiefs of both the Army and the Air Force will retire this year end.

Without naming any operation, he said though India has not gone for jointness, “recent operations” were quite successful joint operations.

“The Air Force and the Army integrated so well in recent operations, not saying which operation. There was total
synergy and there was no problem in working together,” he remarked.

The post of CDS was recommended in 2001 by a Group of Ministers (GoM) which was set up in April 2000 to review the national security system in the aftermath of the Kargil War.

The recommendation, if implemented, would be the first major military reform by the Narendra Modi government, which has already announced significant changes in the procurement process.

Sources said the appointment of CDS is aimed at promoting “jointness at the top” when it comes to planning, operations and modernisation of the military.

Though India has a tri-service command, it is headed by a three-star officer who is junior to the military chiefs who are four-star.

The post of the CDS is likely to be a four-star and he would be in-charge of the tri-services command at Andaman and Nicobar islands, the strategic command in-charge of nuclear weapons along with the upcoming cyber and space command.

Parrikar said in the coming months the Andaman and Nicobar command will become a joint command in “real sense” as it was the “need of the hour”, adding that currently there was only a “partial joint command”.

Stating that some joint acquisition was being done, Parrikar pointed out that jointness can save the country lot
of money.

“We are are replicating the same thing. Air Force does the same thing. Army does the same thing. If there is
jointness, lot of things can be synchronised.

“Jointness of acquisition will be advantageous. In fact we are doing some joint acquisition. Give me few more months,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had late last year called for “jointness at the top” of the military establishment.

Parrikar had in March last year said that CDS was a must and hoped to propose a mechanism for the creation of the post within the next three months.

The defence minister said he does not care about what people say about him taking more time even though he had given a time period.

“I realised if I hurry, I will do something which will not taste well just because my ego says ‘I said six months, I should force it in six months’,” he said, adding he was “not there to satisfy his ego”.

“I am there to ensure it happens properly. So I decided that someone may say anything about it, I will do it properly. Today I am confident that I have understood,” he said.

First Published On : Nov 11, 2016 22:56 IST

India-Japan seek peaceful solution to South China Sea issue, could anger China

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and Japan sought a peaceful solution on to the territorial disputes in the strategic South China Sea, saying parties involved in the matter must not resort to “threat or use of force”, in remarks that could anger China which is opposed to any outside interference. After their comprehensive talks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe also reiterated their commitment to respect freedom of navigation and overflight, and unimpeded lawful commerce, based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.”In this context, they urged all parties to resolve disputes through peaceful means without resorting to threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities, and avoid unilateral actions that raise tensions,” according to a joint statement issued after their talks. “Regarding the South China Sea, the two prime ministers stressed the importance of resolving the disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law including the UNCLOS,” it said.The remarks may not go down well with China, which has been asking countries to refrain from “interfering” in the disputed South China Sea. Ahead of Modi’s visit, a Chinese state media report on Wednesday warned India it may suffer “great losses” in bilateral trade if it joins Japan in asking China to abide by an international tribunal’s ruling quashing Beijing’s claims over the SCS dispute.
ALSO READ Modi in Japan: Full text of the Prime Minister’s media statement As the leaders of the state parties to the UNCLOS, Modi and Abe “reiterated their view that all parties should show utmost respect to the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans”. This assumes significance given that China had rejected a verdict given by an international tribunal striking down Chinese claims over the SCS.China has been making aggressive advances in the strategic region – parts of which are also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei – by rapidly building artificial islets that experts fear could be potentially used as military posts. China claims by far the largest portion of territory – an area defined by the “nine-dash line” which stretches hundreds of miles south and east from its most southerly province of Hainan.China has also objected in the past to India’s Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) undertaking exploration at the invitation of Vietnam in the SCS, which is believed to be rich in undersea deposits of oil and gas. India and the US have been calling for freedom of passage in the international waters, much to the discomfort to China. Modi and Abe asked North Korea, which in September claimed to have conducted its fifth and potentially most powerful nuclear test, to comply with its international obligations towards the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.India and Japan’s interest have been converging on strategic issues like the dispute in the South China Sea, through which US $5 trillion of trade passes annually, and on the threat Japan perceive from a nuclear-armed North Korea. “The two prime ministers reaffirmed their determination to cooperate against proliferation activities posing a threat to the region,” the joint statement said.India and Japan also called for “expeditious reforms of the UN including the UNSC to make it more legitimate, effective and representative, taking into account the contemporary realities of the 21st century and reiterated their resolve to work closely with like-minded partners to realise this goal.” “The two Prime Ministers reiterated their support for each other’s candidature, based on the firmly shared recognition that India and Japan are legitimate candidates for permanent membership in an expanded UNSC,” the statement said.India and Japan along with Germany and Brazil are part of G4 nations, who support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council. “Prime Minister Abe briefed Prime Minister Modi on Japan’s efforts to further contribute to peace, stability and prosperity of the region including through initiatives such as ‘Proactive Contribution to Peace,’ the statement said.It said Modi acknowledged Japan’s positive contribution to regional and global stability and prosperity. “Recognising India as the largest democracy and a fast growing large economy in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan firmly supports India’s membership in the APEC. The two Prime Ministers decided to work towards liberalisation and facilitation of trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region,” the statement added.On clean energy cooperation, “they further desired to strengthen bilateral energy cooperation as it will contribute not only to the energy development of both countries, but also to worldwide energy security, energy access and climate change issue.” The two prime ministers welcomed the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and reaffirmed their commitment to work together in developing the rules for successful implementation of the agreement.

Delhi Pollution: SC to hear EPCA’s plea on crisis today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court will hear a plea on Tuesday on the rising level of pollution in Delhi. The plea was filed by the Environment Pollution Control Authority which has sought a proper monitoring of worsening pollution levels in the national capital and adjoining areas.Describing the situation as a public emergency, the EPCA urged the apex court to consider taking stringent action. The Centre for Science and Environment and its director Sunita Narain has called on the apex court to monitor the Delhi government’s emergency action plan to bring pollution levels down.A bench led by Chief Justice TS Thakur has said it has already passed orders and they need to be implemented.A thick blanket of smog continues to hover over the national capital. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced several measures to tackle the problem, including the closing of schools and halting of all construction and demolition activity till Friday.The Centre convened a meeting of Environment Ministers of Delhi and neighbouring states yesterday to find a solution to the problem.

India asks UK to extradite Mallya, Agusta middleman

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India on Monda asked Britain to extradite nearly 60 people wanted by it, including liquor baron Vijay Mallya and Chirstian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, for bringing them back to face justice here.India and Britain also agreed to hold annual strategic dialogue at the level of Union Home Secretary to jointly deal with issues like terrorism, organised crimes, visa and immigration matters. The Indian list of around 60 wanted people was handed over to Britain during the bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Theresa May. Britain also handed over to India a list of 17 people whose custody it seeks under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty or against whom Letters Rogatories had been issued, official sources said.While industrialist Vijay Mallya has been accused of money laundering, Chirstian Michel is the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal. The two countries agreed not to allow fugitives and criminals escape law and resolved to facilitate outstanding extradition requests. In talks between Modi and May, the issue of extradition requests figured and officials dealing with the issue from both sides were directed to meet at the earliest.Sources said India expects forward movement in Mallya’s extradition from the UK following the talks. They said the specific issue of Mallya’s extradition had also figured in the talks between the two sides in the run up to the meeting between Modi and May. Asked whether Mallya issue figured in the talks, Joint Secretary (Europe) in the External Affairs Ministry Randhir Jaiswal referred to the Indo-UK joint statement issued after the discussions which said the two Prime Ministers affirmed their strong commitment to enhancing cooperation under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.Former IPL boss Lalit Modi is also evading law in India and today’s talks may help Indian authorities to push for his early extradition as well. Michel is a British citizen and wanted by CBI while Mallya and Modi, who have made the UK their home, are wanted by the ED in money laundering cases. “The two leaders agreed that fugitives and criminals should not be allowed to escape the law. They expressed their strong commitment to facilitate outstanding extradition requests from both sides.”In this context, they directed that the officials dealing with extradition matters from both sides should meet at the earliest to develop better understanding of each countries legal processes and requirements; share best practices, and identify the causes of delays and expedite pending requests,” the statement said.The strategic dialogue between Union Home Secretary and his British counterpart, Permanent Secretary for Home Office, will begin from next year to discuss counter-terror cooperation, ways to deal with organised crimes besides bilateral visa and immigration matters, sources said.This is for the first time India and Britain will have such a mechanism for dealing with security issues. India already has an arrangement with the United States to have annual Homeland Security dialogue at the level of Union Home Minister. In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the two Prime Ministers affirmed their strong commitment to enhancing cooperation under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.”The two leaders agreed that fugitives and criminals should not be allowed to escape the law. They expressed their strong commitment to facilitate outstanding extradition requests from both sides,” it said. In this context, the Prime Ministers directed that the officials dealing with extradition matters from both sides should meet at the earliest to develop better understanding of each countries’ legal processes and requirements; share best practices, and identify the causes of delays and expedite pending requests.They also agreed that regular interactions between the relevant India-UK authorities would be useful for resolving all outstanding cases expeditiously.

Theresa May becomes the second world leader after Obama to take a stroll in Hyderabad House gardens

Mon, 7 Nov 2016-08:07pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Theresa May became the second world leader to take a stroll with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Hyderabad House garden in Delhi. Modi received May at the Hyderabad House and the two leaders were seen talking to each other during the brief stroll. They stopped for while near a pond full of water lilies before continuing their walk towards the iconic main building, used mostly to hold high profile bilateral events with visiting foreign dignitaries.The high levels of pollution in Delhi air was not a deterrent for the two leaders. “A time for reflection; an occasion to forge a special connection. The Prime Ministers take a walk in the gardens of Hyderabad House,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.During his January, 2015 visit to India, Modi had hosted Obama for tea at the Hyderabad House gardens. The two leaders had taken a stroll under a warm wintry sun.

PM Modi’s Diwali plan: Celebrations with ITBP personnel along China border

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Keeping with his practice, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will celebrate this Diwali with the Indo Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) personnel at one of the remotest border posts in Uttarakhand.Modi, who as Prime Minister had celebrated his first Diwali in 2014 with the army in Siachen and second one last year on the Punjab border with Pakistan, will spend time on the border with China on the upcoming festival of lights on Sunday.He will celebrate the festival with ITBP personnel at Mana, the last village on Indian territory along the border with China, official sources said here on Friday.National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will accompany the Prime Minister on his trip to Mana, located at an altitude of about 10,000 feet, the sources said.Modi is also expected to visit Badrinath, one of the holiest temples of Hindus, which is located nearby, they said.In run up to Diwali, the Prime Minister had urged people to send their good wishes to security forces personnel on Diwali, saying such messages will boost their morale.A campaign in social media with the tagline – #Sandesh2Soldiers – through which people can send their Diwali greetings and messages to soldiers guarding the nation’s frontiers is already underway.People are sending messages under the #Sandesh2Soldiers campaign on the Narendra Modi App, through MyGov.in, and also through All India Radio.According to the PMO, over 10 lakh messages have come — 7 lakh on Facebook, Twitter and MyGov and about 3 lakh on Narendra Modi App.Prominent people who have sent their wishes include Chief Ministers, Union Ministers, film stars, cricketers and other sportspersons.They include Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Virat Kohli, Virendra Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Sakshi Malik.The initiative comes against the backdrop of surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army on terror launch pads in the PoK on September 29 and the heightened tension along the Indo-Pak border.

PM Modi to visit Japan for third Annual Summit meeting

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay a two-day official visit to Japan beginning on November 11. This will be the third Annual Summit meeting between Prime Minister Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.Prime Minister Modi will also be meeting Emperor Akihito during his visit.The Annual Summit meeting will be an occasion for both Prime Ministers to have in-depth exchanges on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest to further deepen the broad-based and action-oriented partnership between India and Japan. Prime Minister Modi met his Japanese counterpart in Laos earlier in September this year and discussed ways to strengthen strategic bilateral ties.Earlier in December 2015, Prime Minister Abe paid a three-day official visit to India during which both leaders discussed various issues of strategic importance besides outlining a vision of working together for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific Region and the world. The Japanese Prime Minister also rendered his country’s support to India in its bid to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).Earlier in 2014, Prime Minister Modi visited Japan on a five-day visit beginning on August 30 for the Annual Summit meeting with his Japanese counterpart. During the visit, the two sides decided to upgrade the relationship to a ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’ and launched an India-Japan Investment Promotion Partnership under which Tokyo announced its intention to invest in New Delhi approximately USD 35 billion over the next five years.Sticking to his ‘Make in India’ initiative, Prime Minister Modi gave an open invitation to the Japanese companies to consider New Delhi as a ‘competitive low-cost manufacturing hub’.

Decision on India’s NSG bid to be taken soon: New Zealand PM John Key

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and New Zealand agreed on Wednesday to strengthen ties in key areas of trade, defence and security during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Kiwi counterpart John Key, who also assured that his country will contribute “constructively” to the process currently underway in the NSG to consider India’s membership.After the “productive” talks between the two Prime Ministers, the two sides inked three pacts including one pertaining to Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and decided to establish Foreign Minister-level dialogue as well as exchanges on cyber issues. Asserting that they had detailed and productive discussions on all aspects of the bilateral engagement and multilateral cooperation, Modi at a joint media event with Key said, “I am thankful to Prime Minister Key for New Zealand’s constructive approach to the consideration of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).”There was no clear word of support on India’s entry into 48-nation NSG from the visiting leader, who only said, “New Zealand would continue to contribute constructively to the process currently underway in the NSG to consider India’s membership.” Noting that they had a “detailed” discussion on India’s NSG bid, Key also said, “New Zealand is committed to working with NSG members to reach a decision as soon as possible.” New Zealand acknowledged the “importance to India of it joining the NSG”, a joint statement issued after the talks said, adding that India stressed that this would provide the predictability necessary for meeting India’s clean energy goals in the context of the Paris agreements.New Zealand was one of the countries that took the stand at the last NSG plenary in South Korea in June that no exception can be made in the case of India, a non-NPT country, while considering its membership bid of the elite group that regulates trade in nuclear material. At the plenary, despite strong US support, China had blocked India’s bid on the ground that it was a not a signatory to the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT).On security and counter-terrorism ties, Modi said they have agreed to strengthen security and intelligence cooperation against terrorism and radicalisation, including in the domain of cyber security. According to the joint statement, the two Prime Ministers agreed to enhance cooperation, bilaterally as well as in the framework of UN and especially in 1267 Committee, to combat the full spectrum of terrorist threats in all their forms and manifestations.”They called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and stopping cross-border terrorism. Both sides called for the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that would contribute to the further strengthening of the international counter-terrorism legal framework,” it added. Asserting that trade and investment ties were one of the key areas during the talks, Modi said they recognised the need for greater economic engagement in order to effectively respond to the growing uncertainties in the global economy. It was agreed that expanding business and commercial ties should continue to be one of the priority items of the partnership, he said, adding that the large business delegation accompanying Prime MinisterKey will witness firsthand the investment opportunities on offer in India’s growth story. Identifying food processing, dairy and agriculture, and related areas in their supply chain as some of the areas of particular potential for bilateral cooperation, Modi said New Zealand’s strength and capacity in these sectors can combine with India’s vast technology needs to build partnerships that can benefit both the societies. “We also agreed that actions by both governments should also promote greater business connectivity, including through movement of skilled professionals, between our two economies and societies. “In this regard, we have agreed to continue to work closely towards an early conclusion of a balanced and mutually beneficial Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement,” he said.He further added that along side extensive bilateral engagement, the bilateral cooperation also extends to the global arena. On regional issues, the two sides have agreed to enhance cooperation, including in the East Asia Summit process. Noting that reform of international governance institutions is a shared priority for both of them, Modi said, “We are thankful for New Zealand’s support to India joining a reformed UN Security Council as a permanent member. “As we make our own contribution to the developmental efforts of the Pacific Island countries, we will continue to consult closely with New Zealand to complement and supplement each other’s efforts.”Modi also said it was a particular pleasure to receive Prime Minister Key in India during the festive season given that it was now a regular feature for the New Zealand Parliament to celebrate the festival of Diwali and, Key has also participated in several of these festivities.

Let’s break cycle of SP-BSP to make UP ‘Uttam Pradesh’: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cornering the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday urged the nation to break the cycle of the two parties to make Uttar Pradesh an Uttam Pradesh’.”The Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party both loot in their own turns, and when the other comes to power they never take action against the other. SP-BSP-BSP-SP. The power keeps shifting, and in this game, this land never reached its potential. You have faced enough. If you want to escape this trap then you need to get out of this trap of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. Let’s break the cycle of SP-BSP and choose instead to make Uttar Pradesh an ‘Uttam Pradesh’,” Prime Minister Modi said while addressing a rally in Mahoba, a district in Bundelkhand here.Escalating his attack on the Samajwadi Party, the Prime Minister said the farmers in Mahoba have faced grave injustice as this land is capable of reaping gold but farmers got no water.”Earlier I used to ask people from Bundelkhand in Gujarat if they were from Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh. They all used to say Uttar Pradesh then I stopped asking. Because then I realised that had these people been from Madhya Pradesh they wouldn’t have to come all the way to Gujarat for employment,” he added.Expressing confidence, Prime Minister Modi said the people would give absolute majority to the Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.Taking a jibe at both the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, the Prime Minister said: “On one side, there are those who want to save their family. On the other side, there are those who just want power. While, we are those who just want to save Uttar Pradesh. This land of Uttar Pradesh is our mother, and we won’t let our mother be looted anymore.”Money was provided to Bundelkhand for some projects, and yet no work was done here…you will be very sad to hear this.Stating that Uttar Pradesh has given many Prime Ministers to the nation, Prime Minister Modi said the state has a claim on him as well.”I want to do more work than all those Prime Ministers put together. Modi is not born to rule…he is born to do hard work,” he added.Prime Minister Modi also said that the issue of triple talaq should not be politicised, adding that proper measures should be taken to give equal rights to women.”I am surprised that for vote bank politics, some parties want to keep Muslim women bereft of their natural rights. I request people who participate in TV debates don’t make women rights into Muslim Hindu issue. Women’s right is a development issue. People from Uttar Pradesh will wait for Uttar Pradesh this time, Delhi knows that Uttar Pradesh has decided this,” he added.

Siddaramaiah quashes rumours of MLAs switching to opposition BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dismissing BJP’s claim that several Congress MLAs are in talks to join the party, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah hit back at the opposition party on Sunday, accusing it of spreading lies. “They have been saying such lies several times. No Congress MLA will join BJP … they will not even place their heads or face towards BJP,” he told reporters in Mysuru.Terming it as state BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa’s strategy, he said the party was under the impression that they would be able to derive political benefit by spreading such lies. Calling Congress a ‘sinking ship’, Yeddyurappa had earlier said in Raichur that many political leaders, including those from the ruling Congress, are in talks with the BJP.”At a time when elections are nearing, several Congress MLAs are contacting us, wanting to join BJP. Shortly several senior political leaders will be joining the party,” he said. Leaders of other parties are expected to join BJP in the presence of its National President Amit Shah during his visit to Karnataka for a backward communities event next month.Dissidence within ruling Congress has continued ever since Siddaramaiah, in a major revamp, sacked 14 ministers and inducted 13 members into his Council of Ministers on June 20. Several disgruntled ministerial aspirants and those dropped from the ministry have been speaking out openly against the Chief Minister and his leadership.One such senior state Congress leader V Srinivas Prasad had resigned as Member of the Legislative Assembly on October 17, miffed over being dropped from the ministry. Prasad, who had also declared his decision to quit the Congress, has not spoken about his next political move, though both BJP and JD(S) are in touch with him.

Govt to celebrate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary as National Unity Day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government is all set to observe October 31 as ‘National Unity Day’ to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in a befitting manner across the country by organising various programmes, including the ‘Run for Unity’. October 31 is also the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In a communication to Chief Ministers and Union Ministers, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said October 31 is being observed all over the country as a day of special occasion to foster and reinforce the dedication to preserve and strengthen unity, integrity and security of the nation by celebrating it as ‘Rashtriya Ekta Diwas’ (National Unity Day). “The occasion provides us an opportunity to reaffirm the inherent strength and resilience of our nation to withstand the actual and potential threats to the unity, integrity and security of the country. I, therefore, request you to give appropriate directions and guidance to all concerned so that Rashtriya Ekta Diwas could be organised and celebrated in a befitting manner,” he said in the letter. The Home Minister also suggested that a ‘Run for Unity’ should also be organised at the state/district headquarters involving people from all sections of the society, so that a message of national unity permeates to every part of the nation and the society.The NDA government had in the past celebrated Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary as National Unity Day with Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagging off the ‘Run for Unity’ campaign here. Unlike the previous Congress-led UPA government which used to commemorate Gandhi’s death anniversary with wide media publicity and events, the NDA government has instead chosen to celebrate Patel’s birth anniversary on October 31.Congress had termed as “disgusting” and “petty-minded” the way the Modi government marked the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi in the past.

Smriti Irani, Sadananda Gowda dropped from Inter-State Council

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Ministers Smriti Irani and D V Sadananda Gowda have been dropped from Inter-State Council, official sources said on Wednesday. Irani and Gowda were permanent invitees to the council headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Irani and Gowda were divested of their HRD and Law and Justice portfolios respectively in the last Cabinet reshuffle in July. Irani is now Textiles Minister, while Gowda holds Statistics and Programme Implementation portfolio. Both the ministers were dropped from the council which was reconstituted yesterday, according to an official order.HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has been included in the new council. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, who also holds the Law and Justice portfolio, continues to be on the council.The Inter-State Council was established in May 1990 with a mandate to act as a coordinating body between the states and the Centre. It is tasked to inquire into and advising upon disputes which may have arisen between states and also to investigate and discuss subjects in which some or all of the states, or the Union, have a common interest.The Prime Minister had in July chaired the 11th meeting of the council after a gap of nearly ten years. The previous meeting of Inter-State Council was held in December 2006. The council has as its members chief ministers of all states, chief ministers of union territories having a Legislative Assembly and administrators of union territories not having Legislative Assembly, and six union ministers.The ministers who are its members include Rajnath Singh (Home), Sushma Swaraj (External Affairs), Arun Jaitley (Finance and Corporate Affairs), M Venkaiah Naidu (Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Information and Broadcasting), Nitin Gadkari (Road Transport & Highways and Shipping) and Manohar Parrikar (Defence). Ten Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State (Independent Charge) are permanent invitees to the council.Besides Javadekar and Prasad, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ramvilas Paswan, Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot are the permanent invitees.

No formal proposal from Jammu and Kashmir govt to withdraw AFSPA: RTI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Jammu and Kashmir government has not submitted any formal proposal for the withdrawal of the controversial AFSPA Act from the state, according to an RTI reply.”There is no formal proposal from the state government of Jammu and Kashmir for revocation of AFSPA,” Ministry of Home Affairs said in reply to an RTI query. Human rights activist M M Shuja had filed an RTI to the Union Home Ministry seeking information about the state government’s demand for revocation of AFSPA from the state. The Home Ministry also said that the revocation of the AFSPA has been reviewed from time to time.”It has been decided that time is not appropriate for withdrawal of AFSPA from J&K,” it said.Revocation of AFSPA has been on the agenda of both ruling PDP and opposition National Conference, which ruled the state in coalition with Congress from 2008 to 2014. PDP has been in power in the state since 2014 after forming a coalition government with the BJP. The RTI reply said the issue of revocation of AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir has been raised by various sections of the society and individuals in Kashmir valley from time to time.”Omar Abdullah (then chief minister of J&K) also raised this issue in meeting with then Union Home Minister (P Chidambaram) on November 14, 2011 and during Conference of Chief Ministers on Internal Security on June 5, 2013,” it added. In July, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had said that in order to improve the situation in the state AFSPA should be revoked from some areas, beginning with 25 to 50 police stations, as an experiment.In reply to an earlier RTI query in June, the Home Ministry had said that no written request regarding revocation of the AFSPA has been received from government of Jammu and Kashmir state in the last two years.”The situation is reviewed in the Ministry from time to time. However, no formal meeting (has been) held regarding revocation of AFSPA in J&K during last two years,” the ministry had said in response to the earlier RTI application.

J&K: No formal proposal from govt to withdraw AFSPA, reveals RTI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Jammu and Kashmir government has not submitted any formal proposal for the withdrawal of the controversial AFSPA Act from the state, according to an RTI reply.”There is no formal proposal from the state government of Jammu and Kashmir for revocation of AFSPA,” Ministry of Home Affairs said in reply to an RTI query.Human rights activist M M Shuja had filed an RTI to the Union Home Ministry seeking information about the state government’s demand for revocation of AFSPA from the state.The Home Ministry also said that the revocation of the AFSPA has been reviewed from time to time. “It has been decided that time is not appropriate for withdrawal of AFSPA from J&K.” “Revocation of AFSPA has been on the agenda of both ruling PDP and opposition National Conference, which ruled the state in coalition with Congress from 2008 to 2014,” it said.PDP has been in power in the state since 2014 after forming a coalition government with the BJP.The RTI reply said the issue of revocation of AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir has been raised by various sections of the society and individuals in Kashmir valley from time to time. “Omar Abdullah (then chief minister of J&K) also raised this issue in meeting with then Union Home Minister (P Chidambaram) on November 14, 2011 and during Conference of Chief Ministers on Internal Security on June 5, 2013,” it added.In July, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had said that in order to improve the situation in the state AFSPA should be revoked from some areas, beginning with 25 to 50 police stations, as an experiment.In reply to an earlier RTI query in June, the Home Ministry had said that no written request regarding revocation of the AFSPA has been received from government of Jammu and Kashmir state in the last two years.”The situation is reviewed in the Ministry from time to time. However, no formal meeting (has been) held regarding revocation of AFSPA in J&K during last two years,” the ministry had said in response to the earlier RTI application.

Aung San Suu Kyi to call on President Pranab Mukherjee today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Myanmar’s State Counselor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi will call on the President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday.She will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the last day of her visit tomorrow. After arriving in the national capital yesterday after attending the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit in Goa, Suu Kyi yesterday met Congress President Sonia Gandhi at her residence. Suu Kyi is accompanied by several Ministers and senior officials and her visit will provide an opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest and seek to further strengthen the close and friendly ties that exist between the two countries.

Manipur: Life crippled in Imphal as rebels observe Black Day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Life in Manipur capital Imphal came to a partial halt as CorCom – the conglomerate of various rebel groups, observed a National Black Day with an 18-hour-long general strike that began at midnight on October 15.The Maoist Communist Party Manipur also observed a Black Day, boycotting all celebrations or events related to the merger of Manipur with the Indian Union.Inter-district passenger bus services and passenger-driven vehicles stayed off the roads, but diesel autos, Tata Magic and other private vehicles plied on different routes.Almost all business establishments remained closed. Except for few vendors, almost all major shops, private banks, offices and nationalist banks did not operate.In a press statement CorCom media coordinator Ksh Yoiheiba had stated that Manipur was forcibly merged into the Indian Union on October 15, 1949, and this was an incident that remains unforgettable to all people of Manipur. “Since the alleged forced merger, Manipuri people have been living a wretched life under an alleged colonial yoke. October 15 is one day on which all the people need to stand united against Indian rule,” he said in his statement.Yoiheiba further stated that the Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 was fully drafted by July 26, 1947 ahead of the departure of British colonial rulers from Manipur.After the first democratic election was held in June 1948, a Council of Ministers was sworn in on October 18, 1948 at the Darbar Hall of Kangla. These events marked the establishment of a democratic Government in Manipur.However, the Government of India kept the king of Manipur under house arrest at Shillong and forced him to sign the Manipur Merger Agreement on September 21, 1949. Manipur was annexed into the Indian Union on October 15, 1949, Ksh Yoiheiba of CorCom alleged.

Jayalalithaa’s health: DMK chief Karunanidhi’s wife Rajathi Ammal visits Apollo Hospital

Chennai: DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s wife and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi‘s mother, Rajathi Ammal, has visited Apollo Hospitals to enquire about the health of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

Sources in both AIADMK and DMK confirmed that Rajathi Ammal visited the hospital last night and enquired about the health of Jayalalithaa, who has been under treatment there for infection since 22 September.

File photo of Jayalalithaa. AFPFile photo of Jayalalithaa. AFP

File photo of Jayalalithaa. AFP

Her visit comes days after her son, DMK Treasurer MK Stalin, called on doctors at the hospital.

While DMK sources confirmed that she met Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala in the hospital and enquired about the health of the Chief Minister, AIADMK sources declined to comment on the meeting.

DMK sources said Rajathi Ammal took the concurrence of Karunanidhi before she went to the hospital to enquire about the health of Jayalalithaa.

Her unannounced visit came to light only today.

Meanwhile, former Tamil Nadu governor K Rosaiah on Saturday visited the hospital and enquired about the health of Jayalalitaa.

Rosaiah, whose term as the state governor ended recently, said he prayed the almighty for the speedy recovery of Jayalalithaa.

Ever since Jayalalithaa was hospitalised last month, the hospital has received a steady stream of VVIP visitors including Union Ministers and leaders of political parties besides the all-time presence of AIADMK leaders.

With Jayalalithaa in hospital, Tamil Nadu Guv meets ministers, chief secy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa hospitalised for the past two weeks, Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao on Friday called two senior ministers and Chief Secretary P Ramamohana Rao and discussed the day-to-day administration and affairs of the government. The Governor enquired “about the general administration of the affairs of the government,” a Raj Bhavan release said.”The Chief Secretary to Government briefed Honourable Governor about the administrative affairs that are being carried out on a day-to-day basis and also other general matters,” it said.Jayalalithaa’s trusted lieutenant and Finance Minister O Panneerselvam and his cabinet colleague Edappadi K Palaniswami also met the Governor at the Raj Bhavan where he enquired with them about the health condition of the Chief Minister, it said.Although the Governor had visited Apollo Hospital, where Jayalalithaa was admitted on September 22 after she complained of fever and dehydration, on October 1, this was the first time he has held consultations with the senior ministers and the Chief Secretary since she was hospitalised. The Ministers and Chief Secretary met Rao “on the request of the Governor,” it added.With the ministers, the top two in Jayalalithaa’s Cabinet after her, the Governor “enquired about the health condition” of the AIADMK supremo, it added. Further, he also enquired about the arrangements made for the visit and information to be presented to the High Level Technical Committee on Cauvery issue constituted by the Centre “to protect the welfare of farmers of Tamil Nadu”, it added.Palaniswami, the Public Works Minister, explained in detail the arrangements made and related matters, it added.The Apollo Hospital had said yesterday that the 68-year- old AIADMK leader’s health condition “continues to improve” but requires a longer stay at the hospital. “The consensus of opinions of all the experts is that the line of treatment given to the Chief Minister should be continued as she will require a longer stay at the hospital,” a release from the hospital had said.

Rajnath Singh chairs security review meeting in Jaisalmer with states bordering Pakistan

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday reached Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, where he is currently chairing a security review meeting amid repeated incidents of skirmishes along the Indo-Pak international border, according to ANI.

The home minister, on a two-day visit to Rajasthan, was welcomed by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia at the airport. Rajnath is heading a security review meeting in Jaisalmer with chief ministers of four states whose boundaries touch Pakistan and top BSF officials.

File image of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTIFile image of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

File image of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

During the two-day visit, Singh will also hold meetings with top BSF officials and chair a meeting with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, officials said.

The four chief  ministers will deliberate on ways to completely seal the Indo-Pak border.

“It is a meeting of the Union Home Minister with the Home Ministers of the four states. Since the Chief Ministers and the Deputy Chief Minister (of Punjab) are holding the Home portfolio, they are participating in the meeting,” a Home Ministry official said.

According to Times Now, decission might be taken to fence and seal-off the border where no physical barriers exist. In places where putting up physical barriers is not possible due to geographical limitations, decission may be taken to deploy technological solutions such as including deployment of cameras, sensors, radars, lasers, etc,  according to The Indian Express.

During the two-day trip, the Home Minister will tour border areas of Rajasthan and will visit Munabao, Border outpost in Barmer and interact with BSF personnel.

Singh will also visit Murar, BoP in Jaisalmer and asses the situation along the Indo-Pak border. The meeting is being called to bring a synergy among the state police forces and Border Security Force, which guards the Indo-Pak border. Issues concerning the states are also expected to be discussed in the two-day deliberations, the officials said.

There have been many incidents of infiltration of terrorists through the border in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir and trans-border smuggling of goods, narcotics and fake Indian currency notes in Rajasthan and Gujarat, they said.

Of the 3,323-km-long Indo-Pak border, 1,225 km falls in Jammu and Kashmir (including Line of Control), 553 km in Punjab, 1,037 km in Rajasthan and 508 km in Gujarat.

After the security review meet in Jaisalmer, Rajnath will hold a meeting with BSF officials in Barmer on 8 October, according to the Barmer Collector Sudhir Sharma. Elaborate arrangements are being made for the visit, he said.

With inputs from PTI

Material on record does not establish Rohith Vemula’s dalit status: Justice Roopanwal Commission

New Delhi: Raising questions on Rohith Vemula’s dalit status, a commission constituted by HRD ministry after the Hyderabad university scholar’s death has said the material on record did not establish it and attributed his suicide to personal reasons.

File image of Rohith Vemula. Facebook

File image of Rohith Vemula. Facebook

The Justice Roopanwal Commission, in its report to the HRD ministry, has given a clean chit to Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya, sources said. The University authorities too have been absolved of any blame for Vemula’s death as the Commission has held that they were not working under political pressure.

The Commission is learnt to have raised questions about Vemula’s caste status as a dalit saying that there is no proof that his mother V Radhika belonged to “Mala” community. The Commission in its report noted that Vemula’s mother was not told the names of her biological parents by her foster family, according to the sources.

It is therefore unlikely that she would have been told the caste of her biological parents, the Commission is understood to have said. HRD ministry officials have, however, maintained that ascertaining the caste status of Vemula was not part of the
Terms of Reference of the Commission. Therefore they would only focus on those recommendations which aim at ensuring that such incidents do not happen in the future.

The suicide of Vemula had triggered a huge political furore with the then HRD minister Smriti Irani coming under attack along with Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya for having written a letter related to the matter. It is learnt that the Commission felt that Vemula have committed sucide because of his “personal frustrations”.

In its recommendation, the Commission has emphasised that there should be a proper counselling mechanism not just for students but also for research scholars. The sources said that in its recommendations, the Commission has also emphasised that there should be proper grievance redressal mechanisms and equal opportunity cells so that unfortunate incidents like Vemula suicide can be prevented.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: New initiatives launched to mark second anniversary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>New initiatives to clean public places, rewarding the impact-makers and fresh pledges to meet the 2019 target of a clean-India marked the day as the the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed two years on Sunday on Gandhi Jayanti.Porbandar, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, and nearly 170 towns in Gujarat were declared Open Defection Free (ODF) on the birth anniversary of the ‘Father of the Nation’. Andhra Pradesh became the second state after Gujarat to declare all its municipalities ODF under the ‘Swachch Bharat’ initiative and earned an incentive of Rs 185.97 crore from the Centre.”Synchronizing the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan with Gandhiji’s birthday is most appropriate as he had always emphasized on adoption of cleanliness in our daily lives,” President Pranab Mukherjee said as he flagged-off a march for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan at Rashtrapati Bhavan New Delhi. From Puducherry, to Rajkot, to his constituency Varanasi, the Prime Minister shared on Twitter pictures and videos of cleanliness drives and awareness campaigns held across the country by locals.”It’s a matter of joy that Porbandar Dist, where Bapu was born has become open defecation-free today. Kudos to all those who made this happen,” Modi tweeted. Union Ministers, Chief Ministers and state ministers joined people in the cleanliness drives. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal helped in cleaning the Kamakhya Temple while Union Ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Kiren Rijiju were in action at a school here.Union Minister Venkaih Naidu flagged off the ‘Swachhta Rally’ from India Gate.Celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan joined cleanliness campaigns launched by media and corporate houses with the superstar saying that if Indians pledge to clean 10 yards around them, soon Modi’s vision of a Swachh Bharat can turn in to reality. The Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry honoured the people whose short films were selected in a competition on the theme of Swachh Bharat. The contest received 4,346 entries after which 20 were shortlisted with the top honour going Katyanan Shivpuri from Maharashtra for the film Murga.Swachh Bharat Mission has become a social movement in the country and it is for first time in Independent India that people were joining hands for a such a cause, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said after administering cleanliness pledge to school students at a function in New Delhi.”Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of achieving Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat by the end of 2019 and we will definitely succeed in this regard,” Rajnath Singh said. The Delhi Metro too launched a six day ‘Swachh Metro’ campaign. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in association with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Club Mahindra launched a special campaign to make Mumbai litter-free and clean.’Phenk Mat Mumbai’ (Do not litter, Mumbai) was launched by BMC chief Ajoy Mehta, who expressed hope of getting support of people to keep the city neat and clean. Jammu and Kashmir Deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh launched a cleanliness drive in Gandhi Nagar area in Jammu. In Tirupati, Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu formally declared all 110 municipalities, 1,368 village panchayats and two revenue mandals in the state as ODF and said in the next two years, the entire state will become open defecation free. “This is a historic achievement,” Venkaiah Naidu said.Navy personnel in Kochi undertook a two-day clean-up drive in different areas of the city. Waterfront areas were targeted for the drive this year as an ecology preservation initiative. Family members of the Naval personnel also joined the drive. A voluntary mass cleanliness drive was carried out today at the Indian Naval Academy in Ezhimala.

Lull after surgical strike, as govt, party refrain from chest-thumping

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after the strikes across the Line of Control, it was business as usual at Raisina Hill. A calm-looking Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a 20-minute speech in which he narrated anecdotes and made suggestions on cleanliness, waste management and building toilets, but was silent on the surgical strikes carried out just a little over 24 hours earlier.The message—action needs no words—was palpable and had percolated to his council of ministers and the BJP.The leadership has conveyed to the ministers and the party that they should exercise restraint from making chest-thumping statements about the strikes. Finance minister Arun Jaitley and BJP president Amit Shah are understood to have asked the party leaders on Thursday evening to speak cautiously, at a time when the government wanted to avoid further escalating tension. There was concern about sleeper cells becoming active and possible retaliation, sources said.Besides, any extreme reaction from the government or party leaders could raise expectations of the people, sources said. The surgical strikes have completed Modi’s cycle of offensive strategy which began with isolating Pakistan at the global stage, moving to the economic steps by reviewing the Indus water treaty and then seeking to review the MFN status.Only the Army and its operational wing have been authorised to speak to media, according to sources, at the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting on Thursday itself, DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, was asked to address the media and not any minister. Sources said, the PM has drawn up a strategy to be adopted, where the operations get the backing of all the people, irrespective of political affiliations.Modi did not want it to be confined to a party affair or raise tensions to a point that invited international attention. The Army and the ministers were told that it was a limited counter-terrorist operation and that an impression should not be created that India has launched a war. The Prime Minister, however, asked Home minister Rajnath Singh to speak to chief ministers of the border states and Jaitley to brief international fund managers to reassure them about India’s fiscal situation and tell them not to worry about FDI and investments in India. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will brief envoys of select countries. He was also told to brief foreign media stationed in Delhi.In an advisory, the home ministry has conveyed to the states that additional forces should be deployed in all sensitive places, strategic installations, markets, religious places and other key places to ensure security, the sources said keeping in mind the upcoming festive season.The BJP, which was basking in the government’s “befitting reply” to the Uri attack, on Friday refrained from flaunting the strikes. On the other hand, the Opposition came out in support of it.Modi had called up former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Deve Gowda, while foreign minister Sushma Swaraj drove down to 10, Janpath, to brief Congress President Sonia Gandhi. She was greeted by Manmohan Singh, who had gone there to receive Swaraj. Sonia, who is recovering from illness after she collapsed during her road show in Varanasi on August 2, congratulated the External Affairs Minister and the government for sending a “strong message” to Islamabad that terror would not be tolerated.At a road show in Bulandshahr on Friday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said “I want to thank him that in the past two-and-a-half years, this is the first action which can be termed as worthy of prime minister.”

Cauvery dispute: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah convenes all-party meeting on Saturday

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has convened an all-party meeting on Saturday to discuss future course of action in the wake of fresh Supreme Court order for release of 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day till 6 October to Tamil Nadu.

Representational image. CNN-News18

Representational image. CNN-News18

The Chief Minister has convened an all-party meeting of floor Leaders of both Houses, MPs, including central ministers representing the state, and Ministers concerned of Cauvery basin and district in-charge Ministers, CMO officials said. Taking Karnataka to task for its repeated “defiance” by flouting its orders over release of, the apex court today asked it to release 6,000 cusecs water from Saturday till 6 October to Tamil Nadu, warning “no one would know when the wrath of the law” would fall on it.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and UU Lalit also directed the Centre to constitute the Cauvery Water Management Board by 4 October. After the apex court verdict, sporadic protests were reported from Mandya and Mysuru districts where police have
made elaborate security arrangements.

Speaking in New Delhi, Karnataka Water Resources Minister MB Patil said the government will decide further course of action after going through the judgment and discussing with the legal team headed by advocate Fali Nariman. Nariman told the bench he has unequivocally said he would not argue for Karnataka till the orders of Supreme Court are complied with.

Karnataka has maintained its inability to release water to Tamil Nadu citing low storage in its reservoirs and drinking water needs of Bengaluru and neighbouring districts. Both the Legislative Assembly and the Council on 23 September had also adopted a resolution not to provide water for any other purpose except to meet drinking needs, citing “acute distress” and “alarmingly low levels” in dams.

The opposition BJP and JD(S) have expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court’s order and the stand taken by Nariman, representing the state in the case. Terming court order as “shocking”, BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa said the order to release 6,000 cusecs till 6 October, does not note of the ground realities.

Cauvery dispute: Karnataka govt defers decision on SC order till Thursday

Bengaluru: Awaiting the outcome of a meeting convened by the Centre, Karnataka Cabinet on Wednesday decided to defer till Thursday a decision on release of 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu as per the Supreme Court direction.

“We have deferred decision on release till tomorrow… We will see the outcome (of the meeting) and then decide on the next step,” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters here after a marathon sitting of the Cabinet preceded by an all-party meeting.

He said the government would explain the ground realities, including the storage levels in the four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin, and the state’s difficulties at tomorrow’s meeting of the two riparian states convened by the Centre to thrash out a solution amid the raging row.

“I will attend the meeting and put forward our case. Let us see what will come out of the meeting,” Siddaramaiah said, a day after the Supreme Court asked Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water in the next three days despite the unanimous assembly resolution to use the water only for drinking purpose.

Representational image. CNN-News18

Representational image. CNN-News18

The apex court had also called for a political solution to the “impasse” by convening of a meeting of the Chief Ministers of both states and the Centre.

“We are sure that the state of Karnataka shall obey the order without any kind of impediment, obstruction or any other attitude till we take up the matter on September 30,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit had said.

Asked about the specific mention in the order that there should not be any impediment or obstruction, Siddaramaiah said, “we are aware of it. We are also aware of the resolution of the legislature and suggestions made by the Opposition parties.”

In an unprecedented move in the more than century-long Cauvery dispute with the neighbouring state, both the Legislative Assembly and the Council on September 23 had adopted the resolution not to provide water for any other purpose except to meet drinking needs, citing “acute distress” and “alarmingly low levels” in its dams.

“We have no intention to disobey the Supreme Court order,” the Chief Minister said, pointing out that the legislature session and opposition parties had clearly mandated that the water was required for drinking purpose.

After the meeting in New Delhi tomorrow, the government would consider various options, including whether it should go back to the legislature or call an all-party meeting, Siddaramaiah said.

He said both the BJP and JDS suggested at the all party meeting today that factoring in the legislature resolution and the Delhi meeting, the decision on release of water should be deferred till tomorrow.

The meeting was attended by BJP Union Ministers from Karnataka Ananth Kumar, D V Sadananda Gowda and Ramesh Jigajinagi, former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and the party’s floor leader Jagadish Shettar, besides JDS leader H D Kumaraswamy and Congress leader in Lok Sabha MallikarjunKharge and state MPs, he said.

Siddaramaiah said, “…We have been directed by the Supreme Court to attend meeting tomorrow. We will explain all our difficulties, the ground realities we are facing and also the unanimous resolution we have passed in the Karnataka Legislature and the storage of water in our four reservoirs.

“All these aspects will be brought to the notice of the government of India and notice of Tamil Nadu government.”

Asked whether not releasing water for a day will attract contempt of court, he said “…we will discuss it tomorrow, for us there is a direction by the legislature also. Whatever water we have in our reservoirs we have to reserve it for drinking water, that we have to keep in mind also, and we have to go by the direction of the legislature also.

“So keeping all this in mind and also the direction given by the Supreme Court we will discuss tomorrow in the meeting of the Chief Ministers and afterwards let us see what  will be the decision that will come out,” he said.

To a question whether the government was hoping for a  compromise and the Centre would be sympathetic, Siddaramaiah said, “at this moment, I can’t say anything. I am going tomorrow. I will attend the meeting. I will put forward our case. Let us see what will come out.”

Asked whether tomorrow’s meeting would decide the state’s future legal strategy, he said, “it is premature to answer all this”.

Siddaramaiah said apart from him, state Water Resources Minister M B Patil and Chief Secretary and three other senior officials would attend the meeting.

On a petition by Tamil Nadu seeking water to save its Samba paddy crop, the apex court had on September 5 directed release of 15,000 cusecs for 10 days which was modified on 12 September by reducing the quantum to 12,000 cusecs till 20 September.

The Cauvery Supervisory Committee had on 19 September asked Karnataka to release 3,000 cusecs from 21 September to 30 September, but the apex court had on 20 September doubled the quantum to 6,000 cusecs, to be released from September 21 to 27, after
Tamil Nadu pressed for water to save its samba paddy crop.

It had also directed the Centre to constitute within four weeks the Cauvery Water Management Board as directed by Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

One year since Dadri lynching, Mukhtar Naqvi claims communal tension have reduced under NDA govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A year after the Dadri lynching, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi claimed incidents of communal tension have reduced “substantially” under the NDA government and stressed on the Prime Minister’s message of “empowerment and not appeasement” of Muslims.”Over the past two-and-half years, the number of incidents of communal tensions have gone down substantially. “We want such incidents to be zero. We are working on that,” he said in remarks which come on the eve of completion of one year since the lynching of Mohammad Aqlakh in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri over suspicion of beef consumption.The Minister of State for Minority Affairs said it was a “very unfortunate” incident and an act of people “who are bent on dividing communities”. “But there has been no repeat of such incident over the past one year,” he said. The Ministers was responding to queries from reporters on the sidelines of launch of Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) at the annual conference of state channelising agencies of National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC).The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre had come under attack over the September 28, 2015 killing of 50-year-old Aqlakh with some Union Ministers and BJP MPs making controversial statement regarding it. The incident also led to a section of artistes and litterateurs returning their awards in protest against the alleged intolerance.Naqvi did not specify the data on communal incidents, but stated that there is an “atmosphere of confidence and development” among all including minorities and added the government’s agenda of development can only “defeat the agenda of destruction”. He also defended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reported “parishkrit” remark relating to Muslims, which has stoked a controversy, saying that the PM was right in asserting that there should be “no appeasement, but empowerment” of the community members.”Prime Minister has said it rightly. He has said that appeasement of minorities should be stopped and work on their empowerment should begin in the spheres of education and employment,” Naqvi said.

Uttar Pradesh: Gayatri Prajapati reinducted into cabinet, opposition questions ‘sudden change of mind’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tainted former Uttar Pradesh Mines Minister Gayatri Prajapati was reinducted on Monday into the Akhilesh Yadav cabinet in an apparent attempt by SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to bridge the widening chasm in his family, drawing instant flak from the opposition parties.Besides Prajapati, against whose reinduction a social activist had petitioned the Governor, three others were sworn in, while six MoS were also elevated to the cabinet rank in what is perhaps the last expansion of the Akhilesh Yadav ministry before the 2017 assembly polls.Governor Ram Naik administered the oath of office and secrecy to Manoj Pandey, Shivakant Ojha and Ziauddin Rizvi, besides Prajapati at the Raj Bhawan here. Rizvi was not able to take oath in June when the cabinet was last expanded as he was abroad. Three MoS (Independent Charge) Riaz Ahmed, Yasir Shah and Ravidas Mehtrotra, and Ministers of State Abhishek Mishra, Narendra Verma and Shankhlal Majhi were elevated to cabinet rank.
ALSO READ UP Cabinet expansion: Sacked minister Gayatri Prajapati reinductedRaj Kishore Singh, who too was dropped along with Prajapati, was not included. Prajapati was considered close to Akhilesh’s uncle and state party chief Shivpal Yadav. Ahead of the swearing-in function, Akhilesh dropped MoS Food Lakshmikant alias Pappu Nishad.Much to the amusement of those present at the Raj Bhawan, a beaming Prajapati sat at the feet of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav for photo journalists. Besides touching the feet of Mulayam before and after taking oath, he also bent down to touch the feet of Akhilesh after being sworn-in.After the brief function, Mulayam told reporters that he had recommended Prajapati’s name for re-induction and “the chief minister accepted it”. “Moreover, the backward class leader is a hardworking and loyal soldier of the party,” he said.Mulayam’s cousin and Rajya Sabha member Ramgopal Yadav, who is close to Akhilesh, was conspicuous by his absence at the Raj Bhawan. The Akhilesh ministry now comprises 32 cabinet ministers, 9 MoS (Independent charge) and 19 MoS.This was the eighth expansion of the Akhilesh Yadav government since it assumed office in 2012. The UP council of ministers now has the maximum permissible strength of 60 ministers. Hours after Prajapati re-joined Akhilesh’s team, opposition parties reacted on expected lines with BSP, BJP and Congress ridiculing the chief minister for his “sudden change of mind”. BSP supremo Mayawati said Akhilesh Yadav’s U-turn showed he was a “weak CM”.

Centre to take tough stance against triple talaq, calls it ‘unfair, unreasonable and discriminatory’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre is likely to take a tough stance against triple talaq in the Supreme Court on the plea that according sanctity to it under Sharia is “completely misplaced” and it is “unfair, unreasonable and discriminatory” as many Islamic countries have regulated matrimonial laws.The Centre is also of the view that the issue is not to be seen from the point of view of Uniform Civil Code, but be treated substantively as an issue of gender justice and that of fundamental rights of women. These views are likely to be articulated by the Centre before the Supreme Court in the triple talaq case that will come up before the Court sometime next week. “A practice – unfair, unreasonable, discriminatory, has always given way before a humanising Constitutional principle, particularly under Chapter 3 of the fundamental rights. This whole plea of sanctity under Sharia is completely misplaced. There are nearly 20 Islamic countries in the world who have regulated their matrimonial laws, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and some Arabic countries like Saudi Arabia,” a senior government functionary said.
ALSO READ Triple talaq is not mentioned in Quran, it tortures women: Muslim clericsThe official said, “This issue is not to be seen from the point of view of Uniform Civil Code at all. The issue is only and substantively the issue of gender justice.” The plea to be taken by the Centre, that supports the petitioners in the triple talaq case in Apex Court, will highlight the issue of non-discrimination towards women and the dignity of individuals which permeates the entire scheme of fundamental rights as articulated under Article 14, Article 15 and Article 21 of Constitution.”The issue is if regulating the matrimonial law in an acknowledged Islamic country is not considered as contravening Sharia, how can this be treated like this in a secular country like India where Constitution is supreme,” the official said. The government’s views came out at last week’s meeting of Group of Ministers formulated on the issue.Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi met last week to deliberate on government’s possible stand to be taken in Supreme Court on the Muslim practice of triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat).They also deliberated on the Muslim practice of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ (a practice where divorced women, in case they want to go back to their husbands, have to consummate a second marriage).The Law Ministry will file a consolidated reply on the issue in the apex court by the end of this month. The issue is being deliberated upon at inter-ministerial level which includes ministries of Home, Finance and Women and Child Development apart from the Law ministry.

Centre to take tough stand on triple talaq in SC: ‘Plea of sanctity under Sharia misplaced’

New Delhi: The Centre is likely to take a tough stance against triple talaq in the Supreme Court on the plea that according sanctity to it under Sharia is “completely misplaced” and it is “unfair, unreasonable and discriminatory” as many Islamic countries have regulated matrimonial laws.

File image of Supreme Court. AFP

File image of Supreme Court. AFP

The Centre is also of the view that the issue is not to be seen from the point of view of Uniform Civil Code, but be treated substantively as an issue of gender justice and that of fundamental rights of women. These views are likely to be articulated by the Centre before the Supreme Court in the triple talaq case that will come up before the Court sometime next week.

“A practice – unfair, unreasonable, discriminatory, has always given way before a humanising Constitutional principle, particularly under Chapter 3 of the fundamental rights.

“This whole plea of sanctity under Sharia is completely misplaced. There are nearly 20 Islamic countries in the world who have regulated their matrimonial laws, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and some Arabic countries like Saudi Arabia,” a senior government functionary said.

The official said, “This issue is not to be seen from the point of view of Uniform Civil Code at all. The issue is only and substantively the issue of gender justice.” The plea to be taken by the Centre, that supports the petitioners in the triple talaq case in Apex Court, will highlight the issue of non-discrimination towards women and the dignity of individuals which permeates the entire scheme of fundamental rights as articulated under Article 14, Article 15 and Article 21 of Constitution.

“The issue is if regulating the matrimonial law in an acknowledged Islamic country is not considered as contravening Sharia, how can this be treated like this in a secular country like India where Constitution is supreme,” the official said.

The government’s views came out at last week’s meeting of Group of Ministers formulated on the issue. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi met last week to deliberate on government’s possible stand to be taken in Supreme Court on the Muslim practice of triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat).

They also deliberated on the Muslim practice of polygamy and nikah halala (a practice where divorced women, in case they want to go back to their husbands, have to consummate a second marriage). The Law Ministry will file a consolidated reply on the issue in the apex court by the end of this month.

The issue is being deliberated upon at inter-ministerial level which includes ministries of Home, Finance and Women and Child Development apart from the Law ministry.

AAP govt moves Delhi HC to direct L-G Jung to reconsider cancelling appointment of DERC chief

New Delhi: The AAP government on Friday moved Delhi High Court seeking direction to Lieutenant Governor (LG) to reconsider his decision scrapping appointment of Krishna Saini as the Chairperson of Delhi’s power regulator DERC.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The application was moved before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath who were hearing two pleas challenging the appointment process of the Delhi government. Citing Transaction of Business Rules (TBR), the Delhi government said the LG should be directed to “reconsider his decision on the request of Council of Ministers of GNCTD”.

The court has listed the application on 25 November. LG Najeeb Jung had on 21 September set aside Saini’s appointment in March to the top post of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), as it was done without taking his approval as mandated under the rules and procedure.

The Delhi government has said that “the order of the LG has only found fault with the process that was followed leading upto/culminating in the selection of the DERC Chief and has not otherwise found him unfit for the post”.

The application said the high court, in its 4 August judgement interpreting the inter-relationship between the LG and the Council of Ministers, had said that if the LG does not agree with a decision taken by Council of Ministers, he was required to refer the matter to the President of India.

It further said the “Cabinet of the Delhi government is proposing to request the LG to consider the matter once again and grant ex-post facto approval, which would be in the interest of the seamless and unhindered supply of electricity to the citizens of the national capital of Delhi and hence undeniably in public interest”.

First-of-its-kind national policy on drug abuse to be reviewed by Rajnath Singh-led GoM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A group of ministers, led by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, will review the first-of-its-kind national policy on curbing the menace of drug abuse and trafficking in the country. The policy, which was redrafted by the Social Justice Ministry, aims at efforts to reduce drugs to address the problem, including misuse and dependence, to create awareness about ill-effects on the individual, family, workplace and the society at large.The proposal is to focus on demand and supply aspects of the drugs to solve this problem. According to sources, the Prime Minister’s office has asked the Social Justice ministry to place its Cabinet note on drug demand reduction before the group of Ministers chaired by Union Home minister.The policy talks about two type of addictive substances– the illicit drugs including cannabis, heroin and opium and the other, pharmaceutical preparations like tranquillisers and inhalants. It emphasises on strengthening coordination among various regulatory agencies concerned to check the diversion of substances from lawful channels to illicit networks.The objective is to ensure that stigmatisation of and discrimination against, groups and individuals dependent on drugs is actively discouraged in order to integrate them back into the society. India has a close proximity to two major opium cultivating area–The Golden Crescent countries (Iran-Afghanistan- Pakistan) and the Golden Triangle countries (Myanmar-Laos- Thailand), which makes it a region of transit as well as destination for illicit drugs. According to government data, it is estimated that there were approximately 8.7 million cannabis users and 2 million opium users in India in 2001.

PM Modi to attend national BJP meet in Kozhikode starting Sept 24

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Kozhikode in Kerala on September 24 to attend the BJP’s three-day national council meeting, a senior party leader said on Tuesday.”Upon his arrival in the city in the evening, the Prime Minister will address a public meeting being organised as part of the national council,” senior BJP leader and party’s former Kerala unit president, V Muraleedharan said.The Prime Minister will attend the BJP meetings on September 24 and 25. Modi will also inaugurate the birth centenary celebrations of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay, former Jan Sangh president, at a special function on September 25 evening, he said. The Prime Minister will return to New Delhi after the function, he said.Muraleedharan said BJP Chief Amit Shah would arrive in Kozhikode on September 22 to give leadership to the meetings being organised to mark the centenary year of Deendayal Upadhyayay. Around 1,700 leaders, including Union ministers, Chief Ministers of party-ruled states, MPs, MLAs, party’s national leaders and top leaders of the party’s various state units will attend the meeting from September 23, said Muraleedharan.Kozhikode was chosen for the national council meeting as Deendayal Upadhayay was elected Jan Sangh president at the party’s conclave in that city in December 1967.

Amnesty International not been given a clean chit, says Karnataka Home Minister Parameshwara

Bengaluru: Under attack over the Amnesty International row, Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara on Monday said he had not given a clean chit to the rights advocacy group, which has been booked for sedition for hosting an event where anti-India slogans were allegedly raised.

Proceedings during the Amnesty International India's event. AP

Proceedings during the Amnesty International India’s event. AP

“First of all let me clarify because there is a lot of talk in the media about it….Let me be very clear, I have not given any clean chit to Amnesty International,” Parameshwara told reporters as he went into damage after his remarks drew sharp criticism.

“All I have said is that I have not heard Amnesty International being involved in any anti-national activity. Second thing is, there is an investigation going on, and I am not a fool to say that everything is well,” he said. To a query, Parameshwara said his remarks had been misinterpreted.

“Of course, I have been misinterpreted. That is why I did not want to react to it unnecessarily,” he added. “Now that the investigation is going on, the law will take its own course. That’s all I have said and I am also standing by that statement,” he said.

He said he is not going to interfere with the probe as Home Minister and it has been left to the police to decide on the next course of action against Amnesty International. “The (police) commissioner has made a statement which will be on record. It is left to the police and the IO (Investigating Officer) to take action accordingly – whether to close the case; whether to take it forward… I am not going to interfere in that.”

Parameshwara rejected the charge by some Union Ministers that the state government was protecting Amnesty International and had virtually given it a clean chit. He asked the Centre to get the activities of the NGO probed and take action accordingly.

“Why they (central government) think that we in Karnataka are trying to protect them, trying to give them (Amnesty international) a clean chit and all those things. They (BJP) have the government of India in their hands and also all investigation agencies in their hands. Let them find out what Amnesty international is doing and take action accordingly,” he said.

“Nobody can stop the Centre or the Union Home Ministry or any other agency which is responsible for that (from probing Amnesty’s activities),” he added. Parameshwara had on 20 August said Amnesty has never involved itself in any kind of anti-national activities.

“I have not heard of Amnesty International being involved in any seditious activity so far,” he had said. The Kashmiri Hindu Cultural Welfare Trust Chairman Romesh Kumar Mattoo had criticised him for having given a “clean chit” to the organisation when it was being probed for alleged sedition.

Jung v/s Kejriwal: Delhi HC verdict has erroneously turned back the constitutional clock

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The recent verdict by the Delhi High Court declaring that the National Capital Territory of Delhi continues to be a Union Territory and the Lieutenant Governor is its administrative head must make each one of us, irrespective of our political affiliations, sit up and take notice of the larger adverse implications it will have on the constitutional narrative not just in Delhi but across India, unless rectified by the apex court. This issue cannot be one where we seek to score a few convenient political brownie points over a much larger principle that we all must commit ourselves to in a democracy – namely the primacy of an elected government of the people, by the people and for the people over any sort of disingenuous, almost tyrannical form of government exclusively of the LG (or a Governor ) , run only by the LG (or a Governor) and presumably for the political masters at the Centre at whose behest the LG (or a Governor) acts. With utmost respect to the Delhi High Court and even as we await the decision of the Supreme Court, which I believe, would for strong legal and constitutional reasons, strike down this perplexing judgment, I would strongly urge members of my tribe to not turn back the constitutional clock to the British era by justifying the rule of an unelected (and perhaps unelectable) LG/administrator over a government that has been voted into power by the people of Delhi only because we relish the “jung” that ensues between them. Not only would we be guilty of putting politics before principles but we would also be buying into serious long term losses for some short term gains. Let me explain.V R Krishna Iyer in his opinion piece on the role of governors had written this years ago “The Supreme court, in the Shamsher Singh case (1974), laid down that the Indian administrative system is substantially based on the Westminster system where the Queen is bound to follow the Cabinet’s advice except in rare exceptions in which the Cabinet decision is irrational or arbitrary or perverse or plainly and blatantly biased or mala fide. In such an instance, the Governor may have discretion. The rule democracy implies is that the Governor is the ceremonial head and real power of administration remains with the Council of Ministers. To assume, that the Governor has the free and indiscriminate discretion to substitute his judgment for that of the Cabinet is a grave outrage. Can a Governor assume all executive power and refuse to sign legislation passed by the legislature and negative judicial decisions? Then, our Constitution will be reduced to paper tyranny. The implications of the Governor being treated as vested with absolute power is dangerous. Imagine the President of the country acting as the sole ruler, not accountable to anyone except his conscience. Swaraj then becomes a mirage and an absurdity.” Call it sheer co-incidence or an irony of sorts that on the very same day Delhi HC gave the verdict in question that virtually legitimised the LG acting as a super CM of sorts, the Upper House of Parliament was also discussing the misadventures of Governors in states like Arunachal Pradesh where the elected government of the Congress party had been destabilised by the unconstitutional actions of a pliant Governor, presumably at the behest of his political masters in the Central government! And the positions taken by the members of the Congress party in the Rajya Sabha echoed pretty much the sentiment expressed by V R Krishna Iyer or that of the Aam Admi Party on that day. Initiating the debate senior leader Anand Sharma questioned the role of governors and said he or she is “not supposed to interfere in the day-to-day functioning.” Governors taking unilateral decisions, in his opinion was an “insult to people’s mandate.” He further added “Governors are willingly becoming tools and agents to execute the nefarious agenda of the ruling party.”On the other hand, some Delhi based leaders whose questionable political acumen earned them all of 0 seats out of 70, eager to score petty brownie points, scored a self-goal by supporting a verdict that favoured the Modi government even though it completely contradicted and undermined the stand taken by senior Congress leaders in Rajya Sabha. That in a sense also legitimised the nefarious agenda of the Modi government to misuse Governors as agents. Some including a former advisor to ex-Delhi Chief Minister tried to rationalise this illogical stand. The sum and substance of his argument was that one could take two stands on the same issue-one at Delhi level and the other at a national level- on the role of the governor vis-a-vis an elected government! His justification was rather bizarre. Hair-splitting on the fact that Delhi’s constitutional status wasn’t the same as Arunachal Pradesh’s. On a lighter note, during our brief twitter exchange on the subject, I hoped the former political advisor wouldn’t end up saying something bizarre that would imply the vote of a voter in Delhi carried less weight than the vote of a voter in Arunachal Pradesh! He suggested that Delhi’s status as a UT wasn’t the same as Arunachal Pradesh which is a full-fledged state. That’s only partly true. Perhaps, the advisor and my friends in Delhi would have been well “advised” to take a leaf out of senior Congress leader Vivek Tankha’s book on the subject. Much like me senior advocate Vivek Tankha, who has been recently elected to the Rajya Sabha on a Congress party ticket, has nothing to gain by siding with the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi. Tankha did not let his political preferences come in the way of an objective legal opinion/principle when he categorically (and correctly) stated in his article written in 2015 that “the NCT, though called a UT, was conceptualised as a virtual state, minus the three important subjects (land, police and public order).” The Union Territories, he further explains, “which include the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, have less administrative autonomy than the states. But Article 239AA is a special provision conferring a degree of autonomy for the governance of Delhi.”Indeed, Tankha’s legal perspective is bolstered by a plain and simple reading of the Statement of Objects and Reasons appended to the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991 which inserted articles 239AA and 239AB after Article 239A of the Constitution which states as follows: “The question of re-organisation of the Administrative set-up in theUnion territory of Delhi has been under the consideration of the Government for some time. The Government of India appointed on 24-12-1987 a Committee to go into the various issues connected with the administration of Delhi and to recommend measures inter alia for the streamlining of the administrative set-up….After such detailed inquiry and examination, it recommended that Delhi should continue to be a Union territory and provided with a Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers responsible to such Assembly with appropriate powers to deal with matters of concern to the common man. The Committee also recommended that with a view to ensure stability and permanence the arrangements should be incorporated in the Constitution to give the National Capital a special status among the Union territories.” 239AA (4) clearly states that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Lieutenant Governor in the exercise of his functions in relation to matters with respect to which the Legislative Assembly has power to make laws, except in so far as he is, by or under any law, required to act in his discretion.The Delhi HC verdict which says that the LG is not bound by the aid and advise of the CoM is in essence saying that a) there is no difference between a union territory directly under control of the central government eg Andaman and Nicobar Island and one that has an elected legislature, eg: Delhi and b) real power vests with the Governor and not the cabinet/council of ministers which is contrary to the Basic Structure of the constitution. Can we be told what happens to the “special status” of Delhi explicitly granted to it by 69th Amendment? Why and with what legislative intent was 239AA inserted at all vide the 69th Amendment? Why this expensive farce of holding an election and electing a CM and a legislative assembly? Why not continue with Delhi as a Union Territory under the administration of the President of India which it was from 1956 onwards? Why was the Delhi Assembly re-established in the year of 1993, after the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991 came into force, followed by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991? And if this verdict holds true for Delhi, does it also hold true for Pondicherry where the elected government would have an unelected dictator in the form of former IPS officer & BJP leader Kiran Bedi running the show reducing the CM and his Council of Ministers to mere puppets? What a hilarious situation indeed! AAP in Delhi and Congress in Pondicherry would have to get elected and would thereby be held accountable for all actions of Najeeb Jung and Kiran Bedi – two of the most unelectable persons in the country? And these two would enjoy all the power without any accountability towards the people of Delhi and Pondicherry and would do as the Centre commands them to, usually to play political spoilsport and create trouble for the elected governments in Delhi and Pondicherry? Does this make any sense – political or constitutional?Tankha has further settled one more pressing controversy with respect to civil servants and who regulates their postings in the Delhi government. According to him “Under Section 3 of the All Indian Services Act, 1951, the Centre, in consultation with the state governments concerned and by notification in the official gazette, can lay down rules to regulate the recruitment and conditions of service of the persons appointed. The All India Administrative Service Cadre Rule, 1954, defines “state” as “a state specified in the First Schedule to the Constitution and includes a UT”. It says that the Centre, in consultation with the state government (or UT), shall determine the strength and composition of the cadre, as well as the allocation of officers. Most importantly, it lays down that cadre postings are the prerogative of the state government, which may be read as the government of the NCT of Delhi.” Congress general secretary in-charge for Delhi and former MP PC Chacko has gone on the record to say that – “We are for complete statehood because in its absence Delhi is only a glorified municipality. If the central government is hostile to the government of the day in Delhi, the latter simply can not function”. Leaders of the BJP in Delhi too have advocated full statehood for Delhi at different points of time. The principle can’t change merely because somebody else happens to be in power in this case Kejriwal. We cannot do such a U-turn, right from full statehood to denying Delhi its current arrangement of having a Special status amongst UTs! Not only is it opportunistic but extremely myopic and politically unwise. Delhi is a state where the Congress party may return to power. Does it want to go through what AAP government is in case there is a hostile government at the Centre? And if we all are going to accept that the LG is indeed the boss of Delhi how are political parties then going to say that AAP must be held responsible for unfulfilled promises? And are we going to start telling people of Delhi to approach the LG to get their work done instead of approaching the CM?Hopefully, the Supreme Court will set things right again in Delhi but let us not lose sight of the larger nefarious design of the Modi government to misuse governors as “agents” as Anand Sharma rightly pointed out. It is happening in Delhi just as it will happen in Pondicherry and has happened in Arunachal Pradesh. The author is he youngest Secretary of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee and has been the youngest Addl Private secretary to MoPA, Govt of India . He can be reached at @Shehzad_Ind

Nitin Gadkari and Piyush Goyal score high in Modi govt review, Healthy Ministry in bad health: Reports

Nitin Gadkari and Piyush Goyal are among the top performing ministers in the Narendra Modi govt’s review meeting reveals NDTV.According to the report, the economics affairs secretary presented an update on each ministry’s work, and each ministry had submitted their presentation to the economics affairs secretary. The exercise reportedly lasted five hours, and comes before an expected cabinet reshuffle next week. Modi reportedly told ministers they need to work harder and this process will be repeated every three months. The PM reportedly said:<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The government has been announcing good schemes but the “doot” messengers (ministers and lawmakers) have not been able to take it to the public.” Under-performers included health, and the PM made it clear he would like faster progress for state-run hospitals and wants more AIIMS-like institutes across the nation. He also pulled up the telecom ministry and urge them to improve connectivity and deal with call-drops urgently. It’s believed that Goyal will be given a promotion.Earlier party sources had played down significance of the ‘review meeting’, saying such an exercise, which is also attended often by Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj, happens almost every month.There has been a strong buzz in the party for some time about a reshuffle. Uttar Pradesh, which goes to polls early next year, is likely to get more representation besides Assam, whose Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was a Union Minister before he returned to lead the state government.Sources had said that the reshuffle was on the cards with just around a month to go for the monsoon session of Parliament. They also said the current reshuffle will focus on Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab with around eight new faces expected from these three states. PM also had a detailed meet with Amit Shah on Wednesday, before attending the review meet. The top portfolios though are expected to remain unchanged in this round of cabinet reshuffle. With agency inputs

Fresh date for rejig of council of ministers?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi knows the art of keeping the media on tenterhooks. After half a dozen false alarms, speculation is rife over a fresh date for a reshuffle in Modi’s council of ministers.According to the latest murmurs, triggered after a five-hour meeting between Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, changes in the cabinet and the BJP could take place before the Prime Minister leaves on a four-nation tour on July 6. The monsoon session of Parliament begins on July 18, just a week before Modi returns from his tour.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Party sources said the process could be completed within a week, but refused to divulge any detail. Reports of a reshuffle created a flutter in the BJP headquarters, but party leaders could throw little light on the matter. Modi and Shah prefer secrecy when it comes to crucial matters, keeping even party leaders and most ministers in the dark till the last minute.Sources, however, said the consultation process which involved mainly three senior ministers — Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari — had almost been completed and the new list would be more or less ready.However, Rashtrapati Bhavan has not received any message about the reshuffle in the council of ministers so far amidst reports that 11am on July 4 was an auspicious time. While the media is scouting for any sign of the much-awaited expansion, even preparations for Iftar at the Rashtrapati Bhavan were mistaken for it being geared up for a reshuffle.A party leader said there was nothing unusual about Modi and Shah having such long meetings as they had several issues concerning the nation to be discussed.Meanwhile, a consolidated presentation of all ministries, which had been asked to submit their self-appraisal reports, was being made by economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das at a meeting of Council of ministers on Thursday evening.While sources have ruled out major changes either in the government or the organisation, there is a feeling that the party needs to be strengthened. According to them around six new faces could be inducted into the council of ministers, which had a strength of 70 at present and could be expanded to 81. While there is a vacancy in the sports and youth affairs with Sarbanand Sonowal moving to Assam as chief minister, minority affairs minister Najma Heptullah could move out as she has crossed the 75 cut off age. Minister of state for social justice Vijay Sampla, who has been made Punjab BJP chief, could also be replaced.The changes in government could have a fallout on the Organisation, where there are already some vacancies, including three vice-presidents and two general secretaries. As of now there are ten vice-presidents, seven general secretaries and 16 national secretaries. If some party office bearers are inducted into government, the vacancies in party would go up further.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviews performance of ministries

Amid talks of a Cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday reviewed the performance of various ministries in spending budgetary allocations and implementing schemes in the past two years and asked his colleagues to ensure schemes be tailored to benefit masses.At an over four-hour-long meeting of the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister reviewed the performance of all Union ministries to ascertain whether budgetary allocations have been spent wisely. He also sought to know the number of schemes implemented by each ministry.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi, according to those present in the meeting, asked the ministers to ensure that schemes are tailored in such a fashion that the benefit reaches the common man. Several ministers made suggestions on how best budget can be utilised. They also pointed out that at times, one sector gets more attention at the cost of the other. Top bureaucrats made a power point presentation running into over 100 slides.Modi was of the view that schemes mentioned in the election manifesto are implemented in true spirit to that the Opposition does not get a chance to accuse the government of falling short on promises.Expressing satisfaction over the implementation of various schemes, he said there was no need to come up with fresh schemes and the present ones should be altered as per changing needs. Today’s review is been dubbed as a ‘report card’ of Union ministers as there is talk of a long-pending reshuffle of the council of ministers.But ministers said there was no mention of the reshuffle exercise and the meeting was very “business like” where the prime minister took stock of the performance of various ministries.

Jaitley looks very good, he is the exception: Swamy claims his waiter remark wasn’t aimed at Finance Minister

In a complete turn of events, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy who came under fire for allegedly targeting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley saying that Indian politicians look like waiters when they wear western clothes abroad, said here on Saturday that his tweets on the matter had been taken out of context, adding that he thought that Jaitley looked quite good when he travelled abroad. Speaking to the media here, Swamy said that he had always targeted politicians in western threads when they travelled abroad, even during the UPA regime. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>’This is part of bharatiyakaran. I have always been in Indian clothes and I have always practiced what I preach. It was not aimed at anyone else. Actually Mr. Jaitley looks very good, he looks like an exception,’ Swamy said. On Friday, Swamy posted on Twitter saying, ‘BJP should direct our Ministers to wear traditional and modernised Indian clothes while abroad. In coat and tie they look like waiters.’ Even though he didn’t name anyone, his tweet soon as Jaitley came on TV channels wearing a coat and tie while meeting officials in Beijing.Swamy also slammed reports saying that the BJP leadership was annoyed with him and was contemplating action.According to reports, Senior BJP leaders said that Swamy had overstepped the ‘limits of decency’ while ‘weakening the foundations of the government’ with his public attacks, including the alleged one on Jaitley. Continuing his assault on Vadra, who took on the BJP leader for ‘undermining’ waiters, Swamy said that Vadra was offended because his mother was a waitress in a small restaurant in England.’I did not make fun of waiters, I only said that politicians should not look like waiters, the matter is over now,’ Swamy said.Vadra had taken on Swamy saying the latter’s derogatory remark about waiters, who work so hard for their living, are ‘deplorable and classist’. “So is there no dignity in being a Waiter ‘! The attention seeking BJP MP Swamy’s comment “Ministers who wear a coat and tie “look like waiters” and must be instructed to wear Indian clothes.” Undermining waiters who work hard for a living; making condescending and derogatory remarks about them is deplorable and classist,” Vadra said on Facebook.Later, in response, Swamy said that Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law should concentrate on staying out of jail instead of commenting on political issues.”I think Mr.Vadra should concentrate on staying out of jail and not comment on political issues,” Swamy told the reporters. (

In coat and tie, Indian ministers look like waiters: Another veiled attack from Subramanian Swamy

Taking his attack against those in the Finance Ministry to a new level, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy issued veiled threat to those asking him to follow restraint saying if he “disregarded discipline there will be a bloodbath.””People giving me unasked for advice of discipline and restraint don’t realise that if I disregard discipline there would be a bloodbath,” he tweeted in an obvious attack on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Though he did not name Jaitley, he was obviously referring to the Minister urging him for restraint and discipline in the wake of his attacks on Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian on Wednesday and his use of the word discipline in defending Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das yesterday.In another apparent swipe at Jaitley, whose photographs of meeting with the Bank of China Chairman Tian Guoli in Beijing in a loungue suit appeared in newspapers, Swamy asked BJP to advise ministers to wear traditional and modernised Indian cloths when abroad.”BJP should direct our Ministers to wear traditional and modernised Indian clothes while abroad. In coat and tie they look like waiters,” Swamy said in another tweet.Swamy has been active on Twitter over the last two-three days, attacking officials of Finance Ministry and taking swipes at Jaitley.

Subramania Swamy issues veiled threat of ‘bloodbath’ to Finance Ministry

Taking his attack to those in the Finance Ministry to a new level, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on Friday issued veiled threat to those asking him to follow restraint saying if he ‘disregarded discipline there will be a bloodbath.'”People giving me unasked for advice of discipline and restraint don’t realise that if I disregard discipline there would be a bloodbath,” he tweeted in an obvious attack on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Though he did not name Jaitley, he was obviously referring to the Minister urging him for restraint and discipline in the wake of his attacks on Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian on Wednesday and his use of the word discipline in defending Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das yesterday.In another apparent swipe at Jaitley, whose photographs of meeting with the Bank of China Chairman Tian Guoli in Beijing in a longue suit appeared in newspapers today, Swamy asked BJP to advise ministers to wear traditional and modernised Indian cloths when abroad.”BJP should direct our Ministers to wear traditional and modernised Indian clothes while abroad. In coat and tie they look like waiters,” Swamy said in another tweet.Swamy has been active on Twitter over the last two-three days, attacking officials of Finance Ministry and taking swipe at Jaitley.

GST bill to be taken up in monsoon session: Nirmala Sitharaman

The long-pending GST bill will be taken up in the coming Monsoon session of Parliament, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, expressing confidence that it will be passed.”Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) has said that in coming Mooson session we will bring the bill (in the Parliament) and we have full expectation that we will pass it,” the Commerce and Industry Minister told reporters here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She said Jaitley is very focussed on GST issue and is talking to every political party for support. “He (Jaitley) has talked to all the Finance Ministers of the states at GST council meeting in Kolkata a week before,” Sitharaman said.Asked whether the PDP-BJP government in J&K has succumbed to the pressure of separatists and changed the industrial policy to drop non-State subjects from setting up industrial units in the state, she said “I have not seen policy as yet. I will look into it once I go through it.” Asked about the government’s stand on the issue of outsiders not given permission to set up a unit here, she said “let me study”.When referred to price rise and inflation during BJP government, the minister said “it is not truth. We are working to being prices further down.” Replying to another question on reopening of new LoC points for trade in J&K, she said “the border trading points are being decided by countries concerned and also the MEA, Home and Commerce Ministries. If there is any proposal coming will be definitely look into it”. On the issue of drop in exports, she said “we launch interest subsidisation programme to deal with it.

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