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Here’s why India’s first transgender college principal has resigned from her post

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India’s first transgender college principal Manabi Bandopadhyay has submitted her resignation after about one-and-a-half years in office, expressing frustration at “non-cooperation” of a section of teachers and students of her institution.Nadia District Magistrate Sumit Gupta today said he had received her letter of resignation from the post of Principal of Krishnagar Women’s College in the district on December 27 and forwarded it to the state Higher Education department yesterday. Manabi alleged that she started facing non-cooperation from a section of teachers soon after she took over as the principal of the well-known women’s college on June 9, 2015. On the other hand, the teachers also levelled the same allegation against the principal, resulting in a standoff.A four-member team, led by Joint Director of Public Instruction (DPI) RP Bhattacharjee, visited the college recently on a fact-finding mission and talked to the principal and teachers.Manabi said, “All of my colleagues went against me. Some of the students went against me. I tried to bring back discipline and an atmosphere of education in the college. Most probably, that is why they went against me. I always got co-operation from the local administration, but never got it from my colleagues and students.”She went on to say that she had been under tremendous mental pressure and could not take it anymore, forcing her to resign. “I feel tired due to the agitation and gherao by the students and teachers. I faced a lot of legal notices from their end. I had come to this college with new hopes and dreams but I was defeated…,” she said. Manabi (51), whose earlier name was Somnath, underwent a series of operations in 2003-2004 and became a woman. In 1995, she published the country’s first transgender magazine, ‘Ob-Manab’ (sub-human).

Hurriyat leader Masarat Alam released from Kathua Jail, rearrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Masarat Alam Bhat, who had been in custody under the Public Safety Act since April 2015, was released from Kathua district jail but subsequently re-arrested in another case.J&K High Court had ordered his release on Tuesday. “Masrat was released today in the case in which the high court had quashed his detention. But he was rearrested subsequently from jail in another case,” a senior Police officer told PTI.Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, while allowing Masrat’s plea challenging the latest of the detention orders under Public Safety Act, held his detention illegal on several grounds. Masarat had been booked under PSA several times since April 2015 and the latest order in the series was issued by District Magistrate Baramulla.”…(the) order of detention…passed by the (deputy commissioner Baramulla) is quashed with a further direction to the (government) to release (Masrat) Alam forthwith from preventive custody,” the court had said in its order on Tuesday. According to the order, Masarat was accused of making the ongoing agitation “successful” from inside the jail.

1993 Bombay blasts case: HC refuses furlough to convict Rubina Menon

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has rejected the plea of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Rubina Suleman Memon, seeking her release on furlough.

“We are not inclined to release the petitioner (Rubina) on furlough as she had been convicted by a TADA court for her involvement in terrorist activities,” said a bench of Justice VK Tahilramani and AM Badar in a recent judgement.

Rubina is also sister-in-law of Tiger Memon, believed to be living in Pakistan and one of the prime conspirators of the serial blasts that had rocked the city in March, 1993, claiming 257 lives and injuring more than 700 others.

Rubina was sentenced to life imprisonment along with three other family members by a Mumbai TADA Court in 2006, while her husband Sulieman was acquitted due to lack of evidence. Her brother-in-law Yakub was sent to the gallows on terror charges.

File image of Bombay high court. IBNlive

File image of Bombay high court. IBNlive

Rubina, currently lodged in Pune’s Yerwada prison, had applied to jail authorities for furlough leave on 22 January 2015. However, her plea was rejected on 15 January 2016. Aggrieved, she filed an appeal which was dismissed in May this year. Thereafter, she moved the High Court by a writ petition seeking furlough leave, which was rejected last week.

Rubina’s lawyer Farhana Shah argued that the three co-accused, who have also been convicted under TADA in the same case, have been released from jail temporary on leave.

They are Sardar Shahwali Khan, who was released on furlough on 9 June 2014, Nasir Abdul Kadar, who was given furlough leave on 27 June 2014 and Isa Abdul Razak Memon, who was also released on furlough on 10 June 2016, Farhana said.

As the three co-accused, who were similarly placed with Rubina in the 1993 bomb blast case, had been given furlough leave, the petitioner should also be given the same facility, i.e furlough leave, Farhana argued.

Additional Public prosecutor HJ Dedia submitted that Rubina’s application for furlough was rejected under Rule 4(4) of the Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959.

This Rule states that prisoners whose release is not recommended by Commissioner of Police or District Magistrate on the ground of public peace and tranquility, shall not be granted furlough.

The prosecutor said that in the order jail authorities rejecting Rubina’s furlough, it was stated that the petitioner is wife of brother of Yakub Memon. She will spend her period of furlough in Mahim area in Mumbai, where people of all communities reside.

“If she is released on parole people will turn up to meet her in large numbers and there would be a law and order problem, particularly in view of the fact that during the funeral of Yakub Memon, a huge crowd had turned up,” the order stated.

The prosecutor also pointed out that as Rubina has been convicted under TADA hence under Rule 4(13) of Prison Tules, she would not be entitled to be released on furlough, as this rule states that prisoners who are convicted for terrorist crime shall not be released.

The prosecutor argued that admittedly, the petitioner (Rubina) is convicted under TADA, hence, she is not entitled to be released on furlough. He pointed out that the Bombay High court in two decisions has held that sub rule 13 to Rule 4 is not ultra virus.

Accepting the prosecutor’s argument, the high court rejected the furlough leave petition of Rubina Memon.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 14:10 IST

J&K HC orders release of hardline Hurriyat leader Masarat Alam Bhat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ordered release of senior hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Masarat Alam Bhat who has been in preventive custody under the Public Safety Act since April 2015. Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, while allowing Bhat’s plea challenging the latest of the detention orders under Public Safety Act, held his detention illegal on several grounds. “By issuance of writ of certiorari, order of detention bearing No. 85/DMB/PSA/2016 dated 1.9.2016, passed by the (deputy commissioner Baramulla) is quashed with a further direction to the (government) to release Alam forthwith from preventive custody,” the court said in its order.Bhat has been booked under PSA several times since April 2015 and the latest order in the series was issued by District Magistrate Baramulla. According to the order, Bhat was accused of making the ongoing agitation “successful” while in custody of the state authorities. The order was passed on the basis of Bhat’s meeting on August 11 this year with four persons who visited him at District Jail, Baramulla. The persons had requested authorities to allow them meet one Assadullah Parray, who is allegedly affiliated with Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani. The authorities claimed that instead of meeting Parray, they met Bhat, who allegedly advised them to activate the workers for a more visible and prominent role in the turmoil. A case was registered against Bhat at police station Baramulla on August 30, two days before the detention order under PSA against Alam was passed by the deputy commissioner.”Even otherwise, record would show statements of four police personnel, who were posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have been recorded.Their statements would show that Assadullah Parray was lodged in Barrack No.7, whereas (Bhat) was lodged in Barrac No.8.”The allegation in the FIR and statements of all these police personnel would, prima facie, show that all the police authorities, posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have failed to discharge their duties in accordance with law because it was within the competence and authority of these police personnel to ensure that the visitors would meet Parray, for meeting with whom they had sought permission and not (Alam),” the court observed.The court also rendered the detention order illegal for the reason that the bail application of Bhat had been rejected by a court and he continued to languish in state custody. The detaining authority, in this situation, could not assume that there is every likelihood of (Bhat) being released on bail. The Court said, “democratic society not only swears but lives by democratic values and principles. Even in the face of extreme provocations, the laws of the land are to be implemented. Laws possess unique quality, in as much as, they, even at times, protect those who break them. Thus, they prove to be better than many human beings”. Bhat was released after four-and-half years of detention soon after the PDP-BJP government took charge in March last year. However, he was re-arrested on April 17, 2015 and detained under the PSA for alleged anti-national activities during a rally to welcome Geelani home from Delhi.

Jammu and Kashmir: Masarat Alam’s detention held illegal, HC orders release of hardline Hurriyat leader

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ordered release of senior hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Masrat Alam Bhat, who has been in preventive custody under the Public Safety Act since April 2015.

Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, while allowing Masarat’s plea challenging the latest of the detention orders under Public Safety Act, held his detention illegal on several grounds.

“By issuance of writ of certiorari, order of detention bearing No. 85/DMB/PSA/2016 dated 1.9.2016, passed by the (deputy commissioner Baramulla) is quashed with a further direction to the (government) to release Alam forthwith from preventive custody,” the court said in its order on Wednesday.

Bhat has been booked under PSA several times since April 2015 and the latest order in the series was issued by District Magistrate Baramulla. According to the order, Masarat was accused of making the ongoing agitation “successful” while in custody of the state authorities.

Masarat Alam in a file photo. AFP

Masarat Alam in a file photo. AFP

The order was passed on the basis of Masarat’s meeting on 11 August this year with four persons who visited him at District Jail, Baramulla. The persons had requested authorities to allow them meet one Assadullah Parray, who is allegedly affiliated with Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani.

The authorities claimed that instead of meeting Parray, they met Masarat, who allegedly advised them to activate the workers for a more visible and prominent role in the turmoil. A case was registered against Masarat at police station Baramulla on 30 August, two days before the detention order under PSA against Alam was passed by the deputy commissioner.

“Even otherwise, record would show statements of four police personnel, who were posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have been recorded.Their statements would show that Assadullah Parray was lodged in Barrack No.7, whereas (Masarst) was lodged in Barrac No.8.

“The allegation in the FIR and statements of all these police personnel would, prima facie, show that all the police authorities, posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have failed to discharge their duties in accordance with law because it was within the competence and authority of these police personnel to ensure that the visitors would meet Parray, for meeting with whom they had sought permission and not (Alam),” the court observed.

The court also rendered the detention order illegal for the reason that the bail application of Masarat had been rejected by a court and he continued to languish in state custody.

The detaining authority, in this situation, could not assume that there is every likelihood of (Masarat) being released on bail.

The Court said, “democratic society not only swears but lives by democratic values and principles. Even in the face of extreme provocations, the laws of the land are to be implemented. Laws possess unique quality, in as much as, they, even at times, protect those who break them. Thus, they prove to be better than many human beings”.

Masarat was released after four-and-half years of detention soon after the PDP-BJP government took charge in March last year.

However, he was re-arrested on 17 April, 2015 and detained under the PSA for alleged anti-national activities during a rally to welcome Geelani home from Delhi.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 17:07 IST

J&K HC orders Masarat Alam’s release from preventive custody immediately

Wed, 28 Dec 2016-12:52pm , Jammu and Kashmir , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday directed Mehbooba Mufti-led government to immediately release separatist leader Masarat Alam from preventive custody.A bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar quashed Alam’s detention after hearing his counsel Mian Abdul Qayoom and the state counsel.Alam, who has been languishing in jail for the past six years on charges of fomenting trouble and posing a threat to public safety in the Valley, was booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) following the 2010 violent unrest.

Madhya Pradesh: ‘Salad’ likely to be on platter for prisoners in jails

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Madhya Pradesh government is mulling to offer ‘salad’ along with the daily meal served to inmates across all prisons in the state, an official said.”Providing ‘salads’ along with the meals is one of the measures being mooted by the Jail Department in its effort to make the food in state’s prisons more nutritious,” Sanjay Choudhary, Director General (Jail) said.The issue was discussed at a meeting in Bhopal on Friday convened to review the functioning of jails in state.It was chaired by Minister for Jail Kusum Mehdele and attended by Jail department’s senior officials along with the superintendents of 39 district and 11 Central jails.After the Bhopal’s Central prison jail break by eight operatives of the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in October this year, Jail department had banned outside food items, mostly brought by the family members of the inmates in all jails of the state.”The meeting was informed that essential items like tooth-paste and brush would also be provided in the jails. However, there would be total ban on bidis and cigarettes,” a Public Relations department officer said. It was also decided that additional barracks would be constructed in those jails that are housing more inmates than their capacities.”Outer walls of the jails would also be constructed. The minister assured that the issues raised by the jail superintendents would also be soon sorted out,” he added.

Madras HC quashes appointment of 11 members of TNPSC

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

Tamil Nadu: Day after IT raids, Rao dropped, Girija Vaidyanathan appointed as new Chief Secretary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after the Income tax department conducted raids, Tamil Nadu government on Thursday appointed Girija Vaidyanathan as the new Chief Secretary in place of P Rama Mohana Rao.”Dr Girija Vaidyanathan IAS, Additional Chief Secretary/ Commissioner of Land Administration, is transferred and posted as Chief Secretary to Government, vice Dr P Ramamohana Rao,” a Public (Special A) Department order dated December 22 said.In perhaps the first case of a top bureaucrat being raided, the house and office of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary was on Wednesday searched by Income Tax officials and recovered Rs 48 lakh cash in new notesThe IT action came in connection with a case related to the biggest cash haul of new notes post demonetization after the department raided some sand mining operators of Tamil Nadu here.The search locations included the residence of Rao, his kin and associates, besides his chamber at the Secretariat.

Pampore attack: Army salutes heroes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eyes went moist and patriotism filled the hearts when the last post was sounded to pay homage to the three fallen heroes of Pampore. Three soldiers were killed when militants ambushed an Army convoy on the strategic Srinagar-Jammu national highway at Kadlabal area of Pampore in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday. The convoy was on its way to Srinagar from Jammu. Most of the soldiers were returning to rejoin their duties in the Valley after visiting their homes.One of three martyrs hailed from Pune, Maharashtra. Thirty-three-year old gunner Farate Sourabh Nandkumar of Bhekrai Nagar, Pune had joined the Army in 2004 and is survived by his wife Sonali Sourabh Farate and twin daughters.Hailing from Kotolipram, Kannur district in Kerala, Naik (gunner) Ratheesh C, 35 had joined Army in 2001 and is survived by his wife Jyoti Krishna Kumar and a son.Only 24, gunner Shashikant Pandey had four years of service in the Army and was in fact on his way to join his unit in the Valley. Survived by his parents, gunner Pandey hailed from Zharian, Dhanbad district in Jharkhand.On Sunday, Indian Army paid befitting tributes to three of its comrades who embraced martyrdom.In a solemn ceremony at Badami Bagh Cantonment, Srinagar, many senior officials from the civil administration and other security agencies joined Lieutenant General JS Sandhu, General Officer Commanding 15 Corps and all ranks in paying homage to the martyrs on behalf of the nation.“The mortal remains of the martyrs will be flown for last rites to their native places where they will be laid to rest with full military honours,” said an army spokesman here.On this occasion, Indian Army pledged to extend all help to the families of the fallen heroes of Pampore. “In this hour of grief, the Army stands in solidarity with the bereaved families of the martyrs and remains committed to their needs and well-being,” said the spokesman.Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Dalbir Singh Suhag also paid tributes to the fallen heroes of Pampore. “COAS and all ranks salute supreme sacrifice of our martyrs and offer condolences to the families of the brave hearts of Pampore,” tweeted Additional Directorate General of Public Information (ADGPI) of Indian Army.

Demonetisation: RBI says banks get Rs 12.44 lakh crore in old notes till 10 December

Mumbai: RBI today said banks have garnered Rs 12.44 trillion (Rs 12.44 lakh crore) in banned notes till 10 December, while they have issued Rs 4.61 trillion to them since the demonetisation drive began 35 days ago.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“The old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, which have been returned to the Reserve Bank and the currency chest, amounted Rs to 12.44 trillion as of December 10,” RBI Deputy Governor R Gandhi told reporters here.

The money that various banks have issued through their counters and ATMs since 10 November and up to 10 December stood at Rs 4.61 trillion, he added.

In volume terms the number stood at 21.8 billion pieces of notes of various denominations, of which 20.1 billion pieces were of Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50 and Rs 100. The number of higher denomination of new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes stood at 1.7 billion, he said.

Hence, while the notes surrendered have risen by almost Rs 1 trillion, cash disbursal has risen only a little since 7 December, when RBI had said that banks had issued Rs 4.27 trillion of new notes post demonetisation through ATMs and bank counters, the banned notes collected stood at Rs 11.55 trillion.

“The entire system is continuously gearing up for supporting the circulation of notes in the hands of the public. Daily, we are issuing more and more notes, getting it printed and issuing it and this will be a continuous affair. The public are requested to freely use the notes that they have in their hands rather than hoard it,” Gandhi said.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 18:18 IST

Prevention of Corruption Act: Watered down version will make scamsters look like saints

It might be fashionable to beat one’s chest in public about corruption, and undertake financial lynching pogroms like the demonetisation scheme, but in reality, much of the government’s back room activity, drafted by the powerful and highly corrupt IAS lobby, continues to prioritise protecting — or even empowering — the corrupt.

A strong whiff of this comes from the NDA government’s decision to back the passage of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Bill, 2013, a ludicrously whittled down version of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, which has been carefully designed to make the accused in the 2G, CWG, Coalgate and AgustaWestland scams look like saints.

Offences defined by the existing Act fall into three broad categories: Trap cases in which corrupt public servants, middlemen, etc, are caught red-handed taking bribes; abuse of official position which targets corruption at higher places; and disproportionate assets.

Accused in big ticket corruption scandals like AgustaWestland scam may now have an easier time. Reuters file imageAccused in big ticket corruption scandals like AgustaWestland scam may now have an easier time. Reuters file image

Accused in big ticket corruption scandals like AgustaWestland scam may now have an easier time. Reuters file image

The proposed amendments, which have been cleared by a Rajya Sabha select committee on the PC Act, severely limit the probability of corrupt public servants being caught taking bribes red handed, restrict the capacity of investigating agencies to prosecute corrupt public servants accused of owning disproportionate assets, and severely dilute the offence of abuse of official position. As a result, senior government officials will have fewer chances of getting caught or being punished.

It further emasculates the Lokpal Act, which is supposed to fight corruption at higher levels. However, if acts of commission and omission by senior government officials are sought to be blatantly decriminalised through these proposed amendments, what can the Lokpal be expected to do?

What is most curious is how the entire Rajya Sabha committee, including Members of Parliament of varying political colour — who are often heard lending high decibel disapproval towards big corruption in the media — have consented to this damning piece of legislation.

The committee on corruption:

Corruption committeeCorruption committee

The most damning feature of the PC Bill:

The biggest giveaway of the real intent behind the redrafting of the PC Act is the deletion of Section 13(1)(d) in its entirety, despite it being the only provision which made senior government officials liable for criminal action in a multitude of big ticket corruption scandals like Bofors, 2G spectrum, CWG, Coalgate, AgustaWestland, etc. This section defines ‘Abuse of Official Position’ under the overall category of ‘Criminal misconduct by a public servant’.

It’s inexplicable that the entire section has been deleted, despite the fact that criticism from the bureaucracy has been limited to sub-clause (iii) relating to “public interest”: A public servant is said to commit the offense of criminal misconduct, if he, while holding office as a public servant, obtains for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest.

Although even criticism of this sub-clause is misplaced, considering that data shows that not many public servants have actually been charged on this count. Maximum cases involving ‘Abuse of Official Position’ have been registered under the first two sub-clauses of section 13(1)(d), which have attracted no dispute. And yet, strangely, the bill proposes to delete all three sub-clauses, ie the entire Section 13(1)(d) of the PC Act.

The government’s likely defence will be that Section 13(1)(d) has been merged with Section 7, not deleted. The argument is specious considering that the expanded Section 7 of the new bill relates to the offence of direct bribing (like bribing a traffic policeman, revenue official or junior engineer). The bigger offense of ‘Abuse of Official Position’ has been relegated to a small clause, hanging weakly to Section 7 by the slender rope of Explanation 2 Clause (i).

Explanations in law are meant to clear doubts, not to define substantive offences. Merging a bigger offence like a sub-clause with a smaller one is like clubbing murder (Section 302 IPC) with causing hurt/injury (Section 323 IPC). The move affords multiple complications without any gains whatsoever.

Presently, in order to prove abuse of official position (criminal misconduct) as defined in Section 13(1)(d), of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, all that an investigating officer has to do is to prove violation of legal provisions, rules, guidelines or procedures and resultant undue pecuniary advantage accrued to anyone, including a third party (not necessarily the accused himself). There is no need to prove any bribery or direct quid pro quo in the transaction. This provision was inserted to deal with corruption in high places, where a public servant may receive illegal gratification in a clandestine manner (off-shore transactions or non-monetary considerations, like a better posting, post-retirement benefits, etc).

Delinking acts of abuse of official position (criminal misconduct) from Section 13, and clubbing it with Section 7 (bribery) only serves to place the additional burden of proving bribery or direct quid pro quo on the investigating officer.

Further, the amendments have purportedly been introduced for the purpose of compliance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Article 19 of the UNCAC relating to “Abuse of Functions” is the same as “Criminal Misconduct” as defined under Section 13(1)(d). Deletion of this provision, therefore, is in violation of the UNCAC as well.

Multiple getaway options scripted for the corrupt:

Section 7 (Public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act) has been completely rephrased under the guise of drafting a “comprehensive definition of bribery”. The inherent danger in changing the language is that it opens it up to fresh legal interpretation, which had been settled though several court judgements over the years.

Sections 8, 9 and 10 (Offences relating to public servant(s) being bribed; to bribing a public servant; and bribing a public servant by a commercial organisation, respectively) were all deleted on grounds that these are covered under the new definition of bribery.

The existing Sections 8 and 9 are very important provisions in the PC Act, as they are meant to penalise middlemen who act as conduits for dishonest civil servants. Since middlemen are rampant in most public offices, taking bribes from them was made a substantive offence. The proposed amendments ensure that these undesirable elements are only dealt with indirectly, under Section 12, which deals with abetment. This will also make it harder to deal with the menace of touts.

In summary, no effective substitutes for these three offences are spelled out in the proposed bill, especially Section 10, since while abetment of an offence is an offence, the abetment of abetment is not.

Section 11 (Public servant obtaining a valuable thing without consideration from person concerned in proceeding or business transacted by such public servant) has also been deleted without providing any substitute, contrary to claims made in the statement of objects and reasons. Therefore, corruption/misconduct of this nature will now only be dealt with under the conduct rules, which have long become defunct, with no action taken for violations despite detailed media exposes, as in the case of NABARD’s former chairman, Prakash Bakshi.

The proposed Bill extends the benefit of Section 19 (previous sanction necessary for prosecution) to retired public servants as well. In addition, it makes seeking of prosecution sanction by private persons more difficult by putting in a requirement of a court order to that effect. This is aimed at discouraging anti-corruption crusaders from petitioning the government seeking prosecution sanction against political bigwigs.

If the new bill is enacted, disproportionate assets (DA) cases, which are already hard to prove, will be hit harder vide two major changes:

  1. In addition to proving disproportion (excess assets acquired by the public servant over known sources of his income over a period of time), the investigator will now also have to prove that the said disproportion is on account of “intentional enrichment by the public servant in an illicit manner”.
  2.  The term “known sources of income” in the existing act is very specific and means income received from any lawful source, and such receipt has been intimated in accordance with the provisions of any law, rules or orders for the time being applicable to a public servant.

However, the new Bill restricts this definition of “known sources of income” only to income received from any lawful source. This permits the accused public servant to claim lawful income from a variety of sources which he may not even have intimated to the government as per conduct rules and amounts going back to pre-1988 days, which saw a large number of acquittals in DA cases. The PC Act, 1988, had brought in the requirement of aforesaid intimation to prevent unscrupulous public servants from claiming incomes from sundry sources.

On account of these two changes, the investigation of DA cases and framing of charges may become more difficult, leading to the conviction rate dipping drastically.

Deleting Section 24 of the PC Act (Statement by bribe giver not to subject him to prosecution) provides protection to bribe givers against prosecution if they make a statement against an accused public servant, carries serious consequences for trap cases.

In trap cases, complainants are actually required to bribe the public servant to enable the investigating officer to catch him red-handed. The statement of the complainant in court is crucial to securing conviction of the accused public servant. With Section 24 gone, complainants might hesitate to come forward and depose against bribe seekers, as the moment they make a statement stating that they actually bribed the public servant, they expose themselves to prosecution under Section 8.

The fresh protection added vide the proviso to Section 8 requires evidence of “being compelled to give a bribe”, which is not going to be easy. It will further provide a handle to the defence to bully the complainant. Therefore, protection under Section 24 should have been continued in trap cases. This is particularly important in view of Article 33 of the UNCAC, which required signatory states to provide protection to reporting persons.

A new Chapter IV-A is being inserted in the act, to provide for attachment of property of tainted public servants using the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 1944. This provision is redundant, since it is not new and it already applies to offences under the PC Act. The biggest constraint with the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 1944, is that the investigating officer needs to seek prior approval of the state or central government, as the case may be, before moving an application in the court for attachment of property. As a result, its provisions could rarely be used by investigating agencies, since the approval of the government is hard to come by. A similar fate awaits this.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, also has provisions for attachment of property. However, under the PMLA, prior approval of the government before filing application for the attachment of property is not needed. Additionally, officers of the rank of deputy director in the Enforcement Directorate are empowered to issue the order of provisional attachment. In the case of the revised PC Act, the order of attachment will be issued by the special judge, who being independent of the investigating agency, is expected to take a more objective view. Retaining the rider of taking prior approval of the central/state government, therefore, carries no justification whatsoever.

Fixing of a time limit for according prosecution sanction vide Section 19 is a welcome step, albeit half-hearted, given that no provision for “deemed sanction” has been made in case the competent authority delays decision making beyond four months.

The proposed Section 17A (earlier known as single directive, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in the Vineet Narain case and later brought back as Section 6A of the DSPE Act, which was also annulled by the Supreme Court in 2014), severely curtails the powers of the investigating agencies and bars them from looking into the role of public servants without prior permission of the government. Evidence cannot be gathered without a preliminary enquiry and unless there is evidence to establish a prima facie case, the government will not be able to give prior permission. This Catch 22 situation works in favour of corrupt babus.

While the time limit for according prosecution sanction has been fixed at a maximum of four months, no such deadline has been fixed for prior permission under Section 17A.

Doubtful political intent:

Even with the right laws, the list of failures in reigning in corruption in India and elsewhere is far longer than the successes. The Modi government’s decision to allow the passage of the Prevention of Corruption Bill, 2013, a ludicrously watered down version of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, casts a shadow on its real intent and long term vision on reigning in corruption.

It’s not the first time this has happened. Before this, the Black Money Act and the GST Bill were were also found to be wanting, with their effectiveness or efficiency in nailing the corrupt, or even with correcting the existing anomalies in alarming variance with the advertised objectives of the government.

Transparency in government functioning, which is key to eliminating corruption, has also not been addressed, which is evident from its handling of the coal auctions nor the rot in the financial sector, presided over by the Reserve Band of India through its opaque CDR cell and inaction over other consumer unfriendly schemes, like the force-selling of life insurance policies by the State Bank of India.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 16:35 IST

Tamil Nadu government declares holiday for its offices today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday announced a holiday for its offices under the Negotiable Instruments Act, as a mark of respect to late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.A Government Order (GO) said the notified public holiday will apply to all state government offices, undertakings, corporations and boards.”Under the Explanation to Section 25 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 read with Notification of the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs No.20-25-26, Public-1, dated 8th June 1957 the Government of Tamil Nadu hereby declares that Tuesday, the 6th of December, 2016 as a public holiday as a mark of respect to the late Selvi J Jayalalithaa, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu,” it said.The day will be also treated as a paid holiday for all industrial employees on regular work charge and industrial establishments and the labour hired on daily wages, it said.The government also issued another order declaring three days holidays for “all educational institutions” starting today.The holidays were being declared “as a mark of respect” to the late leader, the GO said.

Pakistan’s new army chief Gen Bajwa rakes up Kashmir issue, asks troops to respond with ‘full force’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan’s newly-appointed army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday raked up the Kashmir issue for the first time in his address to soldiers and asked them to respond with “full force” to each ceasefire violation by India.”Each violation of any kind must be responded to with full force in the most effective manner,” he said during a visit to the 10 Corps Rawalpindi and troops at forward locations along the Line of Control (LoC).Bajwa, who visited troops at their forward positions on the LoC for the first time since taking over the command of army this week, was briefed on the security situation along the LoC “in view of recent violations and escalation by Indian troops and Pakistan’s own response,” the army’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.He said India’s “aggressive posture” aims solely to divert the world’s attention away from “atrocities being committed by Indian troops” in Kashmir, the statement said.The Kashmir issue will have to be resolved in line with United Nations resolutions keeping in view the aspirations of the Kashmiri people in order to achieve lasting regional peace, Bajwa said in his first public comments on the Kashmir issue after taking over as the Chief of Army Staff this week.He appreciated the “befitting response” given to “unprovoked Indian firing” across the LoC and asked troops to keep the highest level of vigil at all times, the statement said.Bajwa’s statement came at a time when India-Pakistan relations are strained following the terror attack on an Army base camp in Uri and India’s surgical strikes on terror launchpads in the PoK.

Government’s anti-pollution plan hits a hurdle, own dept calls air purifiers ‘unreliable’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi government’s plan of installing air purifiers in the national Capital on a pilot basis has hit a major roadblock, with its own department terming the project “unreliable”.Earlier this month, the Environment and Urban Development Departments of the Delhi government had come together to announce that five major intersections in the Capital will be fitted with air purifiers. The work of installing these purifiers was given to the Public Works Department (PWD), sources said.In the project feasibility report, however, the PWD stated that these purifiers might not be of any use and called them unreliable.”Our engineers studied various models of air purifiers and found that they had little use in Indian conditions. The department couldn’t find any success models,” said a senior PWD official. “We have submitted the feasibility report but the final decision will still be taken by the Delhi government,” he added.Even environmentalists have slammed the air purifier idea, claiming that this was not a long-term solution to Delhi’s problems. “The move is not well thought out. Air purifiers can work well only in closed spaces. The Delhi government, with its experts and teams of accomplished officials, should look at long-term solutions rather than looking for an easy way out,” said environmentalist Bharti Chaturvedi.Pollution level in the national Capital remains consistently alarming, prompting the authorities to try various experiments. The air purifier plan also included installation of virtual chimneys and mist fountains. The purifiers were to be installed at five sites worst affected by pollution — Anand Vihar, ITO, Sarai Kale Khan, Kashmere Gate and IIT-Delhi or AIIMS.Delhi Urban Development Minister Satyendar Jain had said at the time of the announcement that the government, in collaboration with the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and IIT-Bombay, will establish the system within 45 days. “We also plan to install a mist fountain at one intersection, the water from which can be recycled. We can bring down PM 2.5 and PM 10 in the air by using mist fountain, and will soon identify the location,” he had said.This latest experiment by the Delhi government was announced after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the the government to convene a meeting of authorities concerned to come up with a solution to tackle the worsening air quality. The order came after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) apprised the green court that there was no improvement in air quality in Delhi during the second week of the Odd-Even scheme in April.

Payal Abdullah’s plea on government accomodation reserved by Delhi High Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Friday reserved its order on a plea of Payal Abdullah, estranged wife of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, for government accommodation for her and her sons on the ground that they enjoyed ‘Z’ and ‘Z plus’ security status. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice VK Rao said that it will consider whether Payal and her kids was entitled to get the government accommodation on parity with some of the political leaders who have been granted the same on security ground.The petitioners, including the couple’s two children, have sought parity with others who enjoyed similar security status and have been given government accommodation. The court was hearing an appeal against a single judge’s August 19 order asking her to vacate the 7, Akbar Road bungalow in Lutyen’s Delhi that she was residing in.The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), however, opposed her contention for government accommodation on the ground of security threat and said it is for Delhi Police to ensure safety for her stay here. Her counsel claimed that she and her sons were living in a rented flat which is not appropriate on security ground as they have to house around 90 security personnel, who have to stay on roads near their accommodation.
ALSO READ Payal Abdullah loses court battle, rendered homelessIn her appeal, she has contended that the August 19 order of the single judge mentioned no date and time of eviction and “hence the very act of summoning and pressing into service of armed public auxiliary/servants of different forces” for giving effect to the order was in violation of The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act.The counsel argued that under the Act, possession of a public premises cannot be taken after sunset, whereas she and her sons were evicted on the evening of August 22. Payal has also challenged the single judge’s observation that if her husband and father-in-law, both of whom are ‘Z plus’ protectees, could be secure in private accommodation, there is “no reason” why she and her sons cannot be.
ALSO READ Payal Abdullah evicted from Lutyen’s: Omar’s nameplate removed from govt bungalowShe contended that her husband, Omar, and father-in-law, Farooq Abdullah, were temporary visitors to Delhi and can be protected in private premises for a short duration, unlike her who is a permanent resident here. The single judge had said Payal and her sons were “liable to be evicted forthwith”, after terming their entitlement to retain the bungalow as “wholly illegal”.Justice Indermeet Kaur had said that Payal’s apprehension that she and her sons would not be given adequate security cover was “misconceived” and dismissed her plea to retain the bungalow. Prior to the high court’s August 19 decision, a trial court here had on Augusut 16 asked her to move out of the house. Three days later, Justice Kaur had asked Payal’s counsel, “Will you gracefully evict or I should pass an order?” However, her counsel had refused to do so.
ALSO READ Delhi HC to hear Payal Abdullah’s plea for retaining Lutyen residenceIt had also rejected Payal’s argument that she and her sons were central protectees by saying that as per a secret document submitted by MHA, their security status was granted by the state of Jammu and Kashmir because they were the wife and children of Omar Abdullah.

Nitish Kumar govt releases its annual report card, gives itself full marks for ‘development with justice’

Patna: Promulgation of a stringent liquor law coupled with a string of new development initiatives to provide power, toilets and drinking water to every household were the highights of the annual report card released by the Nitish Kumar government on the completion of a year in office.

A function to mark the release of the report was slated for Sunday, but was cancelled in the wake of the Indore-Patna Express tragedy in which 143 passengers were killed, many of them from Bihar.

Kumar after assuming power in the state in 2005 had started the tradition of releasing an annual report card to give an account of government’s developmental and welfare initiatives taken during the year.

In continuation with this, the report, the first of the grand secular alliance headed by Kumar was released on Monday on the website of the state Information and Public Relations Department.

The 140-page report titled “Development with Justice Mahagathbandhan Government Ist year” showcases the launch of “Saat Nishchay” (seven resolves) to usher in allround development of the state in the next four years of the JD(U), RJD and Congress coalition ministry.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. PTIBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. PTI

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. PTI

It asserts that “rule of law” prevailed in the state. “Stringent enforecement of legal procedures and provisions without any malice or discrimination have led to reduction in crime rates with effective punishment to criminals rendering them ineffective. We have cracked down strongly on organised crime and shall continue the momentum with strict enforcement,” the CM said at the outset.

While highlighting the new initiatives by way of launch of programmes to realise the goal under ‘seven resolves’, the state government in its report said that it would continue with programmes and policies of ‘Agriculture Roadmap’,’Mission Manav Vikas’ (Human resources development), ‘Kaushal vikas mission (skill development mission)’ and Industrial promotion and incentives.

“Reiterating our old commitments to programmes of good governance, we have taken some resolves for all-round development of the state,” the CM said in the report.

“Our programmes and schemes of education, health and SC/ST, OBC, BC and Minority welfare, women and child development will continue to be implemented in the same or even stronger vigour,” he added.

The “Saat Nishchay” promises to provide electricity, drinking water, sewage, toilet and road to every household.

Aimed at youth and women, it also has facilities like interest-free loan of Rs 4 lakh, start-up venture capital, free WiFi in colleges and universities and 35 percent reservation for women in all state government jobs.

Painting a rosy picture on economic front, the report card highlighted that Bihar registered a growth of 10.59 per cent in Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) in 2015-16, which is more than the national growth of 8.71 per cent for the corresponding year.

Percentage contribution of Bihar’s GSDP in India’s GDP increased to 3.05 per cent in GDP of the country in 2015-16 (Q) from 2.83 per cent in 2011-12, according to the report. The revised plan outlay for the financial year for 2016-17 is Rs 79014.99 crore, 26 times higher than it was in 2004-05 at Rs 3059.22 crore.

In addition to giving details of the ‘seven resolves’, the annual report card highlights some other landmark initiatives of the state by bringing in Public Grievance Redressal Act and newer measures in the field of disaster management and police reforms.

The Nitish Kumar government launched Public Grievance Redresal Act, 2015 on the occasion of Sampoorna Kranti Divas and World Environment Day on June 5, 2016 to hear the complaints of the common man and address them within a timeframe.

The report card also gives details of aims and objectives of prohibition.

The CM had announced his seven resolves on the eve of Bihar poll 2015 in an apparent response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s declaration of Rs 165 crore special package (which included Rs 40,000 of previous packages) during state election.

The resolution for youths provides special schemes/programmes/policies to enable them to become self-reliant. It has provisions like Rs 4 lakh interest-free loan to every 12th pass student willing to go for higher education. This loan is available for general courses like BA/BSC and professional/technical courses like engineering/medical/management/Law.

It is expected to cover 5 lakh students during this financial year itself. Other items included providing Rs 1000 monthly allowance for two year to youth between 20-25 years of age to search for jobs without bothering family, imparting basic training in communication skills (hindi & english), soft skills and basic computer skills, free WiFi in colleges and universities and start of a venture capital of Rs 500 crore to encourage young enterpreuners.

As part of women empowerment policy, 2015, the state government has reserved 35 per cent jobs for women across all cadres and services of the state with effect from 20th January, 2016.

The resolves include ensurinng electricity in every rural and Urban household in Bihar.

“Har Ghar Bijli Lagaatar” launched on 15 November last promises to provide metered electricity connection to all households in the state. A total of 1387 villages without electricity connection have been identified under the scheme which intends to provide them power connection by end of 2018.

Another resolve promises to provide clean drinking water to every citizen of Bihar without any discrimination. This resolution is an unflinching endevour to provide clean drinking water in the homes of approximately 2 crore households.

Another ambitious resolution is to build toilet in every household to make Bihar free of open defecation. An approximate 1.68 crore toilet less families are being targetted to ensure they have toilet facility in the next 5 year.

The state government also promises to provide sewage and road facilities across the state. After implementation of the ‘Pradhanmantri Gram Sadak yojna’, left out habitations having no link shall be connected with pucca road, pucca drainage and by-lines will be provided in all villages and towns under the scheme “Ghar Tak Pakki Gali-Naliyaan.”

The state government also unveiled its dream of opening one engineering college in every district, one Bsc Nursing college in all Medical colleges, establishment of five more medical colleges in the state.

In the field of disaster management, it says that Bihar is the first state in the country to prepare 15 years “disaster risk reduction road map 2015-20. The card says that Bihar is the first state in the country to form and operate full time battalion of SDRF (State isaster Response Force) under control of Disaster Management Department to facilitate quick response and relief distribution.

There is arrangement of ex-gratia payment to the families of deceased persons within 24 hours codified, it added.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 20:10 IST

Nitish Kumar condoles UP train mishap deaths, cancels govt function

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the wake of the Uttar Pradesh train derailment tragedy, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday cancelled a function to release a report card of his government on completion of one year in office and expressed grief over the mishap that claimed 96 lives and left 226 injured.In his condolence message, Kumar described the mishap as sad and expressed deep grief over the casaulties, praying to the almighty to provide strength to families of the bereaved to cope with the tragedy.The CM ordered cancellation of the state function to release the annual report card of his government marking completion of one year in office.”CM has cancelled the function to release report card of the government today on completion of one year in office,” a statement from Information and Public Relations Department said.All preparations had been made for the function and several officials and journalists had also arrived at the venue, but had to return the cancellation.The mishap took place in Kanpur Dehat district in the wee hours today.On assuming office in 2005, Kumar had started a practice of giving an account of developmental work of his government every year in the shape of an annual report card.Today was the date of issuance of the first report card of grand secular alliance government comprising JD(U), RJD and Congress in Bihar headed by Kumar.

Pakistan claims to shoot down Indian drone near LoC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Pakistan military on Saturday claimed to shoot down an Indian drone in the Aagahi Post in Rakhchakari Sector. Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Lt-General Asim Bajwa tweeted that the quadcopter had intruded 60 metres inside Pakistani territory:There have been a whopping 286 incidents of firing and shelling along the LoC and International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops that have resulted in the death of 26 people, including 14 security personnel, since the surgical strike on terrorist launch pads in PoK on September 29 after the Uri terror attack.More details awaited.

Demonetisation: Data from SBI shows how public sector banks are saving the day for Modi govt

Following the 8 November announcement by the Modi government of demonetising the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the banks were faced with an almost insurmountable challenge: How to manage the disbursal of new currency in a timely manner, in spite of the high demand.

Under such circumstances, the role played by automated teller machines (ATMs) in dispensing cash was hugely important and their success in disbursing the cash effectively was, to a great extent, going to decide the fate of the demonetisation scheme.

Following the note ban, long queues outside ATMs across the country became a common sight. In most cases, the ATMs ran out of cash almost instantaneously, leaving people hassled because of the sudden cash crunch. It was the biggest challenge ever faced by the banking sector in India.

Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s announcement, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) stated in a press release that all ATMs and other cash machines will remain shut on 9 November (and 10 November) to facilitate the re-calibration of the machines (as the new notes had different dimensions from what the machine accepted). It stated that when ready, they will be reactivated and that cash withdrawals from ATMs will be restricted to Rs 2,000 per day per card up to 18 November, with the limits being raised to Rs 4,000 per day per card from 19 November.

While most private banks shied away from taking responsibility, SBI took charge to effectively implement the demonetisation scheme. ReutersWhile most private banks shied away from taking responsibility, SBI took charge to effectively implement the demonetisation scheme. Reuters

While most private banks shied away from taking responsibility, SBI took charge to effectively implement the demonetisation scheme. Reuters

Facing impossible odds, it was left to the Public Sector Banks (PSBs) to plan and execute the re-calibration on a short time-frame, proving yet again that they are still the backbone of the economy in spite of all the criticism heaped upon them for the mounting bad loans and their mode of functioning.

According to a high ranking bank official, a meeting of all the bank chiefs was called upon on 8 November to deliberate upon how the re-calibration of the ATMs would be managed. The official claimed that most of the private sector banks expressed their inability to carry out the re-calibration work in such a short span of time – given the logistical constraints.

It was under these circumstances that India’s largest public sector bank, State Bank of India (SBI), rose to the occasion and took charge of the situation. With a host of private banks bowing out, it was the SBI that assured the government of effective management of its ATMs. The assurance was a big risk given the enormity of the task at hand.

According to RBI data, as on July 2016, out of a total of 1,03,282 onsite and 98,579 offsite ATMs in the country, SBI has 20,419 (onsite) and 29,496 (offsite) ATMs – close to a quarter of all ATMs. In this context, SBI’s role in implementing the demonetisation scheme was of immense importance.

When the ATMs reopened on 11 November, 27,000 machines were up and running on the very first day. Out of these, 17,000 were replenished by SBI.

However, since these machines could hold only up to 2500 notes of Rs 100, it was hard to maintain the flow of currency.

“We could maintain continuous cash flow for the onsite ATMs and replenish it on regular intervals but for the offsite ATMs, it was a difficult proposition. So, we took various other steps,” said a high ranking SBI official.

It was at this point that the role of banking correspondents in the rural and semi-urban areas, mobile banking, online banking and point of sale (PoS) cash disbursal became important.

SBI has PoS facility at 3,40,000 merchant locations in total, out of which 2,33,000 POS machines were re-calibrated so that the merchants could provide cash against a debit card swipe. Such merchants could provide cash up to Rs 2,000 in rural and semi-urban areas, while the limit was Rs 1000 for urban areas. These merchants conducted over 10,470 transactions worth Rs 40 lakh during the time the ATMs were closed in country.

SBI is also helping big corporates for salary and other services with its PoS machines. Around 470 vans are running to help such customers with 100-150 more vans to be added to the fleet soon.

On 14 November, RBI announced the constitution of a task force under the chairmanship of the RBI deputy governor SS Mundra, for the re-calibration and reactivation of ATMs

Stressing the fact that “ATMs play a vital role in meeting the currency requirements of the public and have become a major channel for disbursement of cash”, RBI said, “ Re-activation of ATMs extends the availability and disbursal of notes for the customers of banks at convenient time and location in judicious mix of higher and lower denominations.”

According to the RBI press release, re-calibration of ATMs involves multiple agencies – banks, ATM manufacturers, National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI), Switch Operators, etc, and multiple activities making it a complex operation requiring immense coordination among these players.

According to current data, 9,187 ATMs of SBI have been re-calibrated for the new Rs 2,000 note. There are currently 7,725 SBI ATMs dispensing Rs 100 notes as well as the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes.

“The re-calibration process is going on full flow. With more than 2,000 ATMs being currently re-calibrated (till Thursday, the number of functional ATMs touched 13000),” said the SBI official. SBI ATMs have conducted 2.46 crore transactions worth 4,551 crore rupees in the last one week.

In yet another move to ease the pressure on ATMs and bank branches, SBI has reached an understanding with public sector oil companies to provide nearly 3,043 petrol pumps with SBI PoS machines to start dispensing cash against debit card swiped. They will get Rs five per transaction. SBI will replenish the cash to the merchants.

Currently, the average number of transactions conducted through SBI debit cards has increased to 35 lakh daily as compared to 22 lakh before the announcement. It seems that the success or failure of the demonetisation move is currently hinged on the efforts of the public sector bank and its innovative methods of restoring some liquidity to the economy.

First Published On : Nov 18, 2016 18:36 IST

Demonetization: People in northeastern states welcome PM Modi’s move against black money

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The central government’s move to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination currency notes evoked mixed reactions with the common people generally welcoming it in Assam, Tripura, Mizoram and some other places in northeast India.Although markets and other businesses in different parts of the state witnessed low-key activity due to the demonetization, most praised it as a step towards freeing the country of black money.From exchanging the demonetized 500 and 1,000 rupees notes to depositing and withdrawing cash, people were seen in long queues outside cash deposit counters and ATMs in Assam’s Guwahati city after Prime Minister Modi’s decision to ban the existing 500 and 1000 rupee notes that took the entire nation by surprise. Understandably, people had to face problems but they lauded the step of the government. “This is a huge success for the government for us and the entire nation. But the government should have given us time so that people would know the use of money during such hard times. I too have cash with me to deposit but let’s see what will happen. It would be miracle for us if something good happens out of it,” said a local from Guwahati.In the remote north-eastern province of Arunachal Pradesh, ATMs and banks were flooded by people, however, they were of the view that it was a short-term pain for a long-term gain. “Decision is good. For one to two months general people will face great difficulties but that is for time being . I am sure it will reap great benefits for us. It is definitely for the good of the public because these will great difference in the development scenario of the country,” said a local from Arunachal Pradesh. “It is a great initiative undertaken by our PM. Public’s money are all used as black money and not for the welfare of the people but such initiative is helping people to get back their money,” he added.In Manipur, security was beefed up as people in large numbers rushed to the banks to exchange notes and deposit cash. People were allowed to enter the banks in batches for depositing the amount. Patience wore thin after standing in long queues as depositors especially senior citizens were seen lining up since 6 am on Friday morning. “It is good but for people like us who only keep small amount of money for daily use will be very difficult. Now if we need to buy certain things from shops, shopkeepers are not accepting it as the 500 and 1000 notes are no more legal. The decision by Modi is good but abrupt as for common people it has really become a difficulty,” said a senior citizen Robin from Manipur.In Nagaland, security was beefed up outside bank branches as people struggling to buy daily items lined up to get Rs 100 currency notes. “My daughter is getting married this month but we are unable to do any kind of preparations. Shopkeepers are not accepting old notes it is creating great difficulties for us. I am sick. It is really creating problem for us. Could not express my problem in front of anybody,” said a local from Nagaland.In Tripura, people supported Modi’s bold step saying the absence of large-denomination notes will make it harder for people to hoard black money. “For time being some public will be affected of course but as a whole public and country will be benefited. To stop black-marketing this is going on for the last few months. This step is good and perfect,” said a local from Tripura.The government move is part of its efforts to tackle the triple menace of black money, fake currency and terror financing. It will not only curb the menace of black money, but will also help the government in improving its finances which can be used for public spending.

Land conflict: 32 lakh face severe hardship

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Land conflicts, largely related to infrastructure projects, have impacted an estimated 32 lakh people in the country and land disputes have stalled 5,780 projects as of October 2016, two new reports on land related disputes revealed on Wednesday. One report related to land conflicts and the other one related to land disputes and stalled investments, analysed 289 ongoing land conflicts and found that it covered an area of 12 lakh hectares and were spread across 185 districts of the country.The 5,780 projects stalled are those that were ones announced after 2000. The proportion of stalled projects where the investment is greater than Rs 100 crores is 17 per cent. The reports were prepared by Rights and Resources Initiative, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Bharti Institute of Public Policy. Ground research, government records and the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy were the major sources for the report.As per the report, several districts across Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Uttarakhand have more than 10 stalled projects whose worth is Rs 10,000 crore.

Supreme Court to hear petitions challenging demonetization today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear several petitions challenging the government’s decision to scrap Rs.500 and Rs.1000 currency notes. Four Public Interest Litigations (PILs) have been filed against the controversial scheme, which has caused massive upheavals across the nation. The PILs were filed in the apex court questioning the government’s rationale and modus operandi behind the implementation of the drive, as it has reportedly caused inconvenience to the general public.A PIL was filed in the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad by advocate Pusala Venkata Krishnaiah, who alleged that a sufficient time frame had not been given for the transition and it would create unprecedented chaos and panic among the people. The PIL filed challenges the provision that is Sub-Section 2 of Section 26 of Reserve Bank of India 1934 Act claiming that there are no guidelines how to exercise the power available under the section. The petitioner said that time for such a huge change should have been given by the government.Another PIL was filed before the Gujarat High Court which seeks to extend the date of validity for exchanging Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes and also directs private hospitals to accept old currency notes. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday ordered the government to go full ahead with demonetization and ruled out any chance whatsoever of rolling back the scheme.According to sources, the Prime Minister who was chairing the BJP Parliamentary Party executive meeting, told attendees to not buckle under the opposition?s pressure and go ahead with the Centre’s policy. Stating that the opposition was hard at work to sabotage the process of demonetization, the Prime Minister assured that the nation has welcomed the step.The Prime Minister’s assertion comes in the wake of the all-out attack launched by the opposition today, as the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) joined forces in tearing down the scheme of demonetization.

Demonitisation: Modi’s policy of crusading against black money is doing nothing of the sorts

Demonetisation has been touted by the government as the solution to black money and corruption — projecting an image of rooms full of hidden cash as the evil poisoning our economy and society. The misdirection of this policy, its drawbacks policy have been pointed out by Roshan Kishore, Saquib Salim, Prabhat Patnaik, and large sections of the media over the past few days. A broad analysis of what has occurred will help us understand that the policy has two political aims: to give the semblance of crusading against black money while doing nothing of the sort, and to fill the coffers of public sector units and banks (rather than admit their starvation due to lakhs of crores of bad loans. Here’s the analysis:

It is important to know that only 15 percent of cash is in the form of Rs 100 notes, and 85 percent of it is in the form of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Almost instantly the ability of the middle class consumer to make purchases online through Cash On Delivery was taken away, including orders that had been made a few days before the announcement of demonetisation.

Most of the black money that is believed to exist, is in liquid form with majority of the chunk abroad. Further, this definition of black money does not include the erstwhile forms that have over the years now been legalised, normalised or legislated through tax breaks. Billionaires and corporations, thanks to loopholes in laws, have been able to keep nearly all of what they earn.

The “black money” rhetoric also fails to disclose that favours are the main and highest form of corruption, especially at the highest levels — publicly undetectable and legally permissible.

People crowd at outside of a bank in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI

People crowd at outside of a bank in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI

The most important purpose of the forced depositing of currency, according to Janata Ka Reporter, appears to be the dire need to fill Public Sector banks’ coffers in wake of bad loans – to keep them afloat. This route has been seen as more accessible rather than recovering it from the rich defaulter — in effect bailing out the billionaires who squandered public money. If the establishment was genuinely serious about black money, why did it let Vijay Mallya leave?

The many ways in which the government’s decision affects poor people adversely has been well explained in various articles. The father who was saving up for his daughter’s wedding, the many people who have died after collapsing while waiting in lines at the bank or the ATM, the farmer whose agricultural income (non-taxable) is often kept at home for expenditure over a long term, the fact the ATMs are heavily concentrated in urban areas, the fact that hospitals are turning away people in serious need of treatment, the fact that a majority of families are having trouble buying provisions, the fact that people in dire need of cash make journeys outstation to bigger cities only to unsuccessfully attempt to withdraw cash.

What was startling was the fact that the decision to outlaw high currency notes adversely affects the BJP’s own shopkeeper base to no end, with several shops closing for lack of customers. It was also a public shock that the very next morning after the announcement of demonetisation, the Prime Minister appeared in a PayTM ad, a deal clearly inked before the announcement.

This is in addition to the fact that the government approved changes to anti corruption laws that would serve to shield bureaucratic staff from probes, reported in Scroll.

There also appears to be an attempt at starving non-BJP political parties of cash for campaign expenditure before the UP elections. What has also emerged is that several BJP state units deposited vast amounts of cash to the tune of crores of rupees in the days preceding the currency ban, effectively having been given prior notice.

A further end of this policy could be the encouraging of long and short term loans to more people while boosting savings. This would enable the banks to, in the future, gamble with ordinary people’s money by loaning it out to defaulting billionaires, and to, secondly, recover loans far more easily from ordinary people. Further, it would stop the Public Sector Units from going broke as the public sector banks can loan them anything as of now.

Shortly after the outlawing of high currency notes, we can see the rise of exchange touts who would exchange one Rs 500 note for three or four notes of Rs 100. This creates a chunk of black money of its own. There is also concern that this change, and economic and statistical implications, could be used to mask the lack of economic development under the Modi regime.

The announcement came parallel to the US election, and in terms of political diversion, also came with the news that Afspa (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) was extended in Assam by 6 months, and expanded in Arunachal Pradesh by 3 districts.

Ultimately, this demonetisation policy only makes it harder for offenders to spend the black money stashed domestically in cash form fast enough. The culprits in the Panama Papers will go scot-free. The ends appear entirely political. The citizens of India, with consent or without, just bailed the government and the billionaires out. This demonetisation is essentially a move to cover up a larger monetary mismanagement.

The author is a research scholar in modern and contemporary history at Centre For Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 15:48 IST

UPSC won’t issue paper admit cards for civil services main

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>No paper admit cards will be issued for this year’s civil services main examination, scheduled to begin early next month, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has said.The UPSC will be conducting the test at 23 centres from December 3 to 9. The Commission has uploaded the e-admit cards on its website — www.Upsc.Gov.In. “The candidates are advised to download their e-admit cards and take a print-out thereof. The candidates will have to produce the print-out of their e-admit cards at the allotted venue for appearing in the examination.”In case the photograph is not visible or available on the e-admit cards, candidates are advised to carry identical photograph for each session along with proof of identity such as Aadhaar card, voter identity card, driving licence, passport etc. To the venue of the examination. No paper admit card will be issued for this examination by the Commission,” the UPSC said in a public notice.The civil services examination is conducted annually in three stages — preliminary, main and interview — to select officers of the prestigious Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), among others.Candidates have been asked to bring e-admit card print-out in each session to secure admission to examination hall. E-admit card may be preserved till the declaration of written test result, the Commission said. In case of any discrepancy, the candidate may contact UPSC facilitation counter in person or call on — 011-23381125, 23098543 and 23385271.

Delhi pollution: Dy CM Sisodia accuses schools of doing politics over govt’s order

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday accused schools of doing politics over Delhi government’s order to shut them for three days in the wake of alarming levels of pollution and said it has been decided to ensure good health of children.”Schools have been shut due to alarming situation of pollution in Delhi. Some schools are doing politics over it. This decision is in favour of students. Private schools are directed to follow it and not play with the health of children,” he said in a series of tweets.As pollution levels worsened in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today called an emergency cabinet meeting and announced that schools in the city will remain closed till Wednesday. He also announced a raft of “emergency” measures to deal with the situation including ban on construction and demolition activities for next five days and temporary closure of Badarpur Power Plant.While few private schools welcomed the move, there were few who raised concerns about the syllabus of students suffering due to unexpected holidays.”Government cannot order shutting of schools like this. Health is important but we need to focus on finishing syllabus also. Our schools will remain open,” said R C Jain, head of Delhi State Public Schools’ Management Association.While all MCD schools were closed on Friday in wake of the pollution, few schools had declared holiday till Monday and others suspended their morning assemblies or delayed the school timings.

Normal life affected in Kashmir valley for 114th day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Normal life remained affected in Kashmir for the 114th consecutive day on Sunday due to the separatist-sponsored strike over the recent civilian killings and in support of their demand for right to ”self determination”. Although there were no curbs imposed by the authorities, normal activities remained badly affected due to the strike called by the separatists.A large number of street vendors had set up their stalls at the weekly flea market, known locally as Sunday Market here, while fair number of of private cars and auto-rickshaws were seen plying in the city. However, normal life continued to remain affected in the rest of the Valley due to separatist-sponsored strike. Shops, petrol pumps and business establishments were shut, but are expected to open this evening as the separatists have announced relaxation in the strike from 5 pm onwards.Security forces have been deployed in strength at vulnerable spots and along the main roads as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order as well as to instill a sense of security among the people to carry out their day to day activities without fear. The separatists, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation in support of their demand for right to self determination, have been issuing weekly protest calendars since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces on July 8.As many as 85 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.Thousands of youth, including some top separatist leaders, have been arrested by police over the past three months in an attempt to break the impasse.Over 300 people have been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).

UPSC advances next year’s civil service prelims exam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The civil services preliminary examination, to select IAS and IPS officers among others, will be held in June instead of August next year.It is after the gap of three years that Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) will be conducting the examination in June, rather than August.The civil services preliminary examination, 2017, is scheduled to be held on June 18, as per the Commissions’ calender for the examination.The preliminary tests for 2016, 2015 and 2014 were held during the month of August, a senior UPSC official said.”The preliminary exam will be held early in June this year. The decision has been taken to ensure that the entire process of the examination is completed in time,” he said.The preliminary exam for 2013 was held on May 26 that year.The civil services examination is conducted annually by the UPSC in three stages — preliminary, main and interview — to select officers for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), among others.Thousands of candidates take the test every year at various centres across the country.

Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid detained

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid was detained along with several of his supporters after he tried to stage a demonstration outside Civil Secretariat, the seat of Jammu and Kashmir government against the termination of 12 government employees last week. Rashid and his supporters assembled at Jehangir Chowk this morning and started marching towards the nearby Secretariat building but was stopped by police, officials said. The legislator tried to march ahead but was detained along with over a dozen supporters, they said. On October 20, Jammu and Kashmir government announced termination of services of 12 employees for allegedly indulging in anti-national activities after dossiers were prepared against them. The employees, who were dismissed from government service, belong to various departments including Revenue, Public Health Engineering, Rural Development and Education, a senior government official had said.Rashid denounced the government action and announced a sit-in outside civil secretariat to press for his demand for reinstating the terminated employees.

Situation in Kashmir peaceful, but separatist-sponsored strike continue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defying the separatist-sponsored strike, more and more street vendors put up stalls at the weekly flea market around the commercial hub of Lal Chowk in the summer capital which witnessed increased movement of traffic.”More vendors have put up their stalls at the weekly flea market, also known as Sunday market. The market witnessed normal activity,” a police official said. He said there was increased movement of private cars and auto-rickshaws in the city, especially in the civil lines areas, including Lal Chowk, and the outskirts of the city. More shopkeepers were now opening their business establishments and there was improvement in movement of people and transport with each passing day, the official said, adding that many hand cart vendors were also selling goods like fruits, vegetables, fresh juice, tea and snacks at many places along the TRC Chowk-Batamaloo axis in the city.However, normal life continued to remain affected for the 107th straight day today in the rest of the Valley due to separatist-sponsored strike following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8. While there were no curbs on the movement of people anywhere in Kashmir, the official said restrictions on assembly of four or more people were in place throughout the Valley for maintaining law and order.He said security forces have been deployed in strength at vulnerable spots and along the main roads as a precautionary measure. Shops, business establishments and fuel stations remained shut, but are expected to open this evening as separatists have given a 14-hour relaxation in the shutdown from 5 pm. The separatists, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation in support of their demand for right to self determination, have been issuing weekly protest calendars since Wani was killed. The ongoing unrest in Kashmir has affected education as schools, colleges and other educational institutions continue to remain shut in the Valley. The government has notified holding of board examinations as per the schedule next month, but the move has drawn sharp criticism from students and parents who accused it of being insensitive to lack of academic activity due to the shutdown. As many as 85 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. Thousands of youth, including some top separatist leaders, have been arrested by police over the past three months in an attempt to break the impasse. Over 300 persons have been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar to revive his interaction with people from December

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Five months after scrapping his ‘Janata Ke Durbar Mein Mukhya Mantri’ programme, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has decided to revive his interaction with the people in the form ‘Lok Samvad Karyakram’ (Public Interaction Programme) from December, an official said on Friday. The decision in this regard was taken at a cabinet meeting presided by the Chief Minister, Principal Secretary (Cabinet Secretariat) Brajesh Mehrotra said.Under the Public Interaction Programme, Kumar, along with his ministers, will interact with the people and hear their suggestions on first three Mondays of every month, he said. Mehrotra said the public interaction will take place at the Chief Minister’s official residence or at his Secretariat at Samvad or even in the districts.About 50 people will be invited for the interactive programmes, the Principal Secretary (Cabinet Secretariat) said. “A software named ‘Lok Samvad’ has been designed, under which the people can post their suggestions in approximately 200 words or send the same to the Chief Minister and the Cabinet Secretariat or make a presentation in person at the Pubic Interaction Programme,” he said.Shedding light on the agenda of the Public Interaction Programme, he said that suggestions on infrastructure, industries, building and construction, electricity, water, irrigation, etc will be heard on the first Monday of the month. On the second Monday the invited people will be heard on issues like police, general administration, urban and rural local bodies, cooperative.The Chief Minister and his ministers will be given presentation by the people on matters like improvement of health services, education and welfare of weaker sections on the third Monday, Mehrotra said. The exact date for commencement of the Chief Minister’s Public Interaction Programme will be announced in due course of time, Mehrotra said.

Bengaluru steel overpass is anti-citizen, anti-environment and citizens deserve better

Let me tell you why I think the proposed steel flyover project in Bengaluru is illegal, anti-citizen, anti-environment and, evidently, with the malafide intent of some sections of the Government of Karnataka (GoK).

Let me also submit that I belong to the forum named Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), now representing thousands of concerned citizens, with numbers growing by the hour. This argument is a collation of many contributions, particularly owing to legal and analytical citations by Leo Saldanha of Environment Support Group (ESG).

GoK proposes to build a steel flyover starting at the heart of the city, next to Vidhana Soudha, the home of both the legislature and secretariat, from Basaveshwara Circle to Hebbal flyover, with connecting ramps on Race Course Road, Palace Road, Vidhana Soudha Road and Raj Bhavan Road.

Justice Santosh Hegde, director Pawan Kumar, Samyukta Hornad and world champion climber Manikandan Kumarwere seen joining and actively supporting the protests. Image Courtesy: Facebook/Avinash BMJustice Santosh Hegde, director Pawan Kumar, Samyukta Hornad and world champion climber Manikandan Kumarwere seen joining and actively supporting the protests. Image Courtesy: Facebook/Avinash BM

Justice Santosh Hegde, director Pawan Kumar, Samyukta Hornad and world champion climber Manikandan Kumarwere seen joining and actively supporting the protests. Image Courtesy: Facebook/Avinash BM

The project envisages a 6.7 kilometre stretch of a six-lane steel flyover to be built at an estimated cost of Rs 2,200 crores that will save, even by the Government’s own claim, only between 7-15 minutes of travel time, bring down 812 fully grown trees and erase heritage memories along one of the most verdant and beautiful stretches of our beloved city.

GoK, as represented by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the Minister for Bengaluru Development, KJ George, has declared its intent to go ahead with this project in spite of the widest public opprobrium and disgust expressed in newspapers and TV channels, on Facebook and Twitter, and a human chain protest that saw the participation of more than 8,000 concerned citizens on Sunday, 16 October 2016 along the stretch that is proposed for an ugly transformation due of this flyover.

Nearly 35,000 people have signed online petitions against the flyover proposal, over 100,000 tree lovers have opposed the project by giving a missed call to the an organisation named Jhatkaa, a Public Interest Litigation against it has been filed by Namma Bengaluru Foundation in the High Court of Karnataka, and thousands of people are putting their names and signatures on ballot papers across Bengaluru saying ‘NO – BEDA’ to the flyover even as this is being typed out.

The poll ends on Sunday and a final count will be published.

But in the face of such intense opposition to the project, the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) met on 20 October, and decided to issue the work order to the contractor L&T to execute this controversial project. Mr George also told media, dismissing public anger about the project, that he would go ahead with it.

Our grounds for anxiety

1. The proposed project is being undertaken without due consultation process that is to be followed as required by the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1961. The consultation followed by BDA in June 2016 was a sham, with the Government claiming 299 responses by e-mail and telephone calls, of which 73 percent apparently approved of the proposal. The Detailed Project Report, prepared more than a year ago, itself was released only on 15th October 2016, after widespread public protests, with no recourse for pubic opinion. BDA in its original notification on 27th of June 2016 neither specified the details of the project, including loss of green cover, nor the intended public space acquisition. So what were the 219 responses “approving”. The BDA has not revealed what the responses were saying, how many were by e-mail and how many telephonic. Many e-mail responses opposing the idea bounced because a wrong e-mail id was notified by BDA and when the correction was made, the window of opportunity to respond was less than 48 hours.

2. The Government has changed the project after the sham consultation, increasing the cost from Rs 1,350 crores to Rs 1,791 crores. On 19 October 2016, BDA put out a new idea, extending the proposed steel flyover to be above the existing Hebbal flyover, up to Esteem Mall, again without public consultation. This revision has not been approved by Cabinet and GoK is not revealing whether re-tendering is required. In fact, it is amending the project on a day to day basis, and now it seems the cost estimate is at Rs 2,200 crores.

3. The flyover project is an illegal project and in Contempt of several Judicial Orders. In response to a PIL filed by Environment Support Group (WP 13241/2009) against the Metro project, the Karnataka High Court had ruled that “the State Government, as also, the Bangalore Development Authority shall comply with the procedure contained in Sections 29, 30, 31, 32 and 34 of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1962”. The Court had observed that the Counsels for the state and BDA “agree that the provisions referred to hereinabove, shall be complied with, without any deviation whatsoever.” While it was too late to apply this order to Phase I of the Metro, the Court had made it explicitly clear that, moving forward, in case of any violation of this law, and the Court’s direction, “the concerned officer/official shall be held responsible for his having disobeyed the order passed by this Court, as also the prescribed mandate of law.”

4. The prescribed mandate of law per the KTCP Act is that planning and development of urban infrastructure projects and concomitant changes in land use plans must involve the wide public at the stage of conceptualisation, approval and costing. The plans, schemes and budgets are to be put in the public domain and due public hearing processes have to be held to ensure there is no violation of statute or corruption in any form. The Steel Flyover proposal of BDA, pushed through by the Chief Minister, comprehensively fails this test, is being promoted in abject violation of the law and is an act that is clearly in Contempt of Court.

5. The project also qualifies as an Area Development Project per the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. What this means is no work can commence until and unless the project is approved by the Environmental Clearance Authority, and that too based on comprehensive Environment Impact Assessments and Environmental Public Hearing.

6. Another serious statutory violation in aggressively promoting the project is that BDA claims approval of the State Cabinet as a sufficient basis to get going. This is an absolutely wrong presumption. Since the enactment of the Nagarpalika Act, 1992, such projects can only be proposed after due review from economic, social, financial and environmental angles by the Constitutionally mandated Metropolitan Planning Committee, which has been formed already by GoK. Upon the approval of the MPC, the project can then be forwarded by the State Finance Commission to the State Cabinet for final approval, pending other statutory clearances, as cited above. None of these constitutionally mandated provisions have been conformed with in this case.
The project has not been placed before the MPC.

7. The knee jerk idea of extending the flyover beyond Hebbal lake is alarming. It seems that the extension will be right through the lake. This would risk the Karnataka Government being in contempt of the Karnataka High Court order in WP 817/2008 (Environment Support Group and ors. vs. State of Karnataka and ors.), in which the Court protected lakes from any further encroachment and also determined that there would be a “no-development zone” 30m from the legal limits of the lake. That zone would be extended by 2 metres for every 5 ha increase in lake area beyond the initial norm of 40 ha. Such was the concern the Court expressed against encroachment of lakes, that it also specifically directed that even walking paths could not come inside a lake.

8. No permission has been obtained from the Tree Council, set up under the High Court’s order in 2010, for mass cutting of trees. The project should not have been formulated without first debating the loss of greenery it would cause, and that after placing before the public all the viable alternatives and making a case that this steel flyover, and that alone, is the right one. This decision is in the 7th August 2014 direction of the Karnataka High Court in WP 7288/2011, a PIL taken up Suo Moto by the Court in response to serious concerns raised by then Judge of the High Court, Justice Shylendra Kumar, over the mass felling of trees in Bangalore. In this order, apart from many innovative aspects introduced to protect greenery, the Court observed “We deem it necessary to direct that felling of trees would be undertaken as an exception rather than a rule, and further that the tree officer and tree authority would fully satisfy themselves and certify that all other alternatives have been considered regarding the feasibility of the felling of trees. If any objections are received from the public, due consideration shall be given by assigning reasons.”

Several laws and the Constitution are being ignored by the Government in pursuing this project. The project is being pursued in haste. Green and heritage spaces on this road, including the Bangalore Golf Club, Carlton House and Balabrooie Guest House are under imminent threat of damage. The flyover will not only destroy the aesthetic experience of the drive along the stretch, but add to vehicular pollution and is estimated by some experts to raise the heat factor by 2-3 degrees Celsius. It will block out sunlight and prevent air flow. It will affect the health of the residents.

There are other safety and security concerns about the proposed flyover expressed by experts that are relevant to vital installations in the city and to the CM’s residence and Raj Bhavan.

Estimates for the cost of the project with public money as provided by the Governments own officers are far below the cost given in the public domain without inclusion of other costs of acquisition of land and property along its route, a part of which are in the domain of the armed forces.

All of this leads the people who are opposing this flyover to believe that this is both a gross waste of our tax money, and the entire process and costing of the same is not bonafide.

Citizens for Bengaluru will not rest till this tender is cancelled.

President wants House standing panels to look into CAG reports

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday suggested that departmental standing committees should scrutinise CAG reports which could not be taken up by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) due to paucity of time.Government take action on the recommendations of the PAC and submit action-taken notes to the Committee. Inaugurating the 28th Accountants General Conference organised by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mukherjee said a large volume of reports come to Parliament through CAG on all important transactions in the year. But only a small portion of reports are taken up by PAC “simply because of non availability of time”, he said.”Then what would happen to other transactions which are not chosen by the PAC…one idea I am giving to (Lok Sabha) Speaker (Sumitra Mahajan) she can take it up with the government, Prime Minister and leader of the Houses,” he said.Mukherjee said that Parliament could examine whether rules can be modified to allow department related standing committees scrutinise the CAG reports which had not been examined by the PAC. “Of course, there will be a necessity for political consensus and if the Speaker takes the lead…I think it may be possible to have some sort of additional accountability apart from the job which is being done by the PAC,” the President said.The function was attended by Lok Sabha Speaker Mahajan, PAC Chairman K V Thomas and CAG Shashi Kant Sharma.The PAC is constituted by Parliament each year for examination of accounts showing the appropriation of sums granted by Parliament for expenditure of government, the annual finance accounts, and other accounts laid before Parliament. The Accountants General from all over the country will participate in the conference and will review the international best practices prevalent in audit and accounting. The President further said that public expenditure has increased manifold and the scope and range of governmental activities has risen exponentially. At the time of independence in 1946-47, the receipts of government stood at Rs 3,706 crore and its expenditure at Rs 3,443 crore. In 2014-15, receipts and expenditure had both increased to around Rs 17 lakh crore.This unprecedented growth has obviously led to newer paradigms in public financial management, Mukherjee said. “The concept of governance is rapidly changing and leveraging technology would enable the government to effectively reach out to the poorest of the poor.”Increased use of technology platforms would help to ensure that benefits of government schemes and programmes effectively reach the disadvantaged and financially excluded sections of the society,” he said. Mukherjee stated that Albert Einstein had once observed, “It is important not to stop questioning” and he was happy to be present in the precincts of an institution whose job is to question.Speaking on the occasion, Lok Sabha Speaker Mahajan said Goods and Services Tax (GST) is the biggest and most important tax reform to have taken place in the country after independence.This, she said, is expected to completely transform India’s tax administration. “It is quite possible that during the initial phase of implementation of GST, there may be teething troubles. But during such testing times, CAG is expected to examine carefully and give feedback and also guide stakeholders specially that the expected economic benefits of GST are realised…,” Mahajan said.

Jammu Kashmir govt sacks over dozen employees on charges of inciting unrest

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government has issued orders to dismiss over a dozen of its employees for their alleged involvement in the ongoing unrest, a top official said on Thursday.

A massive bout of protests broke out in Kashmiri following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. PTIA massive bout of protests broke out in Kashmiri following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. PTI

A massive bout of protests broke out in Kashmiri following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. PTI

“Reports on their anti-national activities prepared by the state police were forwarded to the Chief Secretary, who then directed respective heads of departments to issue orders terminating their services,” the officer said.

The dismissed employees include an assistant registrar of Kashmir University, besides others from education, revenue, public health, engineering and food supplies.

“The state government invoked Article 126 of the state constitution to carry out the action,” he added.

Authorities said some of the dismissed employees were already booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), while others have evaded arrest.

At least 91 people have been killed and over 12,000 injured in the last 104 days of the ongoing unrest since 9 July, a day after the killing of top militant Burhan Wani.

Traffic grinds to a halt as tussle between Delhi govt and LG Najeeb Jung continues

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi government’s plan to curb traffic congestion and build infrastructure in the capital has been stalled as 400 files from various Delhi government departments are now pending with Lieutenant-Governor (LG) Najeeb Jung. Jung had asked the government to stop work on this in August. The LG has the authority do this as a Delhi High Court order declared him the ‘administrative head’ of the national capital on August 4.The key plans for upgrading the capital’s road infrastructure have been put on hold even as lakhs of commuters suffer every day. The state government had decided to set up a Road Redesigning Cell under the Public Works Department (PWD) for redesigning 11 arterial roads, which link one end of the city to the other. However, the plan is pending approval from Jung.Jung had sought the 400 files towards the end of August to check for ‘infirmities and irregularities.’ He then sent them to be examined by a three-member committee set up in August, comprising former CAG VK Shunglu, former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami, and former Chief Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar. Jung said that the government did not seek his approval on the files.The proposed Road Redesigning Cell focuses on the city’s lifeline, including Ring Road (from Dhaula Kuan to Wazirpur) and crucial stretches including AIIMS to Ashram Chowk, Vikas Marg, BRT Corridor, Naraina Road, Moti-Bagh to Wazirpur (18 km) Trans-Yamuna (from Wazirpur to Rithala metro station), Janakpuri to Sarai Kale Khan and Britannia Chowk to West Enclave, among others. These stretches were to be redeveloped according to standards prescribed under the UTTIPEC and as per guidelines set by the urban development ministry.Officials said the government’s plans for these stretches includes lanes for non-motorised vehicles (NMVs), cycle tracks, greenery, pedestrian-friendly footpaths, toilets, kiosks, CCTVs and well-lit bus stops.”No real work has taken place in the city since 2011. In the years that followed, no new schemes or major projects were announced or taken up. The Delhi government has been a mess all through this year as well. Files pertaining to transfers of even four-grade employees have been sought by the LG. As a result, no major work has been done,” said a senior government official.In other departments, the government’s decision to set up a creative team in the PWD by hiring private consultants, including architects, urban designers and experts, for making concept buildings to house public utilities, has not seen the light of day.”Most of these stretches are wearing out with potholes and unpaved stretches, leading to accidents. All these roads, besides basic repair, require streetscaping. The consultants have submitted the designs, but the file has not come back to us yet. Each file is under scrutiny,” added another senior official from the concerned department.In the education sector, officials say big-ticket fellowships like ‘Changemakers for Education’ and ‘Chief Minister’s Urban Leadership Fellows (CMULF)’, providing opportunities to young leaders, have not come back to the respective departments.On August 30, the LG had asked for over 400 files from the government, saying a number of them violated rules. “After a preliminary scrutiny of these files, we discovered that over the last one-and-a-half years, several decisions taken were in violation of acts/rules with attendant legal and financial implications. It has become necessary to examine them thoroughly and suggest forward action. The committee has been constituted,” the LG’s office said in a statement.Deputy CM Manish Sisodia said, “The LG must dissolve the panel and return all the files immediately to ensure development work resumes.”

March to preserve Delhi’s literary heritage

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Book lovers and heritage enthusiasts organised a walkathon on Friday, where they put forward their demand of promoting and preserving the Hardayal Municipal Public Library in front of the Delhi and Central government. The walkathon was organised to mark the birth anniversary of the freedom fighter Lala Hardayal. It started from the library to the town hall in Chandni Chowk to help promote and initiate a public awareness campaign. The current library building is a British-era building, built more than 150 years ago. While initially, the building was to be used as an English club, it was turned into a municipal library and opened for public use in 1912. “We want to bring to the importance of the building in front of the government, state and Centre and also awaken citizens to come together and discharge their responsibility to preserve this heritage and look after the interests of book lovers by expanding the library,” said Prashant Sharma. a book enthusiast. The organisers said that they also plan to organise a similar event in December to mark the centenary anniversary of the library. According to library officials, the event was organized to make people aware about this historical library and its legacy. “It is essential that people be made aware of this rich heritage which currently lies neglected. We have written for support to the Delhi government and the Union government, to ensure that the library can expand and more numbers of book lovers benefit from it,” said Shobha Vijender, general secretary, of the library. This program was organised to make the people aware and to seek their support for preservation, promotion, maintenance and development, of the historic heritage of Hardayal Municipal (Heritage) Public Library. Meanwhile, Minister of State, Human Resource Development, Mahendra Nath Pandey ensured full support to the library. “The mere presence of this library in the heart of Delhi and the fact that it is visited by a large number of people proves that the relevance of printed books has not decreased among youth despite the popularity of internet and e-books. We are looking into the demands made by the library and will soon make arrangements for preserving it as well as its maintenance,” said Pandey.

Kashmir unrest: Curfew imposed in Valley ahead of Friday prayers

Srinagar: Curfew continued on Friday in interior parts of Srinagar and some other areas as a precautionary measure in view of violence witnessed after Friday prayers last week.

Normal life remained affected in Kashmir Valley for the 98th day due to the ongoing unrest which erupted after killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July.

“Curfew remains in force in five police station areas of downtown (interior city) Srinagar, Batamaloo police station and Sopore town in Baramulla district,” a police official said in Srinagar.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

He said the curbs on the movement of people in these areas have been imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of violence witnessed after Friday prayers last week in which a minor boy had died due to pellet injuries.

The official said while there were no curbs on the movement of people anywhere else in Kashmir, restrictions on the assembly of people under Section 144 CrPc were in force throughout the Valley.

He said security forces have been deployed in sensitive areas to maintain law and order as also to instill a sense of security among the people so that they can carry out their day to day activities without fear.

Movement of private transport and auto-rickshaws was thin in the civil lines areas of the city including around the commercial hub of Lal Chowk where signs of normalcy where seen after the separatists had announced evening relaxation in the strike.

The unrest, which has claimed 84 lives and left thousands of others injured in clashes between protestors and security forces, is in its fourth month as shops, business establishments, petrol pumps and educational institutions remained closed.

Over 300 persons have been booked under Public Safety Act

Farooq Abdullah calls meeting of opposition parties in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>National Conference President Farooq Abdullah on Friday called a meeting of opposition parties of Kashmir to discuss the prevailing situation in the Valley which has crippled normal life for more than three months.”Abdullah has called a meeting of opposition parties and individual leaders to discuss the ongoing situation in Kashmir,” a National Conference spokesman said. He said the aim of the meeting was to find a way out of the situation.Life in Kashmir has come to standstill for the past 98 days due to street protests which erupted after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.The unrest has claimed 84 lives, including two cops, and left thousands of others injured in clashes between protestors and security forces.Shops, business establishments, petrol pumps and educational institutions have largely remained closed.Thousands of youths, including some top separatist leaders, have been arrested by police in an attempt to break the impasse. Over 300 persons have been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).

RWAs appeal to ‘neighbour’ President Mukherjee to save neighbourhood

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A delegation from Citizen’s Alliance (CA), a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), which is fighting to stop a mega mall from coming up in south-east Delhi’s Alaknanda area, recently went to meet President Pranab Mukherjee on September 30 to plead their case. Incidentally, the president also happens to own a house in neighbouring Greater Kailash (GK-II) area, where currently his daughter Sharmistha stays.A delegation headed by Ashutosh Dixit, founder of CA along with Laveesh Bhandari (treasurer), advocate Vivek Sharma (general secretary) and presidents of other Resident Welfare Associations from GK-II, Chittaranjan Park and Alaknanda presented their petition to the president.During the meeting that lasted 15 minutes, the delegation said that the proposed mall being built by Reliance would ruin their neighborhood. They also contended that the proposed site of the mall, would be in a largely residential neighborhood. This was in direct violation of Delhi’s Master Plan 2001 and 2021.Sharma says, “A mega mall of this size (at 7.3 lakh square feet) – touted to be the second largest in the country, can only be located in a District Centre with a minimum area of 40 hectares. The proposed plot size earmarked for the mall in Alaknanda, opposite Kalka Public School, is merely 3.7 acres.”The delegation also contended that if the project came up, this would also lead to an increase in crime, drugs, congestion, water shortage and various other problems.Bhandari, who attended the meeting said, “The president heard us out and read our petition. He asked us relevant questions pertaining to the location of the mall and its impact.”The President’s office has now forwarded the letter to the secretary, ministry of Urban Development for their reference.The CA, who have been fighting the case against the mall, won another small victory in July when a division-bench at the Delhi High Court headed by Justices Bader Durrez Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar directed a committee of the Commissioner (Planning) and the Commissioner (Land Disposal) of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to “examine this matter” and to take a “final and definitive decision within eight weeks.”The eight weeks have since lapsed and there has been no communication from DDA. The August 5 meeting between DDA officials and members of CA was also inconclusive.History of the proposed mall2002: A slum on the proposed land is cleared with the intent to create a playground cum sports facility.2004: DDA allowed for the creation of a mall in direct violation of Delhi’s Master Plan 2001 and 2021.2006: DDA got a traffic study done based on the presumption that a community centre is being builtIn response to an RTI, CA was informed that the Delhi Traffic Study Police based their study on the presumption that a community centre was coming up on the proposed site. The footfalls at a community centre is far less than the expected footfall at a Mega/Hyper Mall.In another RTI filed, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) admitted that they were unaware that the proposed site was opposite Kalka Public School.2008: The plot is sold to Reliance without informing the local community.2012: The local community, now informed of the plans for a mall, start their protest.2013: The Citizens Alliance file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court (DHC) seeking a stay on the construction of the mall.2016: A division-bench at the DHC direct a committee of the Commissioner (Planning) and the Commissioner (Land Disposal) of the DDA to “examine this matter” and to take a “final and definitive decision within eight weeks.”

CVC declines to disclose details of multi-crore CWG scam probe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Vigilance Commission has declined to share details on cases of alleged corruption in execution of the multi-crore Commonwealth Games related projects here, saying it will “disproportionately divert” its resources. The Commonwealth Games which were held during October 3-14, 2010 were marred by allegations of corruption. Various probe agencies like CBI and ED are looking into the cases of alleged graft in the mega sporting event. Replying to an RTI query, the CVC said the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) concerned, SC Sinha, has stated that the information sought is not readily available and it may be available in a number of files, and culling or compiling of information from these files would divert the limited resources of this public authority. “Hence, the information cannot be made available under Section 7 (9) of the RTI Act, 2005,” the CVC said in reply to the RTI application filed by PTI. As per the Section, an information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question. The CVC was asked to provide details on cases of corruption in CWG-related projects being probed by it. “Another CPIOs concerned have stated that the information sought by you pertains to third party, which is exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act, 2005,” the probity watchdog said. The Section bars making public 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 privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies its disclosure. “Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person, the Section reads further. The CVC, which went into alleged irregularities in CWG- related civic and construction projects, has also reportedly found tax evasion of Rs 1,014.60 crore by government departments and private companies. At least 9,000 publicly-funded projects worth several crores were executed by 37 government departments and private companies for the Commonwealth Games. Following allegations of corruption in CWG-related works, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had formed a high-level probe committee, headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General V K Shunglu, to look into it.The Committee had submitted six reports mentioning various instances of large-scale corruption and other lapses.

Clashes in Srinagar after 13-year-old dies in pellet firing by security forces

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tension gripped Srinagar on Saturday after a 13-year-old boy was killed in a firing by security forces, forcing authorities to impose curfew.Junaid Ahmad Bhat of Saidpora was grievously injuries after the security forces opened pellet fire on Friday. He was immediately rushed to Sher-e- Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) in Soura where he succumbed to his injuries early on Saturday morning.Violent clashes erupted in parts of Srinagar after the news of his death spread in the area on Saturday. Youth clashed with forces which used tear smoke shells and lathi charge the disperse the mobs.”Curfew has been imposed as a precautionary measure in seven police station areas of Srinagar city,” the official said here. He said the police station areas where curfew has been imposed are Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal, Maharaj Gunj, Maisuma and Batamaloo.Normal life remains affected in Kashmir since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.The unrest has claimed as many as 83 lives and left thousands injured in clashes between protestors and security forces.The separatists had called for a march to the local UN office on Friday.Some of the top separatist leaders and youths accused of inciting violence have been arrested by police over the past three months. Over 300 persons have been booked under the Public Safety Act.(With inputs from dna correspondent Ishfaq-ul-Hassan and agencies)

J&K: 11 incidents of stone-pelting, curfew imposed in parts of Srinagar again

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Some stray incidents of stone- pelting were reported from various parts of Kashmir on Friday even as curfew was again imposed in parts of Srinagar district and restrictions were put in place elsewhere in the valley in view of call by separatists for a march to the local UN office.Curfew was imposed this morning in seven police station areas of Srinagar district as a precautionary measure, a police official said. The decision was taken as authorities had apprehended violence after Friday prayers. As a result, the roads across Srinagar city wore a deserted look after six days of increased movement of private vehicles.Restrictions on assembly of people were also in force in rest of Kashmir Valley and security forces had been deployed in strength to maintain law and order, the official said. In the evening, a police spokesman said, “During the day 11 incidents of stone-pelting were reported from Srinagar and Baramulla and Sopore in Baramulla district. The overall situation remained by and large peaceful.” He said 56 people allegedly involved in different crimes of creating public disorder have been arrested during the last 24 hours.”Continuing with its efforts to neutralise the activities of the miscreants and hooligans, 56 persons found involved in different crimes of creating public disorder have been arrested,” the spokesman said. Normal life continues to be affected in Kashmir since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.The unrest has claimed as many as 83 lives and left thousands of others injured in clashes between protestors and security forces. Some of the top separatist leaders and youths accused of inciting violence have been arrested by police over the past three months. Over 300 persons have been booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

DD’s slot sale policy hits a roadblock, applications may be invited the third time over

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Public service broadcaster Doordarshan’s ambitious slot sale policy for auctioning prime time slots of DD National has hit a road block for the second time, with all the three applications received being rejected by the selection panel for the second time on technical grounds.DD’s umbrella body Prasar Bharati had pegged the policy as the last hope for Doordarshan to break even its losses and bring transparency in the functioning of the public broadcaster.Sources say Prasar Bharati is likely to invite applications for the third time over after the selection panel rejected three applications from production companies over allegedly ‘flimsy’ technical grounds, even though many Prasar Bharati board members are against it.”This constant non-cooperation from DD and the ministry is a major reason why Prasar Bharati chief Jawhar Sircar sought a pre-mature retirement,” an official said, adding that Sircar will, however, quit clearing the policy this month end.But even if it is cleared, its implementation remains doubtful.A DD source alleged that the slot sale policy is being deliberately derailed by DD officials.”When applications were invited for the second time, none of the earlier seven production houses rejected for the first time were asked to reapply, which is always the norm. Moreover, Doordarshan has not cleared dues of producers worth crores, which is discouraging many of them to send their applications,” a DD official said.dna had earlier reported that the public service broadcaster is yet to clear dues of producers of around Rs156 crore, which includes producers like Ramesh Sippy and Balaji Telefilms.Earlier, the panel had rejected seven production companies who had applied to participate in the bidding process of the slots, including big names such as Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms, Optymistix and Cinevista.The reasons included non-submission of incorporation certificate and other documents.Prasar Bharati had liberalised the existing norms of the slot sale policy in the Prasar Bharati board meeting allowing film production companies to also bid for the slot sale auctions as well.Earlier, only the production houses with an experience in Hindi general entertainment programming were entitled to bid for the auction.The revised policy also entails that a production house will be considered eligible to participate in the e-auction if it has a turnover of a Rs.3 crore per annum as against the earlier Rs5 crore per annum, in each of the past three financial years.The new policy has also reduced the programme hours of the companies to 200 hours from the earlier criteria where the applications were required to have 300 hours of general entertainment programming experience that would include feature films in the last three calendar years.Doordarshan has incurred additional losses to the tune of Rs309 crore this financial year as compared to the last financial year. A senior official said that the earlier SFC scheme contributed to the losses in Doordarshan.Meanwhile, Doordarshan has extended the shows under the SFC schemes, almost all of which have garnered extremely poor TRPs.

Madhya Pradesh: Katni-Chopan passenger train derails at Marwasgram

Tue, 4 Oct 2016-09:23pm , Bhopal , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The engine and a coach of Katni-Chopan passenger train derailed at Marwasgram station in east Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday. No one was injured in the incident.The 51675 passenger train jumped off the track after overshooting a signal at Marwasgram between Katni and Singrauli at 2.55 AM, West Central Railway’s Chief Public Relations Officer Surendra Yadav said. He said no one was injured in the accident. The train resumed its journey at around 5.17 AM after being put back on the tracks which had not suffered any damage, he said.Yadav said the train driver was taken off duty and his blood sample was sent for medical tests. Another driver took charge of the train. Further investigation is on.

Varanasi wakes up to smart city mission

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two-and-a-half years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was declared winner from Varanasi, the city languishing in its past glory is waking up to a smart plan, as announced by the Urban Development Ministry here on Wednesday.The new Rs. 2,500 crore plan will cover the old city around River Ganga, which was not included in the earlier heritage city plan, invoking severe criticism, that the government was targeting only VIP areas, and to make new VVIP localities. “As per the plan, Rs 1,659 crore will be spent on area development and Rs 618 crore on pan-city solutions. The rest will include technical and administrative expenses and other contingencies,” said a ministry official.Since 31% of Varanasi’s population resides in the old city, accounting for 7% of the city’s geographical area and 38% of city’s GDP, the new plan focuses on developing the old city with Ganga as its pivot and areas around the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The administration claims to have sought suggestions from four lakh residents before finalizing its plan.Under the new scheme, the centre plans to convert the ancient city also known as Kashi into Suramya (appealing), Samunnat (socio economic growth), Sanyojit (allowing hassle free movement) and Nirmal (clean).With 65 lakh tourists visiting the city each year, “The idea is to make Varanasi a tourist friendly city, providing easy and safe access, safety, cleanliness and hassle free traffic movement,” said the official.Under the Heritage City Development Scheme, the centre has been funding roads, sewage and other infrastructure projects in Varanasi. Restoration of façade and buildings along the ghat are a part of the Heritage scheme.For a total repackaging, smart city mission will ensure, rejuvenation of ghats and temples, ensuring supply of power and water, waste management, improvement of waterways, developing of 11 parks, smart multi-level parking spaces, cultural-cum-convention centre, Kahsi Kala Dham, Town Hall, Silpi Haat, Centre of Excellence with Hall of Fame, light and sound show, night bazar, rejuvenation of water bodies, pedestrian pathways, non-motorised transport, energy efficient streets, lighting, underground cabling, and improved sign boards.Offering Sanyojit solution, Varanasi Municipal Corporation will be providing optic fibre connectivity across the city, online payment of utility bills and service delivery, intelligent traffic management systems including GPS on buses, e-booking of boats, guides and taxis. CCTV based monitoring and surveillance, e-Suvidha centres, information delivery on Mobile Apps are also part of the smart Varanasi solution.While the Centre and states have been pooling in funds for Varanasi, a part of funding is also to come from the Public Private Partnership Model (PPP). In addition to the support from central and state government, costs of Varanasi’s smart city proposal are to be met with resources of Rs1,290 crore through convergence of various schemes, Rs505 crore from the Corporation’s own resources and Rs.140 crore from PPP.

IIT Kanpur’s placement drive to begin from December

Popular companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, many Indian firms and Public Sector Undertakings can be expected to join the recruitment drive. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The first round of the placement drive of IIT Kanpur’s 2016-17 academic session will begin in Kanpur from December 1 to December 22. Around 1,200 students have registered for the first round of the placement drive, university officials said.According to the placement cell sources, the first round will see around 300 foreign and Indian companies and Public Sector Undertakings in the placement drive. The second phase will take place between February to April 2017, they said.Popular companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, many Indian firms and Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) can be expected to join the recruitment drive, the administration said. The registered students are being given tips to brush up their communication and interview skills. IIT Kanpur’s placement drive for the previous academic session of 2015-2016 saw 90 per cent placement rate, officials added.

Right to Services Act silent on punishments, non-delivery

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the BJP-Shiv Sena led government has been able to provide 369 services online through the Right to Services (RTS) Act, the punitive provision for not providing services in the stipulated time and fixing responsibility are yet to be worked out.Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday launched 163 more services online under RTS in Mumbai. He announced that Nagpur has become the first digital district in the state with all gram panchayats going digital. With 163 more services online, Fadnavis said that his government has provided all 369 services of 24 departments online through the Aaple Sarkar portal.Fadnavis said that, henceforth, no citizen would be required to physically travel to mantralaya or any government office for these services. He said people can also apply for grievance redressal through the Aaple Sarkar portal. All villages in the state would be connected digitally by December 2018 and the government would be starting the Aaple Sarkar service centre in every village.However, the provision for punishment for non-delivery of service still eludes the state. It was the BJP’s election manifesto for the 2014 assembly elections that had envisaged RTS as one of the important promises. The manifesto committee had borrowed the concept from the Madhya Pradesh RTS Act, which has won accolades at the international level. That Act has a provision for financial punishment for bureaucrats who fail to provide services within the stipulated time-frame.BJP state unit spokesperson and member of the manifesto committee, Madhav Bhandari, says he would insist on fixing responsibilities and punishment for not providing services on time.What are the servicesBirth and death certificates, marriage registration certificate, land records and related registration, deemed conveyance certificate, driving licence application, renewal of licence, Shop Act-related licences, solvency certificate, senior citizen certificate, caste certificate, registration of partnership firms, registration of trust unde Bombay Public Trust Act, NoCs for petrol pumps, hotels etc, licence for amplified sound system use, character certificate, registration of vehicles, transfer of tenement and all other important certificates or permissions or licences can be availed through online applications by using Aaple Sarkar portal.

Infants to be recognized under Aadhar at birth

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Public health department’s hospital at Nagpur will witness the launch of the Government’s pilot project which will grant children the unique identity number at birth as part of the Government’s effort to universalise and promote Aadhar.The Aadhaar-linked birth registration project will be linked to the child’s birth certificate and will also help those under the age of 18 to register themselves as Aadhar card holders. While the Centre plans to universalise Aadhaar by March 2017, a review in August revealed that around 1.19 crore under the age of 18 years in Maharashtra are yet to be registered for it.Dr Archana Patil, Additional Director of Health Services, told dna that they would soon launch the Aadhaar-linked birth registration at the public health department’s Daga memorial hospital in Nagpur. “Our team conducted pilot testing,” she said, adding that they were ready for a rollout. This will be linked to the civil registration system (CRS) which registers births and deaths online. The children will be photographed and their details will be entered using tab-based enrolment kits.Patil added that the Daga memorial hospital saw around 15000 births take place annually and then planned to eventually cover them under the Aadhaar-linked birth registration process.To expand this initiative further, more tabs will have to be provided to other hospitals and institutions like district hospitals and primary health centres (PHCs) where births also take place.The state government is also undertaking tablet-based enrolment in government hospitals (district and sub-district hospitals) and the public health department will issue instructions to private institutions for procuring tablets.A senior public health department official said that “We will take the Aadhaar numbers of the parents and enrol the child. The biometrics of the child will have to be captured at the age of five years and 15 years,” stating that the enrolment number (EID) of the child would be recorded in the birth certificate. Details like the name of the child can be updated within the year.The medical institutions under the ambit of the Maharashtra public health department see around 11 lakh births take place annually. Maharashtra sees around 98% institutional deliveries and the CRS has a reporting efficiency of up to 96% for births and about 20 lakh births were registered in 2015. Sources said there were plans to launch a similar pilot project for Aadhaar-linked birth registration in Mumbai.A universal roll-out of the unique identity cards will help the Centre’s plans to push the trinity of Jan Dhan-Aadhaar and mobile (JAM) to enable social security, delivery of welfare schemes and financial inclusion.The state government’s directorate of information technology has already procured 3929 enrollment kits and plans to deploy 4400 tablets for registration in anganwadis and schools. Around 3900 of these Android-based tabs will be procured for the women and child development department and used in anganwadis.Maharashtra will establish 4000 permanent enrollment centers (PECs) with one such PEC for every 25000 population in urban areas and one per revenue circle in rural pockets. Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) sources said tabs could also be deployed to cover private hospitals.Aadhar in numbersState: MaharashtraApproximate population: 11.89 croreAadhar numbers generated by Mid-August: 90.41%Registered above 18 years of age: 99.94%UIDAI Coverage0-5 years : 41%5-18 years: 81%

Pakistan rejects India’s claim of ‘surgical strikes’ across LoC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Thursday rejected India’s claim of a ‘surgical strike’ across the Line of Control (LoC), saying that the incident was ‘cross-border fire’.”There has been no surgical strike by India,instead there had been cross border fire initiated and conducted by India which is existential phenomenon. As per rules of engagement same was strongly and befittingly responded by Pakistani troops,” said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in its press release.”The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by Indian to create false effects,” the release said.ISPR also said that this quest by Indian establishment to create media hype by rebranding cross border fire as surgical strike is fabrication of truth. “Pakistan has made it clear that if there is a surgical strike on Pakistani soil, same will be strongly responded,” release added.Addressing media, DGMO Lt Gen Ranveer Singh said that India conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads last night across the Line of Control (LoC) and inflicted significant casualties and heavy damages.Singh also said that India shared with Pak army details of the surgical strikes which followed ‘very specific information’ that terrorists were positioning themselves in the launch pads along the LoC.

Kashmir unrest: Curfew imposed in Kishtwar town after stone pelting incident

Kashmir unrest: Curfew imposed in Kishtwar town after stone pelting incident


Jammu: Curfew was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar town in the wee hours on Sunday after three persons were detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) triggering stone pelting.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Curfew was imposed in Kishtwar town and other nearby areas around 0400 hours today as a precautionary measure”, SSP Kishtwar, Sandeep Wazir told PTI.

He said three persons were detained last night in Kishtwar in connection with attempts to disrupt peace.

After they were detained, some persons in the area resorted to stone pelting, police sources said.

This forced the district administration to impose curfew, the sources said.

Those detained under PSA have been identified as Abdul Qayoom Molvi, Saif-I’d-din Bhagwan and Farid Ahmad Bagwan.

Why I filed an RTI query about our government’s preparedness for a zombie invasion

(Editor’s note: This writer’s RTI application about how our government would handle a zombie or alien invasion went viral on social media this week. But as he explains, it wasn’t a frivolous query, there was a point being made. Read on.)

There was this wonderful BBC radio programme, Yes Minister, that was later adapted into a TV series. I used to watch it on VCD, growing up.

In the opening episode, there’s this exchange between the minister’s principal private secretary Bernard Woolley, the ministry’s permanent secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby, and the permanent secretary to the cabinet Sir Arnold, on the subject of the right of the public to know what their government is up to:

Bernard: But, uh, what’s wrong with open government? I mean, why shouldn’t the public know more about what’s going on?
Sir Arnold: Are you serious?
Bernard: Well, yes sir. It’s the minister’s policy after all.
Sir Arnold: My dear boy, it’s a contradiction in terms. You can be open or you can have government.
Bernard: But surely the citizens of a democracy have a right to know.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No. They have a right to be ignorant. Knowledge only means complicity in guilt; ignorance has a certain dignity.

Which brings me to the subject to the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) and the RTI request that I filed with the Ministry of Home Affairs in March last year asking if we were prepared for an invasion by aliens and zombies.

Over the last week, I’ve been asked to explain myself by various people who know me and people who don’t know me, as though I was a schoolboy who asked his headmaster an impertinent question. I figured, instead of giving off the cuff remarks here and there to various publications, why not set the record straight here, with this publication, one that is kind enough to frequently publish my past argle bargle.

An RTI filed by this writer about our government's preparedness to deal with a zombie or alien invasion went viral on social mediaAn RTI filed by this writer about our government's preparedness to deal with a zombie or alien invasion went viral on social media

An RTI filed by this writer about our government’s preparedness to deal with a zombie or alien invasion went viral on social media

I’m going to talk about five things that I feel are quite important about this entire issue:

1. The Cause

So here’s why I did it. It was an act of protest, a simple act of non violent, and in my view at that time, patriotic protest. I live in Mumbai and back in March 2015, they had just banned beef and the home ministry had just banned a documentary on the Delhi gangrape case. Now I wasn’t for the ban but I thought the documentary was ill-timed.

What did worry me, was why the Home Ministry was was wasting time engaging on the documentary issue when there were churches being vandalised in New Delhi and a 71-year-old nun was raped in West Bengal. What shocked me more was in February, we saw them actually crack down on people who were protesting these attacks on churches. All this, while a man was being lynched by a mob in Assam because he was accused of rape, and there were genuine fears of reprisals against people of Northeastern descent. The entire “intolerance” fiasco that started in March and somehow thankfully died down (the GST Bill passed finally, yay!) was a complete waste of the government’s time and to a certain extent was kept alive by the government because they engaged with it on some level and failed to engage with it on others.

Look, I’ll be honest, I actually was a big fan of this government, I still am. I think, this government is the best shot India has at a bright and prosperous economic future, but to see the Home Ministry waste public time on nonsense like a Channel 4 Documentary, a matter which is best left for the press to sort out or the court to censor and block if it is in the public interest, while there were serious issues of national importance to deal with, does cause one to get quite annoyed with one’s government.

2. The Means

Filing a frivolous RTI is like casting a protest vote in an election. Since India introduced EVMs, the spirit of the protest vote has been lost. Ideally, it involves spoiling the ballot paper. Writing in a name like “Shaktiman” or “Donald Duck” to protest the fact that you’re unhappy with the quality of candidates that are there or you think the electoral process is unfair. But you can only vote once in five years and you really don’t get replies if you write angry letters to your minster or MP (though I do encourage you to keep trying) and neither does the ministry have a customer care number.

There is where the RTI can also serve as a vehicle to lodge a simple, non-violent, peaceful and private protest with your government, as is your right. You don’t even need to explain the purpose.

Just like a spoiled ballot, as a citizen, I chose to express my dissatisfaction with the way my government was conducting itself in this manner. I paid the fee and therefore I did not “waste” anyone’s time. It would be a waste only if they were doing it without a fee. I paid for someone to read my application, apply their mind to it and draft a reply to my application. If my tax money can go to the Central Board of Film Certification making a list of banned swear words (What I’d pay to be a fly on the wall in the meeting where they came up with that list!) I think it’s perfectly all right for a Public Information Officer to have to reply to my RTI application in exchange for a fee.

3. I shouldn’t be asked to explain myself and neither should you

The whole purpose of the RTI — and here’s where Sir Arnold and I differ — is that I think the right to information is vital to the functioning of a citizen democracy and in order for this right to be effective, it must require that citizens don’t have to explain themselves when they seek information from their government. The government is our servant and not the other way around. We owe no duty to explain to it why we seek information from it, as all information held by the government is held by it on our behalf, in trust. So we must have access to it at all times. Just like a banker cannot ask you why you want to check your account statement — especially in this case as it is your own bank, if I may be permitted to use that analogy! So I fail to see why the government or the public can ask me to approach the government or public officials with a degree of reverence or chastise me for wasting their time when they do nothing but waste mine. India’s Kafkaesque bureaucracy is not deserving of reverence and any person who has had experience dealing with it should be able to attest to the same.

4. They don’t like answering uncomfortable questions via RTI

Do you remember the whole Bharat Mata Ki Jai controversy? So when that happened I actually wondered if “Bharat Mata” was a protected emblem by the Government of India and if there was any direction asking us to say the same. I also wondered if there was a difference between “Bharat Mata” and “Jai Hind”. Worse, since everyone was being branded as “anti national”, I wanted to know if there was a certificate course I could take to prove my patriotism. I filed an RTI asking them this question. They denied me this information. They didn’t say no. They said this information was outside the scope of the RTI Act. Which is funny, because they were simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ questions and the ministry has answered ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ questions in the past. Obviously the minster of state for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju won’t tweet that application (although it is also online) as a waste of time (wonder why!).

My queryMy query

My query

The government's responseThe government's response

The government’s response

The same thing with the ministry of External Affairs — I filed an RTI asking them a simple set of questions concerting treaties that India is party to. I asked them if we have treaties with the Arab States allowing employers there to confiscate passports of Indian citizens who go there to work. The Treaties division is in Delhi, so I did file it at the right place. But instead of answering questions one and two they told me to apply to each consulate in each country in the Persian Gulf! If replies like this keep coming, the RTI ends up becoming a generally useless mechanism.

screenshot 3screenshot 3

My RTI query

The government's responseThe government's response

The government’s response

5. The information is public, lives are at risk if this is the case

They’ve started this process of uploading RTI requests (unreacted) along with the replies. While they claim this is in the interest of transparency, no useful purpose other than intimation can be served by uploading full applications complete with full names, address and mobile numbers on the websites of the ministry. In fact if you go the ministry of Home Affairs website, you can search for an RTI application by just giving a person’s full name. You don’t even need to give that RTI number to find it. I’m all for transparency and in fact I would have found it perfectly sporting had the government uploaded my RTI online but with my telephone number and address redacted. But they have not done this and if anyone has filed an RTI in the past they are also vulnerable to this.

This is how easy to track down who has filed an RTIThis is how easy to track down who has filed an RTI

This is how easy to track down who has filed an RTI

However, the fact is it’s a far more secure system to actually track an RTI application than it is to view a disposed off one online. Another example of a Kafkaesque procedure. While, my RTI may be a ‘frivolous joke’, there are a lot of serious people using the RTI to expose scams and effect some serious change. Putting their RTI details online, risks and compromises their security. This is utterly irresponsible behaviour on the government’s part and all of us should be concerned about this. Who’s going to ask for information to expose a scam if you have to do it in front of the scamster, eh?

So it’s funny, but it’s also not that funny. I guess that’s what you get with open government.

Also, before anyone calls me “anti national” for doing and saying all this, I’m willing to swear an oath of allegiance to this government and the Prime Minister on affidavit if that helps everyone take what I’ve said seriously. Bharat Mata Ki Jai!

Chennai techie murder: Probe transferred to a special team of city police

Chennai: The investigation into the murder of a 24-year-old woman IT professional in full public view at a railway station in Chennai was on Monday transferred to a special team of city police hours after the Madras High Court warned of suo motu intervention if there was any slackness in the probe.

The Tamil Nadu government made the submission about the transfer in the probe after a bench comprising Justice S Nagamuthu and Justice V Bharthidasan posed tough questions and summoned the Public Prosecutor to clarify a news report about alleged lack of coordination between Railway and city police in investigating the case.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Appearing before the bench, Public Prosecutor S Shanmuga Velayudham said the case had been handed over to a team of Nungambakkam Police headed by an Assistant Commissioner.

“The DGP has passed an order transferring the investigation to Nungambakkam police. A team has been constituted, and it is headed by Assistant Commissioner of Police KPS Devaraj. The Deputy Commissioner is monitoring investigation, Cyber Crime and CB-CID are also assisting the investigation and a total of 25 police personnel are working to crack the case,” he said.

The bench said it was satisfied for the time being (with the government’s response) but cautioned the state, saying, “We will give two days’ time. If we feel there is slackness after two days, we will take suo motu proceedings after Chief Justice’s concurrence.”

The victim, Swathi, employed with IT major Infosys, was allegedly hacked to death by an unidentified man on a platform in Nugambakkam railway station here while waiting to board a suburban train on her way to office around 6.30 am on 24 June.

Earlier, Justice Nagamuthu lambasted the Police for not taking any steps for nearly two hours after the murder even to cover up the body of the woman.

“Where were your police officers? Two hours on a platform. Even a dead person has got right to dignity under the Constitution. Even after death the girl’s dignity cannot be denied. Why it was lying like an exhibition for more than two hours? It speaks volumes. Why it should take so much time for police to complete the formalities?” he asked.

The judge also asked the PP as to when the case was transferred for which the latter replied it was done today.

Wondering whether the decision to transfer the case was taken after the court’s observations in the morning, the judge said, “The occurrence took place on Friday. Today is Monday, no breakthrough till now.

“The issue appeared in newspapers and was debated very widely in the media. I have gone through various newspapers. They have reported that there is no coordination and that there is infighting,” Justice Nagamuthu said.

Denying the lack of co-ordination, the PP said the City Police Commissioner and the DGP visited the Spot.

Observing that the railway police was under the control of state government, the Bench said, “You should have immediately transferred the investigation… like justice, must not only be done, but also should appear to be done. We only express our concern. Justice must be ensured to the family.”

The judges also asked the PP why there was no CCTV in the Railway Station. The PP responded that instructions had now been given for installing the CCTVs at all railway stations.

Justice Nagamuthu observed “to induce one’s thinking, we made one person to lay down her life.”

Quick resolution to pension issues, central ministries to be linked online to Pension Tracking System: Govt

All Central government ministries will soon be connected to an online system to ensure quick grant of pension and check any delay in its disbursal.Besides, the Centre has decided that all Pension Payment Orders (PPOs) will be digitised. Addressing a conference of pensioners association, Union Minister Jitendra Singh suggested an institutionalised mechanism to make good use of the knowledge, experience and efforts of retired employees which can help in the value addition to the current scenario.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”All central ministries and departments will be linked to the online Pension Sanction and Payment Tracking System Bhavishya very soon,” he said.
ALSO READ EPFO to provide higher pension to members deferring benefit till 60With this step, the pension release will be expedited and it will also help in quick resolution of pending issues, the Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, said. Singh said India has a large number of pensioners and to make best use of them is a “challenge”.”Retired employees are a healthy and productive workforce for India and we need to streamline and channelise their energies in a productive direction. We should learn from the pensioners’ experience,” he said addressing the 28th Standing Committee of Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA) here.
ALSO READ Finance Ministry announces Pension saving scheme for NRIsSingh said that a focused approach and emphatic attitude need to be developed towards the pensioners.Earlier, C Viswanath, the Secretary, Department of Pension and Pensioners Welfare, and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, directed that the Pension Payment Order (PPOs) be digitised.
ALSO READ EPFO may soon allow members to contribute for pension schemeThe online Pension Sanction and Payment Tracking System Bhavishya’ has introduced transparency and accountability into the pension sanction and payment process, thereby helping eliminate delays and bring satisfaction to the retiring employees and pensioners.The system keeps retiring employees and administration informed of the progress of pension sanction process through SMS and e-mail. In the year 2015-16, the scheme was scaled up and will eventually cover all 9,000 Drawing and Disbursal Offices (DDOs) in the country, the Secretary added.

Infosys techie murder: High Court summons Tamil Nadu public prosecutor

Madras High Court summoned Tamil Nadu Public Prosecutor and directed him to give his clarification on a media report alleging lack of coordination between Railway Police and local police on the probe into the murder of a 24-year-old woman IT professional at a railway station here.Taking serious view of the report, a division bench comprising justices S Nagamuthu and V Bharathi Dasan asked Public Prosecutor S Shanmuga Velayutham to verify from the authorities concerned whether there was non-coordination between departments and give his clarification on the matter by 3 PM. If it was found that there was non-coordination, court will have to suo motu monitor the case, the judge said. Justice S Nagamuthu, who lead the bench, while taking serious view of the statement of City Police Commissioner that the case will not come in the jurisdiction of the city police, asked the PP whether there is any truth in it.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The police official had stated that though it will not come under their jurisdiction, they will cooperate with the Railway Police into the investigation of the case. The judge said the court has a social responsibility to monitor these types of cases.
ALSO READ Chennai: Infosys employee hacked to death in broad daylight at railway stationSwathi, employed with IT major Infosys, was allegedly hacked to death by an unidentified man on a platform in Nugambakkam Railway Station here on June 24. She was waiting to board a train on her way to office around 6.30 AM when she was murdered. The judge, while referring to another incident of acid attack on a woman in Puducherry some years back, also said the Supreme Court had already issued several guidelines regulating sale of acid and asked whether these guidelines were scrupulously followed or not.

Watch: Panaji mayor Surendra Furtado, officials fall into creek

An accident case and a complaint have been filed in connection with yesterday’s incident in which Panaji mayor and some other officials fell into the St Inez creek during a weeding machine demonstration.While the police registered an accident case in the incident yesterday, social activist Aires Rodrigues today filed a complaint against Corporation of City of Panaji Mayor, Surendra Furtado for allegedly acting recklessly, endangering human lives and damaging public property. The complaint has been filed under sections 280, 287, 304 (A) read with 511 of the IPC and section 3 of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act-1984.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A photo-op yesterday turned into a major embarrassment for Furtado, landing him into murky waters literally, when a weeding machine he had climbed on along with other officials during a demonstration in a creek for media-persons turned turtle due to overloading. However, nobody was injured in the incident which occurred when the mayor took it upon himself to explain to media persons the use of a newly-introduced weeding machine to clean St Inez Creek, a water body running through the capital city.”We have already registered an accident case in the mishap. The inquiry is in progress,” Police Inspector Siddhanth Shirodkar said. Watch: Panaji Maor Surendra Furtado and other officials fall into the St Inez creek during a de-weeding drive.

Wifi in east Delhi by year end: AAP government

The Aam Aadmi Party government on Friday said over 500 locations across East Delhi will be made high-speed wifi zones by December 2016, allowing access to free internet till a specific limit daily, one of their a key poll promises.Vice-chairman of Dialogue and Development Commission (DDC) of Delhi Ashish Khetan said the Wifi limit would suffice the average daily usage requirement under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) rules. The project would be implemented by the Delhi IT department, for which tenders would be floated soon.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to Khetan 120 people can access Wifi at a time through each of the 1000 hot spots of the country.Khetan said that 3,000 more access points will be added if needed.”The tender will have details of free data usage limit. The benchmark would be average data usage by an individual per day as defined by TRAI,” Mr Khetan said.He said the Public Works Department is the nodal agency for the optic-fibre project, which he said was an essential pre-requisite for a smart city. Work has started in this regard, he added.

If you call yoga Indian, then you must call gravity European: Spiritual leader Sadhguru Vasudev

Yoga, even though it originated in India, does not belong to the country anymore and became India’s gift to the world when the UN proclaimed the International Day of Yoga, renowned spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev has said.”We must understand that yoga is not an Indian (thing). If you want to call yoga Indian, then you must call gravity European,” Sadhguru said at a panel discussion organised on Monday by India’s Permanent Mission to the UN on the eve of the second International Yoga Day.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sadhguru said even though the idea of commemorating the International Yoga Day was mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it was “almost like the world was waiting for it” when 177 nations supported the UN resolution proclaiming June 21 as International Day of Yoga.Yoga is “not about you versus me. This is why I said yoga is not Indian because a science cannot be Indian. Yes, yoga originated from India and as Indians we are proud of it but it does not belong to India,” he said during the panel discussion ‘Conversation with Yoga Masters’ that also featured Tao Porchon-Lynch, 97-year-old Yoga Master and activist.”The very fact that the UN has declared it as International Yoga Day means India has gifted it (Yoga) to the world. It does not belong to India anymore,” Sadhguru said.Underlining that yoga must be understood as a science and the practice is not about “bending and twisting”, he told PTI that the most important thing is to release yoga from stereotype that it is a physical practice. Sadhguru, the founder of Isha foundation, said people assign specific times and days to do yoga but he does yoga 24 hours a day.”Anytime time is yoga time. If you bring that dimension, release it from its physical practice and bring it into a state of experience of life, that’s when it will become universal,” he said.”It’s not a yoga culture, it’s a yogic science. I am insisting on it being as science and technology because you don’t have to believe (in yoga), you just have to learn to use it. Like any technology, if you learn to use it, it works for you,” he said.With the UN proclaiming an international day for it, yoga now belongs to everybody and all the Indian teachers and gurus must understand that they have to remove the cultural elements attached to yoga.”However attached they may be to those cultural elements, they should keep that aside and teach yoga as a science and as a technology. This is most important because only then will it be internationally relevant,” he said.India’s Permanent Mission to the UN in association with the UN Department of Public Information will commemorate the second International Yoga Day with a special event today at the UN Secretariat Circle in front of the UN headquarters. President of General Assembly Morgens Lykketoft is the Chief Guest at the event.

984 graduates, 5 MPhil candidates apply for porters’ posts in Maharashtra

As many as 984 graduates and five MPhil degree holders have applied for the five ‘hamal’ (porter) posts in Maharashtra, a senior official on Monday said. The minimum educational qualification for the post is just fourth standard pass.”We have received applications from 2,424 candidates for the five ‘hamal’ posts. They include 5 MPhil holder, 9 PG diploma holders, 109 diploma holders and 253 with PG degree,” Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) Secretary Rajendra Mangrulkar told PTI on Monday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The exam for the class D post is likely to be conducted in August, he said. Among the applicants,984 are graduates,605 HSC (class12), 282 SSC (class 10) pass candidates, and 177 below SSC. MPSC had advertised for these posts in December 2015. The age limit for the posts is 18-33 years.In the written test, candidates will be examined for their linguistic ability and basic maths skills.

Centre to award tech-savvy teachers

The state education department had recently been seeking details of teachers who are technology-savvy and make use of the same in their classrooms. Now, the central government has decided to recognise the teachers who make use of technology while teaching and reward them.In a recent circular issued by the Central Board of School Education (CBSE), a national award for teachers for the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education has been introduced. The Government of India will now thus felicitate those teachers who have effectively enhanced teaching by integrating technology-supported learning into the school curriculum. The government has instituted a total of 187 ICT awards under the HRD ministry for teachers of all boards. The CBSE schools have received the circular on the same and have to send in entries before July 31.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the circular, each felicitated teacher will be awarded with a laptop and a commendation certificate. Raj Aloni, principal, Ramsheth Thakur Public School, said: “We receive this circular from the CBSE every year. We will see if we can send in some entries this year.”

Rajasthan Class X results 2016: Boys outshine girls; overall pass percentage 75.89

Boys outperformed girls in the Secondary examination in Rajasthan, the results of which were declared on Sunday. The results were announced by Minister of State for Education Vasudev Devnani at the office of the Board of Secondary Education here.The overall passing percentage in the state stood at 75.89. The passing percentage for boys was 76.02 compared to 75.70 for girls, Secretary of the Board, Meghna Choudhry, said. The Minister said 167 students of various schools shared 15 positions in the merit list. Of them, 13 students are of government schools.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tanisha Vijay, student of Mahaveer Public Senior Secondary School, Sawai Madhopur secured first position with 99.17 per cent marks. Tushar Sharma of Tagore Public Senior Secondary School, Sikri in Bharatpur district stood second with 99 per cent marks.Deputy Director Rajendra Gupta said 10,51,105 students had appeared for the examination and among them, 7,97,672 passed.

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