India en Fri Aug 21 11:52:07 IST 2020 kolkata-metro-resumes-services-after-over-five-months <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Metro rail services in Kolkata resumed on Monday after a gap of more than five months, a senior official said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The regular services were suspended on March 23 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Special trains, however, were run for NEET aspirants and their guardians on Sunday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Services resumed at 8 am and around 12,900 people commuted till 4 pm," Kolkata Metro Railway General Manager Manoj Joshi told PTI.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The last trains from the originating stations on both sides will commence their journey at 7 pm and complete it by 8 pm," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Joshi said all safety protocols including social distancing are being followed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A train is halting at a station for 30 seconds instead&nbsp; of the previous duration of 20 seconds to avoid rush during boarding and deboarding, a Metro Railway spokesperson said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A total of 110 services are being run on the Noapara-Kavi Subhash line at an interval of 10 minutes during peak hours, she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, 72 services are being run on the East-West line between Sector V and Salt Lake Stadium stations, the spokesperson said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The services will remain suspended on Sundays for the sanitisation of rakes and stations, she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Commuters can book their tickets online and download the e-passes or use smart cards, the spokesperson said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The e-passes mention the departure and destination points along with time slots.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sandeep Tewary, a middle-aged commuter, said he faced difficulty in downloading the e-pass to board a train at Sovabazar metro station.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Young executives like Aparna Maity, however, felt that the no contact ticketing system is ideal in the present situation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another commuter, Kinshuk Basu, said, "This a welcome change. Everything was so smooth and the staff was cooperative. I hope this continues in the future. We cannot do without Metro services."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Metro Railway has decided to allow a maximum of 400 passengers on a train to avoid over-crowding.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Passengers will have to wear masks covering their mouth and nose and sanitise their hands before boarding a train, another Metro Railway official said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They will have to undergo thermal screening while entering a station, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Metro Railway authorities have urged elderly people and children, besides those with fever, cough and cold, not to undertake the journey.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Special services were run for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) candidates and their guardians between 10 am and 7 pm on the previous day.&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 14 19:58:57 IST 2020 ugc-net-exam-postponed--to-be-conducted-sep-24-onwards <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Ministry of Education's testing agency on Monday postponed the National Eligibility Test (NET) after its dates were clashing with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) exam.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The NET was scheduled to be conducted from September 16 to September 25. It will now be conducted September 24 onwards.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The National Testing Agency will be conducting ICAR exams on 16, 17, 22 and 23 September. In view of that, UGC- NET 2020 Examination will now be held from September 24 onwards," said Sadhana Parashar, Senior Director, NTA.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"This is due to some common candidates in both exams and the requests received thereof. The exact schedule of subject-wise and shift-wise details will be uploaded subsequently," she added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The June 2020 exam along with various other exams had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown. The new schedule for various exams was released by the NTA in the last week of August.&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 14 19:20:23 IST 2020 centre-will-soon-announce-an-economic-package-for-jandk-lt-governor-manoj-sinha <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, on Monday, said a financial package to revive the economy of Jammu and Kashmir would be announced by the Centre in a week.</p> <p>Addressing a press conference in Srinagar, Sinha said the committee that was formed to prepare a report over the revival of business in Jammu and Kashmir has submitted the same to the Centre which is actively looking into it. “The report is under consideration with the government of India and a big announcement was on cards within a week”, he added.</p> <p>The Lt Governor said the package would be the first ever to cover not only the ailing sectors, but also the sectors that have suffered in the Union territory. He pointed out that businesses in Jammu and Kashmir have been suffering not just in the past one year, but for the past 15-20 years.</p> <p>Speaking about the alleged killing of three Rajouri labourers in an encounter by the Army at Ashimpora in Shopian on July 18, Sinha said the incident is being probed at two separate levels and his administration will ensure justice in the case. “I will ensure that there is no injustice,” he added.</p> <p>About inconvenience caused on the highways because of the movement of security forces convoys, Sinha said he will talk to the media about the issue very soon.</p> <p>He said public darbars at divisional and sub-divisional levels will be held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners will listen to the grievances of people and ensure timely redressal.</p> <p>“This will be on a rotational basis,’’ he said. In the first week, divisional commissioners will attend darbars at divisional levels, and on the next Wednesday they will remain present at sub-divisional levels.</p> <p>He said after three months, similar darbars will be held at the block level as well. Sinha further said the 'Back to Village Programme-3' will begin after Gandhi Jayanti on October 2.</p> <p>He also announced Rs 10 lakh for each panchayat for developmental works. “ The aim is to make every village in Jammu and Kashmir a model village,” Sinha said.</p> Mon Sep 14 18:16:35 IST 2020 mamata-announces-monthly-allowance-free-housing-for-brahmin-prie <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced a monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 and free housing for more than 8,000 poor Sanatan Brahmin priests of the state.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The decision was taken ahead of the assembly polls in 2021.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We had earlier provided land to the Sanatan Brahmin sect to set up an academy at Kolaghat. Many priests in this sect are financially weak. We have decided to help them by providing them with an allowance of Rs 1,000 per month and also free housing under the state government's housing scheme," Banerjee said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Congratulating people on the Hindi Diwas, she also said that her government respects all languages and does not have a linguistic bias.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We respect all languages. We have decided to form a new Hindi Academy. We have also decided to set up a DalitSahitya Academy. Dalits' languages have&nbsp; influence on the Bengali language," she told reporters.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 14 17:48:25 IST 2020 prashant-bhushan-files-review-plea-in-sc-against-his-conviction <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against its judgement convicting him and imposing a fine of Re 1 for criminal contempt of court. Earlier, while depositing the fine with the apex court registry, Bhushan said paying of the token fine does not mean that he had accepted the verdict.</p> <p>"Just because I'm paying the fine does not mean I have accepted the verdict. We are filing a review plea today. We have filed a writ petition that there must be an appeal procedure created for conviction under contempt," Bhushan had told the media.</p> <p>The top court convicted Bhushan and directed him to apologise after it found that two of his tweets amounted to contempt of court. Bhushan, however, refused to offer an apology, saying what he had expressed represented his bona fide belief which he continued to hold.&nbsp;</p> <p>Following this, the bench headed by Justice (retired) Arun Mishra asked Bhushan to deposit the fine by September 15, failing which he would have attracted a jail term of three months and debarment from law practice for three years.</p> <p>Bhushan said that he has received contributions from several corners of the country for paying the fine, and a "truth fund" will be created out of such contributions to provide legal aid to those who are prosecuted for dissenting opinions.</p> <p>"The state is using all means to silence voices of dissent. The ‘truth fund’ will be used to protect the personal liberty to those persons who face the State's persecution", said Bhushan who was accompanied by a group of people from Rajasthan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Inputs from PTI</p> Mon Sep 14 17:10:46 IST 2020 govt-s-timely-decisions--lockdown-prevented-37-38-thousand-covid <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The national lockdown prevented lakhs of cases and several thousand deaths, Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said in his suo-moto statement in the Parliament on Monday. In his third briefing for the members of the house on COVID-19—the first two were in February and March—the health minister said that the lockdown prevented &quot;14–29 lakh cases and 37,000–78,000 deaths”, even as he informed the members of the several steps taken by the government to manage the epidemic. The four months of the lockdown were used to create additional health infrastructure, enhance human resource and produce within India critical elements such as PPEs, N-95 masks and ventilators, he added.</p> <p>The harsh nationwide lockdown has been criticised by several independent experts, though, who have said that far from breaking the chain of transmission, the lockdown hurt the poor and their livelihoods and caused severe economic distress. Cases have continued to rise, and the health infrastructure has been left wanting in several cities and towns hit by the virus, experts say.</p> <p>Some of the worst hit states in terms of cases and deaths have been Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Bihar, Telangana, Odisha, Assam, Kerala and Gujarat, Vardhan told the Parliament. &quot;All these states have reported more than one lakh cases. With our endeavor to manage COVID-19 through a whole of government, whole of society approach, India has been able to limit its cases and deaths per million to 3,328 cases per million and 55 deaths per million population respectively, which is one of the lowest in the world as compared to similarly affected countries,&quot; the minister said.</p> <p>Vardhan said that many of the epidemiological parameters such as mode of transmission, sub-clinical infection, the period of virus shedding, role of immunity, are still being researched. &quot;Once a person is exposed to the infection, the disease may develop anytime between 1-14 days. The main symptoms of COVID are fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing. In our country about 92 per cent of the cases are reported to be having mild disease,&quot; he said. About 5.8 per cent of the cases have required oxygen therapy, and in 1.7 per cent cases, the disease may be severe enough to require intensive care, he added.</p> <p>Lakhs of citizens had been kept under surveillance—as of September 11, a total of about 40 lakh persons have been kept under surveillance, and &quot;extensive contact tracing&quot; of all positive cases is regularly being undertaken through disease surveillance network, the minister said.</p> <p>The four months were utilized to create additional health infrastructure, enhance human resource and produce within India critical elements such as PPEs, N-95 masks and ventilators. Dedicated isolation beds have been increased by about 36.3 times, and dedicated ICU beds over 24.6 times of what existed in March 2020, the minister said. &quot;As on 12th September, 2020, a total of 15,284 COVID treatment facilities with 13,14,646 dedicated isolation bed without oxygen have been created. Also, a total of 2,31,093 oxygen supported isolation beds and 62,717 ICU beds (including 32,575 ventilator beds) have been created,&quot; he said.&nbsp;</p> <p>On clinical management of the disease, Vardhan said that no specific antivirals have been proven effective so far and symptomatic treatment for fever and cough, appropriate rehydration, supplemental oxygen therapy remains the mainstay of treatment. However, he added that in India, the drug hydroxychloroquine had been &quot;re-purposed for mild (but high-risk cases) and for moderate cases&quot;.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;This was done with limited scientific evidence but well acknowledging that this drug has been used widely in India for other ailments where it is used for prolonged periods of time with a good safety profile,&quot; he said. &quot;In addition, provisions for investigational therapies have also been made for using Remdesivir, Convalescent plasma and Tocilizumab for managing severe cases under close medical supervision.&quot; The department of pharmaceuticals had increased the production of drug hydroxychloroquine, manifold. As on September 11, 2020, the health ministry had issued 10.84 crore tablets of hydroxychloroquine to states/UTs. India has also exported it to more than 140 countries.</p> <p>In COVID-19, however, HCQS has been proven to show no benefit—randomised controlled trials in several countries including the RECOVERY trial have shown that the drug shows no benefit in patients of COVID-19. Remdesivir has shown to reduce the length of stay, while studies on plasma therapy in China, India and Netherlands have shown no significant benefit for COVID-19 patients.</p> <p>Vardhan said that 13 clinical trials including that of repurposed drugs and traditional knowledge were being done to build a portfolio of therapeutic options for COVID-19 patients. &quot;Phase 2 clinical trial of immunomodulator Sepsivac has been completed successfully. Phase 2 clinical trial of the first-ever phytopharmaceutical ACQH is underway. One prophylactic trial of Aswagandha and three trials of guduchi and pippali; yashtimadhu; and polyherbal AYUSH drug (AYUSH-64) are planned on moderately ill COVID-19 patients,&quot; he said.</p> <p>More than 30 vaccine candidates are being supported which are in different stages of development, three candidates are in advanced stages of Phase I/II/III trials, and more than four are in advanced pre-clinical development stages. &quot;COVID-19 Biorepositories have been set-up, which have collected more than 40,000 samples which have been made available to researchers and industry for developing diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;We have now moved from &quot;managing travel related cases&quot; to containing clusters and large outbreaks due to local transmission to wide spread of infection to urban, peri-urban and rural areas. This would require concerted effort by the government with people’s participation to prevent large scale morbidity and mortality,&quot; the minister cautioned. &quot;Equally crucial is to maintain the success achieved in management of reproductive maternal and child health, vaccine preventable diseases, non-communicable diseases, tuberculosis, vector borne diseases such as kala azar and malaria.&quot;</p> Mon Sep 14 19:16:16 IST 2020 will-kangana-ranaut-add-star-power-to-bjps-bihar-poll-campaign-fadnavis-clarifies <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is overseeing the BJP's election campaign in Bihar, clarified that the party will not be fielding Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut as one of its campaigners in the poll-bound state.</p> <p>The BJP leader said the saffron party does not need a star campaigner as it has Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is the party's biggest star and "the nation's superstar."</p> <p>Fadnavis was campaigning in Katihar of Bihar when he was reportedly asked if the party would bring in the Bollywood actor, in the midst of a controversy over her remarks of comparing Mumbai to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, to add star power to the campaign.</p> <p>"We need no other star campaigner as the NDA has, in Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the biggest star campaigner," the former Maharashtra chief minister was quoted as saying.</p> <p>Ranaut, who is being seen as sympathetic towards the saffron party, have been targetting the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government over the death of Sushant Singh Rajput. The stand-off escalated when Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) moved to demolish the ‘illegal construction’ at her Mumbai office. Sena was also irate over the home ministry move to provide Y-category security cover to the actor.</p> <p>Fadnavis also took a dig at Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray saying the chief minister appears to be more interested in fighting the Bollywood actor than tackling the skyrocketing COVID-19 cases in the state.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 14 17:26:12 IST 2020 centre-opposition-lock-horns-over-agriculture-reform-bills <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Amid protests from the farmer bodies, and certain political parties, the Union government introduced three bills replacing the three ordinances for the agricultural sector, in Lok Sabha, on Monday. These ordinances were brought in by the Modi government during the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>The first day of Parliament was an eventful one, as proceedings were held keeping social distancing in mind. All the 359 MPs who attended the first day proceedings, were tested before the start of the session, of which 17 Lok Sabha members were tested positive. On the first day, the Lok Sabha passed two Ayush ministry bills—The National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019, and The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019.&nbsp; The government also introduced Banking Regulation Amendment Bill, Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, in Lok Sabha.</p> <p>The bills, which are expected to generate much heat are the agriculture reform bills. The new bills do away with the APMCs and Essential Commodities Act, and instead replace them with fresh terminology.</p> <p>Union Minister of Agriculture &amp; Farmers’ Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar, introduced The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, while Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food &amp; Public Distribution, Raosaheb Patil Danve, introduced The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, in the Lok Sabha.</p> <p>Tomar said the bills will enable barrier-free trade in agricultural produce, and also empower farmers to engage with investors of their choice.</p> <p>The Congress and other parties are opposing the bills saying such a move will not be in the interests of the farmers as they will kill the protective provisions in the APMC Act, and minimum support price. The farmer bodies are agitating saying that the changes will benefit the big corporates, and farmers will lose in the long run.</p> <p>The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, seeks to provide for the creation of an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers' produce. This seeks to facilitate remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free inter-State and intra-State trade and commerce of farmers' produce outside physical premises of markets.</p> <p>This bill will replace the APMC Act under which farmers could sell their agri-produce in the notified APMC market yards. The farmers were also restricted to sell the produce only to registered licensees of the state governments.</p> <p>“This legislation is a historic-step in unlocking the vastly regulated agriculture markets in the country. It will open more choices for the farmer, reduce marketing costs for the farmers and help them in getting better prices. It will also help farmers of regions with surplus produce to get better prices and consumers of regions with shortages, lower price,” the government statement said.</p> <p>Another key bill is the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. “This will remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations. The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into agriculture sector,” the government said.</p> <p>To help the private sector to go into the agriculture sector, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, seeks to provide for a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, large retailers for farm services and sale of future farming produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price framework in a fair and transparent manner.</p> <p>This legislation aims to transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmer to the sponsor and also enable the farmer to access modern technology and better inputs. It also aims to reduce the cost of marketing and improve income of farmers.</p> Mon Sep 14 19:08:19 IST 2020 harivansh-re-elected-as-rajya-sabha-deputy-chairman <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Janata Dal (United) leader and NDA candidate Harivansh was re-elected as the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha on Monday. The election took place by voice vote on the first day of monsoon session convened amid restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>Earlier, BJP leader J.P. Nadda moved a motion for electing Harivansh as Deputy Chairman of the upper house, while Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad moved the motion to elect RJD’s Manoj Kumar Jha to the post.</p> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Harivansh, calling him an “outstanding umpire who belongs to all sides of the aisle”.</p> <p>“Harivansh Ji has made efforts to ensure productivity and positivity are on the rise in Parliament. He is a torchbearer of democracy, hailing from Bihar, a land known for its democratic ethos. It is Bihar that has a close link with JP and Bapu’s Champaran Satyagraha,” Modi said.</p> <p>Harivansh was first elected to the post on August 8, 2018. He was re-elected to the upper house after his term ended in April 2020.</p> <p>A post graduate in economics, Harivansh had earlier served as the chief editor of Prabhat Khabar.&nbsp;</p> <p>The BJP has 87 members in the Rajya Sabha, and the NDA numbers add up to more than a hundred. The election to the deputy chairman post had become a Bihar vs Bihar contest after the opposition decided to field Jha.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 14 18:31:44 IST 2020 how-diplomats-celebrated-hindi-diwas <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>“Ek din meri Hindi bahut achi hogi [One day my Hindi will be perfect],” says German Ambassador Walter J. Lindner, in a video put out on Monday to celebrate Hindi Diwas.</p> <p>Move over Yoga day; there is a new way to prove your Indophile credentials, courtesy Twitter on Hindi Diwas.</p> <p>Lindner who had engaged a tutor for Hindi even before he took up his post in India has used Twitter to post his progress in the language. On Monday, Linder tweeted Hindi Diwas wishes in Hindi and thanked his teacher Prahlad Kumar. &nbsp;He is not the only ambassador in India who has chosen to go beyond embracing the culture—Linder has travelled across the country and enthusiastically uses his social media account to publicise Delhi tourist spots—by learning an Indian language. The Polish Ambassador to India Adam Burakowski also speaks chaste Hindi. Burakowski, who is a true-blue lover of everything Indian, including Hindi movies—he claims he watches one nearly every day--tweeted from Mussourie: “Hindi bhasha bahut bahut sundar hai'' (Hindi is a beautiful language).” &nbsp;Burakowski has also translated Sadaat Hasan Manto's poems from Urdu into Polish.</p> <p>Ritva Koukku-Ronde, the Finnish Ambassador to India, tweeted: “Namaskar, Aap sabhi ko meri taraf se #HindiDiwas2020 ki bahot shubhkamnaye. Aaiye aaj hum saath milkar Hindi bhasha aur uske sahitya ka jashn manaye. Dhanyawaad.” &nbsp;[Best Wishes for Hindi Diwas. Let's celebrate Hindi literature together]. Going beyond just tweeting, the Finland Embassy in India is celebrating this day with some of the best works of Indian literature.<br> <br> At a time when language politics is heating up, the Hindi Diwas—a day to celebrate Hindi as one of the official languages—the day is being observed with renewed Twitter frenzy. Envoys posted in India are not the only ones tweeting to celebrate the day, but Indian missions abroad too—like in the case of Yoga day—are doing their bit.</p> <p>In Myanmar, where there is a considerable Hindi speaking community, there was a poetry competition. But for the most part, Indian missions across the world demonstrated the power of Bollywood. As the Indian Embassy in Lebanon demonstrated with videos from Lebanese singing Hindi songs.<br> <br> But it was also a chance for India in the Arab countries to use this opportunity to promote Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reach-out mission. The consulate in Dubai chose to celebrate a word in Hindi and its translation in English and Arabic to find common words in both languages. While pushing Hindi has largely been seen as the BJP's agenda, viewed through the prism of saffronisation, the World Hindi Day—a day celebrated abroad—on January 10, was introduced by the UPA.</p> <p><br> Under Modi, however, the use of Hindi—especially at world forums—has increased to make it about being the language of a more assertive India. Former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj always chose to speak in Hindi. In the Parliament, Swaraj once stated that India was ready to bear all expenses, up to Rs 400 crore, to make Hindi one of the official languages of the UN.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 14 17:06:58 IST 2020 same-sex-marriages-not-recognised-by-our-laws-society-and-values-centre-to-delhi-hc <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Centre, on Monday, told the Delhi High Court that marriage between same sex couples was "not permissible" as it is not recognised by "our laws, legal system, society and our values".</p> <p>The submission was made before a bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan by Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta during hearing of a PIL, seeking a declaration that same sex marriages be recognised under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) and Special Marriage Act.</p> <p>Mehta opposed the relief sought in the petition saying "our laws, our legal system, our society and our values do not recognise a marriage, which is a sacrament, between same sex couples".</p> <p>He said the plea to grant recognition to or permit registration of such marriages was "not permissible" for two reasons—firstly, the petition was asking the court to legislate and secondly, any relief granted "would run contrary to various statutory provisions".</p> <p>"Unless court does violence to various laws, this cannot be done," he added.</p> <p>Mehta also said under the HMA, the various provisions regulating marriages or prohibited relationships talk of husband and wife and therefore, who would be assigned these roles where a same sex couple was concerned.</p> <p>The bench observed that the world over things were changing, but it may or may not be applicable to India.</p> <p>It, however, questioned the need for a PIL in the instant case, saying the people who claim to be affected are well educated and can themselves approach the court.</p> <p>"Why should we entertain the PIL," it added.</p> <p>The counsel for the petitioner stated that the affected people were not coming forward themselves as they feared reprisals and therefore, a PIL was preferred.</p> <p>It asked the lawyer appearing for the petitioner, Abhijit Iyer Mitra, to give details of the persons who were not permitted to register their same sex marriage.</p> <p>With the direction to place these factual aspects before the court, the bench listed the matter for further hearing on October 21.</p> <p>The petition has contended that despite the Supreme Court decriminalising consensual homosexual acts, marriages between same sex couples was still not possible.&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 14 16:42:20 IST 2020 delhi-police-seek-10-days-custody-of-umar-khalid-in-riots-case <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Delhi Police on Monday sought 10-days custody of <a title="Ex-JNU student leader Umar Khalid arrested in connection with northeast Delhi riots" href="">former JNU student leader Umar Khalid</a>, arrested under the stringent anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in a case related to the communal violence in northeast Delhi in February.</p> <p>Khalid was presented before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat through videoconferencing.</p> <p>Khalid was arrested on Sunday night in the case.</p> <p>Police said he needed to be confronted with huge amount of data.</p> <p>In the FIR, police has claimed that the communal violence was a "premeditated conspiracy", which was allegedly hatched by Khalid and two others.</p> <p>The students have also been booked for the offences of sedition, murder, attempt to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and rioting.</p> <p>Khalid had allegedly given provocative speeches at two different places and appealed to the citizens to come out on streets and block the roads during the visit of US President Donald Trump to spread propaganda at international level about how minorities in India are being tortured, the FIR alleged.</p> <p>In this conspiracy, firearms, petrol bombs, acid bottles and stones were collected at numerous homes, the FIR claimed.</p> <p>Co-accused Danish was allegedly given the responsibility to gather people from two different places to take part in the riots, police alleged. Women and children were made to block the roads under the Jafrabad metro station on February 23 to create tension amid the neighbourhood people, the FIR said.</p> <p>Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.</p> Mon Sep 14 16:26:38 IST 2020 row-erupts-over-tmc-mps-personal-remark-on-fm-sitharaman <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The BJP has sought an apology from TMC MP Saugata Roy after the latter made a personal comment comparing Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's greying hair to the worsening state of Indian economy in Parliament on Monday. The Dum Dum MP was making a statement on the Banking Regulation Amendment Bill and arguing against it in the Lok Sabha when he threw a personal remark at Sitharaman, implying that the nation's economic condition had increased her worries.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The remarks created a furore with several members objecting to the comment which, Speaker Om Birla, said would be expunged. The finance minister, in her defence of the Bill, referred to the comment and said: "If only Saugata Roy could listen instead of making remarks on other factors."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Union Minister Pralhad Joshi demanded Roy's apology for the comment. "Commenting on personal attire... Being a senior member, what is he talking about? He should apologise unconditionally. It is an insult to womenfolk," the Parliamentary Affairs Minister said in the Lower House.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier on Monday, the Lok Sabha adopted a motion to do away with Question Hour and private members' business during the monsoon session of Parliament. The Congress-led Opposition slammed the move, calling the Question Hour as the "golden hour of the House".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The monsoon session, which is being held amid the COVID-19 pandemic, will continue till October 1.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Mon Sep 14 16:07:13 IST 2020 hindi-a-unifying-force-for-whole-nation-for-centuries-amit-shah <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said India's linguistic diversity is its strength as well as a symbol of unity, and the new education policy provides for parallel development of <a title="Voices against Hindi imposition grow louder in Tamil Nadu" href="">Hindi</a> and other Indian languages.</p> <p>In a series of tweets and a video message in Hindi, on the occasion of Hindi Divas, Shah said Hindi is an unbreakable part of Indian culture and it has been an effective and powerful medium of national unity and identity since the freedom struggle.</p> <p>"A country is identified by its border and geography, but its biggest identity is its language. The various languages and dialects of India are its strength as well as a symbol of unity. In India, which is full of cultural and linguistic diversity, Hindi has been a unifying force for the whole nation for centuries," he said.</p> <p>The home minister said the greatest strength of Hindi is that it is scientific as well as known for its originality and simplicity.</p> <p>"With the new education policy of the Modi government, there will be parallel development of Hindi and other Indian languages," he said.</p> <p>Shah appealed to employees of government offices, banks and other institutions to use Hindi as much as possible along with local languages.</p> <p>"Today, on the occasion of Hindi Divas, I salute all those who have contributed to its empowerment. I also call upon the countrymen to take a pledge to contribute more in the protection and promotion of Hindi along with their mother tongue. My best wishes on the occasion of Hindi Divas," he said.</p> <p>Shah also appealed to people to take steps to attract the younger generation towards Hindi and urged the parents to speak to their children in Indian languages.</p> <p>Referring to the ongoing fight against coronavirus, he said India has been successful in its fight against the pandemic under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.</p> <p>He also appreciated the state governments in their active cooperation in combating COVID-19.&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 14 14:42:12 IST 2020 busy-with-peacocks-says-rahul-in-dig-at-pm-over-rise-in-covid-cases <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the rise in COVID-19 cases, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said the government had asked people to become <i>aatmanirbhar </i>(self-reliant)&nbsp;which means they should save their lives themselves as the prime minister was busy with peacocks.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gandhi has been critical of the government over the handling of the COVID crisis and accused it of failing to tackle the situation. The government has dismissed all such claims in the past.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a tweet, Gandhi said coronavirus infections will cross 50 lakh this week and active cases will surpass 10 lakh.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Unplanned lockdown is the product of one person's ego and because of it coronavirus has spread throughout the country,&quot; he said in the tweet in Hindi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Modi government said become 'Aatmanirbhar' (self-sufficient) which means save your life yourself because the PM is busy with peacocks,&quot; the former Congress chief added in a clear reference to a recent video showing the prime minister feeding peacocks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India's COVID-19 case tally crossed 48 lakh on Monday with 92,071 new infections being reported in a day, while the death toll climbed to 79,722 with 1,136 people succumbing to the infection in a span of 24 hours.&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 14 12:51:42 IST 2020 opinion-time-to-revisit-contempt-laws <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Now that the hurly-burly’s done and the battle has been lost and won, it is time to turn our attention to the elephant in our courtrooms—the contempt of court.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But first, a word on what the country has been through these last few weeks: A contempt of court petition is moved against Advocate Prashant Bhushan and, after spending many precious hours on arguments and hearings, the Hon. Supreme Court convicts him. So far so good. But then we see the Supreme Court requesting, almost entreating, the offender to kindly tender an apology to it so that it can avoid punishing him.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bhushan then takes the high moral stand and refuses to apologise, declaring like Mahatma Gandhi that he would willingly accept any punishment the court handed down, but his conscience will not permit him to apologise. The country then waits to see Bhushan being made an example of and taken in chains to Tihar, Delhi’s Tower.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, that would have made him a greater star than he already was, with the addition of the halo of martyrdom. So the court instead asks Bhushan to pay a fine of just one rupee.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The elephant had delivered a mouse.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Did the court punish the offender? Yes. Did the court punish the offender? No.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One rupee is a very trivial amount for anyone, and certainly for Bhushan, a crorepati many times over, as I believe most senior advocates in our superior courts are. The only real difficulty that Bhushan would have in paying the amount would be to find a Re 1 coin. It would be difficult these days. Even shopkeepers give you two toffees when they must give you a rupee back as change. So, two toffees should get Bhushan off the hook.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Is the contempt of India’s Supreme Court worth only one rupee? That would be a sad reflection on the judiciary. Or did the court overstretch itself in the matter of contempt?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This “crime” and its “punishment” has rightly triggered a wide debate. The Supreme Court held Bhushan guilty of contempt because his tweets were based on “distorted” facts. Would the conclusion have been different if it were true? Would his tweet still fall within the realm of criminal contempt, if they were, indeed, facts? A bare reading of Contempt of Court Act, 1971 would show that even a tweet based on facts would still be criminal contempt.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is strange. Is the law of the contempt of court attempting to hide truth? <i>Suppressio Veri</i> is <i>Suggestio Falsi</i>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Section 2I of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 defines Criminal Contempt to mean the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which: (i) scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or (ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or (iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This definition is prone to wide interpretation as recognised by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of S. Mulgaokar (1978) 3 SCC 339. The laws of contempt, therefore, need to be revisited striking a balance between upholding the majesty of the courts and administration of justice, and the natural, primordial, basic, inherent and inalienable right of freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The fundamental right of freedom of expression juxtaposed with the right to fair and legitimate criticism that an individual possesses should not be stifled. On the contrary, a strong effort should be made by the courts themselves to protect it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Supreme Court highlighted this, in the case of Brahma Prakash Sharma 1953 SCR 1169, drawing a distinction between what constitutes libel on the judge and what constitutes contempt of court. The court rightly held therein that, “it is not by stifling criticism that confidence in courts can be created”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Every Indian has an inalienable right to a fair justice delivery system. Such right is omnipresent in with the Constitution which places the individual at the forefront, guaranteeing civil and political rights. Not only the State but the Judiciary also should be accountable to the individual.&nbsp; To argue that the judiciary cannot be subject to fair and legitimate criticism would undermine the rights of the citizen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This reinforces the argument that the law of contempt needs to be revisited, granting the citizen the right to question motives, if any, as this would indeed deepen democracy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In western democracies, the law of contempt has evolved substantially. In the United Kingdom for instance, the judiciary was recently dubbed by some tabloids as “You Old Fools”, “Enemies of the People”. But no action of contempt was initiated against them, though doubtless such comments are excessive. The courts judiciously and sensibly ignored the stories. Dogs bark when elephants walk. But elephants walk on.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Former US president Theodore Roosevelt raged against the dissenting opinion of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in the case of Northern Securities, declaring “I could carve out of a banana a judge, with more backbone than that.” And President Donald Trump recently called District Judge Jon S. Tigar, an “Obama judge”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Have such statements undermined the American judiciary? On the contrary. Such freedom has only deepened democracy, apart from strengthening the justice delivery system. As Chief Justice John Roberts declared, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As he further observed that criticism comes with the territory and that, “all members of the court will continue to do their job, without fear or favour, from whatever quarter”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These statements apply as much to the Supreme Court of India as to the United States. Thus, even the most powerful men in the world cannot in any manner destabilise the foundations of our courts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The contempt laws of India are archaic and need to be revisited. These laws should protect the citizenry from any possible disquieting inclination of any institution (including the judiciary) from silencing criticism or dissent, apart from protecting such dissenters from harassment and intimidation. “An enforced silence would probably engender resentment, suspicion, and contempt for the bench, not the respect it seeks”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is what the courts in India would indeed desire, respect that is earned and not forced.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(With inputs from Sherry Oommen of the High Court of Kerala on legal aspects of contempt of court)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>M.P. Joseph, (former IAS) is an ex-UN and Indian Civil Servant</b></p> <p><i>The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK</i><br> </p> Mon Sep 14 16:05:39 IST 2020 farooq-abdullah-to-attend-parliament-for-1st-time-since-article-370-revocation <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Lok Sabha MP and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah will on Monday attend Parliament for the first time since the revocation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.</p> <p>Farooq, who represents the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, was among more than 50 politicians in Jammu and Kashmir who were taken into custody after the revocation of Article 370.</p> <p>He was detained in his home at Gupkar Road in Srinagar.</p> <p>Although his daughter, Saffiya Abdullah, and sister, Suriya Abdullah, were allowed to visit him regularly, his wife, Molly Abdullah, flew to Kashmir from London to look after him.</p> <p>Farooq’s detention was challenged in the Supreme Court by his friend DMK leader Vaiko and daughter, Sara Pilot, wife of Congress leader Sachin Pilot, in the Supreme Court. But the government defended his detention, citing his ability to mobilise crowds that could threaten law and order in Kashmir.</p> <p>The 83-year-old politician was set free in March after the government quashed his detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA).</p> <p>The senior politician reached Delhi on Sunday to attend the monsoon session of Parliament.</p> <p>The NC president is expected to receive a warm welcome from the opposition, which had repeatedly demanded his release when he was in detention.</p> <p>Many people, especially the supporters of the NC, are hopeful that Farooq will raise the issue of issue of Article 370 revocation and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories.</p> <p>The NC president has said that he doesn’t expect anything from the Parliament on Jammu and Kashmir and has pinned all hopes on the Supreme Court where the revocation of Article 370 has been challenged by the NC and other parties.</p> <p>The NC president recently chaired a <a title="Committed to restoring Article 370, 35A: Six J&amp;K political parties in joint statement" href="">meeting of seven parties in Srinagar</a> in which the participants resolved not to accept the revocation of Article 370 and splitting of Jammu and Kashmir.</p> <p>The seven parties were signatories to the famous Gupkar Declaration on August 4, 2019, that said any attempt to remove Article 370 and change the status of Jammu and Kashmir was unacceptable and would be deemed as aggression against the people of Jammu and Kashmir.</p> Mon Sep 14 11:45:22 IST 2020 hope-parliament-sends-message-that-nation-stands-behind-its-soldiers-pm-modi <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday expressed confidence that Parliament will give this strong message that the country is unitedly standing behind its brave soldiers guarding India’s borders, noting that doing so is the legislature’s “special responsibility”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In his remarks to media before the commencement of Parliament’s monsoon session, Modi noted, in an apparent reference to the ongoing border row with China in Ladakh, that Indian soldiers are bravely discharging their duties while standing guard in difficult hilly terrains with snowfall expected in some time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Referring to the issue, he said, “This Parliament also has a special responsibility, especially in this session.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He continued, “This Parliament, its every member will give this message in one voice, one sentiment and one resolve that the country is standing behind our soldiers. It (country) is doing so through Parliament and its members. I am confident that this Parliament will give this very strong message that it is standing behind our country's brave soldiers in one voice,” Modi said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>His call for unity over the issue came as Parliament is expected to debate the tense border situation, with some opposition leaders, especially from the Congress, sharply criticising the government’s handling of the row with China.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Noting that Parliament is expected to take up many important discussions and decide on key issues, the prime minister hoped that MPs will do “value addition” to debates.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is our experience that the more deep and diverse debate happens in Parliament, the more benefits it brings to the subject of discussion and the country, he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With the COVID pandemic continuing to spread across the country, the prime minister observed that the session is taking place under special circumstances and asserted that MPs have chosen the path of duty.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He referred to the host of changes, including staggered timings of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and the decision to run them on weekends too, brought to the running of this session due to the COVID crisis, and said MPs have welcomed them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Everybody has to follow guidelines and precautions about which they have been informed, Modi said, adding, “<i>Ye bhi saaf hai jab tak dawai nahi tab tak koi dhilai nahi</i> (It is clear that there can be no laxity till a vaccine is found).”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He expressed hope that a vaccine is available soon, and people are helped out of this global crisis.</p> Mon Sep 14 11:45:39 IST 2020 at-least-17-lok-sabha-mps-test-positive-for-covid-19-reports <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Around 30 MPs, including BJP's Meenakshi Lekhi and Pravesh Verma, and over 50 employees of Parliament have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, sources said on Monday.</p> <p>Many of them tested positive after undergoing compulsory coronavirus tests at the Parliament premises before the start of the monsoon session, while several of them had undergone tests in their respective constituencies.</p> <p>All parliamentarians and staff of the secretariats of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha had undergone mandatory COVID-19 tests before the start of the session. Mediapersons covering the Parliament's proceedings also underwent these tests and at least one of them has tested positive, the sources said.</p> <p>&quot;ICMR is honoured to have carried out testing of 2500+ samples of Hon'ble Members of Parliament and other officials on war footing over the weekend in service of the nation&quot;, the Indian Council of Medical Research said on Twitter.</p> <p>As per the details available with Parliament authorities, around 30 MPs and over 50 employees of the secretariats tested positive for coronavirus.</p> <p>All those who have tested positive have been asked to stay in quarantine and they did not come to Parliament, sources said.</p> <p>The monsoon session, which began on Monday, is being held in two different shifts—Rajya Sabha will sit in the mornings and Lok Sabha in the second half of the day.</p> <p>ome of these MPs went public with their test reports through Twitter, including BJP MPs Meenakshi Lekhi, Suresh Angadi, Ram Shankar Katheria and Pravesh Varma</p> <p>&quot;After the routine Parliament test for COVID &amp; genome test it's confirmed that I have tested positive for the virus. I am currently in good health &amp; spirits. I request everyone who has been recently in contact with me to get tested. Together We will fight &amp; defeat Corona,&quot; Lekhi tweeted.</p> <p>RLP MP Hanuman Beniwal, who also tested positive, questioned the COVID-19 test conducted in the Parliament premises saying he tested negative in Jaipur around the same time. &quot;I underwent a COVID-19 test in parliament premises and was declared positive. Then I was tested at a hospital in Jaipur and the report said I am negative. Which report should be considered accurate?&quot; Beniwal tweeted in Hindi.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said wider arrangements have been made to ensure the safety of MPs and all others in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>Confident of smooth functioning of the monsoon session, Birla said as 359 MPs were present on the first day and he was hopeful that the session will complete its tenure.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 14 19:39:14 IST 2020 lok-sabha-adjourned-for-an-hour-after-obituary-references <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Lok Sabha was adjourned for an hour on Monday after paying tributes to former President Pranab Mukherjee, a sitting MP and 13 ex-parliamentarians who died in the recent past.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first-of-its-kind Monsoon Session being held amid the COVID-19 pandemic saw members sporting masks and following social distancing guidelines while attending the proceedings.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As soon as the House assembled for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla paid glowing tributes to the departed leaders and security personnel who have laid down their lives while protecting the nation since March.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Birla also remembered “Corona warriors” like doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, police personnel and voluntary workers who died while fighting the pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apart from Mukherjee, the House paid tributes to sitting MP from Tamil Nadu H. Vasanthakumar, eminent vocalist Pandit Jasraj, former MPs Gurdas Singh Badal, Nepal Singh, Ajit Jogi, P. Namgyal, Paras Nath Yadav, Madhav Rao Patil, Haribhau Madhav Jawale, Saroj Dubey, Lalji Tandon, Kamal Rani, Chetan Chauhan, Surendra Prakash Goel and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The speaker then adjourned the House for an hour, after about 20 minutes of business.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, DMK leader T.R. Baalu, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and NCP leader Supriya Sule were among those who were present in the House.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 18-day session is being held amid unprecedented precautionary measures in view of COVID-19.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India witnessed a single day spike of 92,068 COVID-19 cases, and 1,136 fatalities taking the country’s virus caseload to 48,46,424 and death toll to 79,722 on Monday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>MPs attending the House had to undergo a COVID test and only those with a negative report were allowed to sit in the House. The security and secretarial staff in Parliament also had to take coronavirus tests before their entry.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While on the first day of the session on Monday, Lok Sabha is sitting in the morning from 9 am to 1 pm, Rajya Sabha is sitting in the evening starting at 3 pm.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the rest of the days, Rajya Sabha will sit for four hours in the morning and Lok Sabha in the evening.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The chambers of both houses and the galleries are being used for the session and big screens have been installed to enable members to witness proceedings.</p> Mon Sep 14 11:25:52 IST 2020 lok-sabha-adopts-motion-to-do-away-with-question-hour-despite-criticism <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Lok Sabha on Monday adopted a motion to do away with <a title="‘Govt using pandemic to murder democracy’: Opposition slams 'no question hour' plan" href="">Question Hour</a> and private members' business during the Monsoon session, which is being held amid the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>Criticising the move, the opposition led by the Congress said that Question Hour is the "golden hour of the House".</p> <p>Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said the argument and rationale that has been put forth by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi is far from convincing.</p> <p>He said the Question Hour is recognised as an essence of parliamentary democracy and executive is accountable and answerable during the Question Hour.</p> <p>In such an extraordinary situation, if the House is running, "why Question Hour is singled out?" he asked.</p> <p>"We get chance to raise issues of common people. Question Hour is simply a golden hour of the House," he said, adding by doing away with this, the government is trying to suppress this democratic practice, which has been followed since Independence.</p> <p>Moving the motion, Joshi said the Lok Sabha session is being held in extraordinary circumstances amid the COVID-19 pandemic and this House resolves that starred questions and private members' business may not be brought before it for transaction during the session.</p> <p>AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said the Question Hour and private members' business are cornerstone of democracy and it is very much essential for the existence of parliamentary democracy.</p> <p>"I urge the speaker not to allow the executive to encroach on the territory of the legislature. It is a shameful day," he said.</p> <p>He also requested for a division, which was not accepted by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.</p> <p>Manish Tewari (Congress) said this is the only time when the opposition can hold the government accountable.</p> <p>TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee said the Question Hour is an integral part of the basic structure of parliamentary procedure and "we cannot destroy that part".</p> <p>Today, the government has pressure to pass bills, he said.</p> <p>"We also have our views to express," he said adding, "kindly do not take away this advantage. It will take the entire glamour, 50 per cent glamour of running Parliament," he added.</p> <p>Joshi said before arriving at this decision, deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to almost all leaders of various parties.</p> <p>"I would like to ask various leaders who questioned the suspension of Question Hour that all state Assemblies including Punjab, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala have run sessions for a day or two and passed several bills, whereas the government of India decided to run for 18 days and hold discussion on bills," Joshi said.</p> <p>“People are saying this is the basic structure of Parliament then what had happened in 1975,” he questioned.</p> <p>In last five years, 60 per cent of Question Hour in Rajya Sabha and 40 per cent in Lok Sabha was wasted, he added.</p> <p>There are so many ways to question the government and it is not running away from discussion and "we are going to reply to all questions which you are going to raise," he said.</p> <p>The defence minister said he has discussed the matter with several leaders and noted that this session is being held in an extraordinary situation.</p> <p>"We need support from all as the House will run only for four hours. If somebody wants to ask a question, they can do during the Zero Hour," he said, adding most of the leaders have agreed on the issue of doing away with the Question Hour.</p> <p>"I would urge all members to extend their support...You can raise issues through unstarred questions, ministers will reply. If members are not satisfied from that reply, then you can seek clarifications during Zero Hour also," Singh said.</p> <p>The speaker sought support of all members for smooth functioning of the House.</p> <p>"I will provide sufficient time," he said.</p> Mon Sep 14 13:52:03 IST 2020 ex-jnu-student-leader-umar-khalid-arrested-in-connection-with-northeast-delhi-riots <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid was arrested late on Sunday night under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for his alleged role in the northeast Delhi riots. He was arrested by the special cell of the Delhi police after 11 hours of interrogation. He will be produced before a Delhi court on Monday, they said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Khalid was questioned by the Delhi Police Crime Branch for a couple of hours on September 2 in connection with the riots.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He was earlier booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in another case related to the riots. He was also quizzed by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police earlier regarding an alleged conspiracy behind the riots.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>His mobile phone was also seized by the police.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between supporters of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and those against the legislation spiralled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured. In their attempt to prevent violence, 108 police personnel received injuries and two died.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Delhi Police on Sunday said it was investigating the role of all individuals who allegedly took part in the riots and were part of a larger conspiracy in organising violence in the northeast Delhi and inciting communal passion and hatred amongst communities, an official statement stated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the force, the Delhi Police has registered 751 FIRs in connection with communal riots that took place in the last week of February this year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As far as the investigation is concerned, Delhi Police has carried it out meticulously in the most professional manner, officials said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After collecting and collating all evidences, the investigation has been finalised in most of the important cases and the chargesheets have been submitted in the court for trial, the police also said, adding the riots also caused large-scale damage to both private and public properties.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So far, police have arrested 1,575 people in 751 cases. Over 250 chargesheets have been filed in the riots related cases in which 1,153 accused have been chargesheeted.&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 14 08:06:31 IST 2020 decoding-shashi-tharoors-verbose-praise-for-chetan-bhagat <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Known for his varied vocabulary, Shashi Tharoor often makes the Twitterati happy with tweets featuring words that are not often heard—due either to their length or obscurity. On Sunday, Chetan Bhagat got to experience this firsthand.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tharoor shared an article Bhagat had recently penned calling for the youth to ask more questions about the economy. “Superb piece by @chetan_bhagat on all that ails our country &amp; what we should do about it. Chetan’s great virtue is the simplicity and directness of his writing. His message is clear &amp; I hope his fans in the government act on it,” Tharoor tweeted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bhagat saw the tweet and replied, asking Tharoor to praise him with bigger words than “superb”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Ok I still can’t get over this. The @ShashiTharoor has praised @chetanbhagat. I am floating. Just one request sir, next time can you use some big words to praise me, like ones that only you can do. Superb is nice but a big one would really make my day!”Bhagat tweeted,</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tharoor then obliged in characteristic fashion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Sure, @chetan_bhagat! It’s clear you are not sesquipedalian nor given to Rodomontadevain. Your ideas are unembellished with tortuous convolutions &amp; expressed without ostentation. I appreciate the limpid perspicacity of today’s column.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bhagat then retweeted it and said he would frame the reply.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With thousands of retweets and tens of thousands of likes, Tharoor’s verbose response was a hit on Twitter. But, was it a compliment?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Here are the definitions of each of the words he used.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sesquipedalian</b>: Given to or characterized by the use of long words</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Rodomontadevain</b>: Boasting or bluster</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Unembellished</b>: Lacking embellishment or elaboration (as with decorative elements or fanciful details)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Tortuous</b>: Marked by repeated twists, bends, or turns</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Convolutions</b>: A complication or intricacy of form, design, or structure</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Ostentation</b>: Excessive display</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Limpid</b>: Clear and simple in style</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Perspicacity</b>: Of acute mental vision or discernment</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In essence, Tharoor was praising Bhagat for writing without using unnecessarily long words and with clear and simple style.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Tharoor is known for his lengthy words, when he is not making them in jest he uses them with careful intent. As he tweeted in 2017, “To all the well-meaning folks who send me parodies of my supposed speaking/writing style: The purpose of speaking or writing is to communicate w/ precision. I choose my words because they are the best ones for the idea i want to convey, not the most obscure or rodomontade ones!”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sun Sep 13 21:09:57 IST 2020 fake-news-of-rafale-crash-circulated-in-pakistan-using-bogus-handles <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Pakistan’s unease at the Indian acquisition and the formal induction of the Rafale jets on July 29 has resulted in a viral hoax about one of the jets crashing during training, leaving two pilots dead.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Not only were fake Twitter profiles of journalists used to spread the news, a fake profile of the Indian Air Force was also created, with a tweet that read: “Very shocked news! During exercise, Rafale has crashed near Ambala Airforce Station due to technical fault and a pilot martyred.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This false tweet was put out on 11.33 pm at September 4. It became the start of a string of hoax tweets and posts which floated around till at least September 11. The Twitter handles remained the same but the names of the handles kept changing from one journalist to another. Hundreds of retweets of these fake tweets were made by Pakistanis. The same news was also shared hundreds of time over other social media.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A reverse image search done by SM Hoax Slayer found that the three photos used to illustrate news of the current crash were from the Mirage 2000 crash in Benguluru in February 2019. Two pilots had lost their lives in the aforementioned clash.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The acquisition of the jets by India has not been received well by Pakistan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In July this year, when Pakistan had first received news of the acquisition, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui had said, “It is disturbing to note that India continues to amass military capabilities beyond its genuine security requirement. Transfer of advanced systems, where there is an open intention of conversion into nuclear delivery platforms, calls into question the commitment of international suppliers to non-proliferation commitments.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She had further said that India had nuclearised the Indian Ocean. “Pakistan has been consistently highlighting the risks of massive Indian arms build-up as well as their offensive security doctrine and force postures,” she said.</p> Sun Sep 13 16:03:22 IST 2020 former-union-minister-raghuvansh-singh-who-resigned-from-rjd-days-before-dies <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Former Union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, whose recent resignation from Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD has left political waters in Bihar astir, passed away on Sunday. He had fallen critically ill, was admitted at AIIMS and put on a ventilator after developing post-COVID complications.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Singh had resigned from the primary membership of the party on Thursday and followed it up with an open letter, a day later, addressed to Prasad's arch rival and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, triggering speculations about his future moves.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A staunch loyalist of the RJD supremo whom he supported in thick and thin, Singh ran afoul with the party a few months ago when murmurs about mafia don turned politician Rama Singh, his rival in Vaishali Lok Sabha constituency, led him to resign from the post of the national vice president.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A cabinet colleague of Prasad in the Manmohan Singh government, Singh thereby stymied Rama Singh's entry into the party and although he did not give up the primary membership at that time, he stayed away from the RJD's day to day affairs which was attributed, in part, to his ill-health.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Thursday, his hand-written note addressed to Prasad declaring that he has had enough went viral on the social media. On the same day, the RJD supremo sent a letter to Singh from Ranchi, making an emotional appeal to his companion for over three decades not to leave the party.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>-Inputs from PTI</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sun Sep 13 12:42:39 IST 2020 serum-institute-says-it-will-resume-covid-19-vaccine-trials-once-dcgi-gives-nod <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Serum Institute of India will resume clinical trials of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate after getting the permission from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), the Pune-based vaccine maker said on Saturday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pharma giant AstraZeneca on Saturday said that clinical trials for the AstraZeneca Oxford coronavirus vaccine, AZD1222, have resumed in the UK following confirmation by the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority (MHRA) that the trials were safe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Once DCGI will give us the permission to restart the trials in India, we will resume the trials,” Serum Institute of India (SII) said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a tweet, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said: “As I’d mentioned earlier, we should not jump to conclusions until the trials are fully concluded. The recent chain of events is a clear example why we should not bias the process and should respect the process till the end. Good news, @UniofOxford.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The human trials resumed days after a pause had been announced in the trials after an adverse reaction in one of the participants.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Following the suspension, the DCGI directed Serum Institute of India to suspend till further orders new recruitment in phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the vaccine candidate.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, as the trial sponsor, on Saturday said that they cannot disclose further medical information but confirmed that independent investigations concluded that the trials were safe to restart.</p> Sun Sep 13 12:33:41 IST 2020 congress-expresses-support-for-civil-society-members-named-delhi-riots-chargesheet <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As the Delhi Police accused some civil society activists of making provocative speeches and indulging in other such activities, the Congress on Saturday said these people are "greater <i>deshbhakts</i> (patriots) than the fraudulent ones in power now".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Congress' support for the civil society members came after the Delhi Police named CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, economist Jayati Ghosh and Delhi University professor Apoorvanand in a supplementary charge sheet in the February riots cases, accusing them of "provoking and mobilising" anti-CAA protesters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Reacting to the development, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, "This is worse than atrocious. I am in full solidarity with those chargesheeted. They are greater deshbhakts than the fraudulent ones in power now."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also expressed support for the civil society members, saying, "If speaking truth to power is a crime, if exposing circle of hate is a crime, if standing up to rioters is a crime, if being righteous and just is a crime, then each one of us must be booked, chargesheeted and jailed."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Only then will my country survive. Jai Hind!" he tweeted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some of those named have also been charged with, based on the statements of three students already arrested in the case, asking the protesters to go to "any extreme", spreading "discontent" in the community by calling CAA/NRC anti-Muslim, and organising demonstrations to "malign the image of government of India".&nbsp;</p> Sun Sep 13 09:59:07 IST 2020 stop-dreaming-about-arunachal-pradesh-says-deputy-cm-mein-to-china <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein has called for China to stop calling his state 'South Tibet' and says every inch of the state belongs to India.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Speaking to THE WEEK, Mein said, &quot;Let the Chinese not dream about Arunachal Pradesh. Every inch of the state belongs to India. Everyone in the state proudly chants 'Jai Hind' and 'Bharat Mata KI Jai'. China should end its fixation with Arunachal Pradesh.&quot;<br> </p> <p>Mein's comments come amid reports that China, in the backdrop of tensions with India in eastern Ladakh, is trying to fuel insurgency in Arunachal Pradesh by trying to influence young people in border villages. Recently, five hunters from a border village in Arunachal Pradesh accidentally strayed into the Chinese territory and were captured by the Chinese army. After hectic discussions, <a href="">they were released</a> to the Indian Army.&nbsp;</p> <p>Initially, the Chinese foreign ministry had&nbsp;<a href="">denied locating the youth</a>, using the moment as a chance to restate China's position on Arunachal Pradesh.</p> <p>Spokesperson Zhao Lijian had said, “China has never recognised the so-called Arunachal Pradesh, which is China’s south Tibet region, and we have no details on Indian Army sending a message to PLA [People's Liberation Army] about five missing Indians in the region”.&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the Army, this was the third such instance of young people in border villages in Arunachal Pradesh straying inadvertently to the Chinese side.&nbsp;</p> <p>“The Indian Army has always been proactive in tracing the lost locals and helping them return home. Three such incidents took place in the current year in Upper Subansiri and West Siang district, including the latest one,” the Army said in a statement.</p> <p>Mein said people in border villages in Arunachal Pradesh are known for guarding the Indian territory along with the Army and paramilitary forces.</p> <p>&quot;I hope there is no migration from these border villages to towns in the state and other states in the country. For that proper developmental activities need to take place in these border villages. There should be good connectivity to these border villages. We are working on it, and the Centre is providing us all the help,&quot; said Mein.&nbsp;</p> <p>Recently, Mein asked the Border Road Organisation to speed-track the two-laning of the road from Chowkham Tri-junction in Namsai district to Parasuram Kund in Lohit district. More roads are being planned in border villages, he said.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Congress chief in Arunachal Pradesh and former chief minister of the state, Nabam Tuki, said it is a scary security situation in the state after the military escalation with China in Ladakh.&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking to THE WEEK, Nabam Tuki said, &quot;The Centre needs to do a lot more to improve the situation in the border villages in the state. It is the people there who are guarding these villages, so proper infrastructure, electricity and schools should be available for all of them. Even today, it is very difficult to reach some of these border villages.&quot;</p> <p>Tuki said he doesn't believe there are chances of insurgency in the state. &quot;There will never be an armed insurgency in Arunachal Pradesh, unlike some other northeastern states. Every person in the state loves being an Indian, and they are always loyal to their country,&quot; he said.&nbsp;</p> Sun Sep 13 21:42:08 IST 2020 monsoon-session-opposition-demands-discussion-on-lac-standoff-covid-economy <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The monsoon session of the Parliament, commencing today, is sure to be a stormy one.&nbsp;The 18-day session will be held under a heavy cloud of coronavirus concerns and ongoing spike in cases. From N-95 masks to gloves, sanitisers and one-dimensional movement procedures, all necessary precautions will be taken as the session commences.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The opposition has already said it would push for answers on contentious issues like economy, standoff with China at the LAC, and the coronavirus. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said: &quot;India and China are in a conflict situation in Ladakh and there is tension, GDP is tumbling and inflation is rising. We want to discuss many issues in Parliament that the country and its citizens would want to hear about.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government has listed 23 new bills for introduction in the session.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some of the more significant ones:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>1.&nbsp;Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020:</b> Proposes to completely mechanise sewer cleaning and provide better protection at work and compensation in case of accidents. Currently, engaging any person for hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks by any person or agency is punishable with imprisonment of up to five years or a fine up of to Rs 5 lakh or both. The bill proposes to make the law banning manual scavenging more stringent by increasing the imprisonment term and the fine amount.&nbsp;The plan aims to modernise existing sewage system and coverage of non-sewered areas; setting up of faecal sludge and septage management system for mechanised cleaning of septic tanks, transportation and treatment of faecal sludge; equipping the municipalities, and setting up of Sanitation Response Units with help lines, according to a document by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>2.&nbsp;The Representation of People (Amendment) Bill, 2020:</b> This will amend an electoral law to give legal backing to the recently-formed Delimitation Commission to redraw the constituencies of four northeastern states.&nbsp;In March, the Law Ministry had notified the creation of a Delimitation Commission to redraw the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>3. Preventive measures against violence on heathcare personnel:</b> The ordinance makes acts of violence and harassment against healthcare personnel deployed in combating COVID-19 a non-bailable offence with maximum punishment of seven years imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh fine. It also protects the healthcare fraternity, including doctors, nurses and ASHA workers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>4. Reduction of MP salaries:</b> This bill will assist in the reduction in the salary of MPs by 30 per cent for a period of one year beginning April 1, 2020. The amount will be utilised in the fight against coronavirus.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>5.&nbsp;The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020:</b> Seeks to replace an ordinance issued recently to provide for the creation of an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers' produce which facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels. The ordinance also promotes an efficient, transparent and barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce of farmers' produce outside the physical premises of markets or deemed markets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>6.&nbsp;Jammu and Kashmir Official Language Bill, 2020:</b> As per the bill, Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, will be the official languages in the Union territory. It provides for the languages to be used for the official purposes in the UT.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>7.&nbsp;Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2020:</b> The proposed bill seeks to rationalise government role and increase the members' participation in the working of the multi-state cooperative societies, to increase public faith in these societies and create a conducive environment for their growth and development.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>8. Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020:</b> Seeks to permit non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) other than NBFC Factors (whose principal business is factoring) to undertake factoring business as well. It also seeks to permit Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS) entities to act as agents for financiers for filing of registration of charge with the central registry as this will lead to operational efficiency.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Political dogfight</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Opposition parties, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the DMK, are planning a joint offensive against the government on issues of national security like the border situation with China, handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, economy and GST compensation to states. The Congress and other opposition parties raised these demands in the first business advisory committee (BAC) meeting for Lok Sabha chaired by Speaker Om Birla today, but the time for these discussions is yet to be allocated. The BAC for Lok Sabha will be held again on September 15 afternoon to further discuss the issues to chalk out the business schedule for the first week. The same demands were raised by the Congress in the BAC for Rajya Sabha too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ruling BJP-led NDA is confident of blunting the opposition's expected attacks. The BJP will also be armed with its own set of charges against the opposition, especially the Congress; the top party brass, including its president J.P. Nadda, has pursued the issue of alleged donations to foundations linked to the Gandhi family from the Chinese government. While opposition parties are likely to highlight the continuing surge in COVID-19 cases in India to aim at the government, the ruling party leaders believe that the country's low fatality rate coupled with its relatively fewer cases per million population compared to other seriously-hit countries are points in their favour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>-Inputs from PTI</p> Mon Sep 14 07:49:47 IST 2020 opposition-to-resist-4-legislations-centre-proposes-to-bring-in- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Congress and other opposition parties will oppose four of the 11 legislations the government proposes to bring in the monsoon session of Parliament in place of ordinances issued earlier and expect Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reply to their concerns.</p> <p>Party leader Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said the Congress is in touch with other like-minded parties and has decided to strongly oppose the three agriculture-related legislations and the amendment to the Banking Regulation Act in both houses of Parliament.</p> <p>The monsoon session of Parliament starts on Monday amid unprecedented measures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>Like-minded opposition parties have decided to evolve a joint strategy to take on the government on key issues before the country, including the handling of the pandemic, the state of the economy and the Chinese aggression at the border in Ladakh.</p> <p>Addressing a virtual press conference, Ramesh said, "We want a discussion in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on the situation at the border with China, the state of the economy, the closure of businesses and the state of the MSME industry, the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues like airport privatisation, the draft EIA notification."</p> <p>"We hope the opposition would get an opportunity to speak and serious national issues would be discussed. We expect the prime minister to be present in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and give a reply to the questions raised by us. The prime minister does not come and we want that he should be present in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha," he added.</p> <p>Asked about when the opposition parties would meet to come up with the joint strategy, Ramesh said the leaders of various like-minded parties have been meeting virtually and it is being worked out.</p> <p>"Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, K.C. Venugopal and myself have been talking to all like-minded opposition parties. We are in constant touch with them. We have discussed various issues to be raised and the stands to be adopted on the ordinances," he added.</p> <p>The former Union minister said the like-minded parties are opposed to four ordinances that the government had brought earlier and will now bring legislations to replace those.</p> <p>He said the four ordinances—three related to the farm sector and the amendment to the Banking Regulation Act—take away the rights of the states and lead to further centralisation of power.</p> <p>"There is a common ground that we should oppose these ordinances," Ramesh said.</p> Sun Sep 13 18:06:44 IST 2020 kamal-nath-digvijaya-are-traitors-not-us-scindia <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Both ruling BJP and Congress were in full by-poll campaign mode in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday, attacking each other vehemently and trying to woo the electorate with announcements and promises.</p> <p>In Bhander of Datia, on last day of four-day campaign tour in Gwalior-Chambal region, Rajya Sabha member Jyotiraditya Scindia took the attack against Congress—his former party—a step further by saying that ex-CM Kamal Nath and Rajya Sabha colleague Digvijaya Singh were the traitors and not them (Scindia and his supporters who left Congress).</p> <p>This is the first time that Scindia has openly responded to the traitor labelling campaign of the Congress against him and ex-MLAs who left the party to architect the fall of government in March this year.</p> <p>Scindia said that he did not have political but personal connections with Bhander since early age and he will serve the people for his entire life. He said that people of the region did not merely vote for Congress last time, but also gave its heart, love and confidence and that is why Congress won 26 out of the 34 seats in Gwalior-Chambal. “Kamal Nath could become the chief minister just because of this region. But after becoming CM, he did not even step out of the state secretariat. We are not traitors. Nath and Digvijaya Singh are. They have ditched the people and will be taught a good lesson by them.</p> <p>Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that Kamal Nath sought votes in the name of Scindia, but became the groom (CM) himself. “He (Nath) has never seen village bylanes or farm roads. He does not have any inkling about poverty and diseases. He is an outsider who cannot be trusted. When he was in power, he saw nothing but now he is visiting farms with destroyed crops when he has lost his chair,” Chouhan said.</p> <p><b>Power bills to be waived; recruitments freeze to be removed</b></p> <p>The CM announced at Bhander that the freeze on recruitment will be removed and will soon start with recruitment to the police department. The CM also announced that pending power bills till August will be waived soon and people will have to pay only a month's bills now onwards. Also, the scheme of giving wheat for Re 1 per kg will be launched on September 16, so that no poor has to sleep empty stomach.</p> <p><b>‘By-poll crucial for state’s future, stand for truth’</b></p> <p>Meanwhile, in a public meeting in by-poll bound Sanwer of Indore, ex-chief minister and MP Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Kamal Nath said that the upcoming by-polls are crucial because they will decide the future of the state and it is for the people of the state to stand with the truth and for its better future.</p> <p>In the meeting held at Arjun Baroda village, Nath campaigned for ex-MP Premchand Guddu who the Congress has announced as the Sanwer assembly candidate, most likely against Tulsi Silawat, the state water resources minister and close confidante of Jyotiraditya Scindia.</p> <p>Nath launched the by-poll campaign on Friday by visiting the famous Pitambara temple at Nalkheda in Agar Malwa. He also held a public meeting in the district in support of Congress candidate Kunal Choudhary, just a day after announcing candidates for 15 of 27 by-poll bound constituencies.</p> <p>On Saturday in Sanwer, the ex-CM asked the gathering whether he had sinned by launching a campaign against mafia and adulterators. “Why was my government felled through political trading? Will the state be identified by mafias, adulterators?” Nath asked.</p> <p>He attacked the BJP and Chouhan, saying that they merely thrive on false announcements that are never fulfilled. He said that the Congress government initiated the Narmada water supply project for Sanwer, but the BJP government is misleading the government by making fresh announcements for the same.</p> <p>He said that the state faces the challenges of high unemployment, economic slowdown, agriculture crisis and such issues. The Congress wants to ensure that these issues are addressed and he was sure people of the state will stand in favour of truth and a better future, if not for Kamal Nath and Congress.</p> Sun Sep 13 20:14:03 IST 2020 drugs-case-siddaramaiah-seeks-impartial-probe-without-any-political-motive <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Leader of Opposition in Karnataka assembly Siddaramaiah on Sunday sought merciless action against those involved in drug peddling and substance abuse in the state, and said the <a href="">investigation into the case</a> has to be &quot;impartial&quot; and without any political motive.<br> </p> <p>&quot;Any investigation has to be impartial, it should not be done without any political motive.<br> </p> <p>&quot;Drug is a menace to the whole society, this has been around for several years now and it has to be stopped,&quot; Siddaramaiah said.<br> </p> <p>Speaking to reporters here, he said merciless action should be taken against whoever is involved in it, but it should not be out of political malice.<br> </p> <p>To a query on Congress MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan's name allegedly being linked to the case, Siddaramaiah said just because someone is seen with a person involved in a case, he cannot be labelled a criminal.<br> </p> <p>&quot;What is the evidence for Zameer's involvement in the drug racket? It should not be done unnecessarily out of political motive.<br> </p> <p>Someone's name should not be dragged in unnecessarily to defame them,&quot; he said.<br> </p> <p>The former chief minister said he had even questioned Zameer, after his name was linked to the case, and the latter has clarified that he has no connection and has nothing to do with it.<br> </p> <p>Zameer Ahmed Khan, ruling out his involvement or any connection with the case had on Friday said he was being targeted for being a Muslim and would file a defamation suit against entrepreneur Prashanth Sambaragi, who has accused him of having links with those allegedly involved in the case.<br> </p> <p>Responding to a question on his recent charge that the government was using the drugs case to 'cover up' its failures, Siddaramaiah said, &quot;it is getting more publicity, I'm not saying that publicity should not be given, but keeping everything aside, this is getting importance.&quot;&nbsp;<br> </p> Sun Sep 13 18:55:05 IST 2020 veteran-of-labour-battles-in-tn-thangavelu-dies-of-covid-19 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Marxist leader and former MLA K. Thangavelu, who cut his teeth as a banian mill worker and wenton to spearhead many successful agitations for labour rights in Tamil Nadu, died of COVID-19 in Coimbatore on Sunday.</p> <p>The 68-year-old party veteran and trade unionist, who was treated for coronavirus at a hospital for the past 14 days passed away early today, the CPI(M) said. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.</p> <p>A Marxist ideologue, he was renowned for his lectures on Marxism and leadership qualities and had been a state executive committee (known as state secretariat in the party) member for about 25 years.</p> <p>Thangavelu, born in an ordinary family, started his life as a banian mill worker and mobilising workmen, he led many successful agitations for their labour rights. During his stint in trade unions at various levels he was instrumental in getting these mill workers various rights.</p> <p>"As a leader, he left an indelible mark through his excellent work. He was simple, honest and calm," the party said in a statement paying rich tributes to him.</p> <p>Elected as an MLA in 2011 from Tirupur South Constituency, he championed labour welfare in the Assembly and was close to the people in his constituency.</p> <p>Expressing grief and extending condolences, the CPI(M) said Thangavelu's death is a huge loss for the party, the Left movement and the working class.</p> <p>DMK president M.K. Stalin, citing Thangavelu's humble origins, said he distinguished himself as a trade union leader through his hard work to get labour rights.</p> <p>Pointing to Thangavelu's long drawn out agitation (for 127 days) for labour rights, he said it is remarkable in the annals of fight for workers' welfare.</p> <p>He had data on issues that affected the ordinary people and the working class on his fingertips, Stalin said, offering his condolences to the bereaved family and party.</p> <p>CPI state secretary R. Mutharasan, condoling his death, hailed the Marxist leader for his struggle to get workers their rights.</p> <p>MDMK general secretary Vaiko praised Thangavelu as a honest leader who earned the goodwill people in all parties.</p> <p>Announcing a three-day mourning, the CPI(M) said party flags would fly at half-mast as a mark of honour to the departed leader.</p> Sun Sep 13 17:20:01 IST 2020 kerala-political-storm-nia-customs-may-also-question-kt-jaleel <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>After the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Customs department may also question Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel in the gold smuggling case.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But before that, the two central agencies will examine the statement given by the minister to the ED as part of investigations into whether there was any gold smuggling activity under the guise of distribution of religious texts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ED will record Jaleel’s statement again. The agency had asked the minister to appear before it on September 14. But he informed the inquiry team on Thursday night that he would arrive before them on Friday morning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ED prepares its questionnaire for interrogation in advance. However, the agency had not completed preparing the questionnaire when the minister appeared before it. Also, he was unable to provide most of the information the agency sought. The ED, therefore, will question the minister again after it prepares the questionnaire.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>First minister to be questioned by ED</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jaleel is the first minister in Kerala to be questioned by a central agency in connection with an alleged financial crime. The higher education minister was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate on Friday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The CBI had questioned Pinarayi Vijayan, G. Karthikeyan and S. Sharma in the Lavalin case. But none of them was a minister at that time. The CBI had named Pinarayi Vijayan, who was the power minister when the power agreement with Canadian company Lavalin was signed, as the ninth accused in the case. On September 20, the Supreme Court will consider the CBI’s appeal against the trial court’s verdict clearing Pinarayi Vijayan in the case.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>CPM behind Jaleel</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The CPI(M) in the state and the Centre is standing firmly behind Jaleel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Party general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Enforcement Directorate’s questioning of Jaleel was only an action as per law. If convicted, he should be punished, Yechury said, adding the allegations against the minister were only a campaigning tool of the Opposition ahead of the Assembly elections.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Minister Kadakampally Surendran said that the ED calling Jaleel to ask him a few things was not such a big issue. Ministers have been questioned before, too, he said. Surendran said protesters against the government were responsible for the community spread of COVID in the capital.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Minister M.M. Mani said he did not think Jaleel had done anything wrong.</p> Sun Sep 13 11:19:51 IST 2020 neet-tomorrow-amid-strict-covid-19-precautions <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Amid opposition outcry against conducting the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) exams, over <a href="">15 lakh candidates are expected to appear in the medical entrance exam today</a>, which will be conducted amid strict precautions in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Strict restrictions are in place.&nbsp;Wearing face masks and using sanitisers is mandatory for each candidate. However, the Odisha government made it clear that the candidates having high temperature and certain symptoms of COVID, but not tested positive, will be allowed to take the test. In order to maintain social distancing, the NTA has increased the number of exam centres from originally-planned 2,546 to 3,843, while the number of candidates per room has been reduced from earlier 24 to 12.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The issue of conducting these entrance tests has become a vexing political one, with the opposition parties approaching the apex court against holding the exams. Even international environmental crusader Greta Thunberg lent her voice to the anti-entrance test lobby.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Candidates have also been issued an advisory guiding them about the 'dos and don'ts' for proper social distancing. We have also written to states governments to extend support in local movement of the candidates so that they are able to reach their examination centres on time. Making hand sanitisers available at the entrance of the examination centre and inside the exam hall at all times, replacing the process of checking the admit cards of candidates with barcode readers, increasing the number of examination centres, alternate seating plans, fewer candidates per room and staggered entry and exit are among the steps the NTA has taken. While all the candidates will be asked to go to the exam centres with masks and sanitisers, once they enter the centre, they will have to use the masks provided by the examination authority.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Each candidate will be offered a three-ply mask at the time of entry and are expected to wear the same during the examination in order to avoid any form of unfair means at the time of examination. While the governments of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have assured students that they will provide them transportation, a group of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) alumni and students have also launched a portal to provide transport facilities to exam centres for the candidates in need. The Metro Railway in Kolkata is planning to run special services for NEET candidates on September 13 to help them reach their examination centres.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There has been a growing chorus for postponing the exams amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases. The Supreme Court had earlier dismissed a plea seeking postponement of the two exams amid a spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases, saying a &quot;precious year&quot; of students cannot be wasted and life has to go on. Several opposition leaders, including Congress' Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik, DMK president M.K. Stalin and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had also demanded that the exams be postponed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The exam was originally scheduled for May 3, but was pushed to July 26, and then to September 13.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Spate of suicides</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tamil Nadu had witnessed a spate of alleged suicides by medical aspirants on the eve of the exams, with political parties opposed to the qualifying exam stepping up their demand for its scrapping. The deaths brought back the focus on NEET in the state, with all political parties but for the BJP opposed to the qualifying exam. A girl and two men, aged between 19 and 21, allegedly died by suicide in Madurai, Dharmapuri and Namakkal districts, sending shock waves across the state. Opposition parties in the state led by the DMK slammed the BJP-led Centre over the NEET issue, even as the ruling AIADMK, also opposed to the exam, rued the deaths of the youngsters. The victims, a 19-year-old girl from Madurai and a 20-year-old youth from Dharmapuri, were found hanging in their homes in the respective districts, shocking people in the state that has witnessed a spate of suicides over the issue in the past three years.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>-Inputs from PTI</p> Sun Sep 13 16:39:38 IST 2020 home-minister-amit-shah-once-again-admitted-to-aiims <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was discharged two weeks ago from Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) after post-COVID care, was again admitted to hospital last night. The hospital, in an official statement, said: &quot;Home Minister Amit Shah was discharged from AIIMS, New Delhi, after post-COVID care on August 30. As per advice given at discharge, he has now been admitted for complete medical checkup before Parliament session for 1-2 days.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Shah had tested positive for COVID-19 on August 2. Though he recovered from the virus, he<a href="">&nbsp;was re-admitted to AIIMS on August 18</a>&nbsp;after complaining of &quot;fatigue and body ache&quot;. AIIMS had released a statement then, noting Shah was carrying out his work from the hospital.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Major political leaders who have tested positive for COVID-19 so far include Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. Former president Pranab Mukherjee had passed away from complications caused by the infection.&nbsp;<br> </p> Sun Sep 13 11:56:48 IST 2020 with-almost-95000-cases-in-24-hours-india-covid-tally-crosses-47-lakh <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India's coronavirus tally crossed 47 lakh on Sunday with&nbsp;94,372 infections reported in 24 hours. However, 37,02,595&nbsp;people have reportedly recuperated, pushing the national recovery rate to 77.8 per cent. India has a total coronavirus tally of&nbsp;47,54,356, with a death toll of 78,586; 1,114 people died in a span of 24 hours to Sunday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Congress, who has been accusing the Modi government of not handling the COVID-19 pandemic effectively, took a dig at the Centre over the rising numbers.&nbsp;"Modi govt's 'well-planned fight' against COVID-19 has put India in an abyss of: 1. Historic GDP reduction of 24 per cent 2. 12 crore jobs lost 3. 15.5 lac crores additional stressed loans 4. Globally highest daily Covid cases and deaths," Gandhi said in a tweet. "But for the government of India and the media,&nbsp;<i>sab changa si</i>&nbsp;[all is well]," the former Congress chief said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Later, in another tweet, Gandhi said there was no hope of job creation and safe future for youth anytime soon. Tagging a report quoting Unilever global chief executive Alan Jope as saying that increasing COVID-19 cases is a worrying trend in India, Gandhi tweeted, "One of India's biggest employers is in "wait and see"&nbsp;mode since COVID-19 cases are rising. So, no hope of job creation and safe future for youth anytime soon. Yet another outcome of Modi government's sudden and unplanned lockdown which has snowballed India's already-precarious economy," he said.&nbsp;</p> Sun Sep 13 12:56:47 IST 2020 modi-endorses-nitish-kumar-as-face-of-nda-in-bihar-ahead-of-polls <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>With the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections in mind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as the face of NDA, adding that the JD(U) chief had played “a big role for a new India and a new Bihar”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The prime minister’s endorsement came while dedicating to the nation three petroleum sector projects in poll-bound Bihar worth around Rs 900 crore via video conferencing on Sunday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi inaugurated the 193 km extension of the LPG pipeline from Durgapur in West Bengal to Banka in Bihar, and two LPG bottling plants in Banka and in East Champaran’s Harsiddhi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The prime minister also praised Nitish Kumar for ushering in <i>sushasan</i> (good governance), reaffirming confidence in the CM and his leadership.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Bihar had fallen behind in terms of development for years. There was a time when road connectivity, internet connectivity were not discussed. Bihar has faced many challenges as a landlocked state. And Nitish Kumar has played a big role in our aim towards a New India, New Bihar,” PM Modi said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“But the last 15 years have been of <i>sushasan</i>. Infrastructure has improved. New medical and engineering colleges, law institutes and polytechnics have come up. Nitish Kumar has a very important role to play in ensuring that the process continues,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2013, the Bihar CM had ended the alliance with the BJP when Modi was named the prime ministerial candidate of the NDA. The two were in a bitter tussle for power during the 2015 state assembly elections.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, Nitish Kumar patched things up with the BJP in 2017 after it ended the <i>Mahagathbandhan</i> or the ‘Grand Alliance’ with the Congress and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a veiled dig at former CM and RJD chief Yadav, Modi said that a peculiar mindset promoted by the state’s leaders from before is the cause of its backwardness. This mindset made these leaders sneer at economic progress, making them believe that lip-service was enough for betterment of the poor.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Referring to the coronavirus pandemic and the large-scale return of migrants that took place during lockdown, Bihar accounting for a large part of them, Modi said, “This crisis has also presented us with opportunities. We can think of new employment generation avenues by setting in motion rapid economic activity.”</p> <p>(With PTI inputs)</p> Sun Sep 13 15:15:37 IST 2020 rajnath-speaks-to-ex-navy-officer-who-was-attacked-in-mumbai <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said he spoke to the retired naval officer who was attacked by "hooligans" in Mumbai, and termed the incident as "completely unacceptable and deplorable".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Madan Sharma, the former Indian Navy officer, was assaulted on Friday in the Kandivali area of Mumbai allegedly by a group of workers of Maharashtra's ruling Shiv Sena for forwarding on social media a cartoon mocking Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Spoke to retired naval officer, Shri Madan Sharma who was attacked by hooligans in Mumbai and enquired about his health. Such attacks on Ex-Servicemen are completely unacceptable and deplorable. I wish Madanji a speedy recovery," the defence minister tweeted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Six persons were arrested in the case and later granted bail.&nbsp;</p> Sat Sep 12 22:35:33 IST 2020 ed-attaches-dmk-mp-jagathrakshakans-properties-worth-rs-89-crore <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday issued orders to seize properties of DMK Loka Sabha MP from Arakkonam constituency and former Union minister S. Jagathrakshakan and his family. The ED issued orders under section 37 (A) of Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA) to seize properties worth Rs 89 crore equivalent to the value of “illegally acquired, held and transferred foreign security in Singapore-based company.”</p> <p>The order issued by the ED, in a release, said that the MP had acquired foreign security by violating the provisions of FEMA. The statement said that he had illegally acquired, held and transferred foreign security to his family members from M/S Silver Park International, Pte, Ltd., Singapore, without obtaining the approval of the Reserve Bank of India. “Based on the information the matter was taken up for investigation. During the course of detailed investigation under the provisions of FEMA, it has transpired that on 15.06.2017, Jagathrakshakan and his son Sundeep Aanand had subscribed to 70,00,000 shares and 20,00,000 shares (valued at Singapore $ 1/- per share) respectively of Silver park international.</p> <p>The release further added that the alleged unauthorised acquired shares were transferred by Jagathrakshakan to his family members in contravention of Section 4 of FEMA read with Regulation 3 of the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer of issue of foreign security) Regulations, 2004. As per the provisions of section 37A of FEMA, if any foreign exchange, foreign security or any immovable property, situated outside India, is suspected to have been held in contravention of section 4 of FEMA, the ED is empowered to seize value equivalent to it, situated in India. Accordingly, “immovable properties in the form of agricultural lands, plots, houses, etc in Tamil Nadu and movable properties in the form of balances in bank accounts and shares totalling Rs 89.19 crores held by Jagathrakshakan and his family are seized,” said the release. The ED also said that further investigation is in process in this case.</p> <p>Jagath and his son Sundeep appeared before the ED on July 1 and the two were interrogated by the investigating officers for hours following allegations of alleged land grabbing and foreign investments. Jagath, who is seen as one of the money bags of the opposition DMK, defeated PMK’s A.K. Moorthy in the Arakkonam constituency in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Sep 12 20:55:21 IST 2020 there-will-be--flood--of-pending-cases-post-covid--mediation-nee <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Chief Justice of India S A Bobde on Saturday said that the COVID-19 pandemic would present a “huge pendency of cases” in courts and a lot of emphasis has to be placed on utilising mediation for resolving many of these matters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The CJI also stressed on the need to focus on mental health and referred to the “uncomfortable prediction” that there might be a suicide pandemic following the COVID crisis.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“This COVID pandemic is going to present us with huge pendency of cases. I do not see any way out of it. We have to decide cases,” the CJI said during a virtual event where he launched the book - ‘Judiciary, Judges and the Administration of Justice’ - authored by former top court judge Justice R Banumathi.</p> <p>The CJI said he believes that this is the time when a lot of emphasis has to be placed on utilising mediation, pre-litigation and post-litigation mediation to resolve many matters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I am not suggesting every matter can be, but when the pandemic goes away and the lockdowns are all lifted, we are going to face a flood of cases which I do not know how we are going to decide if we go in the usual way of following the detailed procedure and this is something which we all have to put in our minds together to deal with,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Addressing the gathering, Justice N V Ramana said judges are now being construed as soft targets for criticism and are becoming "victims of juicy gossip and slanderous social media posting”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Justice Ramana, the senior-most judge of the apex court after the CJI, said that judges have to balance their social life in order to be independent.</p> <p>“It is completely upon the judge to maintain a distance. Judges themselves restrain from speaking in their own defence and they are now being construed as soft targets for criticism. This issue is further complicated by the proliferation of social media and technology. Judges are becoming victims of juicy gossip and slanderous social media posting,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Raising the issue of mental health, the CJI said it requires serious attention as there is a very “uncomfortable prediction” about a suicide pandemic.</p> <p>"I don't believe and sincerely hope that it does not happen,” he said, adding that pandemic has brought two things amongst people which is very troublesome -- depressive tendency and unnecessary aggression.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It is high time that we devote energy to mental health,” he said, adding that the Supreme Court has taken an initiative to deal with the mental health issue and provide professional mental health advice, which the secretary general of the top court would soon announce.</p> <p>He said the judiciary belongs to the nation and its achievements are the result of “unflinching dedication” and commitment of numerous individuals on and off the bench.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The CJI said that for judges and consequently for the judiciary, the biggest challenge is to ensure that the nation inches towards the goal set in the Constitution.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said that an independent judiciary is ‘sine qua non’ (essential condition) to achieve the same.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It is not for the personal benefit of the judges but for the effective exercise of the power vested in the judiciary,” he said, adding, “In fact, even the freedom of speech of judges is curtailed by the same laws which prevent people from saying whatever they feel like, adverse to the independence of the judiciary.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Justice Ramana said there is a misunderstanding that judges lead a life of “luxury in their ivory towers”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“From my own experience, I can state that the life of a judge is not better than others. There seems to be a misunderstanding that judges lead a life of luxury in their ivory towers. However, the reality is quite different and it is difficult for others to comprehend,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The CJI said that the book authored by Justice (retd) Banumathi is “unique” in the sense that it provides valuable insight into the functioning of the colossal institution of the judiciary.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking on the occasion, apex court judge Justice D Y Chandrachud referred to the dedication of Justice (retd) Banumathi towards the cause of justice and legal profession.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Justice Chandrachud referred to the work done by the Supreme Court E-committee, of which he is the chairperson, and also provided data of cases at the district level during the pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said around 28.66 lakh cases were registered at the district level in the pandemic period out of which 12.69 lakh matters were disposed of.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also referred to the data uploaded on the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) and said around 3.39 crore cases are pending.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Justice Chandrachud said data of around 9.91 crore disposed of cases is available on NJDG along with around 12.53 crore orders and judgements.</p> <p>Justice (retd) Banumathi said the book highlights the various essential facets of judgeship and also gives a comprehensive view of accomplishments of the E-court project.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She said the book impresses upon the judges and lawyers for the smart use of technology to make the judicial process more transparent and efficient.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Supreme Court judge Justice Indu Malhotra and Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Justice D N Patel also addressed the gathering which was attended by several other judges of the apex court.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Sep 12 18:00:33 IST 2020 freedom-of-speech-and-expression-not-an-absolute-right-bombay-hc <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Bombay High Court on Friday said the freedom of speech and expression provided under Article 19 of the Constitution was not an absolute right. The court made the observation while refusing to grant interim protection from arrest to a woman charged by the Mumbai and Palghar police for allegedly making offensive remarks on Twitter against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aditya Thackeray.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and M.S. Karnik, however, accepted the state government's oral assurance that the woman, Sunaina Holey, will not be arrested in the case at least for the next two weeks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The state, however, added that such relief will be subject to Holey visiting the Azad Maidan and Tulinj police stations Mumbai and Palghar district, respectively, for questioning, and "cooperating" with the police in their probe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The bench also allowed Holey to approach the court at any time during this period in case the police decide to take any coercive action against her, or if any of her rights were breached.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Holey has approached the Bombay High Court through her counsel Abhinav Chandrachud, seeking that all the charges against her be dropped.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As an interim relief, she had sought that the court grant her protection from arrest till her case was heard finally and the court took a decision on quashing the FIRs against her.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Holey has three FIRs filed against her, one in BKC cyber crime police station, another at Azad Maidan police station, and the third one at Tulinj police station in Palghar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The FIRs were registered following complaints made by several persons, including by one Rohan Chavhan, a leader of the Shiv Sena's youth wing Yuva Sena.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As per the complaints, Sunaina Holey, 38, made offensive and defamatory comments against the Chief Minister and his son on Twitter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She was arrested in August this year and released on bail in the case pertaining to the FIR registered against her by the BKC cyber crimes police.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the remaining two FIRs, she was served notices under section 41A(1) of the CrPC, asking her to visit the concerned police stations for probe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Friday, the state's counsel Y.P. Yagnik told the court that Holey had not responded to the notices.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Advocate Chandrachud, however, said his client was apprehensive that if she visited the police, she would be arrested. Therefore, he sought interim relief. However, the bench said that interim protection from arrest could be granted only for arrest in rare case.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But it noted that the section 41 (A) provided that a person need not be arrested as long as he or she was cooperating with the police's probe. And in case one is required to be arrested, the police must give prior notice for such arrest.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yagnik said the police wasn't merely focused on arresting Holey, but it wanted to make progress in its probe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The court accepted Holey's submission that she will visit the two police stations next week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Holey, a Navi Mumbai resident, has been charged under IPC sections 505 (2) for statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes and 153 (A) for promoting enmity between different religious groups, and under relevant sections of the IT Act.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to police, she had made a series of posts on social media between July 25 and 28, including an offensive caricature of Uddhav Thackeray and Aditya Thackeray.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Friday, while pressing for interim relief, advocate Chandrachud told the court that the case was a "rarest of rare" one as Holey was now being targeted for any and all of her tweets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>His client's rights under Article 19 of the Constitution were being breached, he argued. "This has now attained a political colour and for every tweet I have an FIR registered. I am having to run from pillar to post," advocate Chandrachud said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The bench, however, reminded that one's right to free speech and expression under Article 19 were not absolute. "Perhaps citizens are under the impression that freedom of speech and expression is an absolute right, without any restrictions," the bench said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chandrachud, however, said Sunaina Holey was not under such impression.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The court will hear Holey on the issue of quashing the FIRs on September 29. It also directed the state to file its reply to Holey's plea by then.</p> Sat Sep 12 16:51:16 IST 2020 delhi-riots-police-name-sitaram-yechury-yogendra-yadav-supplementary-chargesheet <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Delhi Police has named CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, economist Jayati Ghosh and Delhi University professor Apoorvanand in a supplementary chargesheet in the February riots cases, accusing them of “provoking and mobilising” anti-CAA protesters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some of those named have also been charged with -- based on the statements of three students already arrested in the case -- asking the protesters to go to ¨any extreme¨, spreading “discontent” in the community by calling CAA/NRC anti-Muslim, and organising demonstrations to “malign the image of the Government of India”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Their names appeared in the supplementary charge sheet, a copy of which is with the PTI, filed by the police on the riots in North East District between February 23 and 26, which claimed 53 lives and left 581 injured, 97 of them having gunshot wounds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After repeated attempts for his comments, Yogendra Yadav said, ¨I notice that the passing reference to me does not even contain one sentence from my speech. I find it surprising that the Delhi Police has made no effort to see the recording of my speeches all of which are in the public domain."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These eminent personalities have been named based on the statements of the three students -- women’s collective Pinjra Tod members and JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, and Gulfisha Fathima of Jamia Milia Islamia -- in the Jafrabad violence, from where the riots spread to other parts of north-east Delhi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All three are facing charges under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the charge sheet, which was made public just two days before the commencement of the Monsoon Session of Parliament, the Delhi Police has claimed that Kalita and Narwal admitted to not just their complicity in the riots but also named Ghosh, Apoorvanand and documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy as their mentors, who allegedly asked them to carry out the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and go to ¨any extreme¨.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Their similarly-worded disclosure statements – mentioned in the charge sheet – claimed that the two JNU students said they organised the Daryaganj protest in December and the Jafrafad chakka jam (road block) against the CAA on February 22, 2020 at the behest of Ghosh, Apoorvanand and Roy.</p> <p>Reacting to the charge sheet, Yechury hit out at the government through a series of tweets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>¨The Delhi Police is under the Centre and the Home Ministry. Its illegitimate, illegal actions are a direct outcome of the politics of BJP’s top leadership. They are scared of legitimate peaceful protests by mainstream political parties &amp; are misusing state power to target the Opposition,” he said.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In another tweet, Yechury questioned as to why the “hate speeches” made during the riots were not investigated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>¨There is a video of poisonous speeches, why are they not being processed? Because the government has ordered that the opposition be wrapped up, either way. This is the real face, character, tricks and thinking of Modi and BJP. There will be opposition,¨ he said.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Delhi Police Additional PRO Anil Mittal said, "The names are part of the disclosure statement of one of the accused in connection with organizing and addressing the Anti-CAA protests. The disclosure statement has been truthfully recorded as narrated by the accused person. A person is not arraigned as an accused only on the basis of disclosure statement."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“However, it is only on the existence of sufficient corroborative evidence does further legal action is taken. The matter is currently subjudice,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kalita and Narwal also told the police that Ghosh, Apoorvanand and Roy coordinated with the Islamist group Popular Front of India (PFI) and the Jamia Coordination Committee to mentor the Pinjra Tod members to carry forward their campaign against the CAA, according to the charge sheet.</p> <p>The police have used Jamia student Fathima’s statement to corroborate the ensuing events.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The charge sheet claims that apart from Yechury and Yogendra Yadav, Fathima’s statement mentions Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Ravan, United Against Hate activist Umar Khalid and some leaders from the Muslim community including ex-MLA Mateen Ahmed, and MLA Amannatullah Khan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The document, quoting statements of those arrested, indicated that these people aided the conspirators.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In her statement, Fathima said that she was told to organise the protest to “malign the image of the Government of India”, the police claimed.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>In her statement, included in the charge sheet, she says that ¨big leaders and lawyers started coming in to provoke and mobilize this crowd, including Omar Khalid, Chandrashekhar Ravan, Yogendar Yadav, Sitaram Yechury, and lawyer Mahmood Pracha, etc”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Pracha said that the sit-in demonstration is your democratic right and the rest of the leaders filled the feeling of discontent in the community by calling CAA/NRC anti-Muslim" she said, as per the charge sheet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the charge sheet, Kalita added, “Umar Khalid had also given some tips for doing protest against CAA/NRC.”</p> Sat Sep 12 23:34:32 IST 2020 two-booked-for-selling-1993-blasts-convict-yakub-memon-grave <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Police have registered a case against two persons for allegedly selling the grave of Yakub Memon, the only convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts case to be hanged, an official said on Saturday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Memon was buried at Marine Lines Bada Kabrastan in south Mumbai on July 30, 2015 after he was hanged in Nagpur central jail.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"A relative of Memon had approached the Lokmanya Tilak Marg police station in March with a complaint that his grave has been sold," the official said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The Memon family has been given total seven 'otthas' (graves) at the cemetery. The complaint said that besides Yakub's, three more graves given to the family were sold at Rs five lakh collectively," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Based on the complaint, an offence under IPC sections 465 (forgery), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) was registered against two persons on March 19 this year- one of them a trustee and another manager of Juma Masjid of Bombay Trust, under which the Muslim Bada Qabrastan is registered, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Due to the COVID-19 situation, police have launched a probe into the case now," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yakub, a chartered accountant by profession was the younger brother of another 1993 blast accused, Tiger Memon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Sep 12 16:29:17 IST 2020 sonia-gandhi-leaves-for-us-for-medical-check-up <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Congress president Sonia Gandhi is likely to miss more than half of the Monsoon Session of Parliament as she left for the United States on Saturday for a routine medical check up. The monsoon session will begin on Monday.</p> <p>Gandhi is expected to be away for around a fortnight while her son and senior party leader Rahul Gandhi, who is accompanying her, will return after a few days, according to reports.</p> <p>Sources told <i>PTI </i>that Gandhi’s medical check-up was overdue and was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>They said Gandhi left for abroad early on Saturday and would return in the last week of September.</p> <p>Earlier, Gandhi had held meetings with the party leaders to chalk out strategy for the Parliament session. The Congress is expected to raise the issues of dwindling economy, job loss and the Narendra Modi government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>On Thursday, Gandhi announced a major organisational reshuffle in the party and constituted a six-member committee to assist her in organisational and operational matters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Sep 12 22:18:00 IST 2020 ahead-of-neet-tamil-nadu-witnesses-a-spate-of-suicides <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;“I am sorry. I am tired!” These were the final words of Jothi Shri Durga from Madurai, who was preparing for her second attempt in NEET. The 19-year-old medical aspirant was supposed to appear for NEET in Madurai, scheduled for Sunday. A day before the exam, Jothi was found hanging from a ceiling fan at her home in Madurai.</p> <p>Hours after the death of Jothi, yet another NEET aspirant, M. Adhithya, from Dharmapuri, killed himself. Adhithya, son of a scrap merchant, is the fourth medical aspirant from Tamil Nadu to die by suicide, fearing NEET. Meanwhile, another student, from Namakkal reportedly died by suicide on Saturday.</p> <p>“To everyone. It is not your fault. Don’t blame yourself and anyone,” said Jothi’s suicide note kept inside one of her books. The daughter of a sub-inspector of police in Madurai, Jothi Durga’s seven-page suicide note and an audio recording was shared widely on social media, saying how the competitive exam had demotivated her.</p> <p>Jothi’s death sent shock waves across Tamil Nadu, which has already been raising concerns over NEET. In the last one month, four students have died fearing NEET. Subhasree from Coimbatore and Vignesh from Ariyalur killed themselves in the past two weeks over fear for the test.</p> <p>The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to medical colleges has turned into a nightmare for most of the students from Tamil Nadu. It began in 2017, when the ruling BJP government made NEET compulsory. Four years ago, when Tamil Nadu had expected that the ruling AIADMK government would fight legally and get exemption from NEET, it had claimed the life of Anitha – the first student to say that NEET was not student-friendly through her suicide. She had scored 1,176 out of 1,200 in her 12th exams. Though the state government approached the Supreme Court, it could not obtain a ban on NEET. The two legislations passed by the state assembly to ban NEET has been rejected by the Centre. After Anitha’s death, the voice against NEET in Tamil Nadu has always been louder.</p> <p>Incidentally, in Tamil Nadu, the students feel that a competitive exam like NEET doesn’t create a level playing field between the students passing out from schools in the rural areas and urban areas. Political leaders, including Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami and opposition leader M.K. Stalin, have advised the students to stay stronger and not to resort to any extreme steps.</p> <p>NEET will be conducted in 238 centres, and 1,17,990 candidates will be appearing for it on Sunday.</p> Sat Sep 12 22:59:13 IST 2020 bjp-hopes-to-win-over-bihar-voters-with-the-promise-of-atmanirbhar-bihar <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Narendra Modi-led Union government had announced Atmanirbhar Bharat programme, which included a series of reforms and financial assistance, to put the country on the path of self reliance in the wake of of COVID-19. This terminology of self reliance found resonance across the country as it had a ring of national pride in it. Now, the ruling BJP is using the phrase as an election slogan.</p> <p>BJP chief J.P. Nadda, during his visit to Bihar to firm up seat sharing arrangement with ally JD(U), also announced 'Atmanirbhar Bihar' as its slogan for the upcoming assembly elections. With this slogan, the BJP aims to build its campaign around the positive promise of turning around the state in the “same way” Modi helped the country achieve self-reliance during its fight with the COVID-19.</p> <p>Nadda said though he is often asked to speak about the shortcomings of the 15-year Lalu Prasad Yadav rule, he would rather focus on what the government is doing for the state, and intends to do. The BJP chief gave his party a catchy slogan to go to polls when the state was mired in rising COVID-19 cases, flood situation, and lack of livelihoods.</p> <p>Nonetheless, the main reason for Nadda's visit was to formally begin seat sharing talk with his JD(U) counterpart and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. During the meeting held at the chief minister's residence, Nadda was accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Shushil Modi, party's in-charge Bhupender Yadav, and state unit chief Sanjay Jaiswal. Both the sides are working on a formula to contest on equal number of seats.</p> <p>Nadda, while addressing a rally later, said the elections will be held with Nitish Kumar's leadership, along with the LJP. Though the BJP has been asserting that the LJP was still in the fold, its party chief Chirag Paswan has been threatening to go solo. Paswan has been consistently critical of CM Kumar over various policy issues. He wants greater number of seats in the elections even though they could win only two last time in 2015. The BJP had won 53, and JD(U) 71, which was in alliance with the RJD.</p> <p>Paswan has been asking for common minimum programme before going to elections. Nadda is expected to hold talks with other allies to arrive at a best suited seat sharing formula.</p> <p>Before the elections are announced, the Union and the state government are going on a foundation stone/ inauguration of projects spree. The Centre has lined up for inauguration several thousands worth of projects in the next a few days before the model code of conduct comes into force.</p> Sat Sep 12 21:13:00 IST 2020 pakistan-isi-using-iskp-to-advance-its-agenda-in-afghanistan-india-iran <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The terror attack on Afghanistan Vice President Amrullah Saleh on September 9 has drawn the attention of American and Indian intelligence agencies to attempts being made by Pakistan-sponsored terror outfits to derail the Doha agreement which paves way for the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan.&nbsp;</p> <p>As the Afghanistan peace negotiations pick up, there are changes taking place along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border where the ISI is working to divert its attention, from its traditional proxies to Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) to advance its agenda in Afghanistan, India and Iran.&nbsp;</p> <p>''The peace negotiations in Afghanistan have given a fresh opportunity for the Pakistan ISI to use new terror proxies to advance its agenda in the region,'' said a senior security official.&nbsp;</p> <p>On August 30, Afghan police team raided a transit camp of Lashkar-e-Taiba in Khas Kunar also known as Sarkani district in Kunar province of Eastern Afghanistan and recovered Mortar launchers with ammunitions. But there is more to the LeT involvement in terror in Afghanistan than meets the eye.&nbsp;</p> <p>Indian intelligence agencies have inputs of numerous LeT terrorists infiltrating into ISKP and even occupying top positions in the outfit. ''The terrorists, their leaders and their commanding agency are almost the same. It is more like the ISI has been rebranding the old outfits by excluding its irritants,'' said an intelligence report.&nbsp;</p> <p>The report says that the ISI is shaping and strengthening the ISKP, which was in its nascent phase until very recently.&nbsp;</p> <p>Security experts said the ISI has successfully implemented the model of carrying out attacks by its proxies like the Haqqani network and at the same time denying any role and pushing the ISKP to claim the responsibility.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, ISI's strategy of hybrid warfare and camouflaging different organisations is being seen as a threat by the Taliban. The intelligence inputs revealed that a number of prominent Taliban leaders believe that the functioning of ISKP, under ISI's directions, could be a threat to Doha Accord. They believe that the activities of the ISKP would breach the accord. On is part, the ISKP, which claims to be the regional branch of the ISIS, might be working towards recruiting ISIS cadres who have returned to India to carry out attacks in the country. The recent arrests of Syria-returned ISIS terrorists in the country are an indication that the ISI, through ISKP, is actively seeking to recruit cadres from India.&nbsp;</p> <p>There is a view in the security establishment that following the Afghan model, the claims of the terrorists attacks by the JeM, LeT and other organisations, including in Kashmir, would be taken by the ISKP. By doing so, the ISI would be able to divert attention from outfits operating from its soil and at the same time carry out attacks in India and the sub continent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Sep 12 20:30:38 IST 2020 ed-to-probe-mollywood-real-estate-investments-munnar <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Enforcement Directorate (ED) will initiate a probe into the alleged real estate investments of certain members from the Malayalam film industry (Mollywood) in Munnar.</p> <p>The national agency had received information in this regard from the statements of Anoop Mohammed and Rijesh Ravindran, who were arrested in the recent Bengaluru drug case. The ED is investigating the money- laundering angle in the diplomatic baggage gold smuggling case and the Bengaluru drug case.</p> <p>The statements of Bineesh Kodiyeri, a close friend of Anoop, also prompted the agency to look into the land deals. Bineesh Kodiyeri, son of CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, has also worked in the lm industry. The ED has collected the statements of the accused in the Bengaluru case from the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).</p> <p>Malayalam film industry members, suspected to be involved in drug dealings, have made real estate investments of around Rs 50 crore in Munnar, and that Bineesh and a hotel owner know the details, as per the statements received by the national agency. The probe team will question the hotel owner in Munnar, who is allegedly close to a minister in the state government, over these revelations.</p> <p>However, Bineesh had not mentioned this during the ED's interrogation on Wednesday. But Bineesh conceded that he had brokered property deals outside the state. He also informed that he would submit his business documents.</p> <p>The ED is also verifying Bineesh's statements on the black money channelled into the Malayalam film industry and the drug deals. Information about eight people from the Malayalam film industry, who are frequent drug users, have been found from the Telegram messenger on Anoop's phone.</p> <p>The NCB also got details about 20 people who frequently took part in rave parties outside Kerala. This information was provided by another person, Niyas, arrested from Bengaluru. After completing the probe in the Kannada film industry in the drug case, the NCB is likely to extend the investigation into the Malayalam film industry too.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the internal security wing of the Kerala Police has also begun a probe in the property deals of the drug gang in Munnar. Anoop said that the drug gang has 200 acres of land in the plantation sector in Munnar. However, the land registration procedures have not been reportedly completed after certain people refused to invest, following demonetisation.</p> Sat Sep 12 15:09:57 IST 2020 Govt-to-introduce-bill-to-make-law-banning-manual-scavenging-more-stringent <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;The government plans to make the law banning manual scavenging more stringent by introducing a bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament, which is scheduled to begin from Monday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020, also proposes to completely mechanise sewer cleaning and provide better protection at work and compensation in case of accidents, officials said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Currently, engaging any person for hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks by any person or agency is punishable with imprisonment of up to five years or a fine up of to Rs 5 lakh or both.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The bill proposes to make the law banning manual scavenging more stringent by increasing the imprisonment term and the fine amount, the officials said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The bill is among the 23 bills to be tabled in Parliament during the Monsoon Session.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The amendment bill comes amid increasing number of deaths during cleaning and maintenance of sewers in the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 prohibits construction or maintenance of insanitary latrines, and employment of any person for manual scavenging or hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The bill comes under the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry's National Action Plan which aims at complete elimination of hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks, a more serious, stringent and focused strategy framework.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The plan aims to modernise existing sewage system and coverage of non-sewered areas; setting up of faecal sludge and septage management system for mechanised cleaning of septic tanks, transportation and treatment of faecal sludge; equipping the municipalities, and setting up of Sanitation Response Units with help lines, according to a document by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.&nbsp;</p> Sat Sep 12 14:16:00 IST 2020