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Kiren Rijiju crossed ‘Lakshman Rekha’: Harish Salve on Law minister’s remarks on judiciary

NEW DELHI, Nov 29: Expressing his disapproval over Kiren Rijiju’s recent remarks on the run-ins between the government and the judiciary over the functioning of the Collegium, Senior Advocate Harish Salve said the Union Law Minister had crossed the ‘Lakshman Rekha’, Bar and Bench reported.

“The Law Minister crossed the Lakshman Rekha by what he said in my opinion. If he thinks that the Supreme Court must hold its hand when it sees a brazenly unconstitutional law and be hostage to the government’s kindness to amend that law, sorry that’s wrong,” Salve was quoted as saying by Bar and Bench.

Salve was speaking at the Times Now Summit 2022 along with former Chief Justice of India UU Lalit on the topic ‘What Is Slowing India’s Judicial System?’

Further, on being asked about his opinion on the Supreme Court Collegium, Salve said that he continues to be a critic of the system.

On Friday, Law Minister Rijiju had criticised the Supreme Court’s observation that the government was sitting on files relating to appointment of judges cleared by the Collegium. “Never say that the government is sitting on the files, then don’t send the files to the government, you appoint yourself, you run the show…”

Describing the Collegium system as “alien” to the Constitution, he had said, “You tell me under which provision the Collegium system has been prescribed.”

On Monday, Supreme Court judge Justice SK Kaul had expressed his displeasure of Rijiju’s criticism stating that this “should not have happened”.

Without naming the Union Law Minister, Justice Kaul said: “Let them give the power. We have no difficulty… I ignored all press reports, but what he says, that when somebody high enough says let them do it themselves, we will do it ourselves, no difficulty… It came from somebody high enough. Should not have. All I can say is, should not have happened.”

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had expressed displeasure over the Centre keeping pending the names recommended for appointment as judges in the higher judiciary, including those reiterated by the apex court Collegium. The top court observed that the method of keeping names on hold is becoming “some sort of a device” to compel the persons, whose names have been recommended for appointment as judges in the higher judiciary, to withdraw their consent.

“Post second reiteration, only the appointment has to be issued. Keeping names on hold is not acceptable; it is becoming some sort of a device to compel these persons to withdraw their names, as has happened,” a bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka was quoted as saying by Bar and Bench.

Teenager rapes 10-year-old girl in her house after watching porn, strangles her: Police

RAIPUR, Nov 29: A 17-year-old boy in central Chhattisgarh allegedly raped a 10-year-old girl alone at home, killed her and left the young girl’s body hanging from a rod in her house, police said on Tuesday.

Police said the rape and murder took place on Saturday in Bemetara district, a little over 60km from state capital Raipur.

Bemetara district additional superintendent of police (Addl SP) Pankaj Patel said investigators initially suspected that the girl may have died by suicide. But the autopsy report revealed marks on her body that indicated that the girl tried to fight back.

Patel said the police team detained some people in the neighbourhood for questioning. Among them was a teenager.

The accused allegedly confessed to the crime during questioning, Patel said.

“The accused told the police that he was addicted to watching porn on his mobile. On Saturday, after watching porn, he barged into the girl’s house when she was alone and sexually assaulted her”, he said.

Patel said the boy was afraid that the girl would tell her family about the assault and strangled her with her scarf. Before leaving, he also hung her lifeless body in the house to pass off her death as a suicide.

A case has been registered under sections 450 (house trespass), 376 (rape), 376 AB (rape of woman under twelve years of age), 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence ) of the IPC and provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence (POCSO) Act relating to penetrative sexual assault, he said.

'Such Tearing Urgency?' Supreme Court On Election Commissioner Appointment

NEW DELHI, Nov 24: The Supreme Court today questioned what the "tearing hurry" was for the "super fast" appointment of ex-IAS officer Arun Goel as Election Commissioner.

Continuing with some stinging remarks on the process, today it went straight into the files on Arun Goel that it had sought yesterday, despite the government's objection to a "mini trial" within the larger case on how the commissioners are chosen.

The court pointed out: "Minister of Law picks up the names from the list of four names shortlisted... The file was put up on November 18; moves the same day. Even PM recommends the name on the same day. We don't want any confrontation but was this done in any haste. What's the tearing hurry?"

It added, "This vacancy [became] available on May 15. Show us from May to November, what prevailed upon the government to do things super fast?" It noted that the process "started and completed on the same day". "Not even in 24 hours, the process was completed and notified. What kind of evaluation [was done] here?"

Asking about the process of shortlisting four names, the court further remarked: "We are being blunt. If all these four names are carefully chosen, as yes men — we are concerned with the process of selection."

The hearing was continuing on a third consecutive day after the five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Justice KM Joseph, yesterday said it wants to know if there was any "hanky panky" in the appointment of Arun Goel as he was only recently given voluntary retirement and immediately appointed to the poll body.

Arun Goel took charge only this Monday, November 21, according to the commission's website. An IAS officer of the 1985 batch from the Punjab cadre, he retired as Secretary, Union Ministry of Heavy Industry, after more than 37 years of service. He is now in line to be Chief Election Commissioner after Rajiv Kumar demits office in February 2025.

The appointment was mentioned by activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who underlined that Goel was made part of the three-member Election Commission — besides chief Rajiv Kumar and AC Pandey — just after the larger issue had come up for hearing last week.

"Arun Goel was, till Thursday, working as a secretary-level officer in the government. Suddenly, he was given VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme) on Friday and appointed as an election commissioner," Bhushan said. He was otherwise to retire on December 31 at the age of 60.

The court rejected the objections by the government lawyer, Attorney General R Venkataramani, who said it wasn't right to take up individual instances. "We want to see what is the mechanism. We will not treat it as an adversarial and keep it for our record, but we want to know as you claim that everything is hunky dory... You have time till tomorrow," the court told the government lawyer.

The specific "hanky panky" check comes at a time when the court has been rather scathing in its observations on the wider process.

Pointedly about its independence, the court today presented a "hypothesis" for the central government: “Do you think the Election Commissioner... if he's asked to take on none less than the Prime Minister — it's just an example — and he doesn't come around to doing it: Will it not be a case of complete breakdown of the system?"

It also cited how “one of the Election Commissioners, in fact, resigned”. The court did not take names, rather arguing its central point that the appointment system requires "a larger body" than just the union cabinet to decide on names. "There is a dire need for change."

The court has already flagged how Article 324 of the Constitution — on appointment of election commissioners — does not chalk out a procedure. It envisages a law by Parliament to define the process, but that's not been made in the last 72 years.

The government has cited a 1991 law and past conventions of appointment recommended by the PM-led cabinet to the President, who then picks an officer. “Stray instances cannot be the grounds for the court to interfere. To safeguard the position is our endeavour,” the government's lawyer submitted earlier today.

"First a list is prepared of all senior bureaucrats. And then the list is sent to the Law Ministry which is then forwarded to the PM," the lawyer explained, and said, "The existing system is working fine and there is no trigger point for the court to intervene."

The court stressed that it wasn't saying the system is not correct. “There should be a transparent mechanism,” it added.

Supreme Court Wants Files On Election Commissioner Arun Goel's Appointment

NEW DELHI, Nov 23: Besides some sharp comments and questions on the appointment process for the Election Commission of India, the Supreme Court has now asked for specific files: On the November 19 appointment of Arun Goel to the commission. The hearing will continue on Thursday.

The five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice KM Joseph said it wants to know if there was any "hanky panky" in the appointment as he was only recently given voluntary retirement and immediately appointed to the poll body.

Arun Goel's appointment was mentioned by activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan during the hearing of a batch of petitions on the very process. Bhushan underlined that Goel, a recently-retired IAS officer, was made part of the three-member Election Commission — besides chief Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey — just after the larger issue came up for hearing last week.

"Arun Goel was, till Thursday, working as a secretary-level officer in the government. Suddenly, he was given VRS on Friday and appointed as an election commissioner," Mr Bhushan said. He was otherwise to retire on December 31 at the age of 60.

The court rejected the objections by the government lawyer, Attorney General R Venkataramani, who said it wasn't right to take up individual instances.

"We want to see what is the mechanism. We will not treat it as an adversarial and keep it for our record, but we want to know as you claim that everything is hunky dory... You have time till tomorrow," the court told the government lawyer.

Arun Goel took charge only this Monday, November 21, according to the commission's website. An IAS officer of the 1985 batch from the Punjab cadre, he retired as Secretary, Union Ministry of Heavy Industry, after more than 37 years of service.

He is now in line to be Chief Election Commissioner after Rajiv Kumar demits office in February 2025.

The specific "hanky panky" check comes at a time when the court has been rather scathing in its observations on the wider process.

Pointedly about its independence, the court today presented a "hypothesis" for the central government: “Do you think the Election Commissioner... if he's asked to take on none less than the Prime Minister — it's just an example — and he doesn't come around to doing it: Will it not be a case of complete breakdown of the system?"

It also cited how “one of the Election Commissioners, in fact, resigned”. The court did not take names, rather arguing its central point that the appointment system requires "a larger body" than just the union cabinet to decide on names. "There is a dire need for change."

The court has already flagged how Article 324 of the Constitution — on appointment of election commissioners — does not chalk out a procedure. It envisages a law by Parliament to define the process, but that's not been made in the last 72 years.

The government has cited a 1991 law and past conventions of appointment recommended by the PM-led cabinet to the President, who then picks an officer. “Stray instances cannot be the grounds for the court to interfere. To safeguard the position is our endeavour,” the government's lawyer submitted earlier today.

"First a list is prepared of all senior bureaucrats. And then the list is sent to the Law Ministry which is then forwarded to the PM," the lawyer explained, and said, "The existing system is working fine and there is no trigger point for the court to intervene."

The court stressed that it wasn't saying the system is not correct. “There should be a transparent mechanism,” it added.

The government lawyer argued further, "The court cannot interfere in the system only because we cannot show every single file how the appointment was done. You need to show instances wherein some wrong has happened. Merely on likelihood, apprehension or anxiety, interference from the court is not called for."

It is in this background that the court has sought the files on a specific appointment — that of the latest pick, Arun Goel.

3,165 Tickets Issued On Day Gujarat Bridge Collapsed, Finds Damning Report

MORBI (Gujarat), Nov 22: Investigation into the bridge collapse in Gujarat's Morbi that killed over 130 people last month has revealed huge lapses in the renovation and the management upon reopening, raising questions over contractor Oreva Group and the local municipality.

Oreva Group, which had the contract of maintenance, operation and security of the suspension bridge, had issued a whopping 3,165 tickets on October 30, the day of the collapse, said the government lawyer at a district court today while submitting a forensic probe report. Not all tickets were sold but the company hadn't, in any case, assessed the load-bearing capacity of the bridge that was originally built over a century ago.

The bridge's cables were rusted, its anchors were broken, and even the bolts that connected the cables with the anchors were loose, the report said. Preliminary probe had suggested that the old cables could not take the load of a new, heavy flooring laid by the contractor.

The guards and ticket collector kept by Oreva were daily wage labourers, who had no expertise in crowd management, said the government lawyer during bail hearing of the nine staff members who have so far been arrested. No one from the top management of Oreva, which is known mainly for 'Ajanta' clocks, has faced arrest as yet.

The guards were never told about safety protocols or how many people should be allowed on the bridge, the report said. The district-level government pleader, Vijay Jani, said, "Oreva was responsible for security but they didn't even keep any lifeguards or boats to save people in case of an accident."

The bridge over Machchhu river collapsed just four days after it was reopened. It was to be kept closed for eight to 12 months as per the contract, but was reopened after seven months -- on October 26, the Gujarati New Year -- without any fitness certificate by the local civic body.

In the High Court last week, the civic body took responsibility for the collapse. It said in an affidavit that "the bridge shouldn't have been opened". An officer has been suspended. The High Court had taken note of the tragedy on its own and sought replies from at least six departments.

The civic body was slammed by the High Court at two hearings before this over delay in filing an affidavit about details of the tragedy. "The municipality, a government body, has defaulted, which ultimately killed 135 people," the court said.

The High Court has asked why legal norms had not been followed. "The largesse of the state seems to have been granted without there being any tender floated in this regard," one of its orders last week stated. The court asked for the basis on which the bridge was being operated by the company after June 2017 "even when the contract (signed in 2008 for nine years) was not renewed". A fresh agreement was signed in March 2022 for a period of 15 years.

The matter reached the Supreme Court earlier this week, and it asked the High Court to hold periodical hearings. "It is an enormous tragedy and this will require weekly monitoring to see the award of contract, credential of the party awarded the contract, attribution of responsibility for those guilty," observed the bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli.

While the state government has set up a five-member inquiry committee, the Gujarat State Human Rights Commission has told the High Court that its chairperson and a member are probing the effects of the tragedy. The commission is also verifying if the compensation is being is paid properly to the families.

Man Shot Daughter In Delhi, Wife Helped Pack Body In Suitcase, Say Cops

NEW DELHI, Nov 21: A 22-year-old Delhi woman, whose body was found inside a suitcase near the Yamuna Expressway in Uttar Pradesh's Mathura last week, was killed by her father, Uttar Pradesh police said today.

Aayushi Chaudhary's parents have been arrested for her murder, according to the Mathura Superintendent of Police.

Nitesh Yadav allegedly shot his daughter dead, furious that she had "gone out for some days" without telling him. He was also enraged that she had married a man from a different caste, and that she often stayed out till late night, sources said.

Aayushi Chaudhary was pursuing a Bachelor of Computer Application in Delhi.

After the police recovered the suitcase, they began tracing phones, checked CCTV footage, used social media, and also put up posters in Delhi to identify the woman.

Concrete information about her, however, was received from an unknown call on Sunday morning, and later, her mother and brother identified her through photographs.

The father, who lives in Badarpur in south Delhi, was arrested after the police questioned him when he went to identify the body.

According to the police, Aayushi had married a man named Chhatrapal, from another caste, without telling her family.

Her parents were angry at what they believed was her defiance and 'stubborn' attitude.

After shooting Aayushi with his licensed gun, Nitesh Yadav allegedly packed her body in a suitcase and dumped it in Mathura.

Aayushi's body was found wrapped in plastic in a large red suitcase near the Yamuna Expressway in Mathura last Friday.

There was blood on the face and head and there were injury marks all over the body, the police had said.

The suitcase was spotted by labourers, who then called the police.

The family is a native of Baluni in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur and migrated to the national capital after Nitesh Yadav found a job there.

Zomato co-founder Mohit Gupta resigns, marking the third big exit in two weeks

ZOMATO co-founder Mohit Gupta has quit the company after a four-and-half-year stint, marking the third high-profile exit from the food delivery major in recent weeks.

Zomato's new initiatives head and former food delivery chief Rahul Ganjoo had resigned earlier this week while Siddharth Jhawar, the head of its Intercity Legends service, announced that he had left the company a week back.

Gupta joined Zomato in 2018 as the head of food delivery. He was subsequently elevated to co-founder in 2021 to oversee new businesses when Ganjoo was made the CEO of food delivery.

Before joining Zomato, Gupta was the chief operating officer of travel portal Makemytrip.

Amid a meltdown of tech stocks, the food delivery company has suffered in the public market this year as its stock price has fallen by more than 50 percent from its peak of Rs 162 on the BSE.

Moreover, the growth of its food delivery business has slowed as it has become bigger – quarterly sales have grown only 22 percent from Rs 5,410 crore in Q2 of FY21 to Rs 6,631 crore in Q2 of FY22.

In contrast to this, quarterly sales grew 158 percent from Q2 of FY21 to Q2 of FY22.

However, there might also be a bright spot. Marketing cost has come down 23 percent year-on-year to Rs 300 crore in Q2 and delivery expenses have dropped 28 percent to Rs 283 crore.

Given that the company’s revenue has grown 62 percent over this period, it would seem that the operating leverage and scale effects that investors have been longing to see are finally kicking in.

Zomato’s net loss for the quarter narrowed to Rs 250.8 crore against Rs 434.9 crore registered in the same quarter last year. Meanwhile, revenue from operations zoomed 62.20 percent to Rs 1,661.3 crore.

In August, Zomato had said that its food delivery business had broken even at an operating level as it reported that Adjusted EBITDA for the segment was zero in the June quarter (Q1). But, it has now revised that metric to an Adjusted EBITDA loss of Rs 113 crore for Q1.

Zomato has again claimed to break even in food delivery in the September quarter as it recorded an Adjusted Ebitda of Rs 2 crore for the segment.

Adjusted Ebitda is a metric that many tech companies use even as each one of them defines it differently. Typically, costs that are not considered operational for the business such as employee stock option expenses are kept out of it.

Centre Challenges Release Of Convicts In Rajiv Gandhi Case

NEW DELHI, Nov 18: A week after the Supreme Court ordered the release of six people who were convicted in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, the central government on Thursday requested the court to review its decision.

The centre filed a petition in the Supreme Court asking it to review the order, after the six people, including a woman, were released last week from prison in Tamil Nadu, where their three-decade incarceration has been a hugely emotive and political issue.

The centre has contended that the release of the convicts was cleared without it being given an adequate hearing which has led to an "admitted and glaring breach of principles of natural justice and has, in fact, resulted into miscarriage of justice".

"In such a sensitive matter, the assistance of Union of India was of paramount importance as the matter has huge repercussions on the public order, peace, tranquillity and criminal justice system of the country," the government said.

The government also said that given four of the six convicts were Sri Lankan and convicted of being terrorists "for the gruesome offence of assassinating the former Prime Minister of the country", granting them remission was "a matter which has international ramifications and therefore falls squarely within the sovereign powers of the Union of India."

Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber while campaigning for an election on behalf of the Congress party in Tamil Nadu's Sriperumbudur in May 1991. Seven people were sentenced to life in the case.

The court said its decision was based on the prisoners' good behaviour and the release in May of AG Perarivalan, another person convicted in the case, saying that he was 19 years old at the time of arrest and had been jailed for more than 30 years, with 29 of those in solitary confinement.

Disagreeing with its former chief Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi's widow whose support had led to the death sentence of four convicts being commuted, the Congress sharply criticised the judgement.

"The decision of the Supreme Court to free the remaining killers of former PM Rajiv Gandhi is totally unacceptable and completely erroneous," the party said.

The decision, however, was welcomed by many in Tamil Nadu - including its ruling DMK party - who viewed the sentencing of the convicts as unfair and that the locals implicated in the case had become part of the plot without knowing its extent.

Rajiv Gandhi's killing was seen as an act of retaliation after he sent Indian peacekeepers to Sri Lanka in 1987, only to withdraw them after losing more than 1,200 men in battle and facing allegations of human rights violations in the island nation.

2 Migrants Shot At By Terrorists In Jammu And Kashmir, 2nd Attack In 10 Days

SRINAGAR, Nov 12: Two non-local labourers were injured after being shot at by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag on Saturday. This was the second targeted attack on migrant labourers in the last ten days.

"The terrorists fired upon and injured two outside labourers in Rakh-Momin area of Anantnag. Both the injured are being shifted to the hospital for treatment," said the police.

They said the area was being cordoned off to look for the attackers.

Earlier this month, terrorists fired upon two migrant labourers in the same district.

According to the police, the victims were working at a private school in Bondialgam area. One of the victims is from Bihar while the other is from Nepal. They were admitted to the hospital.

Non-local migrant workers have been a target of series of terrorist attacks in Kashmir. Last month, two labourers from Uttar Pradesh were killed in Shopian district. The labourers were working at an apple orchard.

6 Ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi Killers Including Nalini Sriharan Freed By Supreme Court

NEW DELHI, Nov 11: Nalini Sriharan and five more convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case have been freed by the Supreme Court after 31 years in jail.
In May, the Supreme Court used its extraordinary powers to free a seventh convict, Perarivalan. The same order applied to the rest of the convicts, the court said.

The court also noted that the Tamil Nadu cabinet had recommended to the Governor in 2018 that the convicts be freed and the Governor was bound by it.

Besides Nalini, the others jailed for the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi were Sriharan, Santhan, Murugan, Robert Payas and RP Ravichandran.

The Supreme Court said the convicts had showed "satisfactory behaviour", acquired degrees, written books and had also participated in social service.

"Magizhchi," said Nalini's lawyer, using the Tamil word for "a state of joy".

The Rajiv Gandhi assassination case stirs deep emotions in Tamil Nadu and every government in the state, whether led by the AIADMK or DMK, has campaigned for their freedom after decades in jail. Many in Tamil Nadu believe that the seven prisoners played minor roles in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and were duped into taking part in a plot they knew little about.

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991, at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by a woman suicide bomber of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) group from neighbouring Sri Lanka.

The seven convicts were sentenced to death for their role in the killing.

In 2000, Nalini Sriharan's sentence was reduced to a life term on the intervention of Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi's wife and former Congress president. In 2008, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the daughter of Rajiv Gandhi, met with her in Vellore jail.

The sentence of six more convicts was also commuted in 2014. The same year, then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha initiated moves to free them.

The Congress strongly objected to the Supreme Court order freeing Rajiv Gandhi's assassins.

"The decision of the Supreme Court to free the remaining killers of former PM Rajiv Gandhi is totally unacceptable and completely erroneous. The Congress Party criticises it clearly and finds it wholly untenable. It is most unfortunate that the Supreme Court has not acted in consonance with the spirit of India on this issue," said Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh.

Nalini Sriharan's brother Bakianathan said the convicts had already served three decades in prison and had suffered enough. "They were released on humanitarian grounds. Those who oppose their release should respect the laws of India," said Bakianathan.

Aaditya Thackeray Joins Bharat Jodo Yatra

MUMBAI, Nov 11: Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader and former Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray on Friday joined the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' being led by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi at Kalamnuri in Maharashtra's Hingoli. The two leaders walked side by side while waving to the people lining the way.

"Bharat Jodo Yatra is much more than politics, it is about the idea of India," Aaditya Thackeray said after marching for two hours.

"This is for democracy, for country, this is for idea of democracy. This is what vibrant democracy is about," he added.

His party colleague and the leader of the opposition in the state Legislative Council Ambadas Danve accompanied Aaditya Thackeray inj the march. Former MLA Sachin Ahir joined in too.

Party Chief Uddhav Thackeray has also been invited to take part in the march during its Maharashtra leg.

The cross-country foot-march has entered its 65th day.

The gesture signals closeness between the two parties, with different ideologies, which agreed on a common minimum program to form the now-removed Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra.

Several prominent leaders have participated in the Rahul Gandhi-led march so far. The Congress party has consistently maintained that anyone who agrees with the message of the Yatra -- to stand in solidarity with people from different communities across the country -- can join them.

Rahul Gandhi has also been attacking the BJP-led state government on Maharashtra losing some big projects to other states -- an issue that Aaditya Thackeray has been consistently raising.

Aditya Thackeray and Rahul Gandhi have come together at a time when a new government in the state will contest its first poll after the Shiv Sena split and BJP backing rebels to bring down the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. With the civic body polls (BMC) and other Municipal Corporation elections ahead, Aditya Thackeray's visit could mean that the two parties will contest these elections in an alliance.

When Chief Minister Eknath Shinde rebelled against Uddhav Thackeray, he cited the alliance with Congress and NCP as one of the reasons to do so. In spite of the big political setback, it's noteworthy that Aaditya Thackeray has publicly reaffirmed his party's relationship with the Congress, hinting at an ideological shift in the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray).

Flowers were showered on the participants in Seni village in Nanded's Ardhapur taluka, with the march entering Hingoli district at Choramba Phata.

In Hingoli, a group of people who arrived to cheer the march, including many women and children, even brought an elephant along.

Among those who stood along the route and shouted slogans in support of the march and sought implementation of 'One Rank One Pension' (ORO) were 22 former servicemen.

"We feel the Congress can fulfil this demand (OROP)," said former Army man Sahebrao Hone.

Gandhi interacted with people along the route of the march.

On Thursday, Nationalist Congress Party leaders Supriya Sule and Jitendra Awhad had taken part in the march. While NCP chief Sharad Pawar was invited to join the yatra, he could not participate due to ill health.

Congress, Sharad Pawar's Party Form Alliance For Gujarat Elections

AHMEDABAD, Nov 11: The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) entered into a pre-poll alliance for next month's Gujarat Assembly elections. As part of the alliance, Sharad Pawar-led NCP will contest in three out of the 182 seats in the state, the leaders of the two parties announced in Ahmedabad today.

In the 2017 Assembly elections, the two parties had contested the Gujarat elections separately. NCP's Kandhal Jadeja was the only MLA to win from the party. He represents the Kutiyana Assembly seat in Porbandar district.

Making an announcement about the alliance, Gujarat Congress president Jagdish Thakor said: "NCP will fight the upcoming Assembly polls in the state in alliance with the Congress. The NCP will contest three seats - Umreth (Anand district), Naroda (Ahmedabad) and Devgadh Baria (Dahod district) - as part of the alliance."

These three seats are currently held by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"The Congress has decided to forge an alliance with those parties that were with us in UPA [United Progressive Alliance]-1 and 2 at the national level," Thakor said, while expressing confidence that the grand old party would return to power in the state by winning 125 seats.

He said that people sharing the same ideology and working to save the Constitution as well as the country's unity are coming together against fascist forces and this alliance is a part of the same.

Talking to reporters, NCP's state unit president Jayant Patel Boskey said the NCP will support Congress in fighting the Gujarat Assembly election.

"We will make sure that we contest these three seats with honesty. I am thankful for the trust reposed in us by Congress. We will not do anything that will harm the image of the NCP," he said.

Thakor said there is a possibility that NCP workers will demand more seats, but according to the alliance, the party will contest only three seats.

Elections in Gujarat will be held in two phases, on December 1 and 5. Votes will be counted on December 8.

Team Anna Hazare Says Will Launch Agitation Against BJP For Unfulfilled Promises.

LUCKNOW, Nov 10: Anna Hazare's secretary Kalpana Inamdar on Thursday said that Team Anna will launch an agitation against BJP, if the party does not fulfil promises it made to the people post-2014.

She said that the BJP has failed to fulfil all its promises despite being voted into power by the people with a thumping majority.

Inamdar at a press conference organised by the Rashtriya Kisan Manch here said that the people trapped in the web of corruption and inequalities supported Anna in all his agitations in the year 2011, and as a consequence brought BJP to power as an alternative to Congress.

But in the last eight years of BJP's tenure, the condition of the country's rural areas has worsened, she said.

Corruption has increased in the country, Industrialists are looting the wealth of the villages, and the government is silent, she added.

Inamdar said, "Despite Anna Hazare writing letters several times, it is incomprehensible to not take the schemes on the ground as promised by the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.

"If the Modi government does not take steps to fulfil the promises made before the elections, then team Anna will again work to make the public aware and remove the BJP from the government." Rashtriya Kisan Manch President Shekhar Dixit said that it is easy to get votes by dividing people in the name of religion, but working on ground for the same people is beyond the ken of the BJP.

He said that today the farmers and youth of the country are "desperate, sad, and disappointed." Retired IAS officer Kamal Tawari said that if the government really wants to save the culture of the villages and the country, then it will have to leave the politics of "cows and saints" and work on the land.

"The truth is that the work hasn't even started yet," he said.

KCR Presents Videos To Back MLA Poaching Charges Against BJP

HYDERABAD, Nov 3: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, or KCR as he is known, called an unexpected news conference on Thursday and screened a series of videos that he said backed his party's MLA poaching charges against the BJP.

Presenting the four MLAs, who had supposedly thwarted an attempt to buy them out, KCR said he had more than an hour of hidden camera footage that implicated the BJP. He played five minutes of the tapes at the news conference.

He scaled up his attack on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that "Delhi brokers" tried to bribe the four MLAs of his Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) party.

The reference was to last week's incident that took place at a farmhouse in Telangana, that has set off a political storm in the state ahead of a key by-poll that was held today in a test for his party as it gears up to go national.

KCR said the videos were evidence that the busted meeting at the farmhouse was a poaching operation because the brokers mentioned Union Home Minister Amit Shah "20 times", Modi "thrice" and referenced the change in government in Karnataka.

Requesting the judiciary to "save the country", he said he would be sending the videos to top judges of the Supreme Court, High Courts and opposition leaders. KCR alleged the BJP was trying to topple governments in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan.

The BJP has denied allegations of poaching, declaring that it was a drama "scripted, directed and produced" by the Chief Minister. The BJP has also approached the court and the Election Commission.

"Some Delhi brokers came to challenge Telangana's self-respect... They offered ₹ 100 crore to four MLAs," Rao said at a rally two days ago, parading the four who had called in the police at the farmhouse, alleging an "Operation Lotus".

Three people -- one of them a businessman - were arrested. Ramachandra Bharati alias Satish Sharma, Nanda Kumar, and Simhayaji Swamyat have been sent to jail for 14 days.
On Wednesday, Telangana Rashtra Samithi MLA Pilot Rohith Reddy had filed a complaint with the police, alleging that Ramachandra Bharati and Nanda Kumar, both belonging to the BJP, had met him and offered him ₹ 100 crore to join the BJP.

The complaint mentioned that they also threatened that if they failed to comply, criminal cases will be filed against them through Central agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Over 140 killed as repaired bridge collapses in Gujarat

MORBI, Oct 31: A day after more than 140 people died in a bridge collapse in Gujarat's Morbi, nine people have been arrested. Among them are managers of Oreva, the company that renovated the bridge, ticket collectors, bridge repair contractors and three security guards whose job was to control the crowds.

Gujarat-based Oreva has been accused of violating multiple safety rules, leading to the huge tragedy just four days after the bridge reopened to the public. But none of its top bosses have been arrested. "We won't let the guilty get away, we won't spare anyone," Morbi police chief Ashok Yadav said today.

Soon after signing a 15-year deal with the Morbi civic body, Oreva, a watchmaker, allegedly outsourced the "technical aspect of the bridge renovation" to a smaller company with an unknown record, Devprakash Solutions.

Oreva was hired for repair work on the historic colonial-era bridge in March. The bridge was reopened to the public seven months later, on October 26, when the Gujarati New Year was celebrated. The company was bound by its contract to keep the bridge shut for at least eight to 12 months for maintenance and repairs. It was a "seriously irresponsible and careless gesture" to open the bridge last week, the police said in an FIR that doesn't name anyone.

Those assigned the repair, maintenance and management of the bridge "did not do the repair/maintenance work" appropriately, the FIR said. They "did not conduct a proper quality check" but were aware of the possibly fatal dangers, it added.

Tickets were sold for ₹ 12 to ₹ 17 yesterday to nearly 500 people, officials said, which resulted in overcrowding on the "hanging bridge", causing the old metal cables to give way. A few on the bridge were seen in CCTV footage rocking the bridge, which could take the weight of only about 125 people.

The contract allowed the company to raise the ticket prices every year till 2037.

While reopening the bridge last week, Oreva Managing Director Jaysukhbhai Patel had told reporters that the company had completed "100 per cent renovation with two crores".

He also claimed that the renovated bridge would sustain for "eight to 10 years". It did not last even a week.

Patel's own words raised questions about how strong the bridge was. "We also don't want to overwhelm the sturdiness of the bridge, so to limit the amount of entry and the crowd, we will charge for an entry," he had said, explaining why the company was selling tickets.

The company also said it is considering requests to open the bridge at night for two hours.

An MP Lost 12 Family Members In Gujarat Bridge Tragedy

MORBI, Oct 31: BJP Lok Sabha member from Rajkot, Mohan Kundariya, today said 12 of his relatives were among those killed in the suspension bridge collapse in Gujarat's Morbi town.

They had gone to visit the picnic spot on Sunday when the tragedy took place, the BJP MP said.

More than 130 people were killed after a suspension bridge on the Machchhu River collapsed last evening, according to the police.

Kundariya said the 12 victims of his family included five children, four women and three men, all close relatives of his elder brother. Strict action will be taken against those responsible for the tragedy, he said.

"Four daughters of the brother-in-law of my elder brother, the husbands of three of them and five children were killed in the accident," Kundariya said.

They belonged to different villages in Tankara taluka and were settled in Morbi, he said.

"As it was Sunday, they had gone to the picnic spot where the tragedy occurred. I reached there half-an-hour after the incident took place and have been at the spot since yesterday, helping in the rescue work," the MP added.

"So many people have been killed. We will take strict action against those responsible for the incident," he said.

Kundariya said Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel was camping in Morbi after the bridge collapse incident.

He further said: "We will ensure that nobody responsible for the loss of so many lives is spared."

Congress 'Solid Party' In Gujarat, AAP Is Only 'In The Air': Rahul Gandhi

KOTHUR (Telangana), Oct 31: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday exuded confidence that his party will win the Gujarat assembly elections, contending that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has only created a buzz in the state purely on the basis of advertisements and had no support on the ground.

Addressing a press conference here, Gandhi said there was a massive anti-incumbency against the BJP-led government in the state.

"Congress is contesting the Gujarat elections effectively. AAP is only in the air. It has nothing on the ground. Congress is a solid party in Gujarat," he told reporters here to questions on his party's prospects in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state.

"There is massive anti-incumbency. The media has created a buzz based on the advertisements given by AAP. Congress party is a solid party in Gujarat. Congress party is going to win the election there," he said.

Gandhi refused to comment on the tragedy in Morbi where a bridge collapsed leaving more than 140 dead, saying he did not wish to politicise the incident.

The former Congress president also ruled out any possibility of a tie up with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

"There is absolutely no possibility of any relationship between the TRS and the Congress," he said.

Gandhi said the TRS was diametrically opposite to what the Congress stood for.

"The corruption, the approach, the attitude of TRS is not acceptable to us. We are diametrically opposite to what they are doing," he said.

Asked about TRS founder K Chandrasekhar Rao's move to rename his party as the Bharath Rashtra Samithi, Gandhi said the Telangana chief minister was free to imagine that he was leading a national or even an international party.

Rahul Gandhi's 'PayPM' Swipe After Karnataka 'Sweet Box Bribe' Row

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi doubled down on allegations of corruption against the BJP government in Karnataka — citing reports of "cash gifts" to journalists — and pulled in the Prime Minister, too, for the party's much-used wordplay using payments app PayTM.

"The BJP government of 'PayCM' and 'PayPM'," he said in a tweet, stands for "corruption of 'double engine' across the country", taking a swipe at Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and PM Narendra Modi.

"Before the election, 'Neither will I take bribe, nor will I allow it'. After election — will eat '40% commission', then send bribes to Karnataka media in sweet boxes on Diwali," Rahul Gandhi tweeted, in Hindi, citing PM Modi's "Na khaunga, na khane dunga" promise.

The Congress has alleged — as have other parties and groups — that the Karnataka government takes a "40 per cent cut" in awarding contracts.

The latest row came after allegations that an official from Chief Minister Bommai's office gave "cash gifts" ranging from Rs 1 lakh to 2.5 lakh with sweet boxes to some journalists on Diwali. The Congress has demanded a judicial inquiry.

The BJP has said the accusation is "far from the truth", and that the Congress is getting desperate ahead of the state elections due next year.

Three of over 10 journalists who allegedly received the boxes confirmed cash was distributed; two of them said they gave the money back to the CMO, according to a report in The News Minute.

An activist group has filed a complaint with the Karnataka Lokayukta, the anti-corruption ombudsman, against Basavaraj Bommai's media adviser for allegedly attempting to bribe journalists.

Some NGOs Propagating Anti-India Activities: Amit Shah

NEW DELHI, Oct 27: Union Home Minister Amit Shah today justified the cancellation of licences for many non-government organisations (NGO) and strengthening of the Foreigners Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) on grounds that some NGOs were indulging in religious conversions, anti-national activities and misusing funds.

"Some NGOs were misusing FCRA in propagating anti-India activities and also indulging in religious conversions blatantly, creating hurdles in the development of the country. Centre has taken strong action against such entities," Shah said on the first day of the two-day brain storming session in Surajkund, Haryana, today.

Chief Ministers, Home Ministers and state police chiefs are taking part in this 'Chintan Shivir', chaired by the Union Home Minister.

"In 2020, the government took strong action to stop foreign funding of such NGOs by amending the FCRA. We have established a strong mechanism to check such flow of money. I am pleased to say that in the coming days, we will further strengthen this mechanism ," he said.

On a day when the conclave was skipped by four Chief Ministers, Shah announced that by 2024, all states will have offices of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The statement may lead to a fresh round of political confrontation between states and the centre as many opposition-ruled states have been accusing the centre of not following the federal structure and interfering with the functioning of state governments.

The Union Home Minister reasoned that even though law and order is a state subject, crimes have become borderless due to the advancement of technology and success can be achieved against trans-border criminal activities only if all states and the central government sit together and formulate a common strategy.

The stated purpose of this Chintan Shivir is to prepare an action plan for the implementation of 'Vision 2047' and Panch Pran, announced in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day speech.

The Union Home Minister further said that a large number of proposals to amend Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedures (CrPC) have been received and those were being analysed.

"We will shortly present a new draft of the CrPC and IPC before the Parliament," he added.

Mallikarjun Kharge Is New Congress Chief

New Delhi: The Congress today declared veteran Mallikarjun Kharge its new chief, the first non-Gandhi to lead the party in 24 years. He will take charge on October 26.
Kharge, 80, widely seen to be the "Gandhi-approved" candidate in a contest against Shashi Tharoor, won 84 per cent of the votes cast on Monday.

Kharge takes over from Sonia Gandhi, who agreed to temporarily lead the party when Rahul Gandhi stepped down in 2019, taking responsibility for successive general election defeats.

As is Congress tradition, Kharge wanted to visit Sonia Gandhi at her 10, Janpath home. But sources say Sonia Gandhi decided that given the occasion, it should be the other way round. She drove to Kharge's 10, Rajaji home with a bouquet.

Though Kharge made a last-minute entry into the contest, his landslide victory was never in doubt.

He won 7,897 votes while Shashi Tharoor finished with 1,072.

Even before the results were announced, the confirmation came from Rahul Gandhi at a press conference in Andhra Pradesh.

"I can't comment on the Congress president's role, that's for Kharge to comment on," Rahul Gandhi said on the new president's role while he remains the face of the party.

"The president will decide what my role is and how I am to be deployed... that you have to ask Kharge ji and Sonia ji," he said.

He also said he would "report to" Kharge, like every party member.

When the results were announced, celebrations erupted at the Congress office, the kind not seen in years as the party suffered defeat after defeat.

Shashi Tharoor said the elections, irrespective of the outcome, had "ultimately strengthened the party".

"I look forward to working with Congress colleagues to face the challenges ahead. I believe the revival of our party has truly begun today," Tharoor said in a statement.

Soon after the counting of votes began this morning, Tharoor had alleged "extremely serious irregularities" in the election process. In a sharp letter, his team asked for the votes in Uttar Pradesh to be cancelled. However, Tharoor later withdrew the demand and said, "Let's move on", regretting that the letter was leaked.

The Gandhis, blamed for the party's inability to win elections, stayed out of the contest and insisted that the new Congress chief should be someone outside their family.

Since Independence, the Congress has mostly been led by a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family, who were elected unanimously. Elections were held only six times as there was more than one candidate - starting in 1939 when P Sitaramayya, backed by Mahatma Gandhi, lost to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

Sonia Gandhi, source say, will continue as chairperson of the Congress parliamentary party. She used this designation in all her official correspondence even after she took over as interim chief in 2019. In this role, she will select Mr Kharge's replacement as Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha.

Centre Approved Bilkis Bano Rapists' Release, Gujarat Tells Supreme Court

NEW DELHI, Oct 17: The premature release of 11 men convicted for the gang rape of Bilkis Bano and killing of her family during the 2002 Gujarat riots, was approved by the Union home ministry, the Gujarat government told the Supreme Court today.

The convicts walked free on Independence Day under an outdated remission policy of the state government, setting off a huge political controversy. While such releases need the approval of the Union Home Ministry, the state had not clarified about the clearance, leaving it a grey area.

Critics have questioned whether the Union home ministry had given clearance for the release, given that the current laws in both Centre and the state have restrictions on the premature release of those convicted of rape or sentenced to life imprisonment.

This clause was not present in Gujarat's 1992 remission policy, on the basis of which an advisory committee had recommended the release of men.

Today, the Gujarat government filed an affidavit in the top court, saying the Union Home Ministry had approved the premature release through a letter dated 11.07.2022. The letter from the ministry said it gives "concurrence/approval of the Central government under section 435 of CrPc for the premature release..."

The Supreme Court is hearing three petitions from CPM Politburo member Subhashini Ali, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, and one other person challenging the release of the men.

One of the petitioners contended that the case was investigated by the CBI, and so, the grant of remission solely by the Gujarat government without any consultation with the Central government is "impermissible" in terms of the mandate of Section 435 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

The court had asked the Gujarat government to file the entire record of the proceedings in the Bilkis Bano case, including the remission order given to the convicts.

Seven members of Bilkis Bano's family were murdered before her eyes -- among them her three-year-old daughter, whose head was bashed with a rock. Seven other relatives, who she says were also killed, were declared "missing".

The woman, 21 years old and five months' pregnant at the time, was then gang-raped. The family was attacked as they hid in the fields in Gujarat's Dahod, as violence swept the state following the attack on Sabarmati Express, in which 59 'kar sevaks' died.

The level of their atrocity had brought Bilkis Bano the highest-ever compensation in a rape case -- a job, a house and ₹ 50 lakh -- awarded by the Supreme Court in 2019.

The convicts were sentenced to life term in jail by a special court in Mumbai, which was later upheld by the High Court.

Bilkis Bano has said she was not consulted or informed about the decision.

In its affidavit, the Gujarat government said the men were released as they had been in jail for 14 years and their behaviour was found to be good.

NDTV has found that five of the 10 members of the advisory committee of the Gujarat government, which recommended the release, have links with the BJP.

The opposition parties have strongly hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the move, which came within hours of his praise for "Nari Shakti" in his Independence Day speech, and said this is the "real face" of New India under the BJP.

Asaduddin Owaisi, the chief of AIMIM, said the Gujarat government had released the convicts in violation of the guidelines of its own home ministry.

Justice DY Chandrachud appointed Chief Justice of India, to be sworn-in on Nov 9

NEW DELHI, Oct 17: President Droupadi Murmu on Monday appointed Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud as the Chief Justice of India effective from November 9. A tweet in this regard was shared by Union law minister Kiren Rijiju.

“In exercise of the power conferred by the Constitution of India, Hon'ble President appoints Dr. Justice DY Chandrachud, Judge, Supreme Court as the Chief Justice of India with effect from 9th November, 22,” Rijiju wrote on Twitter. The law ministry also shared a statement later.

Rijiju further extended his best wishes to the next CJI for the formal oath-taking ceremony to be held on November 9.

A week ago, Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit had set in motion the process of appointment of his successor by recommending to the Union government the name of Justice Chandrachud, who is the most senior Supreme Court judge.

While Justice Lalit has a tenure of 74 days, Justice Chandrachud will serve as the CJI for two years. Justice Chandrachud will demit office on November 10, 2024.

India Falls To 107 From 101 In Global Hunger Index, Behind Pak, Nepal

NEW DELHI, Oct 15: India has slipped to the 107th position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2022 of 121 countries, from its 2021 position of 101st and is behind its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Seventeen countries, including China, Turkey, and Kuwait, shared the top rank with GHI score of less than five, the website of the Global Hunger Index that tracks hunger and malnutrition said on Saturday.

Congress MP P Chidambaram, citing the report, said our score has worsened since 2014 in the 8 years of the Narendra Modi-led government.

"When will the Hon'ble PM address real issues like malnutrition, hunger, and stunting and wasting among children?" he asked on Twitter.

The report, prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe, termed the level of hunger in India "serious".

In 2021, India was ranked 101 out of 116 countries. Now with 121 countries in the list, it has dropped to the 107th rank. India's GHI score has also decelerated - from 38.8 in 2000 to the range of 28.2 - 29.1 between 2014 and 2022.

The government had last year slammed the report -- calling it "shocking" and "devoid of ground reality"-- after India fell below the 100th rank. The government claimed the methodology used to calculate the Global Hunger Index is unscientific.

"It is shocking to find that the Global Hunger Report 2021 has lowered the rank of India on the basis of FAO (UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation) estimate on proportion of undernourished population, which is found to be devoid of ground reality and facts and suffers from serious methodological issues. The publishing agencies of the Global Hunger Report, Concern Worldwide and Welt Hunger Hilfe, have not done their due diligence before releasing the report," the government had said in a statement.

"The methodology used by FAO is unscientific. They have based their assessment on the results of a 'four question' opinion poll, which was conducted telephonically by Gallup. There is no scientific methodology to measure undernourishment like availability of food grains per capita during the period. The scientific measurement of undernourishment would require measurement of weight and height, whereas the methodology involved here is based on Gallup poll based on pure telephonic estimate of the population," it had said.

Welt Hunger Hilfe had then refuted New Delhi's claim that India's fall in ranking was based on an opinion poll conducted by Gallup.

WHH had said that the Gallup opinion poll is not used by GHI, instead undernourishment is measured using data officially presented by India to the UN.

"Global Hunger Index uses only a 'prevalence of undernourishment' indicator... obtained through carefully constructed food balance sheets which are primarily based on data officially reported by the member countries including India," said Miriam Weimers, Advisor, Global Hunger Index.

The GHI score is calculated on four indicators -- undernourishment; child wasting (the share of children under the age of five who are wasted i.e who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition) and child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five).

'Erroneous, Methodological Issues': India On Poor Hunger Index Rating

NEW DELHI, Oct 15: India today termed the 2022 Global Hunger Index (GHI) report an "erroneous measure of hunger" and claimed it "suffers from serious methodological issues", after its ranking slipped to 107th out of 121 countries.

A press note issued today by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development said that the GHI report is not only disconnected from reality, but also "deliberately ignores efforts made by the government to ensure food security", especially during the Covid pandemic. "Three out of the four indicators used for calculation of the index are related to health of children and cannot be representative of the entire population," the ministry said.

In the 2021 rankings, India was ranked 101st. Its current 107th position places it behind neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Seventeen countries, including China, Turkey and Kuwait, shared the top rank with GHI score of less than five.

Questioning the sample size of the survey conducted for the GHI report, the Indian ministry said: "The fourth and most important indicator estimate of Proportion of Undernourished (PoU) population is based on an opinion poll conducted on a very small sample size of 3,000."

Terming the GHI report as a "one-dimensional view", the ministry said though the matter was taken up with FAO [Food and Agricultural Organisation] and an assurance was forthcoming, "the publication of the report, irrespective of such factual considerations, is regrettable".

The note from the Ministry of Women and Child Development also raised serious doubts about some of the questions asked by the surveyors to respondents in India.

The ministry said: "It is evident such questions do not search for facts based on relevant information about the delivery of nutritional support and assurance of food security."

It added that calculating hunger based primarily on health indicators of children is "neither scientific nor rational".

16 Dalits Tortured, Locked Up In Karnataka, Pregnant Woman Loses Baby

CHIKAMAGALURU (Karnataka), Oct 11: Jagadeesha Gowda, a staunch BJP supporter in Karnataka's Chikkamagaluru district, has been accused of keeping 16 Dalit people locked up for days in his coffee plantation. The victims say they were tortured. One of them, a pregnant woman, lost her baby after he assaulted her, the police said.

A police case has been registered and the woman is undergoing treatment at the district hospital.

A case has been registered under the law against atrocities on Dalits naming Jagadeesha Gowda and his son Tilak Gowda. Both are on the run and a search is on, the police said.

The BJP has distanced itself from the man. The party's district spokesperson dismissed claims that he is a party leader. "Neither is Jagadeesh a party worker nor a member. He's just a BJP supporter. He is just like any other voter," said Varasiddhi Venugopal.

The victims were working as daily wagers at the coffee plantation in Jenugadde village. The police said they had borrowed money from the owner, amounting to ₹ 9 lakh. When they failed to repay the loan, they were locked up.

"On October 8, a few people came to Balehonnur police station, alleging their relatives were being tortured by Jagadeesh Gowda. But later that day, they withdrew the complaint," said a senior police officer.

The next day, the pregnant woman was admitted to the district hospital and a fresh complaint was lodged with the police chief in Chikkamagaluru, said the officer. "We registered a First Information Report after the SP referred the case to us," he added.

The officer investigating this case confirmed that when he had visited the spot, he saw at least 8-10 people kept locked up in a room. They were released after the police questioned the owner.

"They were kept under house arrest for the last 15 days. There are four families which includes 16 members and all are from Scheduled Castes. According to the complainant, all 16 were kept under house arrest," said the officer.

"I was kept under house arrest for one day. I was beaten up and verbally abused. He had confiscated my phone," said Arpitha, who lost her baby. Her mother told reporters that Jagadeesha Gowda had beaten up her daughter and her husband. "She was two months' pregnant. Due to this, she has lost her child," she said.

Uma Prashanth, the Superintendent of Police, Chikkamagaluru district, said the workers had borrowed money from Jagadeesha Gowda.

"Some of the men who borrowed money had left home, and so the owner kept the rest locked up, according to the complaint by the victims' families," she said.

Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit nominates Justice D.Y. Chandrachud as his successor

NEW DELHI, Oct 11: Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit nominated Justice D.Y. Chandrachud as his successor in a brief meeting held at the Supreme Court judges’ lounge in the presence of all the other judges of the court on October 11, 2022.

Chief Justice Lalit’s recommendation to the government would start the process for appointment of Justice Chandrachud as the 50th Chief Justice of India. If the government approval comes through, Justice Chandrachud would be the first second-generation Chief Justice of India. His father, Justice Y.V. Chandrachud, was the 16th Chief Justice of India and one of the longest serving ones.

Chief Justice Lalit is scheduled to retire on November 8 at the end of 74-day tenure as top judge. Justice Chandrachud is expected to be sworn in and assume charge as Chief Justice of India from November 9. He has a tenure of about two years as Chief Justice until his retirement on November 11, 2024.

Justice Chandrachud was appointed judge of the Supreme Court on May 13, 2016. He was before that the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court from October 31, 2013. Justice Chandrachud began his judicial career as a judge of the Bombay High Court on March 29, 2000 until his appointment as Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court.

He was Additional Solicitor General of India from 1998 until appointment to the Bombay High Court Bench. He was designated senior advocate by the Bombay High Court in June 1998 and had practised law at the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court.

Justice Chandrachud’s career in law combines a blend of both practical experience in law and the academic.

He was a visiting professor of Comparative Constitutional Law at the Mumbai University and the Oklahoma University School of Law, USA.

He has delivered lectures at the Australian National University, Harvard Law School, Yale Law School and the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. He was a speaker at conferences organised by bodies of the United Nations, including United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, International Labour Organisation and United Nations Environmental Programme, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

He is an Economics (Honours) graduate from St. Stephen’s College in New Delhi and read Law at the Campus Law University, Delhi University. Justice Chandrachud obtained his LLM degree and a Doctorate in Juridical Sciences (SJD) from Harvard Law School, USA.

Justice Chandrachud’s years in the Supreme Court has seen his hand in almost every notable judgment of the court. His erudite verdicts and dissents on the Bench were marked by a reformist approach, especially in the arena of civil liberties, individual and women’s rights.

His latest judgment had held that single women are equally eligible to the protection of abortion laws. Justice Chandrachud had decriminalised adultery, upheld the right of women short service officers in Army and Navy to be considered for permanent commission and stood by a woman’s right to marry a partner of her choice. Justice Chandrachud upheld the right of women of menstrual age to enter the Sabarimala temple.

Justice Chandrachud was part of the nine-judge bench which upheld privacy as a fundamental right intrinsic to life and liberty and not an “elitist construct”.

His opinion in the privacy judgment in 2017 had declared the infamous ADM Jabalpur or Habeas Corpus case, which had held that citizens have no right to life and liberty during the Emergency period, as “seriously flawed”. The lead opinion in the ADM Jabalpur was authored by his father in 1976.

Justice Chandrachud’s judgments had also decriminalised Indian Penal Code Section 377 (consensual adult homosexual sex) and recently gave the government three months to take the lead and devise a policy framework to open up avenues of employment for transgender persons, particularly in the civil aviation industry.

He was part of the five-judge Bench which unanimously upheld the Hindu side’s claim to the title of the Ram Janmabhoomi land. Recently, a Bench led by Justice Chandrachud had in the Gyanvapi mosque case tried to strike balance by directing the District Magistrate of Varanasi to ensure the protection of the area where a Shivling was reported to be found while ordering that Muslims should not be restricted or impeded from accessing the mosque to offer namaaz or perform religious observances.

Mulayam Singh Yadav Dies At 82

GURGAON, Oct 10: Mulayam Singh Yadav, Samajwadi Party founder and three-time Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, died this morning after weeks in hospital. He was 82.
The Samajwadi Party quoted Mulayam Singh's son Akhilesh Yadav as saying: "My respected father and everyone's Neta-ji has died."

Mulayam Singh had been critical for days and had been on life-saving drugs at Medanta Hospital in Gurugram. He was to turn 83 in six weeks.

"Mulayam Singh Yadav's death pains me; he was a remarkable personality and was widely admired as a humble and grounded leader," wrote Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one of the first to post his tribute.

"He was a remarkable personality, widely admired as a humble and grounded leader," he said.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Aditanath said he felt deep sorrow and announced three-day state mourning in the state.

Many leaders visited Mulayam Singh in hospital in his final days.

Though he had been away from active politics for a while, with his son Akhilesh leading the party since 2017, he was counted among prominent opposition forces in the country. For the Samajwadi Party, he remained "Neta-ji" - a term that even his son used for him.

One of Uttar Pradesh's top politicians, Mulayam Singh was also Union Defence Minister in 1996-98.

Modi said as Defence Minister, Mulayam Singh worked for a stronger India. "His Parliamentary interventions were insightful," the Prime Minister said.

In 2019, Mulayam Singh praised Modi in parliament, even wishing for his return as Prime Minister after the national election. The opposition benches were stunned.

Born on November 22, 1939, Mulayam Singh first became an MLA in 1967. During his second term as MLA, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency and Mulayam Singh, like many opposition leaders, went to jail.

Mulayam Singh was elected 10 times as an MLA and seven times as Lok Sabha MP. For a while, he was even seen as a candidate for Prime Minister.

A former wrestler, Mulayam Singh was known to be an astute politician who didn't flinch when it came to striking deals, even with bitter rivals.

For power in Uttar Pradesh, he joined hands with Mayawati's BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), the BJP or the Congress whenever he needed to.

In his long career, he was affiliated to a series of parties - his mentor Ram Manohar Lohia's Sanyukt Socialist Party, Charan Singh's Bharatiya Kranti Dal, Bharatiya Lok Dal and Samajwadi Janata Party. He founded the Samajwadi Party in 1992. In 1996, when opposition parties tried to form a non-BJP alternative to the Congress, Mulayam Singh was briefly among the candidates for PM.

In the last few years, Mulayam Singh saw the party he founded slipping away from him and into the hands of his son Akhilesh Yadav, who became chief in 2017 after a coup.

With 'Jai Shri Ram', Arvind Kejriwal Tackles Conversion Row In Gujarat

VADODARA, Oct 8: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today chanted "Jai Shri Ram" at an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) event in Gujarat's Vadodara, a day after the oath row at a Buddhism event in Delhi.

Targeting the BJP, Kejriwal, AAP's National Convenor, said: "They are saying bad things about me. I don't care. But they hate me and are so blind in their hatred that they are even insulting the Gods."

Earlier, AAP workers removed anti-AAP posters ahead of Kejriwal's rally. The workers brought down all anti-AAP posters and banners put up on the party chief's route to the rally venue. Protesting alleged "anti-Hindu" statements by AAP's Delhi Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam, supporters of the ruling BJP in Gujarat's Vadodara tore AAP banners ahead of today's rally.

At the 'Tiranga Rally' that began nearly three hours after the scheduled 4pm start on a rainy day, Kejriwal took to Hindu mythological references to allege that the BJP "insults Gods". He raised slogans of "Jai Sri Ram" and "Jai Sri Krishna" while calling himself a steadfast devotee.

Delhi minister Gautam found himself in the middle of a controversy yesterday after a video went viral, showing him attending a religious conversion event where Hindu deities were allegedly denounced. At the event, hundreds took a pledge to convert to Buddhism and not consider Hindu deities as Gods.

Following the incident, the BJP launched an attack on Kejriwal, asking him to sack Gautam.

Countering the BJP's charges, Kejriwal said: "Main Hanuman ka bhakt hun. Aur ye Kansa ki aulaad hain (I'm a disciple of Hanuman, while they are the descendants of Kansa.)

He added: "I was born on the day of Janmashtami. God has sent me with a special motive: Go destroy Kansa ki aulaad and the ones doing corruption."

Addressing the party rally, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said: "Public in Gujarat is saying we're done with the BJP. I am telling them that they [BJP] are not afraid of us [AAP], but of you. He added: "Kamal ka phool nahi ugega ab, kyunki Kamal ka phool kichad me ugta hai aur humaare paas jhadu hai," (This time, the lotus, which is the BJP's electoral symbol, won't bloom in Gujarat because lotus blooms in the slush, while we have the broom - the AAP symbol).

Taking a dig at the Congress party in Gujarat, the Punjab Chief Minister added: "Congress is in coma."

Kejriwal and Mann are currently on a two-day visit to Gujarat, where assembly elections are scheduled to be held later this year.

EC Freezes Shiv Sena Symbol

MUMBAI, Oct 8: The Election Commission today barred the Shiv Sena factions, led by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde, from using the party's 'bow and arrow' symbol in the upcoming elections. The decision comes four months after Eknath Shinde took away the Shiv Sena numbers in the Maharashtra assembly to replace Uddhav Thackeray as Chief Minister.

As per the poll body's interim order, both groups will now have to choose new names. They shall be allotted different symbols, which they may choose from the list of free symbols available.

The Commission had earlier asked the rival groups to submit documentary proof on legislative and organisational support by August 8 to back their claims.

The deadline was extended to October 7 after the request of the Thackeray faction. On October 4, the Shinde faction had moved the Election Commission seeking the allocation of the bow and arrow poll symbol in view of the Andheri East assembly by-election that was notified on Friday.

The Thackeray faction had submitted its response to the claim on Saturday and had sought four more weeks to carefully understand the documentation submitted by the rival faction.

Since the split in June, both factions have been accusing the other of tainting Bal Thackeray's legacy.

10 killed, 20 trapped in Uttarakhand avalanche

DEHRADUN, Oct 4: As many as 10 were reportedly killed, while more than 20 mountaineering trainees are stuck following an avalanche in Draupadi's Danda-2 mountain in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi district on Tuesday.

Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami had earlier tweeted that he had received information that as many as 28 trainees of the Nehru Mountaineering Institute were trapped following the avalanche.

Nehru Institute of Mountaineering principal Amit Bisht said later said at least 10 people have been killed in the incident so far adding that eight have been rescued.

Rapid, relief and rescue operations are underway by the district administration, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel, Dhami said.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh said he was “deeply anguished by the loss of precious lives due to the landslide” and spoke to Dhami and took stock of the situation.

Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar said that IAF helicopters were deployed for the search and rescue operation.

“There was a group from the mountaineering institute who were on a mission to reach Draupadi's Danda-2 mountain peak, located at 18,000 feet. An avalanche came around 8am and 29 were trapped. Eight were immediately rescued by members of the team. No clarity on deaths yet,” ITBP PRO Vivek Pandey as saying.

“ITBP, NDRF, SDRF and local police started the rescue op as soon as information was received. All injured and stranded will be taken to a helipad at almost 13,000 feet first from where they will be brought down to Matli helipad. Will be using ITBP hospital,” Pandey said.



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