All 41 Workers Rescued From Trapped Uttarkashi Tunnel
DEHRADUN, Nov 28: All the forty-one workers who were trapped inside Uttarakhand's Silkyari tunnel since November 12 were evacuated safely today.
The rescued workers were draped in orange marigold flower garlands and were greeted by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and Union Minister VK Singh.
The trapped workers were pulled out through 57 metres of steel pipe on stretchers fitted with wheels.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in praising the courage and patience of the trapped workers and their families and the bravery and determination of the rescue personnel.
"The success of the rescue operation of our labourer brothers in Uttarkashi is making everyone emotional. I want to say to those trapped in the tunnel that your courage and patience are inspiring everyone. I wish you all well and good health. It is a matter of great satisfaction that after a long wait, our friends will now meet their loved ones. The patience and courage these families have shown in this challenging time cannot be appreciated enough," he wrote on X.
On November 12, a section of the tunnel between 205 and 260 metres from the Silkyara side collapsed. Workers who were beyond the 260-metre mark were trapped, with their exit blocked.
Restrictions On All Petrol, Diesel Cars Removed As Delhi Air Improves
NEW DELHI, Nov 28: The Centre on Tuesday ordered the revocation of restrictions under Stage III of GRAP in the entire NCR with immediate effect, following improvement in air quality.
The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas (CAQM), a statutory body responsible for formulating strategies to combat pollution in the region, met on Tuesday in view of the significant improvement in the overall air quality of Delhi-NCR.
The air quality forecasts by the India Meteorological Department/Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology do not indicate the average air quality of Delhi to move to the 'severe' category in the coming days for which forecast is available, the CAQM said.
The Centre's pollution control panel had invoked the Stage III restrictions on November 2, directing a halt on non-essential construction work, stone crushing and mining in Delhi-NCR. Under this stage, restrictions were also imposed on the operation of BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four-wheelers in Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar.
The city's 24-hour average AQI, recorded at 4 pm every day, improved from 395 on Monday to 312 on Tuesday.
Pak Terrorists kill 5 Armymen Killed in JK
JAMMU, Nov 23: Dense, low visibility forests of the Pir Panjal range and uphill terrain were factors that resulted in two army officers and three jawans being killed in action during the two-day gunbattle with terrorists in the Kalakote region of Jammu. Two Pakistani terrorists, one of them a Lashkar-e-Taiba sniper and explosives expert, have been eliminated in the operation.
Details of the encounter revealed a harrowing situation where the army was operating at a place where the visibility was no more than a few meters. The terrorists were on a higher ground, shooting from behind boulders where they had taken cover.
Sources said the terrorists have been on the run since November 19 and were hiding in "dhoks" or shelters for graziers in the area. The army had gone to the area after receiving a complaint from the locals and had started operations in Ziarat, Mal, Gulabgarh forest and the Solaki Area.
Captain MV Pranjal of 63 Rashtriya Rifles was the first to get shot while talking to an elderly woman to gather information in the area where the terrorists were hiding.
Desperate to get the injured Captain to safety, Major DS Mehra of 9 Para went into the area, drawing fire from the terrorists and sustaining a gunshot wound. Captain Pranjal succumbed to his injuries though Major Mehra has been evacuated and is recovering from his injuries.
Among those who went in to support Major Mehra were Captain Shubham Gupta, Havildar Abdul Majid and Lance Naik Sanjay Bisht, all from 9 Para Special Forces. Captain Gupta and two jawans were fatally injured as they tried to tactically intervene.
Early this morning, Pakistan attempted to drop arms to the terrorists by drones, an attempt which has been foiled. The drones were carrying ammunition, which have been recovered, and probably pistols, sources said.
Shortly after 9 am, one of the two Pakistani terrorists was killed but another soldier, Paratrooper Sachin Laur, was killed in action during the operation.
The second terrorist, who was hiding behind a Sangar (stone structures in the forest) and firing intermittently was subsequently eliminated.
Mahua Moitra's Planned Expulsion from LS Will Help Her: Mamata Banerjee
KOLKATA, Nov 23: Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has broken her long silence on the controversy surrounding Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra's likely expulsion from the Lok Sabha, declaring it will boost her chances in next year's general election.
"Mahua Moitra's expulsion from Lok Sabha is being planned... but this will help her before the election," Ms Banerjee said Thursday at an event in Kolkata.
"They have planned to chase out Mahua. She will become popular for three months. What she said inside... she will say outside. She will hold press conferences every day. What does she lose?"
Ms Banerjee also ripped into the ruling BJP over the arrests of her party's MLAs, including Minister Jyotipriya Mallick, who was taken into custody this month in an alleged multi-crore ration scam. "They have arrested four MLAs... think they can reduce our strength like this. We have also decided. If they defame four of us... there are cases of murder against them. I will put eight of them in jail," she said.
Prior to this short, but significant message, of support, Ms Banerjee had refused to discuss the furore surrounding Ms Moitra, who is accused of taking bribes, including ₹ 2 crore in cash, from businessman Darshan Hiranandani to ask questions targeting the Modi government in Parliament.
The Trinamool's silence was jumped on by the BJP, which claimed Ms Moitra has been "abandoned", and that Ms Banerjee's silence was an admission of her party leader's guilt.
However, amid the controversy Mahua Moitra was given a new post - district chief of the party's Krishnanagar (Nadia North) office, which falls within her Lok Sabha constituency.
Previously, the only senior Trinamool leader to publicly discuss Mahua Moitra was Abhishek Banerjee, the party's National General Secretary, and that was only a brief reference.
On November 9 Mr Banerjee called Ms Moitra a "victim of politics".
And, before that, the Trinamool Congress' Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien simply said the party would take an appropriate decision after the inquiry that finished this month - following a stormy hearing in which Ms Moitra accused the committee of asking "filthy" questions while recording her statement.
In its report, now before Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, the committee recommended Ms Moitra be expelled from Parliament. It found her actions "highly objectionable, unethical, heinous and criminal".
Ms Moitra has been accused of sharing the login credentials for her account on the top-secret Parliament server. She has admitted to this, arguing it is common practice for all MPs.
She has, however, denied charges she accepted bribes from Mr Hiranandani, who claimed she asked for various favours, including luxury gifts, in return for asking certain questions.
Supreme Court Warns Patanjali
NEW DELHI, Nov 21: The Supreme Court Tuesday cautioned Patanjali Ayurved, a company co-founded by yoga guru Ramdev and dealing in herbal products, against making "false" and "misleading" claims in advertisements about its medicines as cure of several diseases.
"All such false and misleading advertisements of Patanjali Ayurved have to stop immediately. The court will take any such infraction very seriously...," a bench comprising justices Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Prashant Kumar Mishra orally observed while hearing a plea of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).
The top court, on August 23, 2022, had issued notices to the Union health ministry and Ministry of Ayush and Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, on the plea of the IMA alleging a smear campaign by Ramdev against the vaccination drive and modern medicines.
During the brief hearing, the bench asked Patanjali Ayurved not to publish misleading claims and advertisements against modern systems of medicine.
It said the bench may also consider imposing a fine of ₹ 1 crore on every product if a false claim is made that it can cure a particular ailment.
The top court asked the counsel appearing for the Centre to find a remedy to the issue of misleading medical advertisements where claims are being made about medicines that offer perfect cure of certain diseases.
The bench will now take up the plea of IMA for hearing on February 5, next year.
The top court, while issuing notices on the plea, had come down heavily on Ramdev for criticising allopathy and allopathic practitioners, saying he needed to be restrained from abusing the doctors and other systems of treatment.
"What happened to this Guru Swami Ramdev Baba?... Ultimately we respect him as he popularised yoga. We all go for this. But, he should not criticise the other system. What is the guarantee that Ayurveda whatever system he is following will work? You see the type of advertisements accusing all the doctors as if they are killers or something. Huge advertisements (have been given)," the bench headed by the then CJI NV Ramana, since retired, had said.
IMA had referred to several advertisements which allegedly projected the allopath and the doctors in poor light, saying that "disparaging" statements have also been made by firms, engaged in the production of ayurvedic medicines, to mislead the general public.
These commercials say that the medical practitioners themselves are dying despite taking modern medicines, the counsel for the IMA had said.
IMA had said that a concerted effort was being made to discourage the vaccinations, including the COVID-19 jab drive, and the use of allopathic medicines in the country.
Workers Stuck In Tunnel For 170 Hours, Rescue Will Take 4-5 Days: Official
DEHRADUN, Nov 19: Rescue teams in Uttarakhand are battling against time to evacuate 41 construction workers who have been trapped under debris for over 170 hours following a tunnel collapse.
The workers' prolonged confinement within the tunnel is raising serious concerns about their health and well-being.
Officials are trying to drill a vertical hole from the top of the hill today - under which the workers have been trapped inside the collapsed tunnel with limited food and communication.
Work to build a platform to start vertical drilling began last evening after high-performance drilling machine reached the site from Madhya Pradesh's Indore.
A team of officials from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and experts at the site are also working simultaneously on five plans to rescue the 41 men.
"The experts were one in their view that rather than working on just one plan we should work at the same time on five plans to reach the trapped workers as early as possible," said Bhaskar Khulbe, former advisor to the Prime Minister.
Khulbe said the workers are likely to be rescued in four-five days with concerted efforts of the agencies."But if the gods are kind enough, it could happen even earlier than that," he said.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami today reached the accident site to review the ongoing rescue and relief operation. "We are working on all the possibilities available. All types of expert teams are working here," Dhami said.
Drilling was stopped on Friday evening after officials heard a sudden "cracking sound" from the machine
The Centre also held a high-level meeting where the five options to rescue the workers were discussed with different agencies assigned with specific alternatives to work on, sources said.
MD Mahmood Ahmedhas been appointed in-charge for coordination with all the central agencies.
It has been an agonising wait for the families keeping vigil outside the tunnel. Their voices are getting weaker, their strength seemingly dimming, family members said after speaking to some of the workers.
Doctors have also emphasised the need for comprehensive rehabilitation for the trapped workers, fearing that the prolonged confinement may necessitate both mental and physical recovery processes.
The 41 workers have been stuck since Sunday morning after a portion of the tunnel caved in. Officials said that all workers are safe and are being supplied food and water through steel pipes that have been drilled into the opening.
The under-construction tunnel is part of the ambitious Char Dham project, a national infrastructure initiative to enhance connectivity to the Hindu pilgrimage sites of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.
Haryana's 75% Quota In Private Sector Scrapped By Court
CHANDIGARH, Nov 17: The controversial Haryana law mandating 75% reservation for residents of the state in private-sector jobs has been struck down by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which has termed it unconstitutional.
The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, which underwent several changes after it was passed in 2020, provided for 75% of private-sector jobs with a monthly salary or wages of less than ₹ 30,000 being reserved for people with a resident or domicile certificate. The domicile requirement had been brought down from 15 years to five.
With less than a year to go for the Assembly elections in Haryana, the decision is being seen as a big setback for the Manohar Lal Khattar-led government, which had brought in the law with an eye on consolidating the votes of local communities, especially the Jat community. The state is likely to appeal against the judgment.
The Act, which was passed by the Haryana Assembly in November 2020 and had received the governor's assent in March 2021, was seen as the brainchild of the Jannayak Janata Party, which is an ally of the BJP in the state, and whose leader, Dushyant Chautala, serves as the deputy chief minister. Providing the reservation was one of the key promises made by Mr Chautala ahead of the 2019 Assembly elections.
While introducing the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill in 2020, the state government had said that the "influx of migrants competing for low-paid jobs places a significant impact on local infrastructure and housing, and leads to proliferation of slums".
Justifying bringing in the bill, it had said that giving preference to local candidates in low-paid jobs was "socially, economically and environmentally desirable" and "in the interests of the general public".
The petition against the law was filed in the high court by the Gurugram Industrial Association and other employer bodies. The petitioners had argued that the sons-of-the-soil concept behind the law was an infringement of the constitutional rights of employers. They had also said that the Act was against the principles of justice, equality, liberty and fraternity enshrined in the Constitution.
Another concern was the impact the Act would have on the development of industry in Gurugram, which is one of the biggest Information Technology hubs in India.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had stayed the Act in February 2022 but the order had been set aside by the Supreme Court days later following an appeal by the Haryana government. The Supreme Court had asked the high court to decide on the petitions expeditiously.
Hearing the petitions on Friday, a bench of Justices GS Sandhawalia and Harpreet Kaur Jeewan termed the Act unconstitutional and struck it down.
“We are of the considered opinion that the restrictions imposed in the Statute as such have far reaching effect and cannot be held to be reasonable in any manner which would warrant no interference... The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020 is held to be unconstitutional and violative of Part III of the Constitution of India and is accordingly held ultravires the same and is ineffective from the date it came into force,” the bench ruled.
Under-Construction Tunnel Collapses In Uttarakhand, 36 Workers Feared Trapped
DEHRADUN, Nov 12: Several workers are feared trapped inside a tunnel in Uttarakhand after a part of the under-construction structure collapsed today. Efforts are on to open the tunnel and rescue the trapped workers from the tunnel.
The tunnel is meant to connect Silkyara to Dandalgaon in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi. It is being built under the Char Dham Road Project and aims to reduce the journey from Uttarkashi to Yamunotri Dham by 26 kilometres.
Police said the incident occurred around 4 am when a 150-metre-long portion of the four-and-a-half-kilometer-long tunnel collapsed.
As soon as information about the incident was received, the district administration sounded an alert and Uttarkashi Superintendent of Police Arpan Yaduvanshi reached the spot.
The rescue operations are being conducted by the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) and the police.
According to reports, 36 workers are feared trapped. Authorities said that nearly 200 metres of the slab will have to be cleared to open the tunnel. A narrow opening has been made to insert an oxygen pipe in the tunnel and help the trapped labourers.
No casualties have been reported so far.
Speaking to ANI about the rescue operation, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said, "I have been in contact with the officials from the time I got to know about the incident. NDRF and SDRF are at the spot. We pray to God for the safe return of everybody."
President Murmu's 'One Lamp Can Light Up Many Others' Message On Diwali
NEW DELHI, Nov 11: President Droupadi Murmu on Saturday greeted citizens on the eve of Diwali and asked them to bring happiness and prosperity in the lives of the poor and needy by sharing their joys with them.
"Deepawali is a festival of joy and happiness. It is celebrated to mark the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and justice over injustice. People of different religions and faiths celebrate this festival and spread the message of love, brotherhood and harmony. This festival is a symbol of kindness, positivity and prosperity," she said.
The festival of Deepawali illuminates "our conscience" and inspires us to work for welfare of humanity, the President said.
"One lamp can light up many others. In the same manner, we can bring happiness and prosperity in the lives of the poor and needy by sharing our joys with them," President Murmu said.
She appealed to all to celebrate the festival of lights safely and take pledge for nation building by contributing in the conservation of environment.
"On the auspicious occasion of Deepawali, I extend my warm greetings and best wishes to all fellow citizens living in India and abroad," President Murmu said in her message on the eve of the festival.
'Playing With Fire': Supreme Court Raps Punjab Governor Over Delay In Bills
NEW DELHI, Nov 10: The Supreme Court today came down hard on both Punjab and Tamil Nadu governors after the state governments accused them of delaying action on bills cleared by the assemblies.
The bench, led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, urged both the governors to not delay the bills that have been cleared by the elected assembly.
"Please don't deflect the course of bills passed by a duly elected assembly. It's a matter of very serious concern," the Chief Justice said.
"You're playing with fire. How can the governor say this? We are not happy with what is happening in Punjab. Will we continue to be a parliamentary democracy?" the bench added while emphasising that India has been running on established traditions and conventions and they need to be followed.
The Punjab government had earlier moved the Supreme Court alleging delay in Governor Banwarilal Purohit's giving assent to bills passed by the state assembly.
The plea said such "unconstitutional inaction" has brought the entire administration to a "grinding halt." Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, arguing for the Punjab government, had said the governor had kept back seven bills including those related to fiscal management and education.
He said the bills were sent for the governor's nod in July and his inaction has affected governance.
The court has directed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to place on record the details of action taken by Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit on the bills passed by the assembly.
The Punjab governor is involved in a long-running feud with the Aam Aadmi Party government led by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.
The Tamil Nadu government had also urged the Supreme Court to intervene alleging that the Governor was "undermining the will of people" by intentionally delaying the bills sent to him for clearance.
The DMK government and Tamil Nadu governor have been at loggerheads for the past few months. Chief Minister MK Stalin and Centre-appointed Governor Ravi have earlier clashed on pending bills, Stalin's foreign trips, the Dravidian model of governance, and the latter's remarks on the state's name.
Strong Tremors Felt In Delhi After 6.4-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Nepal
NEW DELHI, Nov 3: Strong tremors were felt in Delhi and nearby cities after a powerful earthquake hit Nepal late Friday night. The earthquake was of 6.4 magnitude and struck Nepal at a depth of 10 km, the National Center for Seismology said.
"Earthquake of Magnitude: 6.4, Occurred on 03-11-2023, 23:32:54 IST, Lat: 28.84 & Long: 82.19, Depth: 10 Km, Location: Nepal," the agency posted on X, formerly Twitter.
People in Delhi and the national capital region rushed out of their homes while many took to social media to post videos of swinging chandeliers and fans, underlining how powerful the earthquake was.
The tremors were also felt in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Bihar.
This is the third time in a month that Nepal witnessed such strong quakes. Nepal lies in one of the world's most active tectonic zones which makes it extremely vulnerable to earthquakes.
On October 3, strong tremors were felt in Delhi after four earthquakes hit Nepal within an hour. While earthquakes of 4.6 and 6.2 magnitude hit within 25 minutes of each other, a third of 3.8 magnitude hit 15 minutes after, and a fourth of 3.1 magnitude 13 minutes later.
In April 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake had killed more than 8,000 people and injured over 21,000 in Nepal.
Delhi Pollution Hits Severe Mark, Schools Shut For 2 Days
NEW DELHI, Nov 2: A sudden dip in Delhi's air quality has pushed the Delhi government to shut primary schools for two days. Neighbouring Gurugram has also taken measures to counter pollution.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, "In light of the rising pollution levels, all govt and private primary schools in Delhi will remain closed for the next 2 days".
A Central pollution control panel has banned non-essential construction activity in the National Capital Region – which includes Gautam Budh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gurugram. The entry of diesel trucks into the city has also been banned.
Several other measures will also come into effect as part of Stage III of the Graded Action Response Plan, which was framed to tackle the annual surge in pollution in the Capital and the surrounding areas.
Gurugram District Magistrate has banned burning waste materials, such as garbage, leaves, plastic, and rubber under a law that makes it a punishable offence..
Delhi's pollution levels hit the "severe" mark today for the first time this season, standing at 402 at 5 pm. Scientists have warned of further spike over the next two weeks.
At least 18 out of 37 monitoring stations in Delhi recorded Air Quality Index (AQI) in the "severe" category.
The areas where AQI breached the 400-mark include Anand Vihar (450), Bawana (452), Burari Crossing (408), Dwarka Sector 8 (445), Jahangirpuri (433), Mundka (460), NSIT Dwarka (406), Najafgarh (414), Narela (433), Nehru Nagar (400), New Moti Bagh (423), Okhla Phase 2 (415), Patparganj (412), Punjabi Bagh (445), R K Puram (417), Rohini (454), Shadipur (407) and Wazirpur (435).
When the AQI level goes above 400, it is considered 'severe'. This is when the air pollution can affect healthy people and have a serious impact on those who have existing illnesses.
Data from the Central Pollution Control Board shows Delhi's air quality in October was the worst since 2020. Meteorologists have attributed it to the lack of rain.
On Sunday, Punjab saw a 740 per cent increase in farm fires. Across the state, 1,068 fires were reported -- the highest in a single day in the current harvesting season – which was even caught in satellite pictures.
EC must keep full details of donations via poll bonds: SC
NEW DELHI, Nov 1: The Election Commission of India (ECI) is obligated to keep full and up-to-date information on each and every political donor and contributions through electoral bonds (EBs), the Supreme Court said on Tuesday, brushing aside the election watchdog’s submission that it was supposed to maintain such data only till 2019.
Referring to an order passed by it on April 12, 2019, in a batch of cases challenging the validity of EBs as a source of political funding, a Constitution bench of the top court remained emphatic that its direction to the political parties for submitting full information with ECI regarding the receipt of EBs was a “continuing order”, and that it could not be restricted to the deadline of May 30, 2019, which was mentioned only for the submission of the details for that particular year (2019).
The five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, was prompted to remind ECI of its obligation after it told the polling body to keep the updated data on political funding through EBs ready for a perusal of the court during the hearing, but ECI’s counsel replied that he had information on EBs only till 2019.
“Why only till 2019? This was a continuing mandamus. It was an interim order and it had to continue till the final order. You were supposed to keep such data till date,” the bench, also comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, told advocate Amit Sharma, ECI’s counsel.
It asked Sharma if ECI’s understanding was that the court’s April 12, 2019, order mentioned May 30, 2019, to restrict the furnishing of the information to the latter date.
By its order on April 12, 2019, the top court introduced an interim “safeguard” by directing all political parties to submit details of receipts of EBs, including the particulars of the donors, to ECI in a sealed cover. This was done as an interim measure till the pending petitions challenging the validity of these electoral bonds were decided.
“The above details will be furnished forthwith in respect of Electoral Bonds received by a political party till date,” the order had added while fixing May 30, 2019, as the deadline for the submission of such details.
“Have you (ECI) not kept the data post 2019? Have you been reading para 13 of the order (on the necessity to furnish full information of EBs) to be restricted by para 14 (where the date of May 30, 2019, is mentioned)? Para 14 does not restrict para 13. While para 14 is for the past transactions, para 13 is for the period onward. Para 13 is a continuing direction. It was not confined to the 2019 elections,” the bench told Sharma.
At this, Sharma said that he would consult ECI on the availability of data and revert. “I will take instructions and come back,” the counsel told the bench.
The Constitution bench on Tuesday commenced its scrutiny of a bundle of petitions that have pressed for a right to have access to the details of contribution to political parties calling the EB scheme as an opaque system that promotes corruption in elections that go to the root of democratic functioning in the country.
During the hearing, senior counsel Kapil Sibal and advocates Prashant Bhushan, Shadan Farasat and Nizam Pasha attacked the scheme, arguing it has opened floodgates to unlimited corporate donations to political parties and anonymous financing by Indian as well as foreign companies.
While Bhushan began the submissions on behalf of the group of petitioners by stressing on people’s right to know the source of political funding, Sibal argued that since there is no mandate to use the money received through EBs only for electoral processes, the instrument is used to enrich the ruling political parties and disrupt the level playing field.
Bhushan, appearing for a petition filed jointly by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and non-profit Common Cause in 2017. Bhushan claimed that the confidentiality clause in the EB scheme defeats people’s right to be informed about the source of funding which is a fundamental right of citizens under Article 19(1) (a).
“This opaque instrument promotes corruption as these bonds are given as kickbacks to the ruling parties, either at the Centre or in states. The scheme has virtually legalised kickbacks. It also destroys the level playing field in an electoral democracy by facilitating the lion’s share of EBs in favour of the ruling parties,” argued Bhushan, adding even a shell company through a subsidiary can donate through EBs and there are no ways to check such sham transactions.
Farasat, who appeared for the CPI (M), complained that the architecture and effect of the EB scheme is not to weed out black money but to re-route otherwise non-anonymous banking channel funding to anonymous EBs. The arguments in the case will continue on Wednesday as well.
During the hearing, the bench clarified that it will not go into the concept of corporates making political donations since the Companies Act permits it. “The moment we accepted Section 293A (in the Companies Act), our society legitimised corporate quit pro quo. There is an element of quid pro quo the moment you have a corporation. The large public limited company that makes a donation doesn’t give it in charity,” remarked the bench.
At the same time, the bench said that the arguments of the petitioners regarding anonymity of such funding for the shareholders of a company making such donations and to the public at large are debatable.
On October 16, the court referred the matter to a Constitution bench of five judges, underscoring that the importance of the matter calls for setting up a larger bench to deliver an authoritative verdict.
Introduced in 2018, EBs are issued by the State Bank of India and donations made under this scheme by corporate and even foreign entities enjoyed 100% tax exemption while identities of the donors are kept confidential both by the bank as well as the recipient political parties.
Under the scheme, bonds are available for purchase at any SBI branch in multiples of ₹1,000, ₹10,000, ₹1 lakh, ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore and can be bought through a KYC-compliant account. There is no limit on the number of electoral bonds that a person or company can purchase.
Every party registered under section 29A of the Representation of the People Act and having secured at least 1% of the votes polled in the most recent Lok Sabha or state election has been allotted a verified account by ECI. The donor can donate the bond to a party of their choice, which can cash it within 15 days, only through the allotted account.
The bonds go for sale in 10-day windows in the beginning of every quarter — in January, April, July and October, besides an additional 30-day period specified by the central government during the Lok Sabha election years.
Submitting his written submissions on behalf of the Union government on October 27, attorney general R Venkataramani opposed the petitions, arguing that judicial review is not about scanning State policies for the purposes of suggesting better or different prescriptions, and maintained that citizens do not have a fundamental right to be informed about the sources of political funding.
Venkataramani emphasised that the EB scheme extends the benefit of confidentiality to the contributor while ensuring and promoting clean money being contributed.
In order to bring in the EB scheme, the Centre had made multiple amendments by way of two Finance Acts— Finance Act, 2017 and Finance Act, 2016, both passed as money bills (not necessitating the oversight of the Rajya Sabha). The passage of the amendments as money bills has also challenged but is not being dealt with in the present batch of petitions since that issue is pending before a seven-judge bench.
ED attaches Jet Airways, Naresh Goyal family's assets worth ₹538 crore
NEW DELHI, Nov 1: The Enforcement Directorate has attached properties worth ₹538.05 crore linked to Jet Airways and the Naresh Goyal family, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. The agency has seized 17 residential and commercial properties belonging to several companies and individuals, including Naresh Goyal, his wife Anita Goyal and son Nivaan Goyal. These properties are situated in London, Dubai and India.
"The attached properties include 17 residential flats/bungalows and commercial premises in the name of various companies and persons viz. M/s Jetair Private Limited, M/s Jet Enterprises Private Limited, founder Chairman of M/s Jet Airways (India) Limited (JIL) Naresh Goyal, his wife Mrs Anita Goyal and son Nivaan Goyal situated in London, Dubai and various States of India," it said in a release today.
The Enforcement Directorate had initiated the money laundering probe based on an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after a written complaint by Canara Bank. The public sector bank had accused JIL and its promoters and directors of cheating, criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and criminal misconduct.
The agency said in its release that the Enforcement Directorate's investigation has revealed that JIL siphoned off the loans granted by a consortium of banks led by SBI and PNB.
The agency accused Goyal of diverting the funds.
"Naresh Goyal implemented a massive financial fraud in which the funds of JIL were systematically diverted in the garb of irrational and inflated General Sales Agent (GSA) commissions, large unexplained payouts to various professionals and consultants, by granting of loans to JetLite Limited (100% subsidiary to acquire Air Sahara), and subsequently writing off the loans by making provisions in the balance sheets," ED said in its statement.
"ED investigation established that GSA commissions were wrongfully paid to Jet Air Private Limited (GSA of JIL for India), Jet Airways LLC Dubai (Global GSA of JIL) and JIL wrongfully paid for the operational expenses of these GSAs. All these GSAs were beneficially owned by Naresh Goyal. Hence, the management of JIL toed the line of Naresh Goyal, and kept on paying large sums of money on regular basis despite the fact that these entities were not performing any substantial service after 2009," the agency added.
It accused Naresh Goyal and his family of using the funds for personal expenses and investments.
The agency arrested Naresh Goyal on September 1 under PMLA. It filed a charge sheet against the businessman on Tuesday.
He is currently in judicial custody and lodged at the Arthur Road in Mumbai.
The Canara Bank has alleged it had sanctioned credit limits and loans to Jet Airways (India) Ltd (JIL) to the tune of ₹848.86 crore, of which ₹538.62 crore was outstanding.
ED said Goyal had created various trusts abroads and bought immovable properties using these trusts. It said he allegedly bought movable and immovable properties in India and abroad.
The agency claimed Goyal had named Hasmukh Gardi, a resident of the United Arab Emirates, to whom he had given the power of attorney. Gardi hasn't answered the summons sent so far.
Apple Warns Top Indian Opposition Leaders, Journalists About ‘State-Sponsored’ Attack on Phone
NEW DELHI, Oct 31: Multiple top leaders of India’s opposition parties and several journalists have received a notification from Apple, saying that “Apple believes you are being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID ….”
Here are the people confirmed to have been notified by Apple about the attempts to compromise their iPhones:
1. Mahua Moitra (Trinamool Congress MP)
2. Priyanka Chaturvedi (Shiv Sena UBT MP)
3. Raghav Chadha (AAP MP)
4. Shashi Tharoor (Congress MP)
5. Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM MP)
6. Sitaram Yechury (CPI(M) general secretary and former MP)
7. Pawan Khera (Congress spokesperson)
8. Akhilesh Yadav (Samajwadi Party president)
9. Siddharth Varadarajan (founding editor, The Wire)
10. Sriram Karri (resident editor, Deccan Chronicle)
11. Samir Saran (president, Observer Research Foundation)
12. Revathi (independent journalist)
13. K.C. Venugopal (Congress MP)
14. Supriya Shrinate (Congress spokesperson)
15. Multiple people who work in Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s office
16. Revanth Reddy (Congress MP)
17. T.S. Singhdeo (Chhattisgarh deputy CM and Congress leader)
18. Ravi Nair (journalist, OCCRP)
19. K.T. Rama Rao (Telangana minister and BRS leader)
20. Anand Mangnale (regional editor, South Asia, OCCRP)
The email titled “ALERT: State-sponsored attackers may be targeting your iPhone” goes on to say, “These attackers are likely targeting you individually because of who you are or what you do. If your device is compromised by a state-sponsored attacker, they may be able to remotely access your sensitive data, communications, or even the camera and microphone.”
It urges the recipients, “While it’s possible this is a false alarm, please take this warning seriously.”
While the language of Apple’s warning is identical to what the phone manufacturer has used in the past to alert victims of spyware around the world, the fact that at least five persons in India received the same alert at the same time (11:45 pm on October 30, 2023) suggests those being targeted are part of an India-specific cluster.
In a statement on Tuesday, Apple said, “Apple does not attribute the threat notifications to any specific state-sponsored attacker.”
These threat notifications were enabled by the company in 2021, and since then such notifications have reportedly been sent to individuals in nearly 150 countries.
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi has tweeted the mail.
“Glad to keep underemployed officials busy at the expenses of taxpayers like me! Nothing more important to do?” Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said while posting about the attack.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi held a press conference on the matter, in which he accused the Narendra Modi government of doing everything possible to hide that they had “sold the government to Adani”. “Hack us all you want,” he said, “but we will not stop questioning you.” He also said that the government is going out of its way to distract from demands from a caste census. “Who is Adani really stealing from?” he asked, and responded that it was the common people, the marginalised, who were paying the price.