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LIVE! Had little role in 'One Rank, One Pension' decision: Rahul

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February 24, 2014

23:28  Malala backs campaign against female genital mutilation:  Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban, has offered her support to a campaign against female genital mutilation in Britain.

The 16-year-old schoolgirl, who is now based in Birmingham, has linked a fellow teenager's campaign for greater awareness on the issue across British schools with her own global campaign for the right to education for every girl. In an interview with the 'Guardian', Malala praised 17-year-old Fahma Mohamed's campaign and joined her in calling for better education in schools about FGM.
23:20  Had little role in 'One Rank, One Pension' decision: Rahul:  Claiming that he had made "little" contribution in the decision to bring in the 'One Rank, One Pension' scheme, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today said it should have been introduced 25 years ago.

Addressing a gathering of ex-servicemen from the region late in the evening, Gandhi said, "The decision should have been taken some 25 year back... now that it has been taken this will benefit some 25 lakh soldiers and their families." Gandhi, who had reportedly pushed for the scheme, said, "My contribution in this is little."

He, however, admitted that he had told Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the issue.

"I told the Congress president and the Prime Minister that whenever a jawan is deployed on border he works from his heart... He is prepared to sacrifice his life for the country, so we must take the decision (One Rank, One Pension) from the heart," the Congress vice president told the gathering.
23:18  Shakti mill gang rape: Editor of English daily to be examined as defence witness:  A sessions court, conducting trial in the Shakti mill telephone operator gang rape case, today allowed defence lawyers to examine the editor of a city-based English daily as a witness.

"The defence has submitted a list of the witnesses to be examined by them, but for now the court has given permission to call the editor as a witness," said Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. Police had arrested Mohammed Ashfaq Sheikh, Mohamed Kasim Hafiz Sheikh alias Kasim Bangali, Salim Ansari, Vijay Jadhav and a minor for raping the 18-year-old telephone operator on July 31 last year.

A charge sheet was filed against the four accused on October 8 while the trial of the juvenile was separated. In another case, a young journalist, interning with an English magazine, was gang raped by five persons, including a juvenile, on the same compound in August last year.
21:27  US spelling bee runs out of words after long duel:   A spelling bee competition in the US has been tied between a 13-year-old Indian-origin boy and a 11-year-old girl after they duelled for 66 rounds until finally the judges ran out of words.

Kush Sharma, a seventh-grader at Frontier School of Innovation, and Sophia Hoffman, a fifth-grader at Highland Park Elementary, battled in Missouri county's annual spelling bee competition with both of them getting every word right.

Finally, the judges ran out of words and the contest between them will resume on March 8 for a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington.
21:21  Ukraine's ousted president goes missing:  Ukraine's ousted president Ukraine's ousted president is now missing.

Ukraine has issued a arrest warrant against Viktor Yanukovych for "mass killings of civilians", but his whereabouts are not know, reports CNN

Yanukovych is not in Kiev. The mayor of Kharkiv, where Yanukovych was Saturday, says he hasn't seen him in a few days.

He's also apparently not hiding in a bunker in a Ukrainian Orthodox monastery, a church spokesman said, swatting down the latest speculation.

Read the full report here

21:13  'The Wolf of Wall Street' most 'googled' movie :  'The Wolf of Wall Street', directed by noted filmmaker Martin Scorsese, has topped search trends on Google among the films nominated for this year's Oscar awards to be announced next month.

Golden Globe winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who played male lead in 'The Wolf of Wall Street', was the most searched actor among film stars nominated for the Best Actor category in the 86th Academy Awards.

"Be it a film buff, movie critic or fashion fan everyone is awaiting the Oscars with bated breath. Each year, as the Academy Awards inches closer we see a major spike in search traffic related to the event," Google said in a release.

Viewers and users are seen searching for their favourite celebrities, most stylish look, colours etc, it added.
21:11  Khurshid blames R K Singh for botch up of marines case:  Justifying the dropping of anti-piracy charges against the two Italian marines, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today said it was "difficult" to prove these and appeared to blame former home secretary R K Singh for botching up the case. "Are we happy or celebrating?

The Supreme Court has to address some things again and again. Who should be responsible for it? I would imagine the person who was in the hot seat and who has to take the decision. He would be responsible," Khurshid said apparently referring to R K Singh.

He was responding when asked about the government dropping the anti-piracy SUA law against the two marines and who botched up the case. R K Singh was the home secretary then.
20:40  Reports our correspondent from Delhi: Jayalalithaa's All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is expected to admit leaders from the Janata Dal-United, Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal and Rashtriya Janata Dal. Leaders from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are also expected to be inducted in the party. They will arrive in Chennai to meet Jayalalithaa on Thursday.

With this, the party is seeking a larger role in national politics.  
19:38  7 militants killed in Kupwara encounter:  
Mukhtar Ahmad reports from Srinagar: Seven militants killed in an encounter in Lolab area of North Kashmir's Kupwara district 

A spokesman said militants opened fire at the army patrol
19:32  Asaram to get home food in jail:  
In a relief for self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, who has been in jail for over five months for sexually assaulting a minor, Rajasthan High Court today allowed him to have two meals a day from outside of the jail. 

The single judge Jodhpur Bench of the High Court comprising Justice Sandeep Mehta admitted his plea for provision of home-made food in jail and granted his wish for two meals a day. 

"We had moved an application in the High Court seeking permission to provide food from outside of the jail to Asaram. The court admitted our plea and granted permission for food to Asaram in jail from outside," Asaram's counsel Pradeep Choudhary said. 

The food will be provided under Rule 223 of Jail Manual, and will be checked properly by jail authorities.

"We had objected to the plea citing security concerns, but Justice Sandeep Mehta, in the light of Rule 223 of Jail Manual, granted permission for food to Asaram from outside jail stating that the food will be properly checked by the jail authorities," Additional Advocate General Rajesh Panwar said.
19:18  HC admits appeal in Chandrasekharan murder case:  
Kerala High Court today admitted the appeal filed by 12 accused, including three local CPI(M) leaders, convicted and sentenced to undergo life imprisonment in the murder of RMP leader T P Chandrasekharan. 

The accused had been convicted and sentenced by Special Additional Sessions court at Kozhikode in January this year. 

A division bench comprising Justices K T Sankaran and P Ubaid admitted the appeal. 

The court posted the appeal filed by Lambo Pradeepan, who was sentenced to three years under Sect 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) to Wednesday. 

The other petitions would be taken up later, the court said. 

The accused contended there was no evidence to implicate them in the case and said the court has believed the entire prosecution version, disregarding the fact that the witnesses were 'bogus'. 

They also alleged alleged that some of the witnesses were RSS and Revolutionary Marxist Party activists.
18:44   Just in: A mentally challenged woman has allegedly been gang-raped in Chitpur in West Bengal. Details awaited. 
18:39  Mrityunjoy Kumar Jha: Drama still on in Bihar... 4 RJD MLAs say that their signatures are forged. 
18:37  LIVE! Lalu-lila prevails: Six of 13 rebel MLAs return to RJD:  Just in: Six of the 13 rebel RJD MLAs have returned to the party.  Lalu Prasad's RJD in Bihar faced a serious problem with 13 of the 22 legislators of the party pledging support to the Nitish Kumar government.

The 13, including five belonging to the minority community met at the residence of party MLA Samrat Chaudhary and wrote a letter to Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary withdrawing allegiance from the RJD and expressing support to the Nitish Kumar government.

The RJD MLAs who walked out were Samrat Chaudhary, Raghvendra Pratap Singh, Durga Prasad Singh, Lalit Yadav, Anirudh Kumar, Jeetendra Rai, Akhtar-ul-Islam Sahin, Akhtar-ul-Iman, Abdul Gafood, Faiyazz, Javed Iqbal Ansari, Ram Lakhan Ram Raman and Chandrasekhar.
18:29  The charge sheet said members of Usaba included Yasin Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Riyaz Bhatkal, Jasim, Shabbir, Sajid, Afeef, Gora Ismail, Sultan, Tariq Anjum, Fasih Mehmood and others and the meetings of the group used to be held every Friday in Iqbal's house.

In the meetings, issues like weapon-training, finance, talent-spotting, spiritual discourse and other matters relating to procurement and logistics were discussed, it said. 
18:22  Osama was IM terrorist Yasin Bhatkal's inspiration: NIA:   Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal was inspired by al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden and used to motivate youngsters for sacrificing their lives in the name of 'jihad' through the videos of the slain terrorist, NIA has said in its chargesheet filed in a Delhi court.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said Bhatkal had downloaded from the internet a number of documents, including lectures, and videos of Osama and other prominent terrorists, and made young boys go through them.

"He (Bhatkal) used to quote selected phrases from Islamic religious books in support of 'jihad'. He had downloaded from Internet a number of documents which portrayed Jihad as an obligatory act of every Muslim.

"He had also downloaded lectures of Muslim leaders and fighters like Osama Bin laden, Al Yazeed, Al Zarkawi, C Khateeb, Awlaqi from Internet. He made young Muslim boys watch these videos and read out these documents to them, so as to motivate them to sacrifice their lives in the name of jihad," NIA said, adding all these videos, documents, files have been saved by Bhatkal in his laptop.
18:17  How to get Yasin Bhatkal to talk: Get him masala dosa and musk melon!

18:12  The RJD MLAs who walked out were Samrat Chaudhary, Raghvendra Pratap Singh, Durga Prasad Singh, Lalit Yadav, Anirudh Kumar, Jeetendra Rai, Akhtar-ul-Islam Sahin, Akhtar-ul-Iman, Abdul Gafood, Faiyazz, Javed Iqbal Ansari, Ram Lakhan Ram Raman and Chandrasekhar.
17:58  EC clampdown on media on poll announcement days:  Our sources tell us that on the day the Election Commission is set to announce the poll schedule, there is unlikely to be TV channels in the conference hall at Nirvachan Sadan.

Doordharshan and ANI will give the feed to the news channels, since EC feels that a group of 250 or 300 TV camera crew will be difficult to handle and there are space constraints.

The EC also took policy decision to restrict the print media. There will be only one invite to each newspaper with just one photographer allowed in.  

There shall be only one photographer from major newspaper will be permitted to take photos when the poll schedule is announced.
17:32  India's missing women voters:  A comparison of census and election data shows that an imbalanced sex ratio explains only part of the gender gap in the registration of voters. Read
17:31  Lalu on RJD defections: Not true, but finding out:  RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav reacts to the news of the defecting MLAs saying he has heard about it, but it's not true. He said he was in the process of finding out. 
17:29  Also read:I do not think Nitish has ever had any illusions that he could ever give Narendra Modi the run for the prime ministership. Read the interview with Sankarshan Thakur, author of the book on Nitish Kumar -- Single Man. 
17:26  Oppn growing in TN to release of Rajiv case convicts: TNCC:  The Tamil Nadu Congress today claimed that there was growing opposition in the state to the Jayalalithaa government's move to release all seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and urged it to reconsider the decision.

"A wave of opposition is sweeping the people against the proposed release... the Congress party is strongly opposed to the move to release the convicts," TNCC president B S Gnanadesikan said.

He regretted on the state government's move to release the convicts just 24 hours after the Supreme Court commuted the death penalty of three convicts to life. Tamil Nadu government, on February 19, decided to release all seven convicts serving life term in the case, a day after the Supreme Court commuted the death penalty of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalavan.
17:10  LIVE! Huge blow for Lalu as 13 MLAs set to join Nitish Kumar's JD-U:  In what will come as a big blow to Lalu Prasad Yadav, at least 13 MLAs of his RJD are likely to quit the party and join rival Nitish Kumar's JDU. The MLAs have written to the Bihar Assembly speaker saying they want to quit the party.

In October last year, former Bihar chief minister and RJD leader Rabri Devi had claimed that the party is united and people of Bihar are with Lalu Prasad while hinting that the Congress, Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party and her party will fight elections together.

Even though Rabri, who is looking after the party affairs after Lalu was jailed following his conviction in a fodder scam case, admitted that the party has been hit by Lalu's sentencing and jail term, she added that her husband has been framed and will get justice from the higher courts.

Lalu, who was convicted in a fodder scam case, was given bail in December last year after months in jail.
17:04  Kerala: Driver molests a female doctor at a hospital, arrested:  A doctor was allegedly molested at Thiruvananthapuram Medical college hospital campus on Sunday.

The police said that the 29-year-old neurologist from Pune was at the Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute of Medical Sciences for a training of 15 days.

The accused, Aiyappan, 27, who is a driver has been arrested. On Sunday, at 8 in the evening, the doctor was walking from the SCT Hospital towards the medical college hospital OP which is in the same campus.

The accused was on this road and there were not many people there. The doctor alleged that the accused molested her at that road. On hearing her screams people rushed to the spot and the driver ran away. The police arrested him from the hospital campus. -- IBN7
16:56  Piers Morgan, CNN plan end to his prime-time show:  There have been times when the CNN host Piers Morgan didn't seem to like America very much -- and American audiences have been more than willing to return the favor. Three years after taking over for Larry King, Mr Morgan has seen the ratings for "Piers Morgan Live' hit some new lows, drawing a fraction of viewers compared with competitors at Fox News and MSNBC.  Read
16:46  Ugandan President signs draconian anti-gay bill:  Uganda's president has signed into law a bill toughening penalties for gay people and criminalising those who do not report them.A government spokesman said President Yoweri Museveni wanted to assert Uganda's "independence in the face of Western pressure".US President Barack Obama has cautioned the bill would be a backward step. Read
16:35  Top Pakistan Taliban commander Asmatullah Shaheen 'shot dead':   In other news: A senior Pakistani Taliban commander has been shot dead in a militant stronghold near the Afghan border, security sources and relatives say. Asmatullah Shaheen was ambushed as he drove through a village near Miranshah in North Waziristan, reports said. -- BBC
16:28  And here's an update on former Egypt president Hosni Mubarak. Read
16:21  Egypt's government resigns in televised address:  Egypt's army-backed government has resigned, state-run Al Ahram said on its website on Monday in a report confirmed by an Egyptian official.

The newspaper, citing an unnamed source, said the decision was made after a 15-minute meeting of the cabinet. Army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is expected to run for president, was part of the cabinet, serving as defense minister. -- Reuters

Egypt's interim prime minister announces Cabinet resignation in a televised address.
16:15  Jayalalithaa to launch LS poll campaign on March 3 from Kanchi:  AIADMK on Monday announced that party general secretary and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa would begin the election campaign for Lok Sabha polls on March 3 from Kanchipuram, about 70 km from Chennai.

The "whirlwind' first phase of the campaign would cover several regions of Tamil Nadu, including Nagapattinam, Kanyakumari and Chidambaram, an AIADMK press release said.

Starting on March 3, the first phase would end on April 5, it said adding that "the party general secretary will address public meetings canvassing support for candidates of AIADMK and its allies.'
16:11  Advocates dominate list of AIADMK nominees:  Advocates dominated the list of AIADMK's nominees for the coming Lok Sabha elections as party chief J Jayalalithaa renominated three of the nine sitting MPs for a successive term.
16:04  Tata Motors executive's murder: Cops still in the dark:   Police are yet to progress in the Tata Motors executive's killing which took place on Saturday night in Telco police station area. A search has been launched to nab the assailants. Read
15:57  Lucknow hosts party for LGBT community every evening:  Every evening, a group of 30 to 50 people gather in a small hall situated at the heart of Lucknow over snacks and a hot cup of tea or coffee. Considered as ice-breaker in Indian culture, the freebies offer them more than just that. These snacks blend them into the atmosphere and also reach out to their hearts. Read
15:54  Son exploring Satyajit Ray's love for Lucknow:  Sandip ray, son of celebrated film maker late Satyajit Ray, is in Lucknow to film his father's novel 'Badshahi Angti' (Emperor's Ring). The project marks the beginning of a sentimental journey of reliving the time Sandip spent with his father when he was filming the iconic 'shatranj ke Khiladi' here in the 1970s. Read
15:48  On birthday, Jaya gets Parliament on a platter :  The supporters of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, who has already gone public with her ambition of becoming the country's next Prime Minister, signaled their determination to help her realise her goal by cutting a giant Parliament-shaped cake in the party headquarters at Chennai this afternoon to celebrate her 66th birthday.  Read more
15:44  Sunanda Tharoor was given 'Russian poison', claims Subramanian Swamy:  Five weeks after Sunanda Pushkar's mysterious death at a New Delhi hotel, Union Minister Shashi Tharoor and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy are locked in a verbal war.

Pushkar's husband Tharoor has dared Swamy to furnish proof of a foul play while Swamy has hit back at him, saying there was evidence of poisoning.  Read

15:34  Chandrababu trashes Kiran Reddy's move to float new party:  Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu today took potshots at Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy over the latter's reported move to float a new political party in Andhra Pradesh.

"What did he do for the people to launch a party? What are his achievements?" Chandrababu questioned, referring to reports that Kiran was set to launch his own party soon.

"When people came on to the streets opposing the bifurcation of the state, Kiran sat at home clearing (controversial) files and making money," he alleged. "What will he do now by floating a party?" he wondered.
15:20  'I wish I had breast cancer' ad will stun you into silence:  A controversial United Kingdom ad campaign, in which pancreatic cancer patients say they wish they had other cancers, has roused anger. One of the Pancreatic Cancer Action ads shows a 24-year-old woman declaring, "I wish I had breast cancer." The copy then explains how lethal pancreatic cancer is, compared to other common cancers. Read
15:15  Doctors abandon attempts to bring Schumacher out of coma:  Doctors treating stricken F1 motor racing legend Michael Schumacher have abandoned their attempts to bring him out of his artificial coma following setbacks, it was claimed today.Germany's news magazine Focus - which enjoys a close relationship with 45-year-old Schumacher's inner circle - claims the slow waking-up process for the seven-times world champion was put on hold last week.

Schumacher has lain in an artificially induced coma since December 29 in the University Hospital of Grenoble in France after seriously injuring his head during a low-speed ski accident the same day.

Doctors announced three weeks ago they were reducing the anaesthetic keeping him under to slowly bring him around. Read more
15:10  Australia's 'Hannibal Lecter' allegedly confesses to 14 Outback murders:  An ex-abattoir worker, who was dubbed Australia's Hannibal Lecter, is the prime suspect in up to 14 unsolved murders in the Australian Outback. Read
15:02  Smog is Chinas top defence against US laser weapons, says PLA navy general:  After facing ridicule for his comments, China military official says his statements on laser weaponry were taken out of context. Read

14:56  AAP could not face media scrutiny: Tewari:  Hitting out at the Aam Admi Party, Union Minister Manish Tewari today said the party could not face media scrutiny once it chose to form a government which was the reason for its "cut and run" strategy.

"I think the AAP was enjoying the benign benefaction of the media till the time they chose to become a part of the government. And when the media put them under scrutiny, they were unable to take the heat. So when you are unable to take the heat in the kitchen, you obviously cut and run. And that's what the AAP has done," the Information and Broadcasting Minister said.

He said if AAP had the conviction of courage, they would have continued in government in Delhi and delivered on their promises.
14:48  Weekend reads:

The Ivory Highway By Damon Tabor. Inside one of the world's largest, most shadowy criminal trafficking networks -- from the jungles of Cameroon to the black-market bazaars of Beijing. Read

Ghosting by Andrew O'Hagan. Read
14:38  Read: Will India choose Erdogan's path?
14:31  Pianist and oldest known Holocaust survivor dies aged 110:  Alice Herz-Sommer, concert pianist, who died at 110, said that optimism and discipline helped her survive two years in concentration camp. Read 
14:26  Judi Dench 'can't read any more' due to failing eyesight:  Actor Judi Dench reveals macular degeneration has left her unable to read scripts or watch films -- but says 'somehow I get by'. Read
14:19  Kashmir official who probed mass-rape allegations was threatened to exonerate army.:  Breaking his silence after 23 years, then Kupwara deputy commissioner Kupwara SM Yasin said on Sunday that he had been threatened and offered promotions to change his report on the alleged mass rapes in Konan Poshpora in February 1991. Read
14:17  Indian democracy in peril:  Indian democracy has over time shown a resilience that has been marvelled at the world over. Yet, 67 years after its birth, the world's largest democracy is faced with a crisis of faith too scarily large to be ignored. As the 15th Lok Sabha comes to an ignominious end, it is no longer possible to put off the question: are we a democracy only in name? Read
14:15  TRS chief Rao meets Rahul Gandhi:   TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao today met Rahul Gandhi, a day after he held consultations with Congress President Sonia Gandhi following the passage of the Telangana bill in Parliament.

Rao's meeting with the top Congress leaders has come amid speculation over possible merger of his party with Congress or the forging of an alliance between the two. He also met President Pranab Mukherjee today to thank him on the Telangana issue.

Rao said that he had met the Congress Vice President to convey his appreciation for the Telangana decision. Congress leaders from Telangana had met Sonia Gandhi following which Union Minister Sarvey Satyanarayana had said that Congress was expecting that TRS would join it.
14:12  No compromise in marines case: Antony:  Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Sunday countered the observation that India was gradually backtracking in the case against the Italian marines, who are facing trial for shooting dead Indian fishermen. "The government is pursuing the case against them under Indian law, but it is now being handled by the home and external affairs ministries,' he said. Read

The Centre has now, of course, withdrawn the piracy charges against the two men, which means the death penalty cannot be applied to them.
13:58  LIVE! MHA asks Maha govt why Sanjay Dutt was given repeated parole :  Trouble brewing for Sanjay Dutt. The home ministry has sought a report from the Maharashtra government on the repeated parole granted to Sanjay Dutt. The MHA says it wants to know the grounds on which the actor was given parole.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday defended the extension of the parole of actor Sanjay Dutt, who was convicted in the 1993 Bombay serial blasts case, saying the action was taken as per law and no rules were violated.

"Decisions are taken as per the law, without violating any provisions. Decisions are taken at the appropriate level. There is nothing political in it, no rules were violated," the chief minister said.

The parole to Dutt, 53, who was convicted under the Arms Act for illegal possession of weapons, was on Tuesday extended by another month by Pune district authorities to enable him to attend to his ailing wife Manyata, who recently underwent a surgical procedure.

He was supposed to return to Yerawada Jail on February 21 to serve the remainder of his five year sentence.

The actor was granted a month-long parole on December 6 last year, which was extended by another 30 days in January on account of his wife's illness. Before that, he was on a month-long leave of furlough on medical grounds.
13:53  Child marriages: untying the knot:  In at least six states -- including Rajasthan, UP and Bihar -- more than half of all girls are married while legally still children. Read
13:51  The Centre informs the Supreme Court that it has decided to drop anti-piracy charges against Italian marines in fishermen killing case. Which effectively means it exempts the marines from the death penalty.
13:26  Why Gunday angered Bangladeshis:  Bangladeshis across the world are offended by Gunday's attempt to sketch Bangladesh's history: chiefly because it depicts the birth of that country as the direct result of the "Indo-Pak war." Read
13:24  When virginity is sold on auction:  The ancient devadasi system, where young girls are dedicated in local temples and their virginity is auctioned off, was made illegal in Karnataka in 1982 but still continues in some parts of the southern state. French-American author Catherine Rubin Kermorgant spent four years researching among devadasi women in Karnataka.

In this extract from her new book, "Servants of the Goddess: the modern-day devadasis", one of the five women whose stories she chronicles recounts being dedicated to the Hindu goddess Yellamma. Read
12:58  LIVE! SC to hear AAP's plea against Prez rule in Delhi on March 7:  The Supreme Court has sought a response within 10 days from the Centre on the AAP's plea challenging the imposition of President's rule in Delhi. The SC in its hearing said, "Its only a constitutional issue and we don't want it to be a political contest." The SC has refraining from issuing a notice to either the Congress or the BJP and has posted the matter for hearing on March 7.

Kejriwal, while resigning from the Delhi Chief Minister's post on February 14, had recommended the dissolution of the assembly. The Centre, however, refused to pay heed to his advice and, instead, placed it under a spell of suspended animation. The AAP had on February 20 moved the SC against the Centre's decision.

The AAP, in its petition, has described the Centre's action as "malafide" and "unconstitutional," and alleged that President's Rule was clamped to enable the Centre to rule Delhi by proxy and delay fresh assembly polls.
12:42  Gujarat's riot-tainted former minister denied bail extension :  Breaking Now: The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea by former Gujarat minister and Naroda Patiya massacre convict Maya Kodnani for extension of interim bail.

Maya Kodnani, 60-year-old former child and welfare minister, was in August 2012 sentenced to 28 years in prison for leading a mob which killed 97 people in Ahmedabads Naroda Patiya suburb.

Kodnani has been in hospital since the last one week. She was granted three months bail in November on medical grounds. The Gujarat High Court recently rejected her plea for a 180-day or six-month extension of bail, but the Supreme Court granted her interim relief by giving her a weeks bail that ended today.
12:37  With Anna men in TMC war-room, Mamata dreams national:  New-Found admirer Anna Hazare beside her, Mamata Banerjee is all set to launch a 'Mamata for India' campaign, starting with a "war room' in New Delhi.

A modest three-bedroom flat in New Delhi's 141, South Avenue, is being manned by Hazare's people, with technical and logistic support from the Trinamool Congress, to plan the campaign for the 'alliance' outside West Bengal. The rented flat is located close to the TMC's office.  Read more
12:32  Finally, SC to examine easing voting rights of armed forces personnel:  The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine granting of voting rights to armed forces personnel from constituencies where they are posted at the time of elections.

As per an existing Election Commission notification, they need to serve for at least three years to vote from such constituencies.

A bench led by Justice A K Patnaik issued notices to the Centre and Election Commission and sought their responses within three weeks.

The petition has been filed by lawmaker Rajeev Chandrasekaran, who has pleaded for easing voting rights of more than 14 lakh armed forces personnel.
12:27  Those joining NCP are entering a sinking ship, warns Uddhav:   Describing the NCP as the "party of betrayers", Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has warned "greedy" Sainiks against crossing over to the Sharad-Pawar-led outfit, saying they are boarding a "sinking ship".

Uddhav came down heavily on the failures of the NCP and Congress at the mega rally of the SS-BJP-RPI-SWP in Dombivili, and appealed to the citizens to choose a 'credible' combine.

"Sena patriarch Balasaheb had handpicked performing and deserving sainiks and given them plum posts. But due to greed, they betrayed the party, its leadership and deserted it, walking over to other parties...

Anand Paranjpe is one them...teach him a befitting lesson," Uddhav said addressing the rally late last night.
12:11  Fire at a room in IIT Delhi, nobody injured :  Just in: Fire has been reported from a room in the Delhi IIT campus, early this morning. The fire has been contained to that one room, which was thankfully unoccupied. Six fire tenders are at the spot. The room seems to be in the hostel.
12:01  The non-functional 15th Lok Sabha :  While we know that the just concluded 15th Lok Sabha was one of the most disrupted sessions, here are the figures on exactly how little business was transacted. Read
11:56  Good intentions are just NOT enough:  The AAP has scored poorly on basic governance and sound policy, writes Bhaskar Dutta for the Indian Express. Read
11:44  Why MS Dhohi should be worried about the Mudgal Committee report. Read
11:41  Two Indians arrested in Singapore for moonlighting as barbers:   Two Indian nationals and a Bangladeshi have been arrested here for moonlighting as barbers while on permit to work in the construction sector, according to a media report today. The three accused had set up make-shift stalls on a pavement in the industrial estate of Tuas, earning 4 Singaporean dollars per haircut compared to average hair cut cost of 10 Singaporean dollars in a local barber shop.
11:34  Sound of Music's Maria Von Trapp dies at 99:  Maria Von Trapp, the last of the singing children immortalised in the movie musical 'The Sound of Music', has died at her home in Vermon. She was 99.

Trapp died of natural causes yesterday, her half-brother said. Marianne Dorfer, a family friend who runs the Von Trapp Villa Hotel in Salzburg, Austria, confirmed the news of her death.

"It was a surprise that she was the one in the family to live the longest because ever since she was a child she suffered from a weak heart. "It was the fact that she suffered from this that her father decided to hire Maria von Trapp to teach her and her brothers and sisters. That of course then led to one of the most remarkable musical partnerships of the last century,' Dorfer said.

Maria was born in 1914 and was the second-eldest daughter of Georg Johannes Von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe Whitehead von Trapp.
11:24  Ridiculous if govt breaks its word on Nalanda university status: Amartya:  Nalanda University, coming up near the site of the ancient seat of learning about 100km from Patna, had announced it would launch some of its courses later this year.

But as with many things in India, its operations are tied up in government red tape and hindrances.

A section of the bureaucracy now wants Nalanda to be a central university though it is an international effort with several countries pledging funds. In an exclusive interview to Supratim Pal of The Telegraph in Patna, Nalanda University chancellor, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, spoke on the challenges ahead, the future road map and his vision for the university. Excerpts.
11:15  SpiceJet slashes fares by 75% under 'Super Summer Sale' offer:  In yet another bonanza to air travellers at the onset of the summer season, budget carrier SpiceJet today reduced its fares by up to a whopping 75 percent under a special offer.

This is the third time in the last one month that the Kalanithi Maran promoted carrier has slashed fares to avail early summer bookings. The bookings under the 'Super Summer Sale' offer will remain open till Wednesday mid-night, Spicejet said today.

"Super Summer Sale offers up to 75 per cent off base fare plus fuel surcharge relative to last minute fares, for travel between April 1 and June 30, 2014," the airline said.
10:54  I miss Sunanda every day: Shashi Tharoor:  In his first interview since his wife Sunanda Pushkar's death in a New Delhi hotel room, junior minister for human resource development Shashi Tharoor said he has not been allowed to grieve in peace and said there were unfortunate attempts to politicize his personal tragedy.

Tharoor, speaking to a TV news channel, said he wasn't allowed to grieve despite a massive personal loss. "It has been painful five weeks. Sunanda's loss has taken a severe toll emotionally. Sunanda's son and father had stood by me... (but) we were not allowed to grieve in peace," said Tharoor.
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10:45  Live! SC to hear Centre's plea against release of Rajiv killers on Feb 27:  The Centre has moved the Supreme Court against the release of four convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The SC has agreed to hear the Centre's plea on February 27.

The apex court had last week stayed the decision of the Tamil Nadu government to release the three convicts in the case after Centre's plea last week and asked it to maintain status quo. However, the Centre wants stay on the release of the four remaining convicts as well, as per news reports.

The decision to release the seven convicts was taken by the Tamil Nadu government soon after the Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of three to life imprisonment on the ground of delay in deciding mercy petition.
10:19  Will remove AFSPA during my tenure: Omar:   Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has vowed to remove the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from the Valley.

Taking a strong stance against the deployment of army personnel in Kashmir, Abdullah claimed that the AFSPA was no longer needed as militancy had come down by 70 per cent in the state.

He also claimed that the army was often responsible for rumour mongering in the Valley. 
10:05  HC commutes death sentence of man who killed 5:  The Gujarat high court has commuted the death sentence of a murder convict, who killed five members of a family in Dubai and fled to India, observing that he has already spent 22 years behind the bars.        

"The convict has been in jail for 22 long years. Considering the situation, the court believes that the death penalty is not appropriate for him. The death penalty has been commuted to life long imprisonment," a division bench of the high court said while changing the sentence.       

"As per the rulings of the Supreme Court in recent cases, capital punishment can be commuted to life term if the convict has been in jail for so many years," the bench said.
10:03  Fog disrupts schedule at Delhi airport, over 50 flights hit:  Operations at the IGI Airport virtually came to a standstill today after visibility dropped due to dense fog, disrupting the schedule of over 50 domestic and international flights        

A Jet Airways flight from Dammam to Delhi was diverted to Jaipur due to poor visibility at 7.55 am.        

Fog started to descend on the airport early on Monday and became dense after 5.30 am. The runway visibility on all the three runways of the airport dropped to less than 100 metres, due to which no flight could take off, airport officials said.
09:59  The War on Terror has been costly for Pakistan:  Pakistan, after Iraq, is the country worst hit by terrorism in the world. 

India's volatile neighbour has lost nearly 50,000 people since it came on board the War on Terror in 2001. Financially, the campaign against terror has cost Islamabad a whopping $78 billion.

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09:51  Assam: Militant carrying 5 lakh reward killed in encounter :  An NDFB-S militant, carrying a reward of Rs five lakh on his head, was killed while another was injured in an encounter today at Balisang in Sonitpur district, police said.        

According to Sonitpur Superintendent of Police Sanjukta Parasar, the slain terrorist has been identified as G Bigrai, on whom Rs five lakh was announced as reward by Assam police. 
09:49  Maharashtra likely to extend slum regularisation cut-off date :  Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan is likely to make an announcement extending the cut-off date for regularisation of slums built till 2000 in the legislature soon.        

During a Cabinet meeting, ministers Naseem Khan and Chhagan Bhujbal made a forceful demand to implement an election promise to regularise slums built until the year 2000. 
09:48  Pakistan puts off world record bid on singing national anthem:  Pakistan authorities today put off an attempt to create a world record for the most people singing the national anthem because of security concerns.        

"The event of most people singing the national anthem has been postponed because of security issues," a Punjab government spokesman said.        

The event, scheduled to be held on Monday, was put off for an indefinite period.
09:46  I have taken tough decisions as home minister: Shinde :  Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today asserted that he was not weak as portrayed by the opposition, and had proved his mettle by taking tough decisions.     

Addressing a rally of the Youth Congress, Shinde said the opposition had spread propaganda about him.     

He also praised Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi, saying the latter had taken a vow to eradicate corruption from the country, and that was why the Lokpal Bill got passed in the Parliament.
09:44  AAP may not win even 10 seats in Lok Sabha polls: BJP:  Delhi BJP chief Harsh Vardhan today said that he would be surprised if the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party wins even five to ten seats in the coming Lok Sabha polls.        

"In the last Delhi assembly elections, AAP managed to bag 28 seats since it misused the name of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement and lied to the people. But now the AAP's reality is out in the open and therefore, I will be surprised if it bags even five to ten seats in the coming Lok Sabha polls," Vardhan said.
09:29  TRS president meets Digvijaya Singh :  Telangana Rashtra Samiti President K Chandrasekhar Rao today held talks with Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, who is in-charge of party affairs in Andhra Pradesh, about a possible merger or alliance between the two parties.        

The development came on a day when the TRS president also met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi and thanked her for ensuring the passage of the Telengana Bill in Parliament.        

Talking to reporters after his meeting with Sonia Gandhi, TRS chief Rao had said that he would talk to Digvijaya Singh about the possibility of the two parties coming together.
09:28  'Obama pragmatic about his dealings with Russia' :  US President Barack Obama has been "exceedingly pragmatic" about his dealings with Russia and it would not be wise to return to the Cold War era, a top presidential adviser said today.        

"We have to be very pragmatic. And President Obama has been exceedingly pragmatic about our dealings with Russia. There are areas where we can cooperate with them. There are areas where we disagree bitterly with them," National Security Advisor Susan Rice told the NBC.        

The US, she argued, has been able to reach a new and very important arm control agreement with the Russians -- the New START Treaty, she noted.
09:12  Mulayam forced to cancel visit to AMU after protests:  Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has been forced to cancel his visit to the Aligarh Muslim University.

He had to cancel his visit after students protested against the SP government's shoddy handling of the Muzaffarnagar riots.

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