23:35 J&K govt will enact law for death penalty for rape of minors: Mehbooba:
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today said her government will enact a new law to make rape of minors punishable by death and asserted that justice will be delivered in the rape and murder case of an eight-year-old Bakerwal girl in Kathua district.
The rape and murder of the girl from the nomadic community has created a controversy after lawyers in Jammu called for a shutdown on Wednesday, demanding the case be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
"We will never ever let another child suffer in this way. We will bring a new law that will make the death penalty mandatory for those who rape minors, so that little girl's case becomes the last, Mehbooba wrote on Twitter.
"I want to assure the entire nation that I stand committed not just to ensure justice (to the girl) but also seek exemplary punishment for those responsible for a crime whose brutal savagery has shamed humanity, she said.
Earlier in the day, the chief minister said proper procedures were being followed in the case and investigations were on the fast track.
"The law will not be obstructed by the irresponsible actions & statements of a group of people. Proper procedures are being followed, investigations are on the fast track & justice will be delivered," Mehbooba tweeted.
On Monday, lawyers in Kathua had tried to prevent the crime branch from filing the chargesheet in the case.
The chargesheet has revealed some chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged, raped inside a place of worship before being killed.
Opposition National Conference leader Omar Abdullah lashed out at the chief minister for not taking any action against two BJP ministers who had attended a rally held in support of the persons accused in the case.
"What rubbish! They are HER ministers, not the Hon(ourable) PM's. The way for her to express her displeasure is to sack them in Jammu not come & leak her alleged displeasure in Delhi," Omar wrote on his Twitter handle. -- PTI
23:27 Results of Swachh Survekshan-2018 to be out by May: Official:
The results of the Swachh Survekshan-2018, a government survey to rank 4,203 cities nationwide on the basis of cleanliness, would be announced in the second fortnight of May, a senior official said today.
In Swachh Survekshan-2017, Indore in Madhya Pradesh was declared the country's cleanest city.
"The results of Swachh Survekshan-2018 will be announced in the second fortnight of May. This time 4,203 cities have been covered as part of this survey," Durgashankar Mishra, Secretary, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, told reporters.
Mishra expressed confidence that by October 2, 2018, India would be open defecation free. He informed that at present, 15 states and 2,500 cities had been declared ODF.
In reply to a question, he informed that door-to-door collection of garbage covered 76 per cent of urban households.
In these areas, 39 per cent waste was being segregated while 29 per cent of solid waste was being managed and disposed off scientifically.
He said that more efforts were needed in the field of scientific disposal of garbage. -- PTI
23:13 India should take steps to ensure privacy in biometric identification programmes: IMF:
The International Monetary Fund today said India should take necessary measures to ensure privacy and security controls while implementing large identification programmes like the Aadhar, as the global financial body identified India as a leader in the biometric identification system.
The International Monetary Fund in its fiscal monitor report on digital government said digitalisation can facilitate stronger governance and fiscal transparency, allowing better public awareness and scrutiny of the budget process and the design of fiscal policy.
In India, the IMF said, biometric identification and electronic payments have helped reduce leakages in LPG subsidies.
"Depending on assumptions and how the reduction in leakage is expressed that is, the reduction in total transfers or wrongful payments estimated savings from digitalisation range between 0.2 and 21 per cent of cash transfers and 11 to 24 per cent of wrongful payments, it said.
"It is difficult to disentangle the effect of digitalisation from broader macroeconomic and policy developments, the IMF said.
For example, the use of Aadhar in the LPG subsidy scheme coincided with the termination of the LPG dual pricing system and the reduction in the world price of natural gas, both of which helped reduce the cost of LPG subsidies.
Data limitations and lack of proper assessment frameworks constrain ex-post evaluations, the report said.
"With more than 1.2 billion registered citizens in India's biometric identification system, Aadhar, the country stands out as a leader in this area," the report said.
The IMF, however, stressed that governments should take necessary steps to ensure privacy and security controls when implementing large identification programmes.
"In India, privacy and security concerns led to alternating periods of mandatory and non-mandatory use of Aadhar in social programmes, it said. -- PTI
22:32 Why fast when BJP disrupted Parliament for weeks, months: Shatrughan :
Disgruntled BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha today took a swipe at the day-long, nationwide fast observed by MPs of his party saying the BJP had also stalled parliamentary proceedings when it was in opposition.
In a series of tweets, apparently addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi whom he did not mention by name but addressed as "Sir", Sinha pointed out that while in the opposition, BJP members too had disrupted proceedings in Parliament on various issues for which the party was now criticising the opposition.
The actor-turned-politician, who represents Patna Sahib in the Lok Sabha, also questioned whether the opposition was "entirely responsible" for disruption of proceedings in both houses of the Parliament.
"What is reason sir behind this upwaas (fast). Is it for the Parliament not running smoothly. Is the opposition entirely responsible for it. Many a time in the past, when we were in the opposition, we did not let it work for days, weeks and months," the BJP national executive member tweeted.
"I recall once was because of Hon'ble Sukh Ram ji.....who we later invited to join our party, with due respect to him and his son Anil Sharma who is part of the Govt in Himachal," he tweeted referring to the ruckus created by the BJP - then in the opposition - over corruption scandals involving the then Communications minister in the Narasimha Rao government.
"Is it also true that some of our prominent leaders of today had made statements in the past, both inside and outside the Parliament that smooth functioning of the Parliament is the sole responsibility of the Govt. What is our stand today sir, let's clarify once and for all," he tweeted.
Sinha, who has been critical of his own party and the Modi government for quite sometime, however, sought to lighten up his outpourings by adding a dash of humour in a couple of previous tweets.
"Today on this auspicious day of official fasting, we may not be able to consume salt but the humour of this tweet has to be taken with a pinch of salt...Dear Sir, you and all the party people are going to be fasting today. Is it true. What are the reasons," read the first tweet on the topic.
This was followed by "Please enlighten us too, as I am in a foreign country at the moment with a time difference, surrounded by many NRIs (3 kinds - Non-Resident, Non-Reliable and Non Required Indians). I would like to know (a) if I too am supposed to fast (b) from what time to what time". -- PTI
22:15 My heart hurts, join me in candlelight vigil: Rahul :
Rahul Gandhi has appealed to participate in his candlelight vigil to protest against violence against women.
"Like millions of Indians my heart hurts tonight. India simply cannot continue to treat its women the way it does," he said on Twitter.
"Join me in a silent, peaceful, candlelight vigil at India Gate at midnight tonight to protest this violence and demand justice," he tweeted.
21:56 Never said when attack on Syria would take place: Trump:
United States President Donald Trump today asserted that he has never said when an attack, if at all, on Syria will take place, a day after he warned Damascus that US missiles "will be coming" in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in the strife-torn Arab country.
"Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!" Trump said amidst reports of an imminent American missile attack on Syria.
"In any event, the US, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our 'Thank you America?'," he tweeted.
Two days ago, Trump had said that he would take a decision on Syria within 24-48 hours.
The White House yesterday said that the president is considering all options and no decision has been taken yet.
Former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today told MSNBC that it was not something that the president should have said with regards to the status of American forces.
"Because if we're going to be able to have some kind of influence in Syria, and it is a chaotic situation, it is important for the United States to have a presence there and to indicate that we have a role to play," he said.
"By saying what he said, I think he may have sent a signal that somehow the United States would not care whatever happened in Syria, and I think that was dangerous," Panetta said.
The US, he rued, has really never had a strategy with regards to Syria. -- PTI
21:49 Meeting between PM Modi, Pak PM Abbasi unlikely during CHOGM:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unlikely to have bilateral talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shahid Khaqan Abbasi when the two attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London next week, officials in the Ministry of External Affairs said.
During his visit to the UK from April 17-20, Modi will meet his counterpart Theresa May and a Memorandum on Return of Illegal Immigrants is likely to be signed between the two nations, K Nagaraj Naidu, Joint Secretary (West Europe), said.
The pact expired in 2014 and it is likely to be renewed during the visit.
Prior to his trip to the UK, Modi will visit Sweden from April 16-17, where he and his Swedish counterpart Stefan Lofven will host the first India-Nordic Summit. He will also have an audience with Carl XVI Gustaf, the King of Sweden.
Besides Lofven, prime Ministers of four other Nordic countries - Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway - will attend the summit.
"As far as the possible meeting (between Modi and Abbasi) on the sidelines of the CHOGM (is concerned)... From the first reading of the scheduling, it is a very packed summit. So, if at all there will be a bilateral meeting, it will probably be on the first day, but even that first day is completely packed.
"So at this juncture, we really don't have any idea of any of the bilateral meetings of the prime minister. We do look at this as opportunity to interact with the heads of the governments of small states, island states. So, prima facie that would be the emphasis of our interaction because this would be so most appropriate place to do so," Rudendra Tandon, Joint Secretary (United Nations Political), said.
The prime ministers of India and Pakistan last met in December 2015, when Modi, in an unplanned visit, landed in Lahore on his way back from Afghanistan and attended then Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif's granddaughter's wedding.
However, relations turned frosty after the Pathankot terror attack in January 2016 and another strike by terrorists on an Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir in September that year.
Another official in the MEA, too, ruled out any meeting between the two prime ministers. -- PTI
21:41 Rahul to hold candlelight vigil tonight over Unnao, Kathua rape cases:
Congress President Rahul Gandhi will hold a candlelight vigil at India Gate tonight to protest the Unnao and Kathua rape incidents.
Earlier, Rahul described the rape and killing of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua as 'unimaginable brutality' that cannot go unpunished, and wondered how anybody can seek to protect the culprits.
He also lashed out at the politics being played over the crime.
"How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil," he asked, adding that the violence against the child was a crime against humanity.
"It cannot go unpunished," he said on Twitter.
"What have we become if we allow politics to interfere with such unimaginable brutality perpetrated on an innocent child," he tweeted.
On Monday, the Congress chief led his party on a nationwide fast targeting the Modi government over a variety of issues including alleged caste and communal violence.
21:16 Law panel extends deadline to submit responses on civil code:
The law commission, which is examining the possibility of bringing out a uniform civil code, has extended till May 6 the deadline for stakeholders to submit their comments and suggestions on the issue.
The commission had earlier, on March 19, issued a public appeal seeking views and objections to UCC by April 6. In a fresh notice issued earlier this week, the commission said the extension follows requests from stakeholders and and an overwhelming response to the earlier notice.
The commission said more than 60,000 responses have been received by it on the common code.
The UCC is part of the ruling BJP's election manifesto.
In June 2016, the law ministry sent a reference to the commission asking it for an in-depth examination of matters in relation to the Uniform Civil Code and whether the time was ripe for bringing it in.
In October that year, the commission had sought responses from political parties, religious groups and the public at large for comments and suggestions on the issue.
The commission issued an appeal on March 19 asking stakeholders and the public at large to send in their suggestions and comments on the issue of the UCC.
The appeal also said that suggestions related to triple talaq should be excluded because a bill to criminalise the practice of Talaq-e-biddat or instant triple talaq is pending in Parliament. The deadline for writing in to the commission was April 6. -- PTI
21:03 People are more important than elections: Kamal Haasan to PM Modi:
Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately set up the Cauvery Management Board, saying it was his duty to prove wrong the notion that it was being delayed due to the assembly polls in Karnataka.
Setting up the CMB was also the Centre's constitutional duty, he said.
"You must be aware of the agitations that have gripped Tamil Nadu due to the injustice meted out," the actor-turned-politician said in a letter to Modi.
People were dismayed by the delay in setting up the CMB, Haasan said and added that they were holding protests "to get justice".
"The Supreme Court has already performed its constitutional role by delivering its judgment. It is now the turn of your government to perform its constitutional duty and implement the order," he said.
Recalling Modi's earlier stint as Gujarat chief minister, Haasan said he already had the experience of sharing water among four states through the Narmada Control Authority.
"Please do the needful as our prime minister and set up the CMB to ensure implementation of the apex court order in letter and spirit," Haasan said.
"All sections of people have started to believe that the delay (in forming CMB) is due to the ensuing election in Karnataka and your party's interest in it," he claimed.
"It is your duty as the prime minister of our country to prove this wrong by immediately acting as per the Supreme Court order," Haasan said.
The actor said he was sure that Modi would fulfil his duty towards the people and farmers of Tamil Nadu by setting up the CMB immediately.
In a video clip of little over one minute, Haasan made the same plea to Modi, saying, "People are more important than the elections as you well know".
20:24 'Justice needs to be done': Celebs express anguish over Unnao, Kathua rape incidents:
Two-time World Cup winning cricketer Gautam Gambhir and multiple Grand Slam winner Sania Mirza were among the prominent sportspersons who expressed their anger at the rape incidents in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao and Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua.
In Unnao, an 18-year-old woman was allegedly raped by BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar last year. The father of the rape survivor died on April 9 in police custody. In Kathua, an 8-year-old girl Asifa Bano was raped and murdered.
There has been tremendous outrage across the country with celebrities from all walks of life voicing their concerns about safety and security of women and children.
Gambhir, who has been vocal on a lot of social issues tweeted: "Indian consciousness was raped in Unnao and then in Kathua. It's now being murdered in corridors of our stinking systems. Come on Mr System', show us if you have the balls to punish the perpetrators, I challenge you. #KathuaMurderCase #UnnaoRapeCase"
He also raised questions about why advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat was being prevented to fight the case for rape victim in Kathua.
"Shame on those, especially the lawyers, who are challenging and obstructing Deepika Singh Rajawat, the counsel of our victimised daughter from Kathua. ? #kathuaHorror," the Delhi Daredevils captain tweeted.
Sania also expressed her disappointment.
"Is this really the kind of country we want to be known as to the world today ?? If we can't stand up now for this 8 year old girl regardless of our gender,caste,colour or religion then we don't stand for anything in this world.. not even humanity.. makes me sick to the stomach
"Justice needs to be done ... for the sake of keeping our faith in the judiciary and the system alive .. I really hope and pray justice is done .. and soon.. #UnnaoHorror #UnnaoRapeCase," Sania tweeted. -- PTI
19:39 PM rubbishes allegations of bias against southern states:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the Centre has suggested to the finance commission to consider incentivising states working on population control, while refuting charges that the Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission were biased against certain states.
The issue was being raised by 'vested interests', he said without naming anyone.
Modi's remarks come within days after Communist Party India-Marxist ruled Kerala hosted a conference of finance ministers of southern states, which was also attended by Puducherry, a Union Territory, on Tuesday.
At the conclave, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry had opined that ToR were in contradiction to the principles of federalism enshrined in the Constitution and would also result in revenue loss to performing states.
Tamil Nadu, which skipped the meeting, yesterday said using the 2011 census to calculate population for allocation of union tax revenue 'would greatly impact' the state which has 'efficiently' implemented population control measures.
It had decided to make a representation to the Finance Commission through MPs from Tamil Nadu on the matter, seeking necessary amendments.
Modi said Tamil Nadu 'would certainly benefit' following the Centre's suggestion to the Finance Commission on incentivising such states.
"The Indian government has suggested to the finance commission to consider incentivising states that worked on population control," the prime minister said.
"By this yardstick, a state like Tamil Nadu which had devoted a lot of effort, resources and energy on population control would certainly benefit," he said.
This was not the case earlier, he added.
Modi was speaking after inaugurating the 'Diamond Jubilee Building' of the city-based Cancer Institute and various other facilities there.
The prime minister referred to what he said was 'a baseless allegation being made about the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission being biased against certain states or a particular region'.
The Centre is committed to 'cooperative federalism', Modi said, adding, 'our mantra is sab ka sath sab ka vikas
"Let us all work together to build a new India which would make our great freedom fighters proud," he said. Modi also extended his Tamil New Year greetings. The New year is being celebrated on April 14. -- PTI
18:35 Punjab govt seeks Sidhu's conviction in road rage case:
The Punjab government on Thursday sought conviction of state's minister Navjot Singh Sidhu in a road rage case.
Lawyer appearing for the Punjab government told Supreme Court that the statement given by Sidhu denying his involvement in the case was false.
The incident dates back to December 27, 1988 when Sidhu had allegedly hit one Gurnam Singh, 65, in an incident of road rage at Patiala, Punjab, resulting in death of Gurnam.
The trial court had acquitted Sidhu, whereas the Punjab and Haryana high court reversed his acquittal, convicting him under Section 304 Part II, Indian Penal Code, for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Victim family has appealed to the Supreme Court that earlier imprisonment sentence of three years given by Punjab and Haryana high court should be enhanced. However, the Punjab government has appealed the apex court to uphold three-year imprisonment. -- ANI
18:29 Delhi HC also refuses to stay release of Nanak Shah Fakir:
The Delhi high court today refused to stay the release of movie Nanak Shah Fakir
, scheduled to hit the theatres from tomorrow, saying the petition was motivated after the Supreme Court refused to grant any relief.
The high court said it was unbelievable that the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC), which has filed the petition challenging the no objection certificate issued by the Censor Board, was not aware of the making of film till now.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said the 'release of the film cannot be interdicted'.
The court directed the Centre to ensure maintenance of law and order and made it clear that it was not granting any ex parte relief to DSGMC without hearing the film producer.
The petition challenged the release of the movie saying it has characterised the family members of Guru Nank Dev with humans/actors which is against the principles of Sikh religion.
Earlier, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) today made two unsuccessful attempts in the Supreme Court to stall the film's release tomorrow.
The SGPC made two pleas, one in the morning and then in the afternoon, before the apex court which rejected both of them. The top court had on April 10 criticised the SGPC, the apex religious body of the Sikhs, for imposing restrictions on the film Nanak Shah Fakir
and cleared the decks for its nationwide release scheduled on April 13.
It had said that after the CBFC certification, no group, body, association or individual can create any kind of disturbance in exhibition of the film. -- PTIPhotograph: Kind courtesy @resulp/Twitter
17:28 Rahul on Kathua rape: How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil?:
The Congress party's first statement on the Kathua rape.
Rahul Gandhi @RahulGandhi tweets: "How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil? What happened to Asifa at #Kathua is a crime against humanity. It cannot go unpunished. What have we become if we allow politics to interfere with such unimaginable brutality perpetrated on an innocent child?"
Before Rahul Gandhi, Union minister V K Singh today said "we as humans" had failed the eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community who was gangraped and killed in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district but she would not be denied justice.
The child had disappeared from near her home in the forests next to Rasana village in Kathua on January 10. A week later, her body was found in the same area.
Expressing distress over the tragedy, perhaps the first reaction from a BJP minister, he said we have failed her as humans. "But she will not be denied justice," the minister of state in the External Affairs Ministry added in his tweet.
A Special Investigation Team formed to probe the incident has arrested eight people, including two Special Police Officers (SPOs) and a head constable, who was charged with destruction of evidence.
A chargesheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police said abduction, rape and killing of the girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority community from the area.
The rape has polarised the state with the local bar association calling for a bandh against what it termed the "targeting of minority Dogras", while the Valley saw protests demanding justice for the deceased. PTI
16:57 Have asked HK to surrender Nirav Modi: MEA:
MEA spokesperson Ravish Kumar:
On Nirav Modi: So far we have not received any information about Nirav Modi or about his arrest from the the Hong Kong authorities. We are aware of the written reply submitted to Parliament which shared that Nirav Modi is in Hong Kong. Have requested Hong Kong authorities to surrender Nirav Modi. There is an agreement between India and Hong Kong about the surrender of fugitive offenders. We are still awaiting a response.
On Russia: All matters of mutual interest have been discussed in the telephonic conversation which took place between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russia President Vladimir Putin yesterday. India is against the use of chemical weapons anywhere, at any time, by
anybody, under any circumstances. We hope that this issue is resolved in
accordance with the provisions of the chemical weapons convention, so
as to reach evidence-based conclusion.
On China: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to visit China on April 22 and 23 and Mongolia on April 24 and 25.
15:54 Unnao rape case: Allegations can be proven wrong also, says BJP minister:
Satyapal Singh, Union Minister, on the Unnao rape: The SIT has submitted its report, strict action will be taken against guilty. I don't know how much is he (Kuldeep Singh Sengar) involved in the case; sometimes allegations are proven wrong also.
The police in Uttar Pradesh today registered an FIR against BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in connection with the alleged gang-rape of a minor girl in Unnao, hours after the government said it would hand the probe over to the CBI.
Till the premier investigating agency takes over, the local police would continue with the probe, but a decision on whether the accused MLA from the ruling party would be arrested would be taken by the CBI, Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar said.
A letter for handing the probe over to the CBI for maintaining total transparency in the case would be sent to the home department today, he told reporters.
The Unnao police earlier today registered the case against Sengar under various sections of the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in the Makhi police station area.
Under POCSO, an accused has to be arrested immediately after a case been filed. The FIR has been registered under Sections 376 (rape), 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing a woman to compel her into marriage), 363 (kidnapping) and 506 (criminal intimidation). -- PTI
15:19 RBI slaps Rs.3 Cr monetary penalty on IDBI bank:
The Reserve Bank of India has imposed monetary penalty worth Rs 3 crore on IDBI Bank for not complying with the outlined norms related to reporting of bad loans.
In an official notice, the RBI said the penalty was imposed on account of non-compliance with the directions issued on Income Recognition and Asset Classification norms.
"This penalty has been imposed in exercise of powers vested in the RBI under the provisions of Section 47A(1)(c) read with Section 46(4)(i) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, taking into account failure of the bank to adhere to the aforesaid directions issued by the RBI," the notice read. -- ANI
14:10 Unnao rape: Why has MLA not been arrested, asks HC:
Unnao rape case: The Allahabad High Court asks state govt counsel why MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar has not been arrested yet. The court has sought a reply post lunch.
Police in Uttar Pradesh today registered an FIR against ruling BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in connection with the alleged gangrape of a minor girl in Unnao, hours after the government said it would hand over investigation into the case to the CBI. Till the premier investigating agency takes over, the local police will continue with the probe, Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar said.
The letter for handing over the probe to the CBI for maintaining total transparency in the case will be sent today, he told reporters.
The decision on whether to arrest the accused MLA will be taken by the CBI on the merits of the case after investigations, he said.
The Unnao police this morning registered the case against Sengar under various sections of IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in the Makhi police station area. The FIR has been registered under sections 376 (rape), 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage,), 363 (kidnapping) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
"An FIR be lodged under appropriate sections considering the allegations of rape levied on MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and others and the investigation be handed over to CBI," the Principal Secretary (Information) said in an statement late last night.
The teen rape survivor, who had tried to immolate herself outside the chief minister's house just a day before her 50-year-old father died on Monday, has alleged that she was confined to a hotel room by the district administration, leaving her "without a phone or water and guards at every corner". PTI
13:55 Verdict on SC/ST Act has diluted its provisions: Centre to SC:
The Centre today told the Supreme Court that its recent judgement on the SC/ST Act has "diluted" the provisions of the law, resulting in "great damage" to the country.
It said the top court verdict, which had dealt with an issue of a "very sensitive nature", has caused "commotion", "anger, unease and a sense of disharmony" in the country. In his written submission, Attorney General K K Venugopal said that through its judgement, the top court has not filled the gaps in the SC/ST Act but rather amended it through judicial legislation.
He also stressed that there was separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary which was "inviolable".
"It is submitted that this judgement has diluted, for the reasons stated, the provisions of the Atrocities Act read with the Code, resulting in great damage to the country," the Attorney General said in his written submissions.
"This case dealing with the issue of very sensitive nature has caused a lot of commotion in the country and is also creating anger, unease and a sense of disharmony," it said.
The Centre also said that the "confusion" created by the apex court verdict may have to be corrected by reviewing the judgement and recalling the directions issued by the top court. -- PTI
13:45 The sunshine story from Kashmir:
From one of Kashmir's worst trouble spots, Adeeba Tak
emerges as a story of hope. The 17-year-old has won a full scholarship to an Ivy League university in the US.
This August, just as the apple season starts in her native Shopian, Adeeba will make her way to study mechanical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. Rediff.com's Archana Masih
finds out why her story is special. Do read
13:34 We have failed Asifa, but justice will not be denied: VK Singh:
VK Singh tweets on the Kathua rape, the first BJP minister to do so. Vijay Kumar Singh @Gen_VKSingh We have failed Ashifa as humans. But she will not be denied justice.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today said her government will not allow law to be obstructed and justice will be delivered in the rape-and-murder case of an eight-year-old Bakerwal girl in Kathua district.
The rape-and-murder of the nomadic Muslim Bakerwal community girl has created a controversy after lawyers in Jammu called for a shutdown yesterday, demanding the case be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
"The Law will not be obstructed by the irresponsible actions & statements of a group of people. Proper procedures are being followed, investigations are on the fast track & justice will be delivered," Mehbooba said in a tweet.
On Monday, lawyers in Kathua had tried to prevent the Crime Branch from filing the charge sheet in the case. The charge sheet has revealed some chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged, raped inside a place of worship before being killed.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, however, lashed out at the chief minister for not taking any action against two BJP ministers who had attended a rally held in support of the persons accused in the case. "What rubbish! They are HER ministers, not the Hon(ourable) PM s. The way for her to express her displeasure is to sack them in Jammu not come & leak her alleged displeasure in Delhi," Omar tweeted.
He was responding to tweets by a journalist from a TV channel in which she had said Mehbooba had expressed displeasure over BJP ministers actions in regard with this case. However, the journalist later pulled down the tweet.
"So even her displeasure wasn't genuine & the tweet has had to be deleted so that a corrected version could be issued," Omar said. -- PTI
13:09 8-year-olds rape and killing fuels religious tensions in India:
"His poison has been spreading,'' said Talib Hussain, a Bakarwal leader. "When I was young, I remember the fear Sanji Ram's name invoked in Muslim women. If they wanted to scare each other, they would take Sanji Ram's name, since he was known to misbehave with Bakarwal women.''
The NYT on the Kathua rape. Do read
13:06 J&K: Cops injured in grenade attack in Pulwama :
Two policemen were injured in a grenade attack conducted by a group of unidentified terrorists at Pulwama in Kashmir on Thursday. The injured policemen were admitted to Pulwama's government district hospital. The details regarding the identity of the terrorists are still awaited. -- ANI
12:58 Babita settles for silver at CWG:
Defending champion Babita Phogat (53kg) settled for a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games after being out-manoeuvred by Canada's Diana Weicker in the summit clash here today. Babita, who claimed a silver in the 2010 edition before a gold in Glasgow, failed to break through her rival's defences, going down 2-5 in the contest. Her medal opened India's account in the wrestling competition of the Games. PTI
12:55 Man in black:
DMK releases picture of party chief M Karunanidhi at his Gopalapuram residence in Chennai wearing black as a mark of protest against the visit of PM Narendra Modi to the city.
The Prime Minister is in the state to inaugurate the DefExpo at Mamallapuram (formerly called Mahabalipuram) outside Chennai.
12:15 I fear for my uncle's life, says Unnao rape survivor :
After the Uttar Pradesh government decided to hand over the probe into the Unnao rape case to CBI on Wednesday night, the rape survivor expressed her apprehensions and said the accused BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar must be arrested.
"Still so many questions are being raised on me, even after my father's murder. How will I get justice? CBI probe is fine but first MLA (Kuldeep Singh Sengar) should be arrested or he will influence the probe. I now fear for my uncle's (father's brother) life," the girl said.
The government has recommended a CBI probe into the death of the victim's father allegedly in custody on Monday.
The decisions were taken after the Special Investigation Team (SIT), constituted under additional director general of police (Lucknow zone), to look into the matter submitted its report to the government.
The development came hours after the Allahabad High Court sought the Uttar Pradesh government's stand on the incident on a letter to the court by senior lawyer Gopal Swaroop Chaturvedi detailing the case and posted the matter for hearing today.
The Supreme Court has decided to hear next week a plea for a CBI probe. The plea also alleged that the woman's father was tortured and killed in police custody. The wife of the accused BJP MLA, Sangeeta Sengar, had yesterday demanded narco tests of her husband and the 17-year-old girl.
12:04 Policy paralysis hit defence preparedness. Never again, says Modi:
Our commitment to peace is just as strong as our commitment to protecting our people and our territory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says while inaugurating the DefExpo at Thiruvidanthai, near Mahabalipuram, outside Chennai.
Ready to take all measures to equip our armed forces, including establishing a strategically independent defence industrial complex, Modi said, adding that, "We are conscious that defence manufacturing is unique in terms of government involvement."
"There was a time when critical issue of defence preparedness was hampered by policy paralysis. Not now, not anymore, never again," says Modi, "We do not want to spend 10 years in discussion without any tangible outcome," in an apparent reference to the scrapped MMRCA deal.
12:03 Justice Chelameswar expresses anguish, refuses to list PIL of ex-law minister :
Update: The Supreme Court's most senior judge Justice J Chelameswar today once again expressed his anguish over affairs in the apex court and refused to order listing of a PIL filed by former Union law minister Shanti Bhushan seeking formulation of guidelines on allocation of cases.
In fast moving developments, advocate Prashant Bhushan, denied urgent listing of his father's PIL, rushed to Chief Justice Dipak Misra's court and mentioned the matter for listing expeditiously.
The bench headed by CJI said, "We will look into it."
Bhushan initially mentioned the matter before Justice Chelameswar and said this was an emergency situation. He said he was referring the matter to Justice Chelameswar's bench as the PIL challenges the master of roster concept and the CJI can't deal with it. Justice Chelameswar said said the reasons were too obvious and he would not like to deal with the matter.
His remarks came in the backdrop of two recent letters written by him and Justice Kurian Joseph over the affairs of the Supreme Court and alleged interference by the executive into judicial matters.
He said today that he had written a letter a few days ago to highlight affairs in the Supreme Court and in the country. "Someone is running a relentless tirade against me that I am up to grab something. There is nothing I can do much in this. I am sorry, you please understand my difficulty," Justice Chelameswar told Bhushan.
He said the country will understand everything and will follow its own course. "I don't want one more reversal of my order in next 24 hours. This is why I can't do it. Please understand my difficulty," he said. -- PTI
11:20 Someone running relentless tirade against me: Justice Chelameswar:
Supreme Court judge J Chelameswar expresses his inability in ordering the listing of the ex-law minister's plea for framing the norms on allocating cases to various benches.
"Someone is running a relentless tirade against me that I am up to grab something. I would not like to deal with Shanti Bhushan's plea and the reasons for it are too obvious," Chelameswar said.
He said he would not like another reversal of his order in next 24 hours. "This country will follow its own course but I'm sorry and I can't deal with this PIL," he said.
A public interest litigation had been filed in the Supreme Court by former law minister Shanti Bhushan challenging the manner in which CJI Dipak Misra exercises his administrative powers.
Yesterday, a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud dismissed a PIL seeking framing of guidelines for rational and transparent allocation of cases and constitution of benches to hear them.
Justice Chandrachud, writing the judgment for the bench, referred to constitutional schemes and said "the Chief Justice of India is first among equals and has the authority to decide allocation of cases and setting up of benches".
MDMK Chief Vaiko and his party workers protest outside Raj Bhavan in Chennai with black flags and balloons.
10:48 OPS missing?:
If you're wondering if the alliance between the two formerly warring factions of E Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam is kaput with OPS missing from the picture, here's the state's deputy CM, seated third from left. All is well... so far.
PM Modi at the venue of Defence Expo 2018 in Mahabalipuram. With him are (L to R) Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit, CM E Palaniswami and M Thambidurai.
10:16 Chennai Super Kings' home games in the Indian Premier League 2018 will now be played at the Maharashtra Cricket Association's International Stadium in Pune.
10:12 Unnao rape case: FIR registered against BJP MLA:
Update on the Unnao rape: The police today registered an FIR against Uttar Pradesh BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in connection with the rape of a 17-year-old girl in Unnao district.
The MLA has been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, Superintendent of Police (SP), Unnao, Pushpanjali Devi said.
The FIR has been registered under sections 376 (rape), 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage,), 363 (kidnapping) and 506 (criminal intimidation) at the Makhi police station, the officer said. -- PTI
10:09 PM arrives in Chennai to black-flag protests:
PM Narendra Modi arrives in Chennai amid protests over the Cauvery issue. The PM is in Tamil Nadu to inaugurate the Defence Expo which began in Chennai today. The four-day event showcases India's defence manufacturing capabilities to the world.
The PM will take a chopper ride from the airport to the venue at Mahabalipuram.
Despite security being tightened in and around Chennai, protestors carrying boards saying, 'Go Back, Modi', black balloons and black flags, lined the road outside the airport.
The protests were organised by the opposition parties and fringe groups to demand the constitution of the Cauvery Management Board.
DMK working president MK Stalin spearheaded the protests asking people to hoist black flags atop their houses. The opposition is upset over what the see as the Centre's "inaction" on the Cauvery issue.
Protestors are also likely to gather at various points in the city, including IIT Madras and the Cancer Institute, where the PM will be inaugurating other projects.
The Prime Minister is on a day-long fast to protest against the washout of the budget session of Parliament.
Police personnel have been deployed in large numbers throughout the city, and several bus routes have been diverted to ease the congestion.
This is not the first time that black flags have greeted the PM. During his visit to Kochi in 2015, Youth Congress workers greeted Modi with black flags when he arrived at the naval airbase.
09:39 Amit Shah on two-day tour in poll bound Karnataka :
BJP chief Amit Shah will tour the northern parts of the poll-bound state of Karnataka from today for two days.
Shah will participate in 'Musti Dhanya Sangrah Abhiyan' at noon, in Abbigeri village of Gadag district.
Later, the BJP chief will hold a road show at 5 pm from Murusavira Mutt to Durgadabail, Hubballi.
Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders are also slated to observe a day-long fast today to protest the washout of the Budget Session of Parliament due to disruptions.Karnataka will go to polls on May 12 to elect its representatives for the 225-member assembly.
The results will be out on May 15.
09:33 SP to support BSP in UP Legislative Council polls: Akhilesh :
Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has declared that the Samajwadi Party will support Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party in the upcoming Legislative Council elections in the state. This comes after the Samajwadi Party won the Lok Sabha by-elections in Gorakhpur and Phulpur constituencies with the support of the BSP.
The elections to the 13 Legislative Council seats are slated to be held on April 26 with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party being certain of winning at least 11 seats, going by its brute majority in the state legislative assembly.
In the 100-member UP Legislative Council, the BJP currently has just 13 members. The Samajwadi Party has 61 members, the BSP nine, the Congress two, the RLD one and others 12. Two seats are vacant.
According to the Election Commission, tenures of 13 MLCs, including SP national president Akhilesh Yadav and two ministers in the Yogi Adityanath government - Mahendra Kumar Singh and Mohsin Raza - will end on May 5.
Of the 13 seats falling vacant, seven were held by the SP, two each by the BJP and the BSP, and one RLD. The thirteenth seat was held by former SP minister Ambika Chaudhary. His seat fell vacant when he switched over from the SP to the BSP.
09:18 PM Modi to inaugurate 10th edition of Defence Expo:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the 10th edition of Defence Expo in Chennai today.
The expo, which will be attended by over 670 exhibitors, including 150 from abroad, will showcase India's capability in the export of defence systems and components.
Major manufacturers like Tata, Bharat Forge, Mahindra, DRDO, HAL, Ordinance Factories will participate from the Indian side.
International companies participating in this event include Lockheed Martin and Boeing of the United States, Airbus and Rafale of France, Rosonboron Exports and United Shipbuilding of Russia, BAE Systems of United Kingdom, Sibat of Israel, Rhode and Schwarz of Germany.
08:58 Pillar inside Taj Mahal premises collapses due to heavy rain:
As heavy rain continued to lash several parts of Uttar Pradesh, a pillar of the entry gate to the world famous Taj Mahal monument collapsed on Thursday.
The pillar located on the southern entry gate of the monument fell due to rain on Thursday past midnight, according to sources.
No casualties have been reported as of now.
08:41 PM to observe fast today over Parliament washout:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will observe a day-long fast today in New Delhi, while top BJP leaders, including Union ministers, will fan out across the country for a similar protest to corner the opposition over the recent washout of the budget session of Parliament.
Addressing party MPs through an audio conference call ahead of the protest, Modi said the BJP leaders and its workers will observe the fast to "expose" those handful of people who "throttled" democracy by stalling Parliament proceedings during the budget session.
Besides Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu will observe the fast in New Delhi.
As per the schedule prepared by the BJP for observing the fast across the country, Union Health Minister J P Nadda will be in Modi's constituency Varanasi, while Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will travel to Patna for it, party sources said.
Many other ministers will travel to various places across the country to observe the fast. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will observe the fast in Chennai, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javdekar in Benguluru, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel in Tamil Nadu and Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar in Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh.
Tourism Minister KJ Alphons will observe the fast in Kerala.
Besides ministers, all the party MPs will also sit on a fast in their respective constituencies, while BJP chief Amit Shah will hold a sit-in at Hubli in poll-bound Karnataka tomorrow.
The ruling BJP has blamed the opposition, led by the Congress party, for the washout of the budget session. The session was the worst in terms of productivity in about a decade.
08:31 Pregnant artist shot dead for refusing to stand while singing in Pakistan:
In a brutal episode, a pregnant Pakistani artist has been shot dead during a festive ceremony in Larkana district of Sindh province as she refused to stand while singing.
Twenty-four-year-old Samina Samoon, also known as Samina Sindhu, was in Kanga village for an event where she was singing for her audience.
As the event progressed, a man identified as Tarique Ahmed Jatoi asked her to stand while singing.
The singer refused to comply to his demand because she was pregnant. The denial did not go well with Jatoi, who was reportedly inebriated and shot her dead.
The 24-year-old singer was taken to hospital where she was declared brought dead. Her husband has demanded that the FIR should charge the accused of double murder for killing his wife and unborn child.
The accused has been arrested and an investigation has been launched into the singer's murder.
07:53 ISRO successfully launches IRNSS-1I navigation satellite:
The Indian Space Research Organisation's navigation satellite INRSS-1I was today launched by PSLV-C41 from the spaceport and successfully placed in the designated orbit.
PSLV-C41/IRNSS-1I Mission blasted off at 4.04 am from the first launchpad at the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre. It was a normal lift-off, ISRO officials said.
The workhorse, PSLV, injected the satellite into orbit 19 minutes after lift-off from the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre here.
ISRO Chairman K Sivan described the mission as a success and congratulated the scientists behind it. He said IRNSS-1I was successfully placed in the designated orbit.
IRNSS-1I is expected to replace IRNSS-1A, the first of the seven navigation satellites, that was rendered ineffective after its three rubidium atomic clocks failed. The seven satellites are part of the NavIC navigation satellite constellation.
The launch is ISRO's second attempt at sending a replacement satellite.
The previous mission of a PSLV carrying IRNSS-1H in August last year failed after the heat shield covering the satellite failed to separate.
The IRNSS-1I mission takes place two weeks after the space agency launched GSAT-6A on board GSLV Mk-II. Though the rocket placed GSAT-6A in orbit, the ISRO lost communication with the satellite within two days.
00:27 US House Speaker Paul Ryan to retire:
The top Republican in the United States House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, has decided to retire when his term ends, paving the way for a new Republican leadership in the Congress next year.
Citing family reasons for his decision, Ryan clarified that he is not resigning and that he would serve the rest of the term till early January next year.
"I am announcing that this year will be my last one as a member of the House," Ryan told reporters at a news conference.
"I will be retiring in January, leaving this majority in good hands with what I believe is a very bright future," said the Speaker who in 2015 had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his highly successful joint address to the US Congress.
President Donald Trump paid tribute to Ryan as "a truly good man."
"Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!" Trump said in a tweet.
Vice President Mike Pence said Ryan will continue to be a great representative for the people of Wisconsin through the rest of his term and will continue to work every day with him to keep our promises to the American people.
Ryan cited family reasons for his decision.
"It's almost hard to believe, but I have been a member of Congress for almost two decades. This is my 20th year in Congress. My kids weren't even born when I was first elected. Our oldest was 13 years old when I became speaker, " Ryan said.
"Now all three of our kids are teenagers. And one thing I've learned about teenagers is their idea of an ideal weekend is not necessarily to spend all of the time with their parents," he said.
"What I realize is, if I'm here for one more term, my kids will only have ever known me as a weekend dad. I just can't let that happen. So I will be setting new priorities in my life, but I'll also be leaving incredibly proud of what we have accomplished," Ryan said.