Wed, 14 December 2016
Court rejects Peter's plea to attend niece's wedding

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23:43   Court rejects Peter's plea to attend niece's wedding
A special Central Bureau of Investigation court today rejected the application of former media baron Peter Mukerjea, one of the accused in the sensational Sheena Bora murder case, seeking permission for travel to Bengaluru for his niece's wedding but allowed him to attend it through video conference.

Special judge H S Mahajan rejected the application after the CBI told the court that he can even attend the marriage ceremony through a video link.

'However, if Peter intends, in that circumstances, at the state's cost, by the way of video conferencing and in the presence of jail officials, he be permitted to convey his blessing to his family members on the day and time (of wedding),' the judge said in the order.

Meanwhile, the court also disposed of his another application seeking a laptop without internet connection, saying the jail authorities may make arrangements as per the jail manual.

Peter had sought permission to use a laptop in jail as he wanted to write his autobiography.

The court is likely to hear arguments on framing of charges in the Sheena Bora murder case on December 19.
23:10   Patanjali fined by court for misleading advertisements
A local court in Haridwar has slapped Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurved's five production units with a fine of Rs 11 lakh for 'misbranding and putting up misleading advertisements' of their products.

ADM Lalit Narayan Mishra's court has asked the company to pay the fine within a month.

Patanjali Ayurved was found guilty of misbranding as the products being shown by the company as produced at its own units were in fact manufactured somewhere else, the court said.

A case had been filed in the court against the company in 2012 by the District Food Safety Department after samples of mustard oil, salt, pineapple jam, besan and honey produced by Patanjali had failed quality tests at Rudrapur laboratory.

The products were found to be in violation of sections 52-53 of Food Security norms and section 23.1 (5) of Food safety and Standard (packaging and labelling) regulation. -- PTI
21:49   Note ban to hit Nepal's economy as well: Report
India's decision to ban old Rs 500/1000 banknotes from circulation is likely to have a negative impact on Nepal's economy, with the country being heavily reliant on India for remittances and trade, said a report.
"With the landlocked nation struggling to rebuild following the devastating earthquake and aftershocks in 2015, the disruption in funds from India is likely to weigh on ongoing reconstruction efforts," the report by BMI Research said.
The Fitch group company also downgraded its growth forecast for Nepal for 2016-17 (July 16 2016-July 15 2017) to 2.2 per cent from 2.5 per cent previously.
The report further said that India's sudden decision to remove its Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes will continue to have a negative impact on ordinary Nepalese with Nepal being heavily reliant on India for trade, jobs, and foreign aid. 
"With many Nepalese having part of their savings in rupees and the Nepalese rupee being pegged to the INR, the removal of 86 per cent of the total bills in circulation in India will likely continue to have spillover effects on its
smaller neighbour," it said.
The demonetisation move by India has led to considerable uncertainty in Nepal as only those in India are eligible to exchange their old banknotes for new ones, it said.
This will undermine economic growth in the nation that is dependent on external funding as it seeks to rebuild homes and buildings destroyed in the massive 2015 earthquake and aftershocks, the report added.
21:47   Income tax rate is expected to come down, says Mos Finance
Income tax rate as well as interest rate are expected to come down as a result of demonetisation of high value currency notes, Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal said today.
"I cannot reveal everything which will be part of the budget, but interest rate will come will definitely come down", the minister said.
He also indicated there is a possibility of income tax rate cut in the upcoming budget which is expected on February 1.
"There are two issues with income tax-- exemption limit, and another is slab. Both of them will be looked into," he said while addressing an event organised by Laghu Udyog Bharti in New Delhi.
Assuring relief to the MSME sector, Meghwal said the next budget will look into their concerns.
Spelling out advantages of demonetisation, Meghwal said that it will help lower interest rate.
21:44   Trumps national security adviser shared secrets without permission, files show
A secret United States military investigation in 2010 determined that Michael T. Flynn, the retired army general tapped to serve as national security adviser in the Trump White House, "inappropriately shared' classified information with foreign military officers in Afghanistan, newly released documents show.

Although Flynn lacked authorization to share the classified material, he was not disciplined or reprimanded after the investigation concluded that he did not act "knowingly' and that "there was no actual or potential damage to national security as a result,' according to army records obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

21:42   Sheena case: Court rejects Peter's plea to attend niece's wedding in B'luru
A special CBI court today rejected the application of former media baron Peter Mukerjea, one of the accused in the sensational Sheena Bora murder case, seeking permission for travel to Bengaluru for his niece's wedding but allowed him to attend it through video conference.

Special judge H S Mahajan rejected the application after the CBI told the court that he can even attend the marriage ceremony through a video link. 

"However, if Peter intends, in that circumstances, at the state's cost, by the way of video conferencing and in the presence of jail officials, he be permitted to convey his blessing to his family members on the day and time (of wedding)," the judge said in the order.

Meanwhile, the court also disposed of his another application seeking a laptop without internet connection, saying the jail authorities may make arrangements as per the jail manual. 

Peter had sought permission to use a laptop in jail as he wanted to write his autobiography. 

The court is likely to hear arguments on framing of charges in the Sheena Bora murder case on December 19.

Peter's wife Indrani, her former driver Shyamvar Rai (who has turned approver in the case) and her former husband Sanjeev Khanna are accused of killing her daughter Sheena inside a car in April 2012. 

Peter is accused of being party to the conspiracy.
21:16   Still clearing the earlier mess: Defence Minister Parrikar
Hitting out at his predecessors, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said he is still "still clearing the earlier mess" and has initiated a series of steps in areas like defence procurement, which will start yielding results from next year. 

The Defence Procurement Manual would soon be changed to address the concerns raised by private players, but added that even they should rope in Medium and Small scale industries while carrying out their work, he said. 

Speaking about the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Parrikar said before the aircraft was finally introduced in the Indian Air Force, everyone was working in "silos" and he had to hold a series of meetings to break that.

He said, now the DRDO has been mandated to rope in private sector industry for development. Parrikar also questioned about the acquisition of aircraft done in the past without technology transfers and alleged there were "many errors, mistakes and casualness". 

He said, efforts taken to resolve these issues will start showing up by next year. "Slowly these issues are getting sorted out. Next year 2017, exercise has been carried out, will start yielding results," he said. 

Parrikar was speaking at an ASSOCHAM seminar on 'Defence Production: Self Reliance and Beyond'.
21:10   Tamil Nadu government allocates Rs 500 crore for cyclone relief work
A day after he sought Rs 1,000 crore from the Centre for rehabilitation efforts, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam today allocated Rs 500 crore for relief and infrastructure works in regions ravaged by Cyclone Vardah. 

Of the Rs 500 crore, Rs 350 crore would be allocated to Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO), Rs 75 crore to Chennai Corporation, Rs 25 crore to highways department while Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur district administration would each get Rs 10 crore to take up relief works, Panneerselvam said in an official release. 

As cyclone Vardah made its landfall on Monday, Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts were the worst hit as several trees were uprooted and electricity supply disrupted, he said. Various government departments have taken up restoration works on war footing, Panneerselvam said. 

Earler, he chaired a review meeting at the Secretariat in which senior Ministers, Chief Secretary, Advisor to Government, DGP and Department Secretaries, participated. 

 "Based on discussions at the meeting, I have issued orders to allocate Rs 500 crore to provide relief assistance to people and to take up infrastructure works in the affected areas," he said.
20:29   A R Rahman again in Oscar race with 'Pele'
Music maestro A R Rahman stands a chance to win at the Oscars once again for his work on sports biopic "Pele: Birth of a Legend".
The Indian musician, who is already a double Oscar-winner for his work on "Slumdog Millionaire" in 2009, has found mention in the long list of both Best Original Score and Best Original Song categories.
145 original scores are vying for the top award in February next year and Rahman is one of the names on the list as the composer for the Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist -directed drama on Brazilian football legend Pele's early years.
Film's song "Ginga", which Rahman composed to celebrate Pele's soccer legacy, is part of the 91 songs competing for nominations in the Original Song category, according to the list released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Rahman, 49, has given music in a number of international projects. His most notable Hollywood outings besides "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Pele" are "127 Hours", "Couples Retreat", "Million Dollar Arm", "The Hundred Foot Journey" and "Muhammad"
The musician is competing with titles like "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story", "La La Land", "Moana" and "Florence Foster Jenkins".
Academy members will vote their preference for five numbers. The five achievements receiving the highest number of votes will become the nominations for final voting for the award.
Nominations for the 89th Oscars will be announced on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 with the main ceremony scheduled for Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood. 
20:22   Indra Nooyi joins Trump's advisory council
PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi has joined United States President-elect Donald Trump's advisory council, Trump's transition team said on Wednesday.

Elon Musk, the chairman and chief executive of SpaceX and Tesla, as well as Uber Technologies CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick, have also joined the council.

The group, which includes numerous other top business leaders, aims to give industry input on the private sector to Trump, who takes office on January 20, 2017.
Cabinet approves the Major Port Authorities Bill, 2016, which seeks to replace Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.
Dubai World Superseries Finals: PV Sindhu beats Japan's Akane Yamaguchi 12-21, 21-8, 21-15 in her opening Group B match
19:41   146 terrorists killed in encounter in J-K this year: Centre
A total of 146 terrorists have been killed in 97 incidents of encounter between militants and the Indian security force in Jammu and Kashmir this year.

Sixty security force personnel were killed in such encounters, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Hansraj G Ahir said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

In 97 incidents of encounters in Jammu and Kashmir this year (till December 2), 146 terrorists were killed, 76 terrorists or suspects arrested, while 60 security force personnel were killed and 104 others injured, he said.

In 2015, 102 terrorists were killed and 67 arrested while 39 security personnel were killed and 58 injured in such encounters. In 2014, a total of 107 terrorists were killed and 70 arrested while 26 jawans were killed and 20 injured, the minister said. 

In reply to another question, Ahir said a total of 13 fidayeen attacks have taken place on security forces between May 2014 and December 2016, in which 58 security personnel were killed. 

Giving more details, Ahir said, seven fidayeen attacks have taken place till December 13 this year, in which 39 security personnel have been killed. While in 2015, four such attacks took place, in which five jawans were killed, and in 2014, there were two such attacks and 14 security personnel sacrificed their lives in them.
19:08   Post offices exchanged notes worth Rs 3,680 crore till Dec 7
Post offices have exchanged currency worth Rs 3,680.99 crore till December 7, after the government scrapped old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes last month, Parliament was informed today. 

"The total amount exchanged in the post offices after demonetisation is Rs 3,680.99 crore till December 7, 2016," Communications Minister Manoj Sinha said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.

The total amount deposited in the post offices after demonetisation is Rs 38,630.06 crore till December 7, 2016, he added. The demonetisation of high value currency took effect from November 9. 

Responding to another query, Sinha said a total of over 79.75 lakh subscribers have ported out and 60.51 lakh subscribers have ported in to the mobile network of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.

"A total of 4,41,879 subscribers have ported out and 1,21,219 subscribers have ported in to the mobile network of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd," he said.
19:02   8 out of 9 preliminary enquiries into Radia Tapes closed: Govt
Eight out of nine preliminary enquiries have been closed by the CBI in its probe into the infamous Radia tapes, which led to a storm in political, business and bureaucratic circles in 2010. 

Replying to a written question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said nine PEs had been registered by the CBI in its probe in the Radia tapes, pursuant to the order passed by the Supreme Court.

"Out of these, eight PEs were closed and status report filed in the Supreme Court. Remaining one PE is under enquiry by the CBI," he said.

Income Tax Department had tapped the phone of PR lobbyist Niira Radia for nearly 300 days in 2008-09 as part of its investigations into possible money laundering, restricted financial practices and tax evasion.
19:01   Jet Airways sues journalist Josy Joseph
Jet Airways and its founder-chairman Naresh Goyal have filed a Rs 1,000 crore civil defamation suit against senior investigative journalist Josy Joseph after he wrote about the alleged links between gangster Dawood Ibrahim and the airline company in a book published earlier this year.

Joseph, in the book -- A Feast Of Vultures: The Hidden Business Of Democracy In India -- writes that in December 2001, Intelligence Bureau chief KP Singh and Joint Director Anjan Ghosh had written to the Ministry of Home Affairs stating the agency had "confirmed information of intermittent contact between Naresh Goyal and underworld dons, Chhota Shakeel and Dawood Ibrahim, to settle financial issues".

Speaking to, Joseph said," The entire book is based on very detailed documentary evidence, especially the chapter based on Jet Airways is based on government file. That the government failed to act upon the evidence cannot be blamed on me. I hope this case brings to closure the hard work of dozens of our intelligence operatives over the decade. We are going to defend the case and stand by every word that is written in the book." 

Investigating scams have been award-winning journalist Josy Joseph's specialty.

A former correspondent, Joseph, in an interview in September 2016, explained how his book exposes the politician-corporate nexus in India and why he hoped it will be a record of contemporary India's history.

Read the interview HERE
18:49   Task force on Indus Water Treaty in one week's time
The government has finalised the details of a task force on Indus Water Treaty, which will be formed within one week, with the aim to stop river waters going waste in Pakistan. 

"The government wants to ensure surplus water for farmers in border states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. This can easily be done by stopping water from Indian rivers which flows into Pakistan from going waste there," a source said.

The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 covers the water distribution and sharing rights of six rivers -- Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.

"Framework for the task force on Indus Water Treaty has been prepared. The task force will comprise 6 to 7 members and will be formed within a week," the source said. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently said that Sutlej, Beas, Ravi waters belong to India and is not being used in Pakistan. Every drop of this water will be stopped and would be given to farmers of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, Modi had said in a public meeting.
18:43   MHA makes U-turn, cancels FCRA renewal license of Setalvad's NGO
A day after renewing the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act licence of an NGO run by activist Teesta Setalvad, the home ministry today cancelled the same on Wednesday. 

The ministry had already distanced itself from the renewal, saying the application was processed a few months ago when IAS officer G K Dwivedi was in-charge as joint secretary. 

Dwivedi was removed from FCRA division in September amid the controversy over Zakir Naik's NGO Islamic Research Foundation.

The Centre for Justice and Peace (CJP), run by Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, was under the scanner for alleged misuse of grants to survivors of the 2002 Gujarat riots, following which it was put under the prior permission category by the MHA in July last year. Under the PP category, an NGO cannot accept funds from any donor and has to seek clearance from the MHA each time.

The renewed licence, however, did not mention whether the NGO is still in the PP category.  
18:03   75% Indian companies not disaster ready: CBRE
Nearly 75 per cent of Indian companies are not prepared for disaster management, a recent survey by real estate consultant CBRE says. 

According to the study, which includes over 100 top corporates in the country and over 350 respondents found out that 75 per cent of the Indian firms are not disaster ready. 

It said that 96 per cent of the respondents agreed that majority of losses from disaster occur as a direct result of damage to the built environment, lack of foresight and planning. 

Nearly 97 per cent agreed that an integrated and comprehensive approach is necessary to improve the safety of buildings from disasters, the survey said. "Unprecedented rate of urban growth, increasing dependence on complex technical systems, combined with climate change predictions, have increased the disaster uncertainty even more," CBRE India Managing Director-Project Management Gurjot Bhatia said.
Department warns tax payers they will have to face penal action if they try to misuse provision of revised I-T returns.
Special PMLA court orders Chhagan Bhujbal to be immediately sent to the jail from hospital
17:10   Ex-IAF chief Tyagi, others to spend 3 more days in CBI custody
Former IAF chief S P Tyagi and two others have been sent to CBI custody for three more days by Patiala House Court in Delhi.

According to ANI, the CBI in court said that a senior official from AgustaWestland had met Tyagi at his residence, which was an abuse of his official position. It also informed the court that some material were in possession of the investigating agency from Switzerland, Italy and other countries for which more time for custodial interrogation of the accused is needed.

The defence counsel for the former Air Force chief was, however, unhappy with the CBI and said that the agency is detailing out the nature of material available with them only to help the media, the ANI said.

On Saturday, the former IAF chief said the changed specification of VVIP helicopters, especially the reduction in service ceiling, were made under the advice of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), after which the court sent him to CBI custody till 14 December in the Rs 3,767-crore AgustaWestland helicopter case.

"The PMO then advised to keep the minimum mandatory requirement of the service ceiling of the helicopters to 4,500 metres (from the earlier 6,000 metres)," Tyagi's defence counsel N Hariharan told the court while opposing the CBI plea seeking custodial interrogration of the accused.
2 ULFA cadre neutralised by Assam Rifles in an encounter in Chang-lang District of Arunachal, 6 apprehended.
ANI reports: Special CBI court rejects Peter Mukerjea's plea to attend niece's wedding in Bengaluru but allows him to participate via video conference
16:57   Protests, discussion can't happen simultaneously: LS Speaker
With deadlock over demonetisation persisting in the Winter Session which ends in two days, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today said protests and discussion cannot happen simultaneously and she was pained to see that the House was not being allowed to function. 

"I have to run the House and keep trying (for that). You must have seen I said that if all members sit quietly, I will allow (them to speak).

"Both the things cannot happen simultaneously that you stand in the Well of the House and also seek time to speak," she said.

"When the House does not run, I am really pained. Parliament is (meant) for discussion," Mahajan said. 

PM has intentionally hurt the farmers by keeping cooperative banks out of the process of accepting deposits and exchanging old notes: Rahul
16:23   Food costs less, inflation dips
Wholesale inflation eased for the third straight month as it fell to 3.15 per cent in November after subdued demand due to demonetisation led to softening of prices of vegetables and other kitchen staples. The wholesale price index-based inflation, reflecting the annual rate of price rise, in October stood at 3.39 per cent. In November 2015, the print was (-)2.04 per cent.

Image: KBK Graphics
16:17   Restrict use of pellet guns, Mehbooba tells security forces
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today asked security forces to restrain themselves from using pellet guns and differentiate between stone-pelters/militants and their families, while noting that force was used to deal with law and order in the Valley during the recent unrest.

"When we have to deal with such situation, we have to use force sometimes and I have no hesitation in saying this. We should all speak truth. We had to use force because we had to protect the lives and properties of all the people of Jammu and Kashmir," she said. The chief minister was speaking at the passing-out parade of Jammu and Kashmir Police at Commando Training Centre in south Kashmir's Pulwama district. Mehbooba said if force was not used, losses would have been more.
16:14   Rahul warns of earthquake in Parliament
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and VP Rahul Gandhi were in the Central Hall of Parliament today chatting with media persons after Parliament was adjourned for the day. Rahul Gandhi backed by MPs from the TMC and the Opposition said that there will be an earthquake if he opened up his Pandora's box, and said PM Modi was involved in a big scam and lots of secrets would tumble out. Atl east 15-20 Congress MPs obediently stood by him at the well-attended press conference held in Parliament house. In fact, an observer noted that media persons were squeezed on to one bench, listening to Rahul speak.
15:55   Decades later, Raj Kapoor's ballerina from Mera Naam Joker resurfaces
Kseniya Ryabinkina, the trapeze artiste from Raj Kapoor's classic Mera Naam Joker is in Mumbai to celebrate the late showman's 92nd birth anniversary.
Do readDo read
The state of the economy under two prime ministers by Times of India cartoonist Sandeep Adhwaryu.
15:20   Rajya Sabha adopts Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014
The Rajya Sabha today adopted the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 moved by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.The House adopted the Bill during Zero Hour after members of various parties spoke on it.

This is considered to be a major development after many days of logjam in the House, with various amendments being taken up by the House.

Earlier, the Lok Sabha was adjourned till 12 noon over the issue of alleged involvement of some leaders of opposition parties in converting black money into white and alleged payment related to a power project in Arunachal Pradesh.

When the house met after four day break today, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan started question hour but the opposition members simultaneously raised issue of alleged role of Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju in release of payments related to hydro power project in Arunanchal Pradesh.

Both the issues rocked the house and Speaker adjourned the house till noon. Prime Minister Narnedra Modi was present in the house
15:18   Now, listen in to iconic Mahabharata
B R Chopra's famed teleserial 'Mahabharata', which created television history is set to be broadcast in its radio avatar on the All India Radio (AIR) from December 19. The popular serial will be broadcast from Monday to Friday on 70 primary channels of 'Hindi Zone' and FM Gold Stations of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, an official said. "Tuning in to Mahabharata on Akashvani, will certainly be an experience for life and it can be enjoyed even if you are on the move through car stereos or in built mobile radios. Program will also be live streamed on," the official said. Listeners can also share or tweet their feelings with the hashtag #MahabharatonAIR
14:56   Jaitley dares Cong to debate Rijiju graft allegations
Finance minister Arun Jaitley speaks in Rajya Sabha, says "allegations made by Congress against MoS Home Kiren Rijiju completely baseless. I dare them to come for a debate." As uproar continues in the Upper House, the chair adjourns the house for the day.

Under attack over the alleged power projects scam in Arunachal Pradesh, Union minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday rejected allegations of wrongdoing and said those who have "planted" the story against him "will be beaten up with shoes". "Jo news plant kar rahe hain wo hamare yehan ayyenge to joota khayenge (Those who planted the story will be beaten up with shoes when they will come to our area)," the Tawang MP told reporters in New Delhi reacting to media reports that he had written a letter to Power Minister Piyush Goyal seeking early clearance of bills related to a hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh.
14:48   Contraceptive IUDs taken out of millions of Chinese women
As China relaxed its controversial one child policy this year, millions of women are being helped by hospitals to remove intrauterine devices implanted to prevent child birth in the world's most populous nation. "About 3.5 million women had their intrauterine devices removed by local health authorities last year and more are expected to do so this year," Song Li, deputy head of maternal and infant health-care at the National Health and Family Planning Commission said.
Just in: The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill (2014) as amended passed in Rajya Sabha
14:04   Oz floats demonetisation proposal
Australia looks set to follow in the footsteps of Venezuela and India by abolishing the country's highest-denomination banknote in a bid to crack down on the "black economy'.Speaking to ABC radio on Wednesday, Revenue and Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer flagged a review of the $100 note and cash payments over certain limits as the government looks to recoup billions in unpaid tax. Read more
13:27   BJP reacts to PM graft allegations: Rahul's comical value increasing
BJP reacts to Rahul's allegations of corruption against PM Modi.

BJP minister Anant Kumar asks, "Where was Rahul till now. Cong, TMC, Left spreading rumours."

BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao added, "Increasingly Rahul Gandhi is becoming comical. His political value is decreasing, his comical value is increasing. Rahul is making a joke of himself every day.

Rahul Gandhi claimed today that he had explosive information on "personal corruption" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that would "explode his balloon" but he was not being allowed to speak in parliament on the notes ban.

"Read my lips... the PM is personally terrified of the information I have, we have. It is personal corruption of the PM that we have detailed information on," the Congress VP declared, flanked by leaders of 16 opposition parties as he spoke to the media at parliament.
The National Green Tribunal bans the sale and use of glass coated thread in the entire country including Chinese manjha.

The thread is responsible for numerous accidental deaths during the kite-flying festival of Sankranti.

12:42   Have details of personal corruption by PM: Rahul holds Parl presser
Joint media briefing of Opposition parties begins, Rahul Gandhi speaks to the media inside Parliament. Both houses of Parliament have been adjourned for the day.

Excerpts of Rahul Gandhi's speech:

-- Pichle ek mahine se poora opposition Lok Sabha mein charcha karni chahti hai. PM aur sarkar nahi chahte.

-- PM is afraid that if he lets me speak then his balloon will burst.

-- Pradhanmantri-ji ke baare mein bhrashtachar ka kuch personal info hai hamaare paas, jo vo hume sadan mein rakhne nahi de rahe. I have some personal information on corruption on PM Modi, which is what I want to speak on in Lok Sabha, but I am not being allowed to speak.

-- PM owes the country an explanation. I want to put charges against the PM in the Lok Sabha but I'm not being allowed to do so.

-- PM is terrified of information I have. We are tryuing to discuiss note ban unconditionally, government not willing. 
12:28   Opposition demands special financial package for cyclone-hit Tamil Nadu
Opposition Congress, Left and DMK today sought immediate sanction a financial package to provide relief to cyclone ravaged Tamil Nadu, a demand which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said will be considered by the government.

Jaitley said the government shares the concerns over the devastation caused by cyclone Vardah in Chennai and surrounding districts. "It is serious crisis."

While some advance preparation was done by moving the NDRF teams and deploying army columns, the Centre will do whatever is needed to provide relief, he said. "I have heard the members. I will take into consideration" their suggestions and the government will decide on relief after consultations with the concerned authorities, he said.
12:07   The three mantri sons caught with huge amounts of cash
The Intelligence Bureau is in possession of a tape showing the sons of three former Union Ministers in the UPA regime caught on CCTV camera in New Delhi withdrawing huge quantities of money in denominations of Rs from a private bank. The information was handed over to income tax officials and the details will certainly embarrass the Congress.

 Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Wednesday defended Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, regarding his alleged involvement in Arunachal Hydro-electric project, saying if the opposition raises the issue in parliament then it would have to face embarrassment.

"If Opposition raises Kiren Rijiju's issue in Parliament, they will have to face a lot of embarrassment. They will have to face a lot of truth," he said.

Taking a dig at Congress, Naqvi said that one gets to see the grand old party's political hypocrisy in new way every time.

"The grand old party's political hypocrisy comes every day in a brand new manner. Because they lack logic and facts, they come up with a new political propaganda every day," he said.
12:03   Rs 500 notes' exemptions ends at midnight
The exemptions that were provided by the government for the use of old Rs 500 currency notes will end Wednesday midnight, the Finance Ministry informed. The banknotes ceased to be legal tender after the  November 8 announcement made by PM Narendra Modi, but they were allowed to be used to pay at government pharmacies, hospitals and for public utility services to ensure the public faces the least inconvenience. All these exemptions will stand withdrawn as of midnight and those who still have the currency notes in this denomination, are now left with only one option and that is, to deposit it in their bank accounts. No other business place or any other entity will be allowed to accept these notes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the imposition of a ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes to combat black money, fake currency, corruption and even terrorism sponsored from across the border and along with this the big goal for the Indian economy was to shift the Indian economy to the cashless mode -- to encourage citizens to shun cash and adopt digital payments.

The ban was followed by introduction of new Rs 500 currency notes and a new denomination of Rs 2,000 was created by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Chennai based NGO files a petition in SC demanding CBI probe over Jayalalithaa's death.
11:26   A week after Jaya
On the beach are three memorials:

C N Annadurai, the founder of the Dravid Munnetra Kazagham which defeated the Congress in its prime in 1967.

M G Ramachandran, who formed his own party named after Anna after he broke away from M Karunanidhi and the DMK and kept it away from power for as long as he was alive.

J Jayalalithaa, who fought hard to take control of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and ruled her party and the state with an iron hand until she was hospitalised on September 22 and passed away on December 5.

A Ganesh Nadar/ visits Jayalalithaa's memorial. Read
11:22   Lok Sabha adjourns within minutes, uproar in RS over note ban
Minutes after Parliament convenes after a four-day break, Lok Sabha has already been adjourned and will reconvene at noon. The Lok Sabha was adjourned due to Opposition uproar over the Kiren Rijiju controversy, demonetisation, other issues. The PM is present in the lower house and the government has said he will be in the Lok Sabha for the last three days of the winter session.

Congress VP Rahul Gandhi has said he is willing to speak in Parliament and is waiting to see if the government will allow him to do so; the government says the PM is willing to speak in Parliament.

With just three days left for the winter session to end, it is unlikely any work will get done.  The Opposition wants a debate with vote, the government has said yes to the debate but with no vote.
500-rupee notes will not be accepted anywhere except banks from Friday, clarifies Finance Ministry
10:59   Productivity of the Rajya Sabha in this Winter session
With just three days left, the winter session of Parliament appears to be headed for a virtual washout without transaction of any substantial business because of the Opposition ruckus over demonetisation. 
10:58   Productivity of the Lok Sabha in this Winter session
With just three days left, the winter session of Parliament appears to be headed for a virtual washout without transaction of any substantial business because of the Opposition ruckus over demonetisation. 
10:52   Meeting to decide if PM will speak in Parliament today begins
PM Modi chairs meeting with top ministers in his chamber in Parliament. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Union minister Ananth Kumar, Defence minister Manohar Parrikar present in meet.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in parliament today, and whether he speaks on the notes ban is being decided at the meet. While PM Modi met with top ministers, a united opposition put its head together to decide on how to take on the government. With only three days of the winter session now remaining, both the BJP and the Congress have ordered their lawmakers to attend parliament in full strength.

File pic.
Rupee ban could unleash India's economic potential. Read the column on the Dawn. 
10:33   'Scam champion' Chidambaram is one to talk, scoffs BJP
Slamming former finance minister P Chidambaram for branding demonetisation move as the "biggest scam of the year", the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday asserted that he himself was a champion in doing scams who presided over a scam of Rs. 12 lakh crore.

BJP leader Shrikant Sharma said, "P. Chidambaram is a champion in doing scams who presided over a scam of Rs. 12 lakh crore. The Congress party does not want the development of villages in this country. They don't not want corruption to end; if corruption will end then Congress will end. That's why the Congress party is suffering,"Sharma further said that the Congress Party along with other political parties have 'robbed the nation' for 70 years and are suffering because of the campaign against corruption led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"We challenge the opposition to come to the parliament and discuss, there is still time. They are trying to misguide the people by putting baseless allegations. The people of our nation support the campaign against corruption led by the Prime Minister." he added.
10:26   Sensex up 39 pts in opening trade on positive macro data
The benchmark BSE Sensex rose nearly 39 points to 26,736.34 in the opening trade today on the back of positive macroeconomic data and is waiting for the outcome of the US Fed meeting today. Besides, a mixed trend in other Asian markets, tracking another rally in the US, buoyed sentiment.
Opposition parties meeting underway in Parliament. Congress will raise Kiren Rijiju's issue (accused of fraud for Arunachal Hydro Projects) in Rajya Sabha.
09:58   'J-K Govt aid for Burhan's kin will generate more sympathisers in Valley'
Criticising the Mehbooba Mufti government for announcing an ex-gratia payment to Burhan Wani's brother Khalid Wani, in the next of kin killed in militancy-related incidents in the Valley, defence expert Colonel Sunil Deshpande has said the government's decision would only encourage terrorists to generate more sympathisers and give boost to terrorism in the valley.

"Khalid Wani, the brother of Burhan Wani, was killed in action and he was a supporter of terrorists. It was proved that he was working for the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and the civilian authorities announced the list of the supporters who were working for terrorists, and he was ranked ninth on the list. It is incorrect on the part of the government to give money to Khalid Wani," Deshpande told ANI.

Deshpande further said, "Khalid Wani was not an innocent person. He was a known sympathiser and, after his death, a payment of Rs. 4 lakhs is absolutely incorrect on the part of Mufti government. This money is given to those who are killed in action. This will help terrorists to create more sympathisers in the valley and it will give a boost to terrorist activity in the valley."

The government yesterday cleared ex-gratia payments to the next of kin of 17 persons, including Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani's brother, killed in militancy-related incidents in the valley.

Pic: Burhan Wani
09:31   2 encounters on in J&K, 1 terrorist killed, 1 holed up in house
Reports of a second encounter in Bijbhera in Jammu and Kashmir. One Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist killed, say police. 
09:21   Encounter in Sopore, 1 terrorist holed up in house
An encounter is on at Bomai in Sopore town of Jammu and Kashmir. Reports suggest that one terrorist is hiding in a house in Bomai. The Army and police have been conducting search operations in the area. Details awaited.

Last month, seven soldiers, including two Majors, were killed when militants dressed as policemen stormed a military camp in Jammu and Kashmir's Nagrota triggering a fierce gun battle that raged for more than 12 hours.
09:14   Delhi raids: IT, Delhi Crime Branch seize Rs 3.25 crores in old notes
Following a tip off, a joint action of the Income Tax and the Delhi Crime Branch was conducted in a hotel in Karol Bagh in Delhi, upon which the massive amount of Rs. 3. 25 crores was recovered in old notes.

Upon interrogation it was found that the money belongs to some Bombay based hawala operators, who have hired packaging specialists who pack these notes in such a manner that it was even undetectable by airport scanning machines.

These experts in packaging use a particular type of tape and wires which passes through X-ray also without being detected.Meanwhile, the IT Department has seized the cash and is analyzing the mobile details which allegedly contain details of lot of other hawala operators.
09:03   PM likely to speak in Parliament today, will deadlock end?
Bracing for a showdown in Parliament, BJP and Congress have issued whips asking their members in both Houses to ensure their presence for the remainder of the Winter session with the issue of demonetisation casting a shadow.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be present in Parliament for the three remaining days of the Session and can participate in proceedings for either of the House depending on the need.

The Winter Session, which began on November 16, is scheduled to conclude on Friday, with indications that it could be a virtual washout.

Parliament has seen little transaction of any substantial business because of the Opposition ruckus over demonetisation and some other issues.
Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha continued to be deadlocked over the way a debate should take place on demonetisation announced by the PM on November 8.

Ever since the session began, the Lok Sabha has managed to conduct only two legislative actions -- passage of Income Tax amendment bill and approval of Supplementary Demand for Grants -- that too amid din and without much debate.

The Rajya Sabha has functioned normally only on the first day of the session when the debate on demonetisation was initiated and held for about 5 hours.
08:49   I-T officials seize Rs 3.25 crore in Delhi raid
A whopping Rs 3.25 crore in old notes have been seized from a hotel in Delhi's Karol Bagh by Income Tax Dept and Crime Branch in a joint operation. During interrogation, it was found that money belongs to Bombay based hawala operators. The IT department officials said they are conducting further enquiries.
07:56   Compensation by J-K government to Burhan Wani kin sets off furore
The Jammu and Kashmir government has cleared ex-gratia to the next of kin of 17 persons, including Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wanis brother, killed in militancy-related incidents in the Valley, while giving one weeks time for filing of any objection before formal orders are issued.

The PDP-BJP government has come under attack from its opponents in mainstream politics and some right-wing Hindu groups including Shiv Sena have threatened agitation if the family is given any relief.  

Reacting to the development, Khalids father Muzaffar Wani told local news agency CNS, It is a really good news for me. At least the government has now admitted that my son was innocent and was killed in cold blood by the army...The governments announcement vindicated my stand that Khalid was innocent.

The army, however, maintained that Khalid was an Over Ground Worker of the Hizbul Mujahedeen and was killed when a party of the armed forces retaliated to a militant attack.

Speaking to HT on the condition of anonymity, a top army general said, (The relief) is a retrograde step. On one hand the CM wants to improve law and order in the Valley but on the other hand she is rewarding wrong-doers.

Brigadier SS Saini (retd) was quoted by Hindustan Times, saying the state governments decision was an offshoot of vote bank politics. In vote bank-driven politics, these are all games of political compulsions. It is demoralising for soldiers, who have been combating terrorism and sacrificing their life in the line of duty, he said.
00:25   Rebels say deal reached to evacuate Aleppo 'within hours'
Civilians and opposition fighters will start evacuating east Aleppo within hours under a deal with Syria's regime, a rebel official said today, as global outrage mounted over reports of atrocities including summary executions.

Yasser al-Youssef from the political office of the key Nurredin al-Zinki group told AFP the deal with President Bashar al-Assads regime was being sponsored by Russia and Turkey.

"An agreement has been reached, Youssef said. The first stage will be the evacuation of civilians and wounded, within hours, and afterwards fighters will leave with their light weapons."

Those leaving will be allowed to travel to other rebel-held territory in the west of Aleppo province or neighbouring Idlib province, he said.

A source in the powerful Ahrar al-Sham rebel group confirmed the deal and its details.

There was no immediate confirmation from the regime, Ankara or Moscow. -- AFP

Photograph: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters