Tue, 03 April 2018
Minors can't opt out of Aadhaar after attaining majority: UIDAI to SC

Timeline  Refresh

23:34   Minors can't opt out of Aadhaar after attaining majority: UIDAI to SC
Minors, whose Aadhaar card has already been generated, cannot opt out of the Aadhaar scheme after attaining majority, the Unique Identification Authority of India today told the Supreme Court.

Attorney General K K Venugopal was referring to the written replies of UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey to the queries posed by the petitioners, opposed to the Aadhaar scheme and its enabling 2016 law, before a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

He said that school authorities can act as introducers to get children, between the age group of 5 to 15 years, enrolled for Aadhaar with the parental consent.

Responding to a query whether a child, after attaining the age of 18 years, can opt out, the top law officer told the bench, also comprising justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chanadrachud and Ashok Bhushan, that it is not permissible under the Aadhaar Act, 2016.

"However, residents have the option of permanently locking their biometrics and only temporarily unlocking it when needed for biometric authentication as per Regulation 11 of the Aadhaar (Authentication) Regulations, 2016," he said.

The lawyers for the petitioners had given a list of queries to the UIDAI CEO after he had concluded his PowerPoint Presentation (PPT) to allay apprehensions with regard the Aadhaar scheme.

In response to the query as to what were the Aadhaar authentication failure rates in the states and at the national level, Venugopal said the UIDAI cannot provide authentication failure rates at the state level since it does not track the location of the authentication transactions.

Referring to the data, he further said that the biometric failure rates are at 6 per cent for fingerprints and 8.54 per cent for iris at the national level.

"It must be stated that authentication failures do not mean exclusion or denial from subsidies, benefits or services since the requesting entities are obliged under the law to provide for exception handling mechanisms," he said.

In response to a question as to how a leprosy patient or a person, who does not have a mobile number, is being enrolled for Aadhaar, the top law officer said, "Aadhaar enrolment is done for all residents, even of residents with leprosy. Biometric exception process is defined in the UIDAI resident enrolment process.

"In the case of a leprosy patient, who may not be able to do fingerprint authentication, iris authentication can be used for update (and the mobile number added). This was the reason for multi-modal enrolment and authentication being selected for use in Aadhaar."

As part of the exception handling mechanism, the UIDAI has already implemented a digitally signed QR code into eAadhaar which allows agencies to verify the Aadhaar card in an offline manner and trust the data, he said.

Venugopal said that as on March 21, the total number of biometric de-duplication rejections that have taken place are 6.91 crore.

"This figure merely pertains to number of applications which have been identified by the Aadhaar de-duplication system as having matching biometrics to an existing Aadhaar number holder...

"It is highly improbable for the biometrics to match unless the same person has applied again. There are a number of reasons why the same person might apply more than once," he said.

Venugopal said, "For instance, many individuals innocently apply for enrolment multiple times because of the delay in getting their Aadhaar cards due to postal delays, loss or destruction of their cards or confusion about how the system works."

Those whose enrolments have been rejected for any reason and who do not have Aadhaar can re-enrol and obtain it, he said, adding that rejection of enrolments did not mean that a person will never be able to get it.  -- PTI
22:33   Over half of BSF posts in Rajasthan do not have piped water supply
More than half of the Border Security Force's border posts in Rajasthan do not have piped water supply and water is being provided to these posts through tankers, the Centre informed Parliament today.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha, said the Border Security Force (BSF) was 'manning 293 border outposts (BoPs) along the India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan, out of which water supply is available in 129 BoPs through pipelines'.

This included 31 BoPs, where works related to drinking water supply were approved under the annual action plan of the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) in 2014-15, he added.

"Sufficient water supply is being made available to the remaining BoPs through water tankers," Rijiju said.

The minister was asked whether the BSF personnel, guarding the 270-km-long Indo-Pak border in western Rajasthan, were grappling with a drinking water crisis.  -- PTI

Photograph: Kind courtesy @BSF_India/Twitter
22:28   China to launch two satellites for Pakistan in June
China will launch two remote sensing satellites for Pakistan in June, the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALVT) said today.

It will be the first international commercial launch for a Long March-2C rocket after it carried Motorola's Iridium satellites into orbit in 1999.

The rocket will also carry the China-France Oceanography Satellite into space in September this year, state-run Xinhua news agency reported quoting CALVT.

The satellite will monitor ocean wind and waves. Long March-2C rockets are mainly used to send satellites into low Earth or Sun-synchronous orbits.

China had launched Pakistan's communication Satellite PAKSAT-1R in 2011.

In 2016, Pakistan and China had signed an agreement for the launch of a special remote sensing satellite this year to monitor the development of the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.  -- PTI
22:03   Editors Guild 'warns' government against 'policing the media'
Following is a press release issued by Editors Guild:

'The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the arbitrary manner contemplated by the Union Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry ostensibly to penalise any journalist or media organisation publishing fake news.

'By notifying that the I&B ministry will initiate such proceedings, the Government was arrogating for itself the role of policing the media. It would have opened the door for frivolous complaints to harass journalists and organisations to fall in line.

'The Guild acknowledges the intervention of the Prime Minister's Office to withdraw the I&B ministry's notification but remains deeply disturbed that faith continues to be reposed on the Press Council of India to deliver justice on such issues.

'The recent reconstitution of the Press Council of India has been done in a manner that gives rise to doubts over the independence of the institution and its ability to play neutral umpire. The Guild's nominees to the Council were disallowed on technical grounds.

'Also, the recent reconstitution of the Central Press Accreditation Committee has raised questions over the non-transparent processes being followed by the I&B Ministry as the Guild's application was ignored.

'The Guild also points out that 'fake news' is a process that cannot be left to governments to initiate action when, on many occasions, the governments and the parties in power -- both at the Centre and states -- are charged with propagating fake news themselves.

'Moreover, news organisations are not the only source of generation of fake news with the country awash with digital platforms of all hues and opinions that operate without constraints and have the potential to cause far more damage.

'The Guild has always stood for observing the highest journalistic standards and is willing to work with the central government, state governments and media bodies to define what can be constituted as 'fake news' and take action against those found guilty of propagating such news without compromising on the independence and freedom of the media.'
21:27   Indian High Commissioner meets Pak's NSA
Amidst tensions in bilateral ties, Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria today had a 'courtesy meeting' with Pakistan's National Security Advisor Naseer Khan Janjua and exchanged views on various bilateral issues.

Diplomatic sources in the Indian High Commission confirmed that the meeting took place in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in Islamabad.

"It was a courtesy meeting held in the PMO," the sources said, without giving any details of the discussion.

There was so far no word about the meeting by the Foreign Office.

Local media reported that the two discussed various issues including the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Express Tribune reported that Janjua expressed serious concerns over the alleged human rights violations in Kashmir.  -- PTI
21:17   Videocon loan case: I-T dept issues notice to Deepak Kochhar
The Income Tax Department has issued a notice to Deepak Kochhar, husband of ICICI bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar, in connection with its tax evasion probe in the Videocon bank loan case, officials said.

They said the notice has been issued to Deepak Kochhar under section 131 (power regarding discovery, production of evidence) of the I-T Act and he has been asked to furnish details of his personal finances, Income Tax Returns (ITRs) for the last few years and business transactions with the firm NuPower Renewables.

The department, the officials said, has launched a probe into the finances of the company and those associated with it.

Few more notices have been sent to the people associated with the firm and based on their replies, further action will be taken, they said.

In a related development, the CBI officials said that Deepak Kochhar, who has been named in a prelimnary enquiry, will be called for questioning soon.

The CBI had questioned a few ICICI bank officials as part of a preliminary enquiry to find if any quid pro quo was involved in the bank issuing a Rs 3,250 crore loan to the Videocon Group in 2012.

The deal recently made news after reports questioned the loan and linked it to a possible quid pro quo that Videocon group promoter Venugopal Dhoot allegedly had with NuPower Renewables, a company founded by Deepak Kochchar.

The CBI enquiry had named Dhoot, Deepak Kochhar and unidentified others, officials said.

A prelimnary enquiry (PE) is a precursor before the agency lodges an FIR to probe criminal charges on the basis of evidence collected during the former exercise.

Last week, the ICICI Bank board came out in support of Chanda Kochhar, saying it has full faith and confidence in her and described reports against her over the credit disbursement to Videocon group as 'malicious and unfounded rumours'.

The board had also reviewed the banks internal processes for credit approval and found them robust, the private sector lender had said in a statement.

With regard to loans to the Videocon group, the board had said the banks current exposure is part of a syndicated consortium arrangement.

"ICICI Bank was not the lead bank for this consortium and the bank only sanctioned its share of facilities aggregating approximately Rs 3,250 crore which was less than 10 per cent of the total consortium facility in April 2012," it added.

The bank had clarified that none of the investors of NuPower Renewables are borrowers of ICICI Bank.  -- PTI

Photograph: PTI Photo
Sub Inspector Mahendra Chaudhary who was injured in Bharat bandh protests in Jodhpur yesterday, succumbs to his injuries. -- ANI
20:38   AIB Knockout: HC refuses interim relief to Ranveer, Arjun
The Bombay high court today declined to grant any interim relief to Bollywood actors Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor over a first information report filed against them and other film personalities for using 'obscene' and 'abusive' language during a comedy event 'AIB Knockout' in 2015.

A bench of Justices R M Savant and Sarang Kotwal directed the actors' lawyer to seek the assent of the Acting Chief Justice V K Tahilramani's court for the matter to be heard along with two other related pleas.

One of these two pleas were filed by comedian Rohan Joshi of AIB, a comedy collective, seeking that a related FIR against him be quashed.

The other plea is a public interest litigation filed by a law teacher from the city.

The PIL seeks action against the organisers and participants of the show, and also urges the HC to direct the state authorities to issue guidelines to monitor such programmes on YouTube and similar video networks.

The actors, meanwhile, urged the court to direct, by way of an interim relief, the Pune and Mumbai police to refrain from taking any coercive action against them.

The bench, however, said it will consider the prayer once all the three pleas were tagged together and assigned for further hearing by the Acting CJI's court.

On December, 20, 2014, Singh and Kapoor, along with eight other celebrities, including Karan Johar, Deepika Padukone and members of the AIB team had performed at a charity event in Worli.

A video of the event was subsequently uploaded on YouTube which went viral.

In February, 2015, one Sateesh Daundkar filed a complaint with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of the Girgaon court here, claiming the show was 'vulgar, obscene and pornographic'.

The court then ordered that an FIR be registered against all the 10 people.

Soon after, another FIR was registered against all the ten persons in Pune following a complaint by a local alleging obscenity during the event.

Singh and Kapoor approached the HC earlier this year after they received summons from the Pune police, directing them to visit the police station for questioning and recording their statements.

They have claimed in their plea that the FIRs against them bore an ulterior motive and were filed with 'mischievous' and mala fide intent, and sought their quashing.

In 2015, another bench of the HC had granted interim relief to Padukone, Johar, and the AIB members and directed both the Mumbai and Pune police not to take any coercive action against them until further orders.

Senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani, who appeared for AIB and for Kappor and Singh, argued that the programme was full of humour and entertained the audience.

He also urged the court to grant interim relief to Kapoor and Singh, considering that other actors and comedians had already been granted such a relief. -- PTI
20:02   Panel to complete probe on poll leak in a day or two: CEC
The committee set up by the Election Commission to probe the leak of the poll schedule for Karnataka before an official declaration would complete its job 'in a day or two', Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat said today.

Asked about the tweet by Bharatiya Janata Party's IT cell chief Amit Malviya declaring the poll date for Karnataka before the EC's official announcement, Rawat told reporters at the airport in Chennai that investigations were on into the matter.

"That is on... a committee has been set up. They will be completing the job in a day or two," the CEC, who arrived on a private visit, said.

Ahead of the official announcement, Malviya had tweeted that voting will be held on May 12 and the counting will take place on May 18.

He was correct about the day of the voting, but got the counting date wrong.

The counting will take place on May 15.

According to an EC statement on March 27, a committee of senior officers of Election Commission had been set up to investigate the matter and give its report within seven days.

'The Commission immediately directed that the matter be probed and necessary and effective action be taken,' the statement said.

It said Malviya, in another tweet, had attributed a news channel as his source.

Asked whether there would be any law and order issue in poll bound Karnataka on the Cauvery issue, Rawat said, "I don't have anything to say on that."  -- PTI
20:00   Man seen firing during Dalit protests is BJP worker, case booked
A case registered against a Bharatiya Janata Party worker Raja Chauhan for firing during a protest in Madhya Pradesh's Gwalior during the protest against the dilution of the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes Act.

Chauhan was allegedly captured in camera for firing at the people during the protest in Gwalior.

The death toll in Madhya Pradesh due to violent protests during the nationwide bandh called by several Dalit organisations against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has reached eight after two more people succumbed to their injuries.

Protests across the country turned violent on Monday after protesters resorted to stone pelting, damaging public properties and rail and various other blockades.  -- ANI
19:23   Offered to quit but PM asked me to fight: Supriyo on Asansol violence
Facing flak over violence in his parliamentary constituency Asansol, Union minister Babul Supriyo has said that he had offered to resign and quit politics but was stopped by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The minister of state for heavy industries said he had met the prime minister and offered to resign, but Modi stopped him and asked him to carry on his 'fight'.

'You may be surprised to know that after two dirty incidents in Asansol/Bengal, I had met our Hon'ble PM resigning as a Minister to quit Politics & Power for good only to be inspired back by our Hon'ble PM, a man who works 24/7/365 days for his country. Don't Quit-Fight he told me,' Supriyo said in a tweet on April 1.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader was stopped by the police from entering the Asansol-Raniganj area last week.

A scuffle had ensued between BJP supporters and the police when he tried to enter Asansol, his Lok Sabha constituency.

West Bengal Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee had accused the saffron party of trying to destroy the peace and communal harmony in the state.

'Having to face inner questions of whether politics is indeed a place I need to be. And, I confess that at times I really find it hard to convince myself to continue. How can a constitutional entity like the chief minister be so uncouth & desperate to win elections with unfair means?' he had tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Union minister, in a series of tweets, thanked Modi for supporting him.

'If today I am fighting all this Muck of falsehood & politics of hate in WB, it is thanks to our Hon'ble PM who told me how we must triumph against all this dirty noise by continuing to fight with a goal in sight that of Development for ALL, something he did in Gujarat&HOW,' Supriyo said.

A person was killed and two police officers were severely injured when clashes broke out between two groups over a Ram Navami procession in the Raniganj area of West Bengal's Bardhaman district.  --  PTI
18:35   Youth injured in clashes in J&K's Kangan dies
A youth, who was injured during clashes between protesters and security forces in Kangan area of Ganderbal district yesterday, died at a hospital in Srinagar today, officials said.

Gowhar Ahmad Rather, a resident of Kangan in Ganderbal, had been admitted to SKIMS hospital in Srinagar with critical head injury, the officials said.

"Rather, who was on a ventilator since yesterday, breathed his last this afternoon," a police official said.

The deceased was injured during clashes between protestors and security forces in Kangan area last evening.

While the locals alleged that he had sustained pellet injuries after being shot at by security forces, a police spokesman said.

Rather suffered critical injuries after he fell into a drain.

"A group of miscreants had gathered in Kangan market to pelt stones and disturb law-and-order in the area. A police party reached the spot, on seeing which, the miscreants started running, during which the boy fell down and injured his head on the edge of the drain," a police spokesman said.

"Reports regarding bullet injury are completely false since no bullet was fired on the spot," he said.  -- PTI
18:11   Stephen Hawking pays for homeless meals in final act of kindness
As one of his final acts of kindness, British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking paid for a grand Easter meal for hundreds of homeless and needy people in his home city of Cambridge.

The funeral of the world-famous scientist, who passed away peacefully at his home on March 14 aged 76, took place in the city on Saturday.

On the same day, a donation from his family helped to fund the charity FoodCycle's Easter lunch at Wesley Methodist Church.

Flowers were left on all the tables with a note reading: 'Today's lunch is a gift from Stephen. From the Hawking family.'

Organisers said the physicist was given 'a little cheer' before nearly 50 diners enjoyed the meal.

"Lucy Hawking (daughter) contacted me and mentioned that the family would like to make a donation so that while the funeral was taking place, people would be sitting down to a hot meal 'on Stephen'.

"It was a really kind gesture that I think fitted well with the sympathy Prof Hawking felt for people who were having a tough time of things," said Alex Collis, East of England Regional Manager, FoodCycle.

Collis said the generous donation would go on to provide hundreds of meals for older people, refugees, people with mental health issues, and the long-term unemployed, besides the city's homeless.

FoodCycle, which provides regular free meals for people in need using donated or unused food, has been running since 2010 by a team of volunteers across the United Kingdom.

"The meals are open to anyone and there's no need to book or have a voucher -- no questions are asked and the meals have a great community feel with groups of difference people who might not otherwise meeting sitting down round a table together," he said.

Hawking's funeral was held at Great St Mary's Church, part of the University of Cambridge, with thousands of well-wishers lining the streets to bid farewell to the scientist.

His ashes will be buried at Westminster Abbey in London in June, near the grave of Sir Isaac Newton.

The cosmologist and author of the seminal A Brief History of Time had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease in his 20s.  -- PTI
17:43   Court acquits Kejriwal, others in Jaitley's criminal defamation case
A Delhi court today acquitted Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and four others in a criminal defamation case filed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley after considering the joint application filed by them to settle the matter.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal considered the joint application which was filed after the Aam Aadmi Party convenor apologised to the Bharatiya Janata Party leader for making defamatory remarks relating to the Delhi and District Cricket Association row.

According to the joint application, apart from Kejriwal, other AAP leaders -- Raghav Chadha, Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh and Deepak Bajpai -- have apologised for their statements against Jaitley in connection with alleged irregularities in the DDCA.

Jaitley had on August 5 last year accused Kejriwal and other AAP leaders -- Kumar Viswas, Singh, Chadha, Ashutosh and Bajpai -- of making a series of 'false, scandalous and defamatory' allegations against him, claiming it adversely affected his reputation.

Vishwas has not tendered an apology and hence, the proceedings against him shall continue.

The AAP leaders had alleged financial irregularities in the DDCA when Jaitley was its president from 2000 to 2013, prompting the minister to lodge a defamation case against them while denying all the allegations.  -- PTI
17:27   Soldier injured in Pak firing succumbs
An Indian Army personnel injured during the ceasefire violation initiated by Pakistan succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday.

20-year-old, Sepoy Mustapure Shubham Suryakant hailed from Maharashtra's Konerwadi village and is survived by his mother.

Apart from this, the condition of one of the three people injured during the incident is critical.

Pakistan Army on Tuesday restored to incessant and indiscriminate firing along the Line of Control in Krishna Ghati sector in Jammu and Kashmir using small arms, automatics, and mortars.

The firing began at around 7 am.

Indian Army retaliated strongly, effectively and proportionately to the unprovoked ceasefire violation.

Last month, five civilians were killed and two were injured after Pakistan violated ceasefire along the LoC in Balakote sector.  -- ANI

Representative image.
16:55   Houses of Dalit MLA, ex-MLA set afire in Rajasthan
The houses of a sitting and a former MLA, both Dalits, were set afire by a violent mob today afternoon in the Hindaun town in Karauli district of Rajasthan following which curfew was imposed in the area, a senior official said.

A mob comprising nearly 5,000 people set ablaze houses of sitting MLA Rajkumari Jatav and Congress MLA Bharosilal Jatav in the Hindaun City, District Collector, Karauli, Abhimanyu Kumar told PTI.

While Rajkumari Jatav is from the ruling BJP, Bharosilal Jatav is a former Congress legislator who also served as a minister in the state.

The incident occurred a day after Rajasthan and several other states saw large scale protests and violence during a 'bandh' called by Dalit organisations.

Considering the law and order situation, curfew was clamped in the city, Kumar added. He said the situation was tense since morning. After incidents of stone pelting and arson, a mob set on for the houses of the MLA and the ex-MLA following which curfew has been clamped till Wednesday morning, an official said. -- PTI
16:24   Aadhaar has no bank account info, health records: UIDAI
The UIDAI today said it does not have information about bank accounts, health records, or financial and property details of Aadhaar holders, and "will never have" such details in its database.

The Aadhaar-issuing body said that its database contains only minimum details of the biometric ID holders, including select demographic information.

Seeking to dispel any possible misgivings about UIDAI ever tracking activities of individuals with the data it has, the authority said, "rest assured, UIDAI does not have your information about bank accounts, shares, mutual funds, financial and property details, health records, family, caste, religion and education etc and will never have this information in its database".

In a public outreach, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issued detailed FAQs or Frequently Asked Questions in national dailies, where it addressed about a dozen queries pertaining to concerns over data safety, profiling, and Aadhaar's link with bank accounts and mobile numbers.

Citing the Aadhaar Act, UIDAI said that its provisions specifically prohibit it from controlling, collecting, keeping or maintaining any information about the purpose of authentication either on its own or through any entity. "Aadhaar is an identifier, not a profiling tool," it reiterated.

The move comes at a time when the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the Aadhaar Act and the use of biometric identifier in various government and non-government services.

UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey last month made a presentation in the Supreme Court to defend the government's ambitious Aadhaar scheme. UIDAI further said that it uses "advanced security technologies" to safeguard data and also keeps upgrading them to meet new security threats and challenges.  -- PTI
Nidhi Razdan @Nidhi Waters tested. Backfired. Will be tested again
Saudi Crown Prince: Iran's Supreme Leader 'Makes Hitler Look Good'. Read the interview here.
15:26   No stay on SC/ST Act says apex court
The Supreme Court has refused to stay its order on the SC/ST Act, asks all parties to submit detailed replies within two days; matter to be heard after 10 days. The court said it has not diluted the law. The next hearing will be after 10 days.

The Supreme Court was hearing the Centre's plea seeking to review the March 20 verdict putting safeguards on arrest under the the stringent SC/ST Act.

The hearing began at 2 pm today.

The apex court agreed to hear the review petition after Attorney General K K Venugopal referred to large scale violence and loss of lives and property during yesterday's Bharat bandh.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra agreed to constitute the original bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit at 2 pm to hear the review plea.

The AG said it is an emergency situation as large scale violence had taken place and sought urgent hearing of the review petition today itself. In fast changing developments, the top law officer initially mentioned the urgent hearing of the review petition before a bench headed by Justice Goel, who was sitting alongside Justice R F Nariman.

The bench agreed to hear the review petition today itself in open court but Justice Goel asked the AG to mention before the chief justice constitution of the original bench comprising him and Justice Lalit.
15:06   After wife's tweet, Akshay Kumar sets up toilet on Juhu beach
Actor Akshay Kumar has sponsored a mobile toilet near the famous Juhu beach here, months after his wife tweeted a picture of a man defecating at another sea shore in Mumbai.

Last week, the actor sent an application to the BMC offering to set up the toilet by bearing all its expenses, assistant municipal commissioner of K-ward, Prashant Gaikwad, said. "We welcomed his initiative and installed the toilet near the Juhu beach four days ago. The actor bore all the expenses, Rs 10 lakh, for setting up the portable toilet," he told PTI.

"The mobile toilet can be used free of cost. If anyone comes forward to maintain it, then the facility can be provided on a pay-and-use basis," he said.

In August last year, Kumar's wife Twinkle Khanna had taken to twitter to raise the issue of open defecation near the Versova beach in suburban Andheri. "Good morning and I guess here is the first scene of Toilet Ek Prem Katha part 2," she had tweeted along with a picture of a man defecating on the Versova beach.

She had voiced her annoyance after spotting a man defecating in the open while she was out on a morning walk on the beach. Khanna's post had come a month after the city was declared open defecation free. -- PTI

Image: A poster from the film, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha 
14:54   No ISD reimbursement for home phones of babus: FinMin
No bureaucrat will be entitled to ISD facility on residential telephones from the government, though only secretary-level officers can have such facility on their office landline phones, Finance Ministry guidelines stated.

Issuing comprehensive guidelines for telephone facilities and reimbursement, the Department of Expenditure, under the Finance Ministry, said secretary-level officers will be entitled for reimbursement of one mobile handset costing not more than Rs 25,000 once during the tenure.

"ISD facility shall not be allowed on residential telephones," the guidelines said. It further said monthly reimbursement for residential phone, mobile and broadband will be subject to a limit of Rs 4,200 per month for a secretary-level officer, Rs 3,000 for additional secretary, Rs 2,700 for joint secretary, Rs 2,250 for director and deputy secretary and Rs 1,200 for officers below the rank of deputy secretary.

"ISD facility is allowed on official telephones in respect of administrative secretaries only," the guidelines said, adding the ISD facility for other officials on office landlines can be granted by the administrative secretary in consultation with the concerned financial advisor. -- PTI
One person has succumbed to his injuries in IAF Mi-17 V5 helicopter crash in Kedarnath.
14:48   Reduce Smith, Warner, Bancroft's suspension periods: ACA
The Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) has asked Cricket Australia to review the "disproportionate" sanctions imposed on Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft who were embroiled in the ball-tampering scandal during the Cape Town Test

Following the ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australia cricket, Smith and Warner were banned for a year from international cricket for orchestrating the event, while Bancroft was suspended for nine months.

"The proposed penalties are disproportionate relative to precedent. We ask that consideration be given to recalibrating the proposed sanctions, to consider options such as suspending or reducing part of the sanction. To consider allowing the players to return to domestic cricket earlier, for example, as part of their rehabilitation," the ESPNcricinfo quoted ACA president Greg Dyer as saying.Dyer pointed out that the incidents of ball-tampering have happened in the past and looking at those, the sanctions imposed in the recent one seems comparatively disproportionate.

He added that the association members are in ongoing conversations with Cricket Australia through this process.The banned cricketers now have time till Thursday to take a call whether to appeal against Cricket Australia penalties or not.
14:09   PM announces ex-gratia payment of Rs 10 lakh for Mosul victims' kins
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for each of the families of 39 workers killed by ISIS in Iraq. The announcement comes after Congress MPs from Punjab staged a protest in Parliament demanding compensation for the workers killed in Iraq.

Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh on Monday brought the mortal remains of 38 out of the 39 Indians killed in Iraq by ISIS.

Later, the Union Minister even visited the Amritsar to hand over bodies of 27 workers from Punjab.

Yesterday, Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu said the Punjab government has declared an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 5 lakh, a job for one family member and the continuation of the monthly pension of Rs 20,000 for the families of the deceased workers from Punjab. -- ANI
PM announces ex-gratia payment of Rs 10 lakh each to families of those killed in Iraq's Mosul.
13:58   VHP condemns I&B ministry's fake news order
The PM has now rescinded the I&B ministry's order on fake news, but freedom of press had an unusual supporter this morning -- the right wing Hindu organisation -- Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

The VHP  today condemned the Centre's move to amend the guidelines for accreditation of journalists in case of fake news, saying that the step amounted to an "undeclared emergency".

Stating that media was the fourth pillar of democracy, VHP international working president Pravin Togadia said curtailing their voices in any name was dangerous to citizen rights.

"We strongly condemn this undemocratic move by the government. This is nothing but an undeclared emergency," he said in a statement. Without taking names, Togadia said those who opposed "such emergency" for 52 yrs were behaving this way after coming to power. "This is shocking and horrific," he said. The VHP leader said agreeing or disagreeing with a media story was up to an individual, but choking media was unacceptable.

"This is the dangerous tendency by the rulers and we fear that it could even manifest in other areas of common people's lives or for those who speak for the people," he said.

Togadia also appealed to all concerned not to bring in such draconian rules and to democratically and peacefully oppose such undemocratic moves.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had yesterday announced measures to contain fake news, saying the accreditation of a journalist could be permanently cancelled if a scribe was found generating or propagating fake news.
13:52   Chandrababu in Delhi over logjam on special category for AP
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu arrived in New Delhi on a two-day visit on Tuesday in connection with the non-issuance of special category status to the state.

After reaching Delhi, Naidu paid tribute at Gandhi statue in the parliament premises.

He is scheduled to meet floor leaders of various political parties and explain the "injustice" being done to AP.

He will also hold meetings with Telugu Desam Party MPs inside the parliament, according to an official statement.

Meanwhile, TDP MPs continued to protest outside the Parliament house, demanding SCS for Andhra Pradesh.Lok Sabha MP Naramalli Sivaprasad, who has gain lot of attraction for his unique style of protesting, today dressed up as a folk dancer while demanding the special status along with his other party MPs.

Naidu on Monday held a teleconference meeting with his party MPs and strategy committee in Amaravati to discuss his first visit to Delhi after exiting National Democratic Alliance at the Centre.

The ruling party of Andhra Pradesh and the BJP-led Centre has been at the loggerheads over the non-issuance of the special status to Andhra Pradesh. -- ANI
12:57   3 officers among 5 injured in Pak shelling
Three officers among five Army men were injured when Pakistani army resorted to mortar shelling violating ceasefire and targeting forward posts along the LoC in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.

"The Pakistan army initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing from 7 am today along the Line of Control in Krishna Ghati sector using small arms, automatics and mortars," an Army officer said.

Indian Army retaliated strongly, effectively and proportionately to the unprovoked cease fire violation, he said. In the firing and shelling, 5 Army men including 3 officers were injured, the police officials said. Pakistan troops have violated ceasefire along LoC and IB over 650 times this year. -- PTI
12:56   Jaitley once again named as Leader of Rajya Sabha
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was today once again appointed as the Leader of the Rajya Sabha following his re-election to the House. The 65-year-old Jaitley's term had ended yesterday. Upon re-election from Uttar Pradesh, he has again been named as Leader of the House, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said in the Rajya Sabha today.
12:54   Govt not diluting the SC/ST Act: Rajnath
Asserting that the government is sensitive to the concerns of the backward communities, Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said it was not responsible for the dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Making a suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha during Zero Hour on the large scale violence during yesterday's Bharat Bandh, the home minister said eight people were killed -- six in Madhya Pradesh and one each in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, during the bandh which also witnessed clashes between the police and the protesters.

"Through the House, I want to assure the people that there has been no dilution whatsoever by my government, rather after coming to power and examining the SC/ST prevention Atrocities Act, we have taken a decision to strengthen it," he said. Singh said there have been widespread rumours regarding the issue of reservation which are "false and baseless" and the government was fully committed to protect the interest of the SC/ST community.

"I fully appreciate that there is widespread anger amongst the people following the Supreme Court order. I wish to inform the House that the Government of India was not party in that case. People have taken to the streets," he said.

The Supreme Court had on March 20 "diluted" the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, ruling that government servants should not be arrested without prior sanction and private citizens, too, be arrested only after an inquiry under the law. -- PTI
Central Board of Secondary Education will not re-conduct examination of class 10 Maths paper, reports ANI.
12:43   Smriti Irani has a rethink?
The tweet suggesting Ms Irani was having a rethink or was under pressure from the PMO to withdraw the order. The minister tweeted 23 minutes ago.

@smritiirani  PIB Accreditation Guidelines asking Press Council of India & News Broadcasters Association to define & act against fake news have generated debate. Several journalists & organisations have reached out giving positive suggestions regarding the same.

"@MIB_India is more than happy to engage with journalist body or organisation/s wanting to give suggestions so that together we can fight the menace of fake news & uphold ethical journalism. Interested journalists and/or organisations may feel free to meet me at @MIB_India."
12:37   PM withdraws Smriti Irani's order on fake news
Just in: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered the withdrawal of the Information and Broadcasting ministry's order on fake news. The PMO has now ordered that the matter of fake news should be referred to the Press Council of India.

There was a massive amount of backlash from journalists after the Information and Broadcasting Ministry headed by Union minister Smriti Irani on Monday amended guidelines which seek to suspend the accreditation of a journalist if found guilty.

Officials claimed that the initiative had been taken following instances of fake news appearing on media platforms.

As per the new guidelines, "Once the complaint is registered for determination of fake news, the correspondent or journalist whoever created or photographed the fake news will, if accredited, have the accreditation suspended till such time the determination regarding the fake news is made by the regulating agencies.'  
11:50   SC to hear SC/ST review plea at 2 pm
Just in: The Supreme Court agrees for an open court hearing on the Centre's review petition over the judgement on the SC/ST Act. The plea will be heard at 2 pm today.

The Centre on Monday filed a review petition against a recent verdict of a two-judge bench, which introduced safeguards to prevent misuse of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The Centre had sought an open court hearing and said that the safeguards would render the law toothless.

The review plea filed by the Ministry of Social Justice argued the safeguards would dilute the objective of protecting the marginalised sections and expose them to more violence and atrocities in a caste-ridden milieu while urging the court to recall the ruling.
11:32   Lok Sabha disrupted every day for 19 days
Question Hour in the Lok Sabha today once again became the victim of disruptions as the House was adjourned barely minutes after it had convened.

Today is the 19th consecutive day when disruptions hit the first hour of the Lok Sabha.

Like any other day, when the House met for the day, AIADMK members, raising slogans seeking early constitution of the Cauvery water management board, trooped into the Well.

The Speaker took up the first question during the Question Hour but nothing could be heard in the din. Members from the Congress and the Left were seen standing at their seats and apparently accusing the AIADMK of stalling proceedings.

Some Congress members were also heard slamming the government for violence during the agitation to protest the Supreme Court order diluting a key provision related to arrest under the SC ST Act.

Members from TMC, BJD and TDP were standing at their seats apparently demanding order in the House. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan then adjourned the proceedings till noon.
11:28   'Govt must stay off'
Co-chair of the Hindu group, Malini Parthasarathy on the the government's 'fake news' clampdown. "Sinister new war unleashed on the press by the government of @narendramodi by threatening to withdraw accreditation for journalists accused of writing "fake news'. Checking the menace of fake news is the internal duty of the media. Govt must stay off!"

The government today said the accreditation of a journalist could be permanently cancelled if the scribe is found generating or propagating fake news, as it came out with stringent measures to contain the menace. As per the amended guidelines for the accreditation of journalists, if the publication or telecast of fake news is confirmed, the accreditation of that journalist would be suspended for a period of six months in the first violation and for one year in case of a second violation.

In case of a third violation, his or her accreditation would be cancelled permanently, the information and broadcasting ministry said in a release. It said any complaint of instances of fake news would be referred to the Press Council of India, if it pertains to print media, and to the News Broadcasters Association, if it relates to the electronic media, for determination of the news item being fake or not. This determination is expected to be completed within 15 days by these agencies, the ministry said. -- PTI
10:50   Cong attacks VK Singh for remark on compensation to Iraq victims
The Congress today criticised Union minister Gen V K Singh (retd) for his reported "insensitive' remark comparing the demand for compensation to the families of 39 Indians killed in Iraq to demanding "biscuits", and said it was "heartless, shameful and reprehensible".

Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said Singh's remark was like rubbing salt on the wounds of those dead. "39 Indians were killed in Mosul, Iraq, as Modi Government continuously misled the families and Nation. Minister, V.K. Singh is now rubbing 'salt on the wounds' by rubbishing the demands for compensation for the families as akin to demand for 'biscuits'. Heartless, Shameful and Reprehensible!,' he wrote on Twitter.

Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien also termed the remark as "insensitive' and said the minister used "inappropriate words".

"General Foot in Mouth mantri at it again. Insensitive. "Football" and "Biscuits"... inappropriate words when you are mourning the 39 dead #MosulTragedy Iraq,' O'brien said on Twitter.

After returning with the bodies of the 39 dead in Mosul, Singh reportedly said in Amritsar that he was not "distributing biscuits", when asked by reporters about compensation to the families of the victims. -- PTI
10:42   Senior journalist passes away
Business India managing editor Parthasarathi Swami passed away in Mumbai on Monday night around 11 pm. Partho, as he was fondly called, has over three decades of experience as a business journalist and has worked with several leading business and news publications in India including Anand Bazar Patrika , Business Standard and India Today. He was the Managing Editor of Business World. He had a brief stint with Sunday Observer before joining Business India. 
10:38   Pakistan shells forward posts along LoC in Poonch
The Pakistan Army today targeted forward posts along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district with mortar shells. The Indian Army effectively retaliated.

An Army officer said, "Pakistan Army initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing from 0700 hours along the Line of Control in Krishna Ghati sector using small arms, automatics and mortars".  

The Indian Army retaliated strongly, effectively and proportionately to the unprovoked ceasefire violation, he said. Pakistani troops have violated the ceasefire along the LoC and the IB over 650 times this year. -- PTI
10:36   US begins H-1B visa application process
The US has started accepting applications for H-1B visas, considered as the most sought-after work visa among highly skilled Indian professionals, amidst unprecedented scrutiny by the Trump administration.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is the federal agency responsible to process the visas, yesterday started accepting applications for H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2019, beginning October 1.

The USCIS had earlier indicated that there will be zero tolerance by it for even minor errors.

As of now, the USCIS has not indicated if it plans to go for a computerised draw of lots as has been the case in previous years after receiving several times more than the Congressional mandated cap of H-1B visas.

A leading advocacy group representing the tech industry including Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook said that it expects number of H-1B petitions to reach the Congressional mandated caps in coming days. As a result of which the USCIS would again resort to a computerised draw of lot to determine successful applicants, it said.

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The H1-B visa has an annual numerical limit cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year as mandated by the Congress. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a US master's degree or higher are exempt from the cap. -- PTI
10:09   Bharat bandh: Internet suspended in Meerut till 2 pm
In other news, internet service was suspended in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut till 2 pm today as a precautionary measure, following the violent protests against Supreme Court's ruling on the SC/ST Act.

The nationwide bandh was called by Dalit outfits yesterday against the Apex Court's ruling that allegedly diluted the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The protests turned violent in many states, and six people were killed in Madhya Pradesh, two in Uttar Pradesh and one in Rajasthan; while the situation, was equally bad in states like Punjab and Uttarakhand.

The Rajasthan police yesterday affirmed that internet services have been suspended in certain districts to maintain law and order situation.

Even Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) had been imposed in Haridwar and Uttarakhand.

The apex court had, on March 20, introduced the provision of anticipatory bail in the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act while directing that there would be no automatic arrest on any complaint filed under the law.

The Centre on Monday filed a review petition in apex court to reconsider its order. -- ANI

Image: Protesters vandalise a police vehicle in Meerut yesterday.

For images of the Bharat bandh yesterday, click here
10:03   Sensex turns choppy, Nifty tests 10,200 level
The BSE Sensex turned choppy after falling nearly 100 points today and NSE Nifty slipped below the 10,200-mark on fresh losses in metal, healthcare, Teck, IT and realty stocks amid muted global cues. The 30-share barometer, which had gained 286.68 points on the first session of new fiscal yesterday, shed 96.77 points, or 0.29 per cent, to 33,158.59. The NSE Nifty too was trading 29.95 points, or 0.29 per cent, lower at 10,181.85. -- PTI
10:03   After killing son last year, terrorists abduct man's son-in-law in Srinagar
Update on the abduction in Srinagar.

Terrorists abducted a civilian and injured three of his relatives in Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said today.  Suspected terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Taiba barged into house of one Farooq Ahmad Parray at Hajin in Bandipora district last night and opened fire on inmates,  a police spokesman said. 

"The terrorists used knives to  cause grievous injuries to wife, daughter and brother of Farooq," he said. The terrorists also abducted Muntazir Ahmad Parrey,  son-in-law of the house owner from there, the spokesman said.

"Efforts are on by the police to trace out the abducted person," he added.  The injured persons  have been shifted to a hospital here for treatment.

The spokesman said the terrorists had killed Farooq  Ahmad's son last year.  "Muzzafar Ahmad Parrey was killed ruthlessly by terrorists last summer. He was first decapitated and then the body was thrown into the river,"  he added.  -- PTI

Image: Broken glass panes outside Farooq Parray's house. The terrorists had barged into his house and attacked him and his family. 
Also in Jammu & Kashmir -- Pakistan violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control in Krishna Ghati sector from 0700 hours today. Details awaited.
09:47   Chopper crash in Kedarnath
Four people including the pilot suffered minor injuries after an Indian Air Force MI-17 helicopter caught fire following collision with an iron girder while landing at a helipad near Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand. 
09:46   Terrorists barge into a house in Srinagar, abduct man
Four terrorists barged into a house in Hajin in Srinagar last night and fired indiscriminately. The owner of the house, Farooq Parrey, his wife, brother and daughter were seriously injured and Parrey's son-in-law abducted. An FIR has been registered and an investigation is underway.

Image: Farooq Parrey's house.
09:31   'Breathtaking assault on media': Alarm bells over govt plan on fake news
Media and leaders of political parties have criticised the government following their new order stating that the accreditation of a journalist could be permanently cancelled if the scribe is found generating or propagating fake news.

"Till now there was an informal emergency on media, except few all were scared, and fell in line. Now formal emergency. Who is govt to regulate press? And will journalists raise their voice ag this draconian rule? Like they did ag Rajiv Gandhi on defamation law ? I doubt!!
-- Ashutosh, AAP leader

"Make no mistake: this is a breathtaking assault on mainstream media. Its a moment like Rajiv Gandhis anti-defamation bill. All media shd bury their differences and resist this."
-- Shekhar Gupta, journalist

"So basically its a gag order. Because anyone can accuse a journalist of fake news and get their accreditation taken away, without a probe. This is sheer harassment of the press, nothing more. And what about the fake news factories like Postcard News? They arent accredited."
-- Nidhi Razdan, journalist

"The idea that the government can decide what constitutes #FakeNews & suspend the journalist for 15days is deeply disturbing . This is the biggest attack on the freedom of press!"
-- Tehseen Poonawalla, Congress leader
09:19   Rahul Gandhi lands in Shimoga today; set to meet Lingayat seer in Tumkur
Congress president Rahul Gandhi arrives in Shimoga, the hometown of state BJP president B S Yeddyurappa, on Tuesday. After his well-attended public meetings in Hyderabad-Karnataka, Mumbai-Karnataka, Coastal Karnataka and South Karnataka, the star campaigner of the party would be travelling across Shimoga, Davanagare and Chitradurga districts in central Karnataka on Tuesday and Wednesday.

BJP chief Amit Shah has already addressed a public meeting in Shimoga. The Congress has now taken the battle directly to Yeddyurappas door by bringing party supremo to Shimoga. After landing at Hubli airport, he will take a helicopter ride to Shimoga in the morning. 

He will participate in a roadshow in the central Karnataka town before entering the neighbouring district of Davanagere. He is scheduled to address public meetings at Honnali, Harihara and Davanagere before evening. 

Davanagere is a stronghold of Lingayats and a powerful section has backed Siddaramaiah governments decision to accord minority status to them. 

On Wednesday, Congress president will fly to Holalkere in Chitradurga district, another Lingayat stronghold. Amit Shah addressed a mega public meeting at the same place a month ago.

From there, Rahul Gandhi will fly to Tumkur to meet the 111-year-old seer of Siddaganga Mutt Shivakumara Swamy, a revered Lingayat pontiff.
08:55   AIADMK begins hunger strike over Cauvery Management Board issue
Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam start hunger hunger strike over the Cauvery Management Board issue.

Pointing out that the six-week deadline given by the Supreme Court to set up the Cauvery Management Board ended yesterday, Panneerselvam said, "The people of Tamil Nadu and the farmers are expecting an answer from the Centre on the Cauvery issue."

"Our stand on the Cauvery issue is that the Central government must implement the Supreme Court order," he said, adding the party would raise its voice all the time to ensure that right to livelihood of the people of Tamil Nadu is not lost.

The deputy chief minister said to get Cauvery water for farmers of Tamil Nadu as per the Supreme Court order, the AIADMK MPs had raised the issue in Parliament for 17 days consecutively.
08:36   Kin of those killed in Iraq refuse to accept bodies, demand compensation
As bodies of five people killed in Iraq reached Bihar's Siwan in the wee hours of Tuesday, families of two of them refused to accept the bodies, while demanding financial assistance from the state government.

Adalat Singh and Sunil Kumar were among the 39 Indians who were killed in Iraq's Mosul in 2014, by the terror outfit Islamic State.

Shyam Kumar Kushwaha, a family member of Adalat Singh, said, "He has a wife, little children and parents at home, and the family needs to be compensated adequately. Unless we are assured of the compensation that Bihar Government will give us, we will not take his body home."

Poonam Devi, the wife of deceased Sunil Kumar made similar demands, saying, "He was the lone bread earner and now I want job for survival of our children."

The District Magistrate of Siwan, Mahendra Kumar, who was also present at the spot said, "We will talk with the families and make them understand. They will be provided all possible help as per the rules; they may have demands but if these are beyond the rules, we will put it before the senior officials."

On Monday, Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh (retired) handed over the bodies of the five deceased from Bihar to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The family members of two deceased namely Vidyabhushan Tiwari and Santosh Singh did not come to take back the bodies.

-- ANI
08:18   Indian workers killed in Mosul were illegal immigrants: VK Singh
The Indian workers killed in Mosul were illegal immigrants and the Indian embassy in the country had no record of them, General VK Singh (retired), minister of state for external affairs, on Monday at Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport at Amritsar after bringing back the mortal remains of 38 of them.

The fate of the 39 workers was unclear till last month when external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said they were dead. 

General Singh admitted that this isnt the time to raise the issue but said that it is a fact that they (the workers) went there (Iraq) through an illegal agent. Referring to a group of 46 nurses from Kerala rescued by India in 2014 from the clutches of Islamic state, the minister said this was possible only because the country had a record of them.

I want all the Indians go abroad legally. Besides, they should go safely and with proper training, he said, adding, As far as illegal travel agents are concerned, state governments is responsible for law and order and they should arrest such agents and should take legal action against them.
07:49   US designates Hafiz Saeed's MML as terrorist outfit
In a major move ahead of the general elections in Pakistan, the US today designated Milli Muslim League, the political front of Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud Dawa, as a foreign terrorist organisation.

In a simultaneous move, seven members of MML central leadership body have been designated as foreign terrorist. The US also added Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir to the list of terrorist groups. TAJK is said to be a front of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, which according to the Trump administration, continues to operate freely inside Pakistan.

The move comes a day after the Election Commission of Pakistan asked the MML to produce a clearance certificate by the interior ministry for its registration as a political party.

The election commission had earlier rejected the MML's application for registration as a political party after the interior ministry objected to its ties to banned militant outfits.

The US State Department said the move was aimed at denying the LeT the resources it needs to plan and carry out further terrorist attacks.

"Both MML and TAJK are LeT fronts created to circumvent the sanctions against it (LeT)...Today's amendments take aim at LeT's efforts to circumvent sanctions and deceive the public about its true character," said Nathan A Sales, Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State.

"Make no mistake: whatever LeT chooses to call itself, it remains a violent terrorist group. The US supports all efforts to ensure that LeT does not have a political voice until it gives up violence as a tool of influence," Sales said.

Among other consequences of the designations, LeT's property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with the group.

"LeT continues to operate freely within Pakistan, holding public rallies, raising funds, and plotting and training for terrorist attacks," the State Department said.

The LeT was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist group on December 26, 2001. Its leader, Saeed, is also designated as an SDGT.

To avoid sanctions, LeT has repeatedly changed its name over the years, the State Department alleged.

In January 2017, LeT began operating under the name TAJK. Under this name, the LeT has engaged in inciting terrorism, as well as recruiting and fundraising.

In August 2017, Saeed created the MML to serve as a political front for the group.

"LeT members make up MML's leadership and the so-called party openly displays Saeed's likeness in its election banners and literature," the State Department said.

-- PTI
00:28   Journalist accreditation could be cancelled for fake news: Centre
The government on Monday said the accreditation of a journalist could be permanently cancelled if the scribe is found generating or propagating fake news, as it came out with stringent measures to contain the menace.

As per the amended guidelines for the accreditation of journalists, if the publication or telecast of fake news is confirmed, the accreditation of that journalist would be suspended for a period of six months in the first violation and for one year in case of a second violation.

In case of a third violation, his or her accreditation would be cancelled permanently, the information and broadcasting ministry said in a release.

It said any complaint of instances of fake news would be referred to the Press Council of India, if it pertains to print media, and to the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), if it relates to the electronic media, for determination of the news item being fake or not.

This determination is expected to be completed within 15 days by these agencies, the ministry said.

Once the complaint is registered for determination of fake news, the accreditation of the journalist, whoever 'created and/or propagated' the fake news, will be suspended till the determination regarding the fake news is made, the ministry said.

The Accreditation Committee of the Press Information Bureau, which consists of representatives of both the PCI and the NBA, would be reached out for validating any accreditation request of any news media agency, it said.

While examining the requests seeking accreditation, the regulatory agencies would check whether the 'Norms of Journalistic Conduct' and 'Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards', prescribed by the PCI and NBA respectively, are adhered to by the journalists as part of their functioning, the ministry said.

It would be obligatory for journalists to abide by these guidelines, it said.  -- PTI