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LIVE! CBI continues to question Michel for second day

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December 06, 2018


23:57  Govt contribution to NPS to rise to 14%:  
In a bonanza for government employees, the Cabinet on Thursday raised the government's contribution to National Pension Scheme to 14 per cent of basic salary from the current 10 per cent, sources said.

Minimum employee contribution will, however, remain at 10 per cent.        The Cabinet also approved tax incentives under 80C of the Income Tax Act for employees' contribution to the extent of 10 per cent, they added.

Presently, the government and employees contribute 10 per cent of basic salary each to NPS.

While the minimum employee contribution remains at 10 per cent, the government contribution has been increased from 10 per cent to 14 per cent.

The Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also allowed government employees to commute 60 per cent of the fund accumulated at the time of retirement, up from 40 per cent at present.

Also, employees will have the option to invest in either fixed income instruments or equities, sources said.

As per the Cabinet decision, if the employee decides not to commute any portion of the accumulated fund in NPS at the time of retirement and transfers 100 per cent to annuity scheme, then his pension would be more than 50 per cent of his last drawn pay, sources said.

While the government is yet to decide on the date of notification of the new scheme, sources said such changes usually come into effect from the beginning of a financing year, meaning April 1, 2019.

This formula for changes in the NPS was worked out by the Finance Ministry based on the recommendation of a government-appointed committee.  -- PTI
23:11  CBI continues to question Michel for second day:  
The Central Bureau of Investigation continued to question for the second day on Thursday Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the graft-tainted Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, officials said.

They said the team asked him to corroborate various contracts he had signed with Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland and the payments received from these companies.

Michel, 57, is under constant medical observation with a team deployed to monitor his health parameters, they said.

He was given normal Indian food from the CBI canteen as per his nutritional requirements, they said.

The agency is maintaining in letter and spirit the orders and procedures of custodial interrogation, they said, adding that he was given enough time to sleep and relax tonight.

The CBI has also received request for consular access to Michel from the British High Commission through the External Affairs Ministry which is under process, CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said.

The officials said there are a lot of documents which the agency had received from the Italian authorities which were probing the matter earlier, besides the material collected by it during the searches.

A lot of material needs corroboration and his questioning will also fill gaps in money trail of bribe amount, they said.

The sources refused to comment if Michel was cooperating, but said he is answering the queries of the investigating team.

The agency has alleged that Michel has evaded any probe in the matter which puts him on a different pedestal than Guido Haschke -- another middleman -- who faced trial in Italy and entered in plea bargain.

The CBI had filed a charge sheet against him in September last year.  -- PTI
22:56  Rahul should support Ram temple to honour his Brahmin credentials: Bharti:  
Union minister Uma Bharti on Thursday appealed to Congress president Rahul Gandhi to honour his 'Brahmin credentials' by supporting the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhaya.

Describing the Congress as 'obstructionist' in construction of the temple, Bharti said the party is trying to 'disturb' the atmosphere and is playing vote bank politics on the issue.

Bharti's remarks came on the 26th anniversary of the Babri mosque's demolition in Ayodhya by Hindutva activists in 1992.

"For the sake of his janeu -- a sacred thread wear by Hindus -- and to honour his credentials, Rahul Gandhi should come forward and support the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhaya.

"He should convey it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he will support ordinance on this issue," Bharti told reporters.

The Congress has described Gandhi-scion as 'janeu-dhari Hindu' (one who wears sacred thread).

Similarly, last month a priest at Pushkar in Rajasthan said his gotra is Dattatreya Kaul brahmin.

Noting all these developments, Bharti said she is hopeful about him on this issue as for the first time the Congress is telling its chief 'janeu-dhari' Hindu and Dattaterya Kaul brahmin.

"He undertook a pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar. His party is saying he is a Lord Shiv devotee, if it is really so then he should support the construction of the temple," she said.  -- PTI
22:02  Haseeb Drabu resigns from PDP:  
The People's Democratic Party suffered another jolt on Thursday when its senior leader and former finance minister Haseeb Drabu announced his resignation from the party.

In his resignation letter, Drabu, a well known economist who has also served as chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank, said his legislative engagement has prematurely come to an end with the dissolution of the state assembly.

"I don't agree with the timing and manner in which it was done. It doesn't credit either the democratic system or its custodian participants with any glory, whatsoever.

"Be that as it may, the time has come for me to bid adieu!" Drabu, who was the editor of a business daily earlier in his career, said.

The letter, which was posted by Drabu on his personal twitter handle, said his exit from the PDP had been coming for a while now.

"Even though I have not been a dissident... I have disengaged myself from party affairs for quite some time now," he wrote in the letter.

He said he did not believe in precipitating the matter because he thought it to be morally and ethically wrong to leave the party under whose aegis he had contested his maiden elections to the state assembly.

"Now that it is over, I am hereby resigning from the Jammu and Kashmir PDP," he said.

After Imran Ansari, Drabu is the second leader to abandon the party after Governor Satypal Malik dissolved the state assembly on November 21.

In his emotional resignation letter, Drabu remembered former chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed who had sought him out and brought him into politics.

"Working with him made me realise that politics is not the 'last refuge of scoundrels'!.. I just hope that when history judges Mufti Saheb and his decision to ally with the BJP, it does so in the context and with the complexity that it deserves," he said.

Recalling his political journey, Drabu, who was one of the chief architects of the Agenda of Alliance between the PDP and the BJP in 2015 and then again in 2016, said during 'this brief period, I got a flavour of politics in all its fascinating melange ranging from conviction, compulsion and compromise to principles, pledges and perfidies!'

He said his journey so far has had its fair share of highs and lows, successes and failures, appreciations and condemnation, contentment and frustrations, and agreements and disagreements.

"There are many things that I am thankful for, many more I am grateful and yet much more that I am distressed about. A slice of full life in itself as it were!" he wrote.  -- PTI
21:57  Mika Singh detained in UAE over sexual misconduct:  
Singer Mika Singh has been detained in United Arab Emirates after a girl complained against him for alleged harassment, a member of his team said.

He is being questioned by the authorities.

According to reports, he was detained on a complaint by a 17-year-old Brazilian model.

More details awaited.   -- with ANI inputs
20:52  BSF jawan killed, another injured in Pak firing:  
A Border Security Force jawan was killed and another injured in sniper fire from across the Line of Control in the Sunderbani sector of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

They said the incident occurred at the Rakhee post in the evening.

The sector is manned by the troops of the 126th battalion of the BSF.

While a bullet hit Constable P Biswas on the left shoulder, Constable Mansa Ram suffered a gunshot wound to the thigh, they said.

The two jawans were evacuated in a helicopter to the nearest medical facility, but Biswas succumbed to injuries, they added.

The condition of the other jawan is stable, officials said.  -- PTI
20:17  Bulandshahr violence: STF to assist SIT in probe:  
The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) will assist the Special Investigating Team probing the Bulandshahr violence in which two people, including a police officer, were killed on Monday.

The STF is assisting the SIT constituted by the government to probe the incident of cow slaughter and the subsequent violence, Inspector General (Crime) S K Bhagat told reporters in Lucknow.

The four-member SIT led by Inspector General, Meerut, is going through the footage of the incident to zero in on the culprits, he said.

To a question on Yogesh Raj, believed to be the main accused, the IG said that his name figures in the FIR and the SIT would ascertain his role in the violence.

The IG said it appears that the police officer, Subodh Kumar, and the youth had died of injuries caused by .32 mm bullets, but whether those were fired from the same weapon would be known only after the report from the forensic lab is received.

Singh and a 20 year-old man were killed in the mob violence triggered by alleged slaughter of cows in Bulandshahr.

The chief minister had ordered a thorough probe and issued directions to take strict action against those involved in the alleged cow slaughter in the western UP district.  -- PTI
19:36  Rajasthan Assembly polls factfile.
19:36  Telangana Assembly elections factfile.
19:33  Nirav Modi's illegal bungalow in Alibaug razed: Govt to HC:  
The Maharashtra government told the Bombay high court on Thursday that it had demolished fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi's illegal bungalow built along the beach at Alibaug in adjoining Raigad district.

Government counsel advocate P B Kakade also told a bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice M S Karnik that it had served demolition notices to another 58 private properties in the area constructed in violation of the state's rules and coastal zone norms.

He made the submissions in compliance with a previous order of the bench whereby, it had directed the government to submit details of all actions taken, and pending litigation concerning the illegal private constructions along the beaches in Alibaug, a coastal town popular with weekend tourists.

The state filed an affidavit in the court stating Modi's illegal bungalow was demolished on December 5. It also said 58 other properties were served with the demolition notice on December 4, and their owners asked to raze all illegal structures within a week's time.

In the affidavit, the state submitted that the owners of around 61 such illegal private structures had managed to get stay orders on demolition from local civil courts.

However, it was planning to initiate legal action to get the stay orders lifted, the government submitted.

The bench took note of the state's submissions and scheduled the matter for further hearing on December 20.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by an activist, Surendra Dhavale.

The plea had sought that the court direct the authorities to demolish all unauthorised constructions 'within the low and high tide areas' in several villages in Alibaug.

As per the petition, such constructions had been carried out in violation of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority rules and the state's land laws.

As per the plea, there are around 175 such private residences in CRZ areas in villages such as Varsoli, Sasvane, Kolgaon and Dokvade, among others, belonging to several 'wealthy persons, including Modi, and several businessmen and film actors'.

Nirav Modi, a key accused in the $2 billion Punjab National Bank fraud case, has fled the country.  --  PTI
19:14  HC to hear BJP plea requesting nod for rath yatra tomorrow:  
The Chief Justice of Calcutta high court on Thursday refused to constitute a special bench to hear the Bharatiya Janata Party's plea for permission to hold Rath Yatra in Coochbehar on Friday after the party failed to get relief from a single bench, party lawyer Phiroze Edulji said.

Lawyers for the BJP went to the chamber of Chief Justice Debasish Kargupta and prayed for constitution of a special bench as the normal court hours had ended for the day, Edulji said.

The chief justice, while refusing a hearing on Thursday evening itself, asked the BJP lawyers to move the appeal before the court on Friday morning at 10.30 am, he said.

Earlier in the day, the HC said it cannot give permission at this stage for the BJP rally in Coochbehar, scheduled to be flagged off by party president Amit Shah on Friday, after the West Bengal government refused to allow the event on the grounds that it might cause communal tension.

A single bench of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty observed that security arrangements at such a huge scale cannot be made within such short time.

The judge had also ruled that the rally stands deferred till the next date of hearing on January 9.

Immediately after the order was passed at the end of the court hours, the BJP lawyers went to the chief justice's chamber and prayed for constitution of a special bench to hear its appeal in the evening.  -- PTI
19:09  Tharoor, police oppose Swamy's plea in Sunanda death case; court reserves order:  
Delhi Police and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, accused in a case related to death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar, on Thursday opposed a plea by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy to assist the court in the matter.

The public prosecutor and Tharoor's counsel contended that Swamy's application was not maintainable and it should be dismissed.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal, after hearing the arguments, reserved its order on the plea saying it would be pronounced on December 10.

Swamy's plea has also sought to bring on record the Delhi Police's vigilance report on tampering of evidence in the case and claimed that it might lead to framing of additional charges.

Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava, said the case was not magistrate triable.

It was triable by the sessions court so Swamy should move the application before the sessions judge at a later stage, he added.

He said the BJP leader's assistance was not required and since it was a criminal trial, the matter is between the State and the accused person and no interference by a third party was permitted.

He submitted that the purpose of a Vigilance Report is to ascertain whether 'the service of an officer is still required' and not to determine the commission of an offence.

Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, appearing for Tharoor, agreed with the submissions of the prosecutor that the application was not maintainable and said Swamy was 'an alien to the case' and he has no locus standi to participate in the proceedings.

"It is a criminal trial. He is a stranger to the proceedings. If we start entertaining them, everybody in the country will start poking their noses in every trial," he said.

The senior counsel added that only a victim was permitted to assist the prosecution and Swamy neither comes under the definition of a victim nor he was related to the family.

He contended that trial court was not governed by rules of public interest litigation and even the Delhi high court had said that Swamy had filed 'Political Interest Litigation' and not a Public Interest Litigation and had dismissed his petition.

Rebutting the arguments, Swamy said he was not a total stranger to the case and it was he who had filed the PIL in the Supreme Court and things started moving.

He said he was asking for the vigilance report to be placed before the court and wanted that vital information may not be left out by the police.

During the hearing, Pahwa told the court that the process of scrutiny of documents annexed with the charge sheet was not complete.

The court asked him and the prosecutor to complete it within three days. After completion of the process of scrutiny of documents, the case would be committed to sessions court for further proceedings.

Pushkar was found dead in a suite of a luxury hotel in the city on the night of January 17, 2014. The couple were staying in the hotel as the official bungalow of Tharoor was being renovated at that time.

The court allowed Tharoor's plea seeking exemption from personal appearance for the day.

The court had directed Delhi Police to hand over various documents filed along with the charge sheet, including statements of witnesses, to Tharoor on a plea moved by him.

The Thiruvananthapuram MP was granted regular bail on July 7 after he appeared before the court in pursuance to the summons issued against him.

The court had on June 5 summoned Tharoor, observing there was sufficient ground to proceed against him.

He has been charged under Sections 498-A (husband or his relative subjecting a woman to cruelty) and 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code, but has not been arrested in the case.  --  PTI
18:57  India strongly condemns Chabahar terror attack:  
India on Thursday strongly condemned the 'despicable' terrorist attack in the southeastern Iranian port city of Chabahar and said the perpetrators of the crime must be brought to justice expeditiously.

India is developing the Chabahar port along with Iran and Afghanistan. New Delhi considers the port in Chabahar, which lies in Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran, very crucial for its strategic interest in the region.

Chabahar city is around 100 km from Iran's border with Pakistan.

"India strongly condemns today's despicable terrorist attack in Chabahar, Iran. We express our condolences to the government and the people of Iran and the families of the victims of this attack," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

At least two people were killed and many more injured in the terror attack outside police headquarters in Chabahar.

"We wish speedy recovery to those injured. The perpetrators behind this dastardly attack should be brought to justice expeditiously. There can be no justification for any act of terror," the MEA said.

The Chabahar port is being considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries.

The port is being considered crucial for trade among the three countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to India.  --  PTI
17:47  HC refuses permission to BJP to hold rath yatra in Bengal :  
The Calcutta high court has refused permission to the Bharatiya Janata Party to hold a rath yatra in Coochbehar tomorrow.

The High Court said it was concerned about the law and order situation and sought statewide police reports on the ground situation.

This comes hours after the convoy of the BJP state president Dilip Ghosh came under an alleged attack from Trinamool Congress cadres in the Coochbehar district.

The incident took place at Mathabhanga area of Coochbehar district.

Windows of several cars in the BJP convoy were damaged though Ghosh escaped unhurt. Ghosh was in Coochbehar to oversee preparations for the rath yatra tomorrow which was to be inaugurated by BJP national president Amit Shah.

Ghosh alleged that it was TMC backed goons attacked them and seven vehicles have been damaged.

Three raths, air-conditioned buses, were to be flagged off from Madan Mohan temple in Cooch Behar on Friday, Kakdwip near the pilgrimage of Ganga Sagar at the confluence of the Hooghly river and the Bay of Bengal on December 9 and temple town of Tarapith on December 14.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is supposed to address four public rallies at different points of the yatra in Durgapur, Malda, Srirampur and Krishnagar.
17:25  4-year-old girl 'inappropriately touched' in school, case registered :  The mother of a four-year-old girl has lodged a complaint alleging that her daughter was 'inappropriately touched' in school. A case was registered under Section 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) at Ranhola police station in New Delhi on Wednesday. An investigation in the matter is underway. -- ANI
16:29  Jet Airways seeks $350 mn soft loan from Etihad:  Cash crunched Jet Airways has sought a soft financing of USD 350 million from its investment partner Etihad Airways, as it continues to hold discussions with the latter to offload additional stake in the carrier, an airline source said Thursday.


The Abu Dhabi-based Etihad had come to the rescue of the Naresh Goyal-controlled airline during the earlier downturn too. In 2013, it had acquired 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways for Rs 2,060 crore, besides extending low-interest loan of USD 150 million as well as purchasing 50.1 per cent stake in its loyalty programme JetPrivilege.
16:19  Individual wealth grew 14% in F18:  A report tabled today says individual wealth in India grew by 14.02% to reach Rs. 392 lakh cr in FY18. This was achieved by a huge 17.42% wealth growth in financial assets and a sober 9.24% wealth growth in physical assets.

The report released by Karvy Private Wealth, called the India Wealth Report 2018, provides a holistic view of all the asset classes that have contributed to wealth creation in the last one year. Direct Equity emerged as the hero to capture the top spot where Indian individuals have their wealth overtaking Fixed Deposits. Other notable assets which saw good growth include mutual funds and  alternative investments.
16:04  Sensex tanks 572 points, Sun Pharma sole gainer:   Benchmark equity indices cracked for the third consecutive session Thursday on negative global cues, weak rupee and sustained selling by foreign as well as domestic institutional investors.


The BSE Sensex plunged 572.28 points, or 1.59 per cent, to close at 35,312.13. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty fell 181.75 points, or 1.69 per cent, to 10,601.15.


All sectoral indices on the BSE and NSE ended in the red, led by metal, oil and gas, pharma and financial stocks.


According to analysts, global markets were in a risk-off mode due to fresh flare-up of tensions between China and the US. Oil prices are inching up on expectation of production cuts by Russia and Opec, weakening rupee further.


The rupee was trading 36 paise lower at 70.82 against the US dollar intra-day. The currency fell to an intra-day low of 71 per dollar mark amid strengthening American currency and weak domestic equity market.


Oil prices extended losses ahead of the crucial Opec meeting. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was trading 1.82 per cent lower at USD 59.74 per barrel.


Top losers in the session included Maruti, Tata Motors, Reliance Industries, Yes Bank, Adani Ports, Bharti Airtel, Asian Paints, ONGC, HUL, Kotak Bank, IndusInd Bank and Axis Bank, falling up to 5 per cent. Sun Pharma was the sole gainer on the Sensex, rising 1.57 per cent. -- PTI
15:37  India needs Constitution not temple, says BJP MP who quit party :  Update: BJP MP Savitribai Phule resigned from the party on Thursday, saying it is dividing society. The MP from Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, has long been critical of the party's leadership, the Dalit leader said her objective was to get the Constitution implemented in letter and spirit.


"I have resigned from the party. But I will continue as a Lok Sabha member till the end of my tenure," she said in Lucknow. She said she will launch an agitation to champion the cause of Dalits from December 23, adding that the country needs a Constitution not a temple.


Phule has been attacking the BJP and its governments at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh for their alleged indifference to the concerns of Scheduled Castes. She has also accused the BJP of dividing society and often the party over its Hindutva plank. -- PTI
15:21  SC reserves order on CBI director's plea:  The Supreme Court reserves its order on a plea filed by CBI Director Alok Verma and NGO Common Cause challenging the Center's decision to divest Verma of his charges.
15:20  SC refuses urgent hearing of plea on Justice Kurian Joseph's interview :   The Supreme Court Thursday refused to give an urgent hearing to a plea seeking an investigation into retired apex court judge Justice Kurian Joseph's recent interview to a national daily.


Lawyer Shashank Deo, who filed the petition, mentioned before a three-judge bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, that an investigation should be conducted into the interview given by Justice Joseph on January 12.


Deo alleged that Justice Joseph said former CJI Dipak Misra was perceived to be influenced by external forces.


Deo told the top court that these type of interviews or statements given to media affect the very "credibility of the institution". To this, CJI Gogoi said, "Credibility of the institution can be maintained by those who man it and not by newspaper reports".


Justice Joseph, who retired on November 29, was one of the senior Supreme Court judges who in a media briefing raised questions on the functioning of the apex court, saying there is no need for an outside intervention to solve the issue. - ANI
14:56  BJP MP Savitribai Phule quits party:  Savitribai Phule, BJP MP from Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh resigns from the party, says 'BJP is trying to create divisions in society'.
14:29  BJP may field Madhuri from Pune LS seat :   The BJP is considering fielding Bollywood actor Madhuri Dixit-Nene from the Pune Lok Sabha constituency in the 2019 general elections, party sources said. In June this year, BJP chief Amit Shah had met the actor at her residence in Mumbai during his party's 'Sampark for Samarthan' (Contact for Support) programme and briefed her on the achievements of the Narendra Modi government. A senior state BJP leader told PTI Thursday that her name has been shortlisted for the Pune Lok Sabha seat.


"The party is seriously considering giving candidature to Madhuri Dixit in the 2019 general elections. We think the Pune Lok Sabha constituency will be better for her," he said. "The party is in the process of finalising the list of probables for several Lok Sabha seats and Dixit's name has been shortlisted for the Pune Lok Sabha constituency...she is being seriously considered for it," the leader said.


In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had snatched the Pune Lok Sabha seat from the Congress, with Anil Shirole winning by a margin of over three lakh votes.


On the plans to field the actor, a senior BJP functionary said, "Such tactics were implemented by Narendra Modi in Gujarat when he became the chief minister for the first time. He changed all the candidates in local bodies election and the party reaped benefits of that decision. As fresh faces were introduced, there was nothing to criticise them with. It left the opposition shocked and the BJP won maximum seats and retained power."  -- PTI


Image: BJP chief Amit Shah had met Madhuri Dixit and her husband Dr Shriram Nene at their residence in Mumbai during the party's 'Sampark for Samarthan' in June.
14:05  Michel extradition: Family in Congress restless, mocks BJP:  The BJP attacks the Congress on the Youth Congress leader and lawyer Aljo K Joseph who will be AgustaWestland middleman Chritian Michel's advocate.


BJP's Sambit Patra says, "The Congress is rattled after the extradition of Christian Michel. They sent their team to save Michel. Congress's Aljo Joseph appeared for him in Court, they later went through the charade of removing him.


"The family in Congress is getting sleepless nights. Other than Aljo Joseph, there are two other lawyers of Christian Michel -- Vishnu Shankar who is the son of a Kerala Congress leader and Sriram Parakkat who has been an NSUI member. All three have worked under big Congress lawyers like Salman Khurshid and Kapil Sibal," Patra said.


The Congress on Wednesday expelled Aljo Joseph from the party after he appeared in a court in New Delhi for Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the graft-tainted Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

In a statement, the Youth Congress said Joseph represented Michel in his personal capacity and did not consult the party before appearing in the case.
13:55  Navjot Sidhu told to shush :   Yes, this is for real. Punjab's Local Government, Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has been advised complete rest for three to five days as he was "on the brink of losing his voice."


Punjab's local government, tourism and cultural affairs minister, who has injured his vocal cords, has left for an undisclosed destination for a complete check-up and recovery, a Punjab government release said.


Sidhu was the Congress' star campaigner and addressed over 70 public meetings in 17 days ahead of elections in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana. 
13:23  CBI vs CBI: Extraordinary situations need extraordinary remedies, CVC tells SC:  Extraordinary situations need extraordinary remedies, the Central Vigilance Commission told the Supreme Court on Thursday during the hearing of CBI Director Alok Verma's plea against the Centre's decision to divest him of powers and send him on leave.


Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CVC, referred to the apex court judgements and laws governing the CBI and said the Commission's superintendence (over the CBI) encompasses "surprise, extraordinary situations".


A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said Attorney General K K Venugopal told it that circumstances culminating in the situation started in July.


Advocate Fali Nariman for CBI Director Alok Verma told the court, 'In all circumstances they must consult the selection committee. Transfer in this case doesn't mean transfer in service jurisprudence. Transfer doesn't only mean one place to another."


Nariman added, "There cant be an acting Chief Justice of India, there has to be a Chief Justice of India as per the constitution. Same situation here, they can't have an acting director of CBI."


CJI Ranjan Gogoi asks, "If there is an exigent issue situation can the Supreme Court appoint an acting director?" Nariman replied, "Yes, the  Supreme Court can appoint because the final arbiter of the Constitution is the SC."


The SC bench added that the essence of the government action must be in the interest of the institution. The top court said it was not that the fight between the CBI director and Special Director Rakesh Asthana emerged overnight, forcing the government to divest the director of powers without consulting the Selection Committee.


It further said the government has to be "fair" and asked what the difficulty was in consulting the Selection Committee before divesting the CBI director of his power.


The court was hearing the pleas of Verma, who is challenging the Centre's decision against him, and the NGO Common Cause, seeking a court-monitored SIT probe into allegations of corruption against various CBI officials, including Asthana. PTI


Image: CBI director Alok Verma with special director Rakesh Asthana. Pic courtesy: CBI.gov.in.
12:56  Sanathan Sanstha named in chargesheet in Maharashtra Arms Haul case :  'The accused in the Maharashtra arms haul case were members of right-wing outfits like the Sanathan Sanstha and motivated to establish a 'Hindu Rashtra', police said in its chargesheet filed in a special court in Mumbai Wednesday.


The state police's Anti-Terrorism Squad, which probed the case, submitted its chargesheet against 12 accused in the special NIA court presided over by Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Padalkar.


The case relates to the seizure of arms and ammunition from different parts of the state in August this year.


"The accused were members of organisations such as the (Goa-headquartered) Sanathan Sanstha, (its affiliate) 'Hindu Janjagruti' and similar other smaller outfits," the ATS said.


"They had drawn their motivation of making efforts towards establishment of so-called Hindu Rashtra as explained in the Marathi book 'Kshatra Dharma Sadhana', published by Sanathan Sanstha," it said.


The accused had hatched a conspiracy to undermine security and sovereignty of the country, the investigating agency said.


"The accused had also conspired to form a terrorist gang of youths with similar mindset to work towards undermining unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of the country," it said. -- PTI
12:53  Sidhu's wife gets clean chit in Amritsar train accident:  Navjot Kaur Sidhu on reports of being given a clean chit in Magistrate inquiry into the Amritsar train accident: "If I am called to attend an event and an incident takes place there, then how am I responsible for it? These are attempts to malign the name of Sidhu family."
12:36  'Parrikar is living for Modi and Shah':  For 12 days, Goa-based RTI activist Rajan Ghate sat on a hunger strike, demanding that ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar transfer his portfolios to his other ministerial colleagues.


Parrikar manages the crucial portfolios of home, personnel and finance in the state government.


Parrikar has been recuperating at his home near Panaji since October 14 upon his return from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi where he underwent treatment for a pancreatic ailment.


The Bharatiya Janata Party has maintained that the government it leds in the coastal state is stable and all allies are with the BJP.


"He is not transferring his power to other ministers because he doesn't trust any of them," Ghate, tells Rediff.com's Hemant Waje. 

Read the interview here.
12:32  Fitch slashes India growth forecast to 7.2 pc on reduced credit availability:  Fitch Ratings Thursday slashed India's GDP growth forecast to 7.2 per cent for current fiscal, from 7.8 per cent projected in September, citing higher financing cost and reduced credit availability.


In its Global Economic Outlook released Thursday, Fitch estimated India's GDP growth to be 7 per cent and 7.1 per cent in financial years 2019-20 and 2020-21 respectively. Indian economy grew 6.7 per cent in 2017-18 fiscal.


The 7.2 per cent GDP growth for current fiscal is substantially lower than 7.8 per cent and 7.4 per cent projections made by Fitch in September and June respectively. It is also lower than RBI's 7.4 per cent growth estimates for this fiscal. -- PTI
12:29  What Adityanath told slain Bulandshahr cop's family today:  This is what happened at the meeting between UP CM Yogi Adityanath and the family of the slain Bulandshahr cop Subodh Kumar Singh. Adityanath met Singh's wife and two sons at his Kalidas Marg residence in Lucknow this morning.


UP DGP OP Singh, who was present at the meeting told reporters:

 
-- The CM gave an assurance to the victim's family that they will remain like a family and there would not any disturbance in their studies.

--  The government would pay off the education loan that the family had taken.

-- Adityanath had declared Monday a compensation of Rs 40 lakh for the wife, Rs 10 lakh for the parents and a government job for a member of his family.

The inspector was also an Investigating Officer (IO) in the 2015 Akhlaq lynching case. Singh and a 20-year-old man were killed in mob violence triggered by alleged slaughter of cows in Bulandshahr.


The chief minister had ordered a thorough probe and issued directions to take strict action against those involved in the alleged cow slaughter in the western UP district.


Adityanath had held a late night meeting in Lucknow with the chief secretary, the DGP, the principal secretary (home) and the additional director general of police (intelligence).


Image: IO Subodh Kumar Singh's family at the UP CM's residence this morning.
12:01  SC says govt action must be in interest of CBI:  The Supreme Court, which is hearing CBI Director Alok Verma's plea against the Centre's decision to divest him of powers and send him on leave, on Thursday said the essence of government action must be in the interest of the institution.


A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said Attorney General K K Venugopal told it that circumstances culminating in the situation started in July. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central Vigilance Commission, referred to apex court judgements and laws governing the CBI.


The apex court said it was not that the fight between the CBI director and Special Director Rakesh Asthana emerged overnight, forcing the govt to divest the director of powers without consulting the Selection Committee.


The CBI director and the special director were fighting like "kilkenny cats", exposing the country's premier investigating agency to "public ridicule", the government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday while justifying the decision to divest Verma of his duties.


Attorney General K K Venugopal also told the top court that the government was well "within its right to intervene" and send both officers on leave by divesting them of their powers.


The top law officer asserted that "only the God knows where and how this fight between the two top officers would have ended" if the government would not have taken the action which was aimed at restoring the public faith in the CBI.


The court was hearing pleas of Verma, who is challenging the Centre's decision against him, and NGO Common Cause, seeking a court-monitored SIT probe into allegations of corruption against various CBI officials, including Asthana. --  PTI
11:53  U'khand govt sets up panel to examine objections about Kedarnath:  The Uttarakhand government has constituted a panel headed by Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj to look into objections being raised about upcoming film Kedarnath, a love story set against the backdrop of the 2013 deluge, an official release said.


Starring actor Sushant Singh Rajput and debutante Sara Ali Khan the film directed by Ashish Kapoor releases tomorrow. Headed by Maharaj, the committee set up on Wednesday has Home Secretary Nitesh Jha, Information Secretary Dilip Jawalkar and DGP Anil Raturi as members, the release said.  


The panel will examine the objections being raised about the movie and submit its report to the government. An appropriate decision on the screening of the movie across the state will be taken on basis of its report, it said. 


A senior BJP leader from Uttarakhand had first raised objections against the film, accusing it of promoting "love jihad" by depicting a romantic love story between a Muslim porter and a Hindu pilgrim.


Demanding a ban on the release of the film, Ajendra Ajay had also said that despite being set against one of the worst human tragedies, the film made fun of Hindu sentiments. A PIL was also filed recently in the Uttarakhand High Court alleging that the film was an "ugly taint" on the Himalayan shrine.  However, the makers of the film have appealed to people not to jump to conclusions about its content by just seeing its teaser or trailer. -- PTI
11:42  Sean Penn reportedly working on Jamal Khashoggi documentary :   Oscar-winning actor and filmmaker Sean Penn was recently spotted outside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul as he is reportedly shooting for a documentary based on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.


The 58-year-old was accompanied by a crew of 10, including bodyguards, reports Al Jazeera.According to local media reports, Penn will also have meetings with Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz and a few others who were close to the journalist.


Washington Post columnist, Khashoggi - an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia's crown prince - went missing on October 2, after stepping into the Saudi consulate in Turkey's Istanbul to collect documents that would allow him to marry fiancee Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside the consulate.


Cengiz raised an alarm after Khashoggi failed to re-emerge from the Saudi consulate.A few weeks after the October 2 incident, Saudi Arabia accepted the fact that the group of 15 Saudi agents were behind the murder of the former Washington Post journalist, leading to an international furore.


Actions have been taken against the Saudi nationals who have been arrested by the Kingdom's authorities for their alleged involvement in the killing of Khashoggi. -- ANI
11:35  AgustaWestland: British High Commission seeks access to Michel :  The British High Commission has asked the Indian government for consular access to Christian Michel, sources said on Thursday. Michel is a British citizen and the alleged middleman in the Rs 3600 crore AgustaWestland deal.


The Indian Government has not responded to the British High Commission's latest request, the sources added.


Michel was extradited to Delhi from UAE on Tuesday night and a court here on Wednesday remanded him to five-day Central Bureau of Investigation custody.


During the hearing, Special Public Prosecutor Advocate DP Singh appeared for the CBI and asked for a 14-day custody of Michel for a thorough probe. Michel's counsel Aljo K Joseph had opposed it and had also moved a bail plea for Michel.


The court kept the bail plea pending for next hearing and allowed Michel's counsel one hour each in the morning and evening for consultancy.


According to CBI sources, Michel complained of anxiety during questioning by CBI and subsequently, he was given medicine.


On Tuesday, the CBI had issued a statement saying: "Wanted fugitive criminal Christian Michel James who has been avoiding criminal proceedings in India in AgustaWestland Case is being extradited by UAE Authorities to India.


Under the guidance of Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor, the entire operation is being coordinated by Incharge Director/CBI M. Nageswara Rao. A team lead by A. Sai Manohar, Joint Director/CBI has been to Dubai for the purpose. -- ANI
11:27  Thunder on chopper, silence on bomber:  The frigid campaign for the winter Assembly polls ended on Wednesday with clatter over helicopters and silence on combat aircraft -- both stemming from the very top of the political pyramid.Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday played up British arms agent Christian Michel's extradition and referred to the "helicopter scandal' but skirted the Rafale controversy while campaigning in Rajasthan.  Read more
11:23  Ayodhya seers seek divine intervention for Ram temple on Babri anniversary:  Seers in the temple town of Ayodhya will offer prayers and seek divine intervention for early construction of a Ram temple on Thursday, the 26th anniversary of Babri mosque demolition.


The mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992 by 'karsevaks' who had converged as part of a movement by the BJP and Hindu outfits for construction of a temple dedicated to Lord Ram at the disputed site. Mahant Ramdas of Nirmohi Akhara told PTI that it will mark the day as 'Shaurya Diwas' (day of bravery), which has been a tradition for the last 25 years.


"We are celebrating 'Shaurya Diwas' and then there will be a grand 'aarti' at Naka Hanumangarhi. We will seek divine intervention from Lord Ram and urge him to help us build a grand temple for him," he said.


"Now we want that the Ram temple should be built at the earliest," he added. Meanwhile, Iqbal Ansari, a Muslim litigant in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, said the community will observe 'Yaum E Gham' (day of sorrow) on Thursday.


There will be no protests or roadshows. "How long do we have to observe 'Yaum E Gham'? Now we want that the court should decide (the case) and we will abide by its order," he said.


The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal have announced that they will mark the day as 'Shaurya Diwas' and 'Vijay Diwas' (day of victory) and have asked the people to light earthen lamps as on Diwali. Muslim outfits have said they will observe 'Yaum E Gham' and 'Yaum E Syah' (black day).


Over 2,500 police personnel, besides Rapid Action Force and paramilitary CRPF, have been deployed as part of multi-layered security in Ayodhya including in and around the disputed site and several parts of Hanumangarhi area of the city, officials said. -- PTI


Image: Security has been tightened in Ayodhya on the anniversary of the Babri masjid demolition.
10:57  Mamata asks people to uphold secular fabric of country:  West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday said that India is incomplete without all communities, religions, castes, creed and gender and asked the people the uphold the secular fabric of the country.


She compared the country with the human body and said that December 6 is observed in West Bengal as "Sanhati Dibas" to mark the demolition of Babri mosque in Ayodhya.


"Today is 6th December. We observe this day as Sanhati Dibas in #Bangla," Banerjee tweeted. "Just like a human body is incomplete without all organs, India is incomplete without all communities, religions, castes, creed and gender. Let us pledge to uphold the secular fabric of India," she added.


On this day in 1992, the 16th-century Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, in Uttar Pradesh was demolished by a large number of 'kar sevaks'. -- PTI
10:53  CM has assured us of justice: Cop's son:  Shrey Pratap Singh, the son of Police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh on meeting UP CM Yogi Adityanath: "We met the Chief Minister and he has assured us that we will get justice."
10:39  Kashmir: Under a hobnailed boot:  Area domination is a term that comes with easy disconcert to folks in militarised, conflict-ridden zones -- a daily, cloying intimacy, a shadow that won't go away for any amount of shrugging. Kashmir is an area domination domain, probably, and wretchedly, our premier showcase of it -- a sundered, splintered, plundered, barb-fenced, barrel-ridden, risked, fisted, rebuked, bludgeoned, bleeding, weeping geography trodden over by the hob-nailed heel of one ownership or another.


Kashmir, a possession so precious it has to be had to destruction. Area domination -- that's first, middle and last name for Kashmir, you might almost want to spell Kashmir that way.

Read Sankarshan Thakur's column here.
10:24  Piyush Pandey to become only Indian Global CCO:  India's beloved ad-man Piyush Pandey was named Global CCO of Ogilvy effective January 1, 2019, on Wednesday. He becomes the first Indian to take up the role of a worldwide chief creative officer. Read the report here.
10:03  Yogi finally meets cop's family three days after murder :   The family of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh who died after being attacked by a mob protesting over alleged cow slaughter in Bulandshahr meets UP CM Yogi Adityanath at his residence in Lucknow. The slain cop's wife, his two sons, his sister. and other relatives, were at the meeting.


Yogi Adityanath has come under severe flak keeping the focus firmly on cow slaughter by ordering a probe on the matter but remaining silent on the cop's murder.


The murdered cop's sister has said the CM's focus only remains on cows and has remained mum on her brother's death.


Inspector Singh, who had probed the Akhlaq lynching case initially, and a 20-year-old local had died of gunshot injuries on Monday, December 3, as a rampaging mob protesting alleged cow slaughter torched a police post and clashed with the cops, according to police. The mob left more than five policemen wounded, burned down a police station and set several vehicles on fire. A local man was also shot dead in the violence.
09:38  Swamy backs VHP observing Babri Demolition Anniversary :  BJP leader Subramanian Swamy Thursday asserted that there is nothing wrong with the Vishva Hindu Parishad observing the anniversary of the demolition of the Babri mosque, and added that the same must be done peacefully.


Speaking to ANI on 26th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri mosque, Swamy said, "The VHP has a right to observe the day as they have led the movement. Babri Masjid was an eyesore for everybody. After all, there was a temple and it is Ram Janamabhoomi. Babar comes here and his commander breaks the temple and builds a mosque on top of it. So many people have been protesting. Maybe 4000-5000 people have been killed. If VHP wants to observe the day, its fine but it should be peaceful."


The VHP will be observe a 'Shaurya Diwas' today, days after it organised a Dharam Sabha in Ayodhya on November 25 to seek support for construction of a grand Ram temple.


Also on December 18, the VHP will celebrate Gita Jayanti. This day marks the day Lord Krishna 'revealed' the Bhagavad Gita to Arjun.


All this comes at a time when political parties and other organisations in favour of construction of Ram Temple have raised the pitch over the sensitive issue, demanding an early construction of the temple.


Notably, after the Supreme Court refused an early hearing, many outfits have urged the government to bring in an ordinance to facilitate construction of Ram temple at the site.


Thousands of security personnel have dotted the roads and bylanes of the holy city to avoid any untoward incident from taking place.


Reportedly, over 2,500 police personnel, besides Rapid Action Force and paramilitary CRPF, have been deployed as part of multi-layered security including in and around the disputed site and several parts of Hanumangarhi area of the temple town.The Babri mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992 by 'karsevaks'. -- ANI
09:30  When PM Narendra Modi Visited Court No 1 in the Supreme Court:  Narendra Modi is big on claiming historic firsts, even if some do not survive a vigorous fact-check. On November 25, however, he is believed to have indulged in a genuine first '" visiting the Supreme Court, something no prime minister is known to have done in the 60 years since the court's current premises were inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru. Then, according to people present, he took Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi by surprise, and asked to see Court No. 1, over which the CJI presides.
Read the report here.
09:17  Chinese effort to impose its own Dalai Lama would be opposed: US:  
The United States believes that the decision on picking the next Dalai Lama should be as per Tibet's religious traditions and that it is not a role of the state, a top Trump Administration official has told lawmakers, hinting that it will oppose any move by China to impose its own Dalai Lama.
"The United States has a very clear position that religious decisions should be made within religious organisations and that this isn't the role of the state," Laura Stone, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy during a Congressional hearing.
Stone was responding to a question from Senator Cory Gardner. 
"China has said that they will pick the next Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Policy, actually in 2002, mandated that American officials visit Tibet on a regular basis. I want to get into both of these. If China proceeds and tries to impose a Dalai Lama what will the US response be?" the senator had asked.
Gardner said it was clear that this Congress would not recognise a Chinese imposition.
Stone said the senator asking such a question was an important signal in itself to the Chinese government that this was the kind of issue that the United States was watching very closely and at very senior levels.
"I wouldn't want to prejudge exactly how this, a future scenario, would roll out but I would like to lay a marker that that is the clear position of the United States government and, I think, widely supported within the American society, that those are the kinds of decisions that should be made by religious communities on their own and without outside interference," she asserted.
In his remarks, Gardner said the crackdown in the Tibet Autonomous Region was intensifying while Beijing continued to refuse negotiations with the Central Tibetan Administration. 
"Human rights defenders are routinely jailed, tortured, and otherwise deprived of liberty. A genuine freedom of speech and assembly are nonexistent. Corruption and abuse of power are rampant. The judicial system is a tool of the state and the party and not an impartial arbiter of legal disputes," he said. -- PTI
08:51  India 4th highest emitter of CO2: Study:  
India is the fourth highest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, accounting for 7 per cent of global emissions in 2017, a study said.
 
The top four emitters in 2017, which covered 58 per cent of global emissions, were China (27 per cent), the United States(15 per cent), the European Union (10 per cent) and India (7 per cent), according to the projection by the Global Carbon Project.
The rest of the world contributed 41 per cent last year, it said.
India's emissions look set to continue their strong growth by an average of 6.3 per cent in 2018, with growth across all fuels -- coal (7.1pc), oil (2.9pc) and gas (6.0pc), the study said. 
The top 10 emitters were China, the US, the EU, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
The study also said that the Indian emissions were projected to grow 2 per cent in 2017, compared to 6 per cent per year averaged over the previous decade, due to significant government interventions in the economy.
In India, emissions are expected to grow by a solid 6.3 per cent in 2018, pushed by strong economic growth of around 8 per cent per year.
"Coal is still the mainstay of the Indian economy, and as in China, it will be a  challenge for solar and wind to displace coal, given the strong growth in energy use," it said.
It also said that although global coal use is still 3 per cent lower than its historical high, it is expected to grow in 2018, driven by growth in energy consumption in China and India. -- PTI
08:20  'Can't understand link': Mallya on Christian Michel extradition:  
Fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya on Thursday rejected any links between his proposed settlement offer to banks or an upcoming court verdict on his extradition and that of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal, who was brought back to India on Tuesday.

Mallya again appealed to banks to accept his offer to take back the principal loan amount he owes them.

"Respectfully to all commentators, I cannot understand how my extradition decision or the recent extradition from Dubai and my settlement offer are linked in any way. Wherever I am physically,my appeal is please take the money. I want to stop the narrative that I stole money," Mallya tweeted.

The owner of the defunct Kingfisher airline in a series of Tweet on Wednesday offered to pay back 100 per cent of the public money to various Indian banks and even urged the government to accept his offer. 

Mallya's proposal comes days ahead of UK court's decision on his plea not to extradite him to India. 

The 62-year business tycoon is undergoing an extradition trail in a UK court over fraud and money laundering charges allegedly amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores. 
00:04  UK seeks info from India on Michel's extradition:  
The United Kigdom government on Wednesday said it has sought urgent information from India on the circumstances surrounding the detention and extradition of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam case, who is facing allegations of bribery.

"Our staff continues to support the family of a British man following his detention in the UAE," said a spokesperson for the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

"We are in contact with his family and the Emirati authorities regarding his case, and are urgently seeking information from the Indian authorities on his circumstances," the spokesperson said.

Michel is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the CBI.   -- PTI

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