Tue, 10 July 2018
Meeting with Putin 'easiest' of all, says Trump ahead of Europe tour

Timeline  Refresh

23:52   Iran criticises India for not making promised investments in Chabahar port
Iran today criticised India for not fulfilling its promise of making investments in expansion of the strategically located Chabahar port and said New Delhi will stand to lose "special privileges" if it cuts import of Iranian oil.  

Iran's Deputy Ambassador and Charge d'Affaires Massoud Rezvanian Rahaghi said Iran will end the privileges being provided to India if tries to source oil from countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, the US and others to offset cuts in Iranian oil. 

"It is unfortunate that Indian investment promises for expansion of Chabahar port and its connectivity projects have not been accomplished so far. It is expected that India takes immediate necessary measures in this regard if its cooperation and engagement in Chabahar port is of strategic nature," he said.
Rahaghi was speaking at a seminar on 'emerging challenges and opportunities in the global diplomacy and its impact on bilateral ties with India'.

The Chabahar port is being considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi. 
In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan had inked a pact which entailed establishment of Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation in Iran, besides multi-modal transport of goods and passengers across the three nations.
Referring to US sanctions on oil import from Iran, Rahaghi said his country has been a reliable energy partner for India and that Iran always follows a "rationale pricing" of oil which ensures the interest of both consumers and suppliers. 
"... If India were to replace Iran with countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, the US and others for the 10 per cent of its oil demand then it may have to revert to dollar-denominated imports which mean higher CAD (Current Account Deficit) and deprivation of all other privileges Iran has offered to India," Rahaghi said.
The senior Iranian diplomat said it was important to work together to immunise the relationship between the two countries through adoption of necessary instruments and mechanisms.
"We should strive to make these relationship more sustainable and durable. This requires a strong political determination," he said, adding both sides should set up banking relations, open new transaction routes and help each other's markets and business communities.
Iran is India's third-largest oil supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil between April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of fiscal 2017-18).
The US has told India and other countries to cut oil imports from Iran to "zero" by November 4 or face sanctions. The Trump administration brought back sanctions against Iran after pulling out the US from the Iran nuclear deal.
Shipping to Iran and ports in the country are also coming under the US sanctions.
India is also expected to convey to the US the importance of the Chabahar port project considering that it can be a major link for trade with war-ravaged Afghanistan. 
23:04   Meeting with Putin 'easiest' of all, says Trump ahead of Europe tour
Headed to Europe for a series of crucial meetings with leaders of NATO, Russia and Britain, United States President Donald Trump today said he expects talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to be the "easiest" of them all.

"I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? Who would think?" Trump told reporters travelling with him.
The NATO summit meeting in Brussels would be his first engagement in Europe. Trump has been asking NATO countries to increase their defence spending as currently it is the US which is spending the most.

"NATO has not treated us fairly, but I think we'll work something out. We pay far too much, and they pay far too little. But we will work it out and all countries will be happy," he said.
After Brussels, Trump would head to Britain for a meeting with British Premier Theresa May.
Responding to a question on political turmoil in Britain and if May should stay in power, he said it's up to the people of the country.  

"Well, that's up to the people. I get along with her very well. I have a very good relationship. That's certainly up to the people, not up to me," he said.
Responding to EU President Donald Tusk saying that Trump should appreciate his allies because he doesn't have very many, Trump asserted that the US has a lot of allies.
"But we cannot be taken advantage of. We're being taken advantage of by the European Union. We lost USD 151 billion last year on trade, and on top of that we spend at least 70 per cent for NATO, and frankly it helps them a lot more than it helps us, he said.
"We'll see what happens. We have a long, beautiful week," he said.
When asked if Putin is a friend or foe, Trump said he is a competitor. "I really can't say right now. As far as I'm concerned, a competitor. A competitor. I think that getting along with Russia, getting along with China, getting along with others, is a good thing, not a bad thing. I've said that many times for many years. So we'll see. We're meeting with Vladimir Putin on Monday. We'll see how that goes," Trump said.
The US president will hold his first summit meeting with Putin in Finland's capital Helsinki on July 16. -- PTI
22:57   Access to justice a Fundamental Right: CJI
Access to justice is a Fundamental Right guaranteed by the Constitution to citizens, Chief Justice Dipak Misra said today.
Justice Misra, who was speaking at Justice V R Krishna Iyer Memorial Lecture, hailed late Justice Iyer for his contribution to the Indian jurisprudence.
"He (Justice Iyer) was the judge who believed in the humane and compassionate spirit of the Indian Constitution. He walked through the idea of democracy...
"There has to be access to justice and Justice Iyer built the edifice to access it. Access to justice is a Fundamental Right and there is no doubt about it," the CJI said.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, who delivered the lecture, on 'the role of judiciary in protecting Human Rights of the poor and marginalised', said that allowing people to live in poverty was denying them the human rights.
"The courts have to ensure that criminal cases are not delayed. Access to justice is Fundamental Right. The government and the courts need to make a collaborative effort to ensure that cases are not delayed," the AG said.
Justice Iyer, considered as a legal luminary and a crusader for social justice, was a judge of the Supreme Court from July 17, 1973 to November 14, 1980 and died on December 15, 2014. -- PTI 
22:15   PM Modi is 3rd most followed leader on Twitter, Trump leads
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the third most followed leader on Twitter after United States President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, according a report by communications agency BCW. 
Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj is the most followed woman leader in the world and occupies seventh spot in overall ranking.
"Indian Prime Minister @NarendraModi takes the third and fourth spots, with 42 million followers on his personal account," the study named Twiplomacy said.
Modi's institutional account @PMOIndia occupies fourth spot with over 26 million followers and outranks official Twitter account of the US President, @POTUS ranks fifth and @WhiteHouse ranks sixth, with over 23 million and 17 million followers respectively as per the study.
Trump is the most followed world leader on Twitter, with 52 million followers on his @realDonaldTrump account and Francis has 47 million followers, the report said.
Swaraj, who is also the most followed foreign minister, has over 11 million followers, the study said.

"Social media has become a primary conduit of diplomacy. It has gone from being an afterthought to the very first thought of world leaders and government's across the globe, as audiences flock to their Twitter newsfeeds for the latest news and statements," Chad Latz, Chief Innovation Officer, BCW said.
The study said that Trump is personally active on his own Twitter accounts and his tweets have generated 264 million interactions (likes and retweets) over the past 12 months, more than five times as many as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with 52 million interactions, and 12 times as many as Pope Francis, with 22 million interactions. 
According to Twiplomacy, the heads of state and government and foreign ministers of 187 countries had a presence on Twitter as of May 18, 2018, representing 97 percent of all 193 UN member states.
"The governments of only six countries, namely Laos, Mauritania, Nicaragua, North Korea, Swaziland and Turkmenistan do not have an official presence on the platform. Even the Chinese government's State Council Information Office maintains a presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube," the study said. -- PTI  
22:12   Don't come into US illegally: Trump on preventing migrant children separation
United States President Donald Trump today said the solution to resolving the problem of separation of migrant children from their parents is that people should not come into the US illegally.
The president's comments came following the recent outcry over his administration's policy of taking away migrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

"I have a solution. Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That's the solution," Trump told reporters as he headed on a trip to Europe, which includes the NATO summit in Brussels, a visit to the UK, and a summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

"Don't come to our country illegally. Come like other people do. Come legally," he asserted. 

"I'm saying this: We have laws. We have borders. Don't come to our country illegally. It's not a good thing," he reiterated.
Trump also slammed those who are attacking officials of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"As far as ICE is concerned, the people that are fighting ICE? It's a disgrace. These people go into harm's way. There is nobody under greater danger than the people from ICE," he said.

"What they do to MS-13 (criminal gang), and everything else. So we ought to support ICE, not do what the Democrats are doing. Democrats want open borders, and they don't mind crime. We want no crime, and we want borders where borders mean something. And remember this: Without borders, you do not have a country," Trump said. -- PTI 
22:04   Won't give in to India's demand to deport Zakir Naik: Malaysian PM
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad today said his government would not give in easily to India's demand to deport the controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik for alleged terror activities and money laundering, according to a media report.
Three days after meeting Naik, wanted in India for alleged terror activities and money laundering, the Malaysian prime minister said his government would always ensure it looked into all factors before responding to any demand, the New Straits Times reported.
"We do not easily follow the demands of others. We must look at all factors before we respond," Mahathir said in his first public remarks on Naik since he met the firebrand cleric on Saturday. 
"Otherwise, someone will become a victim," the Malaysian Prime Minister said.
Responding to questions on Naik, who is has permanent resident status in Malaysia, and India's request to have him extradited, Mahathir said his government would always ensure it looked into all factors before responding to any demand.
Mahathir last week said the cleric would not be handed over to Indian authorities as he had been granted Malaysian permanent resident status.
The prime minister said Zakir, who left India in 2016, would be allowed to stay in the country as long as he was not creating any problem.
However, the decision did not sit well with several groups, who insisted the government return Zakir to India following his alleged tendecies to make racial and religiously insensitive statements, the report said.
India had made a formal extradition request to Malaysia for Naik's deportation after accusing him of inciting youngsters to commit terror activities through his hate speeches.
A strategist of Malaysia's ruling Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia had also defended Prime Minister Mahathir's decision not deport Naik to India, saying doing so would be akin to deporting Uighur Muslims to China. -- PTI
21:30   EAM listening to only harsh language these days: Sushma Swaraj
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said she is listening to "only harsh language" these days after an Indian vented her anger on social media over being stranded at Bali airport in Indonesia.
Swaraj's remarks came against the backdrop of being viciously trolled on social media for days over the controversy surrounding the issuance of passport to an interfaith couple in Lucknow.
The Indian passenger got stranded at Bali airport after she left her passport on board the plane and was stopped at the immigration by Indonesian officials.
She asked Swaraj for help on Twitter to which the minister responded positively and promised all assistance.
However, not satisfied with the help she got from the Embassy officials to facilitate her return to India, she tweeted, "@SushmaSwaraj Please tell me what actions have been taken for which the whole issue has been delayed for more than 24 hours? Only beating around the bush for nothing. I'm stranded here."
Swaraj in her reply, tweeted, "Beta -- I understand your anger. We are making all out efforts. Our Consul General and Ambassador had taken up this matter. Now we have spoken to the Foreign Minister of Indonesia. Even now our Deputy Chief of Mission is in the Foreign Ministry to resolve this."
A Twitter user, taking strong objection to the stranded passenger's complain, asked why she was using harsh language against Swaraj.
To this, the minister replied, "Don't feel bad. EAM is listening to only harsh language these days."
Swaraj was targeted by the trolls following the transfer of Passport Seva Kendra official in Lucknow, Vikas Mishra, for allegedly humiliating the interfaith couple.
Mishra was transferred from Lucknow to Gorakhpur after the couple alleged that he humiliated them when they went to the office with their passport applications. -- PTI  
21:24   Indian women's cricket team coach resigns after players' revolt
Indian women's cricket team coach Tushar Arothe today resigned after his position became untenable due to alleged differences with some of the star players, who had protested against his training methods.
This is the second time during the CoA tenure that a national coach has stepped down after players' revolt. Last year, men's team head coach Anil Kumble resigned after his much-publicised differences with captain Virat Kohli. 
"The BCCI on Tuesday accepted India women's team coach Mr. Tushar Arothe's resignation. Mr. Arothe cited personal reasons behind his resignation and thanked the BCCI for giving him an opportunity to work with the Indian women's cricket team," the BCCI said in a media release.
However, a senior BCCI official said that Arothe was forced to resign after a few senior players, with reasonable influence, wanted his immediate ouster.
"It was almost final after the last meeting of CoA with the senior players. BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhary, GM (Cricket Operations) Saba Karim and CEO Rahul Johri were also present. There has been adverse reports about his coaching methods from players, selectors and even the team manager," a senior BCCI official, privy to the development told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
When the official was asked whether a couple of senior players had a major role in Arothe's ouster, he said: "Yes, they were against him."
CoA member Diana Edulji, a former India captain, is currently calling the shots as far as women's cricket is concerned.
While BCCI didn't divulge names, it has been learnt that ODI captain Mithali Raj and Twenty20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur did not have good things to say about Arothe's coaching methods when the BCCI bigwigs sought their feedback.
Arothe, who was a Baroda stalwart with an experience of 114 first-class games, had guided the team to the 50-over World Cup final in England last year.
The Indian team also won ODI and T20 series in South Africa in February this year but things went downhill since then.
India had a dismal T20 tri-series against England and Australia and then lost the ODI series against the Southern Stars.
 However, it was twin defeat against minnows Bangladesh in the Asia Cup including one in the final, that became the last straw. 
One of the major reason of discontent was Arothe's training methods. While the coach was keen on having two practice sessions of two and half hours each in morning and afternoon, some of the seniors in their mid 30s were finding it difficult to cope with strenuous schedule. -- PTI
20:15   I&B ministry seeks data on job creation from 10 ministries
The ministry of information and broadcasting has written to 10 ministries, including the labour ministry, seeking data on employment generated in various sectors under them, official sources said.
They said the ministry has sought the details ostensibly to counter allegations by the opposition parities that the NDA government has failed to generate employment.
The I&B ministry is collating this data as part of its efforts to highlight, during Independence Day celebrations next month, that the promises made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his previous four I-Day speeches have been fulfilled, they said.
The data collected would be projected by the I&B ministry through various mediums such as Bureau of Outreach and Communication, Doordarshan, press releases, and monthly magazines Yojana and Kurukshetra, the sources said.
The ministries of food processing industries, labour, and micro, small and medium enterprises, are among the 10 ministries that have been asked to send data on the jobs created in the sectors that come under them.
The move by the I&B ministry comes days after Prime Minister Modi rejected the opposition's charge of lack of employment generation, citing data provided by state governments to ask how the Centre could create joblessness if the states were creating "good numbers of jobs".
He had said that the lack of data on jobs had given the opposition the opportunity "to paint a picture of their choice".
More than lack of jobs, the issue is lack of data on jobs, Modi had said.
The opposition, led by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, has been critical of the Modi goverment over jobs creation and has alleged that it had failed to fulfil its poll promise of generating employment.
The BJP had come to power in 2014 with job creation being one of its major poll plank. -- PTI 
20:11   Mithun Chakraborty's son Mimoh, out on bail, gets married
Veteran actor Mithun Chakraborty's son Mahaakshay aka Mimoh has tied the knot with fiance Madalsa Sharma in a private ceremony in Tamil Nadu's Udhagamandalam.
Mahaakshay, who along with mother Yogita Bali is currently out on bail, shared the news on his Instagram page.
"Ladies and Gentleman ... Mr. and Mrs. Chakraborty," Mahaakshay wrote while sharing a photo with his wife.
The ceremony was held at the actor's posh hotel in Udhagamandalam (Ooty) in Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu.
Mahaakshay's marriage to Madalsa was earlier scheduled for July 7 but it was cancelled after a police team arrived at the venue to investigate a complaint of rape and cheating filed by a woman against the groom.
A Delhi court had recently granted anticipatory bail to Bali and Mahaakshay in the case.
After the arrival of the investigating team, the ceremony was cancelled and the bride's family left the place, police had said.
On July 5, the Bombay high court had refused to grant any interim relief from arrest to Bali and Mahaakshay.
After the duo moved the Delhi court, Special Judge Ashutosh Kumar granted the relief to Bali and Mahaakshay saying they have deep roots in society and are not likely to abscond.
An FIR was lodged pursuant to court's order on the complainant of a woman who alleged that Mahaakshay had cheated and raped her. She alleged he had physical relations with her for around four years after promising her marriage.
The court had said that prima facie there are sufficient grounds for registration of an FIR against Bali and Mahaakshay and to proceed further in accordance with the law.
The woman alleged in her complaint that when she became pregnant, Mahaakshay had given her some medicine which led to an abortion.
In her complaint, she claimed that Yogita Bali had threatened her of dire consequences if she continues the relationship. 

The complainant also said in court that she moved to Delhi from Mumbai as she feared for her life in view of threats made by Bali and her son. -- PTI 
20:11   Rahul backs petition to Harvard to drop Jayant Sinha from alumni list
Congress President Rahul Gandhi today supported a petition against Union minister Jayant Sinha that sought withdrawal of his Harvard alumni status after he felicitated criminals convicted of lynching.
The petition has been launched by a student of Master of Public Policy at Harvard University, Boston in the US from where Sinha has also graduated, and sought that his alumni status be withdrawn for "honouring criminals". 
The petition to the President of Harvard University, Boston, has condemned the minister's action, saying it "has shocked the nation and brought disrepute to the institution".
"If the sight of a highly educated MP and central minister, Jayant Sinha, garlanding and honouring criminals convicted of lynching an innocent man, fills you with disgust, click on the link and support this petition," Gandhi said on Twitter, urging people to sign the petition against Sinha. 
Sinha has been at the centre of a row after he garlanded the lynching convicts at his residence in Hazaribagh in Jharkhand after they came out of prison on bail last week.
The opposition parties led by the Congress attacked him and the Modi government over the issue, saying that this act gives "a guarantee to" the perpetrators that they have the support and encouragement of the government. 
Sinha, on his part, has claimed that he unequivocally condemns all acts of violence, and rejected any type of vigilantism.
"The rule of law is supreme in our constitutional democracy. Any unlawful acts, particularly, those that violate the rights of any citizen, should be punished with the full force of the law.
"I have full faith in our judicial system and the rule of law. Unfortunately, irresponsible statements are being made about my actions when all that I am doing is honouring the due process of law. Those that are innocent will be spared and the guilty will be appropriately punished," he has said. 
The minister has received flak from other quarters too. 

Former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro, former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and 41 other retired bureaucrats have demanded that Sinha be sacked for felicitating the eight convicts.
In a public statement, the former civil servants said the message Sinha's action sends out is that "there is a licence to kill minorities" and people accused of such crimes will be "enthusiastically supported financially, legally and politically". -- PTI 
19:29   N D Tiwari's condition deteriorates, U'khand CM says many organs have stopped working
The condition of veteran politician N D Tiwari, who was shifted to an ICU at a private hospital in New Delhi three days ago, has deteriorated as many of his organs have stopped working, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Rawat today said.
The 92-year-old politician was admitted to Max Hospital, Saket on September 20 last year after suffering a brain stroke.
Hospital sources also said that the condition of the former chief minister of Uttarakhand is "very serious".
Tiwari's son Rohit Shekhar Tiwari had said on Sunday that he was shifted to the ICU a day before and his condition was "extremely serious".
Rawat, who is in Delhi, told reporters that he has spoken to the doctors who are treating Tiwari.
"N D Tiwari ji's condition is extremely serious and many of his organs have now stopped working. More than medicines, he now needs blessings," he said at the hospital premises.
Shekhar had earlier said that his father had been put on dialysis "due to failure of his kidneys" and he is also being given antibiotics and antifungal medicines to fight infection in his stomach.
"His doctor said that he is suffering from acute bacterial infection in stomach region and his kidneys stopped functioning on Saturday," he had said.
Rawat also recalled the days when the senior politician had served as the Uttarakhand chief minister.
"He would teach us how to do government work. Tiwari ji would guide us how to progress in politics. He is like a guru to me," he said. -- PTI 
19:26   US seeks more defence cooperation with India
The United States was keen on more defence cooperation with India and it did not want to see the country merely as a customer, US Consul General in Kolkata Craig Hall said today.
He said that in the last ten years defence purchases by India had increased from zero to USD 15 billion.
"The US does not want to see India only as a customer. Our goal is to create mutual defence partnership and interoperability. Together we need to produce defence equipment and some have begun to happen," he said at an interaction organised by  the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce.
Regarding economic ties between the two countries, he said that average tariff rates were high in India as compared to the US and urged the Indian government to reduce both tariff and non-tariff barriers.
This was one of the challenges in the economic ties between the two countries, he said, adding that India enjoyed a trade surplus with the US, which is the country's largest trading partner.
"Trade deficit with India of USD 24 billion is not healthy", he said.
Both the US and India had shared interests in promoting peace and prosperity in the region, Hall added. -- PTI  
18:59   Rajinikanth's wife to face trial over alleged non-payment of dues
Superstar Rajinikanth's wife Latha Rajinikanth will face trial  over alleged non-payment of dues to an advertisment agency with the Supreme Court today setting aside a Karnataka high court order quashing criminal proceedings against her.
Observing that the matter is a case which should have gone for trial following a complaint by the advertising agency, the apex court said Latha can apply for discharge at an appropriate stage.
The advertisment agency had alleged in its private complaint that they had ventured in the post-production of the 2014 film 'Kochadaiiyaan', which was produced by Mediaone Global Entertainment Ltd, on Latha's personal guarantee and had funded Rs 10 crore for it. She was a director of the production company.

A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the high court was "not justified" in quashing the proceedings against Latha, which were initiated following a trial court's order on the complaint by the advertising agency, AD-Bureau Advertising Pvt Ltd.
"This is a case which should have gone for trial. You (Latha) can apply for discharge at an appropriate stage," said the bench, also comprising Justices R Banumathi and Navin Sinha.
The court's order came on a plea filed by the advertising agency against the March 10, 2016 order of the Karnataka High Court quashing the proceedings against Latha.

The advertising agency had claimed that Mediaone Global Entertainment Ltd was required to refund Rs 10 crore plus Rs 1.2 crore being the "guaranteed profit", but the amount was not refunded.

-- PTI 
18:29   Andhra Pradesh tops ease of doing business ranking
Andhra Pradesh has topped the ease of doing annual business ranking of states and Union Territories by the World Bank and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.
Telangana and Haryana are at the second and third positions, respectively, according to a statement issued by DIPP.

Others in the top ten are Jharkhand (4), Gujarat (5), Chhattisgarh (6), Madhya Pradesh (7), Karnataka (8), Rajasthan (9) and West Bengal (10).

Meghalaya was ranked last at 36th position.

DIPP in collaboration with the World Bank conducts an annual reform exercise for all States/UTs under the Business Reform Action Plan. 

"A large number of states have made significant progress in reforms suggested in BRAP 2017," it said.

The assessment under the BRAP 2017 is based on a combined score consisting of reform evidence score that is based on evidence uploaded by States/UTs and feedback score that is based on response garnered from the actual users of the services provided to the businesses. 

-- PTI
18:27   Air India Express plane overshoots runway in Mumbai
A major mishap was averted today after an Air India Express aircraft overshot the runway while landing at the Mumbai airport amid heavy rains.

All passengers were safe and there was no damage to either the aircraft or the runway, the airline said in a statement.

At 1450 hours, Air India Express flight IX213 from Vijayawada to Mumbai while landing on alternate runway 14 due to closure of main runway 27, stopped 10 feet beyond the runway end on the paved stopway, the statement said.

According to a Mumbai Airport official, it was carrying out operations from the secondary runway 14 due to the maintenance work at the main runway 27.

"The aircraft had touched down correctly and used maximum braking but due to the slippery conditions caused by heavy rain, the aircraft could stop only at the stopway," the airline said.

No damage to the aircraft or airport property was reported and none of the passengers suffer any injury as the aircraft taxied on its own power to the parking bay, it added.

Last September, a SpiceJet aircraft carrying 183 passengers overshot the runway during landing and skidded off into the unpaved surface due to wet conditions caused by heavy rains. 

-- PTI
17:52   Proposal for simultaneous polls a 'constitutional perversity': Congress
The Congress today rejected the central government's proposal for simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, saying it was a "constitutional perversity" and "preposterous".
At a press conference at the party headquarters, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the proposal, if accepted, would hit at the very core of democracy in India.
The Law Commission held consultations with political parties on the proposal for simultaneous elections. 
Seeking to give shape to the central government's concept of "one nation, one election", the Law Commission's internal working paper has recommended holding the Lok Sabha and assembly polls simultaneously but in two phases beginning 2019. 
Political parties were divided on the issue.

-- PTI
17:52   All 12 boys and coach rescued from Thailand cave
After being trapped in the Tham Luang Caves in Chiang Rai, Thailand since June 23, all 12 boys and the coach of the football team known as the Wild Boars, have been rescued from the caves. 

Earlier in the day, the ninth and tenth boy had been brought out of the flooded cave in Thailand. 

The Thai Navy seals have confirmed that a doctor and three navy seals who have been supporting the boys are still inside the cave.

According to reports, each person is being pulled through cave by expert divers and the rescuers are giving boys anti-anxiety pills to keep them calm
16:57   Mumbai yatra?
BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra and Maharashtra State Spokesperson Keshav Upadhye seen wading through water while they were going to Mumbai BJP's office in Dadar east. 

Photograph: ANI/Twitter
16:14   George Clooney hospitalised after scooter accident, discharged
Actor George Clooney was hurt in an accident while he was driving a scooter in Sardinia, Italy.

The 57-year-old actor-director, who was in town shooting for his new TV series Catch-22, was briefly hospitalised and has now been discharged.

Clooney received minor injuries after his scooter collided with a car near the town of Olbia, in the north of the island.

He was taken to a nearby hospital in an ambulance, where he underwent an MRI scan and was later discharged.

According to Italian newspaper, La Nuova Sardegna, the actor was on his way to a film set when the incident took place.

The newspaper also tweeted a photo from the scene, showing a lightly smashed up scooter and a car.

Clooney was said to have crashed into the car's windscreen. Carabinieri Lt Alberto Cicognani told NBC News that the actor was 'not seriously injured". Clooney has been in Sardinia for several weeks for Catch-22 shooting.  -- PTI
16:03   3 more boys brought out from Thai cave today, total 11 rescued
An eleventh person was rescued on Tuesday from a flooded Thai cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach were trapped for more than two weeks, raising hopes all 13 would be out by the end of the day.  -- Agencies
15:34   10th boy rescued from flooded Thai cave, 2 more inside
New agencies quote witnesses as saying that the tenth boy has also been brought out of the flooded cave in Thailand.

They say the ninth and 10th boys were seen coming out one after the other, the first ones to be rescued on Tuesday, The Guardian reported.

With these two out, only two more boys with coach remain trapped in the cave. They are also expected to be brought out by evening.
15:05   Ninth boy rescued from Thai cave
One more boy of the remaining four and the coach has been rescued from the flooded Thai cave, taking the number of rescued persons to nine.   Rescuers will today extract all the remaining persons who have been trapped deep inside the cave for 18 days, the mission chief said.

However, heavy rains are threatening their perilous escape route.

With rain again pounding the cave site in a mountainous region in northern Thailand on Tuesday morning, rescuers said they were aiming to bring out the remaining four boys and their coach by the evening.

"(They) will be extracted today," rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters, adding the journey out should be faster than on previous two days.

With the emergence of the second batch of four boys on Monday evening, the number of rescued persons reached eight.

"All eight are in good health, no fever... everyone is in a good mental state," Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk, permanent secretary of the public health ministry, told reporters on Tuesday. 

However the boys would remain in quarantine until doctors were sure they had not contracted any infections from inside the cave.  -- Agencies
14:35   Homosexuality against Hindutva, threat to national security: Swamy
Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on petitions filed against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy on Tuesday said that homosexuality was a danger to national security.

"It (Homosexuality) is not a normal thing. These are all American habits, there's a lot of money behind it. The Americans want to open gay bars, and it'll be a cover for paedophiles and a huge rise in HIV cases. It is a danger to our national security," he told ANI.

Swamy further said although the government is not in favour of discrimination against homosexuals, it doesn't consider it to be natural.

"We want them to have a normal economic life. They should get jobs on merit, but we cannot allow them to celebrate. It is not a natural thing and we cannot treat it as normal. We should invest in medical research to see if can be cured," he said.

Swamy further said that if the top court ruled homosexuality to be normal and a free choice, the government should constitute a seven-judge bench or a nine-judge bench to review it.

"It (Homosexuality) is against Hindutva, it is against all our scriptures and I will certainly continue to protest against it," he added.   -- ANI
14:33   Jio only got 'Letter of Intent', has to set up institute in 3 yrs: HRD
The Department of Higher Education, a branch of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, clarified its stance on granting 'Institution of Eminence' (IoE) status to Reliance Foundation's Jio Institute in Maharashtra, which, as of now, only exists on paper.

Speaking to ANI, secretary of the Department of higher education, R. Subramanyam, said Greenfield private institutions, such as the Jio Institute, can be granted the aforementioned status.

"There are three categories under which the 'IoE' status can be granted, the first of which is the public institutions category, which includes Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai and Delhi were considered.

"The second category was Private institutions, under which Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani and Manipal University have been granted the status," he explained.

"The third category, under which the Jio Institute was granted the status, was the Greenfield Private institutions. These are institutions that do not exist right now, but well-meaning, responsible private investors want to bring global standards to the country.

"These should be welcomed," he added.

As per Subramanyam, 11 proposals under the Greenfield category were submitted, out of which the Jio Institute was deemed eligible for the status by the concerned screening committee.

"The committee, after due diligence, after reading through the proposals, looking at their vision statement, and their ability to mobilise land, building and the core team, came to the conclusion that there is only one institution which is eligible and we are respecting their judgement," he said.

However, Subramanyam noted that the Jio Institute will be granted a 'Letter of Intent' initially.

"As Jio institute is starting on a Greenfield mode, they will only get a 'Letter of Intent', which states they must set up their institute within three years. If they do set up, then they get the 'IOE' status, right now they don't have the tag, they only have the 'Letter of Intent'," he added.

Subramanyam also dismissed reports that the institute will receive Rs 1000 crores from the central government.   -- ANI
13:41   Shun the cycle of interruptions: Speaker to MPs ahead of house session
The 'cycle of interruptions' in Parliament will continue endlessly if MPs justify disruptions by citing the conduct of other parties in the past, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has said in an emotional letter to parliamentarians ahead of the Monsoon session next week.

Reminding MPs of their 'moral responsibility', Mahajan urged them to ensure smooth functioning of the House and said 'time has come for us to introspect and decide what is the way forward and ideal image for our Parliament and democracy'.

The task of protecting and keeping intact the prestige and sanctity of Parliament, the 'sacred temple of democracy', is a collective responsibility, she said in the two-page letter.

'On the basis of my experience, I can say that people observe the performance of their representatives very keenly and media also presents to the people the detailed report of their performance in Parliament and Parliamentary constituency,' Mahajan, who is serving her eighth term as a MP, said.

It was a privilege being a member of the 'august House', she added, and told MPs that people had great expectations from them and had reposed their faith in them.

'In return you may also wish to not only meet the expectations of your constituents and the nation but also make contribution to the progress of the country and strengthening of democracy.'

Discussing frequent adjournments in the last sessions due to members coming to the well of the house -- shouting slogans and showing placards -- Mahajan said divergence of opinion and dissent should be within the parameters and norms of Parliamentary dignity so that people may continue to have abiding faith in democracy and democratic institutions.

'It is for this purpose that we have given ourselves the rules for conduct of business in the House which have evolved over the years. Thus, is it not our moral responsibility to ensure that these rules are followed in letter and spirit?' she asked.

'Can we justify our own conduct by advancing the argument of improper conduct and interruption of the business of the House by other parties in the past?' she added.

If this argument is accepted then the cycle of interruptions will continue endlessly and such tendencies will never be checked, the speaker asserted.

According to her, MPs must also keep in mind that their conduct in Parliament and the quality of debate and discussion have a profound impact on the views and opinions of the youth regarding democracy.

Mahajan cited a shloka from the Shrimadbhagwat Gita to say that whatever a noble man does, other men also do, whatever standard he sets, the world follows it.

The speaker said she is hopeful that political battles will be fought in the constituencies, but MPs will discharge their democratic responsibilities in the house.

The Monsoon session of Parliament begins July 18 and continues till August 10.  -- PTI
13:09   After Pranab Mukherjee, Tata to share dais with RSS chief
Industrialist Ratan Tata will be sharing the stage with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat at an event in Mumbai next month.

The development comes after former president Pranab Mukherjee attended a function of the RSS in Nagpur last month.

"Tata and Bhagwat will attend an event in Mumbai on August 24 organised by the Nana Palkar Smriti Samiti," a Sangh functionary told PTI.

The NGO is named after Sangh pracharak Nana Palkar. The samiti has its premises near the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai and has been serving cancer patients from the facility.

Tata has visited the premises and is aware of the NGO's work, the Sangh functionary said. The August 24 event will mark the concluding ceremony of the centenary year celebrations of Nana Palkar.  --  PTI
12:30   SC to examine its 2013 verdict reinstating Section 377
The Supreme Court has said that it will examine the correctness of its 2013 verdict that had set aside the Delhi high court judgment decriminalising gay sex.

The SC will examine fundamental right to life and to have sexual freedom.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra allows NGO Naaz Foundation to advance arguments in these cases.

"Curative petitions have limited scope and have to be heard by some other bench," it said during the hearing on pleas against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

During the hearing, appearing for one of the petitioners, former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said, "Section 377 violates one's human rights. The issue deals only with sexual orientation and it has nothing to do with gender."

"Issue of gender and sexual orientation are two different things. These two issues should not be mixed up. This is not question of choice," he said.

"This is a case of constitutional morality vs others. This case has a large ramification.

"As society changes, values changes, we can say, what is moral 160 years ago might not be moral today," Rohatgi said.   -- ANI
11:56   SC begins hearing pleas seeking to scrap Sec 377
Constitution bench of Supreme Court begins hearing the pleas seeking scrapping of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises homosexuality.

Yesterday, the apex court had refused to adjourn today's proposed hearing on a batch of petitions challenging its verdict that had re-criminalised consensual carnal sex between two adults.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra refused to defer the hearing after the Centre sought more time to file its response on public interest litigations on gay sex.

"It will not be adjourned," the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khawilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.

The newly re-constituted five-judge constitution bench begins hearing four crucial matters, including the issue of sexual relationship between persons of same sex, from today.   -- ANI, PTI

11:44   Report on Kashmir reflects bias of an official: India at UNSC
Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations Tanmaya Lal hit out at the recent report on Kashmir prepared by the UN Human Rights Office, saying it relied on unverified sources of information.

Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting in New York, Ambassador Lal said the 'document reflected the clear bias of an official', who was acting without any mandate whatsoever.

Lambasting Pakistan for harbouring terrorists in their country, he added, "Such deliberate self-serving attempts by Pakistan seek to obfuscate the reality of their own use of terror organisations to undermine state sovereignty. A document that was not even found fit to be considered by the membership of the forum where it was submitted."

"They (Pakistan) also divert our discussions away from the issues at hand. Such attempts have not succeeded in the past in any forum and will not do so now," Ambassador Lal continued.

Last month, a 49-page report prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was released, calling for a probe into the alleged human rights violations in Kashmir by both India and Pakistan.

According to the UN report, shortly after protests broke out post the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani in July 2016, the High Commissioner of Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein met officials from both Pakistan and India, who presented two different versions of the situation.

Following this, the ministry of external affairs called it 'misleading and mischievous'.

"The report violates India's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Pakistan is in the illegal and forcible occupation of a part of the Indian state through aggression. We have repeatedly called upon Pakistan to vacate the occupied territories. The incorrect description of the Indian Territory in the report is mischievous, misleading and unacceptable. There are no entities such as 'Azad Jammu and Kashmir' and 'Gilgit-Baltistan'," the MEA said in a statement.

The MEA further stated 'it is disturbing that those behind this report have chosen to describe internationally designated and UN-proscribed terrorist entities as 'armed groups' and terrorists as 'leaders'. This undermines the UN-led consensus on zero tolerance to terrorism'.    -- ANI
10:53   Shopian encounter: 5-6 terrorists holed up
An encounter broke out today between terrorists and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Shopian district, police said.

Five to six terrorists are holed up in a house in Kundalan area. Evacuation of civilians from nearby houses is underway.

Security forces have launched a cordon and search operation in a village in the district following information about the presence of terrorists, a police official said.

He said the search operation turned into an encounter after the terrorists opened fired on the security forces, who retaliated.

So far, there are no reports of casualties on either side, the official said.   -- PTI
10:53   Boys rescued from Thai cave in 'good mental state'
The first eight boys to be rescued from a Thai cave are in good mental and physical health, an official said today, in the clearest update on their condition so far.

"All eight are in good health, no fever," Jesada Chokedamrongsuk, permanent secretary of the public health ministry, told reporters at Chiang Rai hospital.

"Everyone is in a good mental state."   -- PTI
JUST IN: Delhi court extends protection from arrest to former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in Aircel-Maxis case till August 7.  -- PTI
Mumbai rain update:

In last 24 hours till 8.30 am today, Mumbai city has received 165.8 mm of rain while Mumbai Suburb has received 184.3 mm of rain.

Due to very heavy rains and water logging at/around Nallasopara, AC local train services to remain suspended today.   -- ANI
09:08   UK health minister replaces Boris Johnson amid Brexit row
Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May has sought to curb the growing turmoil around her leadership with the appointment of United Kingdom health secretary Jeremy Hunt as the new foreign secretary to replace Boris Johnson.

Johnson, who dramatically stepped down earlier yesterday from his post soon after the resignation of Brexit minister David Davis, accused May of pursuing a 'semi-Brexit' with proposals for post-Brexit trade that would leave Britain as a 'colony' of the European Union.

Taking charge of the Foreign Office, Hunt said he would be standing 'four square' behind the prime minister 'so that we can get through an agreement with the European Union based on what was agreed by the Cabinet last week at Chequers'.

He added, "This is a time when the world is looking at us as a country, wondering what type of country we are going to be in a post-Brexit world."

"What I want to say to them is Britain is going to be a dependable ally, a country that stands up for the values that matter to the people of this country, and will be a strong confident voice in the world."

Hunt's post of health secretary has been taken over by culture, media and sport secretary Matt Hancock, as May struggled to keep control of dissenting voices within her top team.

In her response to Johnson, May wrote that she was 'sorry and a little surprised' by his move after his apparent support on Friday, when ministers held talks at her country retreat of Chequers and emerged with a 'collective' position on Brexit.

She said the deal agreed by the Cabinet after their 'productive discussions' would 'honour the result of the referendum' and allow the UK to 'take back control of our borders, our law and our money'.

During a day packed with high-profile Cabinet departures, she also faced down her Conservative party's powerful 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, amid rumours they were close to getting the 48 signatures needed to trigger a no-confidence vote that could have removed her as prime minister.

But so far she has stood firm in her resolve to hold on to her leadership and insists that she is confident of seeing through her proposals for a smooth exit from the EU.

Besides their senior colleagues, Brexit junior minister Steve Baker and two ministerial aides also resigned from the government yesterday.

UK Attorney General Jeremy Wright replaces Hancock as the new culture secretary, with backbencher Geoffrey Cox replacing him as the new Attorney General.  -- PTI
08:20   Mumbai: Rain fury continues; trains delayed, several areas flooded
Incessant heavy rains continue to batter Mumbai and nearby areas on Tuesday morning, resulting in waterlogging in several areas and affecting suburban local train services.

The India Meteorological Department has predicted 'heavy to very heavy rainfall at few places with extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places in the districts of Greater Mumbai, Thane, Raigad and Palghar' between Tuesday and Thursday.

Due to very heavy rains since last evening, areas in Mumbai like Dadar, Sion, Chembur, Wadala, King's Circle and others are waterlogged.

Western Railway informed that local train services between Vasai and Virar will remain suspended until further information due to waterlogging at Nallasopara.

'Due to very heavy water accumulation in adjoining areas of Rly tracks & upto 200 mm water above rail level on rail lines at Nallasopara, train movement between Vasai Road - Virar is suspended till further information. Trains running from Churchgate-Vasai Road with delay (sic).

'Water very high from rail level at Nallasopara following heavy water accumulation in adjoining areas of tracks. Rail traffic suspended bet Vasai Rd - Virar. Trns running between Churchgate & Vasai Road with delay (sic),' WR said in a series of tweets.

WR divisional railway manager said that due to heavy rains, up and sown through line at Nallasopara is halted.

"However, local trains on western suburbs are running late by 10 to 15 minutes between Virar to Churchgate," the DRM said.

Central Railway, however, said that trains are running normally on all three lines: Main, harbour and transharbour.

Due to water-logging and disrupted rail services, Dabbawalas have also suspended their services for today.   -- with ANI inputs

00:10   Over 200 people questioned in connection with Burari deaths
Over 200 people have been questioned in connection with the mysterious deaths of 11 members of the Chundawat family in north Delhi's Burari, even as the police are certain that it was a case of "mass suicide", said a senior police officer.
The police are awaiting the final postmortem report even though initial findings suggested that the 11 died of hanging, they added.
After receiving the report, the police will go for a psychological autopsy of the deceased to ascertain what prompted them for replicating "badh tapasya", a banyan-tree like formation.
One of the deceased, 33-year-old Priyanka Bhatia's fiance was questioned again and he denied knowing anything about the family indulging in certain kinds of rituals. 
He was questioned for close to three hours today, sources said.
During investigation, police had also found that Priyanka had 'manglik dosh', which was responsible for her not being able to find a match earlier.
Ten of the 11 members of the family were found hanging from an iron-mesh in the ceiling earlier this month, while the body of 77-year-old Narayan Devi, the head of the family, was lying on the floor in another room of the house.
Devi's daughter Pratibha (57), her two sons Bhavnesh (50) and Lalit (45) were also among the deceased. Bhavnesh's wife Savita (48) and their three children - Maneka (23), Neetu (25), and Dhirendra, aged 15, too were found dead.
Lalit Bhatia's wife Tina (42) and their 15-year-old son Dushyant were also among those found dead. Pratibha's daughter Priyanka, who was engaged last month and would have married by the end of this year, was also found hanging.
Last Wednesday, the police had recovered CCTV footage that showed some members bringing stools and wires that were used for their hanging. They had also found 11 diaries which had "psychological musings" and things about attaining "road to God". -- PTI