Mon, 02 December 2019
NHRC notice to Centre, states over rape cases

Timeline  Refresh

23:40   NHRC notice to Centre, states over rape cases
Expressing serious concern over incidents of sexual violence against women, the National Human Rights Commission on Monday issued notices to the Centre and all states and UTs seeking reports on the standard operating procedures to deal with such cases and use of the Nirbhaya Fund.

The Commission observed that the largest democracy in the world, which has adopted the longest written constitution and has a rich cultural heritage of gender equality, is today being criticised for having the 'most unsafe environment for women'.

Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports on 'rising' cases of sexual assault, the rights panel issued notices to the chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories seeking reports within six weeks about the status of Nirbhaya Fund in their states including details about availability of the fund and the money spent during the last three years.

The Commission has also issued notices to the DGPs of all states and UTs calling for their response within six weeks about the SOPs and the best practices adopted by them to deal with matters relating to sexual abuse and atrocities against women, including details of the action taken against the police officers or officials found insensitive and guilty of negligence towards issues related to women.

"The Commission has also considered it necessary to call for a detailed report from the Secretary, Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, giving details about the schemes or guidelines initiated by the union government and status of their implementation, including Nirbhaya Fund, by the states and UTs. The response is expected within six weeks," the NHRC said.

It said that through media reports it has come to know that the amount made available under the Nirbhaya Fund has been 'reduced and also not being appropriately utilised by the state governments'.

The rights panel observed that there seems to be 'lack of standard operating procedure (SOP)' to deal with incidents of sexual violence against women and emergency situations concerning the same.

It said that when anyone goes to a police station seeking help after disappearance of a major or minor female, it is often alleged that the police's answer generally remains that she might have eloped with someone.

"This humiliating and stereotype mindset is needed to be changed. There is need to effectively address the core issue as this serious challenge has not only created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty in our society but has also badly tarnishing the image of our country," NHRC observed.

It added that many incidents of sexual violence have reportedly occurred due to gross negligence by the administration and the law enforcing public agencies.

The Commission said that while it is aware that the subject is being looked into by various fora, there is dire need for all the stakeholders to come together to work jointly to end sexual violence against women.

"The incidents of rape, molestation, gender-based discrimination and other such atrocities against women have, unfortunately, become routine media headlines," the NHRC lamented.

There have been constitutional and statutory provisions to ensure that women are not subjected to any kind of discrimination and harassment, but there is an 'alarming trend' indicating that things are 'getting worse' amounting to violation of right to life, liberty, dignity and equality of women across the country, it observed.

The Commission has said that these incidents indeed involve violation of human rights of the victims.

"It (NHRC) is well awake to the seriousness of the issue. Being the apex body for the protection and promotion of human rights at national level, it considers its intervention into the matter necessary to understand as to where the state agencies and other stakeholders are lacking on their part and what can immediately be done," the rights panel observed.

Recently, a number of cases have been reported by the media wherein women have been subjected to 'sexual abuse, utmost cruelty and inhuman treatment by the perpetrators showing grave disrespect towards law', the statement said.

In Telangana, a 26-year-old veterinarian was brutally gang raped and killed by four accused persons in Hyderabad.

The culprits not only outraged the dignity of the victim but also killed her and burnt her body, the rights panel pointed out.

"Though the accused have been arrested, had timely action been taken by the police the gruesome incident could, perhaps, be stopped. In another incident, a 25-year-old law student was also reportedly gang-raped by a group of armed men, in Ranchi, Jharkhand," it said.

Mere announcements of schemes, making of laws and formation of funds are not going to serve the purpose unless these are properly implemented, it said.

"There have been a number of such cases that have occurred across the country during the recent past. All these incidents indicate that making stringent laws and funds for the victims alone cannot change the scenario unless the police officers are specially trained and their attitude towards women's issues also changes," the statement said.   -- PTI
22:29   NCW chief requests Kovind to reject mercy petition of Dec 16 convict
The National Commission for Women has urged President Ram Nath Kovind to reject the mercy petition of the convict in the December 16, 2012 gang rape and murder case, saying it would deter others from committing such crimes against young girls and women.

Considering the rising incidents of 'inhuman' tragedies against young girls and women, an exemplary punishment of death sentence should be given to the convicts of such heinous crimes as they do not deserve any mercy, NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma was quoted as saying in a statement by the Commission.

She requested Kovind to direct the government to set a definite mechanism and timeline for trial and disposal of all appeals, review petitions and curative petitions in such heinous and brutal rape cases, preferably within six months, so that speedy justice can be ensured.  -- PTI
22:13   Uddhav withdraws cases against Nanar protesters
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday ordered withdrawal of cases against people who had protested the construction of a multi-billion dollar refinery in Nanar in Ratnagiri district.

The Sena had opposed the mega complex, estimated to cost upwards of Rs 3 lakh crore, and Thackeray had promised to get these cases withdrawn at several poll rallies in the state.

The complex would have required 14,000 hectares in 14 villages in Ratnagiri, and the local population as well as activists were up in arms claiming it would have a severe impact on the environment of the Konkan coast.

Several of them were arrested during agitations, and the cases would now be withdrawn after the CM's announcement, an official said.

"The CM on Monday ordered withdrawal of police cases against Nanar protesters," the official said.

A day earlier, Thackeray announced withdrawal of cases against agitators protesting the felling of trees in Aarey Colony for construction of a metro rail car shed.  -- PTI
22:09   Vet rape-murder: Telangana Guv to send report to MHA
Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan on Monday said she would soon be sending a report to the Union home ministry on the rape and murder of a woman veterinarian in Hyderabad.

The governor also said she was working on the issue of providing ex gratia to the victim's family.

"I have sought some information from the state government. After getting it I will compile and forward the report to the Union home ministry in the next few days," Soundararajan told PTI over phone.

She said she is distressed about the incident.

The governor had met the victim's family at their residence on Saturday and assured them that 'constitutionally and legally' she would do everything to ensure that they get justice.

The government has set up a fast-track court and the trial in the case is being held on a daily basis.

The police would be asked to conclude the probe and file the charge sheet against the accused at the earliest, the governor said. She described the incident as 'tragic and shocking' and said it had lowered the morale of girls and women, who were feeling unsafe.

The victim, who was on her way home after a medical check-up at Gachibowli in Hyderabad on Wednesday night, was abducted, raped, killed by four lorry workers at Chatanpally near Shadnagar, around 60 km from Hyderabad, police said.

Despite the arrest of all the accused in the case, protests, dharnas and agitations are continuing all over the country with the protestors demanding immediate hanging of the culprits.  -- PTI
21:23   Rejected Modi's offer to 'work together': Pawar
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Monday claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given him an offer to 'work together', which he refused.

Pawar's statement came against the backdrop of the Shiv Sena dumping its ally Bharatiya Janata Party for rejecting its demand for rotational chief ministership and joining hands with the NCP and Congress to form a government in Maharashtra.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi had insisted on working together with me, as on some issues we have similar opinions. But I refused his offer," Pawar told a regional news channel.

"Modi told me that my political experience would be helpful for him to run the government. We both share similar opinions on some national issues, hence he made the offer," Pawar said.

The NCP chief further said he had assured the prime minister that his party would not oppose each and every policy of the Centre for the sake of opposition.

"Despite sitting in opposite rows in Parliament, I will not oppose you for the sake of opposition. My cooperation will be there whenever needed," Pawar claimed to have told Modi.

Amidst political uncertainty in Maharashtra, Pawar had met Modi in Delhi, ostensibly to discuss the issues of farmrers, on November 20.

Days after Pawar met Modi, the NCP chief's nephew Ajit Pawar broke ranks with the party and joined hands with the BJP in Maharashtra claiming that he had support of MLAs.

In a hush-hush development, Devendra Fadnavis took oath as chief minister on November 23 morning and Ajit Pawar as deputy CM.

However, the BJP-Ajit Pawar government collapsed on November 26, after Ajit resigned as the deputy CM citing 'personal reasons'.  -- PTI
20:29   GDP not relevant like Bible or Ramayana: BJP MP
Amid attack by the opposition over the state of the country's economy, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Nishikant Dubey said in the Lok Sabha on Monday that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has no relevance and it should not be treated as 'Bible, Ramayana and Mahabharata'.

Participating in the discussion on the Taxation Law Amendment Bill and a statutory resolution disapproving the ordinance on the same legislation, Dubey said: "Sustainable economic development is more important than GDP."

Before Dubey, Adhir Ranjan Chowdury, Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, attacked the government over the falling GDP numbers.

The debate in the Lower House mostly hovered around the GDP slipping to an over-six-year-low of 4.5 per cent in the July-September quarter.

Seeking to return fire, Dubey claimed GDP did not exist before 1934.        

"(Economist Simon) Kuznet said it is not the ultimate truth to believe GDP as Bible, Ramayan and Mahabharat and GDP will be not be of any great use in future," Dubey said, inviting ridicule from the opposition benches.

"Whoever talks about the GDP is wrong. GDP has no relevance to this country," Dubey said.

He said what is important is the last person standing in the queue and whether the government is able to reach him.  -- PTI
20:16   SC restrains Maha from chopping trees for metro project in Thane
The Supreme Court on Monday restrained the Maharashtra government and its authorities from chopping trees for its metro construction project in Mumbai for two weeks.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, directed Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) to maintain status quo on felling of trees for its Metro IV line project.

"There shall be an injunction restraining the concerned authorities from felling the trees for a period of two weeks from today," the bench said while asking the counsel for activist Rohit Joshi to amend his petition on the felling of trees for Mumbai metro project in Thane.

The top court also issued notices to the MMRDA and the state government and sought their replies in two weeks.

Joshi had approached the apex court against the Bombay high court's order which had upheld the permission granted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) tree authority to fell trees.

The metro will start from the New Thane metro station in the old city area and will connected to Wadala-Kasarvadavli Metro at two places, namely the New Thane station and Dongripada.  -- PTI
19:41   MoS home 'not aware' of Priyanka security breach
Junior Home Minister G Kishan Reddy on Monday said he was unaware of the alleged breach of security at Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's Lodhi Estate home in New Delhi and will seek information on it.

According to sources, that Congress general secretary's office had raised the alleged November 26 incident with the Central Reserve Police Force, which is guarding her after the withdrawal of the Special Protection Group cover.

"I am not aware. I am just coming out of Lok Sabha. Let me take the information from police... I will discuss with my officers," Reddy, the Union minister of state for home, told reporters outside Parliament when asked about it.

The sources said on Monday that seven unknown persons in a car allegedly drove up to the porch of her home, got off and walked up to her to ask for photographs.

The Centre had last month replaced the SPG security cover of the family of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, assassinated by LTTE terrorists on May 21, 1991, with 'Z-plus' security provided by the CRPF.

Apart from Priyanka Gandhi, security of her mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her brother Rahul Gandhi were taken over by the CRPF from the SPG.

Under Z-plus security, they are being protected by the CRPF commandos in close proximity besides guarding their homes and wherever they travel in the country.

An ambulance is now a part of their convoy and an Advance Security Liaison is also being carried out for the three leaders wherever they travel.  -- PTI
19:38   Tony Joseph's 'Early Indians' wins 2019 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize
English author Tony Joseph has won the 12th 'Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize' for his 2018 book, Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From, the Shakti Bhatt Foundation announced on Monday.

Joseph, beat four other debut writers to bag the award that seeks to celebrate 'extraordinary new writing in all genres' from South Asian countries.

Instituted in 2008, the award carries a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh and a trophy.

Authors Sonia Faleiro and Prayaag Akbar, who were on the jury for the prize, said Joseph was unanimously chosen as the winner, while describing his book as 'a triumph of ambition, clarity, and style'.

"'Early Indians' is a remarkable exploration of the origins of the first humans who occupied the Indian subcontinent, bringing together a wealth of research from population genetics, archaeology, social history, biology, linguistics and other fields that are proving deeply interconnected.

"Tony Joseph's breadth of reading helps him combine insights from older studies of the topic with the latest research, resulting in a deft, compelling and accessible narrative that does not lack in rigour. As the question of origin becomes, increasingly, a tool of politics, Joseph's book serves as a vital corrective to those who seek to simplify this most complex of subjects," the judges said in a statement.

In the book, Joseph, a journalist-author, book tells the story of the people of South Asia through research in six disciplines, including path-breaking new DNA evidence.

It also claims to 'put to rest the ugly debates about the ancestry of modern Indians by revealing an undeniable truth: we are all migrants; we are all mixed'.

Other shortlisted books for this year's prize included Priyanka Dubey's No Nation for Women, Roshan Ali's Ib's Endless Search for Satisfaction, as well as late Bangladeshi writer Numair Atif Choudhury's Babu Bangladeshi, and Pakistani-American novelist Nadia Akbar's Goodbye Freddie Mercury.

Last year, the prize was awarded to Sujatha Gidla for her Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family And The Making Of Modern India.  -- PTI
18:48   If there's a govt that listens, it's ours: FM
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Lok Sabha over criticism by the opposition parties:

"We are a government that listens, whether it is criticism or an input. When the home minister responded to an industry leader, it was with a clear attitude that we are willing to hear or take criticism.

"I have been told that I am the worst finance minister, they're not even waiting for me to finish my term. I told them that please give me more ideas, we will work on it.

"If there's a government that listens, it is PM Modi's government.

"I have been called names in Parliament. If it is in anyone's DNA to ask questions and run away before answers are given, it is some other party and not our party.

"Each time we come to give replies instead of name-calling."
18:32   BJP leadership to 'convey displeasure' to Hegde
The Bharatiya Janata Party leadership is unhappy with party MP and former Union minister Ananth Kumar Hegde for his comments that Devendra Fadnavis was made Maharashtra chief minister last month despite lacking majority only to 'protect' Rs 40,000 crore central funds from being 'misused', and the party's 'displeasure' will be conveyed to him, a senior BJP leader said on Monday.

Fadnavis has also already dismissed Hegde's claim as 'absolutely wrong', asserting that nothing of that sort happened.

The senior BJP leader also said Hegde's comments, which forced Fadnavis to issue immediate rebuttal as the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government sought to corner him, were 'needless' and he will be conveyed the leadership's 'displeasure'.

Hegde sought to give a new twist to the last month's political drama in Maharashtra, claiming it was played out to ensure that the funds meant fordevelopment works were 'protected'.  -- PTI
18:16   Air India ferries Swedish Royal couple as their plane develops snag
National carrier Air India chipped in to ferry Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia on their state visit to India when their aircraft developed a technical snag at the last minute.

The Royal couple, who are on their second five-day visit to India after 26 years, were scheduled to arrive in  New Delhi on their state aircraft.

However, they arrived in a direct commercial flight of Air India from Stockholm to New Delhi Monday morning.

"The reason for the change was that there was a technical problem with the state aircraft," a Swedish official told PTI.

On arrival, they were greeted by country manager of Air India Sangeeta Sanyal.

'Very Proud moment of Air India when we had a Special Guest onboard. His Majesty Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus , King of Sweden and Her Majesty Silvia Renate Sommerlath travelled AI168 Stockholm to Delhi. Sangeeta Sanyal Country Manager Sweden greeted the Royal guests,' Air India tweeted.

The couple were received at the airport by Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Babul Supriyo with Kathakali dancers and traditional drummers to welcome the dignitaries.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia on their arrival in New Delhi on Monday. Photograph: Courtesy @airindiain/Twitter
18:02   Delhi court grants bail to Ratul Puri in Agusta case
A Delhi court on Monday granted bail to businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, in AgustaWestland money laundering case.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar granted bail to Puri on a personal bond of Rs 5 lakh and two sureties of like amount. Puri will however remain in jail as he was also arrested in another case -- the one related to bank fraud.

In his bail plea, Puri had said that he was not required for further investigation and no purpose will be served by keeping him in custody.

The Enforcement Directorate had recently filed a supplementary Prosecution Complaint against Puri and Jaspreet Ahuja in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case.

In January 2014, India had scrapped a contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary, AgustaWestland, for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force, over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks worth Rs 423 crore being paid to secure the deal.  -- PTI
17:41   Arun Shourie hospitalised after fall in Pune
Former Union minister Arun Shourie sustained a minor head injury after he fainted and has been admitted to a hospital in Pune, a doctor there said on Monday.

Shourie, 78, fainted late Sunday night and was rushed to the private hospital, the doctor said.

The former MP received a minor head injury after he fainted, he added.

"All necessary tests have been performed and he is currently under observation. He is conscious," the doctor said.

Shourie is a former Rajya Sabha member from the Bharatiya Janata Party and was Union minister for communications, information technology and disinvestment in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government during 19992004.

A prolific writer, he has also served as an economist with the World Bank during 1967-1978. He was also the Editor of The Indian Express.  -- PTI
17:37   Security breach at Priyanka Gandhi's residence
There was a security breach at Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's Lodhi Estate home last week with unknown persons barging in and asking for selfies, sources said on Monday, adding that her office has taken up the matter with the Central Reserve Police Force.

The Centre last month replaced the SPG (Special Protection Group) cover of the family of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, assassinated by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam terrorists on May 21, 1991, with 'Z-plus' security provided by the Central Reserve Police Force.

Under Z-plus security, they are being protected by CRPF commandos in close proximity besides guards at their homes and where ever they travel in the country.   -- PTI
17:09   PM's moving message to Israeli 26/11 survivor
In a moving message, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has congratulated the Israeli boy who survived the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, in which both his parents lost their lives, by describing his story as a "miracle" which continues to "inspire" everyone. 

Moshe Tzvi Holtzberg was a two-year-old toddler when his parents were killed in the terror attacks at Nariman House (also known as Chabad House) by Pakistani terrorists. The boy, standing and crying between his dead parents' bodies, was saved in a daring move by his nanny, Sandra Samuels, who was hiding in a room downstairs when the attack happened. Pictures of Sandra holding the little boy close to her chest after escaping from the place touched the hearts of millions of people all over the world. 

"As you make this important transition and cross a significant landmark in the journey of your life, the courage of [nanny] Sandra [Samuel] and prayers of the people of India will continue to bless you for a long, healthy and successful life,' Modi wrote in a message to Moshe, who celebrated his Bar Mitzvah yesterday. 

Bar Mitzvah is a ceremony performed for Jewish boys at the age of 13 which some Israeli scholars compare with upnayana or the thread ceremony. The youngster turned 13 as per the Gregorian calendar on November 28. 

"Your story continues to inspire everyone. It is one of miracle and hope overcoming tragedy and immeasurable loss", the prime minister stressed in his message. Modi, whose message was read out by Sanjeev Singla, India's Ambassador to Israel, said that the perpetrators of the "cowardly terrorist attack" in Mumbai "clearly failed" in their intent. "They could not subdue our vibrant diversity. Nor could they dampen our spirit to march forward. Today, India and Israel stand together even more determined against terrorism and hatred", Modi wrote. 

The prime minister also mentioned about his meeting with Moshe during his trip to Israel in July 2017 and expressed hope that his wish to return to Mumbai as the director of the Chabad House "comes true".  -- PTI

Image: PM Modi with Moshe Holtzberg during his 2017 visit to Israel. 
17:02   Jharkhand: Rahul promises farm loan waiver, return of tribal land
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday promised loan waiver to farmers and return of tribal land given to industrialists while addressing an election rally in Simdega, Jharkhand.

"Wherever there is a BJP government, they take away the land from tribal people and give it to industrialists without asking them. When our government was formed in Chhattisgarh, we took back the land from Tata and returned the land to the tribal people. If the tribal land is taken and the industry is not set up within five years, the land needs to be returned to the real owners," said Gandhi.

"Wherever there is a BJP government, businessmen are given land, but the farmers don't get what they want. Wherever the Congress has come to power, we promised loan waiver for farmers and even fulfilled it. I promise the same for the people of Jharkhand," added Gandhi.

Asserting that the way the land of the tribal was protected in Chhattisgarh and farm loan was waived off, he said: "After the formation of our government in Jharkhand, we will protect your land. We will also work on addressing the problem of unemployment."

In the first phase of the election, the voting was held in 13 constituencies and the voter turnout was recorded at approximately 64.12 per cent on November 30.The other four phases of the elections will be held on December 6, December 12, December 16 and December 20. -- ANI
16:49   Monsoon fury leaves 25 dead in TN, 1000 people in relief camps
As many as 25 people have died in various rain-related incidents in Tamil Nadu since November 29, the state government said on Monday. This includes 17 who died after a wall collapsed on three houses at Nadur village in Mettupalayam near Coimbatore. 

As the North-East monsoon intensifies in the state, nearly 1,000 people have been accommodated in relief camps in Tuticorin, Cuddalore and Tirunelveli districts which bore the brunt of rain fury. 

Some low-lying areas in Chennai and nearby Chenglepet and Kancheepuram districts were inundated following the downpour. Chief Minister K Palaniswami chaired a review meeting with his deputy O Panneerselvam and other cabinet colleagues and senior officials to take stock of the situation. He issued orders to monitor the reservoirs, many of which are either full or fast filling up. -- PTI

Image: 17 people died after a wall collapsed on three houses at Nadur village in Mettupalayam near Coimbatore. 
16:41   Kamal Nath's nephew gets bail in AgustaWestland money laundering case
A Delhi court Monday granted bail to businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, in AgustaWestland money laundering case. Special Judge Arvind Kumar granted bail to Puri on a personal bond of Rs 5 lakh and two sureties of like amount. 

Puri will however remain in jail as he was also arrested in another case -- the one related to bank fraud. In his bail plea, Puri had said that he was not required for further investigation and no purpose will be served by keeping him in custody.

The Enforcement Directorate had recently filed a supplementary Prosecution Complaint against Puri and Jaspreet Ahuja in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case. 

In January 2014, India had scrapped a contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary, AgustaWestland, for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force, over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks worth Rs 423 crore being paid to secure the deal. -- PTI
16:36   PM will have to quit if Hegde's claim is true: NCP
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to resign if there is truth in BJP MP Ananthkumar Hegde's claim that Devendra Fadnavis was made CM last month despite lacking majority only to 'protect' Rs 40,000 crore central funds from being 'misused', the NCP said on Monday. 

Former Union minister Hegde, known for making controversial statements, on Saturday sought to give a new twist to the last month's political drama in Maharashtra, claiming it was played out to ensure that the funds meant for development works were 'protected'.

Reacting to it, NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said, "It is impossible for the state government to return Rs 40,000 crore to the Centre. If at all it is true, then Prime Minister Modi will have to step down from his post. He will have to submit his resignation." "It is not an injustice to just Maharashtra but to other states as well. People from states like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala will not tolerate such injustice," Malik said. -- PTI
16:25   Crisil sharply cuts FY20 growth forecast to a low 5.1%
The slowdown is deeper than anticipated and will be prolonged, ratings agency Crisil warned on Monday slashing its growth estimate sharply to a low 5.1 percent from 6.3 percent earlier.

The agency attributed the sharp revision to various high-frequency indicators showing a softness and partly blamed the same to the reforms like GST, real estate regulation, and the bankruptcy code which are still a "drag" on the economy which is yet to adjust to the changes unveiled years before. The Crisil's estimate is among the lowest, but still above Japanese brokerage Nomura's 4.7 percent forecast.
16:20   Now, Cong's Adhir calls FM Nirbala
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury speaking in the Lok Sabha after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's address said, "Aapke liye respect toh hai lekin kabhi kabhi sochta hu ki aapko Nirmala Sitharaman ki jagah 'Nirbala' Sitharaman kehna theek hoga ke nahi. Aap mantri pad pe toh hai lekin jo aapke man mein hai wo keh bhi paati hai ya nahi. I respect you, but sometimes I think instead of calling you Nirmala Sitharaman, I should call you Nirbala (weak) Sitharaman. You may be a minister, but I wonder whether you can actually speak what you think."

BJP members in the Lok Sabha on Monday protested against the Congress leader calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah as "infiltrators" and sought his apology, saying they will not tolerate such an "insult". 

Members of treasury benches were on their feet as Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi attacked the Leader of the Congress in the House and then took a swipe at the party over its President Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin by dubbing her an "infiltrator".

Joshi said he is forced to draw this inference that the Congress led by an infiltrator will pursue others in a similar manner. Chowdhury, who had made the infiltrator barb at the BJP bigwigs while speaking on the contentious National Register of Citizens issue, sought to explain his remarks and said he will apologise if the BJP is not satisfied with his reponse. He used the opportunity to underline his opposition against the NRC, saying his family had come from Bangladesh. 

"We do not have many documents so if somebody calls (us) an infiltrator, we cannot do much," he said. 
15:37   Ayodhya judgment review plea filed in SC
A petition seeking review of the Supreme Court's November 9 judgment on Ayodhya land dispute by which the entire 2.77 acre land was granted to deity Ram Lalla was filed in the apex court on Monday. 

Maulana Syed Ashhad Rashidi, legal heir of original litigant M Siddiq, has filed the review plea saying that the judgment suffers from "errors apparent on record and warrants a review under Article 137 of the Constitution of India". 

The review petition said the apex court in an attempt to balance the reliefs between the parties, condoned illegalities of the Hindu parties and allotted alternate land admeasuring 5 acres to the Muslim parties, which was neither pleaded nor prayed for by the Muslim parties.

Rashidi is president of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind. In the petition, he said it must be noted that the review petitioner is not challenging the entire judgment. -- PTI
15:28   The teacher's daughter making naval history
Sub Lieutenant Shivangi, the daughter of a village headmaster in Bihar, will conduct maritime reconnaissance and search and rescue missions. Archana Masih/ on the young naval officer making waves in the Indian Navy. Do read
14:52   Pankaja Munde not joining Sena: BJP
Amid the flutter caused by BJP leader Pankaja Munde after she removed her party's name from her Twitter bio, Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil on Monday said she was not leaving the party.

Patil dismissed reports in a section of media which claimed that she may quit the BJP. In the October 21 state Assembly elections, Pankaja Munde, who is the daughter of late party stalwart Gopinath Munde, lost to her cousin and NCP rival Dhananjay Munde in a bitter contest from Parli seat in Beed district. 

"The BJP leaders are in touch with Pankaja Munde. She is introspecting after her defeat but it does not mean she is leaving the BJP," Patil told reporters. He also refuted Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut's claim that many leaders were keen on joining the Uddhav Thackeray- led party. "The accidental government that has come up in Maharashtra is spreading such baseless news. She may be having good family relations with Thackerays but it does not mean she is joining the Sena," Patil said. 

Pankaja Munde removed all details from her Twitter bio, including the word 'BJP' and description of her political journey, on Monday, a day after creating a flutter with her social media post on her "future journey" in view of changed political scenario in Maharashtra.

Also, in her three recent tweets posted on November 28, she congratulated Maharashtra's new Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray but not the government formed by the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress.
14:48   Fadnavis set to move to new home
 Former Maharashtra CM and Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis allotted 'Sagar' bungalow as official residence, while CM Uddhav Thackeray gets the official residence Varsha. 
14:33   Aseem Chhabra pens bio on Irrfan Khan
Writer and occasional contributor for, Aseem Chhabra has just scored a hat-trick with his biography on the reclusive actor, Irrfan Khan.  

Chhabra, the author of biographies -- Shashi Kapoor: The Householder, the Star and  Priyanka Chopra: The Incredible Story of a Global Bollywood Star, quietly announced the arrival of the tome on Twitter saying, "So now I can share. A new biography. Release date is first week of January. #IrrfanKhan." The book is called Irrfan Khan, the man, the dreamer, the star. 

Khan's Angrezi Medium, a sequel to 2017 hit comedy-drama Hindi Medium, is his comeback film after he was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour and underwent treatment in the UK.  

Great start to the new year for fans -- of his writing and the actor. 
14:26   Sena MP's car runs over deer in Mumbai national park
A car belonging to Shiv Sena MP Rajendra Gavit knocked down and killed a spotted deer at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP)in Mumbai, an official said on Monday. The incident happened on Wednesday evening near the main gate of the park, the official said. The deer was rushed to veterinary hospital where it was declared dead, he added. Gavit, Lok Sabha member from Palghar near Mumbai, was not in the vehicle, the official said. PTI

Representational image
14:11   SC to hear polygamy, Nikah Halala pleas after winter break
The Supreme Court on Monday said that it will hear a petition challenging the Islamic practice of polygamy and Nikah Halala after the winter vacation.Lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay mentioned the matter for urgent hearing before a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde.

The top court, however, denied an urgent hearing to the matter."We will list it after vacation," the bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and B R Gavai, said.

While polygamy allows a Muslim man to have more than one wife, 'Nikah Halala' is a practice in which a woman, after being divorced by Triple Talaq, marries another man and gets divorced again in order to be able to remarry her former husband.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage), Bill, which received Presidential assent earlier this year, however, criminalises instant talaq and provides for a jail term of three years for the husband.The top court takes two long vacations each year -- the summer and winter break. While the summer vacations are one and a half month-long, winter vacation lasts for a fortnight. -- ANI
13:50   Mamata to hold thanksgiving rallies to mark TMC win in by-polls
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Monday said she would hold "thanksgiving" programmes in Kharagpur, Karimpur and Kaliaganj assembly constituencies to mark her party's victory from the three seats in the recently held by-polls.

The chief minister also said that she would begin with Kharagpur Sadar -- vacated by BJP state president Dilip Ghosh following his Lok Sabha win from Medinipur. TMC's Pradip Sarkar wrested Kharagpur Sadar seat from the BJP in last week's by-elections.

"I'll hold thanksgiving programmes at the three constituencies. The first one will be held in Kharagpur on December 9," Banerjee told reporters outside the Assembly.
13:27   78% PMC Bank a/c holders can withdraw full amount
Nearly 78 per cent depositors of the scam-hit PMC Bank have been allowed to withdraw their entire deposits even though the ceiling of Rs 50,000 on withdrawal continues, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in Lok Sabha on Monday. 

Sitharaman also said in Lok Sabha that in case of medical emergencies, marriages and other crisis situations, a depositor of the Maharashtra-based PMC Bank can withdraw upto Rs 1 lakh by invoking the 'hardship provisions' of the RBI. 

"Nearly 78 depositors are now allowed to withdraw their entire account balance. They are small depositors. With this, the concerns of all small depositors are take care of," she said during Question Hour. 

The minister said steps are being taken to seize properties of promoters of the PMC Bank, auction such properties and repay depositors with the money obtained. 

Sitharaman said the Rs 50,000 withdrawal ceiling for depositors continues but for scenarios like marriage, education, livelihood and other "hardships", the withdrawal limit if Rs 1 lakh.

According to the Mumbai Police's Economic Offences Wing, the PMC Bank management, allegedly in cahoots with a business family concealed from the banking regulators' scrutiny huge loan defaults by HDIL group firms. -- PTI
12:41   Not Bajaj, economy hurting India: Cong to FM
The Congress party reacts to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's statement on Saturday that industrialist Rahul Bajaj's statement could hurt national interest. 

"Our nation is strong enough to handle the truth Madam FM 
@nsitharaman. The only thing hurting "national interest" is your silence & inability to accept the disaster you, your party & PM Modi have created in our economy," @INCIndia tweeted. 

Sitharaman said the statement by Rahul Bajaj, chairman of Bajaj Group, on Saturday that India Inc was afraid of criticising the Narendra Modi government can hurt national interest, if it gains traction. The Home Minister Amit Shah answers on how issues raised by Bajaj were addressed. Questions/criticisms are heard and answered/addressed. Always a better way to seek an answer than spreading ones own impressions, which, on gaining traction, can hurt national interest, Sitharaman said on Twitter. 

Sitharaman was reacting to a statement by Bajaj on Saturday that Indian business leaders were afraid of criticising the Modi government because they do not have the confidence that the government would appreciate any criticism. 
12:28   Uproar in Parliament over Hyderabad vet rape case
Rajya Sabha lawmaker Jaya Bachchan on Monday said that the accused in rape and murder of veterinary doctor should be brought in public and lynched.

"People now want the government to give a proper and definite answer. These types of people [the accused in rape case] need to be brought in public and lynched," Bachchan said in the Upper House.

A veterinarian was brutally gang-raped and killed by four persons before they burned her body in Telangana's Shamshabad last week. The accused have been arrested by the Cyberabad police. 

The issue was raised in Lok Sabha with the Speaker stating, "The Parliament is worried about the incidents happening across the nation. I have given permission for discussion on this after Question Hour."

Speaking in Rajya Sabha, Congress' Amee Yajnik requested the judiciary, legislative, executive and other systems to come together to see that a social reformation takes place in the country. "This should be on an emergency basis."

Ghulam Nabi Azad, too, brought up the matter in the Upper House and said that such problems cannot be solved by merely making laws. 

"To eradicate such acts, there is a need that we take a stand together against such crimes," he added.

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Vijila Sathyananth said that the accused must be hanged before December 31. "The country is not safe for children and women. A fast track court should be set up. Justice delayed is justice denied," Sathyananth added.
12:22   Rubbish! Fadnavis on Hegde's fund transfer claim
Devendra Fadnavis on Monday denied his party colleague Anant Kumar Hegde's claim that he was made the chief minister despite not having a majority to prevent central funds worth Rs 40,000 crore from being "misused".

"I have not heard what Anant Kumar Hegde has said, but from what I have heard from the media that Maharashtra government gave Rs 40,000 crore to the central government, it is completely false. I deny this. Nothing like this happened," Fadnavis told media.

Fadnavis further stated that in the bullet train project, the role of the Maharashtra government is limited to land acquisition."Whether it is bullet train or something else, neither central government asked for money from Maharashtra government and neither the state government gave the money," Fadnavis said.

"This statement is completely false. I have not taken any such decision... The Finance department should do investigation this and bring the truth in front of the people," he added.

Hegde had claimed that Fadnavis was made Maharashtra Chief Minister to prevent central funds worth Rs 40,000 crore, from being "misused" by the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress.

"You all know our man in Maharashtra became Chief Minister for 80 hours. Then, Fadnavis resigned. Why did he do this drama? Didn't we know that we don't have majority and yet he became Chief Minister. This is the question everyone is asking" Hegde said in Uttar Kannada on Sunday.The MP from Uttara Kannada said that the BJP staged a "drama" to move the money to the central government. 

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has called the alleged transfer of funds, 'treachery'.  -- PTI
12:09   Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind to file review plea against SC's Ayodhya verdict
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind will file a review petition against the Supreme Court's Ayodhya verdict on Monday afternoon, sources in the prominent Muslim body said. 

On November 14, the working committee of the Jamiat had formed a five-member panel comprising legal experts and religious scholars to look into every aspect of the Supreme Court's November 9 verdict. 

The panel under the chairmanship of Jamiat chief Maulana Arshad Madani had looked into the prospects of the review petition challenging the apex court verdict and recommended that a review plea should be filed in the case. -- PTI 
11:50   Nirbhaya's mom on vet's rape: Govt should act now
The mother of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape and murder victim on Monday welcomed the decision of Delhi government to recommend the rejection of mercy petition of one of the convicts in the case.

The victim's mother, Asha Devi told ANI, "I welcome the Delhi government's decision to recommend the rejection of the mercy petition of one of the convicts in the case. I hope the accused will be hanged to death soon. I know that the process is still going on but I hope that the accused persons will be hanged to death soon. I believe that there are a few loopholes in our judicial system.

"The Supreme Court twice pronounced the sentence to death for the accused in this case but it's been 2.5 years now and that order has not been followed," she added.

The Delhi government on Sunday recommended the rejection of the mercy petition of one of the convicts in Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case. Earlier, the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court had dismissed the appeal of the convict Vinay Sharma and had upheld the sentence pronounced by the trial court in the matter.

The petition will now be placed before the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi for consideration after which it will be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Central government.

Asha further condemned the Hyderabad veterinarian rape and murder case and stated that because the accused people are still 'alive', it has conveyed a wrong message in the society. "The rape and murder of the woman veterinarian was barbaric. Unlike us who had to fight for seven years, she should get justice soon. The administration should reflect on why such incidents re-occur. The accused persons in both the rape cases should be hanged to death," said Asha. -- ANI
11:46   Pankaja Munde removes 'BJP' from herTwitter bio
Former minister and BJP leader Pankaja Munde has removed the party's name from her Twitter bio. Her bio now simply reads, "RT's r not endorsements."

Munde on Sunday urged her supporters to come for a rally to be held in Beed on December 12, also the birth anniversary of her late father and former union minister Gopinath Munde.

Through an emotional Facebook post, Pankaja said that after her defeat in the recently held Maharashtra Assembly polls, she had received several calls and messages from her supporters to meet, but could not do so because of the situation in the state.She has said that in the changed political scenario, the future course of action needs to be decided.

"You are asking me for time ... I am going to give you time ... eight to ten days. These 8-10 days I want time to communicate with myself a little bit. What to do next? Which way to go? What can we give to our people? What is your power? What do people expect? I am going to be in the presence of all these things," Munde's Facebook post in Marathi, roughly translated in English, reads.

Pankaja Munde lost from her family bastion -- Parli seat -- to NCP's Dhananjay Panditrao Munde by a margin of approximately 30,000 votes in the Assembly elections held in October. -- ANI
11:31   Delhi's air quality in 'poor' category, min temp at 8 deg C
Delhi's air quality was recorded in the poor category for the second consecutive day on Monday morning, while the minimum temperature settled at eight degrees Celsius, a notch below the season's average. 

Relative humidity was recorded at 85 per cent. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi's air quality index stood at 283 at 7.43 am and deteriorated slightly to 286 at 9.40 am.

The AQI at Faridabad stood at 242 while in Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Greater Noida it stood at 142, 319 and 299 respectively. Noida had an AQI of 280.

At 9 am on Sunday, Delhi's air quality index (AQI) was 275, which falls in the "poor" category. An AQI between 0-50 is considered 'good', 51-100 'satisfactory', 101-200 'moderate', 201-300 'poor', 301-400 'very poor' and 401-500 'severe'. An AQI above 500 falls in the 'severe plus' category.
11:06   Feel guilty for not understanding Shaheen: Alia on sister's battle with depression
Alia Bhatt on Sunday said she felt guilty for being a "terrible sister" for not understanding Shaheen as much as she should have during the latter's battle with depression. The actor said she got more clarity on her sister's mental state after reading her book "I've Never Been (un)Happier". Alia, who accompanied Shaheen at a session on mental health, had multiple breakdowns while talking about what her sister went through.

"I am suddenly feeling very nervous. I am very nervous that I am going to start crying any minute because once we start talking about my sister and her...," Alia said, choking. The actor broke down and was consoled by her sister. "I feel extremely proud, heartbroken and overjoyed at the same time. Even though I've lived with my sister my whole life, 26 years, I only understood what she was going through after reading her book. 

"That makes me feel, on so many levels, so terrible as a sister. I feel like I didn't put myself out there enough to understand her, to think about what she was going through," Alia said. 

The actor was speaking at 'We The Women' curated by Barkha Dutt. Alia said on a subliminal level, everyone understood that there are certain situations which are different for Shaheen, but her book made her understand what she was going through. "What makes me really emotional," Alia broke down again, and added, "I always believed that she is the most brilliant person in the family but somehow she never believed it herself. That always broke my heart. 

"Not just me, everyone feels like this for her, that when Shaheen walks into a room, it's like a star is there because genuinely she with her mind, emotional quotient, the way she makes you feel, it's of another extreme." When asked if she feels guilty for not being sensitive, Alia said, "I was sensitive but I do feel guilty for not understanding her as much as I should have. I do understand much better now." 

Shaheen, however, said understanding what depression means can be a task for people. -- ANI

Image: Alia Bhatt on Instagram with her sister Shaheen
10:49   'Fadnavis CM drama to protect Rs 40k cr funds'
Former union minister and BJP MP Ananthkumar Hegde has claimed his party colleague Devendra Fadnavis was made chief minister in Maharashtra last month despite lacking majority only to 'protect' Rs 40,000 crore central funds under the CM's control from being 'misused'. 

Days after Fadnavis resigned barely 80 hours after taking oath for the second time as chief minister, Hegde, known for making controversial statements, sought to give a new twist to the episode describing the government formation by the BJP as a 'drama' played out to ensure that the funds meant for development works were 'protected'. 

"You all know that recently in Maharashtra for just 80 hours our person was Chief Minister, but soon Fadnavis resigned. Why did we have to do this drama? Didn't we know- despite knowing we don't have majority, why did he become CM? This is the question commonly every one ask," Hegde said. 

Addressing a gathering, reportedly during campaign in bypoll-bound Yellapur in Uttara Kannada district on Saturday, he said, "More than about Rs 40,000 crore was under CM's control. If NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena come to power certainly that Rs 40,000 crore would not have gone for development work and would have gone for different things (misused)."

"It was entirely planned earlier itself. Once we got to know (about three parties forming government) it was decided that a drama has to be played out. So, adjustments were made and oath was taken (by Fadnavis as CM), after oath within 15 hours Fadnavis systematically ensured that it (money) reaches where it had to and protected it," the BJP leader said, speaking in Kannada. 

The entire amount was given back to central government, or else certainly the "next Chief Minister would know what would have happened...," he added. -- PTI
10:44   Dam overflows, flood alert issued in TN's Erode district
A flood alert has been issued to people living on the banks of river Bhavani in this western district of Tamil Nadu as a dam built across it has  overflowed in the wake of copious rains in catchment areas, officials said on Monday. 

The water level in the Lower Bhavani Project reservoir reached its maximum of 105 feet and the storage crossed 32 tmc feet against maximum of 32.8 tmc ft, prompting the Public Works Department authorities to more than triple discharge from 3,500 cusecs to 11,950 cusecs on Monday morning. 

Consequently, Revenue officials released a flood alert and advised people living on the banks of River Bhavani to move to safer places, officials said. The dam has filled up for the sixth time this year following heavy rains in the catchment areas in hilly Nilgiris district and Mettupalayam in neighbouring Coimbatore district. -- PTI
10:34   IT department summons Shivakumar to appear before it today
Income Tax Department on Monday summoned Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar to appear before it today.The department has summoned the Congress leader to appear before IT officials in Bengaluru at 10:30 am today.

After an FIR was registered against him for allegedly obstructing I-T officials from discharging their duties, Shivakumar had on November 29 called it a "political vendetta" and said he is ready to go to jail.

"This is all a political vendetta. All cases are being done by these officers and friends of BJP. We know that. We will fight it out politically. We are ready to go to jail, no problem," Shivakumar had said.

The Supreme Court had on November 15 dismissed the Enforcement Directorate's plea challenging the bail granted to Congress leader D K Shivakumar by the Delhi High Court in connection with an alleged money laundering case.

On October 23, the Delhi High Court had granted bail to Shivakumar while taking into note that he had been extensively interrogated by the probe agency since his arrest on September 3.

The High Court had said that there was no material on record to show that he was a flight risk. -- ANI
10:23   Former Union minister Arun Shourie hospitalised
Former BJP leader and noted journalist Arun Shourie was admitted to a hospital in Maharashtra's Pune city after he fell ill, a doctor attending him said on Monday. The 78-year-old former Union minister fainted late Sunday night following which he was rushed to the Ruby Hall Clinic here, he said. "All necessary tests have been performed and he is currently under observation. He is conscious," a senior doctor at the hospital said. PTI
10:17   Priyanka and Nick's anniversary wishes will warm your heart
Power couple Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas celebrated one year of wedded bliss with a sweet tribute.

The Hollywood singing sensation, Nick who tied the knot in an elaborate ceremony at Jodhpur, Rajasthan, penned a heart-warming post, expressing his love for wife and global star Priyanka.

"One year ago today we said forever," the singer captioned a breathtaking snap, featuring the two of them holding hands before a flower-adorned altar on their special day.

"Well forever isn't nearly long enough. I love you with all of my heart @priyankachopra happy anniversary," he added.

The 'Baywatch' actor too expressed adoration for her husband, in a separate post which showcased highlights from their wedding ceremony.

"My promise. forever. You bring me joy, grace, balance, excitement, passion.. all in the same moment...thank you for finding me.. Happy First wedding anniversary Husband.. @nickjonas," she wrote.

Priyanka also thanked her fans and followers for their "love and good wishes"."Thank you to everyone for the love and good wishes. We feel blessed," she added. -- ANI
10:03   Sensex rises 80 points despite weak GDP numbers
Market benchmark BSE Sensex appreciated by over 80 points in early trade on Monday despite headwinds in form of weak GDP numbers, sliding rupee and rising crude prices. 

However, a rally in other asian stock markets supported the domestic market, dealers said. The 30-share index was trading 81.65 points, or 0.20 per cent, higher at 40,875.46 in morning session. 

Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty was quoting 25.35 points, or 0.21 per cent, up at 12,081.40. Bharti Airtel emerged as the top gainer by surging 7.92 per cent after it announced to hike tariffs from December 3, followed by Reliance, Tata Motors, HUL, IndusInd Bank Axis Bank, Infosys and TCS. On the other hand, TechM was was the biggest loser (2.55 per cent) in the Sensex pack, followed by ONGC, Bajaj Finance, PowerGrid, Tata Steen and Sun pharma. 

On Friday, the BSE benchmark Sensex plummeted 336.36 points or 0.82 per cent to close at 40,793.81. Likewise, the broader NSE Nifty also settled 95.10 points or 0.78 per cent down at 12,056.05. -- PTI
09:51   Rupee slips 4 paise to 71.78 against USD in early trade
The Indian rupee opened on a cautious note and fell 4 paise to 71.78 against the US dollar in early trade on Monday as economic growth concerns and rising crude oil prices kept investors edgy. 

Forex traders said investors traded the cautious path after India's Q2 GDP growth dipped to over 6-yr low of 4.5 per cent. India's GDP growth hit an over six-year low of 4.5 per cent in July-September 2019, dragged mainly by deceleration in manufacturing output and subdued farm sector activity, according to official data released on Friday. 

At the interbank foreign exchange, the rupee opened weak at 71.78 against the US dollar, showing a decline of 4 paise over its previous closing. The Indian rupee on Friday had closed at 71.74 against the US dollar. -- PTI
09:37   Majority mark may even reach 185 in future: Sena
As Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government won the trust vote with 169 votes in its favour, Shiv Sena on Monday said that it should not be surprising if the majority mark reaches 185 in future.

"A majority of 170 is not ordinary and tomorrow it should not be surprising if this number reaches 185," the party stated in its mouthpiece Saamana. It further stated, "This government will last for five years. This government has come to power through legal route. The number of 170 will remain intact. The Opposition should take care of this."

The Maha Vikas Aghadi, an alliance of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, on Saturday comfortably won the floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly amid a walkout by MLAs of the opposition parties. -- ANI
09:28   CM Uddhav orders review of bullet train project
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said he has ordered a review of all on-going development projects in the state, including the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train.

The bullet train project has faced stiff opposition from farmers and tribals whose lands are to be acquired.
"This government is of the common man. Like you asked now, yes, we will review the bullet train (project). Have I stayed the bullet train project like Aarey car shed? No, I haven't," he said.

The state government will also come out with a white paper on the financial condition of the state, Thackeray said.

He said the state government, which has a debt of nearly Rs five lakh crore, is firm on giving unconditional loan waivers to farmers.

The announcements came a day after the Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government forged by the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress more than a month after the election results were out  won the trust vote in the state assembly with the support of 169 legislators in the 288-member House.

The priorities of the previous BJP-led government in the state -- in which his party was a constituent -- were not "misplaced", he said and added that there would be no vendetta politics.

-- PTI
08:52   Hope govt reaches out to India Inc: Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
Biocon Chairperson and Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said the government did not want to hear any criticism on the economy while expressing hope that it reaches out to the India Inc to work out solutions to revive growth.
Shaw's remarks came a day after veteran industrialist Rahul Bajaj said the people were afraid to criticise the government.

"Hope the govt reaches out to India inc for working out solutions to revive consumption n growth. So far we are all pariahs n govt does not want to hear any criticism of our economy," Shaw said in a tweet.

Bajaj, at an award function on Saturday in Mumbai, had said that there was an "atmosphere of fear" and people were afraid to criticise the government and do not have the confidence that the government will appreciate any criticism.

The audience included Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, among others.

Recently, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, delivering his valedictory address at a national conclave on the economy, said that many industrialists tell him they live in fear of harassment by government authorities. 

-- PTI
08:36   Schools, colleges shut after downpour in TN
Schools and colleges are shut in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry as the Met department issued a flood alert after heavy rainfall in the state. 

Rains lashed many parts of Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry on Sunday with the North-East monsoon triggering a heavy spell in the last 24 hours, killing at least nine people. 

The rains claimed one life in the state capital, even as the Met Office predicted more showers in the next two days.

The Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services said it was fully prepared to deal with any flood-related issues and announced landline phone numbers for the public. 

The department said it has adequate manpower, equipment like inflatable rubber boats, long rescue ropes, other tools and vehicles to render assistance and help rescue and evacuate who are affected by floods.
07:58   Uddhav withdraws cases against Aarey activists
Cases registered against green activists who tried to stop felling of trees in Mumbai's Aarey Colony will be withdrawn, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced.

Cases were registered after clashes broke out between the police and green activists opposing axing of trees by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd in Aarey Colony early October for construction of a metro car shed for the Metro-3 line.

"I have directed police officials to withdraw the cases registered against green activists who were protesting against chopping of trees in the Aarey forest area," Thackeray told reporters.

The CM reiterated that he was not stopping any metro project in Mumbai.

After taking charge as the chief minister on November 29, Thackeray, who heads the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government, had announced stay on construction of the metro car shed project in the colony, a prime green lung of the city.

Police had booked at least 38 protesters under IPC sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from duty) and 143 (unlawful assembly).

Of them, 29 protesters, including six women, were arrested when some of them allegedly tried to obstruct the police personnel at Aarey from discharging their duty and manhandling them.

A sessions court had on October 6 granted conditional bail to 29 protesters. 

-- PTI