Thu, 14 November 2019
Delhi air quality 'severe' for 3rd day
23:58 Delhi air quality 'severe' for 3rd day
Delhi-NCR continued to battle severe pollution for the third consecutive day on Thursday with thick smog stiffening its choke as several children wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to take measures to ensure clean air for them.
Friday is unlikely to be any better with weather experts predicting a similar situation due to the influence of a western disturbance, the reason behind the dense cloud cover and a dip in wind speed.
However, wind speed is predicted to pick up on Saturday and a gradual decline in pollution is likely thereafter, they say.
The air quality index in the national capital read 463 at 4pm, up from 456 on Wednesday and more than four times the satisfactory levels of 50-100.
The satellite towns of Ghaziabad (467), Greater Noida (462), Gurgaon (447), Faridabad (446) and Noida (470) also reeled under the toxic smog.
An AQI between 201 and 300 is considered 'poor', 301-400 'very poor' and 401-500 'severe'.
Levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels were nearly eight times higher than the normal limits at several locations in the city.
Schools remained closed on Thursday as the thick smog stiffened its choke on the national capital and its suburbs, restricting most of the children indoors on Children's Day.
Parents, students and school authorities voiced their anguish, wondering what the future holds and whether anything could be done to disperse the pollutants.
Several children wrote to Modi, urging him to take steps to ensure that they get clean air to breathe. -- PTI
23:41 Waqf Board should not accept 5-acre plot for mosque: Jamiat chief
He said the Jamiat had asserted that the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya case, based on evidence, will be respected by it.
Maulana Madani, however, said the judgment was "beyond understanding".
The court accepted that placing idols in a mosque and demolishing it is illegal."But the court gave its decision in favour of those responsible for it," he said.
The JUEH president also said the court has accepted that the Babri mosque was not built by demolishing a temple during Babur's rule.
Madani said a decision on whether a review petition in the Ayodhya case should be filed will be taken in a meeting of the working committee of the JUEH which would sit till late evening to deliberate on the matter.
Settling a fractious issue that goes back more than a century, the Supreme Court, in its verdict in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title case on Saturday, said the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land should be handed over to the deity Ram Lalla, who was one of the three litigants in the case. -- PTI
23:36 They're taking India backward: Sonia attacks govt
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday launched a scathing attack on the Modi government accusing it of disrespecting the country's diversity, denying its pluralism and seeking to take it backward.
Delivering her speech at the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi, she alleged the Modi government lacked the capacity, vision and wisdom to uphold Nehru's legacy.
On the 130th birth anniversary of the country's first prime minister, Sonia called upon all to unite and speak up against the "bigotry, injustice and mismanagement" of the last six years.
Jawaharlal Nehru's vision stood on four pillars -- democratic institution-building, staunch secularism, socialist economics and a non-aligned foreign policy -- and they remain at the core of true India, she said.
"It is lamentable that those who are in power today are blind to this truth. They lack the capacity, the vision and the wisdom to uphold this legacy. The forces unleashed by our present rulers want to dictate to us what we can do, say or think.
"Their idea of unity is uniformity. They disrespect and fear diversity which means they deny our pluralism, our freedom of choice, which are integral to our fundamental rights. Their language may be modern, but they seek to take India backward, not forward. For after all, they made no sacrifices to shape India's destiny," she said.
"It falls on each and every one of us to pull away this hypocrisy and reveal the darkness lurking beneath. We must unite and speak up against the bigotry, injustice and mismanagement of the last six years. Not just for ourselves, but for the millions of our fellow brothers and sisters who continue to suffer," she also said.
Listing out the four pillars of Nehruvianism, she said, these were integral to his vision of India. "Today, this vision is fundamentally under attack, but it remains at the core of the true India that we must continue to fight for."
Describing Nehru as India's "greatest son", Gandhi said his timeless legacy and his contributions are being decried.
"Today, when we take our democracy and pluralist social fabric for granted, it is easy to forget the magnitude of contributions made by titans like Nehru and others of his time. It is easy to forget the challenges these men and women were faced with, the complexity of the questions they had to answer, and the arduous project of nation-building they embarked upon. It is their lifelong labours that have brought us to the India we recognise and cherish today," she noted.
The Congress chief said Nehru led a country that had not just been ravaged by colonialism and Partition, but had been reduced by 1947, into one of the poorest, most exploited societies on earth. -- PTI
23:13 No agreement was better than bad agreement: Jaishankar on RCEP
India deciding against signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership was based on "clear-eyed calculation" of the gains and costs of entering a new arrangement and no pact was better than a "bad agreement", external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday.
After years of negotiations, India had pulled out of the China-backed mega RCEP over unresolved "core concerns", with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying in Bangkok that the proposed deal would have adverse impact on the lives and livelihoods of all Indians.
Delivering the fourth Ramnath Goenka memorial lecture, Jaishankar referred to India's decision to not sign the agreement, saying India negotiated till the very end and then, knowing what was on offer, it took a call.
"And it was that no agreement at this time was better than a bad agreement. It is also important to recognize what the RCEP decision is not. It is not about stepping back from the Act East policy, which in any case is deeply rooted in distant and contemporary history," he said.
"Our cooperation spans so many domains that this one decision does not really undermine the basics. Even in trade, India already has FTAs with 12 out of the 15 RCEP partners. Nor is there really a connection with our Indo-Pacific approach, as that goes well beyond the RCEP membership," Jaishankar said.
There can be a legitimate debate on the merits of joining RCEP or any other FTA for that matter, but it should not be confused for grand strategy, he said.
"The recent debate about the RCEP offers lessons in foreign policy as much as in the trade domain. On the one hand, we should not go back to the old dogmas of economic autarky and import substitution. But at the same time, embracing the new dogma of globalisation without a cost-benefit analysis is equally dangerous," he said. -- PTI
22:22 Amid BJP-Sena row, tax raids on BMC contractors
The Income Tax Department has detected alleged irregularities to the tune of Rs 735 crore after it conducted searches on civil contractors who work for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the entral Board of Direct Taxes said on Thursday.
The search and survey operation was started at 44 locations in Mumbai and Surat on November 6, on entry providers and beneficiaries who have been engaged in execution of civil contracts mainly in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, it said.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes is the policy-making body for the tax department.
"There were reports that certain contractors had taken entries in the form of loans among others from entry providers and also inflated expenses in the books of accounts to suppress income.
"Incriminating evidences showing large scale tax evasion and money laundering have been found," it said.
So far, it said, detection on account of above mentioned issues is to the tune of Rs 735 crore and extent of accommodation entries is being quantified.
The operation "also led to the detection of the use of bogus companies (floated by entry providers) for giving entries to businesses in the form of loans or bills for expenses, among others".
"In the case of the entry providers, systematic modus operandi of bank fraud and forgery has been detected whereby the promoters have made investments in immovable properties and shares of group companies by siphoning off the bank loans," it said.
In the case of the contractor groups, several instances about inflation of expenses by bogus purchases/sub-contracts and taking of loans from entry providers have been identified, the statement claimed.
Investigations are in progress, including identification of the remaining beneficiaries, the CBDT said. -- PTI
22:20 Restore Taseer's OCI card: Rushdie, Pamuk
Over 260 prominent personalities including authors Orhan Pamuk, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie and Amitava Ghosh on Thursday expressed concern over the alleged "targeting" of journalist Aatish Taseer and demanded the Indian government restores his Overseas Citizen of India card.
In a letter, published by free speech platform PEN America, the signatories claimed the Indian government is "likely retaliating" against Taseer for his critical coverage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and called on him to ensure no writer is punished for speaking out.
"Denying access to the country to writers of both foreign and Indian origin casts a chill on public discourse; it flies in the face of India's traditions of free and open debate and respect for a diversity of views, and weakens its credentials as a strong and thriving democracy," the letter reads.
"This is outright retaliation against a journalist who has ticked off an increasingly nationalistic and authoritarian prime minister. Let's not pretend this is something else," the letter states.
Besides Pamuk, Atwood, Rushdie and Ghosh, the letter has been signed by Chimamanda Adichie, Christiane Amanpour, Michael Chabon, Don DeLillo, John Coetzee, Anita Desai, Louise Erdrich, Mia Farrow, Philip Gourevitch, Jhumpa Lahiri, Suketu Mehta, Maaza Mengiste, Perumal Murugan, Edna O'Brien, Gloria Steinem and Manil Suri among others.
Last week, the Ministry of Home Affairs revoked the OCI card of the 38-year-old British author saying he concealed the fact that his father was a Pakistani.
Critics have countered it, claiming Taseer was being targeted for his write-up "Divider-in-Chief" in the TIME magazine which was critical of Modi.
Taseer was raised by his mother Talveen Singh, an Indian journalist. His father Salman Taseer was governor of Pakistan's Punjab province when he was assassinated in 2011.
"We are extremely concerned that Taseer appears to have been targeted for an extremely personal form of retaliation due to his writing and reporting that has been critical of the Indian government. We urge that the spirit of the OCI regulations, which are designed to provide status and connection to their roots and family to citizens of other countries with Indian heritage, are upheld, and do not discriminate against single mothers," reads the letter.
22:18 Lata Mangeshkar stable, getting better: Spokesperson
Lata Mangeshkar, admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital in Mumbai, is "stable and getting better", a spokesperson of the legendary singer said on Thursday.
Mangeshkar, 90, was admitted to the Breach Candy Hospital after she complained of difficulty in breathing in the early hours of Monday.
In a statement, her PR team said, "Lata didi is stable and getting better. Request to please do not heed to needless rumours and react. Let us all collectively pray for her long life instead."
Hospital sources said the singer is showing "some signs of improvement but it will take time for her to recover".
"She is showing some signs of improvement but it will take time for her to recover. She has pneumonia and chest infection. Any person suffering from it takes time to recover from it," a hospital insider told PTI.
In her over seven-decade career, Mangeshkar has sung more than 30,000 songs across languages.
She is considered one of the greatest playback singers in Indian cinema. She received the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, in 2001.
Mangeshkar's last full Hindi album was for the late filmmaker Yash Chopra-directed 2004 film "Veer-Zaara". -- PTI
22:09 India, China to hold next round of border talks
India and China have agreed to hold another meeting on matters relating to the boundary question after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Brasilia, according to an official statement.
The 21st round of India-China border talks, led by Special Representatives National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, were held at Chengdu in China in November last year.
According to a statement by the ministry of external affairs, Prime Minister Modi and President Xi "noted that the Special Representatives will have another meeting on matters relating to the boundary question and reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and security along the border areas".
The statement, however, did not mention the time-frame for the next round of boundary talks.
Modi and Xi are in Brazil for the 11th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit.
During the 21st round of talks, both the sides resolved to "intensify" and "advance" the dialogue for an early settlement of the boundary dispute, according to the official statements issued by both the sides after the talks.
The two officials also emphasised on maintaining peace and tranquillity at the border by the two militaries making use of a number of mechanism worked out to improve the relations between the troops on the ground.
The SR talks are the highest official-level forum with a mandate to discuss not only solution to the boundary issue but also other issues concerning the two countries.
The India-China border dispute covers 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC). China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it.
This year's talks were expected to be held in September in India ahead of Xi's visit to Chennai last month for the second informal summit with Modi at Mamallapuram. But it did not take place due to "scheduling issues", according to officials on both sides.
The talks are now expected to take place following Wednesday's meeting between Modi and Xi at Brasilia. -- PTI
21:55 Air quality continues to remain severe in Delhi-NCR; children write to PM
Air quality in the nation capital remained in the severe category on Thursday as the Delhi-NCR region continued to be shrouded by a thick layer of toxic smog.
Schools in the Delhi-NCR region remained closed as per the direction of the authorities Wednesday night. The closure of the schools was recommended by the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) citing hazardous air quality.
Several students, who remained confined indoors, chose not to celebrate Children's Day on Thursday.
Many students wrote letters to the prime minister urging him to take measures to ensure clean air for them.
"I used to enjoy soccer earlier but now I can only enjoy it on TV. I cannot play outside because the air is too toxic to breathe in," a student, Ishan Mahant, said in the letter.
Another student wrote, "At this point we need a strong directive from the government of India and the governments of the states affected to control this serious condition. We do have belief in our beloved Prime Minister who will surely take strong decision on this."
The air quality index deteriorated further to 463 at 2:30 pm in the city, three points more to what was recorded at 9:30 am.
The AQI monitoring centres at Dwarka Sector 8 recorded an AQI of 496, very close to the "severe plus" category. The AQI monitoring centres at JLN Staidum and Nehru Nagar also recorded air quality levels over 490.
The only silver lining was the Aya Nagar air quality monitoring centre which recorded an AQI of 382. -- PTI
20:57 Terrorism caused $1tn loss to world economy: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday raised the issue of terrorism at the 11th BRICS Summit in Brasilia and said the menace has resulted in the loss of USD 1 trillion to the world economy.
Addressing the BRICS Plenary Session at the iconic Itamaraty Palace in the presence of the Presidents of Brazil, China, Russia and South Africa, Prime Minister Modi said that terrorism is the biggest threat to development, peace and prosperity.
"According to some estimates, the economic growth of developing nations has decreased by 1.5 per cent due to terrorism," he said, adding that the scourge has caused USD 1 trillion loss to the world economy.
Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa on Thursday opened the 11th BRICS Summit where deliberations are took place on key areas such as trade, investment and counter-terrorism. -- PTI
20:29 Vivekananda statue defaced at JNU
Objectionable messages were found written on the pedestal of a yet to be unveiled statue of Swami Vivekananda on the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus on Thursday.
There was no immediate reaction from the varsity's administration over the incident, which came to light after a video went viral.
The statue, which is covered in a saffron-coloured cloth, is located at the varsity's administrative block.
Representatives of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union denied their involvement in the incident and said they will issue a statement soon.
On Wednesday, students had painted various messages for vice-chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar inside the administration block of the university as they barged inside the building to talk to him about the hostel fee hike.
By evening, the fee hike saw a partial rollback and JNU said the clauses in the Draft Hostel Manual pertaining to the dress code and curfew timings were also removed.
Hundreds of students, led by the JNUSU, had barged inside the administration block to talk to the VC and on not finding him and other officials in the building, painted messages on the walls near his office. -- PTI
19:43 Air pollution claimed over 5 lakh lives in India: Report
More than five lakh people died prematurely in India in 2016 due to dangerous levels of outdoor air pollution and over 97,000 of the them died after being exposed to pollutants from coal burning, a new report revealed on Thursday.
The Lancet Countdown 2019 on health and climate change also cautioned that the impact of air pollution in India will worsen if the country does not shift from coal-based energy.
It emphasised on rapidly decreasing coal use to zero, saying it was crucial to meeting the commitments of the Paris Agreement.
"Total energy supply from coal increased by 11 per cent in India from 2016 to 2018 and out of over 5.29 lakh premature deaths in 2016 due to dangerous levels of outdoor fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5), over 97,400 deaths were from coal.
"The energy landscape will have to change drastically, and nothing short of a 7.4 per cent year-on-year cut in fossil carbon dioxide emissions from 2019 to 2050 will limit global warming to the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degree Celsius," the report, authored by 35 institutions worldwide, said.
It said coal phase-out is essential, not only as a key measure to mitigate climate change, but also to reduce morbidity and mortality from air pollution.
"Coal continues to be the second largest contributor to global primary energy supply (after oil) and the largest source of electricity generation (at 38 per cent, compared with gas, the next highest at 23 per cent)," the report said, adding that most of the growth in total primary energy supply (TPES) of coal has been in Asia, notably China, India, and Southeast Asia.
Overall, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels have risen by 2.6 per cent from 2016 to 2018, the report said.
Another global study from Switzerland, held earlier this year, revealed that China and the US may be the largest producers of coal power, but power plants in India take the highest toll in the world when it comes to health as coal-fired power plants produce more than just carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming.
Coal burning also releases particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury -- thus damaging the health of many people around the world. -- PTI
19:07 No deal with India in Jadhav's case: Pak
Pakistan on Thursday ruled out any deal with India in death-row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav's case and said any step taken to implement the International Court of Justice's decision will be according to its Constitution.
Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal's remarks came a day after Pakistan Army said that the government was considering various legal options for the review of Jadhav's case.
Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of "espionage and terrorism" after a closed trial in April 2017.
India has maintained that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the navy.
In a major victory for India, the ICJ on July 17 ruled that Pakistan must review the death sentence given to Jadhav.
Faisal in his weekly press briefing in Islamabad said, "There will be no dealall decisions will be as per local laws."
He said that any step taken to implement the decision of the ICJ regarding Jadhav will be according to the Constitution.
During Jadhav's trial in the ICJ, India had argued that consular access was being denied to its national in violation of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Rejecting Pakistan's objection to admissibility of the Indian application in the case, the ICJ in its 42-page order held that "a continued stay of execution constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review" of the sentence of Jadhav that had strained relations between the two neighbouring countries.
The bench, however, rejected some remedies sought by India, including annulment of the military court's decision convicting Jadhav, his release and safe passage to India.
After much dilly-dallying, Pakistan on September 2 granted India consular access to Jadhav under the direction of the ICJ.
Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Jadhav from restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran. -- PTI
18:55 No need for new law to set up Ayodhya Trust: Govt official
The proposed trust to oversee the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya will be set up by the government in line with the Supreme Court verdict on the issue, a top government official said on Thursday, rejecting speculation that it will bring a bill in Parliament for the purpose.
He said the Supreme Court's order last Saturday stated that Section 6 of the Acquisition of Certain Area at the Ayodhya Act 1993 empowers the central government to set up a trust or an authority to whom the land would be handed over.
There is no need for a separate legislation to create the trust, the official said on condition of anonymity, and asserted that an order from the apex court is as good as law and is binding on the legislature as well.
The Supreme Court had said, "We are of the view that it would be necessary to direct the central government to frame a scheme in exercise of the powers conferred upon it by Sections 6 and 7 to set up a trust or any other appropriate mechanism to whom the land would be handed over in terms of the decree in Suit 5.
"The scheme shall incorporate all the provisions necessary to vest power and authority in relation to the management of the trust or the body chosen for the vesting of the land," it said.
Earlier in the day, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters that the Union government will do what it has been asked by the court, but declined to elaborate. -- PTI
18:52 LG says poll process in J&K to begin 'soon'
Hinting at holding assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir in the near future, Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu on Thursday said the election process will begin soon.
"Election will come. It is a Union territory with a legislature, it will not continue like this (LG's rule)," he said, while addressing a function of the police department.
"The process for holding the election will come soon," Murmu said, speaking at the Attestation-cum-Passing out Parade of the 14th batch of Constables, held in the Talwara area of Reasi district.
Asking the police force to get ready for shouldering their responsibility, the LG said there will be an important role for the men in uniform (in the forthcoming election).
It maybe recalled that Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly Speaker Nirmal Kumar Singh met the LG at the Raj Bhavan here on Wednesday.
The statement of Murmu, who took over as the first LG of the Union territory on October 31, will come as a relief to political parties.
On August 5, the government revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated the state into two Union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. -- PTI
18:05 Pawar, Sonia to meet to discuss govt formation in Maha
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar are likely to meet in Delhi on November 17 to discuss possible alliance with the Shiv Sena for forming government in Maharashtra, sources said.
The Congress and the NCP would work out a common minimum programme with the Sena, which would then be discussed in the meeting between Gandhi and Pawar, sources said on Thursday.
It was, however, not clear whether and when Sena president Uddhav Thackeray will meet the two leaders after the CMP is finalised.
A 10-member coordination committee of the Congress and NCP met in Mumbai on Wednesday to hold preliminary discussions on the CMP.
According to sources, Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat and state NCP president Jayant Patil met Thackeray on Thursday morning, as decided in the meeting of the coordination committee.
"They (Thorat and Patil) held preliminary discussion with Thackeray. Now state leaders of the three parties will meet again here on Thursday to prepare the document (CMP) which will be sent for the approval of the respective top leadership of the three parties," the sources said.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena contested the October 21 Assembly polls together and won 105 and 56 seats, respectively, securing a comfortable majority in the 288-member house.
The two parties, however, fell out after the Sena persisted with its demand of sharing the chief minister's post on a rotational basis, leading to the BJP to announce that it was in no position to stake claim to form government.
After the Shiv Sena and NCP, second and third largest parties, too said they could not stake claim immediately, the state was placed under President's rule on Tuesday. -- PTI
18:01 Unfortunate: Activists on Sabarimala decision
The Supreme Court's decision to refer the issue of the entry of women of all ages to the Sabarimala temple to a bench of seven judges is unfortunate and unnecessary, several women's rights activists said on Thursday.
A five-judge bench has unanimously agreed to refer various religious issues, including the right of all women to enter the Sabarimala temple and mosques and the practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community, to a larger bench. It gave a 3:2 split decision on petitions seeking a review of the apex court's September 2018 decision allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala.
Brinda Karat, Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member and activist, said the apex court had given "a very clear judgement" earlier and referring it to a larger bench is "unfortunate".
"If the court wanted to look at other petitions they could have done that but to tag it with this case... It is already so delayed and it is unfortunate that there will be more delay in the case," Karat said.
Women's rights activist Trupti Desai said women should be allowed entry into the Sabarimala temple till a seven-judge Supreme Court bench delivers a verdict on the issue, and vowed to offer prayers at the shrine when it opens for worship later this week.
"What I understand is that till the court order comes, entry is open for women and no one should protest against it. People who say there is no discrimination at all are wrong, because women of specific ages are not allowed there. I am going to offer prayers on November 16," the Pune-based Desai told reporters after the verdict.
Desai had made an unsuccessful attempt to enter the temple in November last year, weeks after the Supreme Court lifted the ban that prevented women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 from entering the famous Ayyappa shrine in Kerala and held that the centuries-old Hindu religious practice was illegal and unconstitutional.
Women's rights activist Kavita Krishnan asked why the review petition was sent to a larger bench.
"SC as a rule rejects review petitions... Review petition in Sec 377 was rejected. But #SabarimalaVerdict is referred to larger bench!... SC is giving us the distinct impression that verdicts, treatment of review petitions are influenced by what pleases/displeases those in power," she tweeted, referring to the court's judgement on consensual same-sex relationships.
Echoing her, Vani Subramanian, from women's empowerment group Saheli, questioned the ground for referring the matter to a larger bench.
"... there is no need to refer it to a larger bench. Unnecessarily widening the scope when there is no justification to do that," she said. -- PTI
17:46 2 weeks after clashes, police resume work at Tis Hazari court
Delhi Police Thursday resumed duty to look after the security at the Tis Hazari court premises after a gap of about two weeks following clashes with lawyers even as advocates continued to boycott work.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Monika Bhardwaj apprised District Judge Girish Kathpalia of the security status and informed him that police personnel have been deployed at the three entrances of the court premises.
Amidst apprehensions of a hostile environment, about 20 police personnel resumed work wearing civil dress instead of the uniform.
While being appointed at each of the entrances and the lockup area, where the alleged police firing incident had taken place during the clash, they were asked to apprise the senior officials if altercations take place between them and the lawyers.
Lawyers in all the six district courts in the national capital continued to boycott work completely on Thursday to protest against the clash at Tis Hazari court in early November, with proxy counsels appearing in courts to take dates in matters and assist the litigants.
Hundreds of advocates marched on the streets near the Saket court, raising "We want justice" slogan and holding placards. Traffic was blocked and diverted for half an hour while they marched on the road.
Dhir Singh Kasana, general secretary of coordination committee of All District Courts Bar Associations in Delhi, said that advocates of all the district courts here will protest outside the Parliament on November 20.
Though lawyers are protesting peacefully, situation is tense as lawyers are still cautious about letting any advocate enter courtrooms. -- PTI
17:05 Rahul reiterates probe in Rafale deal
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said the Supreme Court's Justice K M Joseph has left open a "huge door" for investigation into the Rafale deal and demanded that a probe must begin in full earnest. He also called for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the fighter jet contract.
Gandhi's remarks came after the Supreme Court gave clean chit to the Modi government on the purchase of 36 fully-loaded Rafale fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation, rejecting the plea for registration of an FIR by the CBI for alleged commission of cognisable offence in the deal.
The apex court dismissed the pleas seeking review of the December 14, 2018 verdict in which it had said that there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
"We find the review petitions are without any merit," said a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph. Reading out the judgement, Justice Kaul said the judges had reached the conclusion that it is not appropriate to order a roving inquiry into the allegations.
Justice Joseph, who wrote a separate judgement, said he agreed with the main verdict written by Justice Kaul subject to certain aspects on which he has given his own reasons. -- PTI
17:00 Six days on, Mamata still mum on Ayodhya
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refrained from reacting on Ayodhya verdict on Thursday, six days since it was passed by the Supreme Court, saying she is too busy with the relief work after Cyclone Bulbul. The Ayodhya verdict was passed by the apex court on November 9 and not a single leader of the ruling TMC in West Bengal, including Banerjee, who is party supremo, has come out with a reaction on it. "I don't want to comment on it as this is a government meeting and I am too busy with the cyclone relief work," Banerjee said while addressing a press conference post an administrative review meeting.
16:13 J'khand polls: Priyanka not among campaigners
The Congress party on Thursday has issued a list of 40 star campaigners for the first phase of the upcoming Jharkhand Assembly Polls on Thursday. However, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's name is missing from the list.
As per the list issued by the party, Party's interim president Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi are among the star campaigners.
The Congress is contesting 31 seats in the Assembly elections in the state in alliance with Hemant Soren's Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal. Its ally partner JMM is contesting on 43 whereas the RJD on seven seats in the state.
The 81-member Jharkhand assembly will go to polls in five phases between November 30 and December 20 and the votes will be counted on December 23. -- PTI
15:44 Rafale deal: SC gives clean chit to Modi govt for second time
Update on the Rafale review plea verdict in the SC:
The Supreme Court Thursday gave clean chit to the Modi government on the purchase of 36 fully loaded Rafale fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation, rejecting the plea for registration of an FIR by the CBI for alleged commission of cognisable offence in the deal.
The apex court dismissed the pleas seeking review of the December 14, 2018 verdict in which it had said that there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
The top court was not satisfied with the submission that it decided the disputed questions of facts in the Rs 58,000 crore deal "prematurely" without investigation. The rejection of review petitions is tantamount to the apex court giving the clean chit to the Narendra Modi government for the second time.
"We do not consider this to be a fair submission for the reason that all counsels, including counsel representing the petitioners in this matter addressed elaborate submissions on all the aforesaid three aspects.
"No doubt that there was a prayer made for registration of FIR and further investigation but then once we had examined the three aspects on merits we did not consider it appropriate to issue any directions, as prayed for by the petitioners which automatically covered the direction for registration of FIR, prayed for," said a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
The review applications cannot be entertained unless there is an "error apparent on the face of the record", the apex court said. The bench said it cannot lose sight of the fact that it is dealing with a contract for aircrafts, which was pending before different governments for quite some time and the necessity for those aircrafts has never been in dispute.
"We had concluded that other than the three aspects -- Decision Making Process, Pricing and Offsets -- that too to a limited extent, this Court did not consider it appropriate to embark on a roving and fishing enquiry.
"We were, however, cautious to note that this was in the context of the writ petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, the jurisdiction invoked," said the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph.
The petition seeking re-examination of the December 14, 2018 verdict was filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan. Other review petitions were filed by lawyer Vineet Dhandha and Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker Sanjay Singh.
15:11 Make Sonia full-time prez, end chaos: Moily
Sonia Gandhi should become full- fledged President of the Congress to end uncertainty over the leadership issue, senior party leader M Veerappa Moily said on Thursday.
"I feel that she should be the President, not to be called as interim President... should not be left in this kind of an uncertain situation", the former Union Minister told PTI.
Sonia Gandhi was made interim president last August, barely 20 months after she voluntarily relinquished the top post in favour of son Rahul Gandhi who refused to continue on as Congress chief after a humiliating 2019 general election defeat.
"In the absence of any other arrangement, particularly when Rahulji is not willing to be active, I think somebody has to take up the responsibility and she would not like the Congress to be left behind without a leader", Moily said. "According to me, she has to be full-fledged President", the former Karnataka Chief Minister said. PTI
14:30 We have been vindicated: Ex-IAF Chief on Rafale verdict
Former Indian Air Force Chief, BS Dhanoa on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court's decision of dismissing the review petitions challenging its verdict in the Rafale case, saying that they have been vindicated."I think we have been vindicated," the former IAF Chief said while speaking to ANI."
In December 2018 I had issued a statement that Supreme Court has given a fine judgement and at that time some people said that I was being political, which was incorrect," he recalled.
Dhanoa also hoped that the matter will be laid to rest saying that raking up such issues to get political gains, putting the interest of armed forces behind is not right.
"I hope the matter is now laid to rest. Raking up such issues to get political gains, putting the interest of your armed forces behind, I think is not right," he said.The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the review petitions challenging its verdict in the Rafale case passed on December 14, 2018, upholding the 36 Rafale jets deal.
A three-judge bench presided by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph passed the order on a batch of petitions seeking review of its December 14, 2018 verdict which had upheld purchase of 36 Rafale jets by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government from France. -- ANI
14:20 Rahul's Rafale allegations to malign PM Rajnath
Slamming the Congress after the Supreme Court dismissed Rafale review petitions, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the allegations of corruption were aimed at maligning Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demanded that the party apologise for it.
The Supreme Court on Thursday gave a clean chit to the Narendra Modi government in the Rafale fighter jets deal case, saying review petitions were without merit. The court rejected pleas which had sought re-examination of the December 14, 2018 verdict which said there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
"The allegation of corruption in Rafale deal was nothing but an attempt to malign the clean and honest image of image of PM Narendra Modi and his Government. The people of India will not forgive the Congress for their slanderous campaign and calumny. The Congress should apologise for misleading the people," he said while attending the Maitree Diwas celebrations at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. "The allegations made by certain political parties and their leaders in Rafale jet purchase were extremely unfortunate, unwarranted and laced with malicious intent. The verdict has rightly cautioned such politicians to be careful while making wild allegations," he said. He said the purchase of Rafale jets was done in a completely transparent manner, keeping in mind the urgency to update and upgrade India's defence preparedness.
"The issues pertaining to defence preparedness and national security should never be politicised. I wholeheartedly welcome the Supreme Court's categorical dismissal of the review petitions in the Rafale case and with this pronouncement the NDA Government stands vindicated. The SC verdict is also a judgement on our Government's transparency in decision making," he said. PTI
Union Home Ministry appoints K K Sharma, Farooq Khan as advisors to Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir: Order.
13:42 50:50 talks with BJP held in Thackeray 'temple''
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday said that had BJP president Amit Shah informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the "50:50" seat-sharing formula "in time", Maharashtra would not have been facing the current political impasse.
Raut wondered if Modi was "kept away" by top BJP leaders from the decision taken over seat-sharing. Shah on Wednesday said the Shiv Sena's demands, including sharing the chief minister's post, were "unacceptable" to the BJP. He also rejected Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's claim that the BJP agreed to share the CM's post with the ally, saying Prime Minister Modi many times and he "at least 100 times" said in public during the Assembly polls campaign that Devendra Fadnavis will again head the government if the saffron alliance gets a majority.
Reacting to it, Raut said, "Had Shah informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about this decision of '50:50 formula' in time, we would not have been facing this situation today."
"I heard Modi (during poll campaigns) saying that Fadnavis will continue as the chief minister of Maharashtra, but we maintained the decorum and did not object it as we did not see it as a political message to us," he said.
"I wonder whether Modi was kept away by top BJP leaders from the decision taken between the BJP and Shiv Sena over seat-sharing," the Rajya Sabha member said.
He said Shah and Thackeray had met at the latter's residence in Mumbai (in February before the Lok Sabha polls). "It was the drawing room of late Balasaheb Thackeray, but for us it is a temple. The talks were held in the temple. If someone says no promises were made, it is an insult of the temple, Balasaheb Thackeray and Maharashtra," Raut said, adding that the room is a "holy place" for Shiv Sainiks. -- PTI
13:34 Muzaffarpur shelter home case: Court defers judgement
Delhi court on Thursday deferred by a month its judgement in the case of alleged sexual and physical assault of several girls at a shelter home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur. Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha deferred the verdict till December 12 as 20 accused, who are currently lodged in Tihar central jail, could not be brought to court premises due the ongoing lawyers' strike in all six district courts in the national capital.
Former Bihar People's Party MLA Brajesh Thakur is the prime accused in the case. The court had reserved order on September 30 after final arguments by the CBI counsel and 11 accused in the case in which former Bihar Social Welfare Minister and the then JD(U) leader Manju Verma also faced flak as allegations surfaced that Thakur had links with her husband. She had resigned from her post on August 8, 2018.
The CBI had told a special court that there was enough evidence against all the 20 accused in the case. Although the verdict has been listed for Thursday, the lawyers' strike in all the six district courts here, following the recent clash between the police and advocates, is yet to be called off. -- PTI
13:07 Moody's cuts India GDP forecast to 5.6% for 2019
Moody's Investors Service on Thursday cut India's economic growth forecast for current year to 5.6 per cent from 5.8 per cent estimated earlier, saying GDP slowdown is lasting longer than previously expected.
"We have revised down our growth forecast for India. We now forecast slower real GDP growth of 5.6 per cent in 2019, from 7.4 per cent in 2018," it said. It expected economic activity to pick up in 2020 and 2021 to 6.6 per cent and 6.7 per cent, respectively, but the pace to remain lower than in the recent past. "India's economic growth has decelerated since mid-2018, with real GDP growth slipping from nearly 8 per cent to 5 per cent in the second quarter of 2019 and joblessness rising.
"Investment activity was muted well before that, but the economy was buoyed by strong consumption demand. What is troubling about the current slowdown is that consumption demand has cooled notably," it said. PTI
12:54 SC issues notice to Grover, Jaising on CBI plea against HC order
The Supreme Court on Thursday sought response from NGO Lawyers Collective and its founding members Anand Grover and Indira Jaising on a plea by the CBI challenging the Bombay High Court order granting protection from coercive action against them in an alleged FCRA violation case.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari issued notice to the senior lawyers and the NGO. The top court also refused to stay the Bombay High Court order.
The CBI had registered a case against Grover and the NGO over alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) in the use of foreign funds received by Lawyers Collective.
The probe agency contended that the high Court had neither rendered any finding as to how the FIR registered against the accused parties was "unsustainable and bad in law" nor referred to any finding as to how the continuance of the investigation against the accused would be contrary to law.
Grover and his wife had approached the high court in July seeking that the FIR registered by the CBI against the NGO and them in June be quashed. The CBI registered the FIR following a complaint by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in May alleging violation of FCRA provisions.
While the FIR did not name Jaising as an accused, the MHA complaint, which is part of the FIR, mentioned her name and made specific allegations against her. The CBI alleged that the NGO received foreign funds between 2009 and 2015, but failed to disclose a major part of it. -- PTI
12:49 Uncovered: 265 coordinated fake local media outlets serving Indian interests
Over 265 fake local news sites in more than 65 countries are managed by an Indian influence network. How could you know that your local news website, such as newyorkmorningtelegraph.com, thedublingazette.com, or timesofportugal.com serves Indian governmental interests? Here's the story of how we uncovered this network designed to influence the EU and the UN by repeatedly criticising Pakistan.
Read the report here
12:38 Cong leaders remember Nehru on his birth anniversary
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, former President Pranab Mukherjee and former PM Manmohan Singh on Thursday paid homage to India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary. A large number of MPs, senior Congress leaders and thousands of party workers also paid tributes to Nehru at Shanti Vana on his 130th birth anniversary.
In a tweet, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, "On his birth anniversary, we remember our first PM, Pandit Jawaharlal NehruJi, a statesman, visionary, scholar, institution builder and one of the great architects of modern India". He also used the hashtag "RememberingNehruji". -- PTI
Here are some of our columns on Pandit Nehru, which will give you an insight into India's greatest architect.
12:27 So they decided to convert jealousy into an ideology...
Journalist Madhavan Narayanan on Nehru's birth anniversary: "Nehru was good-looking, highly educated, worked hard, went to jail, led the world's biggest democracy for 17 years, stood equal to international leaders, led a happy personal life unfettered by inhibitions. So they decided to convert jealousy into an ideology ;-)"
12:24 Deepika, Ranveer seek blessings at Tirupati temple on 1st wedding anniversary
As Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone celebrate their first wedding anniversary today, the couple started the day by offering prayers at Lord Venkateswara shrine at Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh.
The duo sought blessings of Lord Venkateswara and thanked all for the "love, prayers and wishes!"Deepika shared a beautiful picture of two exchanging a good laugh outside the temple premises. While Deepika is seen flashing her wide smile, Ranveer is seen adoringly looking at his partner.
The two dressed to the nines in the traditional ethnic wear on their wedding anniversary. Deepika can be seen wearing a red sari. She teamed her red sari with heavy gold jewellery and also sported sindoor to compliment the look.
Ranveer was seen wearing a red-cream sherwani over which he wore a red dupatta.
Sharing the still on Instagram, Deepika wrote, "As we celebrate our first wedding anniversary, we seek the blessings of Lord Venkateswara. Thank You all for your love, prayers and good wishes!"
The Padmaavat actors will on Friday head to the Golden Temple to offer prayers.
12:22 Political parties in Kerala welcome SC decision on Sabarimala
Sabarimala verdict reactions: Political parties in Kerala on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court decision to refer its September 28, 2018 order allowing women of all ages into the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala to a larger bench.
Hailing the verdict, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala asked the Left-led state government "not to create issues" by providing security and taking women in the banned age group to offer worship at the Ayyappa temple.
"Just because there is no stay of the September 28 verdict, the LDF government must try not to create issues by providing security and allowing women to enter Sabarimala. The state government must not implement its earlier agenda of taking women in the banned age group to the hill shrine," he said.
The Supreme Court on Thursday said restrictions on women in religious places was not limited to Sabarimala alone and was prevalent in other religions as well as it referred all review pleas to a larger seven-judge bench.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, reading the verdict on behalf of himself and Justices A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra, said the larger bench will decide all such religious issues relating to Sabarimala, entry of women in mosques and practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community.
The state government was yet to react on the decision.
Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the new decision will help in protecting the faith of devotees. He also hoped the pilgrimage season will be peaceful. Pandalam Royal family member Sasikumar Varma, one of the petitioners, said he was happy with the apex court's decision to review the September 28 verdict allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple. -- PTI
Image: Sabarimala temple head priest (thantri) Kandararu Rajeevaru addresses devotees staging a protest against the Supreme Court verdict on the entry of women of all ages into the shrine last year.
12:07 Truth has triumphed, crows BJP on Rafale verdict
The BJP on Thursday reacted with jubilation to the Supreme Court's decision to reject review petitions for probing the Rafale deal, saying truth has triumphed and that it is a huge victory for the Modi government. "Truth triumphs. Truth can be bothered but not defeated," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.
The Supreme Court on Thursday gave a clean chit to the Narendra Modi government in the Rafale fighter jets deal case, saying review petitions were without merit.
The court rejected pleas which had sought re-examination of the December 14, 2018 verdict which said there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
Party leaders also took a dig at former Congress president Rahul Gandhi after the apex court asked him to be careful in future while closing a plea for contempt case against him for wrongly attributing certain comments on the Rafale deal to it.
"SC rejects review petitions on Rafale deal & raps Rahul Gandhi & asks him to be careful in future. Huge victory for Narendra Modi-led government," BJP general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh tweeted.
The Supreme Court also closed the contempt plea against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for wrongly attributing to the apex court his "chowkidar chor hai" remark in the Rafale case against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The court said the remarks made by Gandhi were far from true and he should have refrained from those and could have been careful. PTI
11:57 All disqualified K'taka MLAs, barring 1, join BJP
A day after the Supreme Court paved the way for them to contest the December 5 Assembly bypolls in Karnataka, 16 disqualified Congress-JD(S) legislators on Thursday joined the BJP in Bengaluru.
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, state BJP chief Nalin Kumar Kateel and National General Secretary in charge of Karnataka, P Muralidhar Rao were among those who welcomed them into the party fold. BJP that aims to win a majority of the 15 constituencies where bypolls will be held is likely to field most of them as the party candidates.
However, R Roshan Baig, a disqualified Congress legislator from Shivajinagar, was not inducted into the party on Thursday. BJP sources cited "reservations" expressed by party leadership over Baig, who is facing inquiry in the IMA ponzi scam, among the reasons for his non-induction. Interestingly Baig, a seven-time legislator, on Wednesday claimed he will be joining BJP along with the other legislators.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday had upheld the disqualification of 17 Congress-JD(S) MLAs in Karnataka by the then Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar but paved the way for them to contest the by-polls.
11:54 Air quality in Delhi remains severe
The air quality in Delhi on Thursday remained in the severe category with the AQI being recorded at 460. The Dwarka Sector 8 air monitoring centre recorded an air quality index of 496 and Nehru Nagar and JLN Stadium 492. An AQI between 201 and 300 is considered 'poor', 301-400 'very poor' and 401-500 'severe', while the AQI above 500 falls in the severe plus category.
On Wednesday, the air quality in the city was severe with the overall AQI being recorded at 456 at 4 pm. The noxious smog resulting from raging farm fires and unfavourable weather had pushed pollution in Delhi-NCR towards the "emergency" zone, prompting authorities to order closure of schools till November 15 -- a second time in two weeks. - PTI
Image: A 'Run for Children' was organised by a non-profit organisation 'Prayas', this morning in Delhi, where the air quality was 'severe'. Thoughtful!
11:25 SC refers Sabarimala review petitions to larger bench
Update on the Sabarimala verdict: The Supreme Court on Thursday referred to a larger constitution bench a batch of review petitions against its September 2018 verdict allowing entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple.
While Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice DY Chandrachud dissented, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Indu Malhotra sent the Sabarimala review to a larger Bench by a 3-2 ruling.
"The entry of women into places of worship is not limited to this temple only. It is also involved in the entry of women into mosques," Chief Justice Gogoi said while reading out the verdict.
A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi had passed the order on a series of petitions seeking reconsideration of its September 2018 judgment that lifted the bar on menstruating women from worshipping in the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.The apex court in a landmark 4:1 ruling had set aside decades-old restrictions on the entry of women of age between 10 to 15 years inside the temple.
11:24 Be careful, says SC closing case against Rahul
A Supreme Court bench has closed the case, but admonished Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for wrongly wrongly attributing to the Supreme Court his "chowkidar chor hai" remark in the Rafale case against PM Modi. The court said Rahul should be more careful in future.
A criminal contempt plea filed was against the Congress leader by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi.
Gandhi had made the remarks on April 10, the day the court had dismissed the Centre's preliminary objections over admissibility of certain documents for supporting the review petitions against the December 14 last year verdict in the Rafale case. A bench comprising Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph had on May 10 reserved the judgement.
Here's a background of the case: Not our views: SC asks Rahul to explain Rafale remark
11:01 SC dismisses Rafale review pleas
The Supreme Court has dismissed the Rafale review petition. The judgment is on a batch of petitions seeking a review of its 2018 order which gave a clean chit to the Narendra Modi-led government on a plea seeking investigation into the alleged irregularities in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets by India from France.
The verdict was delivered by a three-judge bench presided by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph.
10:48 Sabarimala verdict sent to larger SC bench
The Supreme Court has sent the Sabarimala verdict to a larger bench. The court was hearing review petitions allowing the entry of women of all age groups in Kerala's Sabarimala Temple. The 5-judge bench delivered a dissenting 3:2 verdict, with Justices DY Chandrachud and RF Nariman disagreeing.
A 7-judge bench will now re-examine the verdict.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had reserved its decision on February 6 after hearing various parties including those seeking re-consideration of the September 28, 2018 judgement.
CJI Ranjan Gogoi says, "What is perceived as faith by one group may not be perceived so by another group. The judgment will not be limited to Hindu women only." The right to worship of Muslim and Parsi women will also be heard, the court said.
10:33 Market turns jittery on weak macro data, global cues
Equity benchmarks Sensex and Nifty started on a volatile note on Thursday as weak domestic macroeconomic data and negative cues from global markets kept investors on edge.
After opening on a positive note, the 30-share index turned choppy to trade 54.61 points, or 0.14 per cent, lower at 40,061.45.
Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty slipped 33.20 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 11,807.25. Top losers in the Sensex pack included Bharti Airtel, IndusInd Bank, Tata Motors, SBI, Tata Steel, ONGC and HUL, shedding up to 3.34 per cent. On the other hand, Infosys, Yes Bank, Asian Paints and Maruti were among the top gainers, rising up to 2.13 per cent. -- PTI
Image: SBI was among the top losers.
10:29 Lata Mangeshkar showing signs of improvement: Hospital
Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, who was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital earlier this week, is showing "signs of improvement" but will take "time to recover", hospital sources said on Thursday.
Mangeshkar, 90, was admitted to the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai after she complained of difficulty in breathing in the early hours of Monday. "She is showing some signs of improvement but it will take time for her to recover. She has pneumonia and chest infection. Any person suffering from it takes time to recover from it," a hospital insider told PTI.
In her over seven-decade career, Mangeshkar has sung over 30,000 songs across languages. She is considered one of the greatest playback singers in Indian cinema. She received the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, in 2001. Mangeshkar's last full Hindi album was for the late filmmaker Yash Chopra-directed 2004 film "Veer-Zaara". -- PTI
10:23 Will SC uphold Sabarimala verdict?
Sabarimala verdict any time now. Here's an update:
The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce its verdict on a batch of petitions seeking re-examination of its decision to allow entry of women of all age group in Kerala's Sabarimala Temple.
The apex court will deliver its judgement on as many as 65 petitions -- including 56 review petitions and four fresh writ petitions and five transfer pleas -- which were filed after its verdict sparked violent protests in Kerala.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had reserved its decision on February 6 after hearing various parties including those seeking re-consideration of the September 28, 2018 judgement. Other members of the bench are justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
The apex court, by a majority verdict of 4:1, on September 28, 2018, had lifted the ban that prevented women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 from entering the famous Ayyappa shrine in Kerala and had held that this centuries-old Hindu religious practice was illegal and unconstitutional.
The five-judge constitution had heard the pleas in an open court and reserved its decision after hearing the parties, including Nair Service Society, Thantry of the temple, The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and the state government, in favour and against the review plea. The TDB, which runs Sabarimala temple, had made a U-turn to support the Supreme Court's order allowing women of all ages to enter the shrine.
The TDB had joined the Kerala government to oppose a batch of pleas seeking review of the historic verdict. The Board later asserted that its latest position was not due to any political pressure.
10:20 On Nehru's birth anniversary I wish to say NOTHING: Meghalaya guv
Meghalaya governor Tathagata Roy on Nehru's birth anniversary tweets without a tribute: "Patel knew that if he fought Nehru the Congress wud break up. Hence the platitudinous praise while differing violently with him on specific issues like Hyderabad and Chinese annexation of Tibet. Today is Jawaharlal Nehru's birth anniversary. On this occasion I wish to say NOTHING."
10:16 President's rule in Maha a scripted act: Sena
The Shiv Sena on Thursday alleged that imposition of President's rule in Maharashtra was a "scripted act" and took a jibe at the governor, saying he has now given parties six months to form government. It also said that former state chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is shedding "crocodile tears" over the imposition of President's rule as power is still indirectly in the hands of the BJP.
Criticising the governor for giving the Shiv Sena just 24 hours to stake claim and refusing it additional time to muster numbers, an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana' said, "It looked like some invisible power was controlling this game and decisions were taken accordingly."
President's rule was imposed in the state on Tuesday after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari sent a report to the Centre, stating that formation of a stable government was impossible in the current situation despite all his efforts. The Sena alleged that protocol was not followed when it went to the Raj Bhawan to seek more time to stake claim for government formation. -- PTI
09:47 PM pays tribute to Pt Nehru
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's desultory tweet on the birth anniversary of India's greatest nation builder. Modi writes, "Tributes to our former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary".
09:41 Timeline of fighter jet deal!
Two major cases in the Supreme Court today: the Sabarimala review petition and the Rafale review petition.
Here's a backgrounder on the Rafale review petition: The Supreme Court today will pronounce its judgment on a batch of petitions seeking a review of its 2018 order which gave a clean chit to the Narendra Modi-led government on a plea seeking investigation into the alleged irregularities in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets by India from France.
The verdict will be delivered by a three-judge bench presided by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph.
A brief timeline of the Rafale jet deal case:
2007: The UPA government releases tenders for 126 fighters, based on the demand by the Indian Air Force.
January 2012: French company, Dassault Aviation makes the lowest bids for their aircraft Rafale. According to conditions, 126 jets required, of which 18 to be imported in fly-away condition. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) supposed to manufacture the remaining 108 jets with assistance from Dassault.
2014: HAL and Dassault sign an agreement. Negotiations carried out however the deal was not finalised.
June 2015- Defence ministry officially withdraws the 126 aircraft deal tender.
April 2015: Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Paris and announces the decision to buy 36 Rafale fighters.
January 2016: French President Francois Hollande visits India on the occasion of Republic Day. A memorandum of understanding on the purchase of Rafale jets signed between India and France.
November 2018: A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi reserves verdict in the Rafale case after extensive arguments.
December 14, 2018- Supreme Court dismissed petitions seeking court-monitored probe into Rafale fighter jet deal, saying that there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the deal. The top court had also said that it was not its job to go into the issue of pricing of fighter planes.
May 2019 -The Supreme Court reserves the order on the pleas filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and others against the top court's judgment.
The Centre had also filed an affidavit seeking dismissal of the review petition after some internal documents of the Defence Ministry related to the Rafale fighter deal came out in a section of the media.
09:00 Emergency-like situation in Delhi, schools shut
With every passing day, the air quality in Delhi refuses to improve. After a short-lived relief, the national capital's air quality is once again so bad it qualifies as a national health emergency.
On Thursday morning, the AQI level in Delhi was measured at 472 (severe). At many places in NCR, the AQI crossed the 500-mark, putting the regions in 'severe plus' category.
According to SAFAR, the levels of PM 2.5 - tiny particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter that can enter deep into the lungs and even the bloodstream - breached the emergency threshold of 300 micrograms per cubic metre in Delhi-NCR on Thursday morning and shot up to 322 micrograms per cubic metre, around six times the safe limit of 0-60, in the morning.
The noxious smog resulting from raging farm fires and unfavourable weather pushed pollution in Delhi-NCR towards the "emergency" zone on Wednesday, prompting authorities to order the closure of schools till November 15 -- second time in two weeks.
The schools in the national capital will be closed on Thursday and Friday, the Delhi government said.
08:37 Sonia, Modi pay tribute to Jawaharlal Nehru on birth anniversary
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday paid tribute to India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too paid tribute on Twitter. He wrote, "Tributes to our former PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary."
In India, Children's Day is celebrated on November 14 every year as a mark of respect to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India.
08:13 Centre may table bill on Ayodhya temple trust in Winter session
The Centre is contemplating introducing a bill that will give legislative backing to a Trust that will oversee the construction of a Ram temple on the 2.77-acre site in Ayodhya and the running of the shrine in line with the Supreme Courts November 9 judgment, a senior government official who did not want to be named said.
The legislation is likely to be introduced in the coming Parliament session which starts on November 18. The issue is being discussed at the highest level, and it is being fine-tuned, the senior official said and added, the proposed legislation is likely to lay down in detail the functioning and responsibilities of the Trust.
The Centre is acting in line with the Supreme Court order, which cleared the way for the construction of a Ram temple on the site in Ayodhya and directed it to allot a 5 acre plot at a prominent location to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque. Legislative backing will give the plan a stronger footing.
In its 1,045 page verdict, a five-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi ruled: The Central Government shall, within a period of three months from the date of this judgment, formulate a scheme under the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993. The scheme shall envisage the setting up a trust with a board of trustees or any other appropriate body....
Although deliberations are still underway, there is a strong possibility that the ministry of culture would be entrusted with the responsibility of piloting the legislation and the subsequent formation of the trust in line with the proposed legislation.
07:46 Sabarimala verdict: Anxiety grips Kerala
Political parties, right wing outfits and devotees in Kerala are keeping their fingers crossed as the Supreme Court is set to pronounce today its verdict on pleas seeking review of its decision
to allow entry of women of all age groups in the Sabarimala
The southern state had witnessed high drama and protests by devotees and right wing activists last year against the CPI-M-led LDF government's decision to implement the top court's order.
DGP Loknath Behara has said there will be tight security during the pilgrimage season.
Over 10,000 police personnel will be deployed in phases in and around the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple during the two-month long pilgrimage season.
While the state BJP, on Wednesday, expressed hope that the order on the review petitions, would be in favour of devotees, the Travancore Devaswom Board, the autonomous temple body which manages the shrine, appealed to everyone to accept the judgment whatever it may.
The apex court, on September 28, 2018, had lifted the ban that prevented women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 from entering the Ayyappa shrine and held that this centuries-old Hindu religious practice was illegal and unconstitutional.
01:05 MHA approves CISF cover for Visva-Bharati
The Union Home Ministry has accorded its approval for deployment of the CISF at the Visva-Bharati University in West Bengal, officials said on Wednesday.
They said the central paramilitary force will soon constitute a 'board of officers' who will conduct a security audit of the facility at Santiniketan.
An in-principle approval has been given by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for deployment of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel at the Visva-Bharati University, they said.
Once formalised, it will be the first case of an educational institution or central university to have armed paramilitary personnel stationed permanently on campus.
The audit team of the force will assess placement of check points, towers and entry and exit points in the university campus before they project the exact number of troops required to render the task of guarding the facility, they said.
University officials, when contacted, said they had not received any official communication in this regard.
The varsity's vice chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty had recently written to the CISF alleging that private security personnel employed by the university owe their allegiance to 'TMC local bosses'.
The letter was also marked to the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry, which has forwarded it to the paramilitary force.
The CISF then had detailed its procedure for deploying a contingent, including conducting required checks and surveys.
The vice-chancellor had cited incidents of confrontation between the university administration, students and staff, in his letter to request for CISF deployment on the campus.
"The private security personnel currently employed by the university owe their allegiance to the TMC local bosses and, hence, disobey Visva-Bharati's security officer with impunity.
"There have been instances of students staging protest and preventing faculty members and officials from leaving the campus when the security guards remained silent onlookers and even created enabling conditions for the protesters," the letter by Chakrabarty had said.
Visva Bharati established in 1921 by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, was declared a central university in 1951.
The CISF guards vital installations in the country, including the Delhi Metro, 61 civil airports and organisations in the aerospace and nuclear domain.
It was tasked to extend its armed security cover, exclusively from the existing government sector deployment, to private installations after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which Pakistan-based terrorists targeted five-star hotels and other locations killing over 166 people.
Currently, ten installations in the private sector are guarded by the 1.50-lakh personnel strength force that includes Infosys campuses in Bengaluru, Pune and Mysuru and the Reliance refinery in Jamnagar among others. -- PTI