Fri, 26 May 2023
JD-U to fast in protest of PM inaugurating Parl

Timeline  Refresh

23:19   JD-U to hold fast in protest of PM inaugurating new Parliament
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United on Friday announced that it will observe a day-long fast here on Sunday to protest the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

State JD-U president Umesh Singh Kushwaha said his party felt outraged over attempts to 'foist Modi constitution on the nation'.

"This government has been guilty of insulting Presidents belonging to depressed classes. The then President, a Dalit, was not invited to the function where the foundation stone for the new building was laid," said Kushwaha, in an obvious reference to Ram Nath Kovind.

"Now, a tribal woman is the President and she is being similarly insulted. The JD-U will not tolerate this," he said.

Around 20 parties opposed to the Bharatiya Janata Party have announced the boycott of the function, holding that President Droupadi Murmu should have been asked to inaugurate the building.

The JD-U leader added, "We will not tolerate attempts to foist Modi constitution in place of the one drafted by Babasaheb (B R Ambedkar)."

"Hundreds of our workers will observe fast in front of the statue of Babasaheb, close to the Patna high court," said Kushwaha.

The JD-U, which seems to have hardened its stance, has 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha besides a few in the Rajya Sabha, including Deputy Chairman Harivansh.

The hardening of stance comes a couple of days after the party announced that it will boycott the function, agreeing with the contention of the Congress and other parties that Murmu, and not Modi, should inaugurate the new building.   -- PTI
23:08   Prachanda to visit India from May 31 to June 3
Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' will embark on a four-day official visit to India from May 31 at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, foreign ministry sources said in Kathmandu on Friday.

This will be Prachanda's first foreign visit after assuming the high office for the third time in December last year.

Foreign ministry sources in Kathmandu said the visit will take place from May 31 to June 3 and the ministry will make a formal announcement on Saturday.

The foreign ministry will make a formal announcement of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda's official visit to India on Saturday.

"The visit will take place from May 31 to June 3 and he will hold high-profile meetings, including with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on bilateral ties," the official, who is an aide to Foreign Minister N P Saud, said.

"The preparations for the visit have reached its final stage. Foreign Minister Saud last week held consultations with former foreign ministers and foreign Secretaries to discuss various issues related to the visit," the official said.

Meanwhile, Nepalese Ambassador to India Shankar Prasad Sharma called on Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar in New Delhi this week and discussed Prime Minister Prachanda's upcoming visit.

Matters related to energy cooperation, water resources, trade, commerce, transit and infrastructure would mainly figure during the bilateral talks in Delhi between the two leaders, according to foreign ministry sources.  -- PTI
22:26   Maharashtra cabinet expansion soon: Fadnavis
The expansion of the Maharashtra cabinet will take place soon, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Friday.

He was replying to media queries on cabinet expansion of the state government, which took charge on June 30 with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Fadnavis being sworn in.

On August 9 last year, 18 ministers were inducted, while as per rules the council of ministers in the state can have a maximum of 43 members.

"Cabinet expansion till take place soon," Fadnavis told reporters.

He also dubbed Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole and Shive Sena-Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, both bitter critics of the Shinde government, as 'bol ghevda', a Marathi term to describe chatterboxes prating endlessly.   -- PTI
21:56   'Dress code' for devotees imposed at 4 Nagpur temples
A 'Vastra Samhita' or dress code was introduced at four temples in Nagpur city on Friday, an association of temples in Maharashtra said.

The issue of dress code in places of worship was in news earlier this month when the famous Tulja Bhavani temple in the state tried to regulate how visiting devotees dress before withdrawing the fiat.

The Maharashtra Mandir Mahasangha (federation of temples in Maharashtra) has come out with a 'Vastra Samhita' for temples across the state, its coordinator Sunil Ghanwat told reporters in Nagpur.

It was implemented at Gopalkrishna temple in Dhantoli, Sankatmochan Panchmukhi Hanuman temple in Bellori (Saoaner), Brihaspati temple in Kanolibara and Durgamata temple in Hilltop area in Nagpur from Friday, he said.

Devotees should not wear 'objectionable' clothes, he said, adding that the decision was taken after a meeting of the Maharashtra Temple Trust Council in Jalgaon in February.

"The primary objective is to protect the sanctity of temples. Such codes are in place at many temples," Ghanwat claimed.

He would also request Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to implement the code at temples controlled by the government, he said.

A few days ago, the Tulja Bhavani temple in Osmanabad district tried to ban 'indecent' clothes such as shorts and Bermudas on its premises.

The order was withdrawn within hours after it caused outrage.  -- PTI
21:29   Bombay HC gets new chief justice for 4 days
Two judges were on Friday elevated as chief justices of high courts with one of them due to retire on May 30.

The Department of Justice in the Union Law Ministry issued separate notifications announcing the appointment of acting chief justice of the Bombay high court Justice Sanjay Vijaykumar Gangapurwala as the chief justice of the Madras high court and Justice Ramesh Deokinandan Dhanuka as the chief justice of the Bombay high court.

Justice Dhanuka is at present a judge of the Bombay high court.

On Wednesday, Justice S Vaidyanathan was appointed as the acting chief justice of the Madras high court.

Justice T Raja, who was also the acting chief justice of the Madras high court, had demitted office on Wednesday evening on attaining the age of 62 years.

In April, the Supreme Court Collegium had recommended that Justice Gangapurwala be made the chief justice of the Madras high court.

The Collegium had pointed out that the office of the Chief Justice of High Court of Bombay has been lying vacant for quite some time, consequent upon the elevation of Justice Dipankar Datta to the Supreme Court.

Therefore, appointment to that office is required to be made.

It had recommended the name of Justice Dhanuka for elevation as chief justice of the Bombay high court.

He is due to demit office on May 30, upon attaining the age of 62 and will have a tenure as chief justice of effectively four days.

While Supreme Court judges retire at 65, high court judges retire at the age of 62 years.

Justice Gangapurwala will retire in May, 2024.

In the recent past, Justice Sonia Gokani was elevated as the chief justice of the Gujarat high court and Justice Jaswant Singh as chief justice of the Tripura high court.

They too had brief tenures.   -- PTI
21:22   AIMIM, BJP councillors clash over 'Vande Mataram' in Meerut
A clash erupted between All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Bharatiya Janata Party councillors of the Meerut Municipal Corporation at an oath-taking ceremony organised for them on Friday.

The scuffle began following a disagreement over the singing of 'Vande Mataram' to commence the event.

Trouble began during the ceremony at the Chaudhary Charan Singh University auditorium when councillors of the Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM refused to sing the national song.

Police personnel deployed at the venue intervened in the clash, separated the members of the two parties, and brought the situation under control.

A case was later registered against several BJP members at the local Medical College police station.

At the ceremony, Harikant Ahluwalia was sworn in as mayor by the commissioner amid the noisy scenes and shouts of 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'.

Ahluwalia then administered the oath to the newly elected councillors in batches of 15.

Speaking to news persons later, the AIMIM councilors accused the BJP of assaulting them.

Ward 71 councilor Fazal Karim alleged that ward 75 corporator Reshma's husband Dilshad Saifi and ward 79 corporator Asif sustained injuries.

AIMIM metropolitan president Imran Ansari said all 11 corporators of the party would go to the local police station to get an FIR registered against the BJP workers.

Responding to queries about the incident, the BJP's former state unit president and Rajya Sabha MP Laxmikant Bajpai said, "Why this objection to singing 'Vande Mataram' mentioned in the Constitution of India when they take oath on the Constitution? There is no compulsion on singing it but at least stand up and be quiet when it is being sung."

Bajpai also criticised the district administration, alleging that an employee who did not know the national song properly was selected to sing it.

The BJP leader claimed this forced him to go and sing 'Vande Mataram' himself.

Meanwhile, the police case registered against the BJP leaders was based on a complaint lodged by Dilshad Saifi.

SHO Yogendra Singh said BJP corporator Uttam Saini, and party leaders Rajiv Gupta, alias Kale, and Kavita Rahi were among nearly 15 people were mentioned in the FIR.

The case was registered under IPC sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 352 (punishment for assault or criminal force otherwise than on grave provocation) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), action will be taken after an investigation, the SHO said.

Earlier in the day, three of the 11 corporators of the AIMIM took the oath at the ceremony and the rest are expected to do so on Saturday, Ansari said.

After taking the oath, Ahluwalia said it is the everybody's responsibility to make the city tidy and beautiful.

While BJP Lok Sabha MP from Meerut Rajendra Aggarwal attended the function, no leader from the opposition took part in it.

The AIMIM has gained strength in the Meerut Municipal Corporation this time.

As against 13 councillors of the Samajwadi Party, Owaisi's outfit has 11 corporators, all from the minority Muslim community.   -- PTI
20:27   NIA moves Delhi HC seeking death for Yasin Malik
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Friday approached the Delhi high court seeking death penalty for separatist leader Yasin Malik, who was awarded life term by a trial court in New Delhi in a terror funding case.

The plea by the agency has been listed for hearing on May 29 before a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh.

On May 24, 2022, a trial court in New Delhi had awarded life imprisonment to Malik, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief, after holding him guilty for various offences under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code.

The trial court, which had rejected the NIA's plea for capital punishment, had said the crimes committed by Malik struck at the 'heart of the idea of India' and were intended to forcefully secede Jammu and Kashmir from Union of India.

These crimes were intended to strike at the heart of the idea of India and intended to forcefully secede J-K from UOI. The crime becomes more serious as it was committed with the assistance of foreign powers and designated terrorists. The seriousness of crime is further increased by the fact that it was committed behind the smokescreen of an alleged peaceful political movement, the trial court had said.

It had noted that the case was not the rarest of rare, warranting death penalty. The maximum punishment for such an offence is death penalty.

The life term was awarded for two offences -- Section 121 (waging war against government of India) of the IPC and Section 17 (raising funds for terrorist act) of the UAPA.

According to the Supreme Court, life imprisonment means incarceration till the last breath, unless the sentence is commuted by the authorities.

The court had awarded Malik 10-year jail term each under sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 121-A (conspiracy to wage war against the government of India) of the IPC and sections 15 (terrorism), 18 (conspiracy for terrorism) and 20 (being member of terror organisation) of the UAPA.

It had also awarded five-year jail term each under sections 13 (unlawful act), 38 (offence related to membership of terrorism) and 39 (support given to terrorism) of UAPA.

Malik had on May 10 last year told the Delhi court he was not contesting the charges levelled against him that included acts of terrorism and sedition.

The court had framed the charges against Kashmiri separatist leaders including Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate, Shabbir Shah, Masarat Alam, Md Yusuf Shah, Aftab Ahmad Shah, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Khan, Md Akbar Khanday, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Abdul Rashid Sheikh and Naval Kishore Kapoor.

A charge sheet was also filed against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, both of whom have been declared proclaimed offenders in the case and are living in Pakistan.  -- PTI
Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger
20:01   'Before he became the evil Kissinger...'
Henry Kissinger turns 100 tomorrow, but the world is unlikely to mark the centenary of the former US secretary of state with grandeur. 

But for contributor Aseem Chhabra, it is a bitter-sweet occasion to remember the man. 

'Before he became the evil Kissinger, he was the head of an international seminar program @Harvard. My father #HariSharanChhabra attended the seminar in 1960. Here are copies of typed letters exchanged between Kissinger and my father,' tweets Chhabra, here.
Team Shunya
Team Shunya
19:54   The IIT Students Who Built An Award-Winning House
Picture this: An independent house that will stand for half a century and pay for itself after the first 10 years. 

It generates more electricity than it consumes, reuses its own wastewater and is certified carbon-neutral. 

The well-lit interiors remain cool even after the AC is switched off. 

And you can turn on the geyser while lounging on the sofa! 

No longer a figment of imagination, this is a very concrete (but almost concrete-free) residence. 

Members of the award-winning Team Shunya tell Mrigank Warrier how they built a carbon-neutral, water-neutral, energy-positive home for a family of four. Read about it on, here. 
19:09   Manipur: NEET-UG, CUET-UG between June 3-8
Medical entrance exam NEET-UG which was postponed in Manipur in view of the law-and-order situation will now be conducted on any date between June 3 to 5, National Testing Agency (NTA) announced on Friday.

CUET-UG will be conducted in the state from June 5 to 8 and the postgraduate entrance test CUET-PG from June 5 to 17, the NTA also said.

"NTA has carefully reviewed the law-and-order situation in consultation with thestate administration of Manipur and the state government has decided to offer examcentre to the candidates for NEET-UG, CUET-UG and CUET-PG," said Sadhana Parashar, senior director of NTA.

"The option to change the city for examination is also available to those candidates in Manipur who have not appeared or missed NEET-UG, CUET-UG due to the law-and- order situation, irrespective whether they had downloaded their admit cards or not for these examinations," she added.

Manipur has witnessed violence over a move to grant scheduled tribe status to the majority Metei community in the state. Naga and Kuki tribals who are opposing this plan organised a 'Tribal Solidarity March' after which clashes broke.

While NEET-UG was conducted across the country on May 7, CUET-UG began on May 21.   -- PTI
18:26   Modi shares video of new Parliament on Twitter
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the new Parliament building will make every Indian proud, and shared a video of the newly-constructed complex.

Posting the video on Twitter, Modi also urged people to share the video with their voice-over, using the hashtag 'My Parliament My Pride'.

'The new Parliament building will make every Indian proud. This video offers a glimpse of this iconic building. I have a special request -- share this video with your own voice-over, which conveys your thoughts. I will re-Tweet some of them. Don't forget to use #MyParliamentMyPride,' the prime minister said on Twitter.

The ceremony to inaugurate the new Parliament building on Sunday will begin with an early morning havan and a multi-religion prayer followed by a formal opening in the Lok Sabha by Prime Minister Modi.

As many as 25 parties are expected to attend the inauguration of the new Parliament building on Sunday even as 20 opposition parties have decided to boycott the event.   -- PTI
18:16   Delhi HC asks cops about action over tweet against Alt-News' Zubair
The Delhi high court on Friday asked the city police as to what action it has taken against a Twitter user for his alleged offensive tweet about fact-checking website Alt-News co-founder Mohammad Zubair.

Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani asked the Delhi Police to file a status report on the action taken against the person who had posted the tweet against Zubair.

"You went hammer and tongs against him (Zubair). But the case has now ended in a whimper, as it should have... because there was no evidence. But what action have you (police) taken against this man?" the court said.

The high court granted six weeks to the police to file a status report and listed the matter for further hearing on September 14.

The counsel for the police said it was conscious of the directions of the Supreme Court on the action to be taken in hate speech cases and assured appropriate action will be taken in the matter.

The high court was hearing Zubair's plea for quashing a first information report (FIR) registered against him after he responded to the Twitter user who was using a picture of himself with his minor daughter as display picture on the platform.

The FIR was lodged against Zubair in 2020 for allegedly threatening and torturing a minor girl.

Zubair's counsel had earlier told the court that he was being trolled for his posts on Twitter by a man who abused and demeaned him and even left communally-charged comments on his page on the micro-blogging platform, and when he (Zubair) posted the display picture of the man standing with his minor daughter, whose face was cautiously blurred by the petitioner, while posting a tweet, a complaint was made against him.

The Delhi Police had told the court they did not find any criminality against Zubair in the present case, registered for allegedly threatening and torturing a minor on social media, and his name has not been included in the charge sheet.

The Delhi police had lodged the FIR on the basis of a complaint from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which referred to a photo of the girl and her father, shared by Zubair on Twitter during an online spat with her father.

The NCPCR has contended before the high court that the submission of the city police that no cognisable offence was made out against Zubair was 'incorrect' and that the agency's stand indicates the casual attitude of the authorities.

It has said re-tweeting of the girl's picture contributed to the disclosure of her identity through her father, seriously jeopardising her safety and security and also exposing her to harassment on social media platforms like Twitter where lewd and disgraceful comments were published about her.

The commission has said even after knowing the fact that several comments were being made on his post against the girl, which were indecent and sexual in nature, Zubair neither tried to delete the tweet nor informed the authorities concerned about the users who had indulged in violating the girl's rights.

The high court had, in September 2020, directed the Delhi Police not to take any coercive steps against Zubair in the case. It had also directed Twitter India to cooperate with police in the investigation.

Zubair earlier described the FIR against him as 'an absolutely frivolous complaint'.   -- PTI
17:42   Parts of Mumbai to face water cuts during weekend
Parts of Mumbai will face water cuts for more than 24 hours this weekend due to pipeline repair work, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said on Friday.

The civic body in a release said the pipeline repair work in Dadar area in central Mumbai will affect water supply to G-South and G-North civic wards from 8 am on May 27 to 10 pm on May 28.

Areas such as Mahim, Matunga (west), parts of Dadar (west), Delisle Road, Prabhadevi, Lower Parel, Satrasta, and Dhobi Ghat among other localities will face water cuts during different times, the release said.

The repair work will be undertaken at the junction of Senapati Bapat Marg and Kakasaheb Gadgil Marg in Dadar to plug a leak at the 1450 mm diameter Tanasa pipeline, the BMC said.

In order to find the exact location of the leak, it is necessary to shut the water supply from the pipeline for 26 hours from 8 am on Saturday, it said.

Once the leak is found, the pipeline will be patched and rivets will be replaced, it added.   -- PTI
Representational image
Representational image
17:36   Journalist helps in rescue of woman in domestic violence case
The police in Palghar in Maharashtra managed to rescue a woman who was being assaulted by a man during a domestic dispute in the early hours of Friday after she called the number of a local journalist who got in touch with the district police chief. 

The journalist from Vasai took to social media to inform the woman called him at 12:15am and said someone was trying to kill her and gave Awadh Nagar, which is in Boisar in the district, as the location of her home. 

The journalist first called up emergency number 112 and the local senior inspector and did not get a response from both and then messaged Palghar Superintendent of Police Balasaheb Patil, who got a team to trace the woman's location through technical inputs. 

The journalist said a police team went to the house of the woman and managed to rescue her from a man who was attacking her. An official said a probe into the matter was underway.
16:57   Wrestlers chanting anti-PM slogans: WFI chief
BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, accused of sexual harassment by seven women wrestlers, Friday said slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath are being raised in the protest against him. 

 "This movement is moving from Delhi towards Punjab and Khalistan," he claimed, without elaborating further. Singh was referring to the sit-in underway at Delhi's Jantar Mantar by top wrestlers of the country, including Vinesh Phogat and Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, to demand his arrest. 

"In this movement, slogans are being raised against Prime Minister Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath," he said.

"Bajrang Punia is speaking for someone else," the BJP MP, who arrived in Balrampur on Friday, added. Singh is in Balrampur to prepare for a rally of seers to be held in Ayodhya on June 5. He has claimed 11 lakh seers will take part in the rally. On Thursday, he alleged that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act was being "misused" on a large scale and under the leadership of seers, "we will force the government to change" it. PTI
16:49   HC dismisses Gandhis' pleas against IT transfer
The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed petitions by Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra against the Income Tax department's decision to transfer their assessments to the Central Circle, which is mandated to check tax evasion, instead of an ordinary assessment in a matter related to fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari. 

 The court also rejected separate the petitions of Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Trust, Jawahar Bhawan Trust, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust, Young Indian and the Aam Aadmi Party, raising similar legal issues on transfer of their assessments to Central Circle. 

 The Gandhis had challenged the January 2021 order issued by the Principal Commissioner (Income Tax) to transfer their cases for assessment year 2018-19 to the Central Circle. Central Circles, which are mandated to check tax evasion, take over the evidence gathered by IT's investigation wing during searches. 

 This Court is of the view that the assessments of the petitioners have been transferred to the Central Circle in accordance with law by way of the impugned orders passed under Section 127 of the (IT) Act. Accordingly, the present writ petitions along with pending applications are dismissed, said a bench of Justices Manmohan and Dinesh Kumar Sharma in its common judgement delivered in all nine petitions. 

 Undoubtedly, there can be no 'guilt by association' or 'guilt due to relationship', yet in the present batch of writ petitions, the assessments of the petitioners have been transferred only for the purposes of coordinated investigation and meaningful assessment, added the bench. The court clarified it has not examined the controversy between the parties on merits.
16:33   73% women want menstrual leave, finds survey
Around 73 per cent of women want companies to allow them to take menstrual leaves while 86.6 per cent are in favour of a menstrual-friendly workplace where hygiene methods and support infrastructure are available to women, according to a recent study.

 The Menstrual Hygiene Survey 2023, conducted by Everteen, a feminine hygiene brand, also revealed that 71.7 per cent of the participants in the survey do not want the menstrual leaves to be paid, fearing that it may make companies reluctant to hire female employees. 

 Nearly 10,000 women in the age group of 18 to 35 years participated in the survey that was conducted in multiple cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Patna. The survey report was released ahead of the global Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28.
India's 1st Prime Minister Pandit Nehru
India's 1st Prime Minister Pandit Nehru
16:24   'Boycott gang' insulting their own leaders: BJP
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri Friday hit out at the Congress and those objecting to the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the "boycott gang" is insulting the legacy of their own leaders and the freedom fighters. 

 In a series of tweets, Puri cited an old article of the Time Magazine published in 1947 which he said was a must read for those who wish they had built the magnificent new Parliament instead of Prime Minister Modi. 

 Citing the article, Puri said, "Vividly describes Hindu (customs and traditions) followed on eve of independence. The #Sengol they insult now was received with Hindu rituals by PM Nehru. Now hypocrisy is on full display- attempts being made to paint it in different colours - motives ascribed, crocodile tears shed!."

 In another tweet, the minister said on that momentous day, a havan was performed, the pithambaram made from silk and gold was wrapped around the PM by representative of the Adheenam who escorted the Sengol to Delhi by a special aircraft. Payasam from that morning's pooja at the Nataraja temple was brought as prasad. This piece should show a mirror to the naysayers," Puri said, adding that the "boycott gang is actually insulting the legacy of their own leaders and the freedom fighters". 

 The ceremony to inaugurate the new Parliament building will begin with an early morning havan and a multi-religion prayer on Sunday followed by a formal opening in the Lok Sabha chamber by Prime Minister Modi. 

 As many as 25 parties are expected to attend the inauguration of the new Parliament building on Sunday even as 20 opposition parties have decided to boycott the event.
The Delhi CM met Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata as well
The Delhi CM met Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata as well
16:17   Kejriwal to meet Telangana CM on Saturday
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will meet his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekar Rao in Hyderabad on Saturday to seek the Bharat Rashtra Samithi's support to oppose the Centre's ordinance on control of services in the national capital. 

 Kejriwal, who is also the national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party, has been reaching out to leaders of non-BJP parties to garner their support against the ordinance so that the Centre's bid to replace it through a bill is defeated when it is brought in Parliament. 

 "Meeting Hon'ble CM of Telangana tomorrow in Hyderabad to seek support against unconstitutional and undemocratic ordinance passed by BJP government against the orders of Hon'ble Supreme Court," Kejriwal tweeted.

 Earlier this week, he met West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar seeking their support in the matter. Kejriwal has also sought time to meet Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi for their support in the matter.
15:54   Indian economy: What do the numbers actually say?
Hard data from 2022-23 do not justify the gung-ho optimism of the talking heads in the media on the economy. While consumer good sales for the higher income groups are growing rapidly, at the lower end conditions are not much better than on the eve of the pandemic, indicating stretched conditions.
Read the report here.
15:32   K'taka Cabinet expansion, portfolios tomorrow
Karnataka Minister K H Muniyappa on Friday said the Cabinet expansion will take place on Saturday afternoon and the portfolios would also be allotted by evening. 

 Muniyappa also said barring four or five ministerial posts, rest would be filled up in the same day. According to the Minister, the Cabinet would be a mix of seniors and young people. 

 "Tomorrow, the Cabinet expansion will take place. Time has also been fixed. It would be tomorrow afternoon. Most of the posts would be filled," Muniyappa told reporters after returning from New Delhi. 

 To a question on how many ministerial posts would be filled, he said, "Barring four or five, rest all would be filled up." 

 When asked whether senior leaders have put up any demand before the party high command regarding ministerial positions, Muniyappa said at this juncture it would be difficult to say anything. "However, we need seniors as well as young people. We need to make a balance of both," he pointed out. On portfolios, the Minister said it has not been fixed yet. 

"Portfolio would be decided tomorrow. By Saturday evening, portfolios have to be announced," he added. Devanahalli MLA Muniyappa, a former Union Minister and a seven-time Lok Sabha member, took oath as Karnataka Minister on May 20 along with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Against the permissible strength of 34, 10 posts have been filled so far including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his deputy D K Shivakumar, while 24 posts are lying vacant.
15:20   Go First cancels all flights till May 28
Budget airline Go First has cancelled all its flights till May 28, citing operational reasons. Earlier, the airlines had cancelled flights till May 26. 

In a note posted on Twitter on Friday, the airline said, "We regret to inform that due to operational reasons, Go First flights scheduled till May 28, 2023, have been cancelled. We apologise for the convenience caused by the flight cancellations." 

 The airline also said a full refund will be issued to the original mode of payment shortly. The airline also said the company has filed an application for immediate resolution and revival of operations. 

It mentioned that it would be able to resume bookings shortly. 

 On Tuesday, budget carrier Go First replied to the show cause notice issued by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) where the airline mentioned that it has no definite timeline to resume operations. Civil aviation ministry officials said that airlines expressed an intent to resume operations at the earliest. 

 "There is no definitive timeline as of now for the resumption of operations by Go First. They have expressed an intent to resume operations at the earliest thought," a senior aviation ministry official said.
15:13   Weeks after Tillu Tajpuriya killing, 80 more jail officials in Delhi transferred
Eighty more Delhi Prisons officials of Delhi Prisons, including five deputy superintendents, have been transferred within three jail complexes, in a series of transfers issued after jailed gangster Tillu Tajpuriya was stabbed to death on the Tihar jail premises. 

 The transfer order was issued on Thursday following directions of Delhi Prisons Director General Sanjay Beniwal, a senior jail official said, adding that this is a "routine transfer". 

 According to the order, 80 officials have been transferred within the three jail complexes of Tihar, Mandoli and Rohini. The officials posted in the Headquarters of Mandoli and Tihar jail complex have also been transferred, the jail official said. 

 Five deputy superintendents, nine assistant superintendents, eight head warders and 58 warders are among those who have been transferred, he added. 

 The latest transfer order comes days after Beniwal had ordered the transfer of 99 officials, including assistant superintendents, deputy superintendents, head warders and warders. 

 This series of transfers come in the wake of the brutal killing of 33-year-old Tajpuriya by four members of the rival Gogi gang inside the Tihar jail on May 2. The incident was viewed seriously by the authorities which prompted a streamlining of things and also necessitated the need for ground-level changes. PTI
15:06   Govt wakes up after 6 cheetah deaths, panel set up
The Centre has set up an 11-member high-level steering committee to review and monitor the progress of the cheetah reintroduction programme and provide suggestions on the opening of the cheetah habitat for eco-tourism. 

 The decision to form the committee, which will be headed by Rajesh Gopal, Secretary General of Global Tiger Forum, came on Thursday shortly after news emerged about the death of two more cheetah cubs at the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. 

 Three adult cheetahs and three out of the four cubs born to a female Namibian cheetah, Sisaya, have died in around two months at the Kuno National Park, prompting questions from several experts on the suitability of the habitat and wildlife management. 

 The other 10 members include RN Mehrotra, former principal chief conservator of forest of Rajasthan; PR Sinha, former director of the Wildlife Institute of India; HS Negi, former APCCF, Wildlife; and PK Malik, former faculty at WII. GS Rawat, former dean of the WII; Mittal Patel, an Ahmedabad-based social worker; Qamar Qureshi, WII scientist and Inspector General of NTCA; and the MP's Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Wildlife, and Chief Wildlife Warden are the other members. 

 A consulting panel of international cheetah experts, including Adrian Tordiffe, Veterinary Wildlife Specialist, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Laurie Marker, Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia; Andrew John Fraser, Farm Olivenbosch, South Africa and Vincent van dan Merwe, Manager, Cheetah Metapopulation Project, South Africa, will provide advice as an when required. An office memorandum issued by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) said the high-level committee has been set up "to review, progress, monitor and (give) advice on the cheetah introduction" to the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department and the NTCA . 

 It will provide suggestions on the opening of the cheetah habitat for eco-tourism and on regulations in this regard. 

 The panel, which will be in-force for two years and will hold at least one meeting every month, will also provide suggestions on community interface and for their involvement in project activities. 

 Talking to PTI, South African wildlife expert Vincent van der Merwe had Thursday recommended fencing the cheetah habitats to circumscribe the overall threat to the big cats recently introduced in the country, prevent their "extreme ranging behaviour", and protect the prey from anthropogenic pressures such as poaching. 

 He said the reintroduction project is going to see even higher mortality in the next few months when cheetahs try to establish territories and come face to face with leopards and tigers at the Kuno National Park.
Congress asked why farmers incomes have not doubled as promised
Congress asked why farmers incomes have not doubled as promised
14:43   Cong asks PM nine questions on 9 years of govt
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi completing nine years in office, the Congress on Friday asked him nine questions on issues such as rising prices, unemployment and farmers' income, and demanded an apology for the "betrayal" during his tenure. 

 The Opposition party also said the government should mark this day as 'Maafi Diwas'.

 Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had raised critical issues during the Bharat Jodo Yatra and the nine questions are based on that, party general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh told a press conference at the All India Congress Committee headquarters in New Delhi. 

 Ramesh, who was flanked by party leaders Pawan Khera and Supriya Shrinate, also released a booklet 'Nau saal, Nau sawaal' and said Modi had become the prime minister on this day nine years ago and therefore, the party wants to ask nine questions of him. 

 "We want the PM to break his silence on these nine questions," Ramesh said. Posing the questions to the prime minister, he asked, "Why is it that inflation and unemployment are skyrocketing in India? Why have the rich become richer and the poor poorer? Why is public property being sold to PM Modi's friends, even as economic disparities are increasing?" 

 Ramesh also asked why is it that the agreements made with farmers while repealing the three "black" farm laws have not been honoured and why has the minimum support price not been legally guaranteed. "Why didn't farmers' income double over the last nine years," he asked. 

Accusing the government of indulging in corruption and cronyism, Ramesh queried why the prime minister is putting people's hard-earned savings in LIC and SBI at risk to benefit his "friend" Adani. 

 "Why are you letting thieves escape? Why are you silent on rampant corruption in BJP-ruled states, and why are you letting Indians suffer," he asked. 

 On the issue of national security, Ramesh said the Congress wants to ask "why is it that even after your clean chit to China in 2020, they continue to occupy Indian territory". 

 He also asked why deliberately "politics of hatred" for electoral gains was being used and alleged that an atmosphere of fear in society was being fuelled. 

 "Why are you silent on the atrocities against women, Dalits, SC, ST, OBCs and minorities? Why are you ignoring the demand for a caste census," Ramesh said in another poser. He also questioned the government over democracy and federalism, alleging that it has "weakened" our Constitutional values and democratic institutions in the last nine years.
14:33   Below normal monsoon likely in June: IMD
The country is likely to receive below normal rainfall in June, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said while forecasting normal monsoon for the entire season.

 IMD Environment Monitoring and Research Center (EMRC) chief D Sivananda Pai said, "Below normal monthly (June) rainfall is expected over most parts of the country except some areas of south peninsular India, northwest India, extreme north India and some isolated pockets of northeast India, where above normal rainfall is expected."

 The southwest monsoon is expected to be normal this season despite the onset of El Nino, which is caused due to warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, he told a press conference. Pai said the seasonal rainfall over the monsoon core zone consisting of most of the rain-fed agriculture areas in the country is most likely to be normal -- 94 to 106 per cent of the long period average. PTI
14:26   Hearing against Rs 2000 withdrawal on Monday
The withdrawal of Rs 2000 denomination banknotes from circulation was a currency management exercise and a matter of economic policy, the RBI informed the Delhi High Court on Friday. 

 The court, which was hearing a public interest litigation challenging the RBI's decision to withdraw the banknote from circulation, posted the matter for hearing on May 29. 

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma was asked by the RBI to defer hearing on the plea in light of the fact that the verdict stands reserved by the court on another PIL concerning the withdrawal notification. 

"List the matter on Monday. Give a small note also," the bench, which also comprised Justice Subramonium Prasad, told the parties. RBI counsel, senior advocate Parag P Tripathi, said the present petition by Rajneesh Bhaskar Gupta was misplaced as withdrawal of Rs 2000 denomination banknotes was a currency management exercise and not demonetisation, and a matter of economic policy.

"This issue of alleged demonetisation was the subject matter of an earlier writ petition where your lordship has reserved order. Let that order come. Your lordship may have it after that," he said. 

 Earlier this week, the court had said it would pass an order on the plea by lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, which claimed notifications by the RBI and SBI enabling exchange of Rs 2000 banknotes without proof were arbitrary and against the laws enacted to curb corruption.

 The RBI had then said withdrawal of Rs 2000 notes was not demonetisation but a statutory exercise, and the decision to enable their exchange was taken for operational convenience.
14:05   TN police register cases against BJP worker over row with hijab-wearing doctor
A BJP worker was booked on Friday for allegedly picking up a quarrel with a hijab-clad woman doctor over not wearing the white coat at a primary health centre in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu, police said.
Police registered three cases against party functionary Bhuvaneswar Ram, who hails from Thirupoondi in the district, for questioning the woman doctor for wearing hijab during duty hours but not donning the white coat.
He was heard questioning her credentials in a video of the incident that went viral.

The incident took place inside the Thirupoondi primary health centre in the southern district on May 24 night.

"I doubt if you are really a doctor. Why are you not in uniform, why are you wearing a hijab?" he could be heard asking the doctor in the video.

Nursing staff at the PHC, who came to the rescue of the duty doctor, also put out a video of Ram picking up a fight with the doctor.

The BJP worker had taken one Subramanian who complained of discomfort to the PHC for treatment but when he saw the night duty doctor clad in hijab, he started quarrelling with her, police said.

A senior police official told PTI that three cases under Indian Penal Code Sections 294 (b) (uttering obscene words in public place), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servent from discharging duty and 298 (uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings) were registered against Ram and a search is underway to trace and arrest him. -- PTI  
Sengol will be installed in new Parliament
Sengol will be installed in new Parliament
13:56   Why does Cong 'hate' Indian culture? Shah on Sengol
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday accused the Congress of reducing the ceremonial sceptre Sengol, which will be installed near the chair of the speaker in the new Parliament building, to a "walking stick".
Amid the war of words between the ruling and opposition parties over the inauguration of the new Parliament building, Shah said the Congress needs to "reflect" on its behaviour as he denounced the party's claim that there was no evidence of the Sengol being a symbol of transfer of power by the British to India in 1947.

"Why does the Congress party hate Indian traditions and culture so much? A sacred Sengol was given to Pandit Nehru by a holy Saivite Mutt from Tamil Nadu to symbolize India's freedom but it was banished to a museum as a 'walking stick'," Shah tweeted.

"Now, Congress has heaped another shameful insult. The Thiruvaduthurai Adheenam, a holy Shaivite Mutt, itself spoke about the importance of the Sengol at the time of India's freedom," he said.

Congress, he further posted, is calling the "Adheenam's history as BOGUS! Congress needs to reflect on their behaviour".

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Friday claimed there was no documented evidence of Lord Mountbatten, C Rajagopalachari and Jawaharlal Nehru describing the Sengol as a symbol of transfer of power by the British to India.

The Sengol will be installed near the Chair of the Lok Sabha speaker after the new Parliament building is inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.

The event is being boycotted by 20 Opposition parties, including the Congress. -- PTI 
13:26   Court grants NOC for passport to Rahul for 3 yrs
A Delhi court on Friday granted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi a no-objection certificate (NOC) for issuance of an "ordinary passport" for three years. Gandhi had moved the court after he surrendered his diplomatic passport upon his disqualification as an MP. 

 "I'm partly allowing your application. Not for 10 years but three years," the judge told Gandhi's lawyer. The former Congress chief is an accused in the National Herald case in which BJP leader Subramanian Swamy is the complainant. PTI
13:03   SC refuses to entertain PIL for inauguration of new Parl building by Prez
Update: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a PIL seeking a direction to the Lok Sabha Secretariat for inauguration of the new Parliament building by President Droupadi Murmu.

 A bench of justices JK Maheshwari and PS Narasimha told petitioner in-person advocate Jaya Sukin that the court understands why and how this petition was filed and it is not inclined to entertain this petition under Article 32 of the Constitution. 

 Sukin said under Article 79, the president is the executive head of the country and she should have been invited. He, however, said if the court does not wish to entertain the petition, he be allowed to withdraw it. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said if the petition is allowed to be withdrawn, then it will be filed in the high court.

 The bench then dismissed the petition as withdrawn. The petition said the respondents -- the Lok Sabha Secretariat and the Union of India -- are "humiliating" the president by not inviting her for the inauguration. 

 The petition by an apex court lawyer was filed amid a controversy over the scheduled inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28.

 Twenty Opposition parties have decided to boycott the ceremony to protest the "sidelining" of the president. In a joint statement on Wednesday, 19 political parties said, "When the soul of democracy has been sucked out of Parliament, we find no value in a new building." The BJP-led NDA shot back, condemning the "contemptuous" decision. 

 "This act is not merely disrespectful; it is a blatant affront to the democratic ethos and constitutional values of our great nation," parties belonging to the ruling NDA said in a statement on Wednesday. 

 Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had recently met the prime minister and invited him to inaugurate the new building. Modi had also laid the foundation stone for the building in 2020 and most opposition parties had stayed away from the event even then. PTI
13:02   SC rejects PIL on President inaugurating new Parl
Supreme Court declines the PIL seeking a direction that the new Parliament building should be inaugurated by President Droupadi Murmu on 28th May. 

 A PIL was filed in Supreme Court on Thursday seeking a direction that the new Parliament building should be inaugurated by the President of India Droupadi Murmu on May 28. 

 The PIL said Lok Sabha Secretariat violated the Constitution by not inviting the President for the inauguration. The statement issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat on May 18, and invites issued by the Secretary General, Lok Sabha, about the inauguration of the new Parliament building, is in violation of the Indian Constitution, the PIL filed by advocate Jaya Sukin said.
12:53   Imran thanks Pakistan govt for putting him on no-fly list
Unfazed after being placed on the no-fly list, Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan on Friday thanked the government for barring him from leaving the country, saying he has no plans to travel overseas as he neither owns properties nor has any businesses abroad. 

 Khan, his wife Bushra Bibi and other leaders and former assembly members of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party were reportedly barred from leaving the country on Thursday. 

 Taking to Twitter, Khan wrote: "I want to thank the government for putting my name on the ECL as I have no plans to travel abroad, because I neither have any properties or businesses abroad nor even a bank account outside the country."

 "If and when I do get an opportunity for a holiday, it will be in our northern mountains, my favourite place on earth," he said. The Exit Control List (ECL) is maintained by the interior ministry and deals with individuals who are not allowed to leave the country due to pending court cases or for other reasons.

 Earlier, the Samaa News channel reported on Thursday that the Pakistan government had barred Khan, his wife and at least 80 people from leaving the country. The federal government has decided to add the names of 80 people, including PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi, to the no-fly list, the report said.
People died in bank lines during demo, said Congress
People died in bank lines during demo, said Congress
12:48   Nine years of misery, says Cong on BJP anniv
The Congress party on Friday said that nine years of the PM Narendra Modi-led Central government was filled with failure and misery for the country. It has alleged that the government did not fulfil its promises and people had to bear the brunt of unemployment and demonetisation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) among others. 

 In a series of tweets in Hindi, Congress claimed that people had to bear the brunt of inflation, unemployment and "dictatorial" decisions in these nine years.

 "Today Modi government completes 9 years. These are '9 years of failure'. There are 9 years of misery in the country. In these 9 years, people had to bear the brunt of inflation, unemployment and dictatorial decisions. The Modi government, which came to power on the basis of jumlas, did not fulfil even a single promise. Just kept on giving date after date," tweeted Congress roughly translated into Hindi.

"Promise to double farmers' income by 2022. Promise to give house to all by 2022. Promised to give 15 lakhs by bringing black money. Promise of 2 crore jobs every year," tweeted Congress. 

 Attacking the PM, Congress said that PM Modi did not fulfil his promises, to the contrary and that he had put the country in trouble due to his ignorance. 

 "Demonetisation destroyed the economy, people died in bank lines. Who can forget that horrifying scene?", tweeted Congress. Attacking the PM further the Congress further wrote that traders are devastated by the Gabbar Singh Tax (GST). It also claimed that the Centre's Agniveer scheme crushed the dreams of the youth of this country. 

 In another tweet, Congress accused the Modi-led BJP government of unleashing federal agencies on Opposition leaders. "Suppress someone who raises a voice, crush him, put him in jail, bulldoze him. Show fear of ED, CBI. If there is no government, buy power on the basis of money and kill democracy". "These are '9 years of failure'. Now people are tired of them. The Karnataka election is proof of this, where the public directly rejected PM Modi and his corrupt government. This wave of discontent has started from the South which will engulf the whole country. The public is waiting and will give a befitting reply," tweeted Congress.

The Congress also attacked PM Modi on China. "Must remember... There was talk of showing red eye to China. Eventually, the matter reached the red shirt. Today China is stopping us from patrolling on our land. Our brave soldiers also gave martyrdom for this and in the end the 'great man' started wooing China by wearing red shirt. This is their cowardice," tweeted Congress.
File pic
File pic
12:23   Karnataka CM meets Sonia, Rahul
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday met Congress parliamentary party (CPP) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former party chief Rahul Gandhi at their residence in New Delhi. 

 Siddaramaiah is in the national capital to discuss matters related to the expansion of his Cabinet and this is his first meeting with Sonia Gandhi after the Congress formed government in the southern state. The Karnataka chief minister is learnt to have assured the CPP chairperson of good governance in the state and also thank her for her guidance and campaigning during the assembly elections. 

 Top Congress leaders on Thursday had held discussions with Siddaramaiah and his deputy D K Shivakumar over expansion of the state Cabinet. 

 The leaders had met Congress general secretary in-charge for Karnataka Randeep Surjewala, party general secretary organisation K C Venugopal and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge. 

 Sources had said around 20 more ministers are likely to be inducted in the Karnataka Cabinet and added that another round of discussions will be held before the it is finalised. Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar were sworn in as chief minister and deputy chief minister respectively along with eight cabinet ministers on May 20. -- PTI
11:52   AAP's Satyendar Jain gets bail on medical grounds
Former AAP minister Satyendar Jain gets bail on medical grounds. Jain has been hospitalised after he fell in the bathroom at Delhi's Tihar Jail on Thursday. 

The Supreme Court asks the jailed former Delhi minister to refrain from talking to media during his interim bail period. The court allows Jain to undergo treatment in a hospital of his choice, asks him to produce medical records. 

 The  Enforcement Directorate arrested Jain on May 30 last year under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED case is based on a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) complaint registered on the allegation that Satyendar Jain had acquired movable properties in the name of various persons from February 14, 2015, to May 31, 2017, which he could not satisfactorily account for.
The Delhi CM and AAP ministers with Sharad Pawar yesterday
The Delhi CM and AAP ministers with Sharad Pawar yesterday
11:36   Kejriwal seeks time to meet Kharge, Rahul
CM Kejriwal seeks time to meet Cong president Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi to get party's support in Delhi services ordinance issue. Kejriwal tweeted, "Sought time this morning to meet Cong President Sh Kharge ji and Sh Rahul Gandhi ji to seek Cong support in Parl against undemocratic n unconstitutional ordinance passed by BJP govt and also to discuss general assault on federal structure and prevailing political situation."

Kejriwal on Thursday called on Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar at Yashwantrao Chavan Centre in Mumbai to seek NCP's support against the Centre's ordinance on control of administrative services in the national capital.

Kejriwal was accompanied by Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann, AAP MP Raghav Chadha, Delhi Minister Atishi and other leaders.

The Delhi CM also met Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday.

The Delhi Chief Minister on Tuesday embarked on a nationwide tour to seek support from the Opposition parties against the ordinance brought by the central government on the transfers and postings of bureaucrats in the national capital.
11:04   Sengol not symbol of transfer of power: Cong
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Friday claimed there is no documented evidence of Lord Mountbatten, C Rajagopalachari and Jawaharlal Nehru describing the 'Sengol' as a symbol of transfer of power by the British to India. He also alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his drum-beaters are using the ceremonial sceptre for their political ends in Tamil Nadu. 

 The 'Sengol' will be installed close to the Chair of the Lok Sabha speaker after the new Parliament building is inaugurated by Modi on May 28, an event 20 Opposition parties, including the Congress, are boycotting. 

 On Thursday, the BJP had alleged that the Congress displayed disregard for Hindu traditions by calling the sacred 'Sengol' a "golden stick gifted" to India's first prime minister Nehru and tucking it away in a museum. 

 The vesting of the "sacred 'Sengol'" with Nehru, on the eve of India's Independence, was the exact moment of transfer of power from the British to India, BJP leader Amit Malviya had said. 

 On Twitter, Ramesh said, "The sceptre is now being used by the PM (prime minister) and his drum-beaters for their political ends in Tamil Nadu. This is typical of this brigade that embroiders facts to suit its twisted objectives. The real question is why is President Droupadi Murmu not being allowed to inaugurate the new Parliament."

 He claimed that a majestic sceptre conceived of by a religious establishment in the Madras province and crafted in Madras city (now Chennai) was indeed presented to Nehru in August 1947. 

 "There is no documented evidence whatsoever of Mountbatten, Rajaji and Nehru describing this sceptre as a symbol of transfer of British power to India. All claims to this effect are plain and simple -- bogus," he said. "Wholly and completely manufactured in the minds of a few and dispersed into WhatsApp, and now to the drum-beaters in the media. Two of the finest Rajaji scholars with impeccable credentials have expressed surprise," the Congress general secretary communications said. 

 While announcing the boycott, the Opposition parties had said the prime minister's decision to inaugurate it by himself, "completely sidelining President Droupadi Murmu, is not only a grave insult but a direct assault on our democracy which demands a commensurate response".

 "Is it any surprise that the new Parliament is being consecrated with typically false narratives from WhatsApp University? The BJP-RSS distorians stand exposed yet again with maximum claims, minimum evidence," Congress general secretary communications Ramesh said in his tweet.

 He said the sceptre presented to Nehru was later kept for display at the Allahabad Museum. What Nehru said there on December 14, 1947 is a matter of public record despite whatever labels may say, Ramesh said. PTI
11:01   Long years ago we...
"... Then they entered the house in dignity, fanned by two boys with special fans of deer hair. One sannyasi carried a scepter of gold, five feet long, two inches thick. He sprinkled Nehru with holy water from Tanjore and drew a streak in sacred ash across Nehru's forehead. Then he wrapped Nehru in the pithambaram and handed him the golden scepter. He also gave Nehru some cooked rice which had been offered that very morning to the dancing god Nataraja in south India, then flown by plane to Delhi."

August, 1947. The scepter and the transfer of power. 
10:52   Centre unlikely to undertake any new PSU divestment in 2023-24
The Union government is unlikely to undertake any new public-sector undertaking divestment -- including privatisation of public-sector banks -- in 2023-24, said a senior official in the know. Any such stake sale might take place only after the general elections next year.

"There is little chance of a new stake-sale transaction before the general elections. The priority will be to speed up the ongoing deals, including those to sell stakes in IDBI Bank, Shipping Corporation, and Container Corporation of India (Concor)," the official said. 

"Even the proposed privatisation of two public-sector banks and a general insurance firm has been postponed."

According to sources, it was felt that this might not be an opportune time to privatise big State-run enterprises, as 2023-24 is the last financial year before the Lok Sabha elections to be held in April-May next year. Besides, global uncertainties could also not be ignored, as these influence both market conditions and government moves.

Notably, the process is currently on to sell stakes in PSUs like IDBI Bank, Concor, Shipping Corporation, BEML, and NMDC Steel. 

While IDBI Bank has received preliminary bids, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (Dipam) is expecting financial bids by September. Expressions of interest for Concor, however, might take longer, hinted the official quoted earlier.  
-- Shrimi Choudhary/Business Standard
10:50   Tax bodies must ensure fast closure under trader amnesty scheme: CBIC
Tax authorities will need to set up a mechanism to 'closely supervise' and ensure speedy closure of old cases under the amnesty scheme for traders, where they have defaulted on export obligations, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has said.

Principal commissioners and commissioners under the CBIC have been asked to ensure that the exporters approaching for paying duties are registered with the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), according to a circular by the tax body.

'These cases under the scheme are monitored and tracked so that there is efficient handling and expeditious closure of these old cases of bona fide default in a seamless manner," according to the circular. 

The development comes in the backdrop of the rollout of the special one-time amnesty scheme for default in export obligations under Advance Authorisation and Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG). All cases where traders have failed to meet the export obligations under the two schemes can be regularised by paying customs duties and interest, subject to a ceiling of 100 per cent.

However, cases under any investigation or adjudication for involving fraud, misdeclaration or unauthorised diversion of capital goods will not be covered in the scheme. Apart from that, CENVAT credit or refund cannot be claimed either. In case of calculation mistakes, they will be dealt on the basis of merits.

The scheme was announced by the DGFT in the Foreign Trade Policy on March 31 and is set to benefit 2,500-3,000 exporters. The scheme will be available till September.

"The government had issued a one-time amnesty scheme for EPCG and AA export obligation defaults for specified licences. The circular further emphasises the government's intention to settle old disputes with ground officers and also reiterated a similar message with specific focus on expedited closure of disputes,' Abhishek Jain, national head, indirect taxes, KPMG, said. 

Shreya Nandi/Business Standard
10:33   Special Rs 75 coin to mark new Parl opening
Ministry of Finance to launch a special Rs 75 coin to commemorate the inauguration of the new Parliament building on 28th May. The commemorative coin will also serve as a tribute to India celebrating 75 years of independence.

One side of the coin will feature the Lion Capital of the Ashoka Pillar, with the words "Satyamev Jayate" below it. The word "Bharat" will be written in Devanagari script on the left side, and the word "India" in English on the right.
Representational image
Representational image
10:30   No food, water for flight stranded in Mum for 10hrs
As many as 300 passengers of a VietJet flight to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam were stranded at the city airport for around 10 hours due to a glitch in the aircraft, according to a passenger.

 The passenger, on the condition of anonymity, alleged that the airline did not provide hotel accommodation or food for passengers despite the long delay. 

 Under DGCA rules, passengers are to be provided accommodation as well as food by the airline concerned if a flight is delayed beyond a stipulated time. Response was awaited to queries sent to VietJet. 

 "The flight VJ-884 (operating on Mumbai-Ho Chi Minh City route) was to depart at 11.30 pm on Thursday. We boarded the flight at 11 pm. "However, when it did not take off for an hour, we asked for the reason. We were told there is some glitch in the aircraft and it will take some time for departure," said the passenger who was to travel to Bali via Vietnam on the flight.

 "Between 11.30 pm and 5 am, till the time they brought us back to the immigration area, no food or water was provided to the stranded passengers," he said, adding that there is still no clarity about an alternative flight to Ho Chi Minh City. 

 The passengers were deplaned and brought back to the immigration area at around 7 am, he said. PTI
10:23   India to surpass 7% growth in FY 23: SBI
The Indian economy is on track to surpass 7 per cent growth rate in Fiscal Year 2023 with manufacturing being the key driver, according to a report released by the State Bank of India.

State Bank of India's research report, Ecowrap released on Friday said that India's growth in the fourth quarter of FY23 is likely to be 5.5 per cent, which would lead to the country's growth for FY23 at 7.1 per cent. 

This is in line with the advance estimates released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) in January that pegged growth for the year ended March 31, 2023, at 7 per cent.
10:07   Still time, Prez must open new Parl: Digvijaya
Ahead of the Parliament building's inauguration, Veteran Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh on Friday said that the new building should be inaugurated by President Droupadi Murmu.

 Digvijay's remarks came in the backdrop of the ongoing row over the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled for May 28. 

 Congress and other opposition parties slammed the Centre after it announced the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

The opposition parties stressed that President Murmu should inaugurate the new Parliament building. Speaking on the row over President not being called for inaugurating the new Parliament, he said, "This is an affront to the post of President. We still have time, inauguration must be done by the President." 

 PM Modi and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla will dedicate to the nation the new Parliament building on May 28.

 On May 24, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to inaugurate the Parliament building without President Droupadi Murmu, saying it is an "insult to the country's highest constitutional post".
09:53   Amit Shah to visit Manipur on May 29
Union Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to visit violence-hit Manipur on May 29 to resolve the ongoing ethnic crisis. Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said this at a press conference here on Thursday evening. 

 "Union Home Minister Amit Shah would stay for three days and would work to end the ethnic crisis and deliver justice to all the people," Rai said. "We will talk with people at different places and listen to their views and opinions," Rai said. 

 The recent unrest has only impeded development, Rai said, adding there was calm and peace for the last nine years with no blockade and few bandhs. Rai said all problems and issues would be solved in peaceful manner and people should have faith in the government and shun all forms of violence. Shah on Thursday appealed to the people of Manipur to maintain peace and promised that justice will be ensured to all sections of society.

09:38   China may see 65mn Covid cases a week
The Chinese authorities are rushing to push out vaccines to combat an ongoing new wave of the coronavirus that is expected to peak in June and infect as many as 65 million people a week since the new XBB variants of the virus are evolving to overcome the immunity developed after China's abrupt departure from its "zero covid" policy last year, reported The Washington Post.

According to official media sources, quoted by The Washington Post, leading Chinese epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan on Monday said that two new vaccinations for the XBB omicron subvariants (including XBB. 1.9.1, XBB. 1.5, and XBB. 1.16) have been given preliminary approval.

 Speaking at a biotech symposium in Guangzhou, Zhong said that three to four other vaccines will soon receive approval, but he gave no further information.

The new outbreak may be the greatest wave of illnesses ever recorded since China's stringent zero-Covid programme was abandoned last winter, which resulted in up to 85 per cent of the population being sick at the time.
08:58   How will new Parl be inaugurated? Details here
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla will lead the inauguration ceremony of the new parliament building on Sunday, May 28, which will be dedicated to the nation.

Even though the exact details of the inauguration have not been made public, ANI has learnt through reliable sources that the inauguration will take place in two phases. 

-- The rituals ahead of the inaugural ceremony will begin in the morning and is likely to be held in a pandal (canopy) near the Gandhi statue in Parliament. PM Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Hariwansh and some senior ministers in the government are likely to be part of the ceremony.

-- After the pujas, the dignitaries will walk around the premises of the Lok Sabha's chamber and the Rajya Sabha chamber in the new building. 

-- The sacred 'Sengol' will be installed in the Lok Sabha chamber, right next to the Speaker's chair, after performing some rituals, for which priests from Tamil Nadu, including the original jeweller who designed it, will be present.

-- A prayer ceremony will also be organised on the premises of the new parliament building.

-- The morning phase will end at close to 9:30 am after which the second leg of the ceremony is expected to begin at noon with the singing of the national anthem in the Lok Sabha chamber in the presence of all the dignitaries including PM Modi.

-- A speech will be delivered by the Deputy Rajya Sabha Chairman, Hariwansh, who will further read a written congratulatory message on behalf of Rajya Sabha, Chairman, Jagdeep Dhankar. A written message by the President Droupadi Murmu will also be read out on the occasion.

-- Two short audiovisual films will also be showcased for the dignitaries present to talk about the process of construction of the new parliament, building and its significance.

-- The Lok Sabha Speaker, who is the custodian of the Parliament will also be making a speech on the occasion.

-- A slot has also been kept for the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha to make his speech on the occasion. However, it is known that LoP Mallikarjun Kharge is unlikely to attend the ceremony on Sunday after the Congress party along with a host of opposition parties announced the boycott of the inauguration ceremony.

-- PM Modi will also be releasing a coin and stamp on the historic occasion and will also be making his speech on the occasion following which the Secretary-General Lok Sabha will deliver the Vote of Thanks to mark the closing of the ceremony, the sources told ANI.

Amid the boycott call by the opposition, the Centre has received a confirmed list of 25 political parties, including some which are not a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), that will participate in the inauguration ceremony of the new Parliament building on May 28.
08:43   God is watching: Kejriwal on 'dictator'
 After Aam Aadmi Party colleague Satyendar Jain was injured in Tihar Jail, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said "God is watching all."

"The person who was working day and night to provide good treatment and good health to the public, today a dictator is bent on killing that good person. That dictator has only one thought -- to finish everyone, he lives only in "I". He only wants to see himself. God is watching all, He will do justice to all," Delhi CM tweeted in Hindi. 

"I pray to God for Satyendraji's speedy recovery. May God give them the strength to fight against these adverse circumstances," he tweeted.

Jain has been hospitalised after he fell in the bathroom at Delhi's Tihar Jail, jail officials said on Thursday.

The Enforcement Directorate arrested Jain on May 30 last year under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The ED case is based on a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) complaint registered on the allegation that Satyender Jain had acquired movable properties in the name of various persons from February 14, 2015, to May 31, 2017, which he could not satisfactorily account for. -- ANI
08:34   Will force govt to change POCSO Act: Brij Bhushan
Wrestling Federation of India president and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who faces a case under the POCSO Act, on Thursday said the law is being "misused" and under the leadership of seers, "we will force the government to change" it.

Singh was speaking to reporters at a meeting in Uttar Pradesh's Bahraich regarding preparations for a rally of seers called by him in Ayodhya on June 5. 

He has claimed 11 lakh seers will take part in the rally.

Top wrestlers of the country, including Vinesh Phogat and Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, have been staging a sit-in at Jantar Mantar in Delhi since April 23, demanding Singh's arrest for allegedly sexually harassing seven women grapplers, including a minor.

The Delhi Police has filed two FIRs against the WFI president. While the first FIR relates to allegations by the minor wrestler and has been registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the second is related to outraging modesty.

Singh alleged the POCSO Act is being "misused on a large scale".

"This law is being misused against children, the elderly and seers. Even officials are not immune to its misuse," the Kaiserganj MP claimed.
"Under the leadership of seers, we will force the government to change the (POCSO) law," he said.

The law was brought by the Congress government without examining its various aspects, he added.

Singh also reiterated that all the allegations against him are false.
The Sports Ministry has cancelled all activities of the wrestling federation till the investigation into the allegations of the wrestlers is completed. -- PTI  
08:07   US Defence Secy to visit India ahead of Modi's US visit
United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to New Delhi next week to meet his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh, the Pentagon has announced.

The visit precedes Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official state visit to White House next month.

Austin will visit New Delhi to meet with Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and other leaders as the United States and India continue to modernise the US-India Major Defense Partnership, the Pentagon said on Thursday, announcing the defense secretary's trip to Japan, Singapore, India and France next week.

"This visit provides an opportunity to accelerate new defense innovation and industrial cooperation initiatives and drive ongoing efforts to expand operational cooperation between the US and Indian militaries," the Pentagon said.

Austin will begin his trip from Japan, as part of his seventh official visit to the Indo-Pacific region. 

In Tokyo, he plans to meet with Japanese Defense Minister Yasukasu Hamada and other senior leaders and also visit the US troops stationed in Japan, it said.

The visit also comes as the United States and Japan take important strides to modernise alliance capabilities, optimise US force posture, and build links with like-minded partners following the historic US-Japan "2+2" ministerial meeting earlier this year, the Pentagon said.

From there, Austin will travel to Singapore where he will deliver plenary remarks at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) 20th Shangri-La Dialogue.

On the margins of the Dialogue, the secretary will meet with key leaders to advance US defense partnerships across the region in support of the shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, anchored in ASEAN centrality.

After Singapore, Austin will visit New Delhi and then conclude his trip in France to participate in events commemorating the 79th anniversary of D-Day, and meet with French and the United Kingdom defense leaders, it added.  -- PTI
00:46   UP man held for sharing morphed pics of PM, Yogi, Shah
Police have arrested a man from Kosikalan town in this Uttar Pradesh district and sent him to jail for allegedly sharing objectionable morphed pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on a social media platform.

Superintendent of Police (Rural) Trigun Bisen said police had received information that Kasim, a local resident, tried to disturb the peace in the area by sharing the objectionable pictures posted on Facebook.

The accused was arrested from the Ghantaghar area on Wednesday night and sent to jail on Thursday, the SP added.  -- PTI