- SIMULTANEOUS POLLS UNCONSTITUTIONAL: CONGRESS TO LAW PANEL
The Congress has told the Law Commission that the proposal of holding Lok Sabha and Assembly elections together is “unconstitutional and impractical”. The party joins nine other regional parties, invited by the Law Commission, who have opposed the view. On Friday, a Congress delegation led by senior leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Anand Sharma and J D Selam met the Law Commission headed by Justice B S Chauhan.
“The provisions of the Constitution of India… read with provisions of the Representation of People Acts (1950 and 1951) will make it abundantly clear that the exercise that you intend to undertake is unconstitutional, undemocratic and forbidden by law,” the Congress conveyed to the Law Commission.
- JUSTICE K M JOSEPH IS FINALLY PROMOTED TO SUPREME COURT
The President of India on Friday appointed Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, Orissa HC CJ Vineet Saran and Uttarakhand HC CJ K M Joseph as judges of the Supreme Court.
The order of their elevation is said to be according to the all-India seniority of HC judges. Which effectively means that Justice Banerjee and Justice Saran will be senior to Justice Joseph in the SC.
With the elevation of Justice Banerjee, the SC will have a total of three woman judges, that includes Justices R Bhanumathi and Indu Malhotra — the most woman judges the apex court has had.
The appointments end the six-month-long standoff between the judiciary and the executive over the elevation of Justice Joseph. The SC collegium, headed by CJI Dipak Misra, had on January 10, recommended the elevation of Justice Joseph along with senior advocate Indu Malhotra. However, the government while agreeing to the elevation of Malhotra, returned the Joseph recommendation on April 26.
In April 2016, the bench headed by Justice Joseph had quashed President’s Rule imposed by the Centre in Uttarakhand. It was speculated that this was why the government was stalling his appointment to the SC. However, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, had rubbished the allegation.
- NRC CREDIT TO RAJIV AND MANMOHAN
Home minister Rajnath Singh on Friday told Parliament that Rajiv Gandhi had initiated the update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in 1985 and that Manmohan Singh had taken steps towards its implementation in 2005 and 2013.
“NRC updation process started after the Assam Accord was signed on 15th August 1985. That time Rajiv Gandhiji was the Prime Minister,” Rajnath said in a statement in the Rajya Sabha.
The accord was signed after an agitation by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) between 1979 and 1985.
“In 2005, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took a decision in a meeting with the state government and AASU to implement the accord by updating the NRC. On December 6, 2013, the government of India issued a notification for NRC updation,” Rajnath continued.
Congress leader Ripun Bora was quick to point out the difference between what Rajnath said and what BJP president Amit Shah had told the Upper House on Tuesday.
Shah had said that Rajiv Gandhi had signed the accord providing for identification of illegal immigrants, but only the NDA government has the courage to implement it. “You did not have the courage to implement. We have the courage,” Shah had said.
Bora said: “Now, from the statement of the honourable home minister, it has clearly been justified that it is the Congress party which initiated NRC.”
- OPPOSITION REMOVES LEADERSHIP THORN
The Opposition parties appear to have plucked the most troubling thorn in their side by deciding not to fight over leadership, leaving the question to be answered by the post-poll numerical dynamics.
The matter of choosing a candidate for the Prime Minister’s post was creating tension among like-minded parties, encouraging some key players to toy with the idea of a separate federal front to compete with the Congress-led group.
As this internal positioning by some leaders threatened to derail the efforts at a united fight against the BJP, senior leaders intervened.
Most papers report today that z senior Opposition leader said on the condition of anonymity: “The debate on who will be the Prime Minister candidate of the Opposition camp is divisive. The prime objective is to defeat the BJP. We will see what happens after the elections.”
The Congress believes that any tussle over leadership would be self-defeating, giving the BJP an opening to transform the election into a “Modi versus Who” contest.
A Congress leader said: “There is a feeling among Opposition parties that the RSS-BJP has become a threat to the idea of India…. There is a lot of disturbance in the country. We never imagined such a situation would be created. Hence the entire focus is on uniting to defeat Modi.” He added: “The Congress’s role is to bring together all the forces that want to fight the BJP. We don’t want any confusion over that objective. There are two stages: one, defeat the BJP; two, analyse the number of seats each party has won and decide a leader.”
- SC DATA QUERY ON PROMOTION QUOTAS
The Supreme Court on Friday asked why the Centre and the states had failed to collect “quantifiable data” to justify reservation in promotions despite a 2006 ruling by a constitution bench making such an exercise mandatory for the grant of the benefit.
Attorney-general K.K. Venugopal, representing the Centre, said it would be a “practically impossible situation” if every time someone was to be promoted the state needed to furnish data to justify it. He defended reservation in promotions as affirmative action in favour of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who had faced discrimination for more than 1,000 years.
The five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra cited ruling in the M. Nagraj case, 2006, which said reservation could be allowed in promotions only if the government furnished quantifiable data to establish that Dalit and tribal employees were underrepresented in high posts.
“No state has till date prepared quantifiable data. Why have they not done it so far? The judgment was delivered in 2006,” the bench, which included Justices Kurian Joseph, R.F. Nariman, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Indu Malhotra, said.
Delhi High Court had last August quashed the Centre’s 1997 office memorandum providing for reservation in promotions for Dalit and tribal employees, citing the Nagraj judgment.
Venugopal said on Friday that the Nagraj judgment was unclear about what “quantifiable data” meant and how it should be determined.
The arguments will continue next Thursday.
- INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
- 12 SCHOOLS TORCHED IN PAK, LOCALS HOLD PROTEST
Twelve schools, half of them all-girls’, have been burnt down by unidentified assailants in coordinated attacks in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan, triggering protest by local residents who sought safety for educational institutions which are often attacked by militants, officials said yesterday.
The schools in Chilas town, about 130-km from Gilgit, were targeted late Thursday night by the militants who set them on fire and damaged school property across Diamer district, the police said on the attack in the relatively-peaceful region.
Superintendent of Police Diamer Roy Ajmal told media that 12 schools, half of them girls’ school, were targeted by rebels who fled after the attack.
Following the attacks, local residents staged a protest at Siddique Akbar Chowk demanding the arrest of culprits and seeking safety for educational institutes which are often targeted by the militants. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
- ZIMBABWE’S MNANGAGWA WINS 1ST POST-MUGABE POLL
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa won election yesterday with just over 50 per cent of the ballots as the ruling party maintained control of the government in the first vote since the fall of longtime leader Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa received 50.8 per cent of the vote while main opposition challenger Nelson Chamisa received 44.3 per cent. The opposition is almost certain to challenge the results in the courts or in the streets.
Mnangagwa called on Friday for Zimbabwe to unite behind him after he was declared winner, but the opposition leader insisted he had won and said he would use all means necessary to challenge the result.
Mnangagwa said his victory was won fairly and he had nothing to hide, although he criticised chaotic scenes where police shouting “clear out” chased away journalists waiting for a briefing by his main presidential election rival Nelson Chamisa.
- UIDAI NUMBER POPPED UP IN YOUR CONTACTS? GOOGLE PUT IT THERE
Since this Thursday at least, multiple people had tweeted about finding a number for UIDAI in their contacts list despite not having added it or giving explicit permission.
Yesterday, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) denied that it forced any smartphone manufacturer or telecom service provider to add a helpline number into people’s contact lists.
And soon thereafter, Google accepted that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI number into its setup wizard for Android. This in a way put to end the controversy surrounding the mysterious entry of the UIDAI number in the contact lists of many smartphone users around the country.
Apologising for “any concern that this might have caused”, the statement from a Google spokesperson said it “would like to assure everyone that this is not a situation of an unauthorised access of their Android devices”. “Users can manually delete the number from their devices.”
Earlier, in a statement that it tweeted, UIDAI said that the toll-free number 1800-300-1947 appearing in people’s contacts lists was outdated and invalid. “In the wake of some media reports on default inclusion of UIDAI’s outdated & invalid Toll free no. 1800-300-1947 in contact list of Android phones. It is clarified that, UIDAI has not asked or communicated to any manufacturer or service provider for providing any such facility whatsoever,” the tweet said.
- TURBULENCE AGAIN AT JET AIRWAYS
Five years after it sold 24 per cent in the company to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, Naresh Goyal-led Jet Airways is facing financial turbulence again.
As a cost-cutting measure, the airline has implemented a 5-25 per cent pay cut for its senior management and is requesting pilots and engineers to agree to pay reduction. A media report said the management told pilots the airline would not be able to survive beyond 60 days unless urgent steps were taken to cut cost.
Lenders said they were concerned about the financial health of the airline, which has huge repayment obligations spread over three years.
With heightened competition and increasing cost pressure, the airline is struggling to make money.
- TEN MONTHS BEFORE HE FLED, CHOKSI GOT PASSPORT OFFICE OK FOR ANTIGUA
Raising questions about the alert levels of law enforcement agencies here, Antigua and Barbuda said fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi had been granted citizenship of the country based on a police clearance certificate issued by the Regional Passport Office, Mumbai and documents received from the SEBI in May 2017.
Confirming that the police clearance certificate for Antigua and Barbuda had been granted to Choksi in March 2017 — a full 10 months before he fled India and PNB reported the fraud to CBI — the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Friday said: “Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) was issued to Mehul Choksi by Passport Office, Mumbai, for Antigua and Barbuda on March 16, 2017.”
Clearly, from the MEA statement, passport authorities were aware that Choksi had applied for citizenship of Antigua and Bermuda. Yet Indian agencies woke up only on July 23 this year — six months after Choksi fled and took the oath of citizenship in Antigua — when the US Department of Justice, in a communication routed through CBI, wrote to the Enforcement Directorate that it had not recorded the details of Choksi’s movements but its “assessment is that he has flown out (of the US) on an Antiguan passport”.
- GHEE IS SURPRISING NEW HEALTH-FOOD TREND ACROSS NORTH AMERICA
A few years ago, the phrase “artisanal ghee-maker” would have prompted a blank stare or a double take. Now, a rapidly growing market across North America is attracting consumers and entrepreneurs alike to the discovery of a product that has long been a staple of kitchens all over India. Ghee is being sold as a cooking oil, spread for toast, drizzle for popcorn and creamer for coffee among other uses. But this is not just your grandmother’s shuddh desi ghee. The market is dominated by organic gourmet ghees aimed at customers eyeing ghee as a healthy, sustainable choice.
Just as yoga was adopted many years ago and soon spawned a local industry of yoga schools, $100 yoga mats and $150 yoga pants, American and Canadian ghee-makers are infusing a dash of creativity, local and exotic flavours, and a healthy marketing buzz into ghee. Los Angeles-based 4th & Heart’s flavoured ghees include Madagascar Vanilla Bean and Himalayan Pink Salt, as well as chocolate ghee spreads. Farmtrue in Connecticut sells Vanilla Maple Chai and Garlic Scape flavoured ghee and recently introduced Maple Walnut and Cashew Coconut ghee-nut butters. Pure Indian Foods, an Indian-American-owned brand based in Princeton, New Jersey, sells a range of flavoured ghees including Italian, Herbes de Provence and Niter Kebbeh, which is infused with Ethiopian spices.
A recent report in The Washington Post listed flavoured ghees as a standout category at this summer’s Fancy Food Show in New York, the premier trade event for food products.
- SANJU BEATS PK TO BECOME THIRD HIGHEST GROSSER OF ALL TIME
Sanju just reached another milestone. This Rajkumar Hirani directorial has crossed the lifetime business of Hirani’s own PK. Sanju’s collection now stands at Rs 341.22, crossing PK’s Rs 340.8 crore. Now Sanju is the third biggest Indian movie of all time, only behind Baahubali: The Conclusion’s Rs 510.99 crore and Dangal’s Rs 387.38 crore.
Sanju is a biopic on controversial actor Sanjay Dutt and stars Ranbir Kapoor in the title role. The film traces the life of Sanjay from his entry into Bollywood to the present.
Ever since Sanju released, it has not stopped making money even as newer films came and exited the theatres. Even now, more than a month after its release, it is still taking on new films head on, refusing to budge.
Some people have criticised the film of going easy on Sanjay Dutt’s crimes, including his conviction in the illegal arms possession case.
- INDIA VS ENGLAND: BOWLERS DAY OUT AT EDGBASTON
India bowled England for 180 in their second innings on day three to set themselves a 194-run target to win the first Test. This was primarily due to the bowling unit coming together and delivering on a tricky third-day pitch. History suggests every time Indian bowlers perform well in England, they emerged as the victorious team. On Day three it was the duo of Ishant Sharma and R Ashwin.
Defending 194 is no easy task and England’s bowlers responded to the situation with disciplined bowling. Under cloudy conditions, Stuart Broad kept the full and just outside the off-stump to create enough doubt in the batsmen’s mind. His rewards- Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay. KL Rahul was the next man to fall to Stokes. The ball from Ben Stokes was simply unplayable as he generated late swing into the batsman and then seamed it away and that too at 135kmph. While Sam Curran picked up Ajinkya Rahane, James Anderson was brought back for a second spell and was successful in snuffing out R Ashwin with a conventional outswinger.
At day’s end, India were 110/5, with Kohli on 43 and Dinesh Karthik on 18. The batsmen to follow are Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma
Scores at end of Day 3: England 287 & 180; India 274 & 110/5
- PV SINDHU REACHES SEMIS, OTHER INDIANS BOW OUT
All talk of her suspect mental strength can be binned after PV Sindhu scored a drop-dead gorgeous win over Nozomi Okuhara at the Nanjing World Championships’ last 8 on Friday. The 21-17, 21-19 win, on the back of a game of sophisticated and nuanced drop-shots, highlighted that her mind was never fragile in last year’s Finals — a little clueless, yes; but it was the limbs that needed to imbibe the variation of a stroke that was still being polished at Glasgow.
The 58-minute quarterfinal victory ensured the 23-year-old would win her fourth World Championship medal in five outings. The colour of the medal is up for speculation till she meets another Japanese Akane Yamaguchi, on Saturday. Still, it is a mark of her consistency and fitness at the topmost level of the sport, that she ended as the only repeat semifinalist from last year.
Since Glasgow, Sindhu has beaten Okuhara twice, and lost as many times. But this was the first time she looked completely in control of the match.
“Sindhu played the down-the-line drops more than the cross-court drops which had ironically gotten her into trouble last year,” Gopichand explained. The rallies were long, but did not look like a pendulum swinging to a monotone, because Sindhu would drop in the timely drop-shot.
It was probably Sindhu’s first big convincing win over a true blue defensive player in the last two years on the big stage – and it came, courtesy the disruptive drop.
Saina Nehwal was clueless as she caved in against Carolina Marin 6-21, 11-21. Even before Saina could get the feel of the conditions, the first game was over. Marin was at her aggressive best, hitting everything hard, yelling in her usual fashion and giving no time for Saina to react.
Sai Praneeth proved no match for sixth seed Kento Momota. The Japanese shuttler took 39 minutes to oust the Indian 21-12, 21-12.
Mixed doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy suffered a straight-game loss against top seeded Chinese pair of Yaqiong Huang and Siwei Zheng 17-21, 10-21.
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- THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be outraged by silence. – Henri Frédéric Amiel
- OFF TRACK
“Arrey aur kaju leejiye na”
Mehmaan: Nahin shukriya, main pehle hi 3-4 kha chuka hoon.
Mezbaan: Khaye to aapne 9 hain, par chalo yahan kaun gin raha hai.