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India

Court here on Thursday reserves order on Vadra bail plea

A court here on Thursday reserved order on the anticipatory bail plea of Robert Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, in a money laundering case.

Hearing a case related to Vadra’s ownership of overseas assets worth 1.9 million pounds and entities to evade tax, Special Judge Arvind Kumar said that he will deliver order on the pleas of Vadra and his aide Manoj Arora on April 1.

The Enforcement Directorate, which had questioned Vadra several times, opposed the plea, saying his custodial interrogation was necessary for its investigation.

IANS

 

Categories
Science & Technology

Court grants Microsoft control of 99 hacking websites

A US court has granted Microsoft control of 99 websites widely associated with an Iranian group that were used to conduct hacking operations globally.

The court authorised Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) to take control of the websites belonging to the group called Phosphorus (also known as APT 35, Charming Kitten and Ajax Security Team) so that these can no longer be used to execute cyber attacks.

“Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) and the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) have been tracking Phosphorus since 2013,” said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft in a blog post late Wednesday.

Its activity is usually designed to gain access to the computer systems of businesses and government agencies and steal sensitive information.

“Its targets also include activists and journalists – especially those involved in advocacy and reporting on issues related to the Middle East,” Burt added.

Phosphorus typically attempts to compromise the personal accounts of individuals through a technique known as spear-phishing, using social engineering to entice someone to click on a link, sometimes sent through fake social media accounts that appear to belong to friendly contacts.

The link contains malicious software that enables Phosphorus to access computer systems.

“Phosphorus also uses a technique, whereby it sends people an email that makes it seem as if there’s a security risk to their accounts, prompting them to enter their credentials into a web form that enables the group to capture their passwords and gain access to their systems,” Burt informed.

Websites registered and used by Phosphorus include, for example, outlook-verify.net, yahoo-verify.net, verification-live.com, and myaccount-services.net.

“The action we executed last week enabled us to take control of 99 websites and redirect traffic from infected devices to our Digital Crime Unit’s sinkhole,” said Microsoft.

IANS

Categories
Business India

Court issues summons to Punjab National Bank ex-CEO, others

A Delhi Court has issued summons to former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Punjab National Bank Usha Ananthasubramanian and 11 other PNB officials in a case related to violations of of the Banking Regulation Act.

Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmender Singh in his March 11 order asked Ananthasubramanian, current Managing Director and CEO Sunil Mehta, former Executive Director R.S. Sangapure and former General Managers Rakesh Kumar and Nehal Ahad, among others, to appear before him on May 24.

The order was made available on Tuesday.

The court was hearing a complaint filed by the Reserve Bank of India, accusing PNB officials of furnishing false and misleading statements to it.

RBI on August 3, 2016, issued a “confidential circular” directing banks to strengthen the controls around the operating environment for fund transfers through SWIFT or similar interfaces. It asked PNB to file a report on the compliance of the circular.

But, PNB allegedly submitted a false compliance report.

In the aftermath of the PNB scam, RBI scrutinised PNB’s Brady House Branch in Mumbai where it found that PNB’s Core Banking System was not integrated with many critical applications and that there was no online integration of SWIFT with Core Banking System.

IANS

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India

Matching EVMs with VVPATs; Supreme Court hits out at EC

The Supreme Court on Monday lashed out at the Election Commission for insisting that there was no need for increasing the sample matching of the EVMs with the corresponding Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs), saying that no institution could insulate itself from suggestion for improvement.

At present VVPATA is matched with the correspondingA EVM at one polling booth in each of the assembly segments of the Lok Sabha constituency.

“No institution, including judiciary, can insulate itself from suggestion for improvement,” said the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi sitting with Justice Deepak Gupta, taking exception to poll panel’s Deputy Commissioner Sudeep Jain resisting the suggestion for increasing the number of sample matching of VVPATs with corresponding EVMs.

“If you are so up-to-date with protocols and processes,” Chief Justice Gogoi said, “then, why did not Election Commission introduce VVPAT on its own and brought it only after the court’s orders?”

The top court by its October 8, 2013, verdict had said that Electronic Voting Machines with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail was an indispensable requirement for free and fair elections as it ensures the accuracy of the voting system.

Reminding the EC that VVPATs were introduced on the directions of the top court, CJI Gogoi sought to recall the opposition the court faced from the poll panel on the necessity of VVPAT.

At the outset of the hearing, CJI Gogoi asked Sudeep Jain: “Can you increase the sample matching? We would like to increase it.”

As Deputy Election Commissioner sought to refer to the aspersion being cast, CJI Gogoi said, “It is not a question of aspersion, it is a question of satisfaction.”

The top court directed the EC to state the basis of its satisfaction that there was no need for increasing the sample matching of EVMs with VVPATs.

Besides this, the bench asked the Election Commission to spell out the difficulty if sample tallying was to be increased and the time required in meeting that.

As senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that it would not take more than five hours, CJI Gogoi told him that they want response from the EC.

Singhvi said that they have undertaken the exercise.

The top court had on March 15 sought the Election Commission’s response on a plea by 21 opposition parties seeking audit of at least 50 per cent of EVMs with corresponding VVPATs.

The plea has been filed, among others, by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party, Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party, Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference, Sharad Yadav of the Loktantrik Janata Dal, Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party, Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress and M.K. Stalin of the DMK.

In the plea, they urged the court that 50 per cent of results of EVMs must be matched and cross-checked with VVPATs before the declaration of results in the general election.

IANS

Categories
India

Delhi High Court refuses interim relief to Robert Vadra

The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to grant any interim relief to Robert Vadra, brother-in-law of Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

Vadra has challenged a money laundering case brought against him.

A division bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Vinod Goel asked the Centre and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to file response on Vadra and his close associate Manoj Arora’s plea challenging certain provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The court has also asked Vadra to file an affidavit explaining maintainability of his plea and listed the matter for further hearing on May 2.

The trial court which on March 19 extended Vadra’s interim protection from arrest till March 25, will hear his anticipatory bail plea post lunch.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has questioned him in the case several times. The agency has also requested the trial court to dismiss his anticipatory bail as it may require his custodial interrogation in the case.

The case relates to ownership of 1.9 million pounds overseas assets by Vadra. It pertains to undisclosed foreign assets and entities to evade tax.

IANS

 

 

Categories
India

CPI-M seeks court monitored probe in Kolkata airport row

The CPI-M’s West Bengal state secretariat member Sujan Chakraborty, who was served a legal notice by Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira for making “false and defamatory” statements about her in the Kolkata airport fracas, threw a challenge to the Trinamool by seeking a court monitored inquiry into the matter.

In a lengthy presser on Sunday, Banerjee, the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, termed all the allegations against his wife as baseless.

In response, Chakraborty told reporters that he was “ready to take up the challenge”.

“Let him move the court. I have no scope to withdraw (my comment) and I stand by it. Let there be a court monitored inquiry,” he said.

The row erupted after reports surfaced that 2 kg gold was allegedly seized by the Customs Department from Rujira when she arrived at the Kolkata airport from Bangkok on the intervening night of March 15 and 16.

Chakraborty also said the “friendship between Didibhai-Modibhai” (Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narandra Modi) is “getting clear” with such incidents.

“Who sent a lady (police) officer to an area in the airport which falls under the jurisdiction of the Customs? Why is an FIR being filed in the incident? Why was a meeting convened between the Customs and the police officials? Thousands of people travel, but they don’t require such arrangements,” he said.

The legal notice, served on Chakraborty by Banerjee’s lawyer, read: “On March 22, 2019, our client was made aware of a Twitter post published and circulated by you in your twitter handle wherein you have made inter alia false and defamatory statements and insinuations against our clint with the intent to defame our client and to sensationalise, politicise and inflate fake news which was attempted to defame our client.”

Chakraborty had wrote his Twitter handle: “She was caught red-handed by Customs at #CalcuttaAirport, but managed it by the top brass in Central & state administration! #ModibhaiDidibhai? No record or log kept? Whose inspiration? Gift to the nephew family @Mamataofficial? Court monitored proper enquiry only can unearth!”

“Our client denies all the allegations and imputations made by you and you are put to strict proof thereof”, said the notice.

Meanwhile, Left Front nominated candidate from the Jadavpur Lok Sabha constituency and former Kolkata Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said: “There should be an independent investigation to find out why did the police intervene in the incident and for what reasons they accused the Customs officials of demanding money from her as bribe?”

“We want the Supreme Court to form a team which will investigate the case. The incident threatens to destroy the structure of the Constitution,” he added.

IANS

Categories
India World

Punjab National Bank fraud; Choksi cites risk to life, moves court

One of the key accused in the PNB fraud case, Mehul Choksi, on Friday moved a fresh application in a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai seeking cancellation of a non-bailable warrant against him.

His application came three days after his nephew Nirav Modi, another key accused in the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank loan default case, was arrested in London.

In his application, Choksi, who had fled India in January 2018 months before the scam surfaced, has cited ailment and risk to his life. Choksi’s lawyer Sanjay Abbot in the application said the jeweller has a long history of heart ailments and a blood clot in the brain.

He also mentioned in the application about Choksi’s apprehension over his safety.

On May 22, 2018, after taking cognisance of the second chargesheet filed in the PNB case by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the special court had issued the non-bailable warrant against Choksi, owner of Gitanjali Group.

His move comes two days after the investigation agencies said that Choksi’s extradition process has begun in Antigua where he has taken citizenship.

The court has adjourned the matter for April 9 for arguments.

Choksi’s counsel submitted his detailed medical history citing his ailments constraining him from travelling and hence leading to his inability to return to India.

His counsel also placed 38 documents on record, including a latest prescriptions in which doctors recommend that Choksi should remain under continuous medical supervision in Antigua and should avoid travelling as his medical condition may deteriorate.

Choksi, along with his nephew and diamantaire Nirav Modi are accused of colluding with bankers to secure credit from overseas banks using fraudulent guarantees. Both have denied the allegations and have moved abroad.

Nirav Modi was taken into custody in London on March 19.

However, Choksi had secured a passport from Antigua and Barbuda, where wealthy foreigners can become citizens in exchange for investing in the country. He was granted citizenship on January 15, 2018.

He then deposited his cancelled Indian Passport No. Z3396732 and a mandatory fee of $177 for other formalities.

IANS

Categories
India

Supreme Court moved for fair probe into Pollachi case

Delhi-based lawyer Rajarajan on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking “free, fair, impartial investigation” into Pollachi sexual assault case and protection to the victims and their family members.

Rajarajan has demanded that the report of the probe, now being handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, is submitted to the Supreme Court.

Seeking protection and necessary safeguards for the victims and their immediate family members, the lawyer has sought direction that the trial of the case should be held outside Tamil Nadu.

Rajarajan has also sought initiation of departmental inquiry against Coimbatore Rural Superintendent of police R. Pandiarajan for revealing the identity of the victim.

The Pollachi sexual assault case has rocked the political corridors of Tamil Nadu as opposition’s DMK-led Secular Front has demanded a High Court-monitored CBI probe into the case.

IANS

Categories
India

Court allows Enforcement Directorate (ED) to quiz Deepak Talwar in jail

A Delhi court on Friday allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to question corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar in judicial custody in a case related to the purchase of 43 aircraft by Indian Airlines in 2005.

ED’s Special Public Prosecutors D.P. Singh and Nitesh Rana told Special Judge Santosh Snehi Mann that the interrogation of Talwar is necessary to ascertain the money trail.

ED has registered a case related to purchase of aircraft by Indian Airlines from Airbus Industrie, France, in 2005.

Meanwhile, the prosecutors have withdrawn the plea seeking to issue a production warrant against Talwar, who is in judicial custody in another money laundering case related to his suspected role in the irregular seat sharing on Air India’s profitable routes with some international airlines.

The ED is also probing various other cases related to money laundering against Talwar who was deported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 30.

IANS

Categories
Science & Technology World

US court dismisses lawsuit against Apple, Infosys

A US court in the state of California has dismissed lawsuit against Apple and Infosys over allegations that it abused the visa system to save money.

The California federal judge nixed a whistleblower’s suit accusing Apple of bringing two trainers from India into the country using B-1 visas instead of the necessary and more expensive H1B, AppleInsider reported on Thursday.

The lawsuit claimed that Apple and Infosys “conspired to have two Indian nationals enter the United States on a business B-1 visa to provide training at Apple in violation of immigration laws”.

The suit, filed by Carl Krawitt who is a former contractor for Infosys, said the two trainers were brought in under the wrong visa and that Apple should have acquired the more expensive and numerically-capped H1-B visas for the pair.

A B-1 visa is used to allow non-immigrants enter the US for business purposes but on a temporary basis and with limitations.

The lawsuit claimed Infosys executives knew the company “lacked sufficient foreign nationals on H1-B visas to legally perform the classroom training sessions at Apple” that the company was contracted to provide, and that “only Indian foreign national workers on B-1 visas were available to perform services” for Apple at the time, said the report.

Apple, however, argued its trainer’s activities were permissible under the B-1 visas.

“The court determined that the trainers’ work under the B-1 visa was acceptable, and that neither Apple nor Infosys were attempting to commit fraud,” the report noted.

IANS

Categories
Sports

Supreme Court lifts Sreesanth’s life ban, its BCCI’s call now

The Supreme Court on Friday cancelled life ban on India cricketer S. Sreesanth and asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to reconsider his punishment.

Sreesanth was arrested by Delhi Police along with Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan on charges of spot-fixing during the 2013 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

In a relief for the pace bowler, the apex court set aside the life ban imposed on him as a bench headed by Ashok Bhushan asked the BCCI to consider the quantum of punishment on Sreesanth.

The top court though maintained that he is guilty of betting/match-fixing.

Delhi Police had arrested Sreesanth from his friend’s house while Chandila and Chavan had been picked up from the team hotel as the three were plying their trade for Rajasthan Royals in the T20 league.

IANS

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India

Delhi Court rejects Gautam Khaitan’s bail plea on Tuesday

A Delhi court of Special Judge Arvind Kumar, here on Tuesday, rejected the bail plea of Gautam Khaitan, a lawyer, who was arrested in connection with a money laundering case.

Opposing his plea, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said Khaitan was “controlling” the modus operandi and was responsible for routing money.

He was misusing his connections and clients, including the ones inherited from his father, to launder money through a variety of accounts in Dubai, Mauritius, Singapore, Tunisia, Switzerland, the UK and India, it said.

The ED officials said the accounts included those belonging to his undisclosed shell companies outside India.

Khaitan, in judicial custody, was arrested on January 25, a week after the Income Tax Department conducted raids on his offices and various other properties in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).

Khaitan was earlier arrested in September 2014 for his alleged involvement in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

He got bail in January 2015 and was again arrested along with Sanjeev Tyagi, another accused in the case, on December 9, 2016, by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He later secured bail.

The CBI charge sheet had described Khaitan as the brain behind the AgustaWestland chopper deal.

IANS

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IMB News Room

SC Orders Mediation on Babri Masjid & Ram Janma Bhoomi Issue

Watch Farhan Hoda interview Mohammed Zafarullah Khan (Chairman, KMDC). They discuss about his personal life, his future plans, corruption in KMDC and how he will organise a proper system.

An IMB Production

Categories
World

Pakistan court to hear Khan’s disqualification plea on March 11

The Lahore High Court on Saturday said it will hear a petition seeking Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s disqualification on March 11.

The appeal claims that Khan had concealed the alleged parentage of a daughter with a former partner in his nomination papers for the 2018 election, Dawn news reported.

Tyrian While is the daughter of a former partner, Ana-Luisa (Sita) White. It has often been alleged that Tyrian is Khan’s daughter, a claim which he has denied.

“Imran Khan did not mention White as one of his dependants in his nomination papers, and thus he does not measure up to Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution,” the petition read.

Articles 62 and 63, set the precondition for a member of parliament to be “sadiq and ameen” (honest and righteous).

Earlier this year, on January 21, the Islamabad High Court had rejected a similar petition terming it non-maintainable as it involved personal matters.

IANS

Categories
India

HC stays trial court order framing charges against Dhinakaran

In an interim relief to sidelined AIADMK leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran, the Delhi High Court on Friday stayed a trial court order regarding framing of charges against him in a case of bribery involving the party’s “Two Leaves” symbol.

Justice Sunil Gaur’s interim order came while hearing Dhinakaran’s plea challenging a trial court order which had framed charges against him under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The court asked Delhi Police to respond to the plea and listed the matter for March 20.

Dhinakaran’s aide Sukesh Chandershekar, T.P. Mallikarjun and B. Kumar were also charged with criminal conspiracy and bribery in the case filed and probed by Delhi Police.

The court discharged five other accused — Nathu Singh alias Naresh, Lalit Kumar K. Shah, Pulkit Kundra, Jai Vikram Haran and Narender Jain — observing that in the absence of grave suspicion, no charge of conspiracy can be framed against them.

Dhinakaran, now an independent MLA and heading the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), is accused of having tried to bribe Election Commission officials to get the “Two Leaves” symbol for the faction led by his aunt V.K. Sasikala after a split in the AIADMK following the death of Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.

He was arrested on April 25, 2017 and granted bail on June 1, 2017. The bribe amount is said to be to the tune of Rs 50 crore.

The Delhi Police on July 14, 2017 chargesheeted Chandrashekhar for forgery.

Later, in December 2017, police filed a supplementary chargesheet in the case naming Dhinakaran, his long-time friend Mallikarjun, alleged middleman Chandrashekhar and others as accused in the case.

Police said a criminal conspiracy was hatched by Dhinakaran and others to bribe Election Commission officials.

IANS

 

Categories
India

Centre tells Supreme Court; Rafale documents are stolen

The Centre on Wednesday told the court that documents related to Rafale that have appeared in the media and cited by petitioners seeking a recall of the December 14 ruling giving a clean chit to the government on the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets were privileged documents stolen from the Defence Ministry.

Referring to the dissent note by the three members of India Negotiating Team (INT) in the eight-page note, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph that it was being probed if they were stolen by former or present employees.

The Attorney General referred to an article in The Hindu by its former Editor N. Ram related to the note by the three members of the INT and said that it was being investigated.

The Attorney General took exception to the newspaper publishing a report on February 8 – just prior to the hearing of the Rafale plea by the top court.

At this, CJI Gogoi wanted to know that if what had been published in two write-ups were based on “unauthorized” documents, what action the government had taken in the first instance when the story appeared on February 8.

The court asked the Attorney General to apprise it of the steps taken vis-a-vis the documents allegedly stolen from the Defence Ministry.

As the Attorney General sought that the both the review petitions and the application for perjury proceedings against the officials who misled the court and suppressed material information from it be dismissed at the outset, the court said that let Prashant Bhushan say what he wants and the court will decide what part of it to be accepted.

IANS

Categories
India

Karnataka Congress MLA fell for BJP’s ‘Operation Kamala’; Siddaramaiah

Umesh Jadhav, Karnataka’s “rebel” Congress MLA who resigned from the state Assembly, fell prey to the BJP’s ‘Operation Kamala’, party leader Siddaramaiah said on Tuesday.

“The circumstantial evidence clearly suggests that he (Jadhav) has fallen for #OperationKamala(referring to alleged poaching attempts by the BJP),” the former Chief Minister said in a series of tweets.

“People are saying that he has sold himself for money and power. If true, it is shameful on his part,” he added.

Jadhav, a two-time MLA from Chincholi constituency in Kalaburagi district, submitted his resignation to Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar on Monday without any explanation.

Hours later, G. Madhusudhan, the state spokesman for the Bharatiya Janata Party, told IANS that Jadhav would join the right-wing party on Wednesday at Kalaburagi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi would address a massive rally.

The Speaker is yet to accept Jadhav’s resignation.

“We had already petitioned to disqualify four MLAs, including Jadhav, as per anti-defection law for involving in anti-party activities. Resignation cannot be accepted without deciding our petition. Let us leave it to the speaker to decide,” Siddaramaiah said in another tweet on Tuesday.

Jadhav’s resignation came in the wake of the southern state’s ruling coalition partners Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress and the opposition BJP trading charges of poaching each others’ legislators since January.

IANS

Categories
India

Delhi High Court condoles Justice Valmiki Mehta’s death

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday condoled the death of Justice Valmiki Mehta.

“We have lost a stalwart, a man who has no parallel,” said the court’s Chief Justice Rajendra Menon, while addressing the Full Court Reference.

He said that Justice Mehta was uncompromising and of a firm nature, adding that he delivered judgments expeditiously.

A sitting judge of the Delhi High Court, Justice Valmiki Mehta died on March 1.

Former High Court judges, Justices Kailash Gambhir and Manmohan Singh, and many senior advocates were also present on the occasion.

IANS

Categories
India

AgustaWestland; Court to record Rajiv Saxena’s statement on March 5

A Delhi court on Saturday said the statement of Dubai-based businessman Rajiv Saxena, who wants to become an approver in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, will be recorded on March 5.

Saxena appeared before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal, who has fixed March 5 for the recording of his statement.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has told the court that it will respond to Saxena’s plea after taking note of his statement.

Meanwhile, Saxena told the court that he was not under any pressure and wanted to become an approver willingly.

In his application to the court, Saxena said he has cooperated in the investigation and disclosed the facts as known to him.

He said he would make full disclosure of the case, if he was granted pardon.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) security agencies picked up Saxena from his Dubai residence on January 30 and extradited him to India the same night.

He was granted bail on medical grounds on Monday. The ED did not oppose his bail application.

According to the ED, in connivance with lawyer Gautam Khaitan, Saxena provided a global corporate structure to launder money for payment to various political leaders, bureaucrats and Indian Air Force (IAF) officials to influence the contract for supplying 12 VVIP helicopters in favour of AgustaWestland.

 

IANS

 

Categories
World

Pakistan court rejects plea to stop Indian pilot’s release

The Islamabad High Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed against the release of Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who was captured by Pakistan two days earlier.

The pilot was seized after his MIG-21 Bison fighter jet was shot down during a dogfight near the Line of Control (LoC).

Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the case earlier in the day ahead of the pilot’s release, Samaa TV reported.

Justice Minallah told the petitioner the decision to release the pilot was made by Prime Minister Imran Khan during a Parliament session on Thursday and no parliamentarian raised any objections.

“So this is a policy matter and we must respect Parliament,” the judge said.

Khan had announced that Pakistan will release the pilot as a “gesture of goodwill”.

IANS

Categories
Sports

Whether to play Pakistan or not, ball is in government’s court

So much is happening in cricket, both on and off the field. Its exciting on the park and so much politicking in the board rooms.

West Indies won a Test series against England at home and Sri Lanka handed out South Africa a similar 2-0 drubbing in their own backyard. Both West Indies and Sri Lanka had been going through a horrendous period before this unexpected reversal of form.

In off-field politics, India is divided whether to play Pakistan in the World Cup 2019 in the wake of a terror attack in Pulwama, inspired by organisations from across the border. Mercifully, the debate took a back seat with Australia in India to play two Twenty20 and five One-Day International (ODI) matches series.

The voices that matter in Indian cricket have spoken using the cricket sense, while some others sounded sanctimonious in trying to be more loyal than the king. Or is it they just want to be in the news at a time when words should be measured and tempered with logic, instead of looking for headlines or looking politically correct.

Surprisingly, a couple of active players thought it fit to express their feelings. Twitterati has its role in gauzing public mood, but decisions are not taken on emotional expressions or the language of trolls.

When the twitter is not abuzz about India-Pakistan World Cup game, it has another favourtie whipping boy, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Fans expect him to win a match for India every time he goes out to bat, whether he is batting with Virat Kohli or Yuzvender Chahal as partner. They expect him to score at a run rate of over 100.

How quickly the fans forget that barely a month ago he was the man-of-the-series in Australia. Even for a last-ball defeat in the first Twenty20 game in Visakhapatnam on Sunday, Dhoni has to be blamed for refusing singles in the last two overs, just like Dinesh Karthik was crucified for the Twenty20 defeat in New Zealand. Yes, in both the cases, a couple of singles could have made the difference.

As for the India-Pakistan clash, the match is still some four months away and a lot can happen during the period, most importantly a new government will have taken office after the general elections, possibly in May. Things can get better for the teams to play their Old Trafford game on June 16.

Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, two of India’s greatest batsmen, were on the same page. Both want India to play Pakistan and beat them. Both see forfeiting the match does not amount to punishing Pakistan and for that they should beat them and deny them the two points.

The point of discussion is whether sport can be used to settle political conflicts. This is not going to be the first time that the countries have been dogged by politics and it won’t be the last. The international sports administrators have been tough in dealing with political considerations, saying it goes against the spirit of Olympic charter.

Only last week the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended all talks with India on its applications to host international events and asked its member federations not to hold any event in India unless the authorities promise that every participant is assured of visa.

The IOC came down hard on India after two Pakistani shooters, participants in the 25-metre rapid fire event in the ongoing International Shooting Federation World Cup, were denied visa by the Indian government.

India and Pakistan have had off-again and on-again cricketing ties, the two countries played bilateral series in between their strained relations. They even met in the world Cup when the Kargil conflict was on.

A decision on 2019 World Cup will be a cricket decision and not a political one as the top three men, who have anything to do with running the government and the ruling party, have been connected with cricket.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was president of the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) till he handed over the reins to his trusted associate Amit Shah. Shah is now the chief of the state association. The two may not take a decision on matters of cricket without consulting Arun Jaitley, who had been the cricket board vice-president for long.

The easy way out is to say India will only be conceding two points to Pakistan by forfeiting their round-robin match and it should not affect their chances of entering the knockout semi-finals as one of the four top finishers. What people seem to ignore is the two points Pakistan get may take them into the semi-finals, or even the final where India can still run into them.

There are precedents of teams boycotting teams in the World Cup when their governments took political decisions. It all started with Australia and West Indies refusing to go and play Sri Lanka in 1996 on grounds of security and as luck would have it the island nation went on to win the World Cup, beating Australia.

Then in 2003, New Zealand refused to play Kenya in Nairobi, citing fears of security, and England did not want to go to Zimbabwe as their government was opposed to the Robert Mugabe regime. The result was that both failed to get to the next stage.

Let’s not forget the chairman of the ICC is Shashank Manohar, an Indian, and he has already assured the Indian board of full security to the Indian team during the World Cup.

At the end of it, it will still be a government decision.

IANS