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India

Financial institutions debit Rs 759 cr from IL&FS against NCLAT order

The beleaguered group IL&FS has informed NCLT that in contravention of a NCLAT order, banks have debited about Rs 759 crore in the last eight months for repayment on their dues which amounts to coercive creditor action.

As per the fifth progress report to the NCLT, the company said that banks and financial institutions” actions affects its efforts to survive as a ”going concern”.

“In contravention with the October 2018 order of the NCLAT, some banks and financial institutions have been debiting the accounts of IL&FS group entities of ”Amber” and ”Red” classified ones without authorisation and from the group to service debt obligations payable by the relevant entities,” IL&FS said in its latest progress report.

With respect to the cash credit facilities provided by the lenders to the IL&FS group entities, some banks and financial institutions have been even appropriating interests by debiting the current accounts of the relevant group firm on a monthly basis, the update said.

“If the creditors of the IL&FS group continue with such actions the result will be that the ”going concern” status of those companies will be affected leading to disruption of operations and consequent value deterioration,” the company told NCLT.

The report said the auto debiting of accounts of the IL&FS group entities have been placed before the NCLAT and the appellate tribunal on August 8 asked the government and IL&FS to bring it to the notice and treat it as “contempt of court”.

Under the cost cutting measures, the company said that the new board has achieved the target of reduction of operating expenses for financial year 2018-2019 by about 26.22 per cent as set by the Fourth Progress Report.

The new board has achieved the target as there has been a reduction of operating expenses by 32 per cent and a significant contribution towards this has been achieved by the office space management , review of operating practices and administrative expenses by 60 per cent, the report said.

Further, the progress report showed that as IL&FS was unable to meet its repayments obligations due to financial mess, Government has also made payments under guarantees issued by it on IL&FS”s loans . On a loan from ADB ($50.5 million), government paid about $2 million dollar from the COntingency from of India which is shown as a loan to IL&FS. The present outstanding from ADB as on March 2019 is $23.80 million dollar.

The 54 million euro loan from KfW was also guaranteed by Government. After Government paid 0.732 million euro from CFI to KfW the outstanding to KfW as on March is 9.16 million euro.

(IANS)

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India

Lower court order in Pehlu Khan case surprising: Priyanka Gandhi

New Delhi, Aug 16 Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Friday described the lower court order in Pehlu Khan mob lynching case as “surprising” saying there should be no place for an inhuman act in our country and the Rajasthan government”s decision to bring a law on mob lynching is a welcome decision.

“The lower court decision in the Pehlu Khan case is surprising. There is no place for inhuman act and killing of a man by the mob in our country,” she said in a series of tweets on Friday.

“Law being brought by the Rajasthan government against mob lynching is a welcome decision. Hope that Rajasthan government will provide justice to Pehlu Khan and give a good example,” she said in another tweet.

Her remarks came two days after a lower court in Alwar acquitted all the six accused in Pehlu Khan death case.

Pehlu Khan was beaten by a mob of cow vigilantes on April 1, 2017 on the suspicion of cattle smuggling.

(IANS)

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India

Karnataka crisis: SC reserves order on rebel MLAs’ plea till tomorrow

The Supreme Court has reserved till Wednesday its order on petitions filed by 15 rebel MLAs of the Congress and JD-S in Karnataka seeking directions to the Assembly Speaker to accept their resignations.

During the day-long arguments on Tuesday, the parties involved pointed out to a bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, the implications of the ongoing political crisis in Karnataka on the state as well as elsewhere, and also questioned the apex court’s jurisdiction power to entertain the rebel MLAs’ petition.

Hearing rebel MLAs counsel senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, the bench said: “We cannot say, in which way, the Speaker should decide the resignation or disqualification of MLAs. We cannot fetter him. Although, the important question is, is there any constitutional obligation for the Speaker to decide upon the resignations before the disqualification of the MLA or to club his decisions on both?”

The bench asked counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi what stopped Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar from deciding on whether to accept or reject the resignations tendered by the MLAs on July 6.

“You were silent on the resignations till the MLAs came to the Supreme Court. Why? If you have decided on the resignations, then where is the scope for disqualification?” the Chief Justice asked Singvhi.

Singhvi replied that the Speaker had filed an affidavit in the apex court explaining what had happened.

Asked why wasn’t a decision taken when the MLAs went to the Speaker with their resignations, Singhvi said it was a written communication, and the Speaker was not available on that day. “But the decision was communicated to him on July 6,” the court added.

Singhvi argued that the first condition of a genuine resignation tendered by an MLA was that “he has to be personally present before the Speaker” and added that the MLAs first met the Speaker on July 11.

Reacting sharply to the argument, the court said that the provision did not negate resigning by letter, but if the MLAs did make a personal visit to the Speaker then he was expected to decide on their resignations immediately. “Why didn’t it happen on July 11?” the bench further queried.

Asking if the Speaker was challenging the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction power, the Chief Justice said: “For your benefit, the court had ordered a floor test (referring to the last year’s floor test) and appointed a Protem Speaker in a midnight hearing. The exercise of jurisdiction of our power depends only on self-restraint.”

Singhvi said the Speaker was in no way questioning the court’s jurisdiction and added: “Suppose a Speaker goes crazy, then Your Lordships can intervene.”

The Chief Justice also heard senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who was representing Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, and questioned the veracity of the petition filed by the rebel MLAs.

Asking the Supreme Court to have looked at the notice behind the petition, Dhawan said: “The court should have not entertained this petition,” he said.

(IANS)

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India

‘Mamata’s order on cut money may sow confusion in TMC’

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s instruction to Trinamool Congress functionaries to return to the public the cut money they have taken for delivery of government welfare schemes may sow confusion and trouble in the party, says Trinamool MP Satabdi Roy.

Speaking to the media in Delhi, the actress-turned-politician said Banerjee should have initiated measures to stop the practice much earlier.

“Didi has taken steps now, that’s fine. But there will be more chaos on returning cut money. Because a person who has taken it directly, he is only the front man. There are others who are behind the wings. They have also taken their share. So the money has to be returned according to this chain.

“This money should be returned. But the amount which has reached somebody’s home already, it is difficult to get that money back,” Roy said in explosive comments on the issue.

Addressing party workers earlier this week, Trinamool supremo Banerjee lashed out at those leaders taking cut money or commission from beneficiaries of government schemes, and ordered them to return the ill-gotten amount to the public from whom they had taken it in the first place.

Roy, however, cautioned that Banerjee should ensure that it should not lead to the situation where those who take small amounts of “one or two per cent” are reined in, but the shares of those taking higher percentages go up.

“Those who could not get the cut money earlier, will nag those who took it to return the money. There is chance of trouble. Didi (elder sister, as Banerjee is affectionately called) should look into this.

“It should not be the case that those who were taking one per cent or two per cent of the total amount of schemes are reined in, but simultaneously shares of those who now take bigger amounts go up. This will only sow confusion in the party.

“If there is a situation where only a handful gets the cut money, and the majority don’t, that is also not proper,” she said.

(IANS)

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India

Kamal Nath may order probe into snooping by Shivraj government

The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh appears set to order an investigation into the alleged snooping of politicians, bureaucrats and other officials during the erstwhile Shivraj Singh Chauhan government.

Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha has written to Chief Minister Kamal Nath, claiming that a probe ordered into the case by the Supreme Court, has been pending for four years.

The case came to light in 2014 after Prashant Pandey, a former IT consultant with the Madhya Pradesh Police, filed a plea in the Supreme Court alleging that a special branch of the state police had tapped phones of thousands of politicians, bureaucrats and specific people between 2009 and 2014.

The apex court issued notices to the state and Central governments as well as American company Spandan-IT pulse, which allegedly helped tap the phones and provided their call details to the police.

The court also ordered an investigation into the case, but four years on the probe is still pending.

“The phone tapping went on for four years in violation of the privacy norms and the Supreme Court order that the Home Secretary’s permission must be sought before tapping a phone. It’s a matter related to the state police and so the state government has the right to investigate it,” Tankha told IANS.

Pandey, who is also the whistleblower of the Vyapam recruitment scam, told IANS that the government stopped tapping the phones soon after he moved the Supreme Court.

“First, in violation of rules, the Madhya Pradesh Police shared mobile numbers and other important details of people with US-based firm Spandan-IT Pulse. On the basis of these details, Spandan-IT Pulse then developed an illegal online software and used it to tap the phone calls of these people and give details to the police,” he said.

BJP spokesman Deepwar Vijayvargiya said: “The Congress has been in power for six months now, but could not fulfill any of the promises it made. So it is trying to distract the public with these accusations. Investigate, if it is in public interest. The government must pay attention to public interest, but it is not doing so.”

(IANS)

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India

High Court rejects plea seeking gag order on CJI matter

The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking to restrain the media from reporting the sexual harassment allegation against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani rejected the plea and asked the petitioner to go to the Supreme Court.

“We will not interfere in the issue… Everything is with the Supreme Court. Go to the Supreme Court,” the court said.

The bench also mentioned that there is a Supreme Court order dated April 20 on this regard.

On April 20, the apex court has said: “Having considered the matter, we refrain from passing any judicial order at this moment, leaving it to the wisdom of the media to show restraint, act responsibly as is expected from them and accordingly decide what should or should not be published, as wild and scandalous allegations undermine and irreparably damage reputation and negate independence of judiciary.”

Gogoi has rubbished the allegation of sexual harassment against him, saying that there was a “larger conspiracy” to destabilize the independence of the judiciary which, he said, was “under very serious threat”.

The Delhi High court was hearing a petition filed by an Anti Corruption Council of India organisation through counsel Hussain Mueen Farooq and B. Sudha.

The petition has sought a direction to restrain TV channels, newspapers as well as social media platforms from publishing or telecasting the allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI till the three-judge panel arrives at any conclusion.

The petitioner said that he suspected the involvement of “anti-national elements” in the matter.

IANS

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India

Court reserves order on Michel’s charge sheet leak plea

A court here on Thursday reserved order on the plea of British national and alleged AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal middleman Christian Michel’s plea seeking a “free and fair” trial as the fresh supplementary charge sheet filed in the case was accessed by some media outlets.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar said that he will deliver order on the plea on May 3.

The Enforcement Directorate has opposed Michel’s plea, saying that it is not maintainable.

The fresh supplementary charge sheet names Michel’s partner David Syms and his two firms Global Services FZE, UAE, and Global Trade and Commerce Ltd.

Michel was extradited to India on December 4, 2018 from the United Arab Emirates.

IANS

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India

AgustaWestland; Order reserved on Sushen Mohan Gupta’s bail

A Delhi court on Monday reserved the order on the bail plea of Sushen Mohan Gupta, an alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar said he will deliver the order on April 20.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has opposed Sushen’s bail plea. He was arrested on March 26, a day after the court allowed Rajiv Saxena, a Dubai-based businessman and another alleged middleman in the deal, to turn approver.

The court also listed the plea of British national Christian Michel, the key middleman accused in the case, seeking a “free and fair” trial, for further hearing on April 12. He has alleged that the fresh supplementary chargesheet filed in the case was accessed by some media outlets.

The ED has filed the reply on his plea and raised question on the maintainability of his application.

Michel was extradited to India on December 4, 2018, from the United Arab Emirates.

According to the ED, Saxena, in connivance with lawyer Gautam Khaitan, developed the global corporate structure that laundered money for payment to politicians, bureaucrats and Indian Air Force (IAF) officials to influence the contract for supplying 12 VVIP choppers in favour of AgustaWestland, the Rome-based helicopter design and manufacturing company.

IANS

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India

Supreme Court to pass order on electoral bonds on Friday

The Supreme Court will pass an order on the legality of the electoral bonds scheme on Friday. The court has heard the arguments from the Centre and the petitioners.

The petitioners have moved the court seeking either a stay on the scheme or some other transparent alternative for funding of political parties.

IANS

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India

Court reserves order on Gautam Khaitan’s bail on Tuesday

A court here on Tuesday reserved order on lawyer Gautam Khaitan’s bail plea in a money laundering and black money case.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar said he will deliver the order on April 12.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has opposed Khaitan’s bail plea.

It is the second bail plea moved by Khaitan. On March 12, the court had rejected his first plea for bail.

Currently in judicial custody, Khaitan was arrested on January 25, a week after the Income Tax Department searched his offices and other properties in Delhi and the National Capital Region.

On March 25, the ED filed a chargesheet in the money laundering case.

The agency said Khaitan was “controlling” the modus operandi and was responsible for routing money, 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.

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

The ED had filed a money laundering case against Khaitan and others based on a case lodged by the I-T Department under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act.

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

He got bail in January 2015 but 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 chargesheet had described Khaitan as the brain behind the AgustaWestland deal.

IANS

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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

 

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India

Congress moves Election Commission against Goa government order

In a complaint to the Election Commission of India on Saturday, the Goa Congress has demanded that the poll authority should strike down a state government order, which appoints two key coalition leaders as deputy Chief Ministers.

“The order is a clear violation of the Model Code of Conduct and as such this order should be immediately set aside by the EC and strict and stringent action should be taken against the concerned officer and the government of Goa,” Congress’s head of the communications department for Goa, Trajano D’Mello, said in his complaint to the top poll authority in New Delhi.

On March 20, days after BJP leader Pramod Sawant was sworn-in as Chief Minister, the State government issued an order appointing Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward Party and Sudin Dhavalikar of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party as deputy CMs.

With three MLAs each, the Goa Forward as well as the MGP provide crucial support to the BJP-led coalition, without whose numbers the government is likely to be in a minority.

Addressing a press conference at the state Congress headquarters here, D’Mello said that the appointment of the two deputy Chief Ministers was to gain political capital by the BJP, in view of the upcoming elections to the Lok Sabha and the three by-polls in the coastal state.

“These appointments were done at a time when the Model Code of Conduct was already announced and keeping the Lok Sabha elections and the by-polls in mind,” D’Mello said.

“With coming into force of the Model Code of Conduct of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and for the by-polls of the legislative assembly in the state, it is incumbent upon the government not to declare any decision which will influence the votes in favour of the party in power,” the Congress leader said.

“It is done solely for the purpose of attracting votes,” D’Mello added.

IANS

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India

SC reserves order on government plea on Rafale documents

The Supreme Court on Thursday received its order on the government’s plea claiming privilege over the documents filed by petitioners – former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, journalist-turned politician Arun Shourie and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan – in connection with the Rafale cae.

After an hour-long hearing, the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi reserved the order on the plea which also sought removal of the documents from the case records.

The Centre had on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the petitioners, who were seeking a review of the court’s December 14 judgement giving a clean chit to the government in the Rafale deal, are guilty of leakage of sensitive information having a bearing on national security and combat capacity of the fighter jets.

In an affidavit, the government said the leaked information was now available to the “enemy/our adversaries”, adding those who have conspired in this leakage were guilty of penal offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code.

The Centre had contended that the documents which were unauthorisedly photocopied belonged to a class for which it was “entitled to claim privilege under Section 123 and 124 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.”

Asserting that the petitioners had “no authority” to produce the documents before the court without its “explicit permission”, the affidavit says that these documents are exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1)(a) of the Right to Information Act.

IANS

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India

Muzaffarpur sex scandal; Order on framing charges reserved

A court here on Wednesday reserved its order on framing of charges against Brajesh Thakur and other accused in the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual assault case.

Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha said that he will deliver the order on March 18.

Journalist-turned-social activist Thakur, who was heading the NGO that ran the shelter home, and other accused have denied the allegations.

The Muzaffarpur abuses came to light when the Bihar Social Welfare Department filed an FIR based on the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) social audit, which found that several inmates of the Muzaffarpur shelter home were allegedly raped and sexually abused.

The matter was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in July 2018 had filed a charge sheet against 21 accused in the case in December 2018.

On February 7, the Supreme Court has transferred the trial from Patna to Delhi’s Saket court.

IANS

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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

 

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India

Ayodhya temple dispute; SC reserves order on mediation in case

A five-judge Constitution Bench on Wednesday reserved its order on sending the contentious Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid Ayodhya title dispute case for mediation even as the Hindu parties including the state of Uttar Pradesh opposed the court’s suggestion. 

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi reserved the order on the matter as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Uttar Pradesh said, “It (mediation) will not be advisable and prudent to take this path.”

Senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, who appeared on behalf of the deity Ram Lala, opposed the mediation and told the court that the birth place of Lord Ram was a matter of faith and belief and they cannot take a contrary view in the mediation.

IANS

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India

SC reserves order on Sreesanth’s plea against lifetime ban by BCCI

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on a plea by former cricketer S. Sreesanth challenging the lifetime ban imposed on him by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for his alleged involvement in match fixing during 2013 IPL.

The bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice K.M. Joseph reserved the order as apex cricketing body said that Sreesanth was found guilty on all the three counts – corruption, betting and bringing disrepute to the game.

The court has given both Sreesanth and the BCCI to file their written submissions in two weeks.

Appearing for BCCI, senior counsel Parag Tripathi told the court that for corruption and betting, the punishment is lifetime ban from the game.

Pointing to zero tolerance towards corruption and betting and also any act bringing disrepute to cricket, Tripathi told the court that at no stage, Sreesanth brought it to the notice of BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit about his being approached by bookies.

The BCCI also reiterated the charge that Sreesanth never explained to the inquiry committee about where Rs 10 lakh, an amount that finds mention in the recorded telephonic conversation, came from.

In his rejoinder arguments, senior counsel, Salman Khurshid appearing for Sreesanth said that the onus of proving the guilt was on the BCCI. He said it was for the BCCI to establish that Rs 10 lakhs had come from questionable sources for match fixing.

Referring to the taped conversation, Khurshid said it says that transaction would take place only if former cricketer concedes 14 runs in an over and that it would be off for anything less than that.

In the alleged over, where Sreesanth was to concede 14 runs, in fact 13 runs could be scored. It has been contended against Sreesanth that there was one no ball, which would have made it to 14 runs, but it escaped the umpire’s sight.

Wrapping up his rejoinder arguments, Khurshid urged the court to save the career of the “young cricketer, who is not that young now, but still retains the spirit of cricket.”

In the earlier hearing, Sreesanth had told the court that he initially confessed to the Special Cell of Delhi Police about his alleged involvement in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal to escape sustained and continuous police torture.

Sreesanth moved the top court challenging the Kerala High Court order upholding the lifetime ban on him by the BCCI.

The BCCI had on May 15 last year opposed the plea by Sreesanth seeking a relaxation of the ban on him, so that he could play in county cricket in England.

BCCI had earlier told the court that it has already appealed against the order discharging Sreesanth in the spot-fixing case during IPL 2013.

The Delhi Police had arrested Sreesanth and his two other Rajasthan Royals’ teammates, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, on the charge of spot-fixing during IPL 2013.

IANS

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India

Lockheed Martin pitches for India order with new fighter

Eyeing an Indian order, US aerospace major Lockheed Martin on Wednesday showcased its F-21 multirole fighter that it says is configured for the IAF.

“Our F-21 addresses the IAF’s requirements and integrates India into the world’s fighter aircraft ecosystem,” a Lockheed Martin spokesperson told IANS on the margins of the Aero India expo at the Yelahanka air base.

The spokesperson, however, clarified that India was yet to float a request for information or proposal for the new aircraft.

“The F-21 is different, inside and out. It highlights our commitment to deliver an advanced, scalable fighter for IAF,” Lockheed Martin’s Vice President for business and strategy development Vivek Lall said in a statement.

If Lockheed Martin gets the order, it says it will make the fighter in India with Tata Advanced Systems of the Tata Group.

Lockheed Martin pitches for India order with new fighter

IANS

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India

TN Law Minister welcomes SC order on Vedanta

Tamil Nadu Law Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam on Monday welcomed the Supreme Court order allowing Vedanta’s copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi to remain closed according to the state government’s order.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in December 2018 had ordered opening of the plant known as Sterlite Copper.

Speaking to reporters here Shanmugam said: “The Tamil Nadu government had argued before the Supreme Court that the NGT does not have jurisdiction in deciding on the government’s closure order.

“It is a victory for the Tamil Nadu government. The state government will face the case if the company approaches the High Court for relief.”

The Tamil Nadu government had ordered closure of Sterlite Copper following protests in Thoothukudi in which 13 people died and several others got injured in police firing after the protest turned violent in May 2018.

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had rejected the company’s application to renew its “consent to operate”.

On an appeal by Vedanta, the NGT set aside the Tamil Nadu government’s order to close the plant and ordered TNPCB to issue the renewal of consent to the company within three weeks.

Ever since the copper smelter plant was permitted to be set up in Tuticorin several years ago, people have been protesting against it, calling it a polluting industry.

The apex court’s decision came earlier in the day on TNPCB’s plea against the December 15, 2018, NGT order directing it to give its consent.

The grant of consent by the state pollution control board was subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions by Vedanta.

The TNPCB had in the course of arguments asserted that the copper smelting plant was the cause of near irreversible ground water pollution and thus could not be allowed to resume operation.

On the other hand, Vedanta had described as “political” the decision to put the plant under the lock.

Vedanta had contended that the high-level ground water pollution was not limited just to Thoothukudi alone, and that similar situation existed in other parts of the state.

IANS

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India

AgustaWestland; Christian Michel’s bail order reserved

A Delhi court on Wednesday reserved its order on the bail plea of British national Christian Michel, the middleman accused in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar said he would deliver the bail order on Saturday.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have opposed the bail plea.

Michel sought the bail, saying he has been in custody since December 4, 2018, and as per Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the probe was supposed to be completed by February 3, and the chargesheet filed.

But it was not filed within the stipulated 60-day period, so he should be released on bail, Michel’s defence counsel told the court.

The CBI told the court that the chargesheet in the case has already been filed against the accused persons, including Michel, and proceedings started.

Quoting provisions of Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the CBI said that the 60-day criteria was not applicable here.

On its part, the ED said that rather than filing various prosecution complaints piecemeal, the agency is in the process of filing a detailed and comprehensive prosecution complaint.

Michel was extradited to India on December 4 from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He is one of the three middlemen being investigated by the CBI and the ED in the VVIP chopper deal.

The ED arrested him on December 22, 2018.

In January 2018, the ED had lodged a request with the UAE authorities seeking extradition of Michel. Both the ED and the CBI had filed chargesheets in the bribery cases in Indian courts and non-bailable warrants had been issued against the accused.

In its chargesheet, the CBI had named former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie, then IAF Vice Chief J.S. Gujral and advocate Gautam Khaitan as the four Indians involved in the scam.

The others named in the chargesheet included Giuseppe Orsi, the former chief of Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, former CEO of AgustaWestland, apart from middlemen Michel, Haschke and Gerosa.

IANS

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India

No relief for activists, SC sets aside Bombay HC order

The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave no relief to five activists named in the Bhima Koregaon caste violence case and set aside a Bombay High Court order allowing another 90 days to the Maharashtra Police to file charge sheet.

The five accused activists — Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Rout, Roma Wilson and Soma Sen — will not be able to have the benefit of default as the apex court said they now must apply for regular bail.

A trial court had under the Unlawful Prevention Activities Act granted the Maharashtra Police additional 90 days time to file a charge sheet that was beyond a 90-day deadline under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The activists were arrested from various locations in August 2018 for their alleged role in instigating caste violence in Maharashtra’s Bhima Koregaon village on January 1, 2018.

IANS