Monthly Archives: MARCH 2017
BURYING THE HATCHET: Amarinder to meet PM, says ties with Jaitley "cordial"
CHANDIGARH: In remarks aimed at burying the hatchet and ensuring a smooth working relationship, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said he will be calling upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, March 22, and termed his relationship with Arun Jaitley as "cordial." Amarinder Singh had defeated Arun Jaitley in the Amritsar Lok Sabha poll in 2014 by more than one lakh votes, and both had exchanged sharp verbal barbs.
"When I became the Chief Minister last time, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. I got full support from the Prime Minister, from the then Finance Minister Jaswant Singh, and also from Arun Jaitley who was then the Law Minister," Amarinder Singh said when asked in an interview if he foresees any problem with a BJP dispensation at the Centre and an all powerful Modi calling the shots.
Asked about his relationship with Arun Jaitley, Amarinder said, "When I was an MP and he was in the Rajya Sabha, we used to bump into each other...I did not feel any animosity. The relations are cordial."
Amarinder Singh also seemed to be giving Akali Dal some importance, going to the extent of mathematical computations to underline that Akalis actually performed better than the Aam Aadmi Party. "Akali Dal will be a bigger challenge for us as they have been in existence for a hundred years...the AAP has been sliding. It was a bubble that has burst," Amarinder said, and then elaborated: "Akalis did not fight all 117 seats, they left some (23: Ed) for the BJP. So, percentage wise, Akalis have more seats than AAP since AAP had fought on all 117 seats." AAP won 20 seats while its alliance partner Lok Insaaf Party won two. Akali Dal won 15 and BJP won three seats. Congress has 77.
Amarinder also ruled out his government following any vendetta politics. "There is a constitution in this country, there is a law. You can't come into government and start throwing people into jail...If something comes up, government will act and courts will decide...There will be no vendetta. No vendetta politics. We have too many other problems to bother about."
In a clear indication that IPS officer Harpreet Singh Sidhu, selected to head the Special Task Force (STF) to stem the drug menace, will be given much prominence in the scheme of things, Amarinder Singh said Sidhu will be given full freedom to select his own men, "right till the last man on the ground" and he will have the power to go after anyone he believed was involved in drug trade.
"Today, I met the SSPs and DCs of Punjab, and I have told them that everyone will have to work with this Special Task Force working from my office...We will break the back of chitta-sellers. We will give Harpreet Sidhu a free hand. He is being allowed to pick his men and has total freedom to catch whoever needs to be caught," Amarinder Singh said.
Justice CS Karnan rejects 'demeaning' SC warrant against him
Calcutta High Court judge C.S. Karnan has "refused” to accept the bailable warrant issued against him by the Supreme Court in a suo motu contempt of court order. On Friday, a team of police officials led by the State’s Director General of Police (DGP) Surajit Kar Purkayastha went to Justice Karnan’s residence in the New Town area on the Eastern fringes of the city to hand over the warrant.
Karnan is facing the top court’s ire for accusing several Madras high court judges of corruption.
This comes a week after the apex court directed the state police chief to "personally" serve the warrant to the sitting Calcutta High Court judge after Justice Karnan failed to appear before the court several times.
"I rejected the same (the bailable warrant) after assigning valid reasons. This kind of demeaning acts from your lordships and further perpetrating the Atrocities Act is absolutely out of law to the utter embarrassment of a Dalit judge,” justice Karan wrote in his response.
"Hence, I request you to stop your further harassment in order to uphold the dignity and decorum of our courts.”
He wrote this to the seven judges of the Supreme Court bench and called it his "order” on the warrant.
"Refusing" the warrant, Justice Karnan, 61, said, "The whole world is laughing at our Supreme Court for the way it is behaving with me." When asked if he would abide by the court order, the judge said, "Wait and see". He also threatened to file defamation cases against seven Supreme Court judges who had issued a contempt notice against him, demanding a compensation of Rs. 14 crore for "disturbing his mind and social life".
The police, however, said that Justice Karnan signed a "personal recognition" bond and made some observations, adding that the warrant was now considered served.
Earlier, he had accused the Supreme Court of being "anti-Dalit” for issuing the contempt notice against him. He had also claimed that the court’s order was "unethical” and a violation of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of) Atrocities Act.
Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and six more judges had summoned Justice Karnan to court for contempt in February after his controversial allegations about corruption in the judiciary. Justice Karnan even wrote letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging corruption among former and current judges in the country.
After he went public with his allegations, the top court stripped him of his judicial and administrative work and also transferred him from the Madras High Court to the Calcutta High Court.
This was the not first time Karnan took on colleagues in front of the media.
In 2011, he called a press conference to accuse a fellow high court judge of caste discrimination on the ground that the judge who sat next to him "deliberately” touched him with his foot.
In 2015, he interrupted arguments going on in another courtroom in the Madras HC regarding judicial appointments, demanding to be heard.
In April 2015, he began suo motu contempt proceedings against the chief justice of the Madras high court, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, accusing the latter of harassing and belittling him because he was a Dalit and by giving him "insignificant and dummy” portfolios. The Supreme Court stayed the same.
Rahul Gandhi leaves for US to be with ailing Sonia Gandhi
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will leave India on Thursday to be with his mother Sonia Gandhi who is undergoing medical treatment abroad, the party announced.
A statement released by senior Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, "Congress President Smt Sonia Gandhi is travelling abroad for a health check-up. Congress Vice President, Shri Rahul Gandhi, shall travel there today to be with her and accompany Congress President on the return journey."
Usually, it is either Rahul or daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who accompany their mother for her treatment abroad, but due to the Assembly elections this year, the Congress president travelled alone to the US.
Owing to her ill health, Sonia had not campaigned in the recently concluded five-state assembly elections. She also gave the counting day, March 11, a miss with party sources saying she left Delhi for a "routine medical check-up” and would return only after Holi.
Though they did not let in on where Gandhi has gone for the check-up, there was speculation that she was in the US where she had undergone treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
Sonia Gandhi went abroad on March 8. In 2011, she was allegedly operated on in the US, but her party refused to provide details of her condition, saying only that she was being treated in America. In August last year, she fell ill during a road show in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency of Varanasi, and was then hospitalized in Delhi, after which her attendance in parliament has been irregular.
Before flying out, she spoke to senior Congress leaders informing them of her plans; she stated that her son Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Vice President, will take decisions on her behalf.
Rahul's trip abroad comes amid calls within the party for "structural change" after the Congress's disastrous showing in the crucial election in Uttar Pradesh, where the party won just seven seats.
Earlier today, veteran Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar also said there is a need to bring change in the Congress leadership.
Many party members in Manipur and Goa have blamed the Congress leadership of inaction and ceding advantage to the BJP, which cobbled together a coalition government in both states. Rahul has promised an organisational overhaul and introspection over the results.
Allegations of EVM tampering 'wild and baseless': Election Commission
The Election Commission on Thursday reiterated that electronic voting machines (EVMs) were tamper proof and termed the allegations by some political parties as "baseless, speculative and wild".
"It is not for the first time that such allegations and suspicions have been raised. But none of those alleging tampering has been able to demonstrate to the commission... that EVMs used by it can be manipulated or tampered with," the Election Commission said in a statement.
However, ECI added that if any specific allegation were to be presented accompanied by solid facts, they would be looked into.
"Further, the EC did not receive specific complaints or concrete material from political parties/candidates about alleged tampering of EVMs in just-concluded assembly elections in five states. If any specific allegation with material facts is presented to the ECI, the same will be looked into with all seriousness," the poll panel said.
Since the year 2000, EVMs have been used in 107 assembly polls and three Lok Sabha elections held in 2004, 2009 and 2014.
EC recalled that the "controversy" over the reliability of the machines was raised by political parties after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. "However, no specific allegation was raised nor could they prove before any court," the statement said.
It said in an "extraordinary" move in August, 2009, it had invited those who had expressed reservations about the EVMs to come and demonstrate the flaws in the machines.
Those invited included political parties, petitioners before various courts and some individuals who had been writing to the Commission on this issue.
One hundred EVMs were brought from ten states -- Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh -- and were kept at the Commission's office here for scrutiny and for any application to establish its alleged fallibility.
"The outcome of this exercise was that none of the persons, who were given the opportunity, could actually demonstrate any tamperability of the ECI-EVMs. They either failed or chose not to demonstrate," it elaborated.
BSP chief Mayawati, who was decimated in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, was the first to raise questions on the EVMs.
Terming the results as "shocking", Mayawati had said the Election Commission should stop the counting and withhold results and hold fresh polls using traditional paper ballots.
However, the Election Commission had rejected Mayawati's claims and said her demand for a repoll using ballot papers was legally untenable.
Interestingly, after the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had also raised similar misgivings about the integrity of the EVMs.
Irish woman found dead on Goa beach, police suspect rape
A 25-year-old Irish woman was found dead on a beach in South Goa following which one person has been arrested, police said on Wednesday. The disrobed body of the woman was found yesterday at an isolated spot on a beach in South Goa’s Devabag village, 80 kms from here, Canacona Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sammy Tavares said.
The Canacona police had identified the body as that of a 28-year-old Irish national Danielle McLaughlin. They have registered a case under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Danielle, travelling on a British passport was found dead with her face badly mangled and bruises on her body by a local farmer.
The case is being investigated as that of rape and murder. Deputy Superintendent of Police told the media that the body has been sent to the Goa Medical College (GMC) and hospital, Bambolim for post-mortem.
According to the police, the tourist had come with a friend to participate in Holi celebrations.
"We are investigating people with whom she was playing Holi during a party here. Her friend has also given us some leads and we are questioning some suspects," a police officer said.
Several foreigners have died in Goa over the past decade or so, including 15-year-old British schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling, whose bruised and semi-naked body was found in shallow water on a beach in 2008.
The deaths, many in suspicious circumstances or from drug or alcohol abuse, have blighted the picturesque state's reputation as a tourist haven.
Last September, two local men were cleared of the rape and murder of Keeling, whose death became international news, shining a spotlight on the seedy side of the resort destination popular with Western tourists.