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Kolkata: Beef party to protest intolerance turns out to be a damp squib

While the samity had sent out invites for the gathering to many, cutting across party lines, few turned up.

Left-leaning body Bhasha Chetna Samity’s decision to hold a ‘beef party’ in the heart of the city ended in a whimper on Friday. The organisation’s secretary, Emmanuel Haque, former mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, poet Subodh Sarkar besides others, gathered in front of Statesman House on Chowringhee and raised slogans against the recent controversy over the consumption of beef. While the samity had sent out invites for the gathering to many, cutting across party lines, few turned up. The ‘beef party’, which started around 2pm had to be wind up within half an hour with low turnout. People, who had gathered at the venue consumed beef in public and registered their protest against a variety of issues ranging from the killing of a Muslim man in Dadri and Dalit children in Haryana, the murder of Kalburgi to the recent raid at Kerala House. They even treated the locals gathered with beef delicacies for free. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“Our organisation is a platform for free thinkers. The RSS and other Hindu-nationalist parties are trying to create pressure by preventing people from consuming beef. They have even gone to the extent of imposing a ban on sale and consumption of beef in several parts of the country. Our nation comprises people belonging to several religions and all of them should be respected. No government or a political party can impose a ban on what people would eat,” said Haque.

Singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya booked for molestation at Durga Puja pandal in Mumbai

The incident happened at the Lokhandwala Durga Puja pandal of which Abhijeet was one of the organisers and the victim had come there to watch singer Kailash Kher’s performance.

A woman has accused controversial singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya of abusing and molesting her following which an FIR was slapped against him late Thursday night at the Oshiwara police station.The incident happened at the Lokhandwala Durga Puja pandal of which Abhijeet was one of the organisers and the victim had come there to watch singer Kailash Kher’s performance.Due to overcrowding she had to leave her seat and stand up to watch the show, which is when she felt Abhijeet touching her inappropriately. After she vociferously objected to his misconduct and asked to be taken to the officials to complaint, the singer threatened her of ‘consequences’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, an FIR has been lodged against Abhijeet under Section 354 A (Molestation) 506 & 34 of the IPC.

Drown CPI(M) workers in canal, says controversial TMC leader Anubrata Mondal

Controversial Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal on Sunday made another alleged hate speech, asking local party workers to drown CPI(M) workers in canal water.

TMC leader Anubrata Mandal

Image courtesy: ANI
Controversial Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal on Sunday made another alleged hate speech, asking local party workers to drown CPI(M) workers in canal water.Addressing a party workers’ meeting at Ukta Pichkuri school ground at Ousgram, 45 km from Burdwan town, Mondal alleged that the few CPI(M) workers who were active in the area should be drowned in the canal after beating them up.”If you (CPI-M workers) want to do politics, do it honestly. Don’t throw bricks from the back, lest we throw arrows at your chests,” Mondal, who is Birbhum district TMC president, allegedly told party workers.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a public meeting at Katwa in Birbhum district in November 2013, Mondal had threatened to cut off the hands of Congress workers who try to damage the hoardings of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, promptingBengal Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya to write a letter to the State Election Commission urging stringent action. Earlier that year, he had allegedly threatened to burn down houses of independent election candidates.

Honoured for a day, tyrannised for 364: What we learnt this Teachers’ Day

By Debaditya Bhattacharya

Teachers have always been the stuff that heroes are made of. They range in our imagination from being the matrons of an untrained generation to the muses of our inspired after-years. Give us a stage and a microphone, and we can wax eloquent about how teachers have changed our lives and ways — and also occasionally lapse into how the age-old fable of their selflessness has now been punctured by salary-greedy work-‘striking’ lazy professionals.

We can easily trade in our household nostalgias for surrogate mother-figures and dhoti-clad Byron-chanters (who apparently preferred echoes of their own baritone voices over those of their dying wives at home). Or better still, give us a day seeped in the aura of Radhakrishnans and Abdul Kalams, and we shall manufacture televisual spectacles of a Prime Minister lecturing school-children or a Chief Minister handing out medals to prostrating college teachers.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

We are a nation that boasts of the haloed guru-shishya parampara, and we still hold fast to a feudal ethic of gurudakshina whether in cash or sexual kind (refer to recent instances from a premier Delhi University college to relatively remote schools in Mathura or Rajasthan or Andhra). Yet, do give us a day to languish in our bhakti, to nurse our fondest myths of ‘simple living’ and ‘great thinking’, to rue the death of a glorious past of ‘greatness’, and then to soak our souls in the wealth of a customary lip-service to the ‘privileged’ profession of teaching.

All hail Teachers’ Day!

And then, when the cameras recede, the microphones switch off and a certain day of subtropical warmth has spent itself in floral or rhetorical excess, let us knock on the doors of all those teachers who have dared to unsettle our beliefs, and let us settle scores with a few bullets. Let us hush the horrors of an MM Kalburgi or a Perumal Murugan or a GN Saibaba with an annual offering to the superhuman ‘soul-force’ of the teacher-leaders of our nation. And spice it up later with Pay Commission promises that have been tailored unto the exact needs of a silent conscience.

Because, you see, we are a nation of respectful guru-bhakts!

We do not care about whether primary school teachers are paid their salaries or not. We do not care about whether teachers of private and public-funded schools receive as much as daily minimum wages for toilet-training our kids. Oh! But many of their workplaces don’t even have toilets, let alone a healthy working environment or classroom equipment. We do not care if state-aided colleges or universities have withheld teachers’ salaries for months and yet insist on their ‘inner’ spiritual urge for social service.

We do not care if teaching posts in colleges are being increasingly contractualised and those working against them are forced into looking for alternative sources of income. We do not care if the contracted faculty is treated with dignity enough to retain a proverbial sense of their higher moral responsibility towards society. We do not care if specially-designed illegalities and hierarchies are put in place for these contractual teachers (ranging from distinctly unequal divisions of labour to bureaucratic injunctions to work on vacation), to remind them at every moment of how dispensable they are.

We do not care if part-time teachers are being arm-twisted by university administrations into gross workload-disparities, denial of leave benefits and medical claims. We do not care if their maternity leaves count for service-breaks and render them ineligible for professional entitlements. We do not care if teachers are not guaranteed pay-protection on transfer and deserved increments are being deliberately stalled. We do not care if their promotions have been delayed for years and their careers jeopardised, because intellectual labour — our culture cautions us — cannot be quantified in wages and hours.

We do not care if half of Delhi University’s teaching workforce is employed on a four-month ad hoc contract, terminable at any moment with a day’s notice and treated as a floating migrant community of labour running from college to college for interviews every four months.

We do not care if that same Central university (bleeding young teachers right through the heart of the nation’s capital) has effectively made ad hoc-ism into a greater guarantee of accountability by exploiting the vulnerable. We do not care if vice-chancellors of Central universities treat teachers as if they were their personal assistants (or, as one among them said: as “ghodas” and “ghod-sawaars”).

We just want our children to grow into non-protesting laathi-chargeable ‘well-behaved’ submissive citizen-subjects. Employable in the corporate sector and eloquent enough in the English language to rattle off a sentiment-seeped Teachers’ Day speech. Or even better, a Republic Day speech garnished with the choicest of patriotic jargon.

And in the meantime, our vice-chancellors can return to their spine-bending acrobatics in front of ministers, politicians and TV cameras. Or they can issue show-cause notices to teachers protesting forcefully-implemented ‘reforms’ that aim at selling off higher education in the country. Our ministers can safely keep planting party-stooges within academic institutions.

Our Chauhans can multiply in numbers, while teachers are handed down memos and pay-cuts. Campuses across the country can be militarised, and study groups can be shut down by force. Recruitments can be stalled and sanctioned posts can remain vacant for decades, unless political connections are discovered as evidence of extraordinary qualification. Teachers once lured by false promises can retire into the safe havens of private capital, and teachers-to-be can start looking for more lucrative options in a ‘Shining’ Swachh Bharat.

We will by then have fed our ‘collective conscience’ with deaths and threats to those who dissented, and an annual medal to the one who silently bowed.

Debaditya Bhattacharya has taught for nearly five years at Central and state universities in Delhi, Bihar and Kolkata. He continues to teach literature at a Calcutta University college, works on continental philosophy, and occasionally writes on issues of contemporary political interest.

Kolkata: CPI (M) leader Biman Bose injured as Left protest turns sour

A rally led by the Left peasant’s organisations in the city turned violent after the police stopped their ‘Nabanna Abhijaan’ – march to the state secretariat on Thursday. The Left supporters started brick-batting and pushed the guard rails against the police officers, leaving as many as 25-30 officers with serious injuries.

Image courtesy: Team iamin
Several Left activists including CPI(M) Politburo member Biman Bose and 25 policemen were injured as Left Front supporters fought a pitched battle with the police when the cops tried to stop their march to the state secretariat. The Police resorted to lathicharge in Kolkata (rpt) in Kolkata, used water canons and lobbed teargas shells in Howrah (rpt) in Howrah to disperse the agitating Left Front activists.Joint Commissioner of Police (Headquarters) Kolkata Police, Rajiv Mishra told reporters that 25 police officers including Special Commissioner-II and two Deputy Commissioners of Police were injured in the clashes and were admitted to different hospitals. “Left activists acted in a pre-planned manner as they carried stones and brickbats,” Mishra said adding, 2,500 police personnel were deployed and they acted in a restrained manner.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To a question, he said the police were forced to resort to lathicharge to control the unruly crowd. Left Front chairman Biman Bose said he was injured and alleged that the police behaved as “volunteers of the Trinamool Congress.””More than 110 LF activists are injured and admitted to hospitals. Many women activists too were injured in the police lathicharge. Old people were also not spared. We condemn this barbaric act by the police on a peaceful protest march,” senior LF leader Manoj Bhattacharya said.The CPI(M) affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) along with ten other Left Front affiliated peasant fronts organised the march to the secretariat, Nabanna, in support of their 17-point charter of demands including issues such as farmer suicides and rehabilitation of farmers affected by the recent floods in the state.Slamming the Leftists, senior Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal minister Subrata Mukherjee said “It was nothing but hooliganism. We strongly condemn it. They attacked the police in a pre-planned way.”He claimed Biman Bose was injured in brickbats thrown by his own party men.

RTI activist seeks information on land purchase by Priyanka Gandhi

Similarly, the information about lands purchased with the approval of the government under section 118 were also given to one Om Prakash in response to three RTIs filed by him and this information was also included and as such there was no valid reason to deny information to him, he said.

Priyanka Gandhi

An RTI activist on Thursday claimed that the information regarding the land purchased by Priyanka Gandhi at Chharabra near Shimla, which was denied to him by Deputy Commissioner Shimla (First Appellate Authority), had already been shared in the state Assembly and said that the “information which cannot be denied to Parliament of state Assembly cannot be denied to anyone.””The information regarding the land purchase by Priyanka Vadra was given in reply to a question in Himachal Vidhan Sabha regarding details of approvals for permission to purchase under section 118 of Tenancy and land reforms Act were also contained in the reply and pointed out that the section 8(1)(J) of RTI Act 2005 clearly states that ‘the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or Vidhan Sabha, cannot be denied to any person,'” activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Similarly, the information about lands purchased with the approval of the government under section 118 were also given to one Om Prakash in response to three RTIs filed by him and this information was also included and as such there was no valid reason to deny information to him, he said.Meanwhile, the leader of the Opposition in Vidhan Sabha P K Dhumal has urged the Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) to supply the information sought by Bhattacharya and give full information about the permissions given by the successive governments in relaxation of section 118 of the act and post the same on the website.

Coal scam: Court orders framing of charges against former Jharkhand CM Madhu Koda, 8 others

Former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, ex-Coal Secretary HC Gupta, former Jharkhand Chief Secretary Ashok Kumar Basu and six others were today ordered to be put on trial by a special court on charges of corruption, criminal conspiracy and cheating in connection with a coal block allocation scam case.Besides them, Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar ordered framing of charges against two public servants, Basant Kumar Bhattacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh, Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL), its director Vaibhav Tulsyan, Koda’s alleged close aide Vijay Joshi and chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The court ordered framing of charges against these nine accused for offences under various sections of IPC, including 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) and under relevant provisions of the PC Act.The court has now fixed July 31 for formal framing of charges and directed all the accused to remain present in the court on that day.”I have ordered framing of charges against all the accused… put up for formal framing of charges on July 31,” the judge said.The case pertains to the alleged irregularities in allocation of Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to Kolkata-based VISUL.These accused were summoned for alleged offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants) of IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Earlier on May 29, the CBI had told the court that Koda, Basu and two other accused public servants conspired with each other to somehow favour VISUL in the coal block allocation despite the fact that state government had initially recommended two other firms for it.It had alleged that Basu, who had attended the meeting of screening committee, insisted that VISUL should be recommended for the allocation.The prosecutor had said that even the Steel Ministry had not recommended VISUL for Rajhara north coal block allocation.The probe agency had told the court that Koda, who was the then Chief Minister of Jharkhand, had himself approved the names of two other companies for Rajhara north coal block allocation and that file had passed through Gupta as well.Regarding the two other accused public servants — Basant Kumar Bhattacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh — the CBI said they had written the note in favour of VISUL “without any reason”.These accused persons were earlier granted bail by the court after they had appeared before it in pursuance to the summons issued against them.CBI, in its charge sheet, had said that VISUL had applied for allocation of Rajhara North coal block on January 8, 2007 to the Ministry of Coal.CBI had alleged that although Jharkhand government and the Steel Ministry did not recommend VISUL’s case for the coal block allocation, the 36th Screening Committee recommended the block to the accused firm.

Give all info on Priyanka Vadra’s land purchase, says HP state info commission

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh State Information Commission today rejected the contention that information regarding purchase of land by Priyanka Vadra cannot be given for security reasons, and directed the concerned authorities to provide all information in this regard to an RTI activist within ten days.

RTI activist Debasheesh Bhattacharya had sought information about the land purchased by Priyanka at Chharabra, 12-Km from here, but the information was refused by Public Information Office which maintained that it cannot be divulged for security reasons as she was a SPG protectee.

PTI imagePTI image

PTI image

The Appellate Authority (the Deputy Commissioner) also rejected the appeal.

The RTI activist had filed appeal with the State information Commission division bench, comprising Chief Information Commissioner Bhim Sen and Information Commissioner K.D. Batish, which directed the Additional District Magistrate, Shimla, to give the information within ten days.

The Commission also issued notice to the Deputy Commissioner and the ADM that why penalty should not be imposed on them for delaying the information and fixed next hearing on July 23 next.

Priyanka Vadra is constructing a house near Chharabra and had purchased over 4.25 Bighas of land between 2007 and 2013 in an alleged relaxation of section 118 of Tenancy and Land  Reforms Act that bars any non-agriculturist from purchasing land without the permission of the government.

PTI

Tech Mahindra to set up healthcare unit with $94 million outsourcing deal | Reuters

MUMBAI IT firm Tech Mahindra Ltd (TEML.NS) is setting up a new unit to sharpen its focus on winning contracts in the healthcare industry, one of the fast-growing segments for the outsourcing services providers, a senior executive said on Wednesday.

The unit, to be called nth dimension, has won an IT services project worth about 60 million pounds ($94.48 million) from Britain-based healthcare company CircleHealth, Tech Mahindra’s Rajib Bhattacharya, who will lead the new subsidiary, told Reuters.

“I think with this, in a few years’ time we will be able to leverage opportunities globally,” he said.

Rivals like Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp (CTSH.O) and Infosys Ltd (INFY.NS) have also sharpened focus on the healthcare sector on hopes the implementation of the U.S. Affordable Care Act would boost outsourcing opportunities.

Cognizant bought healthcare IT services provider TriZetto Corp for $2.7 billion in September.

“Yes, we are actively seeking deals in the U.S. as well,” Bhattacharya said.

Under the new deal, Tech Mahindra, which gets about 10 percent of its sales from healthcare clients now, will develop technologies for patient care and operational delivery, and reduce costs for the U.K. firm, CircleHealth CEO Steve Melton said.

CircleHealth runs private hospitals and services for the UK’s National Healthcare Service.

($1 = 0.6350 pounds)

(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Mumbai; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Louise Heavens)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

No need to panic: No radioactive leakage in Delhi’s IGI airport, confirms AERB

New Delhi: A radiation scare at the Indira Gandhi International Airport forced suspension of cargo operations but nuclear regulator and Delhi authorities said there was no leak of radioactive substance from a consignment unloaded from a Turkish Airlines plane.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) found that an “organic liquid” from another consignment had spilled over the cargo containing nuclear medicine and it was initially thought that the leakage was from that package.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“After conducting the probe at the site, we can confirm that there is no radioactive leakage. The leakage on the consignment was a spill-over from another consignment. It is some organic liquid. This resulted in wetness (of the Turkish consignment),” AERB Vice-Chairman R Bhattacharya told PTI.

The authorities at the airport had cordoned off the cargo area and all the staff have been evacuated. The cargo operations were also suspended as a precautionary measure.

The matter came to light when a pair of loaders felt irritation while handling containers that arrived on board a Turkish Airlines craft at 4.35 am. Leakage was observed from four of the 10 containers of 13 kg each that were imported from Turkey.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was called in to check the substance, sources said.

District magistrate of New Delhi Sanjay Kumar also confirmed that there was no leakage of radioactive material at the airport.

“It has been officially declared that there was no radioactive substance leak. A box containing a liquid was placed above the container having the radioactive material.

“The box got damaged and the liquid got spilled over the container having the radioactive material. The is no need to panic,” Kumar said.

PTI

NIA officials visit Pingla blast site at West Midnapore district of West Bengal

While the Centre is yet to handover the case to NIA, officials here are collecting the samples from the blast site.

Representational Image

Close to two weeks after a major blast at an illegal firecracker factory at Pingla at West Midnapore district of West Bengal, a five-member team comprising National Investigation Agency officials –led by Superintendent of Police of NIA, Vikas Vaibhav visited the blast site on Saturday.On May 7, a major blast at a firecracker factory claimed lives of 12 people – all between the age of eight and 16 years.Two days ago, a second blast rocked the same spot while members of civil society were on their visit to the blast site. While no one was injured in the second blast that occurred at the same location but, this second such blast has put the district administration on the docks.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to sources in the district police, the site was an illegal firecracker factory allegedly run by Ranjan Maity, who is a Trinamool Congress supporter. Maity, who was absconding immediately after the incident, was later arrested by the police and remanded to police custody.While the Centre is yet to handover the case to NIA, officials here are collecting the samples from the blast site. Earlier a team of Central Forensic Science Laboratory officials had collected samples from the site and are likely to submit the report soon. NIA officials will be examining the CFSL report too.Few days ago, Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya had written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanding an NIA probe.Currently, the district police and the state CID are probing the blast.

To improve quality of debates, Speaker Mahajan to have experts train MPs

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is likely to appoint experts to help raise the standard of debates in the lower House. The group will comprise experts, advisers and researchers who can simplify complex issues and explain them to MPs.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. PTILok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. PTI

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. PTI

Speaking to The Indian Express, Mahajan said that at times, some MPs do not find the time to research on topics ahead of a discussion and are therefore unable to express themselves despite having ideas.

“… there are so many persons, experts working with ministries, advisers, research scholars. So many of them are working with UN. They can be useful to MPs if the MPs want any help on any topics,” Mahajan told The Indian Express, adding that, “experts can elaborate on so many aspects of an issue. Different experts can give different views. I even told the MPs that after such an interaction, you can add your politics in that but at least the basics would be clear”.

Organisations like PRS Legislative Research engage with MPs and MLAs often providing in-depth research analysis that help them understand issues better, especially with regard to drafting of legislation0.

In 2010, the Constitution Club, set up a bureau of legislative assistants within its premises. According to a Mint report, the primary concerns of the bureau were: first, to arrest the declining standards of parliamentary debate with informed research; and second, to participate in legislative processes better, as voters make greater demands on their leaders.

Another organisation Swaniti, helps professionals work with elected officials.

“We realised that though many of us wanted to contribute towards better governance in India, there were few entry channels for young Indians to work with elected officials,” founder chair Rwitwika Bhattacharya, told the Economic Times.

Salman Verdict: Court orders FIR against singer Abhijeet and designer Farah Ali Khan

Hearing a complaint case filed by advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) Ram Chandra Prasad directed that an FIR would be lodged against the two with Kazi Mohammadpur police station under various offences including provocation with intent to cause riot and promoting enmity between different groups.

A district court on Friday ordered that an FIR would be registered against Bollywood singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya and jewellery designer Farha Ali Khan for their remarks against people sleeping on roads following conviction of actor Salman Khan in a 2002 hit-and-run case.Hearing a complaint case filed by advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) Ram Chandra Prasad directed that an FIR would be lodged against the two with Kazi Mohammadpur police station under various offences including provocation with intent to cause riot and promoting enmity between different groups.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The police station was chosen as the complainant had given the place of occurrence as Chhattapur where he said he purchased newspapers and read about the disparaging remarks made by the two which prompted him to approach the court.The court instructed that an FIR be filed under IPC sections 153 (want only giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation).The complainant had claimed that he had been hurt by the “derogatory” remarks of the singer which he saw on TV channels and read in newspapers.In a series of tweets, Abhijeet had on May 6 said “Come out fraternity, support @BeingSalmanKhan boldly not hypocritically Roads footpath r not meant 4 sleeping, not driver’s or alcohol’s fault (sic).” “Roads are meant for cars and dogs not for people sleeping on them.” Jewellery designer and Salman’s friend Farah Ali Khan had also sought to blame the homeless for the star’s plight with comments like footpaths are not for sleeping.

Manmohan Singh moves SC against summon in coal scam case

New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court against a special court order summoning him as accused in the case of allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005 to Aditya Birla group company Hindalco.

Hindalco Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Coal Secretary PC Parakh, who were also summoned as accused in the case, have also filed petitions challenging the trial court order.

Manmohan Singh in a file photo. AFPManmohan Singh in a file photo. AFP

Manmohan Singh in a file photo. AFP

Singh has sought quashing of the summons issued to him to appear as an accused on April 8 by Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar on the ground that the order was passed without application of mind.

“There is complete non-application of mind,” the petition said about the March 11 order.

A team of senior advocates, led by Kapil Sibal, has settled Singh’s petition which is likely to be mentioned for urgent hearing in a day or two.

One of the advocates, associated with the filing of the Special Leave Petition, said there are several other grounds to show that the summoning order was “bad in law”.

The plea also said that there was nothing on record to point out that Singh has done any acts which may constitute any offence.

The former Prime Minister had only taken a decision as a competent authority on allocation of Talabira-II coal block to Hindalco on the representation of Odisha government, it said.

The advocate said there may be a fault in decision making but there is no evidence to show that there was an abuse of power and moreover, taking a decision in government is not an offence.

The trial judge, on March 11, had said, “I am taking cognisance of offences under Sections 120B (conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) of the IPC and under Sections 13(1)(c) and 13(1)(d)(3) of PCA against six accused, M/s Hindalco, Shubhendu Amitabh, D Bhattacharya, Kumar Mangalam Birla, P C Parakh and Dr Manmohan Singh.”

Section 13(1)(c) of PCA relates to a public servant dishonestly misappropriating property entrusted to him or allowing any other person to do so.

Section 13(1)(d)(3) relates to a public servant obtaining any pecuniary advantage for any person without any public interest.

Hindalco and its officials Subhendu Amitabh and D Bhattacharya have also filed similar petitions challenging the CBI judge order.

PTI

Coal strike ends; government assures Coal India Ltd won’t be privatised

Coal workers on Wednesday night called off their nationwide strike after two days, as the government assured trade unions that the state-run Coal India Ltd (CIL) will not be privatised and the employees’ interest will be protected.In two days, the strike caused production loss of an estimated Rs 300 crore with over 75% of the daily 1.5 million tonnes a day output taking a hit. There were also apprehensions that a prolonged strike could lead to a pol workers had gone on a strike yesterday after five major trade unions, including BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, gave a call for the biggest ever industrial action in four decades against what they called the attempts for “disinvestment in Coal India and denationalisation of coal mining”.”There is no intention for denationalisation of CIL. The present and future interest of CIL employees will not be affected in any manner. CIL will be protected and there need be no apprehension about its ownership or management going into private hands,” Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal told reporters after an over six-hour-long marathon meeting with the trade union leaders.CIL Chairman Suthirtha Bhattacharya also said that the strike has been called off with immediate effect. CIL produces coal for nearly 80% of the country’s requirement.The five-day strike was called off midway after Goyal assured the union leaders that the government will look into their concerns and will form a committee, headed by a Joint Secretary, that will have representation from all five trade unions and officials of CIL and Singareni Collieries Company Ltd.”The strike has been called off,” AITUC leader Lakhan Lal Mahato said after the meeting.Indian National Mineworkers’ Federation (INTUC) President Rajendra Singh also confirmed that the strike has ended.The talks resumed today between the government and the trade unions, after a meeting called by Coal Secretary Anil Swarup failed to yield any positive results last night.There were reports of clashes between workers and police in Jharkhand and West Bengal earlier in the day.CIL could produce only about 0.2 million tonnes today, while it was 0.22 million tonnes yesterday. Production was also hit at Singareni Collieries mines that produces around 0.1 million tonnes a day.The breakthrough came after Goyal met the union leaders along with CIL executives and the government officials.Goyal said: “Unions had expressed their apprehensions.Government is seriously looking into their concerns. We have put our views before the union leaders that under what circumstances the ordinance (for coal auction) was brought.”Our intention was development of the sector, bringing in transparency in future coal block allocations through e-auctions and ensuring employees welfare.”Eastern region will specially benefit where these coal mines are located. We have considered welfare provisions regarding workers, their security, housing and other aspects.” The Minister further said that CIL’s one billion tonne production target by 2019 is achievable. The workers will work extra time to make up for the two-day loss.”The discussions have been successful,” Goyal said, while adding that a committee will be set up to look into all the concerns of the workers.The union leaders, on their part said that they would wait for the report of the committee to chart out their future course of action.The committee will submit its report soon, Goyal said, but did not give any specific timeline.”I put forward many points to the union leaders, among them were assurances were about safety and security of the workmen, both of Coal India and those workers working in their mines which have been cancelled and are going for auction or allotments,” Goyal said.Earlier in the day, top officials from states, including in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, had expressed apprehensions that power supplies may be hit if the strike continues further, while executives at power companies also said they may run out of the emergency fuel supplies if coal production remained stalled.

Coal workers’ strike ends, government rules out denationalisation of Coal India Limited

Coal workers’ trade unions on Wednesday night called off their two-day old nationwide strike after reaching an agreement with the government, which ruled out denationalisation of Coal India Ltd (CIL) and promised to protect interests of the PSU’s employees.”There is no intention for denationalisation of CIL. The present and future interest of CIL employees will not be affected in any manner. CIL will be protected and there need be no apprehension about its ownership,” Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal told reporters here. CIL chief Suthirtha Bhattacharya said the strike is off with immediate effect. The five-day strike, which started on Tuesday, was called by all five major trade unions, including BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, protesting against “disinvestment in Coal India and denationalisation of coal mining”.The stir by about five lakh coal workers had caused an estimated production loss of Rs 300 crore and even raised fears of possible power crisis. The breakthrough came after a six-hour-long marathon meeting between Goyal, unions and CIL officials. Goyal said: “Unions had expressed their apprehensions. Government is seriously looking into their concerns. We have put our views before the union leaders that under what circumstances the ordinance (for coal auction) was brought.”Our intention was development of the sector, bringing in transparency in future coal block allocations through e-auctions and ensuring employees welfare. “Eastern region will specially benefit where these coal mines are located. We have considered welfare provisions regarding workers, their security, housing and other aspects.” The Minister further said that CIL’s one billion tonne production target by 2019 is achievable. “The strike has been called off,” AITUC leader Lakhan Lal Mahato said after a meeting. Indian National Mineworkers’ Federation (INTUC) President Rajendra Singh also confirmed that the strike has ended”The discussions have been successful,” Goyal said, while adding that a committee will be set up to look into all the concerns of the workers. “I put forward many points to the union leaders, among them were assurances were about safety and security of the workmen, both of Coal India and those workers working in their mines which have been cancelled and are going for auction or allotments,” he said. The talks had resumed on Wednesday after a meeting between Coal Secretary Anil Swarup and union leaders failed to yield any results last night to end the strike — which is being billed as the biggest industrial action in nearly four decades.CIL Chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharya was also present in today’s negotiations. Earlier in the day, top officials from states, including in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, had expressed apprehensions that power supplies may be hit if the strike continues further, while executives at power companies also said they may run out of the emergency fuel supplies if coal production remained stalled.Officials said the strike impacted over 75% of the daily coal output of 1.5 million tonnes, with 290 out of 438 CIL coal mines being hit in two days of the strike.There were reports of clashes between workers and police in Jharkhand and West Bengal. There were concerns that the strike may severely hit fuel supply to over 100 thermal power plants across the country, as the emergency coal arrangements may not last long. Unions had also alleged that CIL management was trying to bring in temporary workers to operate the 290 shut mines.After yesterday’s failed conciliatory talks, which continued till late in night, the workers’ representatives had said they wanted political leadership to come to the negotiating table. CIL could produce only about 0.2 million tonnes on Wednesday, while it was 0.22 million tonnes on Tuesday. Production was also hit at Singareni Collieries mines that produces around 0.1 million tonnes a day. Industry bodies, including Assocham and PHD Chamber, earlier in the day said that the strike could impact industrial growth across the country, especially in power-deficient northern and southern regions, resulting in long unplanned outages.

As talks fail coal-miner strike halts 75% mines

About 5 lakh coal workers across the country on Tuesday went on a five-day strike, hitting 75% production, including of Coal India, and may also impact fuel supply to power plants. Negotiations spanning over four hours till late in the national capital between government officials and union representatives failed to end the strike and the workers said they will continue the strike, which is being billed as the biggest industrial action since 1977.”Out of the total production of 1.5 million tonnes a day, nearly 75% has been hit,” a senior official said, adding that the union leaders were “adamant” on their stand.The industrial action is in protest against ‘disinvestment and restructuring of state-run Coal India’ and to press for demands including the roll-back of what unions call “process of denationalising of coal sector”. When asked whether a power crisis was imminent, Power Minister Goyal said, “I don’t think so”. The minister, who also holds Coal Ministry portfolio, also indicated that he may meet union leaders on Wednesday.Claiming that over 5 lakh coal industry workers across the country have gone off-work, union leaders said they are open to negotiations at ‘political’ level, including with the Prime Minister or the Coal Minister. On its first day itself, the strike is estimated to have caused production losses to the tune of Rs 70 crore in first two shifts of the day, officials told PTI.The strike call has been given by all five leading trade unions of the country, including the BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS). The industrial action is in protest against ‘disinvestment and restructuring of state-run Coal India’ and to press for demands including the roll-back of what they call as “process of denationalising of coal sector”.The Labour Ministry said in a statement that the strike has affected the working of CIL and its subsidiaries, as also the mines of Singareni Collieries Co Ltd. The strike, joined by all five major trade unions – BMS, INTUC, AITUC, CITU and HMS — is also likely to affect fuel supply to power plants, which are already grappling with fuel shortages. CIL accounts for over 80% of domestic coal production.Coming out of late-night talks, Indian National Mineworkers’ Federation (INTUC) Secretary General SQ Zama told PTI, “Negotiations at the secretary-level have failed, but we are open for discussions at political level, at the level of Prime Minister or Coal Minister.”We did our best to arrive at an amicable solution, but the (Coal) Secretary has his own limitations. Around five lakh workers, including 3.5 lakh from CIL, are on strike.” CIL Chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharya, who assumed charge on Monday itself, said that he was hopeful that the situation would be resolved in an amicable manner.

BJP: Incident of slapping of TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee a result of Trinamool internal feud

TMC youth wing president and MP Abhishek Banerjee

The BJP criticised the incident of slapping of TMC youth wing president and MP Abhishek Banerjee during a public meeting in East Midnapore district and described it as a result of the party’s internal feud.”We (BJP) does not support such incidents. We condemn the incident because we believe there cannot be any violence in politics,” BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said.”But I think TMC leadership should introspect the incident. Reports are coming that it’s the job of an insider. We know that Midnapore is an area where there is a tussle between the former TMC youth president versus the current one which is Abhishek Banerjee. And it seems in that tussle between the leadership one of the supporters of the former has slapped him. It clearly shows there is a civil war,” Singh said.Alleging that the incident clearly showed that the deteriorating law and order system in the state, BJP MLA in the Bengal Assembly Samik Bhattacharya too condemned the incident.”If an MP is attacked on the dais during a public meeting in such a manner it clearly shows the law and order situation in the state,” Bhattacharya said.BJP’s state president Rahul Sinha supported Bhattacharya’s comment and termed the incident as a result of the internal feud of the TMC.”The incident has brought forth the factional feud of Trinamool Congress and also showed how bad the law and order situation is in West Bengal. We do not support the incident, but also condemn the way the person, who attacked Abhishek Banerjee, was beaten up,” he said.Demanding a quick probe into the incident to reveal the identity of the person who attacked Banerjee, Singh said that the youth could also be a victim of the Saradha scam.Congress’ state president Adhir Chowdhury said that the incident was “got-up” and said, “It’s nothing but the internal conflict of the party that is surfacing out. It’s got-up. If the person is not of their party’s, then how could be manage to get up to the dais amid a meeting when the party MP was delivering his speech. The attacker is very much a TMC worker and this is a result of their factional feud. This will eat up the party like a Frankenstein,” Chowdhury said.The opposition Left Front also criticised the incident. “It is a glaring display of intra-party squabble,” LF Chairman Biman Bose said while reacting to the incident.”Such incidents will increase becasue of the TMC’s failure to govern the state,” Bose observed. CPI(M) MP Md Salim said, “The incident is unexpected. It is not in our culture. We have not inherited this in a democracy. We can’t support this. Rules, principles and ethics are fast losing their value here.”

HRD Ministry to set up committee to probe allegations against Visva Bharati VC

PTI
Union HRD Ministry has decided to set up a committee to enquire into alleged administrative irregularities committed by Visva Bharati University Vice-Chancellor Sushanta Duttagupta, amid criticism that he was resorting to an “autocratic” style of functioning.The Committee, likely to be headed by Education Secretary Vrinda Swarup, would seek an explanation from the VC about the allegations, officials in the Ministry said. Recently, questions were raised on the Vice Chancellor’s style of functioning in the Parliament by Congress MP P Bhattacharya who claimed that the “present situation of the University was extremely grave”.”Academic atmosphere has been thoroughly jeopardised and the Vice-Chancellor is functioning in an autocratic manner,” the Congress MP had said in Rajya Sabha during a discussion. He had accused the VC of appointing a Controller of Examinations despite having no powers to do so, and sanctioned key posts in violation of the Visva Bharati Act. Terming it as “unfortunate and illegal”, Bhattacharya had alleged that the VC, who is retired person, was drawing pension equal to his salary.