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Foreign hand trying to stall India’s atomic programme: AEC chief

See we have to supply uranium to our plants so if we do not make anything to process this uranium, how can we say that we will not do anything and keep quiet. The whole exercise to me is looking like an effort to slow down our programme. These types of things do not carry any meaning.

Pallava Bagla

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Also ReadIndiaGujarat open to idea of high-speed racing in Rann of KutchIndiaUP BJP MLA Sangeet Som ‘threatened’ by Islamic StateIndiaDon’t expect much from Indo-Pak talks in January: Sartaj AzizIndiaGovernment plans 50 more research parks to boost Start-up India campaignIndiaATS nabs ‘IS-bound’ Telangana cousins in Nagpur; last year, cops had counselled trioIndiaMissing Malwani youth appears on WhatsApp, says he’s returning home <!– /.block –>

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Now, Congress seeks JPC probe into DDCA scam

Taking animosity to next level, thus making washout of winter session now a certainty, main Opposition Congress on Wednesday demanded constitution of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to look into irregularities in Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) and resignation of Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who happens to be a former president of the cricket body. Jaitley, however, dismissed the allegations, saying they are without any basis.Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday had attempted to link the CBI raid on his secretariat to the DDCA enquiry report and other related files. He had proposed to order a commission of inquiry into the report of the committee to go into the cricket affairs.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a virtual tit-for-tat, Congress launched an attack on Jaitley and the affairs of the DDCA, claiming it was a Section 25 non-profit company, and could not divert its funds to non-cricketing activities, as alleged in the committee report. Jaitley had levelled almost similar allegations over the National Herald affairs, implicating Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi for diverting funds from a Section 25 company, without proper authorisation.Flanked by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and party leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, senior spokesman Ajay Maken said that pending the completion of inquiry through a JPC, Jaitley must step down. He also accused the Delhi chief minister of sitting on a three-member committee report for over a month now. The chief minister had on November 12 asked a three-member committee to go into the DDCA affairs within three days. He wanted to know why Kejriwal did not proceed to take action by registering a first information report or writing to the Delhi High Court for a court-monitored CBI inquiry.Maken said four persons in the DDCA, who have been “known for their proximity” to Jaitley, have been named as “officers in default” by the Registrar of Companies in his order of August last year. “How can a fair probe into the issue be possible as long as Jaitley is the finance minister with corporate affairs portfolio as well,” he wondered.Maken noted that virtually all enforcement authorities – ED, IT, Revenue intelligence, Serious Fraud Investigation Office – directly report to Jaitley. “The same agencies are supposed to take action against DDCA for infraction of various rules and norms of the Companies Act and under criminal law,” he said.Maken, who has earlier been sports minister at the Centre, said the Registrar of Companies has “proved” the charges of irregularities after he had complained to the then corporate affairs minister M Veerappa Moily, who had ordered the ROC inquiry. He said the investigation by the Serious Fraud Investigation Officer had found that the reconstruction of the Ferozshah Kotla stadium was carried out between 2002 and 2007 which saw an escalation of costs by Rs 90 crore. He said the initial budget was Rs 24 crore but eventually it went up to Rs 114 crore.Maken claimed that it was also revealed by SFIO probe that there was no record of tender for most of the contracts issued by the DDCA for the construction of the stadium. He said the report found that many companies that were given contracts were actually owned by the office bearers of the DDCA.

Rahul Gandhi prefers jail in National Herald case: Congress sources

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi talks to mediapersons at Parliament during the ongoing Winter session in New Delhi on Wednesday.

PTI
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi prefers jail in the National Herald case and will not take bail or even sign a personal bond on December 19, say party sources.This strategy has been approved even by his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi, a source said. She has given the go-ahead as the party believes that no crime has been committed and it would also create a sympathy wave and highlight Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “vindictiveness” not only against the Congress but all his opponents.However, Sonia will file for a bail bond because of her fragile health. The five other accused, including 86-year old treasurer Motilal Vora, will also do so, said sources.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On December 19, Rahul, along with his mother, will appear before a metropolitan magistrate here.Soon after returning from Tamil Nadu, Rahul outlined his party’s strategy: to highlight the “political vendetta” of the government to garner sympathy. Coming out of Parliament on Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi said: “It’s 100% political vendetta coming out of the PM’s Office. It is their way of doing politics. We have full faith in the judiciary (to come clean in the National Herald case).”In a massive blow to Sonia and Rahul, the Delhi high court had on Monday dismissed their pleas challenging the summons issued to them in the National Herald case, in which they have to appear before the trial court. The court observed that the actions of Congress office-bearers named in the case “smack of criminality”.BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy had filed a criminal case of cheating and misappropriation against them in February last year for allegedly usurping the defunct English daily National Herald’s owner Associated Journals Limited’s (AJL) property worth crores of rupees by forming a company in the name of Young India Limited.Senior advocates and party leaders Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal on Wednesday evening briefed the Congress MPs of both the Houses for an hour about the case in the Parliament House Annexe, assuring them not to be worried as there is “zero criminality” involved in the case since there has been “no cheating” as alleged by Dr Swamy because he has not shown who has been cheated.Asked by MPs why they did not rush to the Supreme Court after a single-judge bench of the Delhi high court dismissed the case, the duo said they would wait for the outcome of the first date in the trial court of the metropolitan magistrate and then move the apex court against the high court judgment, which is full of errors as the judge even went to endorse Dr Swamy’s reliance on a Bill still pending in Parliament for amending the Companies Act that proposes to change Section 8 to allow restructuring of companies.Singhvi said that even if a Section 25 charitable company is dissolved, its assets can only go to another Section 25 company and not to anybody else Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi and Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and Congress group leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, made it clear that the Congress has “no grudge” against the judiciary, but was protesting against the government’s “policy of vindictiveness”.Kharge got the opportunity, after a lot of struggle with Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, to lash out at the government for the “policy of suppression to harass the opposition leaders and frighten them”.Azad said that Dr Swamy, who had filed the case against the Gandhis, had also taken the matter to the Enforcement Directorate but its then chief was summarily removed after he gave a report to the government in August that there is no case of money-laundering.Rajan S Katoch (59), a 1979 batch IAS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, who was given the third extension in June till to October was summarily removed after Dr Swamy alleged that he favoured Gandhis.

Saradha Scam: Madan Mitra finally gets bail

Madan Mitra

West Bengal transport minister Madan Mitra was granted bail in connection with the multi-crore-rupee Saradha scam by the Alipore court on Saturday. The court was hearing a bail petition moved by his lawyers at the court and the judge granted him conditional bail on a personal bond of Rs.2 lakhs. Madan Mitra was arrested by the CBI on December 12, 2014 on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and misappropriation of funds. He was also charged with deriving undue financial benefits from the Saradha Group. His arrest came in the wake of him holding a post in the Saradha Group of Companies. TMC has steadfastly defended Madan Mitra and he even continued to be a Minister even though he was languishing in prison for so long. Madan Mitra has been suffering from several ailments and hence he was admitted in hospital for a prolonged period. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Saradha scam: CBI arrests Matang Sinh’s wife Manoranjana, Kolkata based businessman

The agency arrested Manoranjana for allegedly taking money from Saradha group chairman Sudipto Sen by threatening him. CBI sources said she has been accused of misappropriation of funds, cheating and criminal conspiracy

manoranjana sinh

ANI
CBI on Wednesday arrested estranged wife of ex-Union Minister Matang Sinh and former journalist, Manoranjana Sinh, along with Santanu Ghosh, a businessman, in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam.The agency arrested Manoranjana for allegedly taking money from Saradha group chairman Sudipto Sen by threatening him. CBI sources said she has been accused of misappropriation of funds, cheating and criminal conspiracy. Matang is already under judicial custody in connection with the scam.The agency has also arrested Kolkata-based entrepreneur Ghosh, co-founder of the now-defunct Xenitis Group, in connection with the scam. Last year, the Enforcement Directorate had arrested Ghosh who faced money laundering allegations related to the scam. He has been on bail since August 26 last year. Alleged mastermind of the scam, Shantanu Sen has claimed that Ghosh had pressurised him to purchase his automobile company which had “huge liabilties”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh said both the arrested accused will be produced in Alipore court on Thursday. CBI spokesperson said both the arrested persons have also been interrogated earlier but they not only failed to explain the facts but also allegedly concealed vital information and did not cooperate with CBI. “Their alleged involvement in criminal conspiracy with then CMD of the said Group for obtaining personal gain of huge amount running into crores of rupees by way of misappropriation of funds collected from innumerable poor investors and also cheating them have come during the on-going investigation,” she said.The agency had registered the case on June 04, 2014 in accordance with the Supreme Court order on May 09, 2014 against the then CMD of Saradha Group Shantanu Sen and others under sections pertaining to criminal conspiracy, cheating and other offences.It was alleged that the accused persons of the Group of Companies collected huge funds from investors under various investment schemes by fraudulently promising them high returns but failed to pay the amount to them and thereby cheated them.

Hyderabad police enlists IT corridor in preparation against terror attacks

Keeping the recent Gurdaspur attack in mind, the Cyberabad police has decided to provide arms and licence to IT corridor companies in Hyderabad.

File Photo

The Hyderabad police has decided to provide arms and licencing to corporates in the IT corridor in wake of the Gurdaspur attack, a news daily reports. The move was made so that, in times of crisis, a private security company can handle the situation until police or other security arrive at the scene.According to the report, the police plans on providing a permit of two guns to each firm, a pistol and another more advanced weapon. “We need to prepare for any situation. Arming security personnel will help them in handling hostage situations, lone-wolf attacks or other crises. Otherwise, the unarmed security guards will be in a helpless situation when a crisis hits them. We will train the security guards in handling such weapons too,” Cyberabad police commissioner CV Anand told the newspaper.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>So far, only Wipro has an armed security guard at its Gachibowli campus in Hyderabad while other companies are still contemplating the matter. The Cyberabad police has been working on the issue in tandem with the companies. It has asked IT companies to keep an eye on their employees for any relation to the Islamic State.

Two-thirds of government departments don’t have sexual harassment committees

While many argued that the minister should have known better, some felt that he was just ‘inspecting’. What many did not, perhaps, think of was — if the female student in question, whose picture was shared publicly, wanted to register a complaint against the minister, how far could she go? Seems like, not far.

Last week, an unlikely picture of Jammu and Kashmir health minister Lal Singh started doing the rounds in social media. He was shown straightening the collar of a medical student in the presence of many people during an official inspection, oblivious to the inappropriateness of the act.While many argued that the minister should have known better, some felt that he was just ‘inspecting’. What many did not, perhaps, think of was — if the female student in question, whose picture was shared publicly, wanted to register a complaint against the minister, how far could she go? Seems like, not far.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It has come to light that two-thirds of government departments in the country do not have an internal complaints committee to tackle sexual harassment at the workplace as mandated by the Vishakha guidelines of the The Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013. A source in the ministry of women and child development has revealed that with most departments and ministries not toeing the line, it was difficult for the minister to pursue it aggressively within the government.”The minister wrote to the department of personnel training (DoPT) recently to ensure that government departments fully cooperate with the implementation of the Vishakha guidelines for sexual harassment committee. We are still awaiting the full list of offenders,” said the source. It is believed that offenders include ministry of biotechnology, ministry of tourism and culture and ministry of development of northeastern region.In fact, in March this year, during a Parliament session it came to light that even the country’s highest legislative body, did not have a sexual harassment committee of its own. Ministries and departments must also publicly share information on committees on websites, which many fail to do.Without implementation, many women in government offices remain vulnerable and open to harassment. Last week, former Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) official SS Ghonkrokta was deemed a “threat for any women workers under him” by an internal committee looking at a complaints filed against him by a junior colleague. In March this year, a production assistant filing a complaint against an additional director general of Doordarshan was given a punishment transfer. The complainant, it was found, was a member of the sexual harassment committee herself.The Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 makes it necessary to have a functioning internal complaints committee in every establishment with more than 10 employees, whether it is a public undertaking, a private firm or a government department. The DoPT had, in November last year, amended the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 and the Classification, Control and Appeals Rules, 1965, making it mandatory to have an internal complaints committee for sexual harassment at every department. It said that the committee must “be active at all times, and must meet quarterly every year even if there is no live case.” Maneka Gandhi has been aggressively pursuing the implementation of the internal complaints committee in corporate offices for a while, reminding them that defaulters will have to to cough up ?50,000. She even urged corporate bodies like ASSOCHAM and FICCI for not taking the matter seriously. She has also recently written to the corporate affairs ministry to notify companies to disclose the constitution of the internal complaints committee in their annual disclosures as per section 134 of the Companies Act, 2013. A report early this year found that 90% of private companies do not have a complaints committee.

Congress has scored another own-goal on Lalit Modi job offer to Swaraj Kaushal

The dirty tricks department of the Congress party is working overtime to find something to beat the BJP government at the centre and states with. The latest is the charge that on 15 April 2015, Lalit Modi had offered the job of alternate director to Swaraj Kaushal in Indofil Industries Ltd, one of the group companies controlled by his family, as quid pro quo for getting Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister, to intercede on his behalf for obtaining travel documents from the British government.

Lalit Modi. ReutersLalit Modi. Reuters

Lalit Modi. Reuters

It redounds to the credit of Kaushal that he did not accept the offer, as clarified by him and KK Modi, father of Lalit Modi. Section 161(2) of the Companies Act, 2013, which regulates the appointment of alternate directors, has not yet been notified. So much so that section 313 of the Companies Act, 1956, the predecessor law, is still in force. Alternative directors come in handy for non-resident directors of joint venture companies in India – i.e. companies where a foreign company is the FDI partner. It is de rigueur for such non-resident directors to nominate Indian proxies to do their bidding at board meetings though the law requires the board to appoint an alternate director and not the expat director himself.

An alternate director can be appointed only if the original director is away from the state in which the board meetings are ordinarily held for not less than three months. In many Indian companies where foreign companies call the shots, a farce is enacted by making a pliable Indian stand in for several non-resident directors at the same time. The new law enshrined in section 161 (2) of the Companies Act 2013 says a person can stand in for only one original director. It also rightly talks of the original director being away from India rather than from the state where the board meetings are normally held. This is in recognition of the reality that the regime is by and large used by non-residents. However, it does not cover a purported “fugitive” appointing a stand-in director.

Be that as it may, Lalit Modi knew on 15 April 2015 that he is not going to return to India within the next three months and, therefore, proposed the name of Kaushal as alternate director to stand in for him. Indeed he would have had to do Modi’s bidding because section 313 says in so many words that the purpose of appointing an alternate director is to act on behalf of the original director. Lalit Modi might have sought to reward Kaushal for the so-called act of influence peddling by his wife Sushma Swaraj, but by rejecting the offer Kaushal has saved embarrassment for himself, his wife, and indeed the entire ruling NDA at the centre.

That is why the Congress has scored a self-goal. Had Kaushal accepted the offer, the Congress’ charge would have carried conviction and indeed it could have gone to town with another charge of impropriety by Sushma Swaraj. But by rejecting the offer Kaushal saved the day. Indeed, the Congress would look sheepish if people understand the true import of Kaushal’s rejection. To be sure, alternate directorship is not a great honour for any appointee, since the status is that of a stooge, but Kaushal would have courted trouble for himself and his wife had he accepted the offer and the remuneration that goes with the office.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi is a no mean lawyer. Of all the persons in Congress, he should not have led the charge against Sushma Swaraj on this account. It has fizzled out even before it was hurled. The Congress has truly got egg on its face by trying to make a villain out of Kaushal who, in fact, showed remarkable prescience in rejecting the offer.

Acceptance of a bribe or a quid pro quo is a crime but anyone who rejects such overtures actually grows in stature. It is a common joke in bureaucratic circles that a minister or bureaucrat sometimes contrives to institute a CBI inquiry against himself or his family members with an eye on the clean chit that would send his stock soaring. It cannot be anybody’s case that Kaushal got Lalit Modi to make an offer so he could reject just to send his stock skyhigh.

Levity apart, the Congress’ charge lacks in substance and has, in fact, come as manna from heaven for a beleaguered foreign minister. That Kaushal gets a retainership from the Modi family companies is beside the point because he has been offering his legal services for more than two decades and none of this had anything to do with favours from Sushma Swaraj. In any case, it is ridiculous to suggest that Sushma Swaraj would have stuck her neck out to obtain a bit of income for her husband as it emerges, in hindsight, that her interceding in the matter did not result in any dilution of any charges against Lalit Mod. The favour she did was no big deal – once again in retrospect – because the Delhi High Court had restored his passport.

Lalit Modi row: My company has not done anything illegal, says Vasundhara Raje’s son Dushyant Singh

“Presently, I am on a personal foreign visit. I came to know that for the last couple of days, media have been doing confusing and vicious-propaganda (‘dushprachar’), and trying to tarnish my image, that is very unlawful”, Dushyant said in a statement in Jaipur.

Under attack over reports that his company received investments from Lalit Modi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s son Dushyant Singh on Thursday claimed that his company, Niyant Heritage Hotels Pvt Ltd (NHHPL), has not done “anything illegal nor committed any irregularity”.”Presently, I am on a personal foreign visit. I came to know that for the last couple of days, media have been doing confusing and vicious-propaganda (‘dushprachar’), and trying to tarnish my image, that is very unlawful”, Dushyant said in a statement here. “I like to clarify that whatever transaction of my company, Niyant Heritage Hotels Pvt Ltd, has been done are in accordance and in compliance with the Companies Act and income tax rules. Every fact has been mentioned in the IT returns which is available. My company has not done anything illegal and has not committed any irregularity,” he said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to a report published in NDTV, business deal between Dushyant Singh and Lalit Modi is now being probed by ED. The report says that Dushyant and his wife declared in 2013 that they had nearly 6,000 shares in Niyant Heritage Hotel Pvt Limited. Each share was worth Rs 10 each and the combined stake was worth about 65,000. But Lalit Modi’s company Ananda Heritage hotels reportedly bought shares in Niyant Heritage in 2008 and 2009 and each share was worth Rs 96,000! So each share purchased was worth more than collective stake of Dushyant Singh and his wife. With PTI inputs

Why protect the Badals? Moga molestation case no different from Uber rape

In 2012, while contesting the Punjab Assembly polls, Sukhbir Singh Badal declared himself a humble farmer. His only vehicle: an old Mussy tractor worth around Rs 2 lakh.  A few months later, ‘politician and agriculturist’ Badal acquired a huge stake in a family-owned aviation company engaged in ferrying passengers on planes and buses.

According to the Registrar of Companies (RoC) documents, Sukhbir now holds shares in Orbit Aviation in three different ways: 5,000 direct shares, about 2 crore shares through his hospitality firm Orbit Resorts and 41 lakh shares through his media firm called G-Next Media Private Limited.

Badal’s aviation company has three flying jets – an eight-seater Cessna 525A jet, another eight-seater Super King Air B 200 and a helicopter Bell 429,” according to the Times of India.

On Wednesday night, a 13-year-old girl died when she was thrown out after being molested by the staff and some passengers while travelling in a bus in Punjab. The victim’s mother, who was also pushed out, is hospitalized with severe injuries. The incident was a re-run of the Nirbhaya gang-rape in Delhi, except that the outrage was limited to Punjab.

The bus belonged to Orbit Aviation, the company co-owned by Sukhbir Singh Bada Badal, deputy chief minister of Punjab. “Unfortunately, the vehicle was ours,” his father and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said.

Representational image: ReutersRepresentational image: Reuters

Representational image: Reuters

Within hours, DGP Sumedh Singh Saini ruled out questioning of the owners. Naturally, understandably. There are owners; and there are the Badals, the first family of Punjab. Nobody crosses the path of a Badal in an Orbit of his own.

Compare this with police action that followed the rape of a woman by an Uber cab driver in Delhi in December 2014. Soon after the incident, the Delhi government banned all app-based taxi services, questioned Uber on the process of selection of drivers, screening of its staff and harassed its management through notices. The cops filed an FIR against Uber for ‘cheating’ customers on the pretext of providing safe commuting and reliable drivers.

Former home secretary and BJP MP RK Singh even insinuated that there was a case for implicating Uber as a co-accused in the rape case.

“Definitely it should be banned; also, Uber should be considered an accused. Uber is providing services, it has to take responsibility, and it should engage drivers only after verification. It is my view,” Singh had argued, while speaking to ANI. Home minister Rajnath Singh had gone on to ask all states to ban Uber cabs.

Now, nobody will suspend the licence of Orbit Aviation, find out if it had the permit to ply buses on that route, ask the management if due diligence was carried out while hiring the conductor and the helper, or whether the driver had a valid license or was given ‘gender training’. The home minister will not ask all states to ban Orbit’s buses—in case they have inter-state travel permits—or ground Badal’s planes. RK Singh will, naturally, not argue that the Badals, partners in NDA, be implicated.

This is not to argue that the Badals are in any way guilty of the crime. There may have been some lapses in hiring the staff, checking their police records, licences and testimonials; there could have been possible issues with permits, but that is where the company’s, like Uber’s, role would have ended.

But, by not acting with the same enthusiasm, by excluding owners from the probe, the Punjab police missed the opportunity to bring the murky business of private buses and their staff under the scanner, put it under the national spotlight.

This could have India’s Uber moment for private buses. Orbit’s owners may be high-fliers, but making them part of the probe would have told us more about the ground realities of travelling on buses in remote corners of India.

West Bengal gets Rs 93,600 crore investment pledge on first day of Summit

Companies including state-run SAIL on Wednesday committed to invest over Rs 93,000 crore in West Bengal, while Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said total commitments would exceed Rs one lakh crore during the ongoing two-day Global Business Summit. She, however, refused to draw any comparison with the Vibrant Gujarat summit, which typically gets huge investment pledges.Banerjee said that the two states were different and the Gujarat event had an advantage because Prime Minister Narendra Modi came from that state. On the first day of West Bengal Global Business Summit, investors committed Rs 41,600 crore in ports sector, while Rs 12,000 crore has been pledged for mining projects. Another Rs 40,000 crore worth investment pledge came today from SAIL, Banerjee said.”It will exceed Rs 1,00,000 crore,” Banerjee said on Wednesday on the first day of the two-day summit. Describing the summit as “positive and constructive throughout”, the chief minister said a lot companies have committed to invest in money into the state. SAIL’s investment announcement came a day after a 3900-acre land issue being resolved in the state.However, Banerjee refused to compare the Bengal summit with the Vibrant Gujarat event, which would start on January 11.”We can’t compare the two summits. The Prime Minister is from their state, so that is a big advantage for them. Gujarat is always developed. They don’t have to repay debts like we do. So, let Gujarat play their own role and let us Bengal play our own role. We want development for both,” she said.

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