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SC allows Karti Chidambaram to travel abroad in May

SC allows Karti Chidambaram to travel abroad in May

New Delhi, (PTI) The Supreme Court Tuesday allowed Karti Chidambaram, who is facing criminal cases being probed by the ED and CBI, to travel to the US, Germany and Spain this month.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna said this nod to travel abroad was subject to compliance of conditions imposed earlier.

The apex court had in January granted Karti, son of Congress leader P Chidambaram, permission to travel abroad after depositing Rs 10 crore with the secretary general of the Supreme Court.

The top court had also asked him to file an undertaking that he would return and cooperate with the investigation.

Karti is facing criminal cases which are being probed by the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI.

One of the cases relates to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to INX Media for receiving foreign funds of Rs 305 crore when his father was the finance minister.

CJI gets clean chit as In-House panel finds “no substance” in sexual harassment allegations

CJI gets clean chit as In-House panel finds “no substance” in sexual harassment allegations

New Delhi, (PTI) Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi Monday got a clean chit from the Supreme Court’s In-House Inquiry Committee which “has found no substance” in the allegations of sexual harassment leveled against him by a former woman employee of the apex court.

A notice by the office of Supreme Court Secretary-General said the report of the Committee, headed by Justice S A Bobde, “is not liable to be made public”.

The committee, also comprising two woman judges of the apex court — Justices Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee — gave the report ex-parte as the woman had opted out of the inquiry on April 30 after participating for three days.

She issued a press statement in which she described as “very frightening” the atmosphere of the Committee and walked out raising various objections including denial of her lawyer’s presence.

Justice Gogoi appeared on May 1 before the Committee and recorded his statements.

The notice said: “The In-House Committee has found no substance in the allegations contained in the complaint dated April 19, 2019 of a former employee of the Supreme Court of India. Please take note that in case of Indira Jaising vs Supreme Court of India and others, it has been held that the report of a committee constituted as a part of the In-House Procedure is not liable to be made public.”

It further said: “The In House Committee has submitted its report dated May 5, 2019 in accordance with the In House Procedure, to the next senior judge competent to receive the report and also sent a copy to the judge concerned, namely, the CJI.”

An official source said that though Justice N V Ramana was the judge next in seniority after Justice Bobde, the report was not submitted to him as he was originally the member of the panel but had to recuse himself after the woman had expressed some reservations over his presence in the panel.

The source said Justice Arun Mishra, who is number four in seniority, is competent to receive the report.

After CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Bobde is the senior-most judge followed by Justices Ramana, Mishra and R F Nariman.

The three-member panel was constituted on April 23, 2019 in which the original members were Justices Bobde, Ramana and Banerjee.

However, on April 25, Justice Ramana had to recuse himself after the woman expressed her reservations over his inclusion on the ground that he is a close friend of the CJI and a regular visitor to his house.

In Justice Ramana’s place, Justice Bobde had inducted Justice Malhotra as the former woman employee had also alleged that the Committee was not formed in accordance with the Vishaka guidelines laid by the top court.

Justice Bobde on April 23 had told PTI, “This is going to be an in-house procedure which does not contemplate representation of advocate on behalf of parties. It is not a formal judicial proceeding.”

He had clarified that there is no time frame to complete the inquiry and future course of action will depend on “what comes out of the inquiry” which will be “confidential”.

The allegations against the CJI had become public on April 20 when some news web portals had come out with the stories.

The woman had sent her affidavit to 22 judges of the apex court about the alleged sexual harassment.

Within hours of the allegations coming into the public domain, an unprecedented hearing by a bench comprising CJI and Justices Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna had taken place on April 20 which was Saturday.

Though the CJI had recused himself midway of the hearing, he had taken the opportunity to describe the allegations of sexual harassment against him as “unbelievable” and had said a larger conspiracy was behind it and he would not stoop so low even to deny these allegations.

Mallya repeats offer of 100 per cent payback for Indian banks

Mallya repeats offer of 100 per cent payback for Indian banks

London, (PTI) Embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya took to social media on Monday to lament the collapse of Jet Airways and repeated his offer of a “100 percent payback” for state-owned Indian banks to cover his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines’ debt.

The 63-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) boss is currently appealing against his extradition order from the UK to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to an alleged Rs 9,000 crores.

Mallya drew parallels between the plight of his collapsed airline and that of Jet Airways, India’s leading private airline which grounded to a halt earlier this month amid a mounting cash crunch.

“Several Indian airlines collapsed sadly including KFA. Now the previously unthinkable has happened with the collapse of Jet,” Mallya said on Twitter on Monday.

“Genuine business failures. But I am criminally charged by CBI/ED despite offering 100% payback. Wonder why only me,” he questioned.

His latest Twitter statements echo some of his previous social media interventions on the issue, claiming that his offer to pay back the debt owed by his now-defunct airline had been rebuffed by the banks and the Indian government.

“Watched TV debate on the sad collapse of Jet which included unpaid employees and Industry veterans. Important issues on unemployment and suffering, security available to banks, prospects of revival etc. Here I am offering 100% payback of KFA loans which Banks won’t take. Why?” he said.

Mallya, who remains on bail on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard in April 2017, is undergoing a UK High Court appeals process against his extradition order signed off by UK home secretary Sajid Javid in February.

He has been allocated July 2 as the date for a brief hearing to convince a High Court judge that he should be given permission to proceed to a full-blown appeal against Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruling last December in favor of his extradition to India.

The judge had concluded there was “clear evidence of dispersal and misapplication of the loan funds” and accepted a prima facie case of fraud and a conspiracy to launder money against Mallya, as presented by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on behalf of the Indian authorities.

Meanwhile, the businessman also faces a flurry of other legal cases in UK courts related to a worldwide freezing order and a threat of foreclosure of one of his homes in central London.

SC to hear after 2 weeks a plea for proper probe in Muzaffarpur shelter home case

SC to hear after 2 weeks a plea for proper probe in Muzaffarpur shelter home case

New Delhi,  (PTI) The Supreme Court Monday said it would hear after two weeks the fresh plea alleging that CBI tried to “shield the real perpetrators” in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case by not conducting proper probe on “crucial leads” which are available on record.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said an advance notice has been circulated in the matter by the other side seeking deferment of the hearing on the plea.

The fresh interim plea has been filed in a pending PIL of Nivedita Jha in which the apex court had directed CBI to probe the shelter home sexual assault cases.

The plea, filed through advocate Fauzia Shakil, has sought a direction to the CBI to carry out a thorough, proper and scientific probe into the case.

Several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at an NGO-run shelter home at Muzaffarpur in Bihar and the issue had come to light following a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

The probe into the case was transferred to CBI and the agency has chargesheeted 21 people, including prime accused Brajesh Thakur.

“It is evident from the statement of victims that a large scale prostitution racket was being run by prime accused Brajesh Thakur.

“From the perusal of the charge sheet, it is apparent that CBI is trying to shield the real perpetrators and has intentionally avoided investigating the leads given by the victims about the outsiders and alleged friends of Thakur who were involved in the offence,” the plea said.

It also claimed that victims have stated in their statement to CBI that they were sent to hotels and were also raped by outsiders and friends of Thakur who visited the shelter home.

It further alleged that despite the statement of the victims which disclosed grave and serious cognisable offences like rape, murder, gang rapes, prostitution racket and trafficking, the CBI has not charge-sheeted the accused under the relevant penal provisions.

The plea sought identification of accused as per law on the basis of statements of the victim and further probe to establish the identity of Thakur’s “guests, uncles and friends”, who had visited the shelter home.

It also urged the court to direct CBI to carry out further investigation on the issues highlighted by the apex court in its September 20 last year order regarding Thakur’s connections and antecedents and also about the culpability of Bihar social welfare department, if any, in the case.

“No effort was made by the CBI to look into the antecedents, connections and influence of Thakur,” the plea said.

“The charge sheet does not disclose that any investigation has been conducted to ascertain whether the social welfare department of the Bihar government was aware of criminal activities being carried out in the shelter home and that may have been the reason for the transfer of the victim girls”, it said.

The apex court had in February transferred the case from Bihar to a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in Saket District Court complex in Delhi.

On November 28 last year, the top court had directed the CBI to conduct a probe into allegations of physical and sexual abuse of inmates in 16 other shelter homes in Bihar which were flagged in the TISS report.

Structured Indo-Pak engagement key to build edifice of durable peace: Pak

Structured Indo-Pak engagement key to build edifice of durable peace: Pak

New Delhi,  (PTI) Pakistan has said it was hoping for “re-engagement” with India after the Lok Sabha polls, noting that structured dialogue would enable the two countries to understand mutual concerns, resolve outstanding disputes and build the edifice of durable peace and security in the region.

In an interview to PTI, Pakistan’s outgoing High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood said diplomacy and dialogue are indispensable to improve ties between the two neighbours.

“We hope for re-engagement after the elections in India. Diplomacy and dialogue are indispensable,” he said.

Tensions between the two countries worsened after the Pulwama terror attack and both the countries were almost on the brink of a war after India’s military planes struck a terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26 and Pakistan carried out a counter-offensive the next day.

Mahmood, who has been appointed as Pakistan’s next Foreign Secretary said dialogue between India and Pakistan was the only option to understand mutual concerns and ensure peace, prosperity and security in the region.

“Sustained engagement and structured dialogue would enable the two countries to understand mutual concerns and differences, resolve outstanding disputes and build the edifice of durable peace, security and prosperity in the region,” Mahmood said.

He also said that there was a need to review the narrative about Pakistan in India.

“A narrative is needed that captures the reality in Pakistan objectively and more fully. A narrative that also helps recognise opportunities for peaceful, cooperative and good neighbourly relations,” he said.

“We must strive for a stable peace, equal security and shared prosperity for ourselves and the region,” the envoy added.

In signs of easing tensions, Pakistan around two weeks ago announced that it was releasing 360 Indian prisoners, mostly fishermen as a “goodwill gesture”.

The initiative was followed by Pakistan High Commission here granting visas to 2,200 Sikh pilgrims from India to facilitate their participation in the annual Baisakhi celebrations in Pakistan.

Over two weeks after the Balakot strike, India and Pakistan held talks to finalise the modalities for setting up a corridor linking the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Gurdaspur district in Punjab.

Asked about the Kartarpur corridor project, the Pakistani High Commissioner said Islamabad was committed to completing the physical infrastructure on its side.

“The government of Pakistan is proceeding in full measures to complete the physical infrastructure on its side and it is hopeful that the modalities will be mutually agreed between the two sides in good time before November 2019,” he said.

Last November, both India and Pakistan agreed to set up the Kartarpur corridor to link the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib — the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev — to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.

Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.

The relations between India and Pakistan remained tense since 2016. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had travelled to Delhi to attend Modi’s oath-taking ceremony and the Indian premier had in December 2015 made a stopover in Lahore to greet his counterpart on his birthday.

However, the ties nose-dived following a string of cross-border terror attacks in 2016 and India’s subsequent surgical strikes. The sentencing of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav to death by a military court in April 2017 further deteriorated bilateral ties.

BJP MLA, 4 security personnel killed in Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada

BJP MLA, 4 security personnel killed in Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada

Raipur,  (PTI) BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi and four security personnel were Tuesday killed when their convoy was attacked by Naxalites in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, days before the first-phase elections in the state, police said.

The incident occurred at Shyamagiri hills when the MLA’s convoy was heading towards Kuwakonda from Bacheli area, which is about 450 km from state capital Raipur.

The Naxalites blew up a vehicle in the convoy with an IED and opened fire at the occupants. The MLA and four security personnel were killed in the attack, police officials said.

Security forces have been rushed to the area, they said.

The attack is reminiscent of a similar incident that took place in the Naxal hotbed of Bastar ahead of the assembly elections in May 2013. Twenty-seven people, including senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma and former Union minister V C Shukla, were killed in the ambush.

Before the assembly elections in November last year, a CISF personnel and three civilians were killed in Dantewada when an improvised explosive device planted by Naxalites tore through a bus.

Dantewada falls in the Bastar Lok Sabha seat which will go to polls in the first phase on April 11.