QBullet: No Clean Chit to Verma Yet; Sabarimala Protests Intensify
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1. Mixed Findings, Says Supreme Court on Vigilance Report Against CBI No. 1 Alok Verma
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has been “very complimentary” on some charges levelled against Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma by his deputy Rakesh Asthana and “very uncomplimentary” on some, the Supreme Court noted on Friday, indicating that the top vigilance watchdog has not given a clean chit yet to the head of the India’s premier investigating agency.
The bench, comprising chief justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph, ordered that a copy of the report be handed over to Verma, whom it asked to file a response in a sealed envelope by 1 pm on Monday. The court said it would take up the case on Tuesday, 20 November.
2. CBI War Spills to State vs Centre: Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal Bar the Agency
Escalating the political fight between non-BJP ruled states and the Centre in the run-up to the 2019 elections, TDP-ruled Andhra Pradesh has withdrawn the general consent given to the CBI to investigate any case in the state. This comes days after Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu accused the BJP and the Centre of using central agencies to destabilise his government. Officials said the CBI will no longer be able to carry out searches, raids or investigation in Andhra Pradesh without the state government’s consent. Late Friday, West Bengal was planning similar action with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee backing Andhra Pradesh’s move.
“Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu has done the right thing in saying he won’t allow CBI in his state. We will also do the same in our state. We will cross-check the laws. They (the BJP) are giving instructions to agencies from their party offices. From CBI to RBI, they have turned institutions into disasters,” Banerjee told TMC workers.
3. Sabarimala: Gates Open, But Women Activists Stopped at Kochi Airport
As the Sabarimala temple opened Friday amid tight security for the first two-month-long annual pilgrim season since the Supreme Court allowed entry of women of all age to the hill shrine, tension gripped the Kochi International Airport 157 km away, where a stand-off ensued between protesters and Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai. After the activist, who had vowed to enter the Lord Ayappa shrine, was prevented from leaving the airport in a siege that lasted almost 14 hours, Desai announced that she was returning to Pune, citing “law and order” problems.
Meanwhile, the state government asserted that it was duty-bound to implement the apex court order even as the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which met Friday at Pamba, decided to move a petition in the SC seeking more time to implement its order.
4. 13 Killed as Cyclone Gaja Tears Through Tamil Nadu
Cyclone Gaja that made landfall near Nagapattinam in the early hours of Friday ripped through many districts in Tamil Nadu, claiming 13 lives. Unconfirmed reports, however, said at least 30 people were killed in the storm-battered delta districts.
Almost all the deaths occurred in areas that were assessed as safe zones and not evacuated. Deaths were caused by uprooted trees falling on houses and wall collapses, an official source said. The worst-hit districts were Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur, and Cuddalore in the state. Karaikal and Puducherry too were affected. Among the worst-hit were also the salt pans in Vedaranyam, the second-largest salt-producing pans in the state after Tuticorin.
5. PM Modi Calls for ‘Great Wall of Trust’ With China
Ahead of his meeting with President Xi Jinping on the margins of the G20 Summit in Argentina this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday spoke of the need for contacts between India and China to build a “Great Wall of Trust and Cooperation”. Modi’s remarks came in the form of a message read out to participants of the China-India Youth Dialogue 2018 at the Chinese embassy.
Chinese envoy Lou Zhaohui, in his speech at the event, spoke of the need to synergise India’s ‘Act East’ policy with China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, which New Delhi doesn’t endorse.
The youth dialogue was billed by the Chinese embassy as part of the build-up to the first meeting in December of the China-India high-level people-to-people and cultural exchange mechanism co-chaired by the foreign ministers. The mechanism was one of the outcomes of the informal summit between Modi and Xi in Wuhan in April.
6. BJP’s Bellary Reddy Now on ED Radar for Alleged Money Laundering
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has asked Bengaluru police for details of a case related to an alleged Ponzi scheme in which former Karnataka minister and BJP leader Gali Janardhana Reddy, the mining baron from Ballari, is one of the accused. The ED has said it would like to examine the case since it involves possible money laundering.
In a 9 November letter to police, ED Joint Director Raman Gupta, who is stationed in Bengaluru and has signed the letter with the approval of the ED Director, said: “I am directed to request you to share the information about all the cases registered by city police against the said company and accused to examine the matter from point of view of the PMLA Act. The action taken under KPID Act may also kindly be shared with this directorate expeditiously.”
7. Spike in Govt Requests to Facebook for Information, User Accounts
While the Government has steadily decreased its requests for content to be taken off Facebook, there has been a surge in its requests for “information” and “user accounts”. Since 2015, there has been an estimated 63% increase in Facebook accounts in India and an almost three-fold spike in the number of government requests for information and user accounts, said a Facebook report released Friday. While Facebook doesn’t specify the kind of “information” requested for by the Government, sources said this usually relates to data used for law-enforcement.
The Facebook report covers the period from 2013 to July 2018 and reveals that the Government steadily increased its information requests — by almost 68 percent between January and June this year compared to the same period the previous year.
8. Gehlot Stamp on Cong Rajasthan List
The Congress’ first list of 152 candidates, announced late Thursday night, for the 7 December Rajasthan Assembly elections, has the stamp of Ashok Gehlot — making him the frontrunner for the top job, if the party comes to power.
As many as 22 ministers and six parliamentary secretaries from the previous Congress government, led by Gehlot, were named in the list. Several of his loyalists were given tickets as well, giving Gehlot a clear advantage against Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot and former Union Minister CP Joshi for the top job.
The list didn’t have the name of Rajput leader Manvendra Singh, who recently joined Congress from BJP.
9. In Big Win for India, UK Court Says Tihar Safe for Extraditing Fugitive
A UK court has made a landmark ruling that the Tihar prison complex in Delhi is safe to extradite Indian fugitives to. This judgment, in the case of cricket-fixing accused Sanjeev Chawla, could have huge consequences for the Vijay Mallya extradition case.
In a judgment handed down in the high court in London on Friday, Lord Justice Leggatt and Mr Justice Dingemans ruled that the Tihar prison complex “posed no risk” to Sanjeev Kumar Chawla — an Indian-origin British citizen accused of fixing international cricket matches (the Hansie Cronje fix) — after receiving a third assurance from the Indian government about his proposed treatment there.
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