QBullet: AOL Fined but Show on; Note on Ishrat’s Affidavit Missing
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1. Art of Living to Run its Show
In an order announced to a crowded room on Wednesday afternoon, the NGT ruled on Wednesday that the Art of Living Foundation would pay an initial fine of Rs 5 crore for damage to the Yamuna flood plains. The green tribunal also fined the Delhi Development Authority Rs 5 lakh and the Delhi Pollution Control Board Rs 1 lakh for not fulfilling their duties.
At Hearing, Chief Justice Said Don’t Test My Patience
Lawyers representing the government failed to answer questions raised by the tribunal bench – where people attending the event would get their water or whether permissions had been granted for the event. Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar warned them not to test his patience and forced them to provide necessary documents. After a long deliberation, the justices decided that the World Culture Festival will take place this weekend, but with conditions.
Part of the strongly worded NGT judgment on the World Culture Festival published in The Indian Express reads,
The permission granted by the DDA dated 30th June, 2015 is a vague permission, which, in fact, is the very basis of the case of the Foundation. However, irrespective of that, we find that the said permission is not in consonance with the orders of the NGT and in fact, is in excess of the powers vested in DDA which runs contrary to the spirit of the judgment of the Tribunal. This cannot be termed as a recreational activity simplicitor. Cultural activity could be recreational but the entire construction of ramps, roads, accumulation of debris, alteration of the natural topography and removal of natural vegetation from the flood plains, cannot be said to be recreational. It is a complete project in itself and the DDA ought to have applied its mind. Strangely, it has neither conducted inspection of the site prior to the grant of permission nor during operation or subsequent thereto. Consequently, we impose a cost of Rs 5 lacs on DDA for its defaults and non-performance of its statutory functions.NGT Judgment on the World Culture Festival
However, it emerged late night that The Art of Living Foundation will challenge the order of the National Green Tribunal imposing a fine of Rs 5 crore on it as environmental compensation, according to an Economic Times report.
2. SC Told Vijay Mallya Left India on 2 March, Govt to Take Steps to Bring Him Back
The Supreme Court was informed on Wednesday that Vijay Mallya had left the country even as creditor-banks and enforcement agencies were closing in on the UB Group chairman to recover an estimated Rs 9,091 crore owed by his grounded Kingfisher Airlines.
Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, representing the banks, informed the apex court that Mallya left the country on 2 March, citing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
He is likely to be in London, where he has property, Rohatgi added.
“The court should ask him to appear here and bring his passport. We also want a disclosure of his assets,” Rohatgi said.
The Economic Times reports that the government will take necessary steps, which could also include seeking extradition, to bring Mallya back. The report also added that India may also ask the UK government to ensure that a $75-million payment from Diageo to Mallya is withheld.
The Supreme Court issued a notice to Vijay Mallya on a plea filed by a consortium of 13 PSU banks headed by State Bank of India.
The Supreme Court also permitted banks to serve notice to Mallya and Kingfisher Airlines, among others, through the Indian mission in London, where he is believed to be, reports The Times of India. It also allowed issue of notice on the MP’s email address as listed in Rajya Sabha records.
3. Draft Note on Ishrat’s Affidavit Change Missing
A draft note recording the changes in the Ishrat Jahan affidavit during former home minister P Chidambaram’s tenure, that also had the attorney general’s legal notes tendered, is not traceable in the home ministry files, according to The Times of India.
The record pertains to the UPA government’s controversial decision in 2009 to virtually disown its affidavit submitted to the Gujarat high court in which it had stated that Ishrat and three others killed in a 2004 encounter were linked to the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Meanwhile, the NDA government is expected to take up the Ishrat Jahan case in the Lok Sabha on Thursday in response to a calling attention motion.
4. Congress Forces Change in President’s Address
Causing much embarrassment to the Modi government, the Congress, along with the Left, SP and JD(U), forced a change in the motion of thanks to the President’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament, dismissing an appeal by the PM not to insist on pressing for the amendments, according to The Times of India.
As an outcome of this, a criticism of laws passed by BJP governments in Haryana and Rajasthan to make minimum educational qualification mandatory for panchayat candidates was incorporated in the motion. Although the inaugural address is read by the President, it is prepared by the government and is given to highlight its achievements.
Congress and Co. pulled this stunt last year too, leveraging their numbers in the Upper House to force amendments suggested by CPM in the motion of thanks to the Presidential address.
5. Close to Assam Polls, Centre Possibly Signing Peace Deal with ULFA
According to a report in Hindustan Times, the Centre may sign a draft agreement with the Arabinda Rajkhowa-led United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), along the lines of the ‘Naga Peace Accord’ in mid-March. The agreement could possibly impact the upcoming polls in Assam scheduled to begin next month.
The report adds that the agreement may list out already agreed points — like provision of an Upper House for the state assembly, update of the National Register for Citizens, etc. — and leave contentious issues like granting Scheduled Tribe status to six indigenous communities, for which a committee headed by a joint secretary from the home ministry has already been set up to look into the matter.
6. India, US Move Towards Maiden Nuclear Cooperation Pact
Hectic price negotiations are on between India and the US to close a signature deal between Nuclear Power Corporation of India NPCIL) and Toshiba-Westinghouse (T-W) for six nuclear reactors, according to a report in Hindustan Times.
The report adds that last week, Toshiba-Westinghouse made a formal offer to NPCIL and a “uranium fuel offer” to the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) for the Mithi-Virdi 6,000 MW power plant near Bhavnagar in Gujarat.
According to the report, the pioneering deal could likely be inked during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington for the Fourth Nuclear Security Summit between 31 March and 1 April.
7. EPF Tax 2.0: Same Wine, New Bottle
The employees’ provident fund (EPF) tax could return with a different name and packaging, according to a Livemint report. And this time, the central government is figuring out the possibility of levying the tax on people earning higher salaries.
The idea, the report says, is to achieve some parity between EPF and the National Pension System at least for this higher-income bracket.
8. Church Attack: Quick Action Taken But Guilty Being Let Off?
Four days ago, a group of over fifteen to twenty men, mostly young boys attacked a church in Kachna village on the outskirts of Raipur. They damaged property, shouted slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, and attacked men and women who were immersed in prayer on Sunday morning. Prompt action was taken, and seven people were arrested by Chhattisgarh Police.
But the police are yet to tie any of those arrested to an organisation even though the president of Chattisgarh’s Christian Forum, Arjun Pannalal, had alleged that the men were Bajrang Dal activists.
While police say that there is evidence to suggest that the hall may have been built on encroached land, these claims are being seen as an attempt at moving away from acting against organisations behind the attack, The Indian Express reports.
As the report adds, “How the state government deals with the investigations in this second phase is now crucial to how this story plays out.”
9. Subhash Chandra Bose’s Nephew is BJP’s West Bengal CM Candidate
Chandra Bose, the grandnephew of Subhas Chandra Bose, will be the BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate against Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in the upcoming West Bengal Assembly polls. “Chandra Kumar Bose ji will be the candidate against CM Mamata Banerjee,” said HRD Minister Smriti Irani in a press conference.
Asked about his chances, Bose said it was not up to him, but the people of West Bengal.
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