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QBullet: Modi Blames Pak at All-Party Meet; No Ban on Diesel Cars

The Quint brings the top news stories from around the country.

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India
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1. Centre Discusses Kashmir Unrest in All-Party Meeting

Addressing the unrest in Kashmir in an all-party meet on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi minced no words in blaming cross-border terrorism from Pakistan] for the phase of violence in Kashmir. The series of incidents have left 55 civilians dead in a month.

Modi asked the Ministry of External Affairs to get in touch with expatriates from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, living around the world, in order to acquire information about “pitiable conditions” in the region. This is a clear indicator of the growing diplomatic hostilities between India and neighbouring Pakistan.

Pakistan has forgotten that it bombards its own citizens from fighter planes.
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, India

Islamabad’s constant interference in matters of Kashmir has demonstrably irked Modi, and elicited several reactions from Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

The PM said the government would reach out to the Valley, adding that PoK is very much a part of Kashmir, and that the government’s approach would keep in mind the state in its entirety and not just one region.

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2. Parliament Monsoon Session Ends With Exemplary Productivity, 14/15 Bills Passed

With the Goods and Services Tax constitutional amendment Bill being the biggest winner of the monsoon session, the Parliament functioned overtime this monsoon season. According to figures provided by the government, the Lok Sabha worked 110.84% of their scheduled time, while the Rajya Sabha working for 99.54% of it.

Fifteen bills were introduced in the session, with Lok Sabha passing all 15 and Rajya Sabha giving its approval to 14 of them.

A few bills, like the House, Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill and the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill were introduced and passed on the same day. The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill took less than half an hour to be cleared in each House.

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3. Beijing Wrongly Blamed, NSG Door for India “Not Tightly Shut”: China

After several scathing reports painted India as a sore loser in the failed bid to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in June, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency has now said that the NSG door for India was “not tightly closed.”

Just as China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi began a visit to India, state mouth-piece Xinhua argued that India’s accusation that Beijing stood in the way of the coveted NSG membership was unwarranted.

For Xinhua to publish such a report perhaps indicates a softening of China’s sentiments. Xinhua functions exclusively under the Chinese State Council.

So far, there is no precedent for a non-NPT signatory to become a NSG member. Many inside the body that monitors the global flow of nuclear materials insist prudence in handing a membership card to any non-treaty party. However, New Delhi should not be downhearted as the door to the NSG is not tightly closed.
Excerpt from the Xinhua article
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4. Big Diesel Cars Can Return Says SC, but With 1% Cess

Nearly eight months after the Supreme Court banned registration of diesel SUVs and high-end vehicles with an engine capacity higher than 2000 cc in Delhi-NCR, the prohibition was lifted on Friday, provided one percent green cess was levied on the former showroom price of the vehicle.

As rampant pollution levels in the capital made news headlines, the apex court took the decision which was met with great resentment, especially by big auto-makers like Mahindra, Toyota and others.

The ‘environment protection charge’, most likely transferred to the buyer, will be a pre-condition before transport authorities in Delhi and NCR can register any new diesel vehicle with engine capacity above 2000 cc.

Deposit of 1 percent of ex-showroom price of the vehicle as environment protection charge shall entitle manufactures/dealers to have cars registered in Delhi-NCR. Our order dated December 16, 2015 shall stand modified to that extent.
SC bench led by CJI TS Thakur
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5. Railway Budget and General Budget to be Merged From the Next Financial Year

Putting an end to a practice of over 90 years, the finance ministry has agreed to the proposal of merging the annual railway budget with the general budget.

The ministry has reportedly put together a five-member committee of officers to iron out the workings of the exercise. Since the advent of coalition governments in the period after 1996, political supremos have used the railway budget to dole out favours and goodies, and to construct their own image.

With the portfolio usually given to regional heavyweights, the railway budget often reflected where the political priorities of the ruling government lay.

The move to discard the British-era practice has come after a two-member committee comprised of Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai recommended the exercise be scrapped.

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6. Allahabad High Court Orders CBI Probe in Bulandshahr Gangrape Case

With the investigation in the Bulandshahr gangrape case finally taking shape after weeks of alleged lapses, the Allahabad High Court on Friday ordered a CBI probe into the heinous 29 July incident where a group of highway robbers intercepted a car with six members of a Noida-based family, and raped a minor girl and her mother after dragging them out of the car.

The high court, which had earlier taken suo motu cognisance of the incident, said it intended to “monitor the investigation into the case”. A day before, the Uttar Pradesh government submitted a status report on the investigation in a sealed cover.

According to the report, the seven accused in the case allegedly planned the crime days in advance. They reportedly even carried out a recce of the site beforehand.

The group made Kithore in Meerut district their ‘base’ and the accused sought help from a local, identified as Rayeesuddin, police said.

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7. Two Killed, Six Injured in Suspected ULFA Attack in Assam’s Tinsukia District

Days after 13 civilians were killed in an attack in a crowded market place in Assam’s Kokrajhar district, suspected ULFA (Independent) militants opened fire indiscriminately on a group of Hindi-speaking people in Tinsukia district on Friday.

Two people, identified as Kishori Shah and his son Rajesh Shah, were killed in the attack. Six others were injured. While Kishori died on the spot, his son, Rajesh, succumbed to his injuries later at the Doomdooma government civil hospital.

Ahead of Independence Day, security forces have intensified operations against militants in the region.

According to police, there were four or five gunmen who opened fire at a crowd gathered for a kirtan recital. The incident occurred in Bamungaon village under Philobari police station in Tinsukia district.

Philobari is known to have hindi-speaking settlers, migrants from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, who have often been the target of ULFA’s attacks.

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8. CJI Chides Govt for Stalling Appointment of HC Judges

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Friday lashed out on the government for stalling the appointment of High Court judges, accusing the government of bringing the judiciary to a standstill.

The tension of over eight months between the Supreme Court and the Centre finally found an outlet in the open courtroom.

The bench conceded to problems in “backroom discussions” between the Centre and the CJI-led collegium to agree upon a new memorandum of procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges to the SC and HCs, after the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act was scrapped by the apex court in October last year.

We are working on framing of MoP but the process cannot be allowed to hijack the appointment of judges to High Courts. There are 478 vacancies in HCs, which is 44.3% of the total strength of judges. HCs have four million cases pending. The entire system has collapsed.
The CJI told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi
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9. Centre All Set to Revoke Powers From CBFC With A Fresh Act

Not long after the outcry over the Central Board of Film Certification’s (CBFC) indiscriminate censoring of Anurag Kashyap’s Udta Punjab, the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry on Friday said that the Centre is looking to introduce a new Cinematograph Act which will revamp the role of the Censor Board.

While the Cinematograph Act 1952 validates the CBFC’s right to certify and review a film for public exhibition, the extent of the Board’s power came by way of an amendment in 1959.

We have decided to redo the Cinematograph Act. We are in advanced stages of discussion.
Rajyavardhan Rathore, MoS for I&B

The committee headed by veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal had also submitted a report when the Udta Punjab issue had imploded, suggesting a revision in the process of certifying and thereby ‘censoring’ films.

Source: Livemint

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