QBullet: PM Visits Kedarnath; No Probe Against Raje’s Babus
1. In Kedarnath, PM Pledges to Devote Himself to a ‘Developed India’ by 2022
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, 20 October, offered prayers at the Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand and said his visit to the shrine strengthened his resolve to serve the nation. Stressing that “service to nation was service to god”, Modi took a pledge to devote himself to realising the dream of a “developed India” by the time the country marks 75 years of freedom, in 2022.
On the day, Modi also laid foundation stones of five major reconstruction projects at Kedarpuri while also attacking the Congress for not allowing him to carry out relief work after the 2013 deluge. The reconstruction projects include improved facilities for devotees, construction of retaining walls and ghats at the Mandakini and Saraswati rivers, an approach road to the shrine and reconstructing Adi Guru Shankaracharya’s tomb that was devastated in the 2013 deluge.
2. Less Pollution This Diwali but Delhi’s Air Quality Has Entered Severe Zone
The Capital’s air quality nosedived to ‘severe’ levels after Diwali, even though a Supreme Court ban on the sale of firecrackers in the region prevented a smoggy situation like the previous year.
The city witnessed extremely high pollution levels – its worst in 17 years – around Diwali in 2016, forcing the apex court and several environmental bodies to take remedial measures.
The last time Delhi had witnessed severe air pollution was around 10 months ago, in December 2016.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi stood at 403 on Friday, markedly better than 2016’s post-Diwali count of 445. However, it did not fare as well as the same period in 2015 – when the AQI count measured just 360.
Good air quality, in this index, falls in the 0-50 range.
3.Rajasthan Law: No Probe Against Judges, Officers Without Sanction
The Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan is ready with a Bill to replace an Ordinance promulgated last month which prohibits investigation without prior sanction against “a Judge or a Magistrate or a public servant” for any “act done by them while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of their official duties”.
In the assembly session that starts Monday, the government will bring in The Code of Criminal Procedure (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill to replace The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, promulgated on 6 September.
The Ordinance made additions to sections 156 (3) and 190 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which empower a magistrate to take cognizance of an offence and order an investigation.
4. Ranjit Kumar Resigns as Solicitor General, Cites Personal Issues
Months after getting a two-year extension, solicitor general Ranjit Kumar on Friday, 20 October, resigned from the second most important law officer's post, after the attorney general, citing health issues in his family requiring him to devote more time at home.
With Kumar's resignation, the law officers' team put in place in 2014 after Narendra Modi-led BJP stormed to power at the Centre has seen four casualties. First to go was Mukul Rohatgi, who requested the government not to renew his engagement as attorney general in June. He was replaced by veteran lawyer KK Venugopal.
Two additional solicitors general – PS Patwalia and Neeraj Kishan Kaul – found private practice more attractive than the law officer's job and requested the government to relieve them of their responsibilities. The government obliged and their posts have been vacant for four months.
Source: Times of India
5. J&K: Mob Tries to Set Mentally-Challenged Man Aflame for Being ‘Braid Chopper’
A mob allegedly tried to set a mentally-challenged man on fire after thrashing him in north Kashmir’s Sopore on suspicion of being a braid chopper, the police said on Friday, 20 October.
In a video circulated on social media, the mob is heard shouting that the man, Wasim Ahmad Tantray, should be set on fire.
A spokesperson of the Sopore Police said they got hold of an alleged braid chopper in the fruit ‘mandi’ area. When the police reached there, they found the mob “ruthlessly” beating up a person. “Some miscreants were trying to run a tractor over him.”
Tantray’s condition is critical and he has been shifted to a hospital in Srinagar, the spokesperson added.
The police have registered an FIR and the culprits have been identified.
6. CBI Seeks Govt Nod to Appeal Against Clean Chit in Bofors
Moving to reopen litigation in the Bofors scandal twelve years after the Delhi High Court quashed all proceedings against the Hinduja brothers in the case, the CBI has sought government permission to challenge the 2005 ruling in the Supreme Court. In a letter to the government, the CBI has sought permission to file a Special Leave Petition against the High Court ruling. This will effectively overturn the stand taken by the then UPA government.
As reported by The Indian Express on 2 September, the CBI, in a 22 June note to the Central Agency Section of the Department of Legal Affairs (Ministry of Law and Justice), stated that it did not file the SLP since it did not get permission from the then “competent authority”.
(Source: Indian Express)
7. Barber Made to Lick Saliva, Beaten for Entering Sarpanch’s House in Bihar
Patna Police have named eight people, including a sarpanch, in an FIR on Friday, 20 October, for handing out vigilante justice to a 54-year-old barber who was allegedly made to spit and then lick the saliva, and was beaten with slippers by women in Ajnaur village in Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s home district of Biharsharif.
The infuriated sarpanch convened a meeting in the house one Dharmendra Yadav of the village on Thursday, 19 October, to decide on a punishment for the barber for his ‘audacity’.
“He perhaps went to the house of sarpanch on Wednesday evening for tobacco when no male member was present,” Nalanda DM SM Thyiagrajan told HT.
(Source: Hindustan Times)
8. Andhra Pradesh CM Unhappy Over Polavaram Project Delay, Wants Centre to Step In
The execution of the ambitious Polavaram irrigation project in Andhra Pradesh has run into trouble with Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu approaching the central government to replace the construction company involved for delays that could impact its deadline, official sources told The Indian Express.
Sources said Naidu is “extremely unhappy” with the project allegedly lagging behind schedule and unlikely to meet the revised deadline of April 2019 – the original deadline was June 2018.
The project is being executed by Transstroy Ltd, which is owned by Cherukuri Sridhar, son-in-law of Telugu Desam Party MP Rayapati Sambasiva Rao. Transstroy was awarded the contract in March 2013 when the Congress was in power. Rao was a Congress MP at the time before switched to the TDP in March 2014.
9. Aadhaar Centres: Banks Question UIDAI’s Authority to Issue Directions
The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) has questioned the jurisdiction of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in issuing directions to banks under the Aadhaar Act, according to two people aware of the matter.
IBA has written to the ministry of electronics and information technology, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the finance ministry’s department of financial services (DFS), arguing that only the central bank is empowered to issue directives to banks under the Banking Regulation Act, the two people said on condition of anonymity.
On 14 July, UIDAI first asked banks to open Aadhaar enrolment and updating facilities in at least one-tenth of their branches by the end of August. Later, it extended the deadline by a month and said it will impose a Rs 20,000 fine per uncovered branch after 30 September, the PTI reported on 5 September, citing UIDAI chief executive Ajay Bhushan Pandey.