QBullet: Uniform Civil Code Row; Indo-Russia’s Deal on Air Defence

Read the latest news from across the country.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo: AP)

1. India, Russia to Sign Deal on S-400 Air Defence System at Goa Summit

The annual India-Russia summit on Saturday will see a pact on the delivery of advanced air defence system, framework agreement for two new nuclear reactors at Kudankulam and measures to step up investment flows with a greater accent on Make in India flagship.

President Vladimir Putin said Russia remained the top supplier of advanced weapons and defence technology to its “privileged strategic partner” India and added that Moscow and other BRICS nations were determined to back New Delhi’s fight against terror.

Russia remains in the lead in terms of both direct supplies of most advanced weapons and military equipment and conducting joint researches with India as well as producing goods for military purposes. Our countries actively collaborate in the military technical field.
Vladimir Putin

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin will meet in Goa for the 17th annual India-Russia summit in Goa on Saturday.

“An agreement on the delivery of S-400 ‘Triumph’ anti-missile defence systems and other deals will be signed as a result of the talks,” Putin’s aide, Yuri Ushakov, was quoted as saying by the Russian agencies.

2. Centre Stands Firm as Row Rages Over Uniform Civil Code

An influential Muslim body said on Thursday the BJP-led government was creating an “internal war” by trying to review the community’s personal laws on divorce and polygamy, setting the stage for a political showdown ahead of assembly elections in five states early next year.

The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said it will resist the Centre’s attempt to replace diverse customary laws governing marriage, divorce and inheritance with a set of identical civil laws, the so-called uniform civil code.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told HT that the government was steadfast on its stand that ‘triple talaq’ – under which a man divorces his wife by saying the Urdu word for divorce three times – must go.

“All communities have different customs and traditions. Our Constitution accepts that. It’s a dangerous idea to treat them with a single yardstick. We oppose this,” Maulana Wali Rehmani, a Muslim leader said.

(Source: The Hindustan Times)

Also Read:

Taslima Nasreen Asks Muslim Law Board to ‘F**k Off’ on Twitter

Why Is India Dragging Its Feet on the Uniform Civil Code?

View: Uniform Civil Code Could Engender Reforms in Personal Laws

3. NIA Mulls Chargesheet Against Masood Azhar in Pathankot Terror Attack

Looking to pin down Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar for the terrorist attack on the Pathankot IAF base, the National Investigation Agency is considering filing a chargesheet naming Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf and two other "handlers" involved in the terror strike.

Masood Azhar, chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad. (Photo: Reuters)
Masood Azhar, chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad. (Photo: Reuters)
The chargesheet is expected to reflect India’s determination to pursue cases against Azhar and maintain pressure on the UN Security Council to sanction the terrorist mastermind, despite China exercising a veto on behalf of Pakistan. The two handlers likely to be named by NIA are also Pakistani nationals Kashif Jaan and Shahid Latif.

After completing its investigations and collecting substantial evidence by way of forensics and phone taps, the NIA is in a position to squarely blame Jaish and its chief. The Indian agency has also approached the US for more technical evidence.

According to an official, who didn't wish to be identified, the NIA is examining legal options on filing a chargesheet against Azhar and other JeM members "in absentia". Once legal ramifications are examined, approval of the home ministry will be sought.

(Source: The Times of India)

Also Read: Pathankot: Why IAF Officers Are Shying Away From Court of Inquiry

4. Land Acquisition Bill: Consensus Eluded Centre, Now Four States Relax Their Land Laws

The Centre’s inability to build a political consensus for its land acquisition law in 2015 notwithstanding, four major states – Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha – have taken decisive steps to free up regulations relating to commercial use of land.

While Gujarat has already passed its own land acquisition law, which was accorded assent by the President in August, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha have expressed intent in making business easier through the adoption of the Centre’s model land-leasing law.

In August, the Gujarat Assembly passed a Bill, allowing amendments to the Centre’s 2013 Land Acquisition Act, including relaxation of the clauses of social impact assessment and need for consent of landowners.

(Source: The Indian Express)

Also Read: Demystifying the Land Acquisition Ordinance: Social Impact

5. Panama Papers: Top Arms Dealer and Son Linked to Offshore Firms in Panama, BVI, Seychelles

London-based arms agent Sudhir Choudhrie and his family members are beneficiaries of a Panamanian foundation set up in 2004. Records of Mossack Fonseca – the law firm whose data was mined for the Panama Papers investigation – show that Choudhrie’s elder son, Bhanu, is director in two British Virgin Islands (BVI) companies since 2002. He is also named as director and shareholder of two Seychelles companies formed in 2007.

In 2006, Sudhir Choudhrie shifted base from Delhi to London after his name figured in CBI probes into the contract to upgrade 130-mm field guns and the Barak missile deal. In 2002, Bhanu Choudhrie set up C&C Alpha Group, a family-owned private equity firm, in UK. Subsequently, both Sudhir and Bhanu became UK citizens.

According to MF records, Bhanu Choudhrie and his younger brother Dhairya are equal beneficiaries of Stellar International Art Foundation (Panama). In their absence, their respective families – wife and children – and parents Sudhir and Anita Choudhrie are named as equal beneficiaries, failing which the assets would go to Path2Success, the Choudhrie family charity in UK.

(Source: The Indian Express)

Also Read:

The What’s What and Who’s Who of the Panama Papers Leak

Panama Papers Case: India’s Strategy to Obtain Relevant Documents

6. We Are Frustrated With Pakistan, Says Sheikh Hasina

Bangladesh feels “frustrated” with Pakistan over its export of terror, but Dhaka’s reasons for pulling out of the SAARC summit in Islamabad were “different from India’s,” says Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, attempting to draw a distinction between supporting India on terrorism after the Uri attacks and supporting the subsequent cross-LoC strikes.

It was over the situation in Pakistan that we decided to pull out. Terror (from Pakistan) has gone everywhere, which is why many of us felt frustrated by Pakistan. India pulled out because of the (Uri attack), but for Bangladesh the reason is totally different.
Sheikh Hasina
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks during the Climate Summit at the UN headquarters in New York, 23 September 2014. (Photo: Reuters)
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks during the Climate Summit at the UN headquarters in New York, 23 September 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

She was speaking to The Hindu in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview at her official ‘Ganabhaban’ residence in Dhaka ahead of her visit to India to attend the BRICS- BIMSTEC outreach, involving nations surrounding the Bay of Bengal in Goa on 15 and 16 October.

Hasina said one of the other main reasons for her government’s SAARC pullout was the hurt felt over Pakistan’s strident criticism of the war crimes tribunal process in Bangladesh, in which a dozen Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, accused of brutalities during the liberation war in 1971, have been hanged or indicted.

There is a lot of pressure on me to cut off all diplomatic ties with Pakistan for their behaviour. But I have said the relations will remain, and we will have to resolve our problems. The fact is, we won our liberation war from Pakistan, and they were a defeated force.

7. BJP Set to Have a Minister in Arunachal Govt, Will Be State No 14 in Party Kitty

The BJP has decided to join the government of Pema Khandu in Arunachal Pradesh. The Indian Express has learnt that Tamiyo Taga, leader of the BJP in the state assembly, will soon be inducted in the Khandu cabinet.

This will make Arunachal Pradesh the fourteenth state where the BJP is in power – and the sixth state where it will share power with regional parties.

Pema Khandu takes oath as Arunachal CM. (Photo: IANS)
Pema Khandu takes oath as Arunachal CM. (Photo: IANS)

Last month, Khandu and his colleagues deserted the Congress and joined the People’s Party of Arunachal. Only former chief minister Nabam Tuki is now with the Congress.

In a House of 60 members, the PPA has 43, the BJP 11 and the Congress only one. Two MLAs are Independent, while three seats are vacant.

The PPA is a member of the North East Democratic Alliance, which is part of the NDA. In the first week of October, when Khandu met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi, he invited the BJP to join his government.

(Source: The Indian Express)

Also Read: SC’s Message to BJP on Arunachal: Don’t Meddle With Constitution

8. Seven Top IITs Will Get a Free Hand to Fix Fee Structures

Seven top Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will be allowed to fix their own fee structure without consulting the apex council that governs these premier institutes for technical education in the country.

The move to grant them fee autonomy is part of a larger project called Vishwajeet, which is aimed at assisting the IITs to improve their global university rankings. None of the IITs are in the top 200 of the prestigious Times Higher Education World University Ranking for 2016-17, in which IIT Bombay is the lone entry in the 351-400 rankings.

“The decision to fix the fee of students would be delegated to the board of governors (BoG) of these institutions,” a source said.

At present, the fee structure is determined by the IIT council, the top decision-making body, which is chaired by the Union human resource development minister and includes IIT directors and board of governors of each institute.

Each IIT charges Rs 2 lakh from BTech students, though these institutes spend almost Rs 6 lakh a year on each student.

(Source: The Hindustan Times)

Also Read:

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9. Arvind Kejriwal's Surat Rally on Sunday Targets BJP

AAP supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is at it again. To fish in troubled waters, he is all set to descend on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat on Saturday, and this time he is changing tack. Instead of focusing mainly on caste equations in the state (Patidars and dalits), he will target a larger audience by raising local issues at his proposed Surat rally on Sunday.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. (Photo: PTI)
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. (Photo: PTI)

However, to prevent Kejriwal making any dent in the saffron citadel, Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani played the nationalist card and described him as a “Pak hero”.

AAP leaders planning the visit indicated that to make the party’s presence felt in Gujarat, it needed to rise above caste equations and reach out to all communities. Kejriwal is expected to blend caste issues with other local concerns by speaking of corruption, unemployment, land acquisition laws, the state of traders and businessmen and the condition of dalits and tribals.

(Source: The Asian Age)

Also Read:

Will Hardik Patel Be AAP’s Ally in BJP-Ruled Gujarat?

Battlefield Gujarat: In Cong’s Absence, AAP Takes the Fight to BJP

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