QBullet: Sitharaman-Mattis Meet; BHU VC Courts Another Controversy

Read The Quint’s compilation of all the top stories from across the country on QBullet.

7 min read
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with her US counterpart James Mattis. 

1. India to US: ‘Won’t Send Soldiers to Afghanistan’

India will not send troops to war-torn Afghanistan, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said after a meeting with her visiting American counterpart on 26 September, but pledged to help the troubled country build infrastructure and stamp out terrorist safe havens.

The announcement clears the government’s stand in the backdrop of President Donald Trump’s speech this August when he, outlining his new strategy for Afghanistan, urged India to assist efforts to restore security in the country.

“There shall not be boots from India on the ground in Afghanistan,” Sitharaman said at a joint media briefing with US defence secretary James Mattis, the first high-ranking cabinet official in the Trump administration to visit India.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

2. BHU VC Pushes for Appointing Hospital Head Indicted for Sexual Harassment

At the centre of a storm over the protests by women students on his campus, the Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is caught in another controversy. Barely a day before the government’s freeze on recruitment kicks in given that he is retiring in two months, VC Girish Chandra Tripathi pushed several faculty appointments, including one of a teacher indicted for sexual harassment, in the meeting of the Executive Council (EC) held on 26 September.

According to HRD Ministry’s order, all Central university heads are prohibited from making appointments in the last two months of their term.

Tripathi retires as BHU VC on 27 November. As per the government directive, he is disallowed from making appointments starting 27 September, that is 27 September.

The proposal to regularise OP Upadhyay’s appointment as Medical Superintendent of Sir Sunderlal Hospital, on the BHU campus, met with resistance in the EC meeting after a member objected to the move citing Upadhyay’s conviction for sexual harassment in a magistrate court in Fiji.

3. BHU Protest Was Mishandled, Probe Report Likely to Say

A high-level official report on the recent violence and arson in Banaras Hindu University (BHU) has reportedly noted that proper and timely communication with protesting girl students by the varsity administration could have nipped the problem in the bud and prevented it from escalating.

On 26 September, the BHU Vice Chancellor, too, ordered a probe into the incidents headed by a retired High Court judge.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Rajiv Kumar had sought a report from divisional commissioner of Varanasi Nitin Ramesh Gokarn and ADG Varanasi zone Vishwajit Mohapatra. Gokarn told TOI that the joint report compiled after recording statements of students, wardens of girl hostels, university officials and police was submitted to Kumar on 25 September night.

(Source: Times of India)

4. Ishrat Jehan Case Judge Quits After Transfer to Allahabad HC

QBullet: Sitharaman-Mattis Meet; BHU VC Courts Another Controversy
(Photo: Image Altered by The Quint)

Justice Jayant Patel of the Karnataka High Court has resigned in protest against a move to transfer him to Allahabad.

The Supreme Court collegium that decides transfers of judges shifted Patel, the second senior-most judge in Karnataka and tipped to be the acting chief justice of the state’s high court after Chief Justice SK Mukherjee’s retirement on October 9.

“I have put in my papers on 25 September. The Chief Justice of India has sent me a letter seeking my consent to be transferred to Allahabad High Court. However, I choose to resign,” he said over the phone from Ahmedabad, where he is spending the court’s autumn break.

Before Karnataka, Patel was a judge in the Gujarat High Court where he ordered a CBI investigation into killing of Ishrat Jehan, a Mumbai college girl shot dead with three men by police in 2004 on the suspicion of being a terrorist.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

5. Honeypreet’s Bail Plea Nixed; HC Asks Her to Surrender

Gurmeet Ram Rahim and Honeypreet Insan.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim and Honeypreet Insan.
(Photo: The Quint)

The Delhi High Court on 26 September dismissed an anticipatory bail petition filed by Honeypreet Insan, a confidant of jailed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim.

Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal questioned if the bail plea filed was bona fide, saying it was filed in Delhi to buy time and delay proceedings in a Panchkula court. The HC told Honeypreet, a resident of Haryana, that "the easiest way out is that you surrender".

Honeypreet is facing charges of sedition and inciting violence after the conviction of the Dera chief in twin rape cases. The Delhi HC order was based on the ground that she has been evading arrest and hence is not entitled to any discretionary relief. The high court has reserved the order on the bail plea of the 36-year-old after hearing the arguments of her counsel and those of the Delhi and Haryana police.

(Source: Times of India)

6. Hadiya's Father: 'She Is My Life, Have Nothing Against Conversion but This Is Shady'

Akhila alias Hadiya
Akhila alias Hadiya
(Photo:The News Minute

Four months after his daughter was sent home by the Kerala High Court, which nullified her marriage and put her under police watch, Akhila aka Hadiya’s father KM Asokan said he was waiting for the NIA to submit its report in the Supreme Court.

I will obey whatever the court says. Once the NIA submits the report, I hope I will also get a chance to read it. Then I will read it out to my daughter, and will be done with my job as a father

Asokan hoped the report would help Hadiya realise the “dangerous path” she had chosen by converting to Islam. The NIA is likely to submit the report on October 3.

(Source: Indian Express)

7. CBI to SC: 'Wanted SLP in Bofors but Govt Didn't Clear'

File photo of Indian soldiers carrying shells near a Bofors FH-77B 155mm artillery gun.
File photo of Indian soldiers carrying shells near a Bofors FH-77B 155mm artillery gun.
(Photo: Reuters)

The CBI has told the Supreme Court that it was of the view that a special leave petition (SLP) should be filed against the 2005 Delhi High Court order acquitting the Hinduja brothers in the Bofors case, but it could not do so as the then UPA government did not grant permission.

In a recent disclosure made to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, the CBI, when asked why it had failed to pursue the matter, said: “Vide letter dated 23.03.2017, the Central Agency Section of the Supreme Court of India desired to know the view of CBI on this matter as the Hon’ble Court had enquired about the stand of CBI/UOI. CBI, vide its letter dated 22.06.2017, conveyed its view that CBI, as investigative agency, was of the view that SLP should be preferred against the order of Delhi High Court dated 31.05.2005, however, since permission for filing SLP was not accorded to the CBI by the competent authority, no SLP was preferred.”

(Source: Indian Express)

8. Cigarette Shops May Soon Need Licenses, Sell No Other Items

Tobacconists must register with the local civic authority and they can’t sell candies and colas on the side that attract nonsmokers to the shop, the government proposed in an attempt to reduce tobacco abuse in India.

The Union Health Ministry wrote on September 21 to the states to develop a mechanism to provide permission or authorisation through the municipal authority to retail shops selling tobacco products such as cigarette, bidi, chewable gutkha and khaini.

The idea is to track every single shop selling tobacco products by making them register with the local municipal authority. Government should be able to identify all cigarette shops running anywhere in the country.
Arun Jha, Economic Advisor with the ministry

(Source: Hindustan Times)

9. Rules Listed for States to Vie for IITs, AIIMS

Image for representative purpose. 
Image for representative purpose. 
(Photo: PTI)

In a bid to "depoliticise" project allocation and approvals, the government has introduced competition among states for sanction of hospitals, educational institutions, infrastructure projects and hosting of national events through a set of guidelines.

The competition, sources said, aims to promote transparency and reduce incentives for favouring constituencies and states or setting up pork barrel projects that seek to secure government funds for an area. It looks to speed up project approval and rollout by addressing key requisites like land selection etc.

Such projects often face non-availability of suitable land, delay in clearances, political opposition, lack of infrastructure and others which result in missed deadlines along with cost overruns. In meetings with officials, PM Narendra Modi has sought ways to reduce the planning-to-implementation period.

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