QBullet: 74% Voter Turnout in Himachal; Odd-Even Returns in Delhi
Here’s a roundup of the top stories of the day.
1. Himachal Elections: 74% Turnout Recorded, Women Come out in Large Numbers
People in Himachal Pradesh voted in big numbers on Thursday to pick the new assembly, with the hill state with five million voters recording a turnout of 74% amid reports of widespread glitches in voting machines on an otherwise peaceful day.
The ruling Congress and the BJP are locked in a tight battle in the state, which became the first to have voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines used at all 7,525 polling stations.
As many as 337 candidates are in the fray for 68 assembly seats, the results of which would be declared on 18 December along with those for Gujarat, where election will be held in two phases in December.
2. Delhi Battles Smog: Odd-Even Returns, Schools Shut
As a toxic cloud of smog enveloped the national capital on the third day on Thursday, the administration took several emergency steps as precautionary measures, in a situation which is likely to persist for another 48 hours. The visibility was 200 metres in the morning, but it improved gradually to 800 metres by 5.30 PM. “The maximum temperature was recorded at 30.5 degrees Celsius, a notch above normal,” a MeT official said.
The levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10, which are ultrafine particulates, remained multiple times above the permissible limits, forcing people to breathe noxious air and triggering health complications.
3. I-T Raids Jaya TV Chennai Office, Dinakaran Says Not Intimidated by Scare Tactics
Income Tax department raided the Chennai office of Jaya TV and 186 other locations early on Thursday morning over allegations of tax evasion. Jaya TV is controlled by jailed AIADMK leader V K Sasikala’s family and is considered to be politically disposed in favour of deposed leaders Sasikala and T T V Dinakaran.
“It’s not about TV alone, but shell companies,” an I-T official said. The raid began at 6.30 am and is ongoing. The raids — which are a part of ‘Operation Clean Money’ searches — also cover the premises of Midas Distilleries and Jazz Cinemas which are perceived to be associated with some of those linked to Jaya TV, PTI reported.
4. Gurugram Police Planted Knife on Bus Conductor, Finds CBI Probe
The CBI's probe into the killing of Pradyumn has revealed that Gurugram police planted the murder weapon, a knife, on school bus conductor Ashok Kumar as they accused him of being the killer and declared the case as "solved" within hours.
The two-month-long probe has established that the knife belonged to the 16-year-old student of Ryan school who has been detained in connection with the shocking crime. "The knife was bought by the juvenile from a local shop and he brought it with him inside the school. This is the only knife which was recovered and so the claim of Gurgaon police that Ashok Kumar brought it inside the school and used it to kill the boy has no basis whatsoever," a CBI officer told TOI on the condition of anonymity.
5. Constitution Bench to Hear Plea on Bid to Sway SC Judge
A Constitution Bench, on 13 November, will hear a petition regarding a corruption case involving a former Odisha High Court judge who allegedly conspired with a "hawala dealer" to influence the outcome of a case pending in the Supreme Court in favour of a debarred private medical college.
The petition seeks an investigation into the case by a special team, supervised by a former Chief Justice of India. The Bench will comprise "first five judges of the Supreme Court in the order of seniority".
The medical college case in question was heard by a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra in August/September this year.
6. Bhopal Gangrape: Junked Medical Report Said Sex Was Consensual, Congress Alleges Cover-Up
The opposition Congress has accused the Madhya Pradesh government of trying a cover-up after a medical report, which has since been junked, of a 19-year-old gang-rape victim said the “sex was consensual”.
The civil services aspirant was raped allegedly by four rag-pickers close to the government railway police’s Habibganj station in Bhopal on 31 October, causing widespread anger as fighting over police jurisdiction delayed the filing of complaint.
The initial medical report, prepared after the woman was examined on 1 November, at the Sultania Zanana Hospital said, “Two boys named… took her near the sewage and then into the tunnel where they had sexual intercourse with her with her consent of (sic) will.”
7. GST Council to Tighten Norms for Composition Scheme
The twenty-third meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council in Guwahati on Friday is set to tighten the noose on players who, authorities believe, have started splitting their business operations into smaller entities to avoid higher tax liabilities.
The Council is also set to cut tax rates on a large number of product lines.
The Council is expected to further liberalise the Composition Scheme for small businesses and traders to pay a flat and low tax on their turnover.
The annual turnover eligibility threshold is likely to be raised to ₹1.5 crore from the ₹1 crore limit, imposed at the Council’s October meeting.
8. Solar Scam: Kerala Ex-CM Chandy 'Got' 2.6 Crore Bribe
The judicial probe report on the solar scam, tabled in the Kerala assembly by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday, contained damning remarks against several former ruling coalition politicians — including unverified allegations of sexual exploitation of the main accused Saritha S Nair.
The probe panel is unequivocal on allegations that former chief minister Oommen Chandy received bribe from Team Solar — the company founded by Biju Radhakrishnan and Saritha — and that he, contrary to his repeated claims, knew Saritha and had met her in person. The commission claimed that Biju and she paid Rs 2.16 crore as bribe to Chandy in several instalments through his trusted lieutenants.
9. Connectivity Projects Boost India-Bangladesh Ties
India and Bangladesh built on their mutual connectivity initiative as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and counterpart Sheikh Hasina flagged off yet another train service between the two countries on Thursday. The weekly 'Bandhan Express' will run every Thursday between Kolkata and Khulna. The inauguration was attended by PM Modi, Hasina and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee via video link.
"We have inaugurated two rail bridges today (over rivers Meghna and Titaash). Built at a cost of about $100 million (Rs 651.55 crore), the bridges will help strengthen Bangladesh's rail network. Being a trusted partner in Bangladesh's development works is a matter of pride for India," Modi said.
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