L A T E S T      N E W S

CAG can audit private telecom companies' accounts: HC

NEW DELHI: In a significant ruling, the Delhi High Court on Monday held that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) can audit accounts of private telecom operators under the relevant provisions of the law.

A Bench of justices Pradeep Nandrajog and V. Kameswar Rao permitted the top accounting body to conduct audit of private telecom companies under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act.

It rejected the separate petitions of the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers (AUSPI) and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) filed against the decision of Telecom tribunal TDSAT on the issue in 2010.

The high court had reserved its order in November 2013 after conducting marathon hearings on the issue, where it took on record submissions of the Centre, CAG and the petitioners — COAI and AUSPI.

Both the associations had argued, in essence, that CAG can’t audit private companies.

To achieve the purpose of audit, the operators had pointed out that they have already put in place mechanism of special audit as envisaged in the licence agreement between the Department of Telecom and the companies.

The firms had claimed they maintain accounts in line with TRAI rules and can’t be forced to furnish financials to CAG.

The CAG had vigorously staked its claim to audit the accounts and sought revenue sharing details from the telecom companies. — PTI Back









AAP distances itself from Bhushan’s remarks on Kashmir

NEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party on Monday distanced itself from the views of its senior leader Prashant Bhushan that a referendum should be carried out in Kashmir to decide on deployment of the Army to deal with security threats in the Valley.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said decisions on internal security are taken based on the law and order situation and there cannot have referendum on deployment of the Army in Kashmir.

“Deployment of the Army within the country should be decided on the basis of internal security threat. There is no question of a referendum on this. But we believe the sentiments of locals should be respected. Otherwise democracy will be under threat,” he told reporters when asked about Bhushan’s comments on the issue on Sunday.

He said, “AAP does not support referendum on such issues.”

Bhushan had said a referendum should be carried out in Kashmir to decide on deployment of the army to deal with internal security threats in the Valley.

He had also batted for lifting of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in J&K, saying it gave the Army immunity in cases of human rights violation while causing alienation among the people.

“It is very important for us to win the hearts and minds of the people and prevent alienation. For that, the first thing which needs to be done is to remove AFSPA, which gives the army immunity in (cases of) human rights violations,” Bhushan had told a TV channel.

The Army’s deployment for internal security purposes should be effected only with the consent of the people, except in cases where the rights of minorities need to be protected, he had said.

In 2011, Bhushan had triggered a controversy by supporting the idea of holding a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. — PTIBack











Delhi gangrape case: Centre says juvenile can’t be tried twice

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that the law did not allow the juvenile, convicted by a juvenile board in the December 16 gangrape, to be tried twice for the same offence as sought by the parents of victims who demanded his retrial by a criminal court.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development said it would be legally and constitutionally impermissible to put him on trial again as the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Board has already given its verdict of guilt of the juvenile and the prayer for his fresh trial has been rendered redundant.

“As such, under Article 20 of the Constitution as also Section 300 of criminal procedure code, there can be no second trial for the same offence, and the adjudication of guilt of the juvenile offender having been determined by the JJ Board under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, the second prayer does not survive nor was sustainable,” the ministry said in its affidavit.

The Ministry’s reply came on a plea filed by the father of the December 16 gangrape victim that the juvenility of an accused needs to be ascertained by a criminal court and not by the Juvenile Justice Board.

The issue came up for hearing before a bench headed by Justice B.S. Chauhan, which tagged the petition filed by victim’s parents with the plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy who has also sought fresh interpretation of the term juvenile.

Dr Swamy has also contended that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act provides for a “straitjacket” interpretation of the term ‘juvenile’ that a person below the age of 18 years is a minor and it was in violation of the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and Beijing Rules on the issue.

The UNCRC and Beijing Rules say the presumption of “the age of criminal responsibility” be fixed while “bearing in mind the mental and intellectual maturity” of offender, he has said.

Raising the identical issue, the victim’s father had said the August 31, 2013 verdict of the Board was not acceptable to the family so they are challenging the constitutional validity of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, as there is no other authority concerned to which they can approach for such relief.

The victim’s father has sought a direction to declare “as unconstitutional and void the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act to the extent it puts a blanket ban on the power of the criminal courts to try a juvenile offender for offences committed under the IPC”.

The petition filed through advocate Aman Hingorani said the juvenile “is liable to be tried and punished by the criminal courts for the aforesaid offences, complete with the judicial discretion on established principles of law regarding the award of sentence keeping in view, amongst other factors, the nature and gravity of the offence“.

The petition referred to the trial court verdict by which four adult accused were convicted and sentenced to death and sought similar trial for the then juvenile offender, who has now turned major.

“One of the accused (Respondent No 2--juvenile), however, has not been tried at all for the offences committed under the Indian Penal Code by the criminal court on the premise that he is a juvenile in conflict with law aged 17 years,” the petition, in which the Centre and the accused have been named as respondents, said.

It also stated that “the blanket protection to juvenile offenders from being tried by the criminal courts for offences under the IPC, is an instance of legislative adjudication, and hence unconstitutional“.

On the night of December 16, 2012, the girl was gangraped and brutally assaulted by six persons in a moving bus in New Delhi.

One among them was the juvenile, so he was tried by the Board.

The victim succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital on December 29, 2012.

A provision of the JJA says “’juvenile’ or ‘child’ means a person who has not completed eighteenth year of age.”

The juvenile, who was six months short of 18 years at the time of incident, was convicted for gangrape and murder of the 23-year-old girl but he got away with a maximum of three years imprisonment mandated under the juvenile law by the Juvenile Justice Board here.

The four adult accused — Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh — were tried by a fast-track court which awarded them death penalty. Now the Delhi High Court has kept its order reserved for confirmation. Another accused Ram Singh was found dead on March 11, 2013, in his cell in Tihar Jail. — PTI Back











Snooping row: Police refuses to file suspended IAS officer's complaint against Modi, Shah 

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Police on Monday refused to register an FIR against Chief Minister Narendra Modi, his aide Amit Shah and others in the snooping scandal on a complaint by suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma who threatened to move the court.

Sharma, whose name has figured in the raging row, approached the Gandhinagar Police with his complaint and sought an FIR to be registered, but the police merely accepted his application.

“Police Inspector (in-charge) of Sector-7 police station accepted the application but refused to file an FIR.

So, I am now going to SP office to register my complaint,” Sharma told reporters and said he would move the court if his endeavour to get an FIR registered failed.

The suspended IAS officer said he was the aggrieved party and, therefore, he had the locus standi to file the FIR.

“Sector-7 police station officials refused to take any action initially. They asked me to go to Commission or the court,” he said.

“This is a cognizable offence and the Supreme Court has said that an FIR should be lodged in a cognizable offence. I have submitted evidence of audio clippings of the two websites (Gulail and Cobra post),” he said.

“My complaints are against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, former state Home minister Amit Shah, then Inspector General (intelligence) A.K. Sharma and others,” he said.

Sharma also said the Commissions of Inquiry constituted to probe the scandal have powers to make recommendations but it is the police which has to register an FIR, investigate and prosecute.

“A Commission of Inquiry has got nothing to do with a criminal activity. If a criminal case takes place, an FIR has to be filed,” he said, adding, “The commission does not look into the criminality.”

When contacted, Gandhinagar SP Sharad Singhal said Sharma’s application has been accepted, but refused to elaborate.

Two investigative news portals, Cobrapost.com and Gulail.com, had claimed on November 15 that former Minister of State for Home in Gujarat Amit Shah had ordered illegal surveillance of a woman at the behest of one “Saheb”, believed to be Modi.

They had released taped conversations between Shah and suspended IPS officer G L Singhal to support their claim, but said that its authenticity could not be confirmed. — PTIBack










Australia: Assaulted Indian student out of induced coma

MELBOURNE: A 20-year-old Indian student, who suffered serious head injuries after being brutally attacked and robbed in Australia, is now out of induced coma and responding well to the treatment.

Manrajwinder Singh, who was beaten up by a gang of eight people perceived to be of African appearance on December 29, is out of induced coma and responding well to the treatment, his eldest brother Yadwinder Singh said.

“Doctors have been really working hard to save my brother and he is now out of induced coma. There is a long road of recovery for him, but the silver lining is that he is responding well,” Yadwinder said.

However, Manrajwinder’s condition was still serious, he added.

Manrajwinder, who was studying accounts in Australia, was bashed up in Birrarung Marr near Princess Bridge, as he and two other friends waited for a train. He was admitted to the Alfred Hospital with serious head injuries.

According to a police statement earlier, he was sitting with two other friends near the footpath when the gang approached them. The gang robbed and assaulted them. Police has already arrested three teenagers in the case. — PTIBack










Goa building collapse toll rises to 17, rescue operations on

PANAJI: More bodies were retrieved from the debris of the collapsed building in Canacona town of Goa on Sunday night, taking the death toll to 17, while over a dozen more people are still feared trapped in the debris.

Rescue operation by Army personnel and local civic agencies, using earth-moving machinery, continued without a pause for the second night on Sunday after the building collapsed on the afternoon of January 4.

A senior fire and emergency services officer at the site told PTI that one body was recovered late Sunday night and another at midnight, taking the toll to 17.

Sixteen people have been admitted to state-run Hospicio Hospital in Margao and Goa Medical College and Hospital near Panaji.

Rescuers said 15 more people are still trapped in the debris.

The five-storey building was coming up in Chawdi area of Canacona town, 70 km from Panaji.

The police has already registered a case against the builder Vishwas Desai and contractor Jaideep Saigal. Both are untraceable, police said.

Rescue operation has been made difficult by the location of the building which stood on a narrow lane, 1 km off the national highway linking Goa to Karnataka. — PTIBack










Rajasthan cricket polls: SC to decide Lalit Modi's fate on Jan 17

NEW DELHI: The fate of former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, who contested the Rajasthan Cricket Association polls, is likely to be known on January 17, with the Supreme Court on Monday saying that it would open the sealed enveloped containing the results on that day.

A Bench headed by Justice A.R. Dave also agreed to hear the objections raised by BCCI over Modi contesting the December 19, 2013, election before declaring the results if Modi comes out as a winner.

BCCI pleaded that Modi should not have been allowed to contest the election as he has been disqualified by the Board for life from being associated with any cricket association.

The bench, however, said the issue raised by the Board will arise only if Modi wins the election and if it happens then it will hear the plea of BCCI before declaring the results.

“Is he (Modi) more powerful that he will certainly be elected,” the bench said when the Board insisted that it hear its plea against Modi.

It said that the sealed envelope containing results of election will be opened on January 17 and all arguments will be heard only on that day.

The BCCI has challenged the Rajasthan Sports Act 2005 allowing Modi to contest the RCA presidential election despite being banned for life by the Board.

The apex court had on November 20, 2013 made its retired judge Justice N.M. Kasliwal as a principal observer to oversee the elections.

It had said that “individual members shall not cast their votes and the result of the election shall be subject to the final outcome of the appeal which is pending before this court.”

The court had passed the order on a petition filed by former BCCI treasurer and ex-RCA secretary Kishore Rungta seeking the court’s direction for appointment of a retired judge to conduct RCA elections.

The Board had on December 28, 2013 decided to approach the Supreme Court.

The decision to intervene was taken at an emergent working committee meeting of the Board to discuss the possible implications of Modi’s re-entry into the RCA.

Modi was allowed to fight for the post of RCA president in the December 19 elections held under the supervision of a Supreme Court-appointed observer.

Modi was slapped with a life ban on September 25 last year by the BCCI after its disciplinary committee found him guilty on eight charges of “indiscipline and misconduct.”

The BCCI disciplinary committee, comprising Arun Jaitley, and Jyotiraditya Scindia, had submitted a 134-page report in July, 2013, in which it had found Modi guilty of financial irregularities, indiscipline and “actions detrimental to the interest of the BCCI.” — PTIBack









Fog disrupts 150 flights at IGI airport

NEW DELHI: A heavy blanket of fog forced authorities to suspend flight movement at IGI airport for around three hours, leading to delay and diversion of around 150 domestic and international flights on Monday.

Between 8 pm last night and 8 am this morning, around 150 flights, either arriving here or departing from here, have been cancelled or diverted due to extremely poor visibility at the airport due to dense fog, airport officials said.

Around 51 domestic and international flights departing from here and 39 scheduled to arrive here, between 8 pm last night and 8 this morning, have been cancelled.

Also 52 incoming flights have been diverted to Amritsar, Lucknow and other destinations, they said.

A SpiceJet flight from Goa to Delhi, with 132 passengers and four crew onboard, had to make an emergency landing at around 9.50 pm as it ran short on fuel.

Lounges at the airport were packed with passengers who complained that they were not given information about the flight status.

Long queues were seen at airline counters for collection of refunds for cancelled flights or to get a seat on any early flight.

Around 15 flights coming to Delhi were diverted to Amritsar.

People could be seen moving from one counter to another in search of information or tickets.

"I had to wait for about three hours before the airline decided to cancel my flight to Mumbai. Now I am waiting in the queue to get a refund," said Anil Kumar.

One of the passengers Anna, who was to arrive in Delhi from Hyderabad by an Air India flight which was subsequently diverted to Amritsar, said they have no clue when their flight will leave for Delhi.

"I have been waiting through the night at Amritsar airport. No idea when our flight will leave for Delhi. Authorities have told us that it might take off after noon," she said over phone from Amritsar.

The national Capital has been witnessing thick fog since yesterday.

Dense fog started to descend at the airport around 7pm last evening. Within two hours, the runway visibility dropped from 500 metres to less than 100 metres.

Operations almost came to a complete halt around 10pm after runway visibility dipped to less than 75 metres, which is the minimum required visibility condition for an aircraft to land using CAT IIIB instrument landing system.

The general visibility was almost nil. The minimum required visibility for an aircraft for the Low Visibility Take Off (LVTO) is 125 metres and 150 metres, depending upon the size of the aircraft.

Delhi airport is equipped with two CAT-III B complaint runways, which enables a CAT-III B trained pilot to land a CAT-III B complaint plane when the runway visibility is merely 75 metres.

Yesterday, the visibility remained poor during the whole day which led to delay in schedule of around 206 domestic and international flights.

Flight operations were resumed today around 1am, when the landings started. Priority was given to international flights, as most of them operate at night, they said.

Though the visibility was poor, planes were landing using CAT III B ILS and the take off started around 4am, when runway visibility improved to more than 150 metres on the main runway (28/10), officials said.

But gradually visibility on the third runway, (29/11) also started to improve and both the runway were used intermittently, they added.

Delhi had been witnessing dense fog from Saturday last, which, according to the met department, is the "season's worst".

Met officials said it may be the worst fog after January 2010. — PTIBack




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