L A T E S T      N E W S

Lok Sabha passes TRAI Amendment Bill

NEW DELHI: A Bill to remove legal hurdles in the appointment of former TRAI chief Nripendra Misra as Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday, with the Congress, RJD, AAP and RSP opposing it and Trinamool Congress making a volte-face on the issue.

Replying to a discussion during which the government came under attack, Minister for Law and Telecom Ravi Shankar Prasad said the focus of the measure was to remove “a palpable anomaly” as the existing law provided that a former TRAI Chairman could take up private job two years after retirement but not a government job.

Other regulatory bodies like Competition Commission, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority and SEBI do not have such provision, he said, adding the government decided to amend the law to bring parity.

The Bill was later passed by a voice vote after walkout by the Congress, RJD, AAP, RSP and CPI(M).

The discussion saw those opposing the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill to replace an ordinance walking out of the House but maintaining that they are not casting any doubt on the integrity and honesty of the person concerned, but were against the flouting of democratic norms and procedures.

The bill replaces an ordinance issued on May 28 to amend a clause in the TRAI Act by which Misra could not have been appointed to any government post after retirement.

Misra, a 1967-batch retired IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre who retired in 2009, joined the PMO the same day the Ordinance was promulgated and the Bill was being brought to give his appointment the requisite legal backing.

TMC leader Sudip Bandopadhyay, whose party had opposed the Bill last week, supported the measure saying the Prime Minister had “the right to appoint any officer who he feels fit ... in the greater interests of better governance.”

His party colleague, Saugata Roy, had last week opposed the Bill saying it was being brought “merely to give a government job to a superannuated TRAI Chairman, thereby taking away the independence of TRAI.”

Roy was not present in the House today.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had apparently reached out to various Opposition parties for their support.

AIADMK leader M Thambidurai also supported the measure, prompting Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge to say “I don’t know what compulsions they had” for taking such a stand.

Reacting to this, Thambidurai immediately stood up to say that the Prime Minister had “made a choice and there is no need to oppose it.” — PTI








Dec 16 gangrape, murder case: SC stays execution of 2 convicts

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today stayed till further orders the execution of death penalty of two of the four convicts in the December 16 gangrape and murder case. A bench of justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and N V Ramana said since the death sentence of other convicts have already been suspended by this court, the same order has to be passed.

It stayed the execution of Vinay Sharma (21) and Akshay Thakur (29), who were convicted along with other two-- Mukesh (27) and Pawan Gupta (20)-- whose death sentence has already been stayed.

Vinay and Akshay had moved the apex court seeking a stay on their execution and reversal of the Delhi High Court verdict upholding their conviction and the punishment.

The court proceedings also witnessed some confusion as the bench queried whether it could hear the plea in the light of observation made by Chief Justice R M Lodha that the cases of death convicts be heard by not less than three-judge bench.

The bench called for Supreme Court registrar who said no such notification has been issued so far in this regard. The bench then went ahead with the hearing and passed the stay order.

The Delhi High Court had on March 13 this year upheld their conviction and award of death penalty by terming the offence as "extremely fiendish" and "unparallelled in the history of criminal jurisprudence" and said the "exemplary punishment" was the need of the hour.

It had also said if this case was not "the rarest of rare cases" then "there is likely to be none".

Besides seeking setting aside of the High Court verdict, Vinay and Akshay, in their appeal, have sought a stay on their execution as an interim relief.

The petition has said the judgement be set aside as there was no "substance or material piece of evidence" and there were contradictions in the depositions of the victim and her friend, who had accompanied her in the bus, about the offence and the offenders. — PTI











Uproar in RS over journalist’s meeting with JuD chief Saeed

NEW DELHI: A row erupted over yoga guru Ramdev's close aide Ved Pratap Vaidik's meeting with Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, with the Congress today seeking to corner the government inside and outside Parliament over whether it had given its approval.

The government on its part distanced itself from the meeting and declared it had nothing to do with the journalist "directly, indirectly or even remotely" and asserted there was no sanction from its side. "There is no Track-2 or Track-3 diplomacy involved," it added.

Vaidik had met the chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), said to be the parent organisation of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), in Lahore on July 2 while touring Pakistan along with a group of journalists and politicians invited by a peace research institute.

As the Congress demanded his arrest, Vaidik defended his parleys with Saeed, saying he has been meeting all kinds of people and that it was a "simple thing" for him.

He also rejected suggestions by the Congress that he might have acted as government's envoy, saying he was "nobody's envoy but my own".

The meeting generated heat in Parliament with the Rajya Sabha witnessing two adjournments during Question Hour.

Congress members in both Houses sought a detailed statement from the government on the "purpose and motive behind the meeting with India's most wanted terrorist".

They created uproar in the Rajya Sabha forcing two adjournments during Question Hour, as they and their colleagues in Lok Sabha, as well as those from their allies, sought to know whether the journalist had sought government's permission before meeting Saeed and who facilitated it.

They demanded a statement by either the External Affairs Minister or Home Minister saying this was "a serious matter concerning national security".

In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said for India, Saeed was a terrorist and indeed involved in terrorism against India.

The government has nothing to do with "directly, indirectly or even remotely" with any journalist meeting Saeed, he said, adding that "government has not sanctioned permission to anyone for meeting him (Saeed)." Congress members also demanded the arrest of the journalist, with their leader Digvijay Singh seeking to know from Jaitley if the meeting had government's sanction.

"I want to clarify that we don't approve any such activity (meeting with Saeed)," Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said, as he accused the Congress of being desperate.

"For the government, there is no change of stand as far Hafiz is concerned. For India, Hafiz is an accused in the terror attack. He is a terrorist who conspired to attack India," Javadekar told reporters outside Parliament.

The minister also said there is no "Track-2 or Track-3 diplomacy" involved.

"For the government, there is no change of stand as far Hafiz is concerned. For India, Hafiz is an accused in the terror attack. He is a terrorist who conspired to attack India," Javadekar said.

In a tweet, Congress leader Digvijay Singh raised questions as to whether Vaidik met Sayeed as an envoy of the NDA government or as a personal envoy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Journalists in Pakistan know me for decades. They made a gesture (about meeting Saeed) to me and I said alright I will meet him. It was no big deal for me. It was a simple thing.

"For me it was like a normal meeting. I have been meeting the Maoists of Nepal, Taliban of Afghanistan...," Vaidik told reporters.

"If they raise the issue in Parliament, it is good as they will publicise me against my will. But nothing will come out of it," he said.

Saeed while taking note of protests against Vaidik meeting him called it "narrow mindedness" of Indian politicians.

"Dr Vaidik asked if we would protest Modi's visit to Pakistan, on which I replied, 'We don't participate in such politics & protests'," he said on Twitter.

"We meet everyone with an open heart, whoever wants to meet; regardless of nation, belief or religion." — PTIBack














Five states get new Governors

NEW DELHI: Senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Ram Naik was today appointed Governor of Uttar Pradesh, while party's veteran Delhi leader O P Kohli was moved to Gujarat in the first appointment of five Governors by the Narendra Modi Government.

According to a Rashtrapati Bhavan communiqué, Naik will take over in Uttar Pradesh after B L Joshi, perceived to be a close confidante of Gandhi family, was asked to tender his resignation. Joshi was the first Governor who tendered his resignation after the Modi government came to power on June 17 this year.

A three-time Parliamentarian, 80-year-old Naik has the rare distinction of being the only minister who completed five years as Petroleum and Natural gas Minister in one government.

Hit by cancer, Naik was bedridden in 1994 but fought back resolutely and overcame the deadly disease. He had announced in 2013 that he would not be contesting the 2014 election.

Seventy-eight-year-old Kohli, who was a Rajya Sabha member from 1994 to 2000, takes over as Governor in Gujarat after 87-year-old Kamla Beniwal was shifted to Mizoram by the government for remainder of her term till November this year.

A former Chief of BJP's Delhi unit in 2009, Kohli has been associated with the BJP since his student days and was President of its student wing, ABVP, and later became chief of the Delhi University Teachers Association. 

According to the communiqué, Keshari Nath Tripathi, a former Uttar Pradesh Speaker will take over in West Bengal, a post which had fallen vacant after the resignation of M K Narayanan after he was nudged to resign.

A poet and author of books, Tripathi, who will turn 80 in November this year, was a five-time MLA and has written a few books like commentary on "The Representation of the People Act, 1951" and two poetic books in Hindi — 'Manonukriti', 'Aayu Pankh'.

In his student life, he went to jail in connection with the Kashmir Movement.

Balram Das Tandon, 87, founder member of Jan Sangh in 1951, was appointed Governor of Chhatisgarh after Shekhar Dutt tendered his resignation on June 18 after he too was sounded by the Union Home Ministry.

Tandon was the Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab in 1969 and later served as Cabinet Minister in Parkash Singh Badal's government. A six-time MLA, Tandon was critical of Badal government's decision in 2012 of providing free electricity to state farmers.

Padmanabha Acharya, a member of working group on north-east region of the BJP and co-convener of the Overseas Friends of BJP, was appointed Governor of Nagaland after President Pranab Mukherjee accepted resignation of Tripura Governor Vakkom Purushothaman, who was also officiating as Nagaland Governor.

The President asked Acharaya to perform the duties of Tripura Governor until regular arrangements are made, the communiqué said. — PTIBack



















HSGPC Bill gets Governor's nod

CHANDIGARH: Haryana Governor Jagannath Pahadia has given his assent to a Bill passed by state Assembly for the formation of a separate body to manage gurdwaras in the state, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said here today.

"The state Governor has given his assent to the Bill today," the Chief Minister told reporters here.

"Now the Bill has become an Act," he said.

The Haryana Assembly on July 11 passed a Bill for the formation of a separate body to manage affairs of gurdwaras in the state even as main Opposition parties INLD and BJP staged a walkout, calling the move a "conspiracy" by the Congress to "divide" the Sikh community.

The HSGPC (Management) Bill 2014 was introduced by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Randeep Surjewala and was passed with a voice vote in the absence of the INLD and BJP members.

The Congress had promised formation of a separate SGPC in its poll manifesto in 2005, but it could not happen during Hooda's first term and was taken up during his second term.

The next Assembly elections are due in Haryana in October this year.

Governor Pahadia is superannuating this month-end.

"The Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill, 2014, is to provide for better autonomous management and effective supervision of gurdwaras and gurdwara properties in Haryana and matters related thereto," the Bill states.

H S Chattha (now state Finance Minister) headed the state committee which had recommended formation of a separate SGPC for Haryana.

With the Bill becoming an Act, the provisions of Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, would cease to have any application within the territory of Haryana, the Bill mentions.

According to the Bill, a committee namely the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee will be established for proper management and control of the gurdwaras and their properties within the state.

The committee with 40 members will be elected for a five-year term by Sikh voters of Haryana. It will have its head office at Kurukshetra and regional offices at Panchkula and Jind.

Under the provisions of the Bill, till the elections are held after the enforcement of this Act, an ad-hoc committee comprising 41 members will be nominated by the government to manage, supervise and take over all assets of the gurdwaras.

On being asked if Sahajdhri Sikhs will be under the SGPC in Haryana, Hooda said the issue is sub-judice and the matter is pending in the Supreme Court. — PTI
























Germany triumph fruit of 10-year plan: Loew

RIO DE JANEIRO:  German coach Joachim Loew says its 1-0 victory over Argentina in the World Cup final is the fruit of a decade of investment in the country's youth development.

At his post-match press conference, Loew hailed programmes adopted by Bundesliga clubs after Germany's failure to progress beyond the group stage at Euro 2004, reports Xinhua.

"In 2004, German football was down but we took some decisive steps," Loew said.

"We decided we had to invest more in education. We needed to produce players who were technically better.

"We have created centers of excellence which have brought results. I'm grateful for the clubs that have done that. This (World Cup triumph) is a product of the excellent training young players get."

Loew said his team had benefited from the influence of coaches like Carlo Ancelotti, Jupp Heynckes and Pep Guardiola at their respective clubs.

When asked if Germany's quick-passing style was inspired by Spain's celebrated tiki-taka, Loew replied: "I don't really know. For the last few years we have been developing our own style.

"Playing at successful clubs has helped them to be self-assured. I believe this title will push the country even more. We have lots of good players who are very young.

"Mario Goetze, Marco Reus, Sami Khedira, Andre Schurrle and Toni Kroos are all young players who will be around for many years to come."

Germany's victory sees them equal Italy as four-time winners of football's most prized trophy. Only Brazil with five have won more.

It was Germany's first World Cup triumph since 1990, when Franz Beckenbauer's team also defeated Argentina at Rome's Stadio Olimpico.

Loew said his team had shown they were the strongest throughout the tournament.

"There can only be one winner and we deserve it," he said. "I believe we were the best team for seven matches. It's not just today. It's 10 years of preparation.

"We have developed a team spirit which is unbelievable. The players have a marvellous technical capacity and the will to carry it out. We are the first European team to win the World Cup in the Americas and to do it in Brazil, the home of football, makes us proud." — IANS

















Mix of tears, cheers and violence in Argentina 

BUENOS AIRES: Argentines reacted with tears, cheers and violence after the dream of a third World Cup title slipped through their fingers on Sunday, as clashes between hooligans and police ended a massive street party.

Tens of thousands of people flocked to the Obelisk in Buenos Aires, the iconic monument where the country traditionally celebrates and rallies, waving the flag, setting off fireworks and singing the praises of national hero Lionel Messi and team.

Despite the 1-0 loss to Germany in the down-to-the-wire, extra-time match, young Argentines climbed onto traffic lights and bus stops, dancing and singing to the beat of drums.

But after several hours of partying, dozens of hardcore fans known as "barra bravas" started throwing rocks at riot police watching over the crowd, who responded by firing rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon.

The clashes sent families with children scurrying for refuge in restaurants or hotel lobbies.

Most of the crowd dispersed as a haze of tear gas settled over the area, leaving just a few dozen fans who broke windows and set trash on fire, determined to provoke the police.

TV images showed looters carting off stolen items, including tables and chairs from a restaurant, as newscasters criticized police for just standing by.

Fifteen police were injured in the fray and some 40 people were arrested, media reports said.

The clashes contrasted with the mostly celebratory reaction to the bittersweet end of the nation's World Cup campaign.

"It was still a good World Cup. Reaching the final against Germany isn't too bad. I'm proud of the team," said Leandro Paredes, a 27-year-old mason.

"We didn't manage to get revenge (for Argentina's loss to Germany in its last World Cup final in 1990), but I saw 11 warriors on the pitch during this final." — AFP














Messi wins Golden Ball as World Cup's best player

RIO DE JANEIRO: The FIFA awarded Lionel Messi the 'Golden Ball' as the top player of the World Cup on Sunday after the Argentina captain led his side to the final at the Maracana where they lost to Germany 1-0 in extra time.

The four-times world player of the year had a quiet game by his standards against Germany but scored four of his team's six goals in the group stage.

He also set up Angel di Maria's winner in the last 16 against Switzerland and shouldered the burden of slotting home Argentina's first penalty in their shootout win over the Netherlands in the semi-finals.

Messi also won four successive man-of-the-match awards against Bosnia, Iran, Argentina and Switzerland.

While some pundits thought Messi looked jaded after the group stage and did not influence his team as much, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said he was a deserving winner.

"I think that Lionel is already in the Olympus of the great ones some time ago,” Sabella told reporters. “Yes, I think he deserved it. He played a great World Cup to get us where he did.

"I think it’s very deserved.”

Germany forward Thomas Mueller was runner-up to Messi and Dutch winger Arjen Robben was third. Reuters




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