“The country cannot be kept in the dark,” the Supreme Court said while
directing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement
Directorate (ED) to complete investigation into all 2G spectrum scam cases.
This is including the Aircel-Maxis deal case, in six months.
“This is a very important case and the country must know the results,
whatever may be the decision. Why is this investigation taking too long?
What are the reasons for delay. Is anybody behind the delay,” Justice Arun
Mishra, heading a Bench comprising Justice Navin Sinha, asked
Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal.
The court noted that the case had come before this Bench after a gap of
four years and ordered the agencies to file a status report in two weeks.
“We want all answers to the questions raised by the Comptroller and
Auditor-General in his report [on the 2G spectrum scam cases],” Justice
Mishra said firmly.
The two agencies have been investigating Aircel/Maxis telecom owner and
Malaysian accused T. Ananda Krishnan and Ralph Marshall.
The investigators are also examining allegations that former Finance
Minister, P. Chidambaram, ignored Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB)
regulations by clearing the foreign investment proposal in 2006 for a
Mauritius company to acquire 73.99% equity in M/s Aircel Ltd, a telecom
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, a party to the Supreme Court litigation,
had alleged that the investment was worth about Rs. 3,500 crore or $800
Mr. Chidambaram had granted the FIPB approval without getting clearance
from the Prime Minister-led Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs (CCEA).
6month road plan to address agrarian distress
The Maharashtra government offered a six-month road map to address
agrarian distress, bowing to the demands of aggrieved farmers.
Fifteen thousand farmers and tribal people, led by the All India Kisan
Sabha, had marched nearly 200 km to the State capital, before assembling
less than two km from the VidhanBhawan.
The people from the villages marching to South Mumbai’s Azad Maidan in
the early hours of Monday to avoid inconveniencing the average Mumbaikar
received a warm reception from their urban peers.
By late evening, the plan to gherao the Assembly was dropped.
After hectic parleys between their representatives and government
emissaries led to a firm assurance on their demands, several farmers were on
their way home on special trains.
“We have agreed to all of their demands and have given them an assurance
in writing to resolve them in six months,” Chief Minister DevendraFadnavis
announced at 6.00 p.m. after a marathon round of negotiations with eight
Mr. Fadnavis had found his party BJP isolated, with Opposition parties
as well as ally Shiv Sena rallying behind the farmers.
An unconditional loan waiver programme to include categories of farmers
earlier excluded, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission Report which
includes a higher compensation for land acquisition, a Rs. 50,000 compense
for farmers affected by natural calamities are the demands conceded.
Giving land to those who have received title area lesser than their
eligibility and a sensitive approach to land acquisition for the bullet
train and property corridor projects – were also agreed upon.
The State government also committed to implement the Forest Rights Act
of 2006, including settling of all claims of ownership to the landless
French built 75GW solar power plant inaugurated by PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took French President Emmanuel Macron on a
boat ride on the Ganga.
The two leaders and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath rode on
a decorated boat from AssiGhat to DashashwamedhGhat in Varanasi.
Earlier, Mr. Modi inaugurated a 75-MW solar power plant in
neighbouringMirzapur district. He was accompanied by Mr. Macron.
A State government spokesperson said the power plant, spread over 382
acres and built by the French company ENGIE, would provide electricity to
1.5 lakh homes.
At a public meeting later in Varanasi, Mr. Modi said India was playing a
“major role in solar power at the global level”.
He said his aim was to see rooftop solar panels being used for “clean
cooking” that was cost-effective and environment-friendly.
He appealed to the IITs to find innovative technology to cook using
solar power efficiently.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, however, said the foundation for
the plant was laid during his tenure and the BJP was once again taking undue
credit for a project started by his party.
He said the project was set in motion in April 2016 after a Rs.
650-crore investment by the French company during his term as Chief
Mr. Modi also flagged off a new train from Varanasi to Patna, the
Kashi-Patna Janshatabdi Express.
Arm import from U.S up b 550% : Report
The U.S. recorded a blazing growth in its arms exports to India,
recording over 550% growth in 2013-17 compared with the previous five years.
As a result, the U.S. has become India’s second largest supplier.
In contrast, Pakistan’s imports from the U.S. dropped by 76% in 2013-17
compared with 2008-12, while it emerged as the largest recipient of Chinese
arms exports, according to the latest report from the Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Russia continued to be India’s largest arms supplier, accounting for 62%
of India’s arms imports between 2013 and 2017.
“India was the world’s largest importer of major arms in 2013-17 and
accounted for 12% of the global total. Its imports increased by 24% between
2008-12 and 2013-17,” SIPRI, which monitors global arms transfers, said in
“The tensions between India, on the one side, and Pakistan and China, on
the other, are fuelling India’s growing demand for major weapons, which it
remains unable to produce itself,” said SiemonWezeman, Senior Researcher
with the SIPRI arms and military expenditure programme.
While India continues to depend on imports for its arms requirements,
China’s arms imports fell by 19 per cent between 2008-12 and 2013-17.
While it was the world’s fifth largest arms importer in 2013-17, China
has also emerged as the fifth largest arms exporter, with exports rising by
38% between 2008-12 and 2013-17.
A majority of these weapons have been procured by countries in India’s
Plea on Lawmakers-Lawyers admitted by SC
A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, directed
the Bar Council of India (BCI) to respond by April 23, the next date of
The writ petition filed by Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay
said legislators donning the lawyers’ robes was a “matter of serious concern
to both the judiciary and the legislature”.
The petition said the practice was in violation of Rule 49 of the Bar
Council of India Act, which forbade an advocate to be “full-time salaried
employee of any person, government, firm, corporation or concern, so long as
he continues to practice”.
The lawmakers draw their salaries and pensions from the exchequer.
The petition was filed by Mr. Upadhyay, represented by V. Shekhar, after
his plea before the BCI was stalled.
Mr. Upadhyay has contended that MPs and MLAs drew their salaries from
the Consolidated Fund of India, and hence were “employees of the State”.
Under Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 2(c) of the
Prevention of Corruption Act, MLAs and MPs were public servants.
Hence, allowing them to practice as an advocate and restricting other
public servants was arbitrary, irrational and violation of Articles 14-15 of
the Constitution, Mr. Upadhyay said.
He said it amounted to “professional misconduct” that MLAs and MPs who
got salary and other benefits from the public fund, appeared against the
Produce data on child sex abuses: SC
As an eight-month-old rape survivor from Delhi battles for her life at
the AIIMS, the Supreme Court ordered a nationwide inquiry into how many
child sex abusers had actually been punished.
A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, ordered
data from the High Courts on the number of pending cases of child abuse
booked under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
Public interest litigation petitioner and advocate AlokAlakhShrivastava
said there was a 95% pendency rate, as per the statistics of the National
Crime Records Bureau.
Chief Justice Misra said the court wanted fresh and independent data
collected by a team constituted under the supervision of the Chief Justices
of the High Courts.
The Bench said it wanted to know the status so as to set a deadline for
the completion of trials in special courts.
The court gave the High Courts four weeks to submit the data to the
Supreme Court Registry.
Though Mr. Srivastava urged the court to prescribe the noose for child
abusers, rapists and paedophiles, the Centre in February said: “The death
penalty is not the answer for everything.”
The case concerns the sexual assault of the child in the national
capital. The child was shifted to the AIIMS for intensive care under the
court’s January 31 order.
Defence deal S-400 to be finalized this month
India and Russia could be just weeks away from signing one of the
biggest defence deals between the two sides in recent history, said two
senior defence sources this week.
The contract negotiations for the purchase of the S-400 Triumf long
range air defence systems are in the final stages, and are expected to be
closed by March 31.
India is planning to buy five systems that is expected to cost about Rs.
39,000 crore and is considered one of the most potent Surface to Air missile
systems in the world.
It can track and shoot down a range of incoming airborne targets at
ranges of upto 400km.
“We expect to conclude the S-400 contract within this financial year,” a
defence source said.
In 2016, the two countries had concluded the Inter-Governmental
Agreements for five S-400 systems and four stealth frigates after which the
contract negotiations began to conclude a commercial contract.
Officials termed the negotiations as “very complex” as there were
thousands of pages of documentation to be discussed. Russia has already
conveyed to India that the deal should not have any offset clause as it is a
Nepal plane crash, Confusion in cockpit a possibility
Confusion within the cockpit of the U.S.-Bangla Airline plane may have
been the primary cause of accident.
It took the lives of dozens and will clearly make an impact on the
tourism sector of a country that is gradually emerging from political
The Canada-made Bombardier aircraft crashed within the perimeter of the
Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu valley on Monday
afternoon at 2.18 p.m. Nepal Standard Time (NST).
The weather over the valley was cloudy but calm, with winds blowing at
six knots per hour from the north as the flight approached Kathmandu from
As the aircraft descended into the valley and approached the airport’s
single north-south runway, the conversation between the Air Traffic Control
and the cockpit was available as recorded on LiveATC.net.
Listening in to the final four minutes of the tape indicates possible
confusion in the mind of the Bombardier pilot about ‘02’ and ‘20’, the
southern and northern ends of the TIA runway.
The earlier part of the descent seems to have been handled by a woman
pilot in the cockpit, while closer to landing, the communications were taken
over by a male pilot.
There seems to already have been some concern about the latter pilot’s
understanding of the approach procedures, from before the tape segment.
One pilot is heard telling: “You should use radar to get him out of
harm’s way. The visibility in the surrounding hills is not good.”
There is silence for a while, then a ‘Fire One Station’ calls the ATC,
indicating that a crash has occurred and the airport fire tender is active.
A pilot comes on to ask if the runway is closed, and the ATC confirms,
The initial outsider’s hypothesis on the air crash was that the aircraft
must have skidded off the runway upon landing, and met its fiery end.
However, the aircraft had landed up somewhat down the airfield, by which
time the plane would have decelerated.
The state of the wreckage, on the other hand, indicated a hard crash.
That something even more untoward had happened came to light with the
eyewitness report of ArnicoPanday, a climate scientist with a locally based
Mr. Panday reported that he had seen the aircraft flying an angle to the
runway and then make a sharp turn over the airport.
The Bombardier had missed the control tower and several parked and
taxiing jets and turboprops, and ploughed into earth on the eastern side of
While a crash investigation report is awaited from the investigation
commission set up by the government, it can be said from the tape archive
and the eyewitness account that the Bombardier aircraft was doing an
unexpected manoeuvre flying that low over the international airport.
UN official to Sri Lanka
A top UN official visiting Sri Lanka has condemned the recent
anti-Muslim attacks in the country, pointing to a “breakdown in law and
Concluding his three-day visit on Sunday, United Nations
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman urged the
government to bring the perpetrators of the violence and hate speech to
justice, to take measures to prevent a recurrence, and to enforce rule of
law in a non-discriminatory manner.
Last week, Sri Lanka witnessed violent attacks targeting the Muslim
minority in Kandy, located in the central highlands.
The violence claimed at least two lives, injured dozens of people and
caused serious damage to Muslim-owned property. On March 6, President
Maithripala Sirisena declared a state of emergency to quell the spiralling
Authorities also banned social media networks, including Facebook,
WhatsApp and Viber, to prevent escalation in tensions. The move has drawn
severe criticism from users.
While Mr. Feltman’s visit came as part of the UN’s ongoing engagement
with Sri Lanka, it coincides with the prevailing turbulence following the
anti-Muslim attacks in the island.
On Sunday, Muslim political leaders held discussions with Mr. Feltman in
Colombo, and expressed concern over the recent violent episodes, a statement
from the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress said.
“The UN official said that such incidents would affect efforts towards
ethnic reconciliation in the country,” it said.
The UN official earlier met with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime
Minister RanilWickremesinghe, Tamil leaders and members of Sri Lanka’s civil
society and human rights activists.
Import levy on Solar parts a cause of concern: EIB
European Investment Bank (EIB) President Werner Hoyer cautioned India
against slapping import and safeguard duties on solar components, saying the
country’s best interests still remained in multilateralism and free trade.
“There might be a situation for these kinds of retaliations (import
duties) and it could be very tempting to try, but I think the basic idea is
simply wrong,” Mr. Hoyer said in an interview.
“What we have learnt from the great economists 200 years ago still holds
true — this leads us into lose-lose situations.
In January this year, the Directorate General of Safeguards had
recommended the implementation of a 70% safeguard duty on solar cells
imported from China and Malaysia for a period of 200 days.
The government had not taken a decision on this yet, but the issue had
come under considerable debate in the domestic solar sector.
“Over the last 10 years, Europe has lost ground in terms of R&D and
innovation by at least 1% of GDP per year in comparison to East Asia, South
East Asia and North America,” he said.
9% rise likely in passenger vehicles in FY18
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said the passenger
vehicle segment should be able to achieve 9% growth during the current
fiscal while the expansion in other segments should be better than expected.
“All segments, including passenger vehicles and two-wheelers have been
showing growth,” said SIAM director general Vinod Mathur. “The only
exception is heavy buses, which is a major concern for us.”
The comments come in the backdrop of passenger vehicle sales growing at
7.7% in February.
Sales of domestic passenger vehicles (PVs), which include cars, utility
vehicles and vans, grew to more than 2.75 lakh units in February from 2.55
lakh units in the year-earlier period.
He, however, added that the increase in customs duty on imports could
impact those passenger vehicles which had high level of imported components
and conversely, the decrease in duty is expected to charge up sales in
“2017-18 is expected to end up as a record year for the sector.” Total
two-wheeler sales in February rose 23.77% to more than 16.85 lakh units.
While motorcycle sales rose 26.48% to more than 10.53 lakh units, sales
of scooters grew 23.96% to more than 5.60 lakh units.
Industrial activity rises to 7.5%
Industrial activity accelerated in January to 7.5% on the back of strong
manufacturing growth and a rebound in the consumer durables sector,
according to official data released.
Retail inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), eased
to 4.4% in February, following two months of figures above 5%.
Growth in the Index of Industrial Production quickened to 7.5% in
January from 7.07% in December.
The manufacturing sector saw growth quickening marginally to 8.7% in
January from 8.4% in the previous month.
Electricity also saw growth accelerating to 7.6% from 4.43% in December.
Primary goods saw growth accelerating to 5.8% in January from 3.73% in
The capital goods sector continued to witness strong growth of 14.6% in
January, although this was lower than the 16.44% seen in the previous month.
Growth in infrastructure and construction quickened slightly to 6.8% in
January from 6.68% in the previous month.
The consumer durables sector saw growth accelerating sharply to 8% from
0.86% over the same period.
“The only concern is that the Purchasing Managers’ Index data for
February showed a weakening so one has to wait and watch,” Mr. Srivastava
Inflation as measured by the CPI slowed to 4.44% in February from 5.07%
in January, mostly due to easing food and fuel prices.
Inflation in the food and beverages segment slowed to 3.38% in February
from 4.58% in the previous month.
Similarly, inflation in the fuel and light segment slowed to 6.8% from
7.73% over the same period.