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Judge Loya’s death must be probed at the top: Rahul

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New Delhi:The Congress today described the public stand taken by four senior most Supreme Court judges on the functioning of the apex court as “unprecedented and extremely disturbing” and sought “careful redressal” of these concerns by the “full apex court”.

The party aligned itself with SC judges by demanding a probe into death of CBI judge BH Loya who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case in which BJP President Amit Shah among others is a party.

“SC judges have raised the issue of death of Judge Loya. This has to be addressed at the highest levels in the Supreme Court. SC judges at the top must investigate Judge Loya’s death,” Congress President Rahul Gandhi said this evening in his first official press conference after assuming party presidency on December 16, 2017.

 

Gandhi’s said the development was “unprecedented and one that never happened before”.

“What has happened is unprecedented. SC judges have raised significant questions. This is a sensitive matter. Judges have flagged threat to democracy. These issues need to be looked at carefully. Judges have also spoken of judge Loya’s death and this has to be probed at the highest level in the SC. People have faith in the legal system and this faith must be kept,” Gandhi said treading cautiously on the matter and declining to take questions.

A decision to align with rebel SC judges was taken after a meeting at Gandhi’s residence today. The meeting was attended by veteran Ahmed Patel and former ministers and legal luminaries P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Manish Tewari. All these seniors sat with audiences at AICC headquarters as Gandhi took the dais today.

The Congress demanded that the PIL concerning judge Loya’s death be entrusted to the senior most judges of the Supreme Court and probe into the death be held under supervision by an independent special investigation team.
Noting today’s developments as “extremely disturbing and those with far-reaching consequences for India’s democracy and judicial independence”, Congress media head Randeep Surjewala articulated a “guarded” party position and stopped short of accusing the judiciary of favouring the BJP government and its leaders.

Congress argued that concerns raised by the judges today should be resolved internally by the judiciary.

“We earnestly appeal that the full court of the SC should take up issues raised…and find solutions consistent with judicial traditions,” a party statement said.

On assignment of cases, though, the Congress decided to advice the SC.

“In the matter of assignment of cases the established convebtions and traditions of the courts must be followed and the selective assignment of cases must be stopped forthwith. Cases with far reaching implications to society and governance must be heard, in accordance with well established conventions, by the senior most judges of the SC,” Surjewala said.

The party flagged delays in finalization of memorandum of procedure by the Government and selective assignment of cases as mentioned by four SC judges as “deeply perturbing” but decided to keep its first response to the issue restrained.

Insiders however said “the situation is evolving” and party’s strategy to the issue would evolve accordingly. Politically, Gandhi set the tone today by demanding a fair probe into Judge Loya’s death – a judge who was hearing a matter against BJP chief Amit Shah.


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National

Pramod Sawant sworn in as 11th Goa CM

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Mumbai : Vijai Sardesai from the Goa Forward Party and Sudin Dhavalikar from Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, both alliance partners, have been inducted as Deputy Chief Ministers, Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik told reporters on the sidelines of the oath-taking ceremony at Raj Bhavan here.
Sawant, 45, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Mridula Sinha at a formal ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan in the early hours of Tuesday.
Apart from Sawant and the two deputy Chief Ministers, nine other MLAs, all of them who were part of the previous BJP-led coalition cabinet headed by Parrikar, were also administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor and inducted as ministers in the state cabinet.
The Chief Minister said portfolios would be allotted to his ministers within eight days.
Sawant succeeds former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who died on Sunday due to complications arising from advanced pancreatic cancer.
The new Chief Minister heads a coalition government which has the support of 12 MLAs from the BJP, three each from the Goa Forward and MGP, and two independent MLAs, taking the tally of the treasury benches to 20 in the 36-member state legislative assembly.
“Parrikar is not among us now and this responsibility has been given collectively to me by my party, alliance partners and independent MLAs. This is a big responsibility,” Sawant told reporters soon after he was sworn in.
“I am committed to the development of Goa and to take forward the teachings of former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar with a positive outlook,” Sawant also said, adding that he would focus on completing all infrastructure related projects started by his predecessor.
He was sworn in after a marathon session of hectic negotiations anchored by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and BJP national president Amit Shah, who over a series of meetings, spanning more than 24 hours, with legislators from regional parties and independent MLAs forged a coalition together.

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2008 Mumbai attacks one of the ‘most notorious’ terrorist attacks: China

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Mumbai/Beijing: In a rare acknowledgment, China described the 2008 Mumbai attacks carried out by Pakistan-based LeT terror outfit as one of “the most notorious terrorist attacks”.
In a white paper on its massive crackdown against terrorists in the restive Xianjiang province, China said the global spread of terrorism and extremism over the years had inflicted agony on humanity.
The paper described the Mumbai terror attacks as one of “the most notorious terrorist attacks”, adding that the “global spread of terrorism and extremism over the years has inflicted agony on humanity”.
The release of the paper, “The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang”, interestingly coincided with Pakistan foreign minister’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s visit to China.
Throughout the world, terrorism and extremism gravely threaten peace and development, and endanger the life and property of individuals, said the white paper released by China’s State Council Information Office.
The paper came days after China for the fourth time blocked a bid in the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to designate Pakistan-based chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist” by putting a technical hold on the proposal, a move India termed as disappointing.
The JeM has claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack that left 40 CRPF personnel dead and escalated tensions between India and Pakistan.
“Striking aggressively at terrorism and furthering the de-radicalisation effort is the common responsibility of the international community and essential to the protection of human rights,” it said.
China opposes all forms of terrorism and extremism, and opposes double standards on fighting terrorism, said the white paper, adding that Beijing opposes linking terrorism and extremism with specific countries, ethnic groups or religions.
China advocates comprehensive measures to address both the symptoms and the root causes, with the dual purposes of striking at terrorist activities and eliminating poverty, so that there will be no room for terrorism to breed, it said.

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Pak did not do a favour by returning Abhinandan, says Sitharaman

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Mumbai: Pakistan has shown the statements of such people and opposition leaders on their television channels, increasing TRP, the minister said.

“It is these people who did not want (the country) to buy Rafale, because arrival of these will give strength to our forces,” she said, addressing a gathering in Kolkata on ‘Ensuring India’s National Security’ organised by the Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.

India has given a message to the world after the Balakot air strike by not bowing to Pakistan’s nuclear blackmail, the minister said.

 

On February 26, the IAF conduct air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot targeting Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps. The strikes came after a suicide bomber from the terror group on February 14 rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a CRPF bus, killing 40 personnel, in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Modi did what former prime minister Manmohan Singh did not do after the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008, possibly because of Pakistan’s continued propaganda that “it is a nuclear power like India, and we should not forget that before doing anything against them”, she said.

“‘Chowkidar’ gave Pakistan the right answer,” she said.

The defence minister said though there is no direct war being waged between India and Pakistan, there were ceasefire violations by the neighbouring country, and non-state actors with the support of Pakistan, indulge in attacks like that in Pulwama.

Many were given training for suicide attacks at Balakot. There was intelligence on this development and that there will be many more Pulwama-like attacks in the coming days, she said.

“So, not to wage war but to neutralise the terrorists at their training camps. They were eliminated (at Balakot),” she said, adding, India did what Pakistan ought to have done.

Sitharaman said Pakistan claims it is a victim of terrorism, but itself trains and sends them to India.

“Why Pakistan does not take action against terrors groups and terrorists being nurtured and trained on its soil if it is a victim?” she asked.

The minister said that after the Pulwama attack, evidence was given to Pakistan, but it did not act.

Noting that the Jaish-e-Mohammed itself claimed responsibility for the strike, she said, “What more proof does it (Pakistan) want?”

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