New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has refused to attend a crucial meeting on the selection and appointment of a Lokpal as a ‘special invitee’.
In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, Kharge, who is also the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, said that he won’t attend the meeting on the appointment of a Lokpal since it was a move to exclude the Opposition from the selection process of the anti-corruption watchdog.
“The special invitee invitation is a concerted effort to exclude the independent voice of the opposition altogether from the selection process of the most important anti-corruption watchdog,” Kharge said in his letter.
The senior Congress leader also attacked the Narendra Modi-led NDA government and sought to know why the appointment has been delayed for four years.
“Congress-led UPA passed the Lokpal Act, 2013 and had brought it into force w.e.f January 16, 2014. Notwithstanding your repeated rhetoric to fight corruption, BJP government has chosen to not appoint a Lokpal for nearly four years,” he said in the letter.
Apart from the Prime Minister, the high-powered meeting on the appointment of a Lokpal will be attended by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
Kharge continued by alleging that the invitation negated the letter and spirit of the lokpal and lokayuktas act, 2013.
“It is a matter of surprise that your government is choosing to adopt this route as a mere paper formality rather than seek any meaningful and constructive participation,” he wrote.
”The intent and objective of the act reflected that the Leader of the Opposition couldn’t be substituted as a special invitee, the veteran Congress leader said.
Kharge also blamed the Modi government for changing various statutes such as the Delhi special police establishment (amendment) bill, 2014 to substitute the “Leader of the Opposition” with the “leader of the single largest party” in the selection committee.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi had recently attacked the Modi government over continued delay in appointment of Lokpal, even four years after the enactment of the law for setting up the institution, asking how long will it “blow the tune of falsehood”.
“Four years have gone by, but the Lokpal has not come. The public is asking only one question, till when will you blow the tune of falsehood?” Rahul had asked.
“Are the ‘defenders of democracy’ and ‘harbingers of accountability’ listening?” he asked in a tweet using ‘#FindingLokpal’ as a hashtag.
Under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, ombudsmen are to be appointed at the Centre and in states for inquiring into allegations of corruption against public functionaries.
The government had earlier this month told the Supreme Court that the leader of the single largest party in the Opposition will be invited to attend the meeting on March 1.
In April 2017, the Supreme Court had directed the government to immediately implement the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act and appoint a Lokpal.
SC verdict on pleas seeking Rafale judgment review on Thursday
New Delhi, November 13: The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce on Thursday its verdict on petitions seeking a review of its judgment giving a clean chit to the Modi government in the Rafale fighter jet deal with French firm Dassault Aviation.
On May 10, the apex court had reserved the decision on the pleas, including one filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan, seeking a re-examination of its findings that there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
A Bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph, is likely to pronounce verdicts on three review petitions filed by the trio, lawyer Vineet Dhandha and Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker Sanjay Singh.
On December 14, 2018, the apex court dismissed the petitions seeking an investigation into the alleged irregularities in the Rs 58,000 crore deal.
SC upholds disqualification of 17 Karnataka MLAs; they can contest Dec 5 bypolls
New Delhi, November 13: The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the order of former Karnataka Assembly speaker disqualifying 17 MLAs.
The SC, however, stroked down portion of Speaker’s order, which said MLAs would be disqualified till end of tenure of 15th Karnataka Assembly.
The SC verdict has paved way for disqualified MLAs to contest December 5 bypolls in Karnataka.
The SC said if elected in bypolls, these disqualified Karnataka MLAs can become ministers or hold public office.
The SC deprecated the manner in which these disqualified Karnataka MLAs directly approached it without first moving high court.
The top court said that its verdict was based on facts and circumstance of case and does not interfere in Speaker’s power to disqualify members.
The SC had reserved its verdict on petitions challenging the then Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar’s decision to disqualify 17 Karnataka MLAs before the crucial trust vote that led to fall of HD Kumaraswamy government in the state.
A Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana reserved its order after hearing counsel for the petitioners i.e. disqualified MLAs, Kumaraswamy and new Speaker V Hegde Kageri and others.
The decision eventually led to the fall of Congress-JD(S) government headed by HD Kumaraswamy, who was forced to resign after losing a trust vote. Thereafter, BS Yediyurappa-led government was formed in the state
UK court set to hear Nirav Modi’s new bail application today
London: A UK court is set to hear a new bail application on Wednesday filed by fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, who is fighting extradition to India on charges of nearly USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case.
The 48-year-old is expected to be produced before Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London to make another attempt at being let out on bail until his trial in May next year.
He has been in custody at Wandsworth prison in south-west London, one of England’s most overcrowded prisons, since his arrest in March. “The bail application is at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday November 6. The grounds cannot be made public until the hearing,” said a spokesperson for the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which represents the Indian government in the extradition proceedings in court. Modi has reportedly claimed anxiety and depression in his latest application, with earlier bail applications at the court being rejected by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, and then also on appeal at the High Court in London, as he was deemed a flight risk.
His legal team has previously described their client’s experience in prison as “damaging” and offered stringent electronic tag and other conditions akin to house arrest at his posh Centrepoint apartment in the West End of London in an attempt to persuade the judge to grant bail.
“His experience in custody has been vivid and damaging…he is willing to abide by any bail conditions imposed by the court because Wandsworth is unliveable and makes the effective preparation of his case virtually impossible,” his barrister Clare Montgomery had told Judge Arbuthnot earlier in the year. They had also doubled the initial bail bond offer of 1 million pounds to 2 million pounds in an attempt to sway the court. However, Arbuthnot had concluded that Modi was wanted in connection with a “large fraud” and the doubling of security was “not sufficient to cover a combination of concerns that he would fail to surrender”.
In June, Modi’s legal team took his appeal against that ruling to the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where a judge was told about the diamond merchant’s troubled state of mind in “confidential” documents. “The circumstances he has had to endure at Wandsworth have been personally difficult and the confidential exhibits reflect the experience that has marked him deeply. The reality is that he is not the cold-blooded hardened criminal as claimed by the government of India but a jewellery designer from a long line of diamond dealers, and regarded as being honest, careful and reliable,” Montgomery told the High Court, adding that a number of individuals were willing to offer sureties and substantial sums to back up the claim that Modi is not a man who plans to run.
But in her judgment, Justice Ingrid Simler concurred with the Chief Magistrate that there were “substantial grounds” to believe that Modi would fail to surrender as he does possess the means to “abscond”. After considering all the material “carefully”, the judge said she found strong evidence to suggest there had been interference with witnesses and destruction of evidence in the case and concluded it could recur if he was let out of prison.
There are no strict limits on the number of times Modi can apply for bail, but he would have to produce substantially modified grounds in a new application. He has meanwhile continued to appear via videolink before the magistrates’ court in London, appearing in a standard prison-issued grey tracksuit and mostly freshly shaved and upbeat. His next routine 28-day appearance required under UK law is listed for November 11, a date that still remains on the court’s lists.
At a hearing last month, Judge Nina Tempia had confirmed that his extradition trial is scheduled between May 11 and 15 next year, with the case management hearings set to begin from February next year. Modi has been behind bars at Wandsworth prison since his arrest on March 19 on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard on charges brought by the Indian government.
During subsequent hearings, Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told that Modi was the “principal beneficiary” of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) as part of a conspiracy to defraud PNB and then laundering the proceeds of crime.