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SC pulls up Archeological Survey of India for failing to preserve iconic Taj Mahal

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court came down heavily on the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) for its failure to take appropriate steps to protect and preserve of the iconic Taj Mahal.

The apex court also expressed concern over Taj Mahal being infected by insects and asked the authorities, including the ASI, what steps they have taken to prevent this.

“This situation would not have arisen if the ASI would have done its job. We are surprised with the way the ASI is defending itself. You (Centre) please consider if the ASI is needed there or not,” a bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta told Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni, who was appearing for the Centre.

 

Meanwhile, Nadkarni told the bench that the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) was considering the apex court’s suggestion to appoint international experts to look into the issue of protection and preservation of Taj Mahal.

The counsel for ASI told the court that the problem of insects was due to stagnation of water of river Yamuna.

In March this year, the apex court had asked Uttar Pradesh government to place before it a draft of vision document on protection and preservation of the Taj and the environment in the Taj Trapezium Zone, which is an area of about 10,400 sq km spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur in Rajasthan.

The top court has been monitoring developments in the area to protect the monument, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal in 1631. The mausoleum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


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National

NIA raids locations in western UP, Punjab over ISIS-inspired module probe

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New Delhi:The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday morning conducted raids at several places in western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab in connection with the investigation into a suspected ISIS-inspired module. A case was recently registered against the suspected module.

Sources said that the police officials detained two persons for questioning from Athsaini village in Garhmukteshwar tehsil. They were being interrogated by the police till last report came in.

The agency rounded up a 50-year-old resident of Bulandshahr, who runs a general store and has spent over 25 years in Saudi Arabia.

 

Notably, this is the third time that raids have been conducted by the NIA in Hapur area of Uttar Pradesh while the searches in Amroha have been carried out for the second time.

Several teams of the counter-terror probe agency launched the searches simultaneously in Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha and Bulandshahr besides Punjab’s Ludhiana, and several places early in the day, a senior NIA official said.

The raids that were still underway, kicked off after the NIA got leads from those arrested during their interrogation. The agency is looking into the role of a foreign mastermind behind the new module.

The action comes in the wake of a case it registered on December 20 under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Explosive Substances Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

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Armed robbers loot passengers onboard Jammu-Delhi Duronto Express

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New Delhi: Unidentified assailants, carrying guns and sharp-edged weapons, barged inside two coaches of Jammu-Delhi Duronto Express and looted the passengers on Thursday morning.

A group of about seven to ten armed assailants robbed passengers onboard B3 and B7 coaches. The incident took place in the early morning hours in Badli station, on the outskirts of Delhi.

The incident came to light after a passenger filed a complaint through the railways’ complaints portal. Passenger Ashwani Kumar, in his complaint, claimed that passengers of B3 and B7 coaches of the train were targeted by the armed men as it neared the Delhi Sarai Rohilla station.

 

“As train number 12266, which stops only at its source and destination stations, was approaching the Delhi station, stopped at around 3:30 am awaiting signal, seven to 10 miscreants entered coaches B3 and B7 of the train,” Kumar said.

The miscreants snatched mobiles, gold jewellery, cash and other valuable items from multiple passengers. The entire robbery took place within 10 to 15 minutes.
A case has been filed.

Railway Protection Force (RPF) has initial leads in the case and action will be taken against culprits, said the Chief Public Relation Officer (CPRO) Northern Railways.

“The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has initial leads in the matter. The culprits will be nabbed soon and stern action will be taken against them,” a Northern Railway spokesperson said.

Kumar later added that the passengers tried to reach the train attendant and TT after the incident and found them after 20 minutes. “The irony is that neither staff nor security personnel were available there at the time of the mishap,” the passenger claimed.

The complainant claimed that when he could not find the TT or the attendant, he contacted the Delhi Police after which an FIR was registered at the destination station.

“… The attendant told us that there was no security personnel available in the train. We are not safe even in AC coaches and imagine the security in sleeper class and general coaches where passengers enter the train even without tickets… ,” Kumar wrote in his complaint.

Several persons took to social media questioning rail security and safety of passengers again with this incident.

The Jammu Tawi-Delhi Sarai Rohilla Express (Train no 12266) has a travel time of 9 hours with one halt at Ludhiana.

The Duronto Expresses are one of the fastest trains in India. It has only AC coaches.

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SC partially strikes down stringent rules on Maharashtra dance bars

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside certain provisions of a law imposing restrictions on the licensing and functioning of dance bars in Maharashtra.

A bench headed by Justice A K Sikri quashed certain provisions of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016.

The top court allowed orchestra and added that tips can be given but showering of cash and coins is not allowed inside bars.

 

SC upheld the condition of fixed timings of dance bars in Maharashtra from 6 pm to 11.30 pm.

Supreme Court said, “There cannot be a total prohibition on dance bars. No licence has been granted by Maharashtra since 2005. There may be regulations but that should not amount to a total prohibition.”

The court quashed conditions of Maharashtra government of putting CCTV cameras in dance bars of Mumbai, giving licence to people of good character as ‘vague’.
It also repealed a rule that segregated dancing stage from the bar area where drinks are served.

The Court has also struck down a condition by which dance bars should be 1 km away from educational and religious places.

The top court has upheld a rule of Maharashtra government by which working women should have a contract so they can’t be exploited, however, quashed a rule of monthly salary for bar dancers.

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