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SC seeks details of decision-making process on Rafale deal

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New Delhi :A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi heard the PIL seeking directions to the Centre to file in “sealed cover” the details of the agreement India has entered into with France for buying 36 Rafale Fighter Jets.
Declining to issue a notice to the government on Rafale deal, the Supreme Court on Wednesday sought details of the steps taken during the decision-making process leading up to the award of the contract to Dassault Aviation. The apex court clarified that it was not seeking any information related to pricing or suitability of the jets.
The order came from a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on a batch of PILs, including the one seeking directions to the Centre to file in “sealed cover” the details of the agreement India has entered into with France for buying 36 Rafale Fighter Jets.
Appearing for Centre, Attorney General K K Venugopal sought dismissal of the petitions saying they were “intended to achieve political gains in the bitter fight between Opposition and ruling party”.
Earlier, the top court had adjourned to October 10 the hearing on the plea filed by lawyer M L Sharma seeking a stay on the Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France.
Sharma has claimed in his plea that the inter-government agreement to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets must be quashed as it was an “outcome of corruption” and not ratified by Parliament under Article 253 (Parliament has power to make any law for implementing any inter-government agreement) of the Constitution.
A similar plea was filed in the apex court in March this year by Congress leader Tehseen S Poonawalla, seeking an independent probe into the Rafale deal and disclosure of the cost involved in the deal before Parliament. However, the plea is yet to be listed for hearing. Poonawala had sought a direction against the Centre on why the Union Cabinet’s approval was not sought as part of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) before signing the procurement deal with France on September 23, 2016.
AAP Rajya Sabha lawmaker Sanjay Singh had also moved the apex court through his lawyer, Dheeraj Kumar Singh, by filing a separate petition on the defence deal.
The MP has sought setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the supervision of the apex court to probe the Rafale deal. The plea has sought that the SIT should probe the reasons for cancellation of earlier deal entered into by the UPA government for the purchase of 126 fighter jets.


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National

Kejriwal attacks Pakistan says ‘we take our enemy head on’

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Gohana: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday described the Pulwama terror attack as an assault on the nation and said it was time that Pakistan be given a strong reply.

Kejriwal was in Haryana to pay tributes to the CRPF personnel who lost their lives in the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

“Pulwama attack is a cowardly act. This attack was against humanity. Pakistan is in the habit of carrying out such acts through proxy. But it is not in our blood to take on the enemy through proxy as we take our enemy head on,” he said.

 

He said that entire nation is united and Pakistan should be given a befitting reply. “Pakistan feels it can carry out such attacks and nothing will happen. But this time they need to be given a strong reply,” the Aam Aadmi Party’s national convener said.

Forty CRPF personnel were killed and five injured on Thursday in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district.

Kejriwal said, “It is an attack on the nation, we cannot sit silently. At this hour, the entire nation is with our government at the centre, the Prime Minister, the security forces.”

“From this platform, we want to tell the Prime Minister that the entire country will support you. There should be no politics at this time, we all are united. Pakistan should know that we can inflict heavy casualties on them,” he said.

He said the mother of one of the killed soldiers was suffering from cancer and some soldiers had to take care of their minor children.

Their sacrifices should not go in vain, otherwise it will be a betrayal to their families and the nation, he said.

“We have to take revenge of the sacrifices they made. Pakistan should be taught a befitting lesson. If this is not done, the souls of the martyrs will not rest in peace. Many families of martyrs have demanded that Pakistan be taught a stern lesson,” he said.

“They laid down their lives for our sake so that we remain safe. What was their dream, they dreamed that everyone should get good educational facilities, health care facilities, farmers due price for their crops, everyone should have access to electricity, water and good roads. Seventy years ago when we gained freedom, those who laid down their lives, they dreamed of a prosperous India.

“But even 70 years later, their dreams are yet to be fulfilled. We should take a pledge now and rise above considerations of politics, creed, religion to make this country number one in all fields, that will be befitting tributes to these soldiers,” he said.

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War kills more than 100,000 babies a year, says Save the Children

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MUNICH: At least 100,000 babies die every year because of armed conflict and its impact, from hunger to denial of aid, Save the Children International said.

In the 10 worst-hit countries, a conservative estimate of 550,000 infants died as a result of fighting between 2013 and 2017.

They succumbed to war and its effects, among them hunger, damage to hospitals and infrastructure, a lack of access to health care and sanitation and the denial of aid.
It said children face the threat of being killed or maimed, recruited by armed groups, abducted or falling victim to sexual violence.

 

“Almost one in five children are living in areas impacted by conflict — more than at any time in the past two decades,” said the charity’s CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt in a statement.

“The number of children being killed or maimed has more than tripled, and we are seeing an alarming increase in the use of aid as a weapon of war,” she said on releasing the report at the Munich Security Conference.

Save the Children said a study it had commissioned from the Peace Research Institute Oslo had found that 420 million children were living in conflict-affected areas in 2017.

This represents 18 per cent of all children worldwide and was up by 30 million from the previous year.

The worst-hit countries were Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Demo­cratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The total number of deaths from indirect effects over the five-year period jumped to 870,000 when all children under the age of five were included, the charity said.

It also issued a list of recommendations to help protect children, from steps such as committing to a minimum age of 18 for military recruitment to the avoidance of using explosive weapons in populated areas.

Thorning-Schmidt said the rising number of child casualties was very worrying.

“It is shocking that in the 21st century we are going backwards on principles and moral standards that are so simple — children and civilians should never be targeted.”

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Vadra says ‘witch hunt’ against him after ED attaches assets

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New Delhi: Robert Vadra on Saturday termed as “witch hunt” the Enforcement Directorate’s action of attaching assets of a firm linked to him, and claimed that it showed “complete misuse of assertion of power”.

Vadra alleged “relentless harassment” a day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said it had attached assets worth Rs 4.62 crore of a firm linked to him in connection with the Bikaner land scam money laundering case.

“I have had nothing to hide and I am surely not above the law. I have deposed for almost 6 days; ranging from 8 to 12 hours per day with a 40 minute lunch break, and have been escorted to the washroom,” Vadra said in a Facebook post.

 

He said he had completely cooperated and adhered to the rules whenever called in any part of the country.

“Attachment of my work place–my office and areas that are sub judice, shows a complete misuse of assertion of power, a complete vindictive & vicious witch hunt,” he alleged.

“When truth sustains and prevails, I suppose an apology is all that will suffice. Will stay determined for justice for me,” Vadra said.

The ED has issued a provisional order for attachment of the assets under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

It had grilled Vadra in this case in Jaipur twice earlier this week. His mother Maureen was also asked to depose but was allowed to go after completion of brief legal procedures.

Vadra was also questioned by the ED for three consecutive days last week in connection with a probe into allegations of money laundering to purchase assets abroad.

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