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Arun Jaitley indicating IT department to issue notice to Congress: Kapil Sibal

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NEW DELHI: Alleging political vendetta in the National Herald case, senior Congressleader Kapil Sibal today accused Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of indicating to Income Tax department issue of notice to his party in the case.

He also rejected all charges of alleged cheating and siphoning off money by Congress in the matter.

“Your Finance Minister in his blogs and on Facebook says this is an offence under Income Tax Act. He is the Finance Minister of this country. Does he have the right to make statements like that? He is giving a sort of indication to the IT department that you send notice. And what has stopping of Parliament got to do with the case of National Herald. It is nothing to do with it,” Sibal said speaking at the “Aaj Tak Agenda” programme here.

Congress has been stalling Parliament for the past few days over the issue of “political vendetta”.

Sibal referred to comments made by revenue ministers of BJP-ruled Maharashtra and Haryana governments favouring cancellation of leases of properties of National Herald or its holding companies and asked “Is this not political vendetta?”

He said Congress is committed to reviving and running National Herald, a newspaper established in 1938 by Jawaharlal Nehru.

“There was no cheating in National Herald case. Young Indian is a Section 25 company that means no money can be shared with any of the shareholders. Nobody has lost any money or made any money in this,” said Sibal, a noted lawyer and a former Union Minister.

He said Congress wants passage of GST bill in the Parliament but first government should accepts its three suggestions on the proposed legislation.

“Parliament should function and and we also want Parliament to function. One of a very senior BJP leaders set a democratic principle that obstruction in Parliament is part of Parliamentary strategy.

“In the history of democracy, no leader has ever said such a thing. What have we said on GST? We do not want flawed GST. We have given them three suggestions on GST. We have said you come to us on the suggestions put forth by us and implement them,” he said.

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments that reforms meant for common men are being stalled in Parliament, Sibal asked, “When he was Chief Minister of Gujarat and for six years he was opposing GST, at that time was his feelings not connected with common men?”.

Sibal said: “He (Modi) does Mann ki Baat everyday, we want he should do “dhang ki baat” (meaningful talks) also.

Business

Most of additional budget spending for people-centric schemes: FM Sitharaman

The government expenses have increased of late and are likely to increase further due to the coronavirus pandemic and the eventual economic slowdown.

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Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi, Sep 19 : Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman on Friday said that the majority of the additional resources in the first batch of the Supplementary Demands for Grants would be spent on people-centric schemes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In her reply to the debate on the Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2020-21 and the Demands for Excess Grants for 2016-17 in the Lok Sabha, she said it is probably for the first time that the government has sought such a huge amount in the first batch of the Supplementary Demands for Grants.

Late on Friday evening, the Lok Sabha approved the supplementary demands for additional spending of Rs 2.35 lakh crore, including a cash outgo of Rs 1.66 lakh crore.

The Centre has sought Rs 40,000 crore for providing grants for the creation of capital assets under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and for the transfer of funds to the National Employment Guarantee Fund.

It has sought an additional expenditure of Rs 30,956.98 crore for providing Grants-in-Aid General for Direct Benefit Transfer to Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana’s women bank account holders.

Further, to meet the expenditure towards recapitalisation of the Public Sector Banks through the issue of government securities, it has sought an approval for the expenditure of Rs 20,000 crore.

Approval for expenditure of Rs 4,000 crore has been sought for meeting an additional expenditure towards Grants-in-Aid General to National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Ltd (NCGTC) for the Guarantee Emergency Credit Line (GECL) facility to eligible MSME borrowers.

The first batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants for financial year 2020-21, among other things, included a sum of Rs 46,602.43 crore required for providing additional allocations under the Post-Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant (Rs 44,340 crore) and Grants-in-Aid General for States Disaster Response Fund (Rs 2,262.43 crore) as per the accepted recommendations for the 15th Finance Commission.

The government expenses have increased of late and are likely to increase further due to the coronavirus pandemic and the eventual economic slowdown.

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Cities

One dead, 22 fall sick after consuming ‘local alcohol’ in Andhra

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Local Alcohal

Visakhapatnam, Sep 18 : One person died and 22 others fell sick after consuming suspected ‘local alcohol’ in three villages of Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram district.

“There were 22 cases reported. The complaint basically is swelling in the leg, pain in the stomach, and reddishness in the eyes. There was no other symptom. By the time this came to us, one person died,” Visakhapatnam District Collector V. Vinay Chand told IANS.

Chinaraba, Kotaparthy and Kakaravalasa are the three villages where the sickness afflicted the unsuspecting tribals.

Chinaraba has a population of 248, Koaparthy 95 and Kakaravalasa 125. Most of the ailing tribals are in their 30s and 40s.

Kakaravalasa is 52 km north west of Vishakhapatnam.

All the 22 who fell sick, were shifted to the King George Hospital (KGH) in Visakhapatnam for treatment.

Though the health department conducted a medical camp in the tribal village, they did not improve, necessitating them to be shifted to KGH.

“The condition of all of them is stable and they are being continuously monitored. They have all been tested for Covid, they have all turned negative,” said Chand.

The health department has collected more blood samples from the tribals for further testing, those results are expected in a day.

Chand said the tribals were also diagnosed with malnourishment.

Though the reason for the tribals’ ailment hasn’t been established, officials are suspecting the consumption of local alcohol.

“It is suspected that there was some consumption of liquor. The tribals normally consume locally available liquor. However, this is yet to be confirmed,” the Collector clarified.

According to Chand, tribals were known to be consuming various types of locally available alcohol, however, he said if that liquor was contaminated or illicit is not clear.

“There are a lot of stories going around, I’m not really sure until we get more information and I cannot confirm or negate anything. Probable reason was any consumption of locally available toddy, but that is also subject to confirmation,” the officer observed.

The medical camp will continue for the next 7 – 10 days in the tribal villages. Medical staff are educating the tribals on personal hygiene, washing hands and drinking warm water.

They were also advised on coronavirus, told to refrain from consuming stored meat and also explained the adverse effects of alcohol.

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India

Delhi Police Arrest Freelance Journalist Under Official Secrets Act

Rajeev Sharma, a resident of Delhi’s Pitampura, has been arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police.

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New Delhi: The Delhi Police on Friday said it has arrested a freelance journalist, who was found in possession of defence-related classified documents, in connection with a case under the Official Secrets Act.

Rajeev Sharma, a resident of Delhi’s Pitampura, has been arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police.

“He (Rajeev) was found to be in possession of some defence-related classified documents. Investigation of the case is in progress and further details will be shared in due course,” Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell), said.

Besides Sharma, the names of activists and academicians like Anand Teltumbde, Shalini Gera and Bela Bhatia had also figured in the list.

Facebook was accused of using its messaging platform to dispatch ‘Pegasus’, which is a hacking tool.

While NSO had claimed that it sold the software only to official agencies, the Narendra Modi government had said that it had nothing to do with the spyware attack.

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