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Cabinet approves four-laning of National Highway project in Himachal



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New Delhi, June 7:  The Union Cabinet on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday gave nod to four-laning of a 19 km stretch of National Highway-21 in Himachal Pradesh at an estimated cost of Rs 2,775.93 crore.

The construction, from end of Pandoh bypass to Takoli section, will be done under National Highways Development Project (NHDP) Phase IV B on hybrid annuity mode, a statement said.

“The cost is estimated to be Rs 2,775.93 crore including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The total length of the road to be developed is approximately 19 km,” a Road Transport and Highways Ministry statement said.

The project will help in expediting the improvement of infrastructure in Himachal Pradesh and in reducing the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying between end of Pandoh bypass to Takoli section, it said.

“The development of this stretch will also help in uplifting the socio-economic condition of this region in the state.

“It would also increase employment potential for local labourers for project activities. It has been estimated that a total number of 4,076 mandays are required for construction of one kilometre of highway. As such, employment potential of 77,000 mandays will be generated locally during the construction period of this stretch,” it added.



Delhi HC to hear plea challenging acquittal of A Raja in 2G case




New Delhi, March 21: The High Court to hear a plea filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against the acquittal of former telecom minister A. Raja and others in the 2G spectrum case on Wednesday. 

Yesterday, the probe agency filed the appeal in the high court after a special CBI court in a shocking judgment in last December acquitted all the 19 accused, including A. Raja, in the Rs 30,984 crore scam.

The CBI had back then stated it would lodge a petition challenging the trial court order.

The high court after examination found strong grounds for an appeal and fixed March 21 for hearing.

Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had on Monday filed a plea in the Delhi High Court against the same.


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Sushma should apologize to 39 bereaved families for ‘misleading’ them: Congress



Randeep Surjewala

New Delhi, March 20 : The Congress on Tuesday demanded that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj should apologise to families of the 39 Indians, killed in Iraq, for “misleading” them and also demanded that the Narendra Modi government compensate them.

The party also accused the government of crossing all limits of “insensitivity, inhumanity, and being merciless” as well as politicising the issue.

“The 39 Indians were kidnapped in June 2014. The entire world and the neighbouring countries had confirmed that they were not alive,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.

However, the government had however assured the country and the families seven times from 2014 till July 2017 that they were and being provided basic amenities and food, he said.

“When Indian media went to Mosul in July 2017 and reported that the Indians were not alive, Sushma Swaraj and Modi government rejected it. When an eyewitness came forward said that the ISIS have killed the Indians, they rejected it too.

“Sushma Swaraj had said when Iraqi Prime Minister comes to India, the government will confirm it from him, but didn’t do anything,” he added.

“Did the government think about the families even once, when they were desperately waiting for their dear ones for four years.

“Now they are blaming us for politicising it. 39 Indians have died, but the minister is praising the government and thanking the PM and her junior minister,” he said.

Surjewala also asked what was the need to give the statement in a hurry. “Was it not because Iraq’s Martyrs Foundation was going to hold a press conference in the afternoon today (Tuesday) and was about the reveal the truth about the killing of 39 Indians? She, therefore, gave the statement in a hurry.

“She gave the statement when the issue of no-confidence came up. Sushma Swaraj and Modi government should not have done politics with this….Unfortunately, even today they are politicising it.”

“We demand, if there is slightest of humanity left, the minister should visit all the families and apologise to them for misleading them. Modi government must also compensate the families respectfully for the long wait of four years,” he demanded.

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Aadhaar exposes transgenders to surveillance, harassment: SC told

Appearing for Swatantra, advocate Jayana Kothari told the court that agencies collecting demography information for Aadhaar could not insist on the disclosure of gender identity as it is covered under privacy.



Majority of transgendera

New Delhi, March 20 : The Supreme Court was told on Tuesday that the parting of personal biometric and demographic information by transgenders and sexual minorities under the Aadhaar Act exposes them to “violence, surveillance and harassment by the State and private persons”.

“Once the personal demographic details of transgenders and sexual minorities is declared, it exposes them to surveillance, violence, and discrimination including infringement of their fundamental right to life and liberty, equality, free speech and movement,” NGO Swatantra told a constitution bench.

The five-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, is hearing a batch of petitions including by former Karnataka High Court Judge K.S. Puttuswamy, Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon and others challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act.

Appearing for Swatantra, advocate Jayana Kothari told the court that agencies collecting demography information for Aadhaar could not insist on the disclosure of gender identity as it is covered under privacy.

Pointing to the Supreme Court granting transgenders the legal status by recognising them as the third gender, Kothari said the compulsory disclosure of gender identity while parting with biometric and demographic information was violative of the Constitution’s Article 14.

Referring to the top court judgment upholding right to privacy as a fundamental right, Kothari said this would also include the right to informational privacy which permits individual control over the dissemination of personal information including gender identity.

Mentioning past and prevailing laws, including the Karnataka Police Act and Telangana Eunuchs Act, Kothari said “these laws continue to enable the State to target and prosecute (people from the) transgender community solely on the basis of their gender identity”.

Kothari told the court that Telangana Eunuchs Act is a “draconian colonial legislation” which empowers the State to make arrests solely on the basis of gender identity.

“A brief review of existing legislation, ongoing litigation and State action (and)prosecution confirms that wherever the State has been permitted to aggregate information about transgender community it has often led to systematic discrimination and oppression of the community in India,” Kothari said.

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