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CBI wanted to arrest Modi in Ishrat case: Ex-DIG Vanzara

The CBI opposed the discharge plea of Vanzara. Another co-accused and senior police official N.K. Amin too has filed a discharge plea in the same court and hearing on it concluded last month.

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D.G. Vanzara

Ahmedabad, June 5 (IANS) Gujarat’s former Deputy Inspector General of Police D.G. Vanzara on Tuesday told a special court that the CBI wanted to arrest then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and then Minister of State for Home Amit Shah in the Ishrat Jahan fake shootout case.

Arguing for Vanzara in a discharge petition filed in the CBI court presided over by J.K. Pandya, his counsel V.D. Gajjar claimed that though the Central Bureau of Investigation intended to arrest Modi and Shah, “fortunately” it did not happen.

While Modi is now the Prime Minister of India, Shah is the President of Bharatiya Janata Party.

Vanzara, who is out on bail in the case, had earlier submitted in the same court that Modi was secretly questioned by the case Investigating Officer when he was the Chief Minister.

The CBI had given a clean chit in 2014 to Shah on grounds of “insufficient evidence”.

In June 2004, Mumbai-based 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan, her friend Javed alias Pranesh, and Pakistani nationals Zeeshan Johar and Amzad Ali Rana were gunned down by a team of Vanzara’s men in a gun battle on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

Ishrat Jahan and her friends were dubbed terrorists out on a mission to assassinate the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. However, subsequent CBI investigation concluded that the shootout was fake.

Vanzara’s lawyer on Tuesday claimed that the charge-sheet against his client in the case was “concocted” and that there was no prosecutable evidence against the former police officer.

He also said that the testimony of witnesses could not be believed as some were earlier among the accused in the case.

The CBI opposed the discharge plea of Vanzara. Another co-accused and senior police official N.K. Amin too has filed a discharge plea in the same court and hearing on it concluded last month.

In his final submission in the court, Amin, a retired SP and now a practicing lawyer, claimed that Satish Verma, the Gujarat cadre IPS official who assisted the CBI in the investigations, had “tampered with the evidence” and maintained that he had “never fired from his gun”.

Both former police officers had also sought parity with former in-charge DGP P.P. Pandey, a co-accused who was discharged by the court.

The court posted the matter for next hearing on June 15.

India

Facebook India moves SC seeking to set aside Delhi Assembly Panel Notice

The case will be heard by a 3-judge bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul tomorrow.

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New Delhi, Sep 22 : The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear a plea by Ajit Mohan, the India head of social media giant Facebook, challenging a notice sent to him by the Delhi Assembly.

The petition stated that the subject matter under investigation by the Delhi assembly falls within the exclusive domain of the Union government and a state legislative assembly cannot compel witnesses to appear and provide evidence on such subjects.

“The Committee seeks to compel petitioner No. 1 (Ajit Mohan) to provide testimony on subjects within the exclusive domain of the Union of India. Specifically, the Committee is seeking to make a “determination of the veracity of allegations levelled against Facebook” in the Delhi riots, which intrudes into subjects exclusively allocated to the Union of India,” the petition said.

Regulation of intermediaries like Facebook falls within the Union list of the Constitution under the Entry “Communication” (Entry 31) in the said list. The Parliament, in exercise of that power enacted the Information Technology Act, 2000 to regulate intermediaries. Therefore, any assessment of the veracity of allegations against Facebook as an intermediary is exclusively a Union subject, it was submitted.

Besides, it was contended that the summons violates the right of the petitioner to remain silent and right to privacy which are fundamental rights under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

“By targeting Facebook – a platform that allows users to express themselves – the summons create a chilling effect on the free speech rights of users of the Facebook service,” the plea added.

The case will be heard by a 3-judge bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on Wednesday.

Mohan was first summoned by the committee for its meeting of September 15 in connection with the complaints alleging deliberate omissions and inaction by the social media company in removing hateful content and posts. The committee had earlier said that in its meeting of August 31, it had prima facie found Facebook India was allegedly complicit in aggravating the communal violence in north-east Delhi in February that left at least 53 people dead and over 400 injured.

A notice was issued to Facebook officials on September 10 based on that finding asking them to appear before the panel on September 15 but Facebook officials had failed to appear for that meeting after which a second notice was issued on September 18.

In its summons issued on September 18, the committee had said that it is empowered to make suggestions to the central government and it is in line with co-operative federalism which “encompasses a large number of areas including making recommendations to the union government when the same is required.”

The committee is investigating the matter based on several complaints received from the public after an article was published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on August 14.

The WSJ report titled ‘Facebook hate speech rules collide with Indian politics’ had alluded to the role allegedly played by top Facebook officials, particularly its public policy head Ankhi Das, by citing business imperatives to refrain from applying hate-speech rules to at least 4 individuals and groups linked to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), though the groups and individuals had been internally flagged for promoting or participating in violence.

Meanwhile, Facebook had written a letter to the Delhi assembly’s panel on September 13 stating that the matter was already under consideration by a parliamentary committee and the subject matter relating to content regulation is outside the scope of state assembly.

This stance was reiterated by Facebook and Mohan before the top court with the petition stating that a state legislative assembly cannot compel non-members to appear before it for an investigation into a subject matter which is beyond its jurisdiction.

“The Constitution of India, in conferring powers upon Parliament and State Legislatures endows them with the power to hold a non-member in breach of privileges, but only if that non-member has impeded or obstructed the body’s legislative functions. The Committee’s powers do not extend to compelling non- members to appear when the non-member has not impeded or obstructed legislative functioning,” the plea said.

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Approach Supreme Court for extension in Tarun Tejpal trial: HC to Goa govt

The former editor-in-chief has been accused of sexually assaulting a junior female colleague in the elevator of a hotel in north Goa during an event in November 2013.

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Tarun Tejpal

Panaji, Sep 22 : The Goa government which is representing the victim in the rape case filed against former editor-in-chief of Tehelka news magazine, Tarun Tejpal, will have to approach the Supreme Court of India to seek an extension in the deadline set by the apex court for completion of the trial.

An order by a single judge bench of the Bombay High Court in Goa on Tuesday follows a request by the victim, who has sought time to appear before the trial court in Goa, stating that she was unable to travel to Goa from Delhi in the wake of the pandemic citing health concerns.

“Unless the petitioner approaches the Apex Court and seeks extension of time fixed earlier, there is nothing much either this Court or the trial Court could do,” says the order issued on Tuesday by Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu.

In December last year, the Apex Court had directed the trial court in Goa to complete the much-delayed trial within six months.

Last month, the trial court had issued a bailable warrant to be served on the victim, after she failed to turn up for successive hearings citing health concerns in the wake of the pandemic. The victim is currently residing in the national capital.

The victim then approached the High Court bench pleading for suspension of the warrant and was subsequently granted relief.

“As seen from the record, the trial Court is in a predicament. It has been tasked with completing the trial in this case in a time-frame: by December 2020. And that time-frame was fixed by the Supreme Court,” the Court order said.

“So we cannot blame the trial Court for the procedure it has adopted and the directions it issued to secure the presence of the petitioner, “the victim and principal witness,” the order said.

The former editor-in-chief has been accused of sexually assaulting a junior female colleague in the elevator of a hotel in north Goa during an event in November 2013.

Tejpal faces charges under Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 (b) (criminal assault with intent to disrobe) and 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code.

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PM Narendra Modi visited 58 countries since 2015 and total expenditure of Rs 517 crore was incurred on the visits: Govt

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited 58 countries since 2015 and a total expenditure of Rs 517 crore was incurred on them, the government said on Tuesday

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Narendra Modi Aircraft

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited 58 countries since 2015 and a total expenditure of Rs 517 crore was incurred on them, the government said on Tuesday.

Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan provided details of the prime minister’s visits abroad since 2015, including their outcome, in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.

“The total expenditure on these visits was ₹ 517.82 crore,” he said.

According to the details provided by Muraleedharan, the prime minister made five visits each to the US, Russia and China, and multiple trips to some other countries like Singapore, Germany, France, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates.

Some of the visits the prime minister undertook were multi-nation trips while some were standalone bilateral visits.

Modi’s last trip was to Brazil on November 13-14 in 2019 where he attended a summit of influential grouping BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa).

Muraleedharan said Modi’s visits to the countries have enhanced their understanding of India’s perspectives on bilateral, regional and global issues.

He said the visits helped in strengthening India’s relations with the countries in a wide range of sectors including trade and investment, technology, defence collaboration and people-to-people contact.

“These, in turn, have contributed to India’s national development agenda to promote economic growth and well being of our people,” the minister said.

“India is now increasingly contributing to shaping the global agenda at the multilateral level including on climate change, trans-national crime and terrorism, cyber security and nuclear non-proliferation, and offering to the world its own unique initiatives for global issues like the International Solar Alliance,” he added.

To a separate question on Nepal, Muraleedharan said India’s age-old ties with the neighbouring country are “unique and special”, based on shared history, geography, culture, close people to people ties, mutual security and close economic linkages.

Asked whether the government is aware that Nepal has signed a number of transit and transportation treaties with China in the past few years to shrug off its dependence on India, he said New Delhi’s ties with Kathmandu stand on their own merit.

“Two thirds of Nepal’s global trade is with India and over 90 per cent of Nepal’s third country import-export transit is through India. India’s ties with Nepal stand on their own merit, and are independent of Nepal’s relations with third countries,” he said.

India’s ties with Nepal came under strain after the Himalayan nation came up with a new political map in May showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura in Uttarakhand as its territories.

India maintains that these areas along the border with Nepal in Uttarakhand belong to it.

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