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Dassault selected an offset partner, Modi govt had no role : IAF Chief

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New Delhi, Oct 3 :  Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa said that the government and the Indian Air Force (IAF) had nothing to do with the selection of the offset partner for Rafale-maker Dassault in the 36 fighter jets deal.

Defending the Modi government on the controversy surrounding the choice of offset partners for the Rafale defence deal, the Air Chief said, “It was Dassault that was to select an offset partner and the government, IAF had no role to play.”

He also said the IAF was consulted on the acquisition of 36 fighters at the appropriate level.

His statement came at the time when the ruling party BJP is trying to save Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who signed the Rafale deal after the expose by the then French president Francois Hollande that France was not given a choice in the selection of Anil Ambani’s inexperienced Reliance Defence as an offset partner for Dassault. Rafale deal signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then French president Francois Hollande in 2015.

“At the appropriate level, the Indian Air Force was consulted, but it is for the government to choose. It was decided to buy two squadrons through a Government to Government deal, to meet up emergency requirements. HAL was involved in ToT (Transfer of Technology) and licensed production…so there is no question of HAL being left out,”he said.

“It’s a very good aircraft. When it comes to the subcontinent, “Rafale will be a game-changer, it has many capabilities. We have a very good package along with the aircraft – best weapons, India specific enhancement, longer industrial support commitment…we have a lot of advantages in the Rafale deal,” he asserted.

The Congress and other opposition parties have alleged that state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was unceremoniously dropped in favour of Anil Ambani’s company.

“The IAF had listed its options – this was one of them,” he added.

“Rs. 9.73 billion dollars in offsets have been cleared for the IAF alone in 28 of 47 contracts signed. “(HAL) Hindustan Aeronautics Limited got only 400 million dollars plus of this,”he said.

“Indian Air Force has reposed its belief in Tejas (aircraft) and the development of LCA Mark-2 is in progress. The IAF plans to acquire a total of 12 squadrons comprising of 239 aircraft.”

When inquired about HAL’s plan to build the Rafale aircraft, the IAF Chief commented that there is no co-production, only buy off shelf, so there is no question of HAL being left out while the offset partners are decided by the OEM.

“There has been a delay in delivery schedule in contracts already executed to HAL. There is a three year delay in the delivery of Sukhoi-30, a six year delay in the Jaguar (aircraft), a five year delay in the LCA, and a two year delay in delivery of Mirage 2000 upgrade.”

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Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey Steps Down from Service, Likely to Contest Upcoming Polls

Sanjiv Kumar Singhal, the Director General of Civil Defence and Fire Services, has been given the additional charge of DGP Bihar till further orders.

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Gupteshwar Pandey IPS

Bihar Director General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey on Tuesday stepped down from his post after taking voluntary retirement from the services. His request seeking VRS was approved by Governor Phagu Chauhan.

Pandey is likely to contest the upcoming state Assembly polls.

Sanjiv Kumar Singhal, the Director General of Civil Defence and Fire Services, has been given the additional charge of DGP Bihar till further orders.

Pandey, who was involved in the investigation of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, found himself mired in controversy after his sexist comment aimed at Rhea Chakraborty. Hours after the Supreme Court last month ordered a CBI probe into Rajput’s death, Pandey had said that Chakraborty did not have the “aukat” (stature) to comment about Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Pandey had later apologised for the remark.

Earlier this month, Pandey had hailed Chakraborty’s arrest by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) as a big win for Bihar.

Pandey has been an Indian Police Service officer since 1987. He was selected as Bihar DGP in February last year out of 12 IPS officers recommended by the state government to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

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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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India

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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