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Demonetisation row: If hardship continues, there may be riots, says SC

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New Delhi, Nov 18, 2016: The Supreme Court on Friday denied to stay, for now, the proceedings in various high courts and lower courts as it cautioned that if hardship continues, there may be riots.

Asking the government to ease the situation, the court observed if hardship continues “we may have riots” as “people have become frantic” through standing in queues for long hours.

“It indicates the magnitude of the problem is serious. People are going to the High Courts for relief. This is a serious issue. We may have riots in the streets. Let them go (to the courts),” said a bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Anil R. Dave as Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi urged the apex court to stay all such proceeding in High Courts and subordinate courts.

The court said that government could not dispute that “there are suffering and difficulty.”

At the outset of the hearing, the bench asked how it is that swapping of demonetised currency notes with the new ones has been brought down from Rs 4,500 to Rs 2,000, even as it had asked the government to take steps to ease the hardship being faced by the people.

Adjourning the matter for November 25, the apex court has asked the Attorney General to move transfer petitions, which the court will consider.

The Centre had on November 8 demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes to what it said was curb black money and corruption.

Pointing that people were moving the courts because of they are suffering, the court observed: “We can’t shut them out from the court.”

“It is a serious matter, people should not suffer,” observed Chief Justice Thakur as Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that government was monitoring the situation “day after day, hour after hour”.

He told the court that government had already issued directions for giving Rs. 50,000 to traders, farmers, Rs. 2.5 lakhs for weddings and so on.

As Rohatgi gave the details of two lakh ATMs, 1.25 lakh bank branches, and petrol pumps from where people could get money, senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the court that 75,000 ATMs were not functional and a large number of them are not calibrated to dispense the new currency notes.

Appearing for one of the petitioners, Sibal said that currency worth Rs 23 lakh crore is to be printed and currency worth Rs 14 lakh crore have been demonetised and there is no replacement. He said currency worth nine lakh crores was in circulation.

He told the court that 47 people have already lost their lives.

Describing Sibal’s statement as politically inspired, Attorney General urged the court “to go and see, the queues have become shorter”.

As Sibal defended his position, Rohatgi shot back: “I have seen your press conference”. Sibal is one of the senior spokesmen of the Congress.

During the course of the hearing, the bench inquired as to why currency notes of Rs 100 denomination were not being made available, Rohatgi told the court that currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination that has been demonetised formed 85 per cent of the money in circulation.

Adjourning the matter for further hearing on November 25, the court asked the Attorney General to take into consideration the suggestions given by Sibal. Rohatgi said that he has already forwarded them to the authorities concerned.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena too moved the court challenging the November 8 decision.

Read More: Centre seeks stay on cases challenging demonetisation

Wefornews Bureau

India

PM Modi holds telephonic conversation with President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani

Mr Ghani thanked Mr Modi for timely supply of food and medical assistance to meet Afghan requirement.

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Ghani, Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated India’s commitment to the people of Afghanistan in their quest for a peaceful, prosperous and inclusive Afghanistan.

Mr Modi today had a telephonic conversation with President of Afghanistan Dr Ashraf Ghani. Both leaders exchanged greetings on the joyous festival of Eid- ul -Adha.

Mr Ghani thanked Mr Modi for timely supply of food and medical assistance to meet Afghan requirement.

The two leaders also exchanged views on the evolving security situation in the region and other areas of mutual bilateral interest.

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India

Air India pilots allege blatant discrimination by management

“Why is the cost of the inefficiency of the Personnel Department being paid by pilots?” they asked.

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Air India 777

New Delhi, Aug 3 : Alleging blatant discrimination by Air India’s Personnel and Finance Departments, the pilots have told the national carrier’s management that if such behaviour continues unchecked, the Director, Personnel will be responsible for the consequences.

In a letter to Air India Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal, the pilots’ associations, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association and the Indian Pilots Guild, have alleged that the management is discriminating against the pilots.

“We request you to kindly direct the concerned departments to clear backlogged files as well as outstanding dues for all pilots. We have cooperated unconditionally above and beyond the call of duty to ensure smooth flight operations. This blatant discrimination, among other grievances, has severely hampered our morale and faith in these departments. If such behaviour continues unchecked, the Director, Personnel will be responsible for the consequences to follow,” the pilots said.

“We would like to bring to your notice the lackadaisical attitude of the Personnel and Finance Departments in ensuring timely action and payment when it comes to pilots,” the letter said.

“When it comes to doling out promotions en masse for themselves or other support departments, not even a pandemic or national lockdown can dent their enthusiasm. When even retrospective deductions are made on our wages with immediate effect by way of prompt circulars, why do the same people drag their feet when it comes to clearing our rightful dues or honouring our service conditions?” the pilots asked.

Citing examples of this “lackadaisical attitude”, the pilots said that the Special Pay increment, as per the bilateral wage agreement between the management and the ICPA of January 1, 2016, mentions a yearly increment as per years of service in the grade.

“No increment has been made in special pay since 2019. This routine exercise is never given priority, as pilots are the prime beneficiaries. Further, despite clear directions from the Hon. Supreme Court, the 2016 wage has been illegally and unilaterally imposed upon pilots of the IPG who already have a separate bilateral wage agreement. The TMU (Temporary Medically Unfit) Insurance compensation for pilots is never paid on time. Pilots are made to run after their files from one department to the next till there are no more excuses to delay processing. At times, the delay is in years,” they said.

The pilots alleged that the Captain or Commander Grade revision is never carried out on time, despite being a routine annual exercise.

Then, the Personnel Department’s draft Establishment orders are replete with mistakes/omissions which has to be corrected through repeated representations, they said. After all this unnecessary delay, when the order is eventually released, the financial benefits accrue from the date of the Establishment order and not from the actual date of promotion, they said.

“Why is the cost of the inefficiency of the Personnel Department being paid by pilots?” they asked.

The PMU (Permanently Medical Unfit) compensation to any affected pilot is again never paid on time. As mentioned above, the affected pilot is made to run from pillar to post for his/her rightful compensation. “Please note that these pilots have lost their source of livelihood as they are permanently grounded. They are being let down by the company

when they need it the most,” the pilots said.

They also said that the retirement benefits of recent retirees are yet to be cleared. The treatment meted out to these loyal long-serving employees of Air India is unethical, as per the pilots.

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Delhi govt bans use of hookah in hotels, restaurants to stem COVID-19 spread

Delhi has so far recorded 1,38,482 COVID-19 cases and 4,021 people have died due to the disease.

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hookah bar

New Delhi, Aug 3 : The Delhi government on Monday banned the use of hookahs, with or without tobacco, in all public places, including hotels, restaurants and bars, with immediate effect to control the spread of COVID-19.

Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as smoking means the fingers are in contact with the lips which increases the possibility of transmission of the virus, the health department said in an order.

“Smokers may also already have lung diseases or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase the risk of serious illness,” it said.

Smoking products such as water pipes often involve the sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in communal and social settings, the health department said.

Therefore, the use and sharing of hookah, with or without tobacco (herbal hookah), “which might further increase the spread of SARS-CoV2, is strictly prohibited in all public places, including hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs, eateries, discotheques, etc. in Delhi with immediate effect to prevent and control the outbreak of COVID-19”, it said.

Delhi has so far recorded 1,38,482 COVID-19 cases and 4,021 people have died due to the disease.

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