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ED probe extends to PC’s will for his granddaughter

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p chidambaram

New Delhi, Nov 28 : The Enforcement Directorate told the Supreme Court on Thursday that it has begun a probe into former Union Minister P. Chidambaram’s wills made in favour of his granddaughter, after the Delhi High Court dismissed the former Finance Minister’s bail on November 15.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a three-judge bench headed by Justice R. Banumathi that after the high court twice examined the judicial custody of Chidambaram, he wanted the court to deny him bail after studying all the facts brought before it.

“Moreover, the respondent (ED) has examined the petitioner-accused at least twice during the judicial custody, after the order of Delhi High Court.

“The petitioner was confronted with the rest of the evidence of illegal gratification in INX Media case, the wills made in favour of his granddaughter by the directors of ASCPL and the statements of the persons concerned in the case,” said the ED in its affidavit opposing Chidambaram bail.

During the course of the search and scrutiny of the digital data, it was revealed that directors and share-holders of Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (a “benami” company of the petitioner and his son), India (which is holding company of Advantage Strategic Consulting Singapore Pte. Ltd., Singapore) later on in the year 2013 transferred their entire share holding of M/s Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt. Ltd. to the granddaughter of petitioner by way of a will.

“During the course of investigation when one of the co-conspirators was asked to produce original copy of the will, he stated in his statement 23.02.2018 that original copy of the will was destroyed at the instance of the son of petitioner (Karti P. Chidambaram, another conspirator)”, said the ED affidavit.

Mehta also told the apex court the investigating agency is also probing the complex web of shell companies, used for money laundering, all located outside the country, and 12 accounts and 12 properties in 16 foreign countries.

“The investigation in the present case is at a very crucial stage. Revealing the names of witnesses at this stage may hamper the investigation,” said ED in the affidavit.

Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI in the INX Media case on August 21. The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging corruption in approvals granted by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to the INX Media group for overseas fund of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during his tenure as Finance Minister.

Business

Real GDP growth to remain negative in H1, full fiscal: RBI Gov Shaktikanta Das

RBI MPC meet: More protracted spread of the pandemic, deviations from the forecast of a normal monsoon, and global financial market volatility are the key downside risks, said Das

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National debt under Modi govt surges
  • Covid-19 impact: India’s GDP to contract 6.1% in FY21, says Nomura
  • Coronavirus crisis: Banks should raise capital proactively, says RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das
  • Rising real lending rates causing steep slump in credit flows, GDP

Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das said that the real GDP growth of the country is expected to remain in the contraction zone. “Real GDP in the first half of the year is expected to remain in the contraction zone.

For the year 2021 as a whole real GDP growth is also estimated to be negative,” said Governor Das during the MPC presser on Thursday.

Das said that in case of an early containment of the COVID-19 spread, there could be an upside to the outlook. “More protracted spread of the pandemic, deviations from the forecast of a normal monsoon, and global financial market volatility are the key downside risks,” he added.

“As regards the outlook for growth, the MPC noted that the recovery of the rural economy is expected to be robust, buoyed by the progress in kharif sowing. Manufacturing firms expect domestic demand to recover gradually from Q2 and to sustain through Q1 2021-22. On the other hand, consumer confidence turned more pessimistic in July relative to the preceding round of the Reserve Bank’s survey. External demand is expected to remain anaemic under the weight of the global recession and 5 contractions in global trade,” Das stated.

He said that the MPC has noted that in such an environment of unprecedented stress, supporting recovery of the economy would assume primacy in the conduct of the monetary policy. “While the space for further monetary policy is available, it is important to use it judiciously to maximise the beneficial effects on the underlying economy,” Das highlighted.

Das said there were signs of recovery across the world. “Monetary Policy Committee noted that in India too, economic activity had started to recover, but surges of fresh infections have forced fresh lockdowns, hence several high-frequency indicators have levelled off,” he added.

Additionally, the MPC putting all debates to rest, left the repo rate unchanged at 4 per cent and would maintain an accommodative stance.

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Cities

Rains lash Mumbai, landslide at Malabar Hill

The IMD has forecast heavy to extremely heavy spells of rain in Mumbai and the coastal Konkan area in the next 24 hours.

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Mumbai Rains

Mumbai, Aug 6 : Intermittent heavy showers continued to lash Mumbai a day after it was battered and shattered by stormy weather that left a trail of destruction, fallen trees or branches, hundreds of vehicles submerged or broken down, officials said here on Thursday.

Overnight rains were reported from most parts of coastal Maharashtra including Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, besides regions of Western Maharashtra like Kolhapur, Satara and Sangli.

A minor landslide occurred when a portion of a hillock at the posh Malabar Hill crashed down near Pedder Road, but luckily there were no casualties.

The IMD Mumbai said that the Mumbai city received 33.1 cms and the suburbs got around half or 16.2 cms rainfall.

In the past 24 hours, many areas of south Mumbai witnessed their maiden floods, including those which had escaped flooding during the July 26, 2005 Great Floods, when the city recorded a staggering 160 cms rainfall in a 24-hour period.

These include: Churchgate, Colaba, Marine Lines, Marine Drive, parts of the congested Kalbadevi, Dongri, Mohammed Ali Road, Byculla, Mazagaon, Grant Road, Charni Road, Mumbai Central, besides the traditional flood hotspots of Dadar, Parel, Sion, Matunga, Kings Circle, Wadala, Kurla, and several suburban areas.

Locals attribute this to the combined effects of the ongoing Mumbai Metro and Coastal Road works, though officials have not commented on the issue.

The gusty winds of upto 70 kmph on Wednesday uprooted over a hundred trees jamming many roads in south Mumbai, which the civic workers were busy clearing since night.

At least 250 commuters stranded in two trains between Byculla and Masjid Bunder stations on the CR were rescued by police and disaster teams with rubber boats sailing on the flooded tracks.

In some areas in south Mumbai, Kandivali, Dahisar, Kurla, Parel, Dadar, Wadala and Sion, water rushed into ground-floor homes, shops or offices in south Mumbai as incessant rains continued all day, and the subways in Dahisar, Malad and Andheri were flooded preventing east-west movement of traffic.

With thousands of commuters getting stranded, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday threw open around 130 civic schools to enable them spend the night there.

The IMD has forecast heavy to extremely heavy spells of rain in Mumbai and the coastal Konkan area in the next 24 hours.

Amid apprehensions of a 2005-like flood situation, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray reviewed the monsoon situation and the state government has kept around 15 NDRF teams in readiness for Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur to help in any contingencies.

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India

Manoj Sinha is new Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor

Much like his predecessor GC Murmu, Sinha’s greatest challenge will be to remove the sense of alienation keenly felt in the Valley.

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Manoj Sinha

The Centre’s choice of Manoj Sinha as Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir is an intriguing one. Much like his predecessor GC Murmu, Sinha’s greatest challenge will be to remove the sense of alienation keenly felt in the Valley.

That sense of alienation, some have argued, was only compounded under ex-governor Satya Pal Malik under whose tenure the Valley saw the ‘fax pas’ saga in 2018 and then saw the state bifurcated into two Union Territories by the Centre.

Murmu, a bureaucrat described as hands-on and low-profile, was seemingly the perfect pick to follow Malik in the months after the abrogation of Article 370. But Sinha is a career politician in the vein of Malik.

Sinha, 61, a senior BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh and former Union minister, was part of the Narendra Modi government from 2014 to 2019. As per News18, Sinha, thought to be close to Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, was considered a front-runner for the post of Uttar Pradesh chief minister after the BJP won the 2017 Assembly elections.

Born on 1 July, 1959, in Mohanpura of Ghazipur district of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Sinha started his political career when he was elected the president of Banaras Hindu University Students Union in 1982. He was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1996 and again in 1999. He has been actively involved in working for the backwards villages of the region.

Sinha, a member of the BJP national council from 1989 to 1996, was elected to the Lower House for a third term in national politics when the BJP swept the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. He was former minister of state for railways and later held an Independent charge of Ministry of Communication.

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