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National Herald case: India never accepted ‘queen’ not answerable to law, says Arun Jaitley

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In a sharp dig at Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said India has never accepted that the ‘queen’ is not answerable to the law and asked her and Rahul Gandhi to contest the issue in courts instead of disrupting Parliament.

Rejecting the Congress charge of political vendetta being pursued by the government, he said the Government has “so far not taken any punitive action”.
The minister said there was equality before the law for everyone.

Posting his comments on Facebook, Jaitley was apparently referring to the Congress plea against summons issued to Sonia, her son Rahul Gandhi and others, which was dismissed by Delhi High Court. The Congress later changed tact and submitted to the trial court that they were ready to appear.

Without naming Sonia or Rahul Gandhi, Jaitley said the Congress leaders created a ‘Chakravyuh’ for themselves through a series of financial transactions where tax-exempt income of a political party was transfered to a real estate company.

“The Enforcement Directorate has not issued any notice to them. The Income Tax authorities will follow their own procedure… The Government has passed no order in relation to the disputed transactions,” he said.

Detailing the issues involved, he said a Criminal Court had taken cognisance of the offence and the High Court agreed with the Trial Court.

“The battle has to be fought legally. But the results of legal battles are always uncertain. The Congress is, therefore, crying foul and calling it political vendetta,” he said asking if the charge was against the courts.

The minister said there was equality before the law for everyone.

“No one is above the law. India has never accepted the diktat that the queen is not answerable to the law. Why should the Congress Party and its leaders not contest the notice before the Court?

“The Government cannot help them in the matter, nor can the Parliament. Why then disturb the Parliament and prevent the legislative activity from continuing?,” he said.

Jaitley said the answer to the Congress leadership landing up in a ‘Chakravyuh’ is to fight their battle legally and not disrupt Parliament.

“By disrupting democracy the financial web created by the Congress leaders cannot be undone,” he said.

Congress has for three days in a row stalled functioning of the Rajya Sabha, where the crucial Goods and Service Tax (GST) is awaiting approval for rolling out the landmark indirect tax regime from April 1, 2016.

India

COVID-19: Sanitisation drive taken up at Parliament

After an inspection by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Parliament House, the Lok Sabha Secretariat had previously conducted a similar exercise on March 21.

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New Delhi, May 30 : In the face of six novel coronavirus cases reported in Parliament so far, different civic agencies on Saturday undertook a sanitization drive in all buildings of the British-era complex.

Central Public Works Department (CPWD), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and other agencies participated in the drive that included sanitization of all indoor and outdoor areas, individual offices, restrooms, and all common areas.

After an inspection by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Parliament House, the Lok Sabha Secretariat had previously conducted a similar exercise on March 21.

On that occasion, Birla said that awareness and restraint are key to corona prevention.

Thereafter, several such exercises were undertaken on a periodic basis.

In the exercise held on Saturday, CPWD, NDMC and other allied agencies, working within the Parliament, used specialized equipment and strong chemical disinfectants like Sodium Hydrochloride to ensure sanitation in and around Parliament.

The sanitation drive was conducted as a precautionary measure and to minimize contact between officials working within the complex. Currently, as per Lok Sabha Secretariat orders, a certain number of officers and staff are required to work from home.

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India

Govt in lockdown exit mode limits curbs to containment zones till June 30

Night Curfew shall continue to remain in force on the movement of individuals for all non-essential activities. However, the revised timings of the curfew will be from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

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New Delhi, May 30 : The Centre on Saturday took an exit step from the 68-day nationwide lockdown, declaring that the restrictions will be limited only to containment zones up to June 30 and that the prohibited activities will be opened in a phased manner in areas outside these zones, allowing restaurants, malls, religious places and education sectors to open in a phased manner.

Applicable from Monday, June 1, the fresh order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) spoke of the expanded fresh guidelines a day ahead of the end of lockdown 4.0.

“In exercise of powers under section 6 (2) (i) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has directed the undersigned to issue an order to extend the lockdown in containment zones up to June 30, and reopen prohibited activities in a phased manner in areas outside the containment zones,” the order read.

“Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred under section 10 (2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act 2005, it is directed that the guidelines will remain in force up to June 30. With effect from June 1 to June 30, the lockdown 5.0 will be limited only to containment zones and only a elimited number of activities will remain prohibited throughout the country'”, it added.

As per the order, international air travel, operation of Metro Rail, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars, auditoriums, assembly halls, and political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural and religious functions, and other large congregations will remain prohibited.

Based on extensive consultations held with the states and Union Territories (UTs), the guidelines have allowed all activities that were prohibited earlier in areas outside the containment zones in a phased manner, with the stipulation of following the standard operating procedures (SOPs), to be prescribed by the Health Ministry.

The Covid-19 pandemic has so far infected over 1.73 lakh people in India, claiming the lives of 4,971 people across the country.

During lockdown 5.0, in Phase I, religious places and places of worship, hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services, and shopping malls will be permitted to open from June 8. The Health Ministry will issue SOPs for the above activities, in consultation with the Central ministries, the concerned departments and other stakeholders, for ensuring social distancing.

In Phase II, schools, colleges, educational, training and coaching institutions will be opened after consultations with the states and UTs.

As per the MHA order, state governments and UT administrations have been advised to hold consultations at the institution level with parents and other stakeholders. Based on the feedback, a decision on the re-opening of these institutions will be taken in July.

In Phase III, dates for their opening will be decided based on the assessment of the situation.

The lockdown shall continue to be implemented strictly in the containment zones. These will be demarcated by the state and UT governments, after taking into consideration the guidelines issued by the Health Ministry.

Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained and only essential activities will be allowed. There shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods.

No separate permission, approval or e-permit will be required for such movements. However, if a state or UT, based on reasons of public health and its assessment of the situation, proposes to regulate movement of persons, it will give wide publicity in advance regarding the restrictions to be placed on such movements.

Night Curfew shall continue to remain in force on the movement of individuals for all non-essential activities. However, the revised timings of the curfew will be from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may prohibit certain activities outside the containment zones, or impose such restrictions as deemed necessary.

Vulnerable persons such as persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes, the order said.

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Cities

20 new containment zones formed in Delhi; 122 total

Covid cases in the national capital crossed the 18,000 mark on Saturday.

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New Delhi, May 30 : The number of Containment Zones in the national capital rose to 122 on Saturday with 20 new being formed in the last 24 hours, according to Delhi Government.

Among the 20 new containment zones, one is in East, three in North, three in south-east and 13 in West zone.

The highest 24 containment zones are in the North district. The South East has 17 containment zones while the South district has 12 zones.

Among those having the least zones is the New Delhi district with three zones.

The South West has 12 such zones while the North West districts has 13 containment zones.

The Central district has seven zones and the North East district has four zones while Shahdara district has eight zones.

Six containment zones are in the East district.

So far, total 53 zones have been de-contained, as per the data shared by the Delhi government on Saturday — the highest 12 from the West district. On Saturday, three zones were freed — two in the south-east district and one in the South district.

Covid cases in the national capital crossed the 18,000 mark on Saturday.

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