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Pilots challenge Air India’s leave without pay scheme in Delhi High Court

A series of four meetings took place between the pilots’ body and Air India to discuss the austerity measures that can be adopted to keep the airline afloat.

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Air India 777

New Delhi, July 26 : The Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court challenging Air Indias leave without pay (LWP) scheme and to “challenge the manifest arbitrariness and illegality of the scheme”.

The scheme was circulated on July 14 and the petition states that it “confers disproportionate powers on its Chairman and Managing Director” to pass an order requiring an employee to go a compulsory “leave without pay” for a period of six months or for two years, extendable up to five years.

The role and courage of the IPG along with other flying crew staff have been acknowledged and lauded by the Minister of Civil Aviation himself. However, instead of getting rewarded for risking their lives in service for the nation, Air India imposed a blanket 10 per cent deduction in allowances for all the employees.

“Despite the fact that there are no jobs in the market and it would be impossible for anyone to sustain such a long period without any income, this scheme is a direct attack on the right to life and livelihood of an individual and his/her family. No procedure of hearing or review as been built in this impugned scheme, thus, violating the principles of natural justice,” the petition said, citing its rationale.

The scheme has been challenged as the Air India CMD has been given unfettered powers to send any employee on compulsory LWP for a disproportionate period of six months or for two years and extendable up to 5 years.

No pay, allowances, statutory benefits and career progression would be available during this period. The employee would be required to either vacate the company given housing or pay market notified rent. The employee would be required to clear all loans and advances taken from Air India before being sent on compulsory LWP.

The employee wouldn’t be allowed to take up job in any government office or public sector undertaking and would be required to take prior permission from Air India in case he/she takes up a job in another aviation company, the petition said.

A series of four meetings took place between the pilots’ body and Air India to discuss the austerity measures that can be adopted to keep the airline afloat.

The petitioner body, along with the coordinate pilot body, issued a letter dated July 16 summarising the discussions that took place with the management during the course of the aforesaid meetings.

Immediately after dispatching the above stated letter, the petitioners learnt that the respondent had issued a staff notice, dated July 14, passing a scheme of compulsory leave without pay.

India

Accepted Bihar request for CBI probe into Sushant’s death: Centre told Supreme Court

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Rhea Chakraborty Sushant

The government has accepted the request by the Bihar government for the Central Bureau of Investigation probe into actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case, the Centre’s senior second-most law officer Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta made the submission during the hearing of a plea by actor Rhea Chakraborty seeking transfer of the case registered in Bihar’s capital of Patna to Maharashtra’s Mumbai.

A team of Bihar Police is in Mumbai to probe the matter on the basis of an FIR which was registered in Patna, based on a complaint filed by Rajput’s father KK Singh against actor Rhea Chakraborty under several sections including abetment to suicide.

Sushant Singh Rajput’s father, KK Singh, had filed a police complaint against Chakraborty in Patna, accusing her of abetting his son’s alleged suicide in June. His father has also alleged that Chakraborty illegally transferred Rs 15 crore from his son’s bank account and mentally harassed him.

Chakraborty has challenged Bihar police’s jurisdiction in the matter, saying that the alleged crime took place in Mumbai.

Bihar police can visit Mumbai to get information about Sushant Singh Rajput death case, but cannot investigate the case said Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Tuesday.
While speaking to ANI, he alleged that the case is being politicised.
“Bihar police can come to Mumbai to get information, they cannot investigate. If you do a parallel investigation, I think it will be an injustice to the Mumbai Police. If Mumbai Police is already investigating the case, so anyone not related to Maharashtra government and not related to the case should not comment on it. The Mumbai Police is capable of conducting the probe on its own,” Raut said.
“It is politics of Bihar election. After the election, those who are politicising it, won’t even know where did Sushant Singh Rajput stay in Patna or what is his family doing. They will forget everything. Sushant was born in Patna but Mumbai gave him everything,” Raut added.
The statement comes after Bihar Director-General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey on Monday said that he was trying to get in touch with his counterpart in Mumbai after Patna Superintendent of Police Vinay Tiwari was “forcibly quarantined” by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials in Mumbai on Sunday.
Tiwari is probing the case related to the late actor’s death, who was found dead at his residence in Mumbai on June 14.

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PM Modi in Ayodhya for Ram Temple Bhumi Pujan

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Ayodhya Aug 5 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached Ayodhya from Lucknow for the “Bhoomi Pujan” or groundbreaking ceremony for a Ram temple. He first visited the 10th-century Hanuman Garhi temple for special prayers for his health.

The Prime Minister was received by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on his arrival here.

After landing at the KS Saket PG College Ground Helipad, PM Modi left for Hanumangarhi- a first-ever visit by any prime minister to this temple.

Later, PM is scheduled to arrive for Bhoomi Pujan (ground-breaking) of Ram Temple, marking the first visit to the Ram Janmabhoomi site by any Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister will first perform ‘pooja’ of ‘Bhagwan Shree Ramlala Virajman’ after reaching the site at around 12 pm.

Modi will also plant a ‘Parijaat’ sapling in the temple premises. He is likely to use the traditional natural drip irrigation method, achieved by placing an unglazed clay pot filled with water parallel to the roots of the plant thereby providing water to the plant for about a week, while planting the auspicious ‘Parijaat’ sapling.

Subsequently, at 12.30 pm, the Prime Minister will perform the much-awaited ‘bhoomi pujan’ for Ram temple.

After the ‘bhoomi pujan’, PM Modi will address a public function on the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Ram Temple.

The Prime Minister is also scheduled to unveil a plaque to mark the occasion and also release a commemorative postage stamp on ‘Shree Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir’.

Sanitisation work was carried out at the Hanuman Garhi temple on Wednesday morning ahead of the PM’s visit. The Saryu Ghat was also decorated.

Over 11,000 diyas are set to be lit across the city of Ayodhya, illuminating every street and all houses will be celebrating with a ‘deepotsava’, a festival of lights.

Apart from PM Modi, the ceremony will be attended by Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat, Uttarakhand Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj, Senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, Iqbal Ansari (former litigant in Ayodhya land dispute case) and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

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India’s Covid-19 testing rate lower than other nations, says WHO Chief Scientist

The Chief Scientist of WHO, Soumya Swaminathan, in an interactive session through video conference said,as of now about 28 vaccine candidates for Covid-19 are under clinical trial, of which five are entering Phase-II and over 150 candidates are in pre-clinical trials across the globe.

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Soumya Swaminathan

Noting that lockdown was a temporary measure to contain the spread of coronavirus, a senior official of the World Health Organisation on Tuesday said India has a low testing rate when compared to some of the countries that are successfully trying to curb it.

The Chief Scientist of WHO, Soumya Swaminathan, in an interactive session through video conference said,as of now about 28 vaccine candidates for Covid-19 are under clinical trial, of which five are entering Phase-II and over 150 candidates are in pre-clinical trials across the globe.

“India as a whole, the testing rates are much lower compared to some of the countries, who have done well like Germany, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan.

Even the United States is testing a huge number of people. So we need to have some benchmark and every public health department needs to have benchmarks on what is the rate of testing per lakh or per million, what is the test positivity rate,” she said.

Without adequate number of tests, fighting the virus is like “fighting fire blindfolded,” she pointed out.

According to Swaminathan, the number of tests being conducted is not adequate if the Covid-19 test positivity rate is above five per cent.

Governments need to constantly monitor the availability of beds, quarantine facilities, ICUs and oxygen supplies in district hospitals.

“So there is a set of 8 to 10 indicators that the government needs to keep a close watch on. And you can ramp up or ramp down based on what you are seeing on the ground,” she said.

Observing that the scientists’ community was still studying the body’s immune response to coronavirus and the next 12 months were crucial to put in place the public health and social measures, she said the virus has spread to every country in the world and “established community transmission”.

“We know that lockdowns are temporary measures or a temporary measure which reduces the spread because it prevents people from getting closer together and the idea of the lockdown is to buy time for the government to put in place the system needed to tackle the virus,” the WHO official said.

On the ongoing vaccine trials, she said the WHO has issued guidelines on it and if the efficacy rate of the vaccine is 70 percent, then it is considered to be a good one.

On the COVAX facility, a mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, Swaminathan said by the end of 2021 it is aimed to deliver two billion doses of safe, effective vaccines that have passed regulatory approval and/or WHO prequalification.

All the 194 member countries of the WHO need to come together and take a decision on the way they want to proceed for the equitable and fair distribution of vaccine (once successfully comes out) and other products that are being developed for Covid-19, she opined.

Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech, which is into developing Covaxin, a vaccine candidate for Covid-19,said the Centre needs to decetralise some of the regulating authorities such as Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO for faster approvals.

Telangana Minister for IT and Industries KT Rama Rao acted as a moderator for the session titled The Vaccine Race- Balancing Science and Urgency.

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