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SC reserves order on plea for transfer of funds from PM CARES Fund to NDRF

The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on a plea seeking a direction that the funds received by the PM CARES Fund be credited to the National Disaster Response Fund for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

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New Delhi: A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah took note of the plea by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, headed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, seeking drawing up of a national Covid plan and raising the issue of existence of PM CARES Fund while a NDRF was already in existence under the Disaster Management Act.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the petitioner, argued that PM CARES Fund lacks transparency. He also questioned why there is no national plan during the time of Covid. “The issue of transferring funds from all other funds, including PM CARES, is also there, but that’s a secondary issue… you cannot do something that the law prevents you to do, by doing it in a different way. This is a private trust where ministers are trustees,” Dave contended.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing an NGO, argued before the bench on the issues originating in the absence of a national plan to tackle Covid-19 pandemic. Sibal cited the Constitution’s Section 21 regarding a district plan, where minimum requirements regarding water, shelter etc. need to be provided. “Where are these standards?” he asked.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, argued that the National Disaster Management Plan, from 2019, included biological disaster, as during that time, no one knew about Covid-19. He said Sibal’s argument was “factually wrong”.

The Centre had informed the apex court that there are several funds which are either established earlier or now for carrying out various relief works, and PM CARES is one such with voluntary donations.

The affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs had said: “It is submitted there exists a fund stipulated under section of the DMA (Disaster Management Act) which is called NDR Fund. However, mere existence of a statutory fund would not prohibit the creation of a different fund like PM CARES Fund which provides for voluntary donations.”

The Centre contended that the petition seeking a direction that the funds received by PM CARES Fund to be credited to NDRF (National Disaster Response Fund) is neither maintainable on merits nor is maintainable under Article 32 as all funds other than the funds stipulated under section 46 of Disaster Management Act, 2005 are separate, different and distinct, created separately under separate provisions.

On June 17, the apex court issued notice to the Centre on the PIL seeking to transfer funds from PM CARES Fund to the NDRF.

The Centre for Public Interest Litigation, in the plea, claimed that against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, the NDRF is not being utilised by the authorities, and establishing the PM CARES Fund is outside the scope of the Disaster Management Act.

Disaster

Modi Government Sometimes Blames God, Sometimes People, But Not Its ‘Misrule’: Rahul Gandhi

“The blind arrogance of the Modi government sometimes blames god, sometimes people for the plight of the country, but not its own misrule and wrong policies.”

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday attacked the Centre over Union Minister Harsh Vardhan’s remarks that people’s “irresponsible behaviour” has resulted in a surge in Covid-19 spread, saying the Modi government’s “blind arrogance” sometimes blames god, sometimes people, but not its own “misrule”.

Gandhi’s attack on the government came a day after Health Minister Vardhan, while replying to a special discussion on the coronavirus pandemic in Lok Sabha, said that there is a surge in the spread of Covid-19 in the country due to societal “irresponsible behaviour”.

Tagging a media report on Vardhan’s remarks, Gandhi tweeted, “The blind arrogance of the Modi government sometimes blames god, sometimes people for the plight of the country, but not its own misrule and wrong policies.”

“How many more ‘Act Of Modi’ will the country bear?” he said in the tweet in Hindi.

Gandhi has been critical of the government over the handling of the Covid-19 crisis and accused it of failing to tackle the situation. The government has dismissed all such claims in the past.

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Government failed to curb COVID-19: Shashi Tharoor

He highlights the failure of the government to curb COVID-19, adding that government’s ₹20,000 crore package inspired little confidence.

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Shashi Tharoor in Lok Sabha
Senior Congress Leader and Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor (File Picture)

New Delhi: As Lok Sabha discusses COVID-19 situation, Shashi Tharoor shares WHO data to state that India has the highest number of daily Infections and deaths in the world.

Government did not listen to Rahul Gandhi’s warning. Instead it was more interested in toppling the government in Madhya Pradesh.

He highlights the failure of the government to curb COVID-19, adding that government’s ₹20,000 crore package inspired little confidence.

He states that there was minimal effort by government to reach out and consult other stakeholders, particularly state governments in opposition.

The Opposition MP also spoke about the danger faced by students while giving exams and thanked the healthcare workers for their services.

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Covid-19 joblessness pushing youths to extremist groups in Northeast

Adding to this are the reports of a large consignment of China-made weapons reaching the hands of the secessionist Myanmar-based radical groups, who share close links with militant groups in India’s Northeast.

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India’s Covid-19 pandemic lockdown is now giving headaches to the national security agencies. Youth, left jobless during the pandemic, are reported to be joining the banned rebel groups such as the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and other such, in droves.

Adding to this are the reports of a large consignment of China-made weapons reaching the hands of the secessionist Myanmar-based radical groups, who share close links with militant groups in India’s Northeast.

The emerging scenario is threatening to upset the delicate balance achieved through years of hard work by the Indian security and intelligence officers, according to senior executives in the national security establishment, who requested to stay unnamed, citing government service rules.

The Arakan Army (AA) — which seeks an independent homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine state — has received the fresh cache of Chinese weapons and is known to be one of the key suppliers of arms and ammunition to the rebel groups in Northeast India.

In addition, the AA opposes India’s Kaladan Multi Modal Project, which provides states like Mizoram — a landlocked province — an outlet to the sea through the Sittwe port in Myanmar, officials said. Interestingly the AA has not opposed the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

Security agencies have told the government that insurgent groups active along the Indo-Myanmar border find easy recruits among youth left unemployed by Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

“The successful induction of the Chinese-made weapons by the AA will have an impact on the security situation in India’s Northeastern states, as much of these weapons are finding their way to some of the dormant militant groups of the Northeast,” the official said.

“The new weapons provide firepower to the northeastern groups whose ranks are increasing as youth left jobless by the pandemic are signing for militant groups.”

Strengthened by new recruits and rearmed, the Khaplang faction National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) — a banned militant group of Northeast based out of Myanmar — is gathering along the Indo-Myanmar Border in areas such as Mon to plan and execute attacks against the Indian security forces.

In 2016, the NSCN (K) killed 18 soldiers of the Indian Army, forcing India to launch cross border strikes on the militant hideouts taking refuge in Myanmar.

Worryingly, for India, peace talks with the Naga rebel groups have failed despite efforts of the Narendra Modi government.

Agencies have warned that groups like the People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK) had recruited 15 fresh cadres in Assam. “There was recruitment of 10-15 cadres by the Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger in the outfit,” the source said.

Further, United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) had recruited 15-20 youths in the outfit from Meghalaya.

In Tripura, intelligence input indicates that extremist Parimal Debbrama of National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) is trying to revive his group and some newly recruited members of the outfit had completed their basic training in a hideout of Khagrachari District of Bangladesh.

“These cadres are planning to infiltrate into India for operations,” the source further added.

Intelligence agencies also stated that the India-Myanmar border remained susceptible to threat due to the presence of insurgent groups.

“Many insurgents groups are camping in Myanmar and trying to infiltrate through Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Mon District of Nagaland and Charaideo district of Assam,” the source said.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at [email protected])

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