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India

SC to hear Chidambaram’s bail plea

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New Delhi, Nov 18 The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear former finance minister P. Chidambaram’s bail plea in the INX Media money laundering case.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said that the court will hear the plea either on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Chidambaram’s counsel Kapil Sibal moved his bail plea and sought an urgent hearing in the Supreme Court, challenging the Delhi High Court order denying him bail.

The Delhi High Court on Friday rejected the bail application of the Congress leader in the Enforcement Directorate’s case relating to the INX-Media.

A single-judge bench of the High Court, presided by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, turning down the plea for relief observed that the allegations against the veteran politician are “serious” in nature and that the case is not fit for granting him bail.

The Enforcement Directorate, which is probing the money laundering case, had arrested Chidambaram last month. He is currently under judicial custody in Tihar Jail.

While opposing the bail plea, the agency asserted that Chidambaram used the high office of the country “for his personal gains”.

The INX media case pertains to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to the media group for receiving overseas funds in 2007 when Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister.

India

Lok Sabha passes Bill to extend SC/ST reservation by 2030

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Parliament

New Delhi, Dec 10 : The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a Bill with voice vote to extend the reservation of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) for the next 10 years up to January 25, 2030, with the government announcing that the reservation will “never” be removed.

In his concluding remarks, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019 amends provisions related to reservation of seats for SCs and STs and that reservation is the right of these under the privileged community.

“Reservation is undoubtedly good and it should be going on further. The BJP is determined to provide reservation for SC/ST and it will be. This reservation will never be removed,” Prasad said.

The Minister said the government will bring reservation in judiciary also.

The Bill was passed with division of votes with 352/0.

The government brought the Bill in the House for its passage as the reservation provision for SCs and STs in the Constitution is to cease on January 25, 2020.

The Bill, however, did not mention about the extension of reservation for the Anglo-Indian community whose reservation will also cease on the same date.

Opposition parties across the party lines supported the Bill for extending reservation for SCs and STs, but they questioned the government why it took away the Anglo-Indian community out of the Bill and not declared extension of their reservation even after they played major roles in various fields. Over two dozen MPs participated in the discussion on the Bill which lasted over three hours.

The Minister said that Article 334 of the Constitution lays down that its provisions relating to the reservation of seats for the SCs and STs and the representation of the Anglo-Indian community by nomination in the House of the People and Legislative Assemblies of the states shall cease to have effect on the expiration of the period of 70 years from the commencement of the Constitution.

In other words, the Minister said these provisions will cease to have effect on January 25, 2020, if not extended further.

“Although the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes have made considerable progress in the last 70 years, the reasons which weighed with the Constituent Assembly in making provisions with regard to the aforesaid reservation of seats have not yet ceased to exist.

“Therefore, with a view to retaining the inclusive character as envisioned by the founding fathers of the Constitution, it is proposed to continue the reservation of seats for the SCs and the STs for another ten years up to January 25, 2030.”

The Minister said 84 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats are reserved for SCs. “In Legislative Assemblies, there are 4,120 seats and 614 of these are reserved for SCs.

“As far as STs are concerned, a total of 47 seats are reserved for them in Lok Sabha and 554 in various Legislative Assemblies.”

As per the 2011 census, the population of SCs is over 20.13 crore and STs is over 10 crore.

Talking about the Anglo-Indians, the Minister said it was decided that two seats will be reserved for them in the Lok Sabha and one in legislative assemblies. “We have not come with the Bill (for Anglo-Indian) but we are thinking.”

Meanwhile, oppositions raised objection over the issue on which the Minister said only 296 Anglo-Indians are in India as per the 2011 census. “In West Bengal, the number of Anglo-Indian as per the 2011 census is 9, Odisha 4, Chhattisgarh 3, Maharashtra 16, Andhra Pradesh 62, Karnataka 9, Kerala 124 and Tamil Nadu 69.”

“It is written in the Constitution that reservation shall be given to SC and ST but for Anglo-Indians, it is mentioned that it will be in the nominated category. Today, we did not come with that Bill. But, I request to pass the Bill to spread a message that the House is determined for the welfare of SCs and STs.”

DMK’s Kanimojhi said she was happy to support the Bill, but asked why the Anglo-Indian community is not included in the Bill. “As the number of the community is shrinking, we cannot forget the contribution of the Anglo-Indians in the country.”

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India

BJP’s CAB plan in RS: 11 nominated MPs, ‘help from ‘friends’

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Parliament

New Delhi, Dec 10 : After a smooth passage in the Lok Sabha, the real test for the BJP is to get the sensitive Citizenship Amendment Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, where it is short of numbers.

But party insiders say the passage of the Bill in the Upper House has less to do with the numbers and more with inter-party chemistry, where the party’s top guns, led by Amit Shah, come into the picture.

At least two BJP Ministers — a Rajya Sabha member and the other an influential party General Secretary — say the chemistry will pave the way for the CAB passage.

The Rajya Sabha has a total 245 members. But now, with a few vacant seats, the House strength comes down to 238. BJP needs 120 votes to pass the Bill, which is one above the halfway mark (119). The BJP has 83 MPs in the upper house and its National Democratic Alliance has 94 MPs.

Apart from BJP’s 83 MPs, the NDA also has 6 MPs from the Janata Dal (United), 3 from the Shiromani Akali Dal and 1 each from Lok Jan Shakti Party and Republican Party of India. The entire count goes up to 94.

There are 12 nominated MPs in the Rajya Sabha. The BJP is confident of support from 11, which includes Subramanian Swamy, Swapan Dasgupta, Rakesh Sinha among others. The only nominated MP the BJP is not counting on is K.T.S. Tulsi, say sources.

With 11 more Rajya Sabha members on board, the NDA’s count goes up to 105, where it still needs 15 MPs’ support. Here comes the BJP’s ‘chemistry’ to enable it to take the total tally to 120, making a smooth passage for the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam or AIADMK is seen as part of the NDA and in one viral video, Amit Shah was earlier heard advocating AIADMK Ministers to use NDA banner for events in Tamil Nadu rather than that of its own.

The alliance between the two parties in Tamil Nadu, however shaky, has been for all to see. Two senior Union Ministers are pressed to take the southern party on board. The BJP is confident the AIADMK’s 11 MPs will vote in favour of CAB on Wednesday.

With 116 MPs, the BJP would need 4 more. But Amit Shah, who is personally overlooked the floor management in the Lok Sabha on Monday, doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. Hence, the BJP wants to get a few extra votes in its kitty.

Sources say, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal was approached long before the Parliament session started for its “help” on passing the Bill in the Upper House. “Not only Naveen Babu, but V. Karthikeyan Pandian was also approached for this purpose,” said a source.

Pandian is the backroom person of the Odisha CM and considered de facto Chief Minister. The BJP has reason to believe that BJD’s 7 MPs will vote in favour of the CAB.

With three extra votes than required, Amit Shah’s party has also reached out to Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP which has 2 Rajya Sabha members.

Though Shiv Sena has said it will oppose the Bill, many in BJP are hopeful that the Sena at best may end up walking out, which will eventually help the government.

“Wait and watch. We will be having the last laugh tomorrow”, said a BJP General Secretary who is privy to talks with YSRCP. He said the government has more numbers than it needs for the Bill to pass the RS test.

The NDA government had introduced the Bill in its previous tenure and got the Lok Sabha’s approval. However, CAB couldn’t pass the Rajya Sabha test due to vehement protests.

With more protests mounting against the government this time, Home Minister Amit Shah is personally overseeing the arrangement to ensure the Bill sees the light of day.

(Anindya Banerjee can be contacted at [email protected])

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Cities

DTC gets 100 more new buses

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DTC Bus Depot

New Delhi, Dec 10 : Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gehlot here on Tuesday flagged off 100 buses from the Rajghat Bus Depot to be included in the DTC fleet. The new buses are equipped with GPS trackers, panic buttons, CCTV and hydraulic lifts for the convenience of the differently-abled.

The government has flagged off 429 buses in the previous months by the government.

He said the safety features in the 37-seater buses, include three CCTV cameras on each bus, a panic button on every alternate seat. “If a panic button is pressed, a large hooter goes off activating the command center,” he said.

“There are marshals on every bus in Delhi,” he reminded.

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