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SC to hear Congress leader’s plea on VVPATs next week




New Delhi, Aug 10 (IANS) The Supreme Court will hear next week a plea by Congress leader Kamal Nath for directions to the Election Commission to carry out verification of VVPAT units in at least 10 per cent randomly selected booths in each constituency of Madhya Pradesh ahead of Assembly polls.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra agreed to hear the matter as the petitioner’s lawyer mentioned the matter for early hearing.

Kamal Nath, President of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee, has also sought directions to the Election Commission to expeditiously decide all complaints and publish the voters lists thereof.

He has also sought prohibiting of the Election Commission from deleting the names of voters from lists without intimation to the political parties.

The elections to the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly are scheduled in November-December and are likely to coincide with those in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram.

The senior Congress leader also sought a slew of directions, apart from random VVPAT checks, mock polls and recounting, collection of paper trails and storage, unique identification numbers on VVPATs and paper trail collection boxes, and transportation of EVMs and VVPATs before and after polls.

Referring to the commission’s press note that of the total 16.15 lakh Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) units, only 5.88 lakhs have been delivered and there was a delay in their manufacture and procurement, Kamal Nath expressed apprehension that such machines used in Utter Pradesh and Gujarat Assembly elections are likely to be used in Madhya Pradesh as well.

The petitioner urged for court directions to the Election Commission not to post any officials facing disciplinary proceedings or inquiries, or are on contract basis or on extension after retirement in key posts in different districts of Madhya Pradesh.

Seeking safe and secure transportation of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and VVPATs during the Assembly elections, the former Union Minister sought direction to the poll panel to conduct the Assembly elections with the latest tamper-proof EVMs and VVPATs.

The Congress leader sought directions to increase the duration of VVPAT display of exercised votes from present seven seconds to 15 seconds.

He sought a ten-fold increase in the number of VVPATs to be used in mock polls to 50 per cent of the total units.

This is the second time that the Congress had moved the top court before Assembly elections.

The Supreme Court had on December 14 last year declined to entertain Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee plea for directions to the Election Commission to count votes through paper trail attached to the EVMs in 20 per cent of polling booths in Gujarat, where Assembly elections were held in November 2017.

Declining to entertain the plea, the top court had then said: “We can’t substitute the Election Commission decision unless you demonstrate it is either arbitrary or not in accordance with law.”


Metoo reaches Congress doors, scribe alleges molestation by UPA Minister



MJ Akbar

New Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) The #MeToo movement that has singed the entrainment and media industry alike besides engulfing Union Minister M.J. Akbar, on Tuesday reached Congress door with journalist Sonal Kellogg alleging that she was molested by a “powerful politician” and a minister in the Congress-led UPA-I government.

Giving an account of her ordeal on website, Kellog without naming the minister, said he would “greet me with a kiss” every time they met and once “pressed one of my breasts”.

“During my time, a Cabinet minister, in-charge of one of the ministries which I was covering, would always greet me with a kiss when I went to meet him,” wrote Kellog who in February 2006 had shifted to Delhi from Ahmedabad joining the Asian Age’s main edition.

“This minister, quite an advocate of women’s rights and empowerment, is highly educated. He studied from St Stephen’s College and did his masters from one of the top universities in England. He is very articulate – but he is also very touchy-feely.

“In Gujarat, where I come from, politicians don’t greet women journalists with hugs and kisses. But he would hold my face and try to kiss me on the mouth,” said Kellogg who is now the chief content writer at Vama Communications, Ahmedabad.

She said that she didn’t report the matter then as “I was new in Delhi and thought if I said anything, it would be viewed as having a small town mentality”.

“I am not able to speak up against authority and mostly just try to manage to stay clear instead of shouting or slapping or something like that,” said Kellogg, a survivor of “long-term child sexual abuse.”

She said the last time she met the MP in his bungalow in early 2014 when he went “too far.”

“At that time, I was in-between jobs. I was sitting across the table and talking to him. After some time, the minister got up to go to the washroom which was on my left, so he walked right across the table and while passing me by, he stretched his hand and suddenly pressed one of my breasts.

“I was taken aback, not quite expecting this, but I did manage to say, eDon’t touch me.’ Before entering the washroom, he asked, eWhy? What is the problem?’ I told him, ‘Don’t touch me because I don’t like it’. He went to the washroom and then came back, sat down and resumed the conversation as if nothing had happened,” wrote Kellogg, adding she moved back to Ahmadabad and never met the politician.

“I would like to say that even if a man is testing whether his advances are welcome or not, he can’t start with squeezing the breasts of a woman. The least he can do is see whether she is interested – you cannot just grab a woman and think it is okay. Also, in this case, the minister is married and is a father of grown-up daughters, so it is definitely not okay.

So, why didn’t I report the matter? Who was I going to report it to? I was in-between jobs and as I said earlier, I didn’t report my sexual abuse as a child either for more than a decade and a half, in fact I never reported it. I started to speak about it publicly only a couple of years ago,” she added.

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JGU youngest Indian university to feature in ‘QS BRICS Rankings 2019’

The university has been ranked 23 out of 403 institutions among BRICS countries in the category of international faculty.



Jindal Global University

New Delhi, Oct 16 : O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) in Sonepat, Haryana, is the youngest Indian university to be ranked in the QS BRICS University Rankings 2019 out of the top 75 Indian universities. It was ranked in the 301 to 350 bracket.

The ranking placed JGU among the top three per cent of the universities in the BRICS region that covers five countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“This global recognition of JGU in our short but inspirational journey of nine years is truly remarkable and something that we can be genuinely proud of in every sense of the word,” said Naveen Jindal, Founding Chancellor, JGU.

Professor Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor of JGU, received the award from Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, on behalf of the university in the presence of Jason Newman, Vice President, QS, and Ashwin Fernandes, Regional Director, QS, and other dignitaries.

The university has been ranked 23 out of 403 institutions among BRICS countries in the category of international faculty.

“JGU continues to be ranked amongst the top 350 universities in the BRICS region by QS. We had broken into these rankings for the first time in 2018,” said Professor C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor.

“As a result of our hard work, commitment, and dedication to the cause of JGU’s vision and mission, JGU continues to be the youngest Indian university to feature in these rankings,” he added.

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Congress demands probe into ONGC turning debt-ridden

Supreme Court-appointed panel of experts was a must to probe the allegations and look into the company’s affairs from the time the BJP came to power at the Centre.




New Delhi, Oct 16 : Congress on Tuesday demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into allegations of the state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) turning debt-ridden due to government decisions. The party accused the Modi government of “systematically attempting to destroy the public sector”.

Citing a letter written by the ONGC trade union body to Prime Minister Narendra Modi detailing how government interference has broken the “economic backbone of the company”, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said a Supreme Court-appointed panel of experts was a must to probe the allegations and look into the company’s affairs from the time the BJP came to power at the Centre.

“From forcing the ONGC to acquire a gas block from Gujarat State Petroleum Corp (GSPC) for Rs 8,000 crore to funding its fiscal deficit by compelling the ONGC to buy a stake in HPCL, the Modi government has systematically hit the ONGC.

“Because of all these, ONGC group’s debt doubled to Rs 1,11,533 crore in 2017-18 from Rs 55,619 crore in 2016-17. Such is the condition that the ONGC has to now avail of overdraft facility to discharge the salary obligation of the employees,” Tewari told the media citing the letter written by the ONGC’s Employees Mazdoor Sabha.

The letter by the employees union written to Modi last month has alleged that “decisions taken over the past four-and-a-half years have broken the economic backbone of the company”.

“Over the past 52 months, a profitable public sector undertaking has been systematically crippled and debt ridden. There seems to be a systematic and calibrated attempt to completely destroy the public sector in India,” said Tewari

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