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Vaiko files habeas corpus petition in SC for Farooq Abdullah

He has invited Abdullah to grace the occasion, which he agreed to attend. Vaiko said that Abdullah had attended the previous editions of the Conference also.

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mdmk leader vaiko

Chennai, Sep 11 (IANS) The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party’s (MDMK) General Secretary Vaiko on Wednesday filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court to produce former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah, the party said.

Vaiko, also a Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, sought direction from the Court to grant Abdullah liberty to attend a conference in Chennai.

The conference is being organised by Vaiko on September 15.

Vaiko told the court that for several years, he has been organising a conference in Chennai on the occasion of the birthday of Thiru. C. N. Annadurai, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

He has invited Abdullah to grace the occasion, which he agreed to attend. Vaiko said that Abdullah had attended the previous editions of the Conference also.

However, on or around August 5, 2019 Abdullah was placed under detention in Srinagar and despite his efforts, he was unable to contact him.

Vaiko has written letter to authorities of Jammu and Kashmir to allow Abdullah to travel to Chennai in order to attend the conference in the interest of freedom of speech and in the spirit of encouraging democratic participation.

However, Vaiko did not get any response.

“The actions of the Respondents (government) are completely illegal and arbitrary and violative of the right to protection of life and personal liberty, right to protection from arrest and detention and also against right to free speech and expression which is the cornerstone of a democratic nation,” the plea said filed by Advocate G. Ananda Selvam on Vaiko’s behalf.

“The right to free speech and expression is considered to have paramount importance in a democracy as it allows its citizens to effectively take part in the governance of the country.”

Vaiko said that the refusal to allow Farooq Abdullah to attend the peaceful and democratic conference is illegal and arbitrary and violative of Articles 21, 22 and 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.

After the abrogation of the Article 370, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the government has detained various leaders including Abdullah.

India

Congress flays Kothari’s appointment as CVC, may move court

The search committee had received 180 applicants. Of this, 38 had applied for the CVC’s post, 88 for both the CVC and the VC posts, and 54 only for the VC.

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Sanjay Kothari

New Delhi, Feb 19 : The Congress here on Wednesday criticised the announcement of Sanjay Kothari’s name for the post of Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) on Tuesday and demanded initiation of fresh procedure for appointing the CVC.

Addressing the media, Congress leader Manish Tiwari said Kothari’s name was not short-listed by the search committee and the Prime Minister had announced his name without any procedure.

The Congress might move the court if the government notified Kothari’s name, he said and demanded de novo procedure. Congress floor leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Chaudhry had made the objection clear, he added.

“What happened on Tuesday had vitiated the process of appointing the CVC and the Vigilance Commissioner (VC) as the procedure and proprietary were thrown to the wind,” Tiwari said.

The Congress said the search committee held two separate meetings — one for the CVC and the other for the VC — on November 18 under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary.

The search committee had received 180 applicants. Of this, 38 had applied for the CVC’s post, 88 for both the CVC and the VC posts, and 54 only for the VC.

“The committee, comprising Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Personnel Secretary A.C. Chandramouli and Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar, recommended a panel of three names in alphabetical order for the CVC’s post,” said the Congress.

Given the importance of the CVC, it was extremely important that people appointed to the post of the CVC or the VCs should be of unimpeachable integrity and the process of appointment be absolutely kosher, he said.

The Central Vigilance Commission is an important institution in the Indian framework. It exercises superintendence over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) with regard to anti-corruption remit.

“The Narendra Modi government wants to destroy the Central Vigilance Commission like other institutions,” Tiwari said.

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Hardline Iran and aggressive nationalism

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Iran’s parliamentary polls are likely to elect a hardline Parliament when the country goes to the polls to choose a new Majlis on February 21. With an economy battered by renewed American sanctions and US President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy, Iran will turn more conservative after the new Parliament is elected.

The Guardian Council, appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rejected more than half the candidates, leaving an electoral arena dominated by hardliners. The large scale disqualification of reformist candidates has led to public disinterest in the polls and demands from dissident groups to boycott the elections.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has appealed to the people to cast their ballot in the February 21 election, but there is growing concern in Tehran that polling levels may drop sharply due to the voters ire at the high level of disqualifications. The present Majlis has about 100 reformists in the 290-member house, while the rest comprise hardline conservatives as well as a sizeable number of independents.

The Guardian Council has vetted the candidates in all parliamentary elections, and has usually rejected from 15 per cent to 40 per cent of the candidates in any election. But this time the rejection rate is much higher than before, leading to general disenchantment with the forthcoming elections. More than half the candidates for the parliamentary elections have not been approved and the rejections include many members of the existing Parliament.

The Majlis enacts legislation, approves the budget and ratifies international agreements. The election of a conservative legislature would affect the functioning of the government led by President Rouhani. The election result would also act as an indicator for the next presidential elections that are due in just over a year in mid-2021.

Iran has suffered under the additional sanctions imposed by the US after Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement in 2018. The additional sanctions severely impacted Iran’s economy, which has led to increasing unrest among the people. Public anger erupted in November last year when thousands of Iranians staged street protests in different parts of the country over hikes in fuel prices. The protests were put down through harsh action by the security forces. Tensions with the US escalated after Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani was killed in a targeted US air strike in January. Soleimani, a leader and General was deeply admired in Iran and the region, and his assassination had shocked most Iranians. But in the confrontation with the US, Iranian forces shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet plane killing all 176 passengers near Teheran. There was outrage in Iran and angry protests as officials first sought to deny and cover-up the incident before admitting that the passenger aircraft had been shot down by mistake.

Iran has gone through economic and political crisis; the reformists have been under pressure ever since the US quit the nuclear agreement. Though there was widespread support for the nuclear agreement in Iran, many hardliners had opposed the agreement. Trump’s rejection of the agreement seemed to validate the objections of the hardliners. Rouhani’s government has been criticised by the reformists for failing to fulfil election promises of providing greater freedoms and easing social restrictions, while the hardliners have attacked him for negotiating with western powers on the nuclear agreement which collapsed after Trump targeted Iran and reimposed sanctions.

The current Parliament was elected in 2016 when the moderates gained ground after a spell of conservative rule under President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. In 2016, a combination of reformists, centrists and moderate conservatives had won about 41 per cent of the seats, while the hardliners won 29 per cent and 28 per cent went to independent candidates. In 2004, large-scale disqualification of candidates before the polls had marginalised the reformist sections for several years and created the conditions for the election of hardliner, Ahmedinejad.

The 2016 elections brought back the reformists and moderates to power. The 2016 election was seen as Iran moving towards a more open society with greater social freedoms. A conservative or hardline Parliament will set the path to a more aggressively nationalist policy towards the US, and make it increasingly difficult for any government to make any moves towards engaging with the US.

(Shubha Singh is a foreign policy and strategic affairs commentator. The views expressed are personal. She can be reached at [email protected])

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Montek Singh’s tips to Kamal Nath

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Montek Singh Ahluwaia

Bhopal, Feb 19 : With the Centre’s growing hostility causing a financial crunch Madhya Pradesh government is looking for resources to fulfil promises made in the ruling Congress party’s manifesto. The Centre has slashed the state’s share in the recent budget by Rs 14,000 crore. It has also blocked the money accrued to the state from the GST collections.

With the second budget coming up soon the government has been under pressure to device spectacular ways to win public appreciation. Kamal Nath’s old friend and colleague Montek Sing Ahluwalia came to his aid with some tips to move forward.

At a workshop on ‘Alternative Finance for Projects’ on Tuesday former Deputy Chairman of the erstwhile Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia suggested redrafting the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM) to deal with increasing financial needs and fiscal limitations of states.

He said a law could be enacted for public-private partnerships to overcome the budget constraints for socially important economic infrastructure projects, he added.

Addressing the workshop Kamal Nath said the global economic scenario is changing rapidly. The financial institutions and the governments also need to change their thought-process.

Nath said that a vast country like India has largest society of aspirational youth and increased budget resources are required to fulfil their ambitions. Banks, state governments and private sector institutions need to adopt the change.

Nath called for deviating from the process of conventional budget-making process and working on alternative processes and innovative ideas. He said there was need to focus on the economic activities that generate jobs.

States like Madhya Pradesh that have abundant natural resources, but they lag in expanding economic activities. He said that efforts are on to make Madhya Pradesh’s agriculture fully modernized to see that farm related economic activities can also be expanded, he said.

Ahluwalia said governments have limited financial resources for ambitious projects. The governments have many tasks, responsibilities, priorities and social obligations apart from economic infrastructure projects. There are many challenges in completing them simultaneously. As a result, the speed of projects slows down.

Ahluwalia said conventional approach of depending on budgetary resources should change. States look towards the private sector for assistance. The private sector dreads taking risks while the governments are bound by the welfare principles beyond the loss and profit. Both have their limitations. Therefore, there is a need for a law to work in cooperation between the two.

Instead of managing finances for large economic infrastructural projects, the system of providing guarantee by the state should also be considered, said Kamal Nath. The governments should assume the role of a friend in managing the financial risks for the projects. For example, in order to deal with the ill effects of climate change, infrastructure projects of economic importance should be given a guarantee.

The workshop was attended by top officers of banks, budget experts from the corporate sector, scholars with special abilities in budget formulation and senior officials of departments.

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