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Supreme Court reserves order on CBI Director Alok Verma’s plea

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Alok VermA

New Delhi, Dec 6: The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on a plea filed by Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma and NGO common cause challenging the Central government decision to divest Verma of his charges.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi reserved the order on the conclusion of arguments by the Central government, Central Vigilance Commission and CBI on one hand, and petitioner Verma, the NGO and others on the other hand.

During the hearing, the apex court asked the Narendra Modi government that why the Centre had not consulted the selection panel before divesting Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma of his powers.

The bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi questioned ‘fight between the two senior most CBI officers did not emerge overnight so why did government take immediate steps to divest the CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers without consulting the Selection Committee?’.

‘Government has to be fair, what was the difficulty in consulting the selection committee before divesting Alok Verma of his power? Essence of every government action should be to adopt the best course’, CJI Gogoi told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Counsel of the Centre.

The Chief Justice asked ‘what prompted Govt to take an overnight decision on October 23 to divest CBI director Alok Verma of his powers? When Verma was retiring in few months why not wait for few more months and consult selection committee?’

Responding to this, the Solicitor General told the apex court that “the CVC had come to the conclusion that an extraordinary situation had arisen and that extraordinary situations sometimes need extraordinary remedies”.

“CVC order was passed impartially. Two senior most officers were fighting and investigating cases against each other, instead of probing serious cases.CVC’s inaction would have been dereliction of duty’, he added.

“CBI Director Alok Verma was not transferred and it was an artificial argument by him that he was transferred. It was not a transfer and two officers were divested of the charges and functions”, Venugopal asserted.

Advocate Fali Nariman representing the CBI Director Alok Verma told the bench ‘In all circumstances, they must consult the selection committee. Transfer in this case doesn’t mean transfer in service jurisprudence. Transfer doesn’t only mean one place to another.’

‘there can’t be an acting Chief Justice of India, there has to be a Chief Justice of India as per the constitution. Same situation here, they can’t have an acting director of CBI.’

To this,  CJI Ranjan Gogoi asked ‘If there is an exigent issue situation can the Supreme Court appoint an acting director?’

Alok Verma’s Counsel Fali Nariman said in response to the CJI “yes Supreme Court can appoint because the final arbiter of the constitution is the SC”.

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Politicians and Bollywood Celebs attend Isha Ambani, Anand Piramal’s Wedding

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Isha Ambani wedding

Mumbai, Dec 13: After the extravagant pre-wedding bash in Udaipur, “Isha Ambani” – daughter of India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani and Nita Ambani tied the knot with Anand Piramal at the Ambani residence Antilia in Mumbai on December 12.

The venue was lavishly decorated as Isha’s brothers Anant and Akash, father Mukesh and uncle Anil welcomed the baaraat.

Shloka Mehta, fiance of Akash Ambani, and Anant Ambani’s girlfriend Radhika Merchant were also part of the welcoming party.

Top Indian and international personalities, film and sports icons, business tycoons, political heavyweights, celebrities and a host of others attended the “royal wedding” for the scions of two top business conglomerates – Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal -on Wednesday.

The celebrations started in the afternoon with the traditionally attired groom, Anand, arriving on a mare at the head of a wedding procession (baraat) at the Ambani’s towering Antilia residence.

The 27-storied Antilia, said to be one of the most expensive private residences in the world, itself has been decked up like a bride, and the entire stretch from the main road to the building has been decorated since the past few days with multi-hued fresh flowers, colourful lights and festoons to commemorate one of the most anticipated weddings in the country’s commercial capital in recent times.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee was warmly received by business magnate Anil Ambani, the bride’s uncle, while other top celebs like former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Praful Patel also made their presence felt.

P Chidambaram also arrived at the Ambani residence for the wedding.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Andhra Pradesh CM N. Chandrababu Naidu were also seen at Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal’s wedding.

Prominent invitees included Bollywood actors like Rajinikanth, Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Kiran, Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri, Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra and her husband Nick Jonas, Shahid Kapoor with wife Mira Rajput, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, Hrithik Roshan, Shilpa Shetty , Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Sonam Kapoor with father Anil Kapoor and many more.

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Besides, Sachin Tendulkar and other sports personalities, top business honchos included K.V. Kamath, Sanjiv Goenka, Deepak Parekh, Sashi and Anshuman Ruia, Adi Godej, Rahul Bajaj and Harsh Mariwala were also seen at the wedding.

The grand wedding festivities had started several days earlier in Udaipur, Rajasthan which witnessed a performance by Grammy award-winning singer Beyonce Knowles, a four-day special ‘Anna Seva’ and an expo on traditional Indian handicrafts, besides other events for the guests that included many of the biggest names from politics, business and Bollywood.

Isha Ambani, Anand Piramal Wedding

Anna Seva

Isha-ambani sangeet ceremony

Isha Ambani Sangeet Ceremony

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Railways start work under MGNREGA scheme

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Indian Railways

Agartala, Dec 13 : The Railways, for the first time, have started utilising the government’s rural job flagship scheme – MGNREGA – to undertake railway work, a senior official said on Thursday.

“The Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) has started works of widening railway embankment in Kishanganj area of Katihar division in Bihar and Uttar Dinajpur district of West Bengal under the MGNREGA,” NFR’s Chief Public Relations Officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma told IANS.

He said that if the state governments of the northeastern states and concerned District Magistrates agree, similar works can be undertaken in the region where NFR has railway lines.

The NFR serves seven districts in West Bengal and five districts in north Bihar, besides the northeastern states, excluding Sikkim.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) mandates 100 days of employment in a financial year to at least one member of each rural household in the state.

Sharma said that in Kishanganj, the proposal of railway line embankment repair was sanctioned for 5.7 km of track at an approximate cost of Rs 13.4 lakh.

“Around 30 labourers are turning up on a regular basis and all are being provided with job card against MGNREGA. Similarly, the District Magistrate of Uttar Dinajpur had also sanctioned supplementary estimate of embankment repair for 8.3 km of railway track at an approximate cost of Rs 21.5 lakh under the rural job scheme,” he said.

He said that the joint initiative of NFR and the Bihar and West Bengal governments will be helpful in providing rural jobs and also the repair and maintenance of railway assets without any additional cost to the Railways.

The works proposed under the MGNREGA include construction and maintenance of approach roads for level crossings, developing and cleaning silted waterways, trenches and drains along the tracks, construction and maintenance of approach roads to railway stations, repairs to earthwork to the existing railway embankments, cuttings, clearing vegetation growth and plantations at extreme boundary of railway land.

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Jammu and Kashmir: India, Pakistan trade fire on LoC

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Jammu, Dec 13: Indian and Pakistani soldiers traded fire on the Line of Control (LoC) on Thursday in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district, Defence Ministry sources said.

The Pakistan Army resorted to unprovoked firing at Indian positions in Kerni sector, an official said.

“Our troops retaliated effectively and strongly. Firing exchanges continued for over 20 minutes. No casualty or damage has been reported on our side,” the official said.

IANS

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