Centre agrees to reinstate Justice Cheema as Acting Chairperson of NCLAT after Supreme Court threatens to suo moto stay Tribunals Reforms Act
After a brief impasse with the Supreme Court on Thursday, the Centre agreed, as a one-off measure, to reinstate Justice A.I.S Cheema as Acting Chairperson of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) till the date of his retirement on September 20 so that he can pronounce judgments pending with him. The government blinked after the to and fro between the Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana and the government, represented by Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal, reached such a pass that the court threatened to suo motu stay the Tribunal Reforms Act of 2021. The government made it clear that Justice Cheema’s reinstatement was after considering the peculiar circumstances of his case and should not be treated as a precedent. The reinstatement spells relief for Justice Cheema, who had challenged his premature and sudden removal from office as NCLAT Acting Chairperson on September 10. Senior advocate Arvind Datar, for Justice Cheema, had raised the point that this was no way to treat a former Bombay High Court judge who had been part of the legal profession for 40 years. Venugopal informed the court that Justice M. Venugopal, a former Madras High Court judge who was appointed the new NCLAT Acting Chairperson on September 11, would go on leave for the next few days till Justice Cheema completes his tenure on September 20. Chief Justice Ramana appreciated K.K. Venugopal’s efforts to resolve the brief stalemate between the court and the government on the issue. Datar also thanked the Attorney-General. However, the first half of the hearing witnessed a tense exchange between the Bench and K.K.Venugopal. It began with K.K. Venugopal placing on the table the offer that Justice Cheema would be treated as Acting Chairperson till September 20 and be paid his service benefits. The top law officer said it would be very awkward for the government to remove Justice Venugopal now. But the Bench said Justice Cheema still had to pronounce five judgments. The court said it was the government which had created the awkward situation. The court said if there was admittedly no doubt whatsoever about Justice Cheema’s integrity, why had the government stopped him from completing his term on September 20. Initially, K.K. Venugopal said the government would then argue the case on merits. However, the CJI decided to hear the case again after some time, giving K.K. Venugopal an opportunity to consult the government. Half an hour later, K.K. Venugopal conveyed to the court the government’s decision to reinstate Justice Cheema till September 20.
Cabinet clears ₹30,600-crore guarantee for bad bank
The Union Cabinet has cleared a proposal to provide ₹30,600 crore government guarantee for security receipts issued by the National Asset Reconstruction Company (NARCL) as part of resolution of bad loans, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday. The proposed bad bank or NARCL will pay up to 15% of the agreed value for the loans in cash and the remaining 85% would be government-guaranteed security receipts. The government guarantee would be invoked if there is loss against the threshold value. Briefing reporters on the decision, she said banks have recovered ₹5.01 lakh crore of unpaid loans in the last six years. Of this, ₹3.1 lakh crore has been recovered since March 2018.
New Gujarat Cabinet has no Minister who served in Rupani administration
In an unprecedented move as expected, the new Cabinet sworn in by Governor Acharya Devvrat in Gujarat on Thursday has no Minister who served in the erstwhile Vijay Rupani administration as the ruling party has adopted a no repeat formula in the Cabinet formation. A total of 24 Ministers have been sworn in, including ten Ministers of Cabinet rank while 14 were of the rank of Minister of State. With Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, there are 25 members in the new Cabinet. The ruling BJP has decided to drop all former Ministers who were part of the Rupani government. Assembly Speaker during the Rupani administration Rajendra Trivedi and former State BJP chief Jitu Vaghani have been made Cabinet Ministers. Surat BJP leader and legislator Purnesh Modi, who has filed a defamation case against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, has also been made Cabinet Minister in the new administration that is taking over from Thursday. Out of a total of 25 members, including the Chief Minister, only a handful members have previous ministerial experience These include Rajendra Trivedi, who was a Minister in the Anandiben government, Kiritsinh Rana, who served in the government of Narendra Modi, and Raghavji Patel, who had served in the Shankarsinh Vaghela government in the mid-90s. Moreover, many of them are first-time legislators who have been tasked with ministerial responsibilities in the new administration just 15 months ahead of the crucial Assembly election.
ED conducts searches on premises linked to Harsh Mander
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on September 16 conducted searches on premises linked to former Indian Administrative Service officer and social activist Harsh Mander in connection with a money-laundering probe. The searches were carried out at Adchini, Mehrauli and Vasant Kunj in south Delhi, hours after Mander left for Germany along with his wife for a six-month fellowship programme at the Robert Bosch Academy. The ED investigation is related to a First Information Report [FIR] registered by the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing in February, said a senior agency official. The police instituted the case against two children’s homes and their parent body, Centre for Equity Studies, of which Mander is a director. It was based on a report submitted by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) last year, highlighting alleged financial irregularities. Mander’s name is not there in the FIR. In February, the Mehrauli police registered an FIR under various provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Indian Penal Code on a complaint from the NCPCR Registrar alleging violations. NCPCR teams, in October 2020, conducted an inspection of children homes Umeed Aman Ghar and Khushi Rainbow Home in south Delhi. In a statement, the Centre for Equity Studies (CES) confirmed the ED searching its office, Umeed Ghar and Mander’s residence. This is a continuation of harassment and coercion of CES and Harsh Mander for being an outspoken and passionate defender of human rights, it alleged. The organisation said that over the past several months, it had been subjected to raids, investigation, and inquiries by different government agencies, including the Delhi Police and the NCPCR. The searches triggered sharp reactions from politicians.
Government terms New York Times article on COVID-19 response ‘provocative, attention seeking’
The government called the recent New York Times article on India’s COVID-19 response a provocative, attention seeking piece that comes at a time when the country is doing well in tackling the pandemic. The article claimed that the ICMR tailored its findings to fit Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s optimistic narrative despite a looming crisis. Responding to a question at a press briefing, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Dr. Balram Bhargava said, This is a provocative, attention seeking article published at a time when India is doing good and our vaccination is excellent and it is diverting attention. All the issues raised are dead ones and probably do not merit any attention. We greatly value journalistic and editorial freedom and at the same time we must also realise that all of us — Union government as well as the State governments — are fully engaged in fighting a pandemic and all our energies and time is devoted to that, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
Hyderabad girl rape and murder: Suspect Raju found dead on railway track
Pallakonda Raju (30), the only suspect in the rape and murder of a six-year-old girl at Saidabad, was found dead on the railway tracks near Station Ghanpur in Jangoan district of Telangana, 130 km from here. Confirming the development to The Hindu, a senior police officer said that on Thursday morning they found Raju’s mangled body on the tracks while searching for him, as he was absconding for a week now. We suspect he ended his life…, the officer said. According to eyewitnesses, the incident took place around 8.40 am when Raju came under Hyderabad-bound Konark Express. The victim’s mother suspected Pallakonda Raju to be the culprit as he was missing from his house. Just been informed by @TelanganaDGP Garu that the beast who raped the child has been traced & found dead on a railway track at station Ghanpur, IT Minister KT Rama Rao tweeted. A massive manhunt was launched for Raju and the Hyderabad city police have also announced a cash reward of ₹10 lakh for any information leading to the arrest of the former. As part of the massive manhunt, posters declaring Raju a ‘WANTED’ man were pasted on auto-rickshaws, buses, at toddy compounds, wine shops and all public places across the State. On September 9, the minor had gone missing from her home in Saidabad, and hours later, her body was recovered from Raju’s house, who was her neighbour. The autopsy at Osmania General Hospital has confirmed that she was ‘sexually assaulted’ before she was strangled to death. The victim’s mother suspected Raju to be the culprit as he too was missing from his house. The heinous incident has triggered widespread outrage in Hyderabad and elsewhere in the State with various political parties and youth groups staging protests demanding justice for the minor girl.
Virat Kohli to quit as T20 captain after World Cup
Virat Kohli on Thursday announced he will step down as India’s T20 captain after the T20 World Cup in UAE but will continue to lead the side in ODIs and Test cricket. I’ve decided to step down as the T20 captain after this T20 World Cup in Dubai in October, Kohli said in a statement posted on his Twitter page. For some time, there has been speculation about Kohli’s future as white-ball captain, especially in the backdrop of Rohit Sharma’s brilliant track record of winning five IPL titles for Mumbai Indians. Understanding workload is a very important thing and considering my immense workload over the last 8-9 years playing all three formats and captaining regularly for last five to six years, I feel I need to give myself space to be fully ready to lead the Indian team in Test and ODI cricket, Kohli said in a statement on his Twitter page. I have given my everything to the Team during my time as T20 captain and I will continue to do so for the T20 team as a batsman moving forward, he further added. The decision, Kohli said, was taken after consulting head coach Ravi Shastri, his heir apparent Rohit, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah. The T20 World Cup starts on October 17.
Russia-led bloc to hold military drills on Afghanistan border.
A Russia-led security bloc said on Thursday that it planned to hold large military drills in Tajikistan next month, amid what it described as a deteriorating situation in neighbouring Afghanistan. Moscow has moved to cement its positionasa key player in the region after the United States’ hasty retreat from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s takeover of the country. The general secretary of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) Stanislav Zas said the group would hold several largescale exercises in the ex-Soviet state. Tajikistan is the only country out of the six-member bloc led by Russia that shares a border with Afghanistan. The series of drills will include our largest exercise this year, Mr. Zas said. The group has taken collective measures to ensure Tajikistan’s security in case of an aggravation on its border with Afghanistan, he added. The CSTO said in a joint statement that it was alarmed by the deterioration of security in Afghanistan. Mr. Zas announced the drills after Russian Foreign MinisterSergei Lavrov put the Taliban on notice on Wednesday, noting that Moscow was monitoring the group’s fulfilment of promises to prevent radical groups from launching attacks on Afghanistan’s neighbours.
China fully vaccinates more than 1 billion people
China has fully vaccinated more than one billion peopleagainst the coronavirus 71% of its population – official figures showed on Thursday. The country, wherethe viruswas first detected, has mostly curbed the virus within its borders, but is racing to get the vastmajorityof its population vaccinated as a new outbreak flickers in the southeast. As of September 15, 2.16 billion vaccine doses have been administered nationwide, said National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng at a press briefing. The Chinese health authorities said late last month that 890 million people in the country had been fully vaccinated, and two billion doses administered.The government has not publicly announced a target for vaccination coverage, but top virologist Zhong Nanshan said last month that the country is likely to have 80% of its population inoculated by the end of the year, reaching herd immunity.China is currently battling an outbreak of the Delta variant in the southeastern province of Fujian that has infected almost 200 people so far in three cities, dozens of whom are school children. The Fujian cluster is the biggest rebound in weeks and comes after the country declared the Delta variant under control, in a test of China’s zero-case approach to the coronavirus pandemic.