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India

Gaurav Gogoi may be expelled as MP for remaining term

Seven Indian National Congress (INC) MPs were suspended from the remaining session of Loksabha on Thursday. Sources say the government may now demand the termination of the Lok Sabha membership of Gaurav Gogoi for the remaining term. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has approved the formation of a committee to investigate Gaurav Gogoi’s paper snatching case. Within this session, such a committee will be formed.

The speaker said this was an action for the MPs’ “gross misconduct” after they snatched papers from his table. Birla cited the suspended MPs’ “utter disregard” for house rules.

Among the INC MPs who have been suspended are Gaurav Gogoi, TN Prathapan, Dean Kuriakose, Manicka Tagore, Rajmohan Unnithan, Benny Behanan and Gurjeet Singh Aujla.

When the house met at 3 PM after an adjournment, BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi, who was presiding over the house, implicated the lawmakers. This meant, according to the rules, that the named MPs couldn’t attend the parliament for that day.

Lekhi said when the House was discussing the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020, these members “forcefully” snatched and tossed papers from the speaker podium. “Such unfortunate incident has possibly happened for the first time in the parliamentary history… I condemn this behaviour,” she said while naming the members.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi thereafter moved a motion to suspend the members from Sansad for the remaining period of the budget session. The motion was passed by a voice vote amid protests by opposition members.

After getting suspended from the Lok Sabha for the rest of the session, Gaurav Gogoi tweeted, “Suspend me but please discuss Delhi riots tomorrow. Show your accountability towards the very people who voted for you. No matter the number my party INC derives it’s (sic) strength from our commitment towards Bharat Mata and we will continue to seek justice from PM Modi.”

Quoting Gogoi’s tweet, Sushmita Dev of the INC questioned why no action had been taken against Anurag Thakur and Kapil Mishra. This was a reference to the opposition’s allegation that the two BJP leaders delivered hate speeches during and after the Delhi election campaign respectively.

During the election campaign, Thakur had addressed a crowd with the slogan “desh ke gaddāron ko” while his followers said “goli māro s**lon ko“, the two phrases together conveying the sense “shoot the traitors of the nation”.

Mishra had, early last week, appealed to Delhi Police to clear the blockades in Delhi put up by Muslims supported by communists before visiting US President Donald Trump left the country.

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Elections

Tiwari to step down as Delhi BJP head; 6 in replacement race

After a crushing defeat in the Delhi assembly election, the central leadership of the BJP has started searching for a new state president. Party sources say that instead of Manoj Tiwari, a new face will be given a chance.

After the BJP’s poor performance, state president Manoj Tiwari has offered to resign. However, the BJP high command has asked him to continue in the post for the time being.

The tenure of the Delhi BJP president is of three years and Tiwari has completed this period.

Tiwari was favoured until this defeat

The BJP had extended Tiwari’s tenure in view of the Delhi Assembly election, but after the disappointing performance of the party in the election, the party is exploring other options.

Under Tiwari’s leadership, the BJP had performed brilliantly in the 2017 MCD election and the 2019 Lok Sabha election, but in the assembly election under his leadership, the party suffered a humiliating defeat.

According to BJP sources, the high command has made up its mind to change the entire team of the Delhi BJP after the crushing defeat in the poll. A senior BJP leader said that there were at least 15-20 seats that the BJP could easily win but due to the decision to field external candidates, local BJP workers did not extend support in the campaign.

Tiwari had said after the crushing defeat in Delhi elections, “What I had said had a basis. We were hoping to win 48 assembly seats because the condition of the roads out there was very bad. People did not tire complaining about Arvind Kejriwal on the issue of water supply and school education. That made us believe that the BJP candidates could win in these areas.”

One of these 6 will make it

Foremost among those in the race for the post of the BJP state president is West Delhi MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma. In addition to being young, Verma has made inroads in every section within the party. Just before the assembly election, home minister and former national president Amit Shah had heaped praise on Verma, indicating the preference of the central leadership.

Vijender Gupta, former president of Delhi BJP who won the election for the second consecutive time from Rohini assembly seat, is in the fray too. However, his age and the lacklustre first term are working against him, say party sources.

The name of Delhi BJP’s old face and Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan Vijay Goel is doing the rounds as well. But Goel, like Gupta, has been the state president of Delhi BJP earlier, with not much of an achievement to show.

Party sources say that this time the high command will hand over the command of the party to a leader who is young and who is accepted by the rank and file of the organisation. Thus, along with Verma, BJP MP from South Delhi Ramesh Bidhuri and East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir stand them in good stead.

The leadership may well offer the opportunity to a woman as the next state president, a senior state BJP politician said. In that case, MP Meenakshi Lekhi could make it. The leadership is said to have liked her presentations as an MP and performance in the New Delhi parliamentary constituency.

However, there is another section in the party that doubts the ability of Gambhir and Lekhi to command the whole Delhi team. They say while Lekhi is an elite, Gambhir is too new in politics to be able to manage the wheels within wheels of the Delhi unit of the BJP.

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Rafale: One Embarrassment, One Snub For Opposition

The Supreme Court has accepted the apology rendered by Rahul Gandhi for his “chowkidar chor hai” statement that he had attributed to the apex court with the implication that the court had accepted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rafale deal was not clean. Rahul Gandhi had apologised in the Supreme Court for his statement. The court has asked Rahul Gandhi to be more careful in future for his remarks in court.

The Supreme Court has rejected the ‘contempt of court’ petition filed by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi in this regard. However, the BJP will hardly complain, given that they have Rahul Gandhi’s apology to wield to the people whenever he speaks on Rafale again. And this was not the only sore point for the opposition today.

The Supreme Court on Thursday also dismissed the reconsideration petitions filed in the Rafale case. The Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice SK Kaul and Justice KM Joseph upheld the judgment pronounced on 14 December 2018. The apex court said that it did not feel the need to order an FIR or SIT inquiry into this matter.

In last year’s judgment, the apex court had declared Rafale deal as a contract of the government of India with that of France following a well-laid down procedure and given a clean chit to the Narendra Modi government.

The court had reserved the verdict on 10 May after agreeing to hear the review petition. The petition had been filed by Prashant Bhushan, former ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, among others, seeking an inquiry into the Rafale deal.

On the matter of misrepresenting the Supreme Court statement on Rafale by Rahul Gandhi, the bench said that it accepted his apology. He needs to be more cautious, it held. The court had agreed to the re-hearing of the case considering the leaked but manipulated documents pertaining to the Rafale deal as evidence. To that, Rahul had said that even the court had accepted that “chowkidar chor hai“. “Chowkidar” happened to be a self-assigned epithet Prime Minister Modi had chosen to describe himself as the custodian of the wealth of India.

Due to the Supreme Court’s acceptance of Rahul Gandhi’s apology, his allegations about the Rafale deal in the future will lack credibility

The Centre opposed the idea of considering confidential documents as evidence, as its agreement with France risked being breached if everything about the deal had to be divulged in the court.

On 13 May, the central government filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in connection with the leak of documents related to Rafale. The government argued that the documents on which the reconsideration petition had been filed were very sensitive to Indian security. The security of the country is in danger due to their going public, the attorney-general argued.

The Centre said petitioners Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, Prashant Bhushan were guilty of leaking sensitive information, to which the petitioners said the documents were already in the public domain in the form of media reports.

The Hindu had published a report by its former editor N Ram that showed a bureaucrat objecting to the fact that the PMO was interfering in the deal. The report had hidden the lowest portion of the same sheet of paper where then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had scribbled that the PMO’s intervention was alright, as the French president was equally monitoring the French end of the bargain.

Ram pleaded that he had not received the document with Parrikar’s note at the bottom. However, that could not have been possible as the date when he said he had got hold of the papers was a date following, and not preceding, Parrikar’s observation. It was on the basis of this dubious media report that Bhushan and Shourie asked for a review of the Supreme Court judgment on Rafale.

The government expressed the apprehension that the documents that the petitioners had attached to the petition had been circulated, which was now accessible for the enemies of the country as well.

The Rafale fighter jet deal was signed between the governments of India and France in September 2016 after the negotiations with the UPA government yielded no result even as the IAF was desperately looking to replenish its dwindling squadrons of fighter planes. Under the contract that is on, the IAF will get 36 state-of-the-art fighter aircraft. According to media reports, the deal is worth € 7.8 crore (about Rs 58,000 crore).

The Congress claims that the price of a Rafale fighter jet was fixed at Rs 600 crore during the UPA government. One Rafale would cost around Rs 1,600 crore as per the agreement the Modi government has signed with France.

However, the deal that the UPA was headed to had no provision for purchasing its spare parts, hangars, training simulators, missiles or weapons. The maintenance was not assured either. Most importantly, the version of Rafale that the UPA government was negotiating the price of was a base model without the additions the IAF had asked for.

All these aspects have been addressed in the deal that the Modi government signed with France. Potent missiles like Meteor and Scalp are fitted in the Indian Rafale. The Meteor can hit up to a range of 100 km while the Scalp can hit up to a 300-km range.

Related

The Congress further said this deal benefited Anil Ambani’s company. However, the UPA government too had struck several deals with Reliance Defence. More importantly, the allegation was patently false. Ambani’s company is only making cones for Falcon and has nothing to do with Rafale.

An Economic Times report

Rahul Gandhi had also accused the Modi government of depriving HAL of the contract whereas the PSU head clarified that the unit has never accepted offsets.

Chairman and managing director of HAL R Madhavan said the PSU would get into the picture only if the technology were to be transferred to India and, under the licence of the original manufacturer, the entire plane (and not just parts thereof) were to be made in India, which is not the case with the 36 made-in-France Rafale planes the IAF is getting as of now.

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India

CJI to deliver 5 verdicts in 8 days: From Ayodhya to Rafale

On 17 November this month, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi will retire, before which he is expected to pronounce the verdict of the benches of the Supreme Court he heads in some important cases.

The court reopened on Monday after the Diwali holiday. The CJI has only eight days left to work, as the apex court will be closed again on 11 and 12 November. The cases in which he has to pronounce verdicts include cases like the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute, the review petition filed for the decision of the apex court in the Rafale plane case and entry of women of menstruating age in the Sabarimala temple.

It will not be possible for the CJI to pronounce any judgment on the day of his retirement, as several formalities need to be addressed that day. Here is a list of some of the important cases on which CJI Gogoi has to pronounce the verdict.

1. CJI heads bench that will address Ayodhya dispute

All eyes are on the decision of the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, which would impact the social and religious fabric of the country. The Constitution bench of five judges headed by the CJI reserved the judgment on 16 October after the conclusion of the 40-day hearing in the case.

The judicial battle over 2.77 acre of land that has been going on for 70 years will conclude now. As many as 14 appeals have been filed in the Supreme Court against the 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court. It was distributed into four civil suits. The high court had equally divided the 2.77 acre of disputed land between the three parties: the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Arena and Ram Lalla Virajman.

2. Sabarimala case heard by CJI-led bench, too

Another Constitution bench of five judges, headed by the CJI, will pronounce its verdict on a review of the judgment of the apex court allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. The apex court had on 6 February reserved its decision on 65 petitions, including one of allowing the court to review the 28 September 2018 decision that permitted women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple.

The petitioners had argued that since Lord Ayyappa was a celibate in Sabarimala as per the faith of the sect that reveres the god, the court should not interfere in the tradition of prohibiting the entry of menstruating women (roughly 10–50 years old).

The hill temple will open for the annual festival on 16 November this year. Kerala witnessed high drama last year during an almost three-month-long annual pilgrimage that prevented about a dozen women, aged 10–50 years, from entering the Sabarimala temple. Devotees protested after the apex court’s decision opened the doors of the shrine to all women.

3. Rafale deal

Another high-voltage case is pending before a three-judge bench headed by the CJI. Review petitions were filed, challenging the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision, giving a clean chit to the Narendra Modi government over the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

The court had, on 10 May, reserved its decision on the petitions filed by BJP rebels and AB Vajpayee-era Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, along with advocate Prashant Bhushan seeking a CBI probe into alleged corruption and irregularities in the deal.

4. Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ included

Then Congress president Rahul Gandhi had mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fashioning of himself as a chowkidar (watchman) by alleging ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai (the watchman is a thief)’ and attributing the allegation to the Supreme Court that had merely agreed to hear the aforementioned case of Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan. Gandhi was slapped with a ‘contempt of court’ case as a result. This case awaits a verdict, too.

In May this year, Gandhi had tendered an unconditional apology in the Supreme Court and demanded the closure of the criminal contempt proceedings against him on a petition by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi. However, the CJI upheld the petition and decided to continue with the contempt proceedings.

5. Will CJI office come under RTI Act?

The judgment is expected also on the appeals filed in 2010 by the Supreme Court general secretary and the central public information officer of the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court order that the CJI’s office falls under the purview of the RTI Act.

The five-judge CJI-led Constitution bench had on 4 April reserved its decision on the appeals filed by its registry challenging the Delhi High Court order, which said the CJI’s office was a “public authority” within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005.

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Elections

Meenakshi Lekhi re-nominated, Gautam Gambhir to fight from E Delhi

New Delhi: In what appears a reward to lawyer Meenakshi Lekhi for her victory in the case of contempt-of-court against Congress president Rahul Gandhi earlier today in the Supreme Court, the BJP has renominated her from the New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency. Retired cricketer Gautam Gambhir, who had recently joined the party, has been fielded from East Delhi.

As reported by Sirf News on Sunday, three candidates for Delhi had not been decided yet. While Maheish Girri is likely to get a ticket from Gujarat, from where he had begun his spiritual journey, Udit Raj’s fate is still undecided.

The central election committee of the BJP on Monday decided the following names for the ensuing general election to two of the parliamentary constituencies of Delhi.

Sl. States PC No. Name of PC Name of Candidate Phase
NCT OF Delhi 3 East Delhi  Gautam Gambhir 6
NCT OF Delhi 4 New Delhi  Meenakshi Lekhi 6

The separate exercises by the BJP and RSS of gathering feedback about the sitting MPs had ended more than a month ago. Lekhi had received a mix of recommendations and disapprovals from New Delhi despite her prominence in legal fights against the Congress and outreach in the constituency aided by a mobile application tailor-made for New Delhi. This was why, sources said, the candidate for the seat remained undecided until Sunday.

The virtual apology by Gandhi on Monday in the morning, where the Congress president admitted in the apex court that he had misinterpreted its decision, made Lekhi pull a last-minute coup of sorts.

22 March: When Gautam Gambhir joined the BJP

Gautam Gambhir was identified as a nationalist much before the former cricketer took the plunge to join the BJP. The party would be banking on his charisma to pull the voters in East Delhi, a source said.

Another reason for the delay in declaring candidates for the seven Delhi seats was the uncertainty over an AAP-Congress alliance. While that alliance is still a distant possibility, the source said, the candidates must be given enough time for campaigning.

The process of filing of nomination papers by the candidates for Delhi seats has already begun, with the AAP candidates issuing appeals on social media to join their candidates at the nomination centres.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, who had reliably learnt he would be re-nominated, had started his canvassing some days ago in his constituency.

Manoj Tiwari has been practically been on the campaign mode always, thanks to his additional status as the Delhi BJP chief. The party is hopeful the Purvanchali and Bihari demography in North-East Delhi will prove useful in his campaign.

However, all candidates declared so far by the BJP, which includes Ramesh Bidhuri from South Delhi and Parvesh Verma from West Delhi, would stress Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and governance in their speeches. Gambhir is likely to underline the current government’s “strong actions” against Pakistan the most at the hustings, a source said.

For more Lok Sabha election-related news, please visit this page.

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BJP replaces ‘retiring’ Sumitra Mahajan, retains 4 Delhi MPs

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday nominated Shankar Lalwani as its candidate from Indore in the place of Sumitra Mahajan, the current Lok Sabha Speaker, who had expressed her desire to not remain in the poll fray recently. Of course, she had added she was not retiring.

“Politics cannot be compared with government jobs. Retirement age in government service is pre-determined. However, this cannot be done in politics because politicians are directly involved with happiness and sorrows of the common people and work for them beyond deadlines,” Mahajan had said on 10 April.

The BJP announced the names of seven candidates for the Lok Sabha elections on Sunday. The party has given Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri the ticket from Amritsar while four MPs from Delhi have been retained.

The party has given tickets to Indore Development Authority chairman Shankar Lalwani, replacing Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan from the Indore parliamentary constituency.

The BJP has announced the names of candidates in four seats in Delhi. The party has renominated Harsha Vardhan from Chandni Chowk, Manoj Tiwari from North-East Delhi, Parvesh Verma from West Delhi and Ramesh Bidhudhi from South Delhi.

The central election committee of the party decided the following names for the ensuing general elections to the parliamentary constituencies of different States.

This is the 23rd list of candidates from the BJP, which is releasing the names of its candidates for various constituencies in the order of the polling dates in those respective seats.

Sl. States PC No. Name of PC Name of Candidate Phase
Madhya Pradesh 26 Indore  Shankar Lalwani 7
Delhi 1 Chandni Chowk  Dr Harsh Vardhan 6
Delhi 2 North East Delhi  Manoj Tiwari 6
Delhi 6 West Delhi  Parvesh Verma 6
Delhi 7 South Delhi  Ramesh Bidhuri 6
Punjab 2 Amritsar  Hardeep Singh Puri 7
Uttar Pradesh 70 Ghosi  Harinarayan Rajbhar 7

 

It cannot be said at the moment whether the other three MPs, Meenakshi Lekhi, Udit Raj and Maheish Girri have been dropped. No name has been announced for their seats.

Sources in the BJP said that the public feedback about Udit Raj was poor. They added that some of his utterances over the past five years have not been in sync with the ideology of the RSS-BJP, which is why chances are high he would be dropped.

Maheish Girri, the sources said, is being considered for a constituency in Gujarat. Girri used to be a peethadheesh (head of a Hindu monastery) in Junagarh of the State, where he is believed to wield considerable influence.

The feedback about Meenakshi Lekhi is mixed.

For more Lok Sabha election-related news, please visit this page.

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Twisting Supreme Court decision on Rafale ties Rahul up in knots

New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party MP and lawyer Meenakshi Lekhi has filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court against Rahul Gandhi on Friday for what she alleges was the Congress president’s act of contempt for the court.

After the Supreme Court accepted a controversial report published in The Hindu as permissible evidence in the Rafale case, the Congress president had said that the highest court of the country had accepted that the chowkidar, the name Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assumed for the election campaign, was a chor (corrupt).

Lekhi has filed this petition in reference to Rahul Gandhi’s remarks against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rafale fighter plane case.

The apex court will hear the case of contempt on Monday, 15 April.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was among the first to challenge Gandhi. She convened a press conference and attacked the Congress president. She said that the court’s decision was not a setback to the government because the court had only accepted the review petition.

In the Rafale case, the court has said that the review petition filed on the basis of ‘confidential’ documents obtained wrongly (or stolen) will be heard. The court had clarified that, before considering the facts of the Rafale deal, the court would decide on the initial objections raised by the Union government.

The government has claimed privilege on the documents related to the Rafale fighter aircraft deal. It told the Supreme Court that no one could present those papers without the permission of the concerned department under the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act.

The Attorney General had said that no one could publish documents related to national security as the security of the nation was paramount.

Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan had told the court that the documents were already in the public domain. He argued that the provisions of the Right to Information (RTI) Act said that the people are supreme in the Indian sovereign and they could not be denied information for any kind of privilege.

The central government said that the petitioners who filed the review petition could not make some privileged documentation obtained illegally the basis of their case.

Attorney-General KK Venugopal, on behalf of the Centre, before the bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph, cited Section 123 of the Act and the provisions of Right to Information Act in support of its argument, but it did not wash.