News in Brief

BY | Wednesday, 24 August, 2022

Move to stifle any semblance of independent media: Cong on Adani’s NDTV stake

New Delhi: With billionaire Gautam Adani launching a hostile takeover of NDTV, the Congress on Wednesday alleged that the bid by a company owned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “khaas dost” (special friend) is a brazen move to control and stifle any semblance of an independent media. In a stunning move with the potential to change the media landscape, Adani launched a hostile takeover of NDTV, first with an indirect acquisition of a 29.18 per cent stake in the broadcaster followed by an offer to buy out a further 26 per cent controlling stake. The owners of New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV), one of the nation’s most popular news channels, said they were completely unaware of the takeover until Tuesday, and that it was done without their consent or any discussion. An Adani Group firm first acquired a company that in the past was linked to rival billionaire Mukesh Ambani. The particular company, VCPL, had loaned Rs 250 crore to NDTV in 2008-09 and the Adani group firm now exercised the option to convert that debt into a 29.18 per cent stake in the news channel company.


As new Nitish govt heads for show of strength, Bihar assembly braces for stormy session

Patna: Sparks are set to fly at the Bihar assembly on Wednesday when the BJP, now stripped of power and politically isolated, will try to hold its own against the mighty seven-party ruling ‘Mahagathbandhan’. The special session is set to commence on a stormy note on account of Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha’s stout refusal to resign despite the new ruling dispensation’s motion of no-confidence against him. If the assembly is not adjourned following the vote over the motion against the speaker, the new government headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will also face the trust vote during the day.


Land-for-jobs scam: CBI se arches at premises of RJD leaders on day of Nitish Kumar’s floor test

New Delhi: The CBI on Wednesday started a search operation at the premises of several RJD leaders in Bihar in connection with the alleged land-for-jobs scam that took place during the tenure of Lalu Prasad as Union railway minister, officials said. The search operation comes on a day when Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who parted ways with the BJP to ally with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), is set to face a trust vote in the state assembly. The CBI has named the RJD supremo, his wife Rabri Devi, and daughters Misa Bharti and Hema Yadav, in addition to 12 people who were given jobs in Railway zones of Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata, Jaipur, Hajipur in 2008-09 in the case, the officials said. The central agency had registered a preliminary enquiry on 23 September 2021 related to the land-for-jobs scam in Railways.


Uttarakhand minister questions norms for recruitment of ‘Agniveers’ into armed forces

Dehradun: Uttarakhand’s Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj has questioned the norms being followed for the recruitment of “Agniveers” into the armed forces in the hill state. “The height requirement for the hill people in Army recruitment rallies was reduced during the time of (former Chief of Defence Staff) General Bipin Rawat to 163 centimetres. But the colonel looking after the recruitment process for Agniveers in Kotdwar is still following the 170-centimetre criterion,” Maharaj said in a video statement. He said he has spoken to Union Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt about it and asked him to ensure that the recruitment of Agniveers is done strictly in accordance with the norms.


Mumbai Police register FIR against 4 persons, firm for submitting fake documents to get COVID-19 centre contracts

Mumbai: The Mumbai Police registered an FIR on Wednesday against a hospital management firm and four persons for allegedly submitting fake documents to obtain contracts of COVID-19 care centres, an official said. The case was registered against M/s Lifeline Hospital Management Service Firm, Dr Hemant Ramsharan Gupta, Sujit Mukund Patkar, Sanjay Madanlal Shah and Raju Nandkumar Salunkhe at the Azad Maidan police station based on a complaint by former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, the official said. As per the FIR, in June 2020, the hospital management firm partners submitted an alleged fake partnership deed to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and obtained contracts of jumbo COVID-19 centres at NSEL, Worli, Mulund, Dahisar (in Mumbai) and Pune without having any experience in the medical field. The firm had submitted bills of these centres to the BMC and collected Rs 38 crore, it said.


Illegal mining case: ED conducts fresh raids in Jharkhand

Ranchi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided multiple locations in Jharkhand on Wednesday as part of an ongoing money-laundering investigation into alleged illegal mining in the state, official sources said. The federal probe agency will cover about 17-20 premises in the state as part of the operation. The searches were carried out after fresh information came to the fore following the questioning of Pankaj Mishra, a political aide of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, and Mishra’s associate and muscleman Bachhu Yadav, the sources said. The agency is probing the trail of Rs 100 crore of “proceeds of crime” generated from illegal mining operations in Jharkhand. Both Mishra and Yadav were arrested by the ED.


Sonia to travel abroad for medical check-ups; Rahul, Priyanka to accompany her

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi will travel abroad for medical check-ups and Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will accompany her, the party said on Tuesday. It did not divulge any specific date of travel or their places of visit but said Rahul Gandhi will address the Congress’ ‘Mehangai Par Halla Bol’ rally here on 4 September 2022. Their visit abroad comes at a time when the party is prepping for its Kanyakumari to Kashmir ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ starting 7 September. It also comes ahead of the election of party president, the schedule for which is expected to be out this week.


PMLA judgment on possession of property leaves scope for arbitrary application: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday said its judgement on the Enforcement Directorate’s powers under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to take possession of a property before trial in exceptional cases leaves scope for arbitrary application. A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said the ratio concerning Section 8(4) laid down by the PMLA judgement needs further explanation. The apex court in its PMLA judgement delivered on 27 July had said that direction under Section 8(4) for taking possession of the property in question before a formal order of confiscation is passed should be an exception and not a rule. Section 8(4) allows the ED to take possession of the attached property at the stage of confirmation of provisional attachment made by the adjudicating authority.


Jamiat, AIMPLB call for strict action against suspended BJP MLA Raja Singh over remarks on Prophet

New Delhi: Prominent Muslim bodies on Tuesday called for strict action against suspended Telangana BJP MLA T Raja Singh over his controversial remarks allegedly aimed at Prophet Mohammad and demanded a law to protect the sanctity of religious figures. Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind chief Maulana Mahmood Madani slammed Raja’s remarks as “very shameful” and “shocking”. Singh, who is known for his hardline religious rhetoric, was arrested by the Hyderabad police earlier in the day over his alleged remarks on the Prophet and suspended by the BJP for “violating” the party’s constitution. Hours after the arrest, Singh was granted bail by a local court. Madani termed Singh’s remarks a “disgraceful act” while All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) general secretary Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani said that derogatory words about the Holy Prophet are unbearable for Muslims, but unfortunately communal leaders have started speaking against the Prophet to hurt the sentiments of the Muslims. Both appealed to Muslims to show patience and avoid taking law into their hands.


PM to address conference of labour ministers of all states, UTs on 25 Aug

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Thursday address a national conference of labour ministers of all states and union territories on 25 August via video conferencing, his office said. The conference is being convened in the spirit of cooperative federalism to discuss various significant labour-related issues, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement on Tuesday. The two-day conference is being organised by the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment on 25-26 August at Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. The conference will help create further synergy amongst the Centre and state governments in formulating better policies and ensuring effective implementation of schemes for the welfare of workers, the statement said.


ED registers money laundering case in Delhi Excise policy probe: Sources; After CBI action, CM Kejriwal says Sisodia may be arrested in 2-3 days

New Delhi/Bhavnagar (Guj): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered a money laundering case in connection with the alleged irregularities in the Delhi Excise policy in which Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and others are allegedly involved, sources in the probe agency said on Tuesday. The ED has filed the case under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after taking cognisance of a CBI FIR that has named Sisodia and 14 others. Reacting to the ED action, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said this had to happen as Sisodia had rejected the BJP’s offer to join the saffron party as claimed by the deputy chief minister. As the AAP-BJP faceoff over allegations on Sisodia escalated, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed his deputy may be arrested in two to three days while Union minister Anurag Thakur called the AAP a party of liars, alleging that the “Kejriwal model” of governance has failed.


Cong launches logo, website of its ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ from Kanyakumari to Kashmir

New Delhi: The Congress Tuesday launched the logo, tagline and website of its upcoming ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ which, it said, was necessitated in national interest due to “growing economic inequality, social polarisation and political division” in the country. The Opposition party also hopes to rejuvenate its cadre and enhance mass contact through the campaign. Addressing a press conference, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the main yatra will cover 3,570 km from Kanyakumari in the south to Kashmir in the north in about five months beginning 7 September. Asked why the yatra was not passing through the poll-bound states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Ramesh said questions are often raised as to why it will go to one state and not another, but the route was decided keeping in mind factors such as security and geography. He further asserted that the yatra is a political initiative but a non-partisan one.


Presidential assent given to criminal bills of Karnataka, Jharkhand

New Delhi: The president has given his assent to two legislations of Karnataka and Jharkhand under which audio and video-recordings of evidence in criminal matters would be allowed, besides paving the way for courts to hold trials against absconding accused and punish them in their absence, officials said. The Code of Criminal Procedure (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2021 allows evidence to be recorded through audio and video means in the presence of the accused and his lawyers. The Code of Criminal Procedure (Jharkhand Amendment) Bill, 2020 facilitates courts to run trials against absconding accused and punish them in their absence. The presidential assent has been received for the two bills, a home ministry official said.


Escalation of geopolitical tensions biggest risk to India’s growth outlook: Jayanth Varma

New Delhi: The biggest risk to India’s growth outlook is an escalation of geopolitical tensions, especially if these tensions spread to the Asian region, RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Jayanth R Varma told PTI on Wednesday. Varma said that inflation and inflationary expectations appear to be moderating and high inflation will certainly not become the ‘norm’ in the country. Turning to the negative side, he observed that in the current global environment, exports might not be as buoyant as they were in the past and said while India is not an export driven economy, an export slowdown would be a drag on growth if it is sustained. Noting that inflation has already peaked, Varma said Inflation would be above the target for several quarters, but there is reason to believe that the worst is over, unless the world is confronted by another unforeseen global shock. On the other hand, he said any adverse shocks to economic growth (domestic or global) could cause a steeper decline in inflation than is currently expected.


No evidence of Indian companies circumventing Russian sanctions: US official

Mumbai: The US Deputy Secretary of Treasury Wally Adeyemo on Wednesday said there is “no evidence” of Indian companies circumventing the sanctions imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.He added that companies around the world, including those in India, the US and Europe, are taking the sanctions seriously and implementing them as well. The remarks come days after reports quoted RBI Deputy Governor Michael Patra saying that the US is concerned over India being used to export fuel made from Russian crude in violation of sanctions imposed by Washington. According to Patra, transfers of Russian crude are taking place on the high seas and the ships come to a port in Gujarat, where the oil is refined and shipped on.


Sri Lanka bans import of 300 items of consumer goods to stabilise economy

Colombo: Sri Lanka has slapped a ban on the import of 300 consumer items as part of the cash-strapped island nation’s bid to tackle its worst economic crisis triggered by the shortage of foreign exchange. Sri Lanka is going through its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948. The worsening forex crisis caused essential items shortages triggering massive public protests in the street since early this year that led to the ouster of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government last month. In a special notification issued by the Sri Lankan finance ministry, the ban was imposed on a total of 300 items including chocolates, perfumes, makeup and shampoo among several other products. However, these items if shipped before August 23 and arrive in the country before September 14 would still be allowed, it stated.


BTS to hold ‘free in-person’ concert on 15 Oct for ‘2030 Busan World Expo’ bid support

New Delhi: K-pop sensation BTS will headline “a free in-person concert” on 15 October to support South Korea’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo in Busan, announced their management agency BigHit Music on Wednesday. Titled ‘Yet to Come’, the show will be held at Busan Ilgwang special stage at 6 pm KST (9.30 pm IST). ARMY, the fan group of BTS, will also be able to catch the concert online via live streaming on fan community forum Weverse. The group will perform at the global concert as part of their duties as ambassadors of the ‘Busan World Expo 2030’. BTS is currently on a break as a unit with members RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook pursuing solo projects.


Saif Ali Khan, Hrithik Roshan lock horns in Vikram Vedha teaser

Mumbai: It’s a clash of the titans as Bollywood stars Saif Ali Khan and Hrithik Roshan pack a powerful punch in the Vikram Vedha teaser, which was released by the makers on Wednesday. A modern retelling of the classic folktale ‘Baital Pachisi’, the upcoming movie is the Hindi adaptation of the Tamil neo-noir action thriller of the same name. The 2017 hit film starred R Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi in titular roles. Vikram, a tough cop (Saif), sets a trap for a dreaded and revered gangster called Vedha (Hrithik). But tables turn when Vikram’s perception about the difference between the good and the evil gets blurry as he is caught in the web of stories spun by Vedha. The film, a YNOT Studios production, is presented by Gulshan Kumar, T-Series and Reliance Entertainment in association with Friday Filmworks & Jio Studios. It is produced by Bhushan Kumar and S Sashikanth. Vikram Vedha is slated to be released in theatres on 30 September.




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