Karti Chidambaram’s premises being raided by ED in Chennai and Delhi

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted raids today at multiple houses associated to Karti Chidambaram in connection with its money laundering investigation in the Airtel-Maxis case, who’s the son of Congress leader P Chidambaram. The raids are being conducted in Delhi and Chennai since early morning, the official sources said.

The Congress leader P Chidambaran said following the raids on Saturday that “They (ED officials) searched & found nothing but since they had to justify themselves they took papers of a statement made by govt in the Parliament, few years back. The ED has no jurisdiction to investigate under PMLA”. On December 1 last year, the central probe agency had also conducted similar raids on the premises of a relative of Karti and others in the case. The Enforcement Directorate case refers to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) consent granted in 2006 by the then finance minister P Chidambaram. “The circumstances of the said FIPB approval granted by the then finance minister (P Chidambaram),” the agency had said about its investigating.

The ED also claimed that Karti has “disposed” of a property in Gurgaon, which he had already rented out to a multinational company “to which foreign direct investment (FDI) approval had been granted in 2013”. Under the PMLA, it charged that Karti had “also closed certain bank accounts and attempted to close other bank accounts in order to frustrate the process of attachment”. The ED alleged that FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis FDI case was granted in March, 2006 by the then finance minister despite he was capable to agreement on project proposals only up to Rs 600 crore and more that it needed the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). “In the instant case, the approval for FDI of 800 million USD (over Rs 3,500 crore) was sought. Hence, CCEA was competent to grant approval. However, approval was not obtained from CCEA,” it alleged.

Three dead in Rajkot as fire erupts in Rashtriya Shivir

On Saturday, three girls died and some other injured following a fire broke out at a Rashtriya Shivir being held at Vedic Ashram in Rajkot’s Pransla village. The Rajkot collector Vikrant Pandey said that “Three causalities have been reported. Preliminary investigation revealed the deceased were locals in this camp attended by youngsters from across the country”.

It is a yearly event camp where school and college students are presented with nationalist ideas with army officers and soldiers delivering guest lectures. There were supposedly 16,000 participants in the camp. The Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani also had attended the event last week. The fire was reported following 11 pm on Friday in a section of tent allotted to the girls, as per the police. However, the reason behind the fire is yet to be discovered. On the other side, the flames have been doused and the situation is now in under control. The wounded people have been quickly taken to a nearby hospital. The superintendent of police and district collector reached the spot to review the situation. The Gujarat CM Rupani expressed condolences at the mishap and declared help of Rs 4 lakh to the families of the deceased girls. Rupani also ordered an inquiry into the matter.

4 Judges speak out against Chief Justice Dipak Misra, says democracy is in danger

A huge shock came for the Indian democracy when four senior Supreme Court judges held an unprecedented press conference on Friday where they alleged that the administration of the top court is not in order and chief justice of India Dipak Misra had overlooked their suggestions to take corrective steps on several matters. The press conference by Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph emerges to have thrown a light on an increasing split between senior justices and chief justice Misra.

The CJI and four justices are part of the Supreme Court collegium, which selects judges to the top court and high courts. The Justice Chelameswar said, “This is an extraordinary event in the history of any nation, more particularly this nation, and an extraordinary event in the institution of judiciary … It is with no pleasure that we are compelled to call this press conference. But sometimes administration of the Supreme Court is not in order and many things which are less than desirable have happened in the last few months.” “We tried to persuade the CJI to take steps but failed. Unless the institution of Supreme Court is preserved, democracy won’t survive in this country,” added Chelameswar. The second-most senior judge in the Supreme Court following the CJI, Justice Chelameswar, added that the four had met chief justice Misra with a “specific request” but were unable to convince them.

“We were left with no choice except to communicate it to the nation that please take care of the institution…Don’t want people to say 20 years later that we did not take care of the institution,” said justice Chelameswar. A letter has also been released by the judges questing issues such as justice delivery system and allocation of cases. “There is an issue of assignment of a case which is raised in that letter (to the CJI),” said justice Gogoi. When asked if it is about special CBI judge BH Loya, he said, “Yes.” The comments assume importance as the top court today took up for consideration petitions asking for an independent probe into the death of judge Loya who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case of 2004 in which various police officers and BJP president Amit Shah are named as parties.

“There have been instances where a case having far-reaching consequences for the nation and the institution had been assigned by Chief Justice of this court selectively to benches without rationale basis. This must be guarded against at all costs. We are not mentioning details only to avoid embarrassing the institution but note that such departures have already damaged the image of this institution to some extent,” says the letter by the judges. “It’s a discharge of debt to the nation which we have done,” said Justice Gogoi, who will be succeeding chief justice Misra in October.

I will not give even an inch of land, says Nitin Gadkari to Navy for housing in south Mumbai

Doubting why all Navy officials need to stay in posh south Mumbai, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday that “not an inch” of land would be given to Navy to make flats or quarters in the area. “Actually, Navy is needed at the borders from where terrorists sneak in. Why does everyone (in the Navy) want to stay in South Mumbai? They (Navy) had come to me, asking for a plot (of land). I will not give even an inch of land. Please don’t come to me again,” the minister said.

Gadkari made the comments at a public event here in presence of Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Girish Luthra. The minister’s public displeasure comes following of the Navy declining permission for building a floating jetty at Malabar Hill in south Mumbai, where a floating hotel and seaplane service are planned. Gadkari said, “Everyone wants to build quarters and flats on south Mumbai’s prime land. We do respect you (Navy), but you should go to the Pakistan border and do patrolling.” The minister added that a few important and senior officials can stay in Mumbai, adding that land on the eastern seafront being jointly developed by the state-run Mumbai Port Trust and the Maharashtra government would be used only for the benefit of local residents.

South Mumbai is house to a large presence of the Navy and houses the headquarters of the Western Naval Command as well as the naval residential quarters at Navy Nagar in Colaba in South Mumbai. He said that “I heard that you (Navy) gave a stay to the floating jetty plan at Malabar Hill, despite it getting the high court’s nod”. Alleging that stopping such developmental work has become a habit, the minister amazed what has the Navy to do with the Malabar Hill area which is mainly a private residential zone also having official residences of Maharashtra governor and chief minister. Inviting the Navy for talks to come out for a solution on the issue, Gadkari said that “Where is the Navy at Malabar Hill? There is no Navy at Malabar Hill and the Navy has nothing to do in the area”.

Aadhaar adds new security layer with 16-digit ‘Virtual ID’

On Wednesday, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) launched a new layer of security called as ‘Virtual ID’ to prevent Aadhaar from being shared, which is sought to address privacy and security reasons. They also added that a safety feature to make sure only need-based sharing of information, by way of a limited KYC, even as it mentioned that the system and data were safe.

The UIDAI’s Virtual ID will be issued from March and allow over 119 crore Aadhaar holders to generate a 16-digit temporary number that can be shared with a bank, insurance company or telecom service provider instead of 12-digit Aadhaar number. All of these service providers will have to advance their systems to compulsorily allow for the new instrument from June. One can select to use the Virtual ID as many times as one wants, or keep generating a new one every time you have to share your unique ID. “It will not be possible to locate an individual’s Aadhaar number by using the Virtual ID,” an official said.

In order to take precautionary safety measures, another safety feature introduced that limits the sharing of information to focus on preventing possible misuse and data theft. In the current system, the five details of the Aadhaar holder is shared – name, date of birth, address, photo and mobile number – with the service provider at the time of authentication. But only need-based sharing of data would be required for the new feature. The former UIDAI chief Nandan Nilekani tweeted on Wednesday that “Aadhaar is here to stay! Happy that the @UIDAI has introduced virtual ID and limited KYC in the spirit of continuous innovation to enhance privacy and security”.

“This is a unique innovation to strengthen privacy and security of 119 crore Aadhaar holders. This is unparalleled in the world,” UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey said. According to an official, the agencies had been provided enough time to migrate to the new system by updating the system needed to offer the additional option of Virtual IDs to users. The official said that “Departments will tell us the data that is required to be shared and we will design the protocol accordingly”. “Aadhaar holder can use Virtual ID in lieu of Aadhaar number whenever authentication or KYC services are performed. Authentication may be performed using the Virtual ID in a manner similar to using Aadhaar number,” a UIDAI circular said.

To generate their Virtual ID, the users can visit the UIDAI website that will be valid for a defined period of time, or till the user decides to change it. Through Virtual ID feature, it will reduce the collection of Aadhaar numbers by various agencies. According to the UIDAI, agencies that start authentication will not be permitted to produce Virtual IDs on behalf of Aadhaar holders.

SC issues notice to Centre on a plea against prayers in Kendriya Vidyalayas

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court agreed to find out whether a Hindi prayer sung in the morning assembly in more than 1,100 Kendriya Vidyalaya schools all over India promotes a particular religion and disturbs the Constitution. While issuing a notice to the government, a bench headed by Justice RF Nariman said that “It is a very important constitutional issue”.

An advocate Veenayak Shah whose children graduated from a Kendriya Vidyalaya filed the petition. He is a resident of Madhya Pradesh, who believes that the practice of prayer generated barriers in developing scientific temperament among students as the whole idea of God and religious faith is given huge priority and inspired as a thought-process among the students. The plea said, “Students as a result learn to develop an inclination towards seeking refuge from the almighty instead of developing a practical outcome towards the obstacles and hurdles faced in everyday life, and the spirit of enquiry and reform seems to be lost somewhere”. “All the students irrespective of their faith and belief, have to compulsorily attend the morning assembly and recite the prayer,” he added in the petition.

He said that if any student failing to do fold hands, closing eyes and reciting the prayer, then they were punished and humiliated in front of the entire school. Shah added that as per the meaning of Article 28 of the Constitution, the common prayer is a “religious instruction” and thus must be prohibited. The Article 28(1) clears that no religious instruction shall be given in any educational institution just maintained out of state funds. The petition said that “The above prayer is being enforced throughout the country in all Kendra Vidyalayas. As a result, parents and children of the minority communities as well as atheists and others who do not agree with this system of prayer such as agnostics, scepticists, rationalists, and others would find the imposition of this prayer constitutionally impermissible”.

Student goes missing from the JNU campus, CCTV shows him leaving the campus

The police said on Wednesday that a research scholar pursuing Ph.D. from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has allegedly gone disappeared from the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus. The research scholar Mukul Jain, who is pursuing his research under a guide from IGNOU and a co-guide from JNU’s School of Life Sciences, was last seen on Monday. He used a laboratory at the JNU for his research.

The DCP (South West) Milind Mahadeo Dumbere said, “We have spoken to the family of the missing student but they have not been able to provide much information.” At Vasant Kunj police station, a complaint has been filed. According to the police, Jain was allegedly saddened over some differences that had emerged between him and a woman who he had befriended recently. “We have been told that he wanted to confront the woman but was unable to contact her when he was last seen on the campus and spoke to his friends,” an investigator said on anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The CCTV footage reveals Jain leaving the campus from the university’s east gate on Monday at around 12.30 pm. The JNU’s chief security officer Naveen Yadav said that the student’s family visited the campus on Tuesday and were displayed the CCTV recordings. Yadav said, “The student is not registered with JNU but works under a co-guide here. The family was shown the footage in which he was seen leaving the campus on foot. We have not registered a (police) complaint yet as the family has already registered it.” “He is registered with IGNOU with the life sciences department. I am his co-guide so he used to come here to work in the lab,” said Jain’s co-guide at JNU Shweta Saran, who is a professor at School of Life Sciences.

It was confirmed by the IGNOU’s research unit director Kaustuva Barik that the missing student was registered with IGNOU. Barik said that “I was informed about the case by the guide that the student has gone missing. We hope he is found soon”.