More transparency sought in collegium meetings

chela-696x464Justice J Chelameswar, the second senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, has urged the authorities involved in the process of selection of high court judges to place their assessment on record to make the whole exercise more transparent.

A proper performance assessment of high court judges for elevation to the top court is hardly done, he said while speaking during a panel discussion titled ‘The Indian Higher Judiciary: Issues and Prospects’.

“What exactly goes on in collegium meetings and what is the nature of assessment undertaken at the time of choosing a particular name is required to be a little more transparent. An assessment of the performance of a high court judge, I am talking about elevation to the Supreme Court, is hardly done. Generally, the assessment goes by impression,” Justice Chelameswar reportedly said.

During a discussion on reforms required in the apex court, the judge on a lighter note said with the sanctioned strength of the top court being 31 judges, each state will stake its claim for a seat in the top court.

“The Supreme Court’s sanctioned strength is 31. The moment you create the Supreme Court with 31 judges, the first thing that happens in this country is that every state believes that it is entitled to a seat in it,” he was quoted as saying.

The panel discussion followed the release of a book ‘Appointment of judges to the Supreme Court of India: Transparency, Accountability and Independence’.

About the need for a permanent constitution bench, Justice Chelameswar reportedly said the matter required a re-look.

“It requires a re-look at the jurisdiction of the court. I do not think Dr Ambedkar would have ever dreamt that the Supreme Court would one day hear bail applications. The manner in which the jurisdiction of this court expanded added to the problem. This court was to decide only constitutional issues,” PTI quoted him as saying.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi leads nationwide hunger strike to highlight BJP’s failures

FB_IMG_1523268168802Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi has reached Rajghat in New Delhi on April 9 to lead a nationwide hunger strike to protest against the BJP government’s failures and to promote communal harmony in the country.

Rahul Gandhi along with Delhi party chief Ajay Maken and other workers are observing a day-long fast at Rajhghat over atrocities against Dalits and other important issues.

During the hunger strike at Rajghat the party will bring to light other important issues, including the failure of the Centre to hold a discussion in Parliament on issues such as PNB bank scam, alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act, the CBSE paper leak, Cauvery water issue and Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh.

Meanwhile, BJP has showing the dual nature of the Congress party. Delhi BJP leader Harish Khurana has alleged that Congress leaders, including Ajay Maken and Arvinder Singh Lovely, were seen eating (Chhole Bhathure) at the restaurant (Chaina Ram Halwai) in Delhi before sitting on a protest and observing fast.

While Congress leaders gave befitted response to the BJP’s alleged remarks. Lovely claimed that the photo was taken before 8 am and he added: “This is symbolic fast from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm. It is not an indefinite hunger strike. This is what is wrong with these (BJP) people, instead of properly running the country; they concentrate on what we eat.”

BJP spokesman Sambit Patra lashes out at Congress and alleged that the party is ‘fooling’ the nation in the name of dalits. He today accused the Opposition party of indulging in divisive politics and “misleading the country with false facts.”

Unidentified men shot TV journalist at his Ghaziabad home, condition stable

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Unidentified men reportedly shot Anuj Chaudhary, Sahara Samay channel journalist, at his residence in Kavi Nagar area of Ghaziabad District on 8 April night.

Following the incident he was rushed to the Yashoda Hospital at Ghaziabad’s Nehru Nagar, the hospital authorities confirmed that one bullet hit him in the abdomen, while two hit him in the right arm. He had a surgery after which his condition is stable.

According to Vaibhav Krishna, Senior Superintendent of Police, Ghaziabad, Chaudhary was attacked by four or five unidentified men riding two-wheelers.

“The firing incident occurred due to old enmity,” he added.

He further added, “The incident took place around 7 p.m when criminals opened fire at Chaudhary and fled the spot.”

Chaudhary is married to a BSP Councillor.

Deepak Tomar, brother-in-law of Mr. Chaudhary has said that they had already informed the Kavi Nagar SHO that some money had been paid to sharpshooters to eliminate Chaudhary.

He said, “The criminals still managed to go through with their plan. Our neighbours had been after Anuj’s life. We have given a complaint against the suspected persons.”

Police officials confirm that the FIR has been registered, the family has identified the assailants and four police teams have been formed to arrest the accused.

BJP unveils list of 72 candidates for Karnataka polls

BJP-symbol1As per the list of BJP’s Central Election Committee, which released the names of 72 candidates for the high-stake contest in Karnataka, chief ministerial candidate for Karnataka, BS Yeddyurappa will contest from Shikaripura assembly constituency.

Veteran state leaders Jagadish Shettar and K S Eswarappa will contest from Hubli Dharwad Central and Shimoga Assembly seats, respectively, media reports said.

Senior party leader J P Nadda released the list of 72 candidates following the committees meeting. The BJP has also fielded its Lok Sabha MP B Sriramulu in the polls.

According to sources, the BJP is likely to field candidates for more than 140 seats and the names of remaining candidates are expected to be revealed soon.

The BJP Central Election Committee at its meeting chaired by party chief Amit Shah and attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday approved the first list for the May 12 Karnataka Assembly elections.

The meeting was preceded by a show of strength with the BJP inducting former Congress MLA Malikayya Guttedar. He found mention in the first list of candidates, with the BJP fielding him from Alzalpur constituency. Another defector, Mallikarjun Khuba, has been accommodated in Basavakalyan.

Resting all speculation, the party will field Eshwarappa, who lost his seat in 2013, from Shivamogga constituency. Sriramulu, a close aide of the infamous Reddy brothers, will be contesting away from Ballari — a seat he famously won after he parted ways with the BJP just before the 2013 elections.

Sitting MLAs Aravind Limbavali, Vijayakumar, Appachu Ranjan, R Ashoka, Ravi Subramanya, S Suresh Kumar, Ashwath Narayana, C T Ravi, S Muniraju, S Raghu, Haladi Srinivas Shetty, Basavraj Bommai, Jagadish Shettar, CM Udasi, Kageri Vishwanath, Govind Karjol, Laxman Savadi among others will contest from the seats they won in the last election.

The elections to the 225-seat assembly are scheduled for May 12.

Salman Khan gets bail in blackbuck poaching case

Salman Khan arrives at JodhpurThe district and sessions court in Jodhpur granted bail to actor Salman Khan on April 7. The actor is currently lodged in Jodhpur Central Jail since April 5.

Salman Khan was granted bail on the condition of producing two sureties worth Rs 25,000 and a bail bond of Rs 50,000.

“It’s a baseless argument by the prosecution that the previous acquittals of Khan by the Rajasthan High Court cannot be termed as final because the government’s appeal is pending in Supreme Court. If the High Court’s decision of acquittal is not final, then the five-year sentence by the trial court is also not final as it’s the lowest court and we will be appealing against the decision,” Salman’s counsel Mahesh Bora said while arguing in the court on April 7.

Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi heard his bail request and ordered his release on bail.
Salman Khan has been told to file a personal bail bond for Rs. 50,000 and produce Rs. 25,000 surety from two persons each who will guarantee that he will comply with all bail conditions.
The 52-year-old actor was sentenced to five years in jail for killing two blackbucks 20 years ago in Kankani village, near Jodhpur in Rajasthan. While his co-actors Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam Kothari and Sonal Bendre, who were also in the SUV that the superstar was driving that night, were acquitted by the Jodhpur sessions court.

Delhi HC seeks Pranab Mukherjee’s response over Babri Masjid reference in his Book

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee addresses the nation on the  eve of 67th Republic Day celebration at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, on Jan 25, 2016. (Photo: IANS/RB)The Delhi High Court on April 6 has sought response of former President Pranab Mukherjee on a petition filed by a social worker and a group of lawyers seeking deletion of some references to 1992 demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya from his 2016 book (The Turbulent Years 1980-1996) on the grounds that it hurt sentiments of Hindu people.

Justice Pratibha M Singh has issued the notice and has asked the former president to file his reply by July 30.

The petition against former president’s book was originally filed in the Patiala house court but was dismissed later. Then the matter was taken to the High Court in an appeal against the dismissal of the petition in the lower court’s order of November 2016.

 Advocate, appearing for the plaintiffs, (social worker and lawyers) had argued that the lower court wrongly dismissed the petition on the grounds that there was no cause of action.

However, the President’s counsel had opposed the plea before the trial court, stating that it was not maintainable.

BJP’S foundation day: Amit Shah to unveil 2019 Lok Sabha election agenda

FB_IMG_1523000953553The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is celebrating its 38th foundation day on April 6 at Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) ground. On the occasion, National president Amit Shah will address 300,000 party workers in Mumbai and will unveil a new development model for the country ahead of 2019 polls.

300,000 party workers have arrived from Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, said Maharashtra BJP president Danve Patil.

The BJP statement reveals that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with party workers of five Lok Sabha seats and with the presidents of 734 district units via video conferencing and will also answer their queries.

FB_IMG_1523000928806Amit Shah’s schedule for the day is already decided. He will address the mega rally in BKC at 12 pm. Later, he will hold a press conference at around 4 pm, and then will hold a meeting with legislators from Maharashtra at 5 pm.

The rally will showcase party’s strength in the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

In addition to Shah, Union ministers hailing from Maharashtra and other BJP leaders will also address the mega rally.

The chief minister of Nagaland, Jammu & Kashmir and others have extended their wishes to BJP on its foundation day.

Following the arrival of Amit Shah, Yuva Morcha took out the bike rally to welcome party president that reportedly resulted in huge traffic congestion on Western Express Highway between Dindoshi and Vakola.

How can Aadhar stop banking fraud? asks SC

AadharAadhaar can do little to stop banking frauds, the Supreme Court has observed.

The apex court also grilled the Centre for asking the entire population to link their mobile phones with the unique identity card “just to catch a few terrorists”.

The apex court reportedly said that bank officials were “hand-in-glove” with fraudsters and that scams do not happen because the culprits are unknown.

The court made the observations after the Centre argued that Aadhaar would help curb ills like terrorism and banking frauds, media reports said.

It reportedly asked the Centre what will happen, if tomorrow, the authorities such as the UIDAI, by way of an administrative order, asks the citizens to part with their DNA, semen and blood samples as part of their Aadhaar demographics.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the validity of Aadhaar and its enabling 2016 law, while prima facie disagreeing with the Centre’s submissions said Aadhaar was “not the solution” to banking frauds, reported PTI.

“There is no doubt about the identity of fraudsters. The bank knows whom it is giving loan and it is the bank officials who are hand-in-glove with the fraudsters. Aadhaar can do little to stop it,” the bench, which also comprised justices A K Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, said.

“Banking fraud does not happen because of multiple IDs”, the bench told Attorney General K K Venugopal, representing the Centre, who had submitted that biometrics were safe and could solve problems like “money laundering, bank frauds, income tax evasion and terrorism”.

“Aadhaar will not prevent an individual from operating layers of commercial transactions. It would not prevent bank frauds either,” the bench reportedly said, adding that it may only help the authorities in finding out non-existent beneficiaries of schemes like MGNREGA.

The bench was quoted as saying that a person in different capacities and through various entities could enter into multi-layered commercial transactions and take loans which are not “illegal per se”.

Venugopal then submitted that linking of Aadhaar with mobile phones would help in catching terrorists, planning to bomb a place, reported PTI.

“Do terrorists apply for SIM cards? It is a problem that you are asking the entire 120 crore people to link their mobile phones with Aadhaar just to catch a few terrorists,” the bench asked him.

It reportedly said the government may have “legitimate State interest”, but the issue was whether to catch a few, 120 crore people can be asked to link Aadhaar with mobile.

The bench, reported PTI, also said that the State suspends internet services to control the violent situations and nobody questions its authority.

But the issue arises when all citizens are asked to link their mobiles with Aadhaar.

In a first, major separatist’s son becomes militant

junaid-join-terrorist-organisation-On March 25, Junaid Ashraf Khan left home at Srinagar’s Baghat area to attend the Friday prayers at a nearby mosque. Soon after, he went missing. A day later a picture of him brandishing a Kalashankov went viral on social media. Khan had joined militancy.

But that was not why his picture had circulated online. Militancy had little to do with it. The picture had gone viral as Khan is the son of Mohammed Ashraf Sehrai, a top separatist leader and the newly appointed chief of the Tehreek-i-Hurriyat, succeeding Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

It is for the first time in 30 years of the secessionist struggle in the Valley that the son of a major separatist has taken up the gun. Khan is an MBA and was unemployed for some time. According to the family, he had shown no signs that he was interested in militancy and that his decision had shocked them.

Sehrai has since refused to speak on the issue. Sources in his party have said he will not appeal to his son to shun militancy and return. Earlier, J&K DGP S P Vaid had urged Sehrai to persuade his son and the other militants “to give up the path of the gun”.

The development also occasioned a meeting of the separatist trio Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik. However, their statement to the media was meaningfully silent about Khan. Instead, they blamed the government for resorting to “a pointless militaristic approach” to resolve the turmoil. “Harassment of the youth, ill-treatment meted out to political prisoners, and iron-fisted policies of the state and Central governments has become a substitute to a political process for the resolution of the Kashmir issue,” the statement said.

The incident has triggered a raging debate in the Valley, with comments being posted on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp forwards. “Militants have a short span so don’t take it as politics. No politician has sacrificed his son till date. It is because of sincerity and dedication for the cause,” posted a user on Facebook.

“No achievement. We know the life span of militants is very short and also know that nothing gained by guns in past 30 years then why we glorifying his move? His life is valuable for his parents. I wish he will return (to) his home soon,” posted another.

A top Hurriyat leader’s son joining the militancy has many implications for the prevailing troubled situation in the Valley and the separatist politics too. For one, it is certain to substantially raise the political clout of Sehrai, who is already billed to succeed Geelani as the chairman of the influential Hurriyat conglomerate called Hurriyat (G), nullifying the case of the other possible contenders. Hurriyat (G) has leaders like Shabir Shah and Masarat Alam Bhat who can also boast of a long separatist pedigree like Sehrai.

But apart from its possible succession dimension, the development has brought home the troubling new phenomenon of growing fascination with the gun among the local youth, a fact which also came up for discussion in the security review meeting chaired by home secretary Rajiv Gauba in Srinagar. “We will provide full support to all of you in engaging youth in various development activities so that they are kept away from militancy,” an official quoted Gauba as having told the meeting.

Despite the killing of 218 militants last year and around 35 more since January, the trend of local youth taking up arms has shown little signs of ebbing. What is more, as Khan’s example has shown — and earlier that of a PhD scholar from Aligarh Muslim University — even the youth who are highly educated and belong to insulated families are also taking the plunge.

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The warrior within: Irrfan Khan’s illness brings focus on is genius

At 51, Irrfan Khan has clocked up achievements that set new benchmarks for Indian cinema. The unpretentious and simply brilliant actor, an alternate cinema star at home, is the very first Indian actor to crossover to international cinema in the truest sense of the word. Today, as he suffers from a rare condition, a NeuroEndocrine Tumor, Irrfan has gone to London to seek further treatment. As always he has displayed immaculate grace in his public conduct of an illness that can have dire consequences.

Irrfan KhanInitially, Irrfan announced on social media that after suspense of 15 days, he has discovered that he has a rare disease. Poetically, he referenced that his quest for rare stories has led to a rare disease. Irrfan then shared details of his illness without giving specifics of which part of his body has the tumour grown in. He also mentioned that he will be travelling to London for further treatment. He has referenced classic Western literature to infer a sense of acceptance and understanding of his illness.

Irrfan was set to begin shooting for his next film by Vishal Bharadwaj. Co-starring Deepika Padukone, this was a promising gangster drama set to traverse Mumbai and the border areas of Nepal. The film will now be shot when he returns after treatment and recovery. That he was in the midst of preparations of a film with India’s most popular heroine reiterates that his career graph blazes its own trail. Irrfan can’t be compared to others, not in his professional life or his personal choices.

It’s almost ironic that Irrfan Khan’s pet cause of activism was opposition to cell phone towers. Proliferation of these towers in residential areas and near educational institutes had him protesting along with common people. Cell phone radiation has been linked to cancers and tumors, with heated debates in medical and scientific circles on whether they really cause harm to people’s health. What is more worth noting here is the fact that cell phone companies are amongst the biggest sources of advertising and event-related revenues for Indian celebrities. By opposing these towers, Irrfan effectively cut off his chances of landing any such ads or events.

But then, Irrfan Khan has never led life with conventional choices. His transition to Hollywood has not been highly publicized or high profile. It has been subtle, as has been the acceptance that he has found amongst elite filmmakers and with international cinema. Be it Inferno, The Amazing Spiderman or Jurassic World, Irrfan has been part of big-ticket Hollywood films playing important roles. Here in India, he plays the leading man in fresh, innovative cinematic stories. His films have been integral in redefining that which we call mainstream Hindi cinema. Small, brilliant films like Qissa have given his theatrical releases in niche European markets. He has also been part of a groundbreaking Netflix mini series, Tokyo Trials, and is set to star in the comedy series, The Ministry, for Amazon India.

Simply put, Irrfan Khan does not have a precedent. His career, shaped by incredible acting talent and a thirst for quality work, is comparable to international actors. During the course of a rare interview, while chatting with Irrfan’s long-term manager, the name Viola Davis cropped up. Instantly, similarities in their careers struck me. Both have found their peaks at middle age, when actors tend to wane. Both are known for strong performances and breaking new ground. And both beat the racial diversity cliché with roles being scripted for them. As actor Irrfan still has a lot more qualitative material to deliver onscreen.

He has completed shooting for Marc Turtletaub’s slice of life film, Puzzle. Turtletaub has produced the Oscar nominated Little Miss Sunshine, and much loved films like Away We Go, Sunshine Cleaning and Loving. Starring Emily Dickinson, this is a much-awaited Indie. Another international project, The Wicked Path, to be directed by Salim Khassa has been announced. Then there’s The Ministry series directed by Gursimran Khamba, from All India Bakchod (the Stand Up Comedy troupe). And there’s Blackmail, a comedy- drama by Abhinay Deo that releases this month. Irrfan Khan remains prolific and on top of his game.

There’s also another form of activism that he has displayed – a near radical rejection of the kind of content that Hindi cinema and TV churn out. In an stark statement at a media forum in Mumbai, Khan had stated that streaming giants Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu will not find suitable collaborators amongst Indian content creators. He simply stated that we don’t have writers and that no one puts in the right amount of research. He has stated this similarly in the past too, that there is a crisis in writing for film . While insiders of the film industry might view Khan’s statement as brash, it holds a lot of truth. Mediocrity and remaking dominates Hindi film writing. Writers are compensated poorly and erratically. Therefore, the motivation to research and think through a project is often missing. There is no concept of a team of writers developing a script or storyline for TV. As online streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime revise the paradigm of storytelling and bring back loads of content that has something for everyone, viewers have switched loyalties quickly. In urban centres in India, the youth prefers logging on to these platforms rather than turning on the TV or buying movie tickets. In Irrfan’s constant criticism and truth telling, there is an element of harsh reality. Unless good stories with strong content make it to Indian screens, it will lose its audience rapidly to better international content. Only a truly committed artiste, who really cares about the fate of Indian cinema, would say this at the risk of antagonizing established power centres that rule Hindi films.

Irrfan Khan has underlined spirituality and his firm belief in God with his recent social media posts on Instagram and Twitter. Even as Khan undergoes advanced treatment, the warrior in him continues to battle against set norms and conventions and established, outdated concepts of cinema and stardom. When back on his feet, this warrior, as his wife Sutapa calls him, is bound to deliver more ground breaking and unforgettable cinematic work.

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