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LIVE! Michel’s laywer has Congress link

18:11  Michel’s laywer has Congress link:  Christian Michel, the alleged middleman who has been chargesheeted in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, will be represented by lawyer Aljo K Joseph.

Interestingly, Joseph is the National In-charge for the Indian Youth Congress legal department.

Aljo said his relation with the Congress was separate, while his profession was separate. He said he was requested to be counsel for Michel by a friend. “I’m an actively practicing advocate. I appeared for him (Christian Michel) in my professional capacity. If somebody asks me to appear on behalf of a client… I’ve only discharged my duty as a lawyer. It has nothing to do with Congress,” Aljo told ANI.

Michel during questioning by the CBI complained of anxiety after which he was given medicine.

The government has said it was ready to provide consular access to the UK High Commission for Michel, who is a British citizen. “Yet until now the UK High Commission has not approached the MEA for the same. Due process will have to be followed and the CBI will have no objections. CBI has informed the family of Michel that he has been extradited to India in connection with the AgustaWestland case,” government sources told the ANI.

Michel was brought to India late Tuesday night following his extradition by the UAE in connection with the case.

He was produced before Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar which allowed discussions between him and his advocate for five minutes.

Michel’s advocate asked the court to send him to judicial custody but the CBI sought his 14-days custodial interrogation to confront him with evidence and unearth the money trail in the scam.

However, the judge allowed CBI to interrogate Michel for five days in its custody.

Image: Christian Michel’s lawyer Aljo Joseph.


17:41  Mary Kom to hire male sparring partners if needed:  Difficulties in finding a suitable sparring partner among women has led six-time world boxing champion Mary Kom to think of hiring a tall male boxer to practice in the ring again after six years.

The Olympic medallist Wednesday said she did not face any tough opponent in the 48kg category at the World Championships which she won recently.

“It is difficult to get a (sparring) partner also. Here we don’t have partners and they dont want to help. After the Worlds (Championships in Delhi), those who did not get the chance – they ran away. Only a few people are left,” said Mary, who won a record sixth world title last month.

“If my training is not there (going well), I will hire taller guys and then train with them. Last time, for 2012 (London Olympics), I did the same at Balewadi (in Pune)”, Kom said.

Mary, who won a bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics, was speaking after the launch of Stars of Tomorrow, an initiative by the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming.

The veteran pugilist, who won her sixth world title in the 48kg weight class, did not name anyone when asked specifically which boxers she was referring to, saying she didn’t want to create any controversy.

The 35-year-old Manipuri has set her sights on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to try and climb the medal podium for the second time and said she has started watching videos of prospective rivals in the 51kg weight category in which she will have to compete. — PTI

17:36  CBI director, Asthana fighting like cats: Govt tells SC :  
The Centre Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the fight between two top officers of the CBI — Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana — in public exposed the premier probe agency to ridicule.

Attorney General KK Venugopal told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that the fight between the two officers impacted the image of the CBI.

The Centre’s main aim was to see that confidence of the public in this premier institution is restored, he said.

“Dispute between CBI Director and Special Director was pulling down integrity and respect of premier institution,” he told the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph.

“Two top officers, Alok Kumar Verma and Rakesh Asthana, were fighting against each other and went public which exposed CBI to ridicule,” Venugopal told the bench.

He said the fight between them had created an unprecedented and extraordinary situation and the Government of India was watching with “amazement” as to what these two officers were doing.

“They were fighting like Kilkenny cats,” Venugopal said, adding that it was absolutely essential for the Centre to step in and act in the tussle between two officers. He also submitted that the Centre acted within its jurisdiction on complaints made in July and October this year.

“If the government had not done so, only God knows where and how this fight between the two top officers would have ended,” Venugopal told the bench.

The Attorney General concluded his arguments and now Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central Vigilance Commission, has started making the submissions.

The Centre had perused the report of the CVC, which on Asthana’s complaint against Verma had made some recommendations. After that the two officers were sent on leave.

Later, the apex court had directed the CVC to probe the complaint against Verma. The report was submitted to the court in a sealed cover. After a brief submission by Mehta, the apex court concluded the day’s hearing and posted the matter for further arguments for Thursday. — PTI



“Congress party has made its position very, very clear in this (AgustaWestland) matter earlier in a press conference.

“The prime minister should explain why he gave Rs 30,000 Crore on Rafale to Mr Anil Ambani,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Hyderabad.


16:56  Agusta middleman Christian Michel sent to 5-day CBI custody:  

Alleged AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel was sent to five-day Central Bureau of Investigation custody on Wednesday.

He was produced before a Special CBI court.

CBI counsel advocate D P Singh told the court that the agency ‘needs his (Michel’s) custody to confront him with some important documents’.

The CBI said that ‘the investigation is going on’.

“We need his custody as money was transferred in two Dubai-based accounts,” the agency said.

Michel has moved a bail plea, which the court kept pending for the next hearing.

The court also allowed his counsel one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening for consultancy.

Michel was extradited to India last night.   — ANI


15:58  Priyanka thanks PM for attending wedding reception :  Actor Priyanka Chopra on Wednesday expressed her gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for attending her wedding reception in New Delhi.

Priyanka, who got married to American singer Nick Jonas last weekend in a lavish twin wedding ceremony in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, appeared for a photo-op at Hotel Taj Palace in the national capital.

PM Modi was one of the prominent dignitaries at the event which was a close-knit affair with family and close friends.

Priyanka tweeted: “A heartfelt thank you to our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi ji for gracing us with your presence. Touched by your kind words and blessings.”

Similar to the two-part nuptials, the reception was also a fiercely guarded event. There was tight security around the luxury hotel and since the prime minister attended the event, policemen were also on their toes. — PTI


15:47  Bulandshahr probe to begin with origin of cattle carcasses: UP DGP:  Bulandshahr clashes were a “big conspiracy”, asserted Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh on Wednesday.The violence in Bulandshahr claimed two lives, including that of a cop, who was the Investigating Officer in the Akhlaq lynching case.

Speaking to ANI, the UP DGP informed that the team probing the matter has started a reverse investigation in the matter to unearth the truth.

“The incident in Bulandshahr is a big conspiracy. This is not only a law and order issue, how did the cattle carcass reach there? Who brought it, why and under what circumstances? We have started an investigation in the matter,” he said.

The violence in Bulandshahr erupted on December 5 over the reports of alleged cow slaughter in the vicinity.

Taking note of the incident, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced a compensation of Rs 40 lakh for the deceased police officer’s wife, Rs 10 lakh for his parents and a government job for one family member.

The National Human Rights Commission on Tuesday also issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police of Uttar Pradesh seeking a detailed report in the incident within four weeks. — ANI

Image: Policemen stand guard in Bulandshahr after the violent clashes. Photograph: PTI Photo

15:35  HC grants bail to journalist Abhijit Iyer Mitra :  Update: An Odisha High Court Wednesday granted bail to Abhijit Iyer Mitra, the defence analyst, who had been arrested on charges of offending the sentiments of the people of Odisha by sharing a satirical video about the Konark temple on his Twitter account.

Mitra’s bail comes a day after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik-led Odisha government decided not to accord sanction to prosecute the journalist in certain criminal cases and would also take steps to withdraw other criminal cases pending against him.

On September 16 this year, Mitra during a visit to the century-old Konark Temple posted a satirical video on Twitter allegedly insulting Odisha, its culture, tradition and state legislators. He later wrote an apology letter to the House Committee of Vidhan Sabha and the Speaker of the Odisha Assembly over his sarcastic remarks and other offenses he was accused of.


15:31  Modi can demean Gandhi, Patel to prove superior: Rahul :  Congress chief Rahul Gandhi Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed his need to prove his superiority by questioning Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and asserting that Kartarpur went to Pakistan due to the lack of wisdom of the leaders of that time. His attack on Modi came a day after the prime minister alleged that Kartarpur went to Pakistan at the time of independence because Congress leaders of that time had no vision and did not respect Sikh sentiments.

In a Facebook post in Hindi, Gandhi said Modi was now questioning Patel and implying Kartarpur went to Pakistan due to the lack of wisdom of the leaders of that time.

“What is in Prime Minister Modi’s mind has finally been articulated… to prove himself superior to others, he can demean Gandhi, Patel and other leaders,” Gandhi said. Correcting Congress’ mistakes was his “destiny”, Modi said in an election meeting in Rajasthan on Tuesday while referring to the recent opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor across India-Pakistan border.

The foundation stone for the much-awaited corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur – the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev – to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district was laid last week. — PTI


14:43  RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 6.5%:  RBI governor Urjit Patel holds his ground. In line with market expectation, the Reserve bank of India today maintained status quo in its latest monetary  policy announcement by keeping the repo rate (the rate at which the RBI lends to banks) unchanged at 6.5 per cent. The reverse repo rate also remained the same at 6.25 per cent. 

RBI Governor Urjit Patel kept the cash reserve ratio of scheduled banks unchanged at 4.0 per cent of net demand and time liability. After two successive rate hikes, the central bank had kept the key policy rates unchanged. At the last policy meeting, five out of the six monetary policy committee members voted to hold rates at existing level.

14:34  Repo rate unchanged:  RBI monetary policy: Repo rate unchanged at 6.5%, Reverse repo rate unchanged at 6.25%, Bank rate at 6.75%


14:33  Twenty-six years after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, residents remember the horrors that followed.

Mohammed Azim, an auto-driver in Ayodhya, along with a group of other Muslim residents of the temple town had taken shelter in the farm fields fearing for their lives. Azim, who was just 20 then, said, “An army of ‘karsewaks’, in a grip of frenzy, had brought down Babri Masjid, triggering unrest and panic. We were so terrified, we did not know what to do.”

The 46-year-old, now a father of four, feels upset that Ram Temple issue was again being raked up by some politicians and the Sangh Parivar, threatening the “fragile peaceful atmosphere” of Ayodhya, whose residents are still trying to come to terms with the tragedy 26 years later.

“Every year around this time, we fight those emotions. We have tried to put the past behind us, but the tragic memories just refuse to go away. And, with all the noise around the temple issue in Ayodhya and elsewhere, it has opened our wounds again,” he rued.

Azim says that night still flashes before his eyes. He says it was a Hindu family who gave him shelter when “the two communities were baying for each others’ blood”. “We were panic-stricken, so a group of us in our neighbourhood ran outside the town and into the farm fields to hide ourselves from a frenzied mob running amok in the streets,” he told PTI.

“We spent almost the entire night in the fields. It was a cold and painful night, I will never forget it. At the crack of dawn, we knocked the door of a Thakur family, who knew me, and he sheltered us for a few days,” he recalled as tears welled up in his eyes.

Mohammed Muslim, 78, who now drives an e-rickshaw, gets perturbed talking about the incident, and says he wished politicians and Hindu-outfits would not whip up communal frenzy. “We were unsafe then, and today also we feel insecure when outside crowd comes to our town (referring to the recent Dharma Sabha of the VHP),” he said.

Muslim, Azim and many other members from their community describe the incident as a “blot on democracy” when “mobs were allowed to take over the city”.

“The demolition first demoralised our community and then the ensuing violence in Ayodhya and riots in other parts of the country fractured our faith in the system. I had run away to Barabanki after the unrest in 1992, I was so terrified,” Muslim recalled.

Vijay Singh, a doctor who lives near the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi, said, the recollection of the incident sends chills down the spine. The 48-year-old medic says he was present in Ayodhya on the day the 16th century mosque was demolished and saw the violence that followed in the holy city. “It was terrible. We do not want another Ayodhya tragedy,” he said. “We want to preserve the peaceful atmosphere, but politicians stoke fire to suit their agenda. Even in 1992, so many people had come from outside to bring the structure (mosque) down. It was a very tragic and unfortunate incident that affects Ayodhya till this day,” Singh said.

Image: Supporters of the Vishva Hindu Parishad shout slogans during “Dharma Sabha” in Ayodhya, last month. Pawan Kumar/Reuters


14:05  US will return to Vibrant Gujarat provided Modi wins 2019 poll:  Curious, isn’t it, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his five-year term with a visa ban on him by the United States and is now ending it with an American ‘boycott’?The snub publicly administered by Washington by refusing to participate in the Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2019 (January 18-20) can only be deliberate. A high-level delegation from Gujarat held ‘road shows’ in American cities — New York, Chicago, etc.– to drum up interest but of no avail.

Read MK Bhadrakumar’s column here.

Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the then US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in Gandhinagar in 2015..


14:02  US govt commission to hold hearing on religious freedom in India next week:  A US federal commission mandated to review facts and circumstances of violation of international religious freedom will hold a hearing on freedom of religion or belief in India next week.

The hearing titled ‘Freedom of Religion or Belief in India: Rising Challenges & New Opportunities for US Policy,’ on December 12 will examine challenges to religious freedom and explore opportunities for US policymakers to encourage the protection of freedom of religion or belief in India, Tenzin Dorjee, Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom said on Tuesday.

The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan US federal government commission created in 1998, that reviews religious freedom violations abroad and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.

India has previously rejected USCIRF report while maintaining that its Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens including the right to freedom of religion.

India says the USCIRF has no locus standi to pass its comment on Indian citizens’ constitutionally protected rights. The USCIRF in its previous annual reports has been critical of the conditions of religious freedom in India and has alleged that it has been deteriorating. — PTI


13:45  IT cases against Gandhis: PM says govt won in SC thanks to chaiwala:  Taking on the Gandhi family a day after the Supreme Court ordered that IT cases against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi be reopened, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Pali, Rajasthan, Wednesday that his government had scored a win thanks to the courage of a “chaiwala”.

Alleging that the Gandhi family had been enjoying privileges for four generations, Modi said at an election rally in Sumerpur in Pali district that it was the “victory of the honest”.

“Now I will see how you escape… Look at the courage of a ‘chaiwala’ who took those running country for four generations to the court’s door,” Modi said.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court allowed the Income Tax Department to reopen the tax assessment of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi for 2011-12 in connection with the National Herald case.

In his rally on the last day of campaigning before the state elections on Friday, Modi also referred to the extradition of Christian Michel James, the alleged middleman in the politically-sensitive Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal from the UPA era. Michel was brought to India late Tuesday.

“The government has brought the middleman involved in a helicopter scam from Dubai. He served politicians and will now disclose secrets,” the prime minister said. “Let’s see how far this goes,” he said.

Continuing his attack against the Congress, Modi asked the gathering who had spread the venom of casteism and created urban-rural divides. The Congress, he asserted, had lost the election and was now contemplating who to hold responsible for its defeat.

“The Congress’ ‘gaaje-baaje’ company thought the BJP was finished in Rajasthan. Now they are saying they are losing due to infighting and rebel candidates,” he declared.

Making a final push for his party, he said people were clearly in favour of the BJP in the desert state and it would once again form government.

“The public has decided. Now it is our job to win every booth in Rajasthan. Our mantra should be ‘mera polling booth, sabse mazboot’,” he said. The results for the elections will be declared on December 11. — PTI


13:01  Salman tops Forbes India highest earning celeb list for third time:  Bollywood actor Salman Khan has emerged as the richest Indian celebrity for the third time in a row, according to a Forbes list. The 52-year-old superstar bagged the numero uno spot on Forbes India Celebrity 100 list.

According to the publication, Khan earned Rs 253.25 crore through his films, TV appearances and brand endorsements between October 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018 (period under consideration). With Rs 112.8 crore, Deepika Padukone is No 4 on the list as the highest-earning woman celebrity.

The “Padmaavat” star has become the first woman to break into the top five positions since the inception of the list in 2012. Priyanka Chopra lost her last year’s seventh rank (Rs 68 crore) and settled for No 49 with Rs 18 crore as earnings in 2018.

Indian cricket skipper Virat Kohli is at number two position after minting Rs 228.09 crore. He is the first sportsperson to make it to the spot, regularly dominated by a showbiz personality. With no release during the period under review, Shah Rukh Khan slipped from his number two position to No 13 after raking in Rs 56 crore this year.

Kohli is followed by Akshay Kumar (Rs 185 crore) on No 3 – a step up for the actor. Aamir Khan ranks sixth with Rs 97.5 crore, closely followed by his “Thugs of Hindostan” co-star Amitabh Bachchan at No 7 with Rs 96.17 as earnings. Ranveer Singh is number eight with Rs 84.67 crores and Ajay Devgn ranks tenth on the list with Rs 74.5 crores. Cricketers Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar have bagged the fifth (Rs 101.77 crore) and ninth (Rs 80 crore) positions.

As for women representation, there are 18 names on the list this year – three down from 21 in 2017. Actors Alia Bhatt, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif and shuttlers PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal are part of the 100.

The list also includes an mix of first-timers, including DJ Nucleya, Malayalam star Mammootty, Telugu star Vijay Deverakonda and Telugu director Kortala Siva. The cumulative earnings figure for 2018 amounted to Rs 3,140.25 crore, which is 17 per cent higher than last year’s Rs 2,683 crore. — PTI


12:50  Sushma heads home :  Raveesh Kumar @MEAIndia Until next time, Abu Dhabi! EAM @SushmaSwaraj departs for Delhi after wrapping up a brief but highly productive visit. The visit was successful in adding new pillars to the multifaceted partnership.


12:41  Dec 6: VHP to observe Babri demolition day as Shaurya Diwas :  The VHP would observe Shaurya Diwas on December 6, the anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition, and also gear up for programmes lined up on the occasion of Gita Jayanti on December 18 to garner support for the construction of a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

With the 2019 Lok Sabha elections round the corner, all eyes seem to be on the temple town as Thursday marks the 26th anniversary of the demolition. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad along with some akharas will be celebrating the day as ‘Shaurya Diwas’ and are likely to hold programmes to mark the day.

VHP spokesperson in Ayodhya, Sharad Sharma, said, “Shaurya Diwas will be traditionally celebrated. In Ayodhya, the VHP and various Hindu organisations are likely to organise a number of religious programmes, including a hawan, so that a grand temple of Lord Ram is built.” Sharma also said that special prayers for Goddess Saraswati (the goddess of learning) were likely to be held so that the people, especially politicians do not “hinder the construction of a Ram temple”.

“Sarva baadha mukti hawans (hawans seeking to get rid of all obstructions) too will be held. Tributes will also be paid to the innocent karsewaks who faced bullets and lost their lives,” he said and compared the karsewaks to Jatayu, the vulture who tried to rescue Sita from demon king Ravan in the epic Ramayana.

The VHP office bearer said another Dharam Sabha was scheduled to be held in Delhi on December 9 in which over five lakh people were likely to turn up. — PTI


12:00  Odisha govt. to withdraw cases against Iyer-Mitra :  The Odisha government on Tuesday accepted Delhi-based defence analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra’s plea and decided to take steps to withdraw the cases pending against him by following laid-down procedures.

“Taking into account his representation, the government have decided not to accord sanction of prosecution in cases where prosecution has been sought for and also decided to withdraw other cases pending against him by following laid-down procedures,” according to a press release issued by the State government’s Home Department. Read more


11:58  Amit Shah on retaining Rajasthan, Bulandshahr, Michel:  BJP President Amit Shah addressing a press conference in Jaipur on the last day of campaigning in Rajasthan. He said he was sure the BJP would form the government in Rajasthan with incumbent CM Vasundhara Raje Scindia retaining her chair. Excerpts from the presser:

On Rajasthan poll prospects: “People in Rajasthan have rejected caste and dynasty politics of Congress. After seeing the way the campaigning went on in Rajasthan, I am confident that the BJP will win the state with a full majority. BJP transformed the state from ‘bimaru’ to developed, and will now make it
prosperous. BJP conducted 15 roadshows, 222 big meetings in Rajasthan.”

On the extradition of alleged middleman of the AugustaWestland deal Christian Michel: Opposition has no other issue, what is wrong if we nabbed the middleman? Does the opposition want to save him? The opposition should clarify if they want his interrogation, or whether they want to save an offender and an accused.

On the Bulandshahr violence: Unfair to give it political colour. Congress has made allegations and things will be clear after SIT report. 


11:14  No case against me, it’s a media circus to distract public: Vadra :  Businessman and brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Robert Vadra on Wednesday alleged that the corruption probe against is a result of a political witch-hunt aimed at “besmirching his dignity and reputation”.

In a Facebook post, Vadra further claimed that the authorities are well aware that there is no case against him and the proceedings are a mere “media cirucs to distracting the public.”

“The authorities know perfectly well that there is no case to proceed against me. This is nothing but a politically motivated, malicious and baseless prosecution. They merely want to create another media circus to distract the pubic. The truth will prevail someday. It always does,” read the post.

The 49-year-old business tycoon further stated that all the dossiers required by the investigation agencies have been provided by him, but he was asked for the same again. “I was asked for the very same documents once again even though they had already been furnished over the last few years,” he said.


10:59  Rath Yatra will be game changer in Bengal politics: BJP:   With an eye on the next general elections, the BJP is all set to begin its high profile Rath Yatra from December 7, claiming that it would prove to be a “game changer” in West Bengal politics. BJP president Amit Shah will kickstart the campaign titled ‘Save Democracy Rally’.

The campaign is scheduled to begin from Coochbehar district in the north on December 7, from Kakdwip in the south 24 Parganas district on December 9 and from the Tarapith temple in Birbhum district on December 14.

“The Rath Yatra will be a game changer in West Bengal politics. This will kickstart a wave of support in favour of the BJP and will become a deciding factor in the next general elections,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh told PTI.

This is for the first time that the BJP has undertaken a political campaign of such a huge magnitude, covering nearly 10,000 kms, in the state. Three air-conditioned buses decorated as chariots carrying Bharatiya Janata Party leaders will criss-cross the entire state for nearly 40 days starting from December 7, covering all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

Apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah, several top BJP leaders and chief ministers such as Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Raman Singh, Yogi Adityanath, Uma Bharati and Giriraj Singh will also participate in the campaign.

The chariots will have pictures of some of the Bengal-born personalities like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Swami Vivekananda. Modi is also likely to attend four rallies to give a thrust to the party’s campaign in the state ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

“People will come out on the streets and join our rally irrespective of caste, religion and creed,” Ghosh said. The party’s Rath Yatra comes at a time when the BJP has made steady inroads in the state with the saffron party winning more than 7,000 seats in the three-tier Panchayat polls held in May this year. — PTI


10:30  Vijay Mallya offers to pay 100% to banks:  Fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, said that he offered to pay back the full amount of the principal loan he owed to multiple banks and asserted that all the allegations against him are false.

Mallya took to twitter and wrote, “Politicians and Media are constantly talking loudly about my being a defaulter who has run away with PSU Bank money. All this is false. Why don’t I get fair treatment and the same loud noise about my comprehensive settlement offer before the Karnataka High Court. Sad.”

In the thread of tweets, Mallya claimed, “The Airlines struggled financially partly because of high ATF prices. Kingfisher was a fab airline that faced the highest ever crude prices of $ 140/barrel. Losses mounted and that’s where Banks money went. I have offered to repay 100 % of the Principal amount to them. Please take it.”

“For three decades running India’s largest alcoholic beverage group, we contributed thousands of crores to the State exchequers. Kingfisher Airlines also contributed handsomely to the States. Sad loss of the finest Airline but still I offer to pay Banks so no loss. Please take it,” Mallya added.

Last month, Mumbai special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court had rejected Vijay Mallya’s plea seeking a stay on hearing of Enforcement Directorate’s application to declare him a fugitive.

The decision from the judicature came after five parties, including a family member of Mallya, sought court dossiers with regard to the ED seeking to get Mallya declared a fugitive economic offender under the new law.

Mallya is also facing money-laundering charges in the United Kingdom after India initiated extradition proceedings against him. — ANI


10:25  Urjit Patel’s monetary policy presser at 2:45 pm today :  Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel will announce the monetary policy today, but observers say he is likely to keep the repo rate unchanged.  The press conference on the monetary policy will be his first since the standoff with the Centre over the control of the bank.Apart from the interest rates, investors will be watching Patel’s response to the issues related to RBI’s autonomy and reserves.

The RBI will issue a statement at 2:30 pm in Mumbai followed by a press conference by Patel 15 minutes later.

In its last bi-monthly monetary policy, the RBI, against the popular opinion had kept the repo rate unchanged at 6.50 per cent. The six-member Monetary Policy Committee headed by the RBI Governor had its fifth bi-monthly review over the last two days.


10:06  US national killed in Andaman on planned adventure: Govt :  The American national killed by Sentinelese tribesmen in the Andamans last month was pursuing a “planned adventure”, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has said. There are many primitive tribes like the Sentinelese in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, contact with whom is prohibited for outsiders, the commission’s chairperson Nand Kumar Sai said Tuesday.

“Preliminary investigations suggest that it was a planned adventure trip by the American national, John Allen Chau. Investigation is still on,” he said.

Chau, 27, was killed by the protected and reclusive tribe off North Sentinel Island after he reached there with the help of some fishermen. Access to North Sentinel Island and its buffer zone is restricted under the Protection of Aboriginal Tribe (Regulation), 1956 and under the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

Efforts are on to identify other people who assisted him in his journey, Sai said, adding that so far, seven people have been arrested in the case. “Foreign nationals always had an eye on the primitive tribes of these islands and made several attempts in the past to make contact with them. We need to protect such tribes and their habitat should be completely closed for outsiders,” Sai said.

The NCST chairperson said the incident has no link to the withdrawal of Restricted Area Permit (RAP).

The North Sentinel is one of the 29 islands in the Andamans where till June foreigners had to take special permission — the RAP — before being allowed to visit them. Even though the RAP has been withdrawn, any tourist is required to take permission from the forest department and the administration of the Andamanas as the area is protected.

The administration and general public of these islands should become more vigilant in view of the recent accident. The commission is taking action against the photos and videos of these tribes which have been posted on social media, he said.

The tribal communities of these islands are divided into two categories, one is now part of the mainstream and the other resists contact with outsiders, and there is need to preserve the second category, Sai said. — PTI

09:49  The men in the Bulandshahr mob:  The accused come from three villages near Siyana and a majority of them are Jats barring the accused from Nayabas village who are from the Lodh Rajput community. The families of the accused woke up to police raids last Tuesday night, with many alleging they were assaulted by the police officers who also broke household appliances. Read the report here.


09:28  Woman fired for being HIV+ gets back job after 3 years:  

Three years after a Pune-based woman was terminated for being HIV positive, a labour court has ordered her former employer to reinstate her and clear all back wages.


The order was passed in October this year in which Kalpana Phatangare, presiding officer of the labour court, asked the pharmaceutical firm to reinstate the woman and award “full back wages and continuity of service and consequential benefits”.


The woman had approached the court through her lawyer Vishal Jadhav.


According to her submission to the court, she was forced to resign in 2015 after submitting medical documents to seek benefits of mediclaim following her diagnosis.

She said that the HR officials pressurised and coerced her to resign after coming to know that she was HIV positive, despite her telling them that she was mentally and physically fit and taking all precautions while working.


The woman further said she succumbed to the pressure of the HR department and was made to write a resignation letter as per their dictation.


The woman told the court that since she was a widow, she needed the job.


“She is in need of the job and requirement of the community support, economic support and non-discrimination, but the company discriminated against her as she was a HIV positive person,” her application read.


According to the woman, her husband was diagnosed with HIV in 2004 and died two years later. After going for a medical checkup, she too was diagnosed with it.


In spite of the shocking revelation, she decided to live with self esteem, confidence and dignity, and was taking proper medical and counselling from government and NGOs, the woman said.


Her counsel told the court that the reason for the termination given on the document by the firm is ‘absenteeism’, although she was forced to resign because she was HIV positive.


The company, however, claimed in the court that she had resigned on her own and availed all the benefits such as gratuity, bonus and leave encashment while leaving.


While passing the order, Phatangare said, “In such circumstances the only inference that can be drawn is that she was made to tender her resignation forcibly. In short, it can be said that it was not a resignation, but it was termination on the part of the company.”


“On the ground of discrimination, as the second party was HIV positive, the company is dealing with medicines and providing the same all over the world while in circumstances it is not good on its part to take such a decision and victimise the woman in such a way,” Phatangare added.


“Hence, in my view present reference needs to be considered on ground mentioned by the woman in her statement of claim,” she said further. — PTI  

09:26  Telangana people betrayed by those in power in Hyderabad: Sonia:  

Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday appealed to the electorate in Telangana to vote for the grand alliance in the assembly election on December 7, saying those in power in Hyderabad had betrayed them and it is time for people to realise their aspirations.


She said the ‘Praja Kutami’ (people’s alliance) — comprising the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party, the Telangana Jana Samithi and the Communist Party of India — was a grand alliance for all sections of the society.

“Four and a half years ago a separate state of Telangana was created. I too played a role in making that happen. But, you have been betrayed by those in power in Hyderabad,” she said in a message posted on the Congress’s official Twitter handle.

“Now is the time, wherever you are in Telangana, to fulfil your hopes and expectations, your desires and aspirations. I appeal to you personally to vote for Praja Kutami,” she said.

She promised the people of Telangana a government that will stand with every section of the society and will represent the people of the state. — PTI 


09:25  Taliban being used as hedge against India: US commander:  

Days after United States President Donald Trump sought Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s help in the Afghan peace process, a top American commander has told lawmakers that Islamabad’s policy seems to be unchanged and it continues to use the Taliban as a hedge against India.

“Pakistan is an essential element in long-term stability in Afghanistan,” Marine Corps Lt Gen Kenneth McKenzie Jr told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday during his confirmation hearing for commander of the US Central Command.

Pakistan could play a key role in facilitating talks between the Taliban and government of Afghanistan, he said, adding, “I would welcome that development. At this time, however, Pakistan does not appear to be using the full extent of its influence to encourage the Taliban to come to the table.”

“We continue to see the Taliban being utilised as a hedge against India rather than as part of a stable, reconciled Afghanistan,” McKenzie told the lawmakers during his confirmation hearing. 

His answers to the Senate Armed Services Committee in response to a set of written questions come a day after it became public that Trump has written a letter to Imran Khan, seeking his help in the Afghan peace process.

“President Trump sent a letter to Prime Minister Khan, requesting Pakistan’s full support to the US-led Afghan peace process and Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad’s upcoming trip to the region,” a spokesperson of the National Security Council, White House, told PTI.

“In the letter, the President recognises that Pakistan has the ability to deny the Taliban sanctuary on its territory,” the spokesperson said. 

“The letter also makes it clear that Pakistan’s assistance with the Afghan peace process is fundamental to building an enduring US-Pakistan partnership,” the spokesperson said.

McKenzie told lawmakers that he did not see much of a change in Pakistan’s behaviour towards Afghanistan or its stand against terrorist groups. — PTI

09:22  PM’s brother leads protest against Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme:  

Prahlad Modi, brother of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Tuesday asked the Maharashtra government and the Centre to have a re-look at the Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme involving the public distribution system, saying the programme amounted to a betrayal with ration shop owners.


At the same time, he also hit out at the Congress leaders trying to take political advantage from the issue, and said the Narendra Modi government’s decisions on demonetisation and implementing the GST may have hurt a few but not those who did their business as per the law.

Prahlad Modi, who is the vice president of All India Fair Price Shop Dealers Federation, was addressing a rally after a protest march organised by the Aurangabad District Fair Price Shop Dealers Federation.

“The Maharashtra government was going to start the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme. The scheme had been assigned to the states by the Centre, but it is not up to the mark.

“(Maharashtra minister) Girish Bapat had assured in Kolhapur that it would not create problems, but they have started creating troubles for the fair price shop dealers,” he alleged.

“I don’t know what award Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will get and what kind of promotion Bapat will get for troubling the poor. They are compelling the poor to purchase wheat at Rs 21-23 per kg and rice at Rs 27 per kg (much higher than PDS prices). God knows whether the subsidy will be deposited in the accounts of the poor or not,” he said.

The Centre and the state government stopped the supply of kerosene under the PDS and the poor cannot even light a candle in their houses, he said.

He said government should withdraw the schemes implemented in a “wrong” manner and make available kerosene and take effective decision in the DBT scheme so that both — the shopkeepers and the poor people — are spared harassment. — PTI 


08:55  Prohibitory orders extended in Sabarimala:  

Pathanamthitta District Collector Tuesday night extended the prohibitory orders in Sabarimala, Nilackal, Pamba areas for four more days.


Collector P B Nooh, after considering reports filed by the police commissioner and other officials, extended the prohibitory orders issued under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), banning assembly of four or more persons.

“Prohibitory orders have been extended till  December 8 after considering various reports filed by officials,” Collector Nooh told PTI.

Prohibitory orders were in place till tonight at Sabarimala and surrounding areas since the day the hilltop shrine was opened for the annual two-month-long Mandala-Makaravilkku pilgrimage season, which began on November 17.

There have been protests against the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing entry of women of menstrual age into the hilltop shrine. — PTI 


08:33  India’s heaviest satellite GSAT-11 successfully launched from French Guiana:  

India’s heaviest satellite GSAT-11, that would boost broadband services, was successfully launched by an Arianespace rocket from the French Guiana in the early hours of Wednesday.


Blasting off from the Ariane Launch Complex in Kourou, a French territory located along the northeastern coast of South America at 02:07 am (IST), the Ariane-5 vehicle injected the GSAT-11 into the orbit in a flawless flight lasting about 33 minutes. The launch was broadcast live on Doordarshan.

“…..the heaviest, largest and most powerful satellite ever built by India is successfully launched by Ariane-5 today,” ISRO Chairman K Sivan said soon after the launch.

Stating that GSAT-11 is going to be the “richest space asset” for India, he said “the satellite has 38 spot beams as well as eight sub beams, which would cover the entire country, including the remote places … it is going to provide something like 16 Gbps data link services to the country.”

Weighing about 5,854 kg, GSAT-11 is the “heaviest” satellite built by ISRO.

It is a next generation “high throughput” communication satellite configured around the ISRO’s I-6K Bus with a designed lifetime of more than 15 years.

The satellite will be initially placed in the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit and later raised to Geostationary Orbit by firing the on-board Liquid Apogee Motor. 

The satellite will play a vital role in providing broadband services across the country and also be a platform to demonstrate new generation applications, the ISRO said. — PTI  

Photograph: Arianespace 


00:08  Priyanka-Nick host reception in Delhi, PM attends:  

After their dreamy wedding, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas hosted a reception in New Delhi that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, besides other prominent dignitaries, family members and close friends.

After spending the weekend in Jodhpur in Rajasthan, the newlyweds landed in the national capital on Tuesday.

In the evening, Priyanka and Nick appeared for a photo-op at Hotel Taj Palace’s Raja Baugh area.

Just like the wedding affair, the reception was also a fiercely- guarded event.

There was tight security around the luxury hotel and since the prime minister attended the event, policemen were also on their toes.

The background bearing their initials — NP at the centre — was reminiscent of the one that featured as the backdrop of the moment the couple announced their engagement in August.

Though they arrived late, the couple smiled for the paparazzi who waited for more than an hour to catch a glimpse of them.

While Nick looked dapper in a velvet jacket paired with matching black trousers and a bow tie, Priyanka opted for an beige lehenga with neatly tied bun with white roses.

After striking a pose for the shutterbugs, Priyanka smiled and told reporters, ‘Ab aapko family se milate hai.’

The couple’s families — Priyanka’s mother Madhu Chopra and Nick parents Denise Miller Jonas and Paul Kevin Jonas Sr — joined the couple on stage.

Nick’s elder brother Joe and his fiance Sophie Turner also turned up for the photo-op.

Sophie, who opted for Indian attires for the entire wedding weekend, continued her tryst with Indian traditionals. She opted for a peach lehenga while Joe donned a blue and black semi-formal suit.

The couple, who is next in line to tie the knot, posed for the shutterbugs sans the families.

Priyanka and Nick exchanged wedding vows on December 1 at Jodhpur’s majestic Umaid Bhawan Palace in a Catholic ceremony officiated by the groom’s father Kevin Jonas Sr. It was followed by an equally grand wedding as per Hindu traditions on December 2.

The couple shared a number of pictures from their Mehndi and Sangeet festivities but the veil on the final twin ceremonies was lifted by People magazine on Tuesday.

The US-based publication had the exclusive access to the wedding ceremony.  — PTI

Photograph: Pradeep Bandekar.

Source: Rediff