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Gujarat Elections 2017: EC’s two-day visit to Guj begins today

The Election Commission (EC) will arrive on a two-day visit to Gujarat to review preparations for the upcoming Assembly elections, the first phase of which is now just a week away.Officials said that the whole EC, comprising Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti, and Election Commissioners Om Prakash Rawat and Sunil Arora, will take stock of preparations of the Assembly elections over the next two days.The EC will hold a meeting with recognised political parties from 11:30 am to 1 pm at the Circuit House Annex in Ahmedabad on Saturday, and listen to their representations.This will be followed by a meeting at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar from 2:30 pm with police officers to review law and order situation. EC will also take stock of polling staff, Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system, election material, and other poll related logistical issues during a meeting with District Election Officers.The next day, the EC will hold a meeting with nodal officers, chief secretary, and other senior bureaucrats to review polling personnel management, deployment of police and paramilitary forces during polls, among other issues.The first phase of elections is slated for December 9 and the second on December 14. Eighty-nine seats in Kutch, Saurashtra and south Gujarat are scheduled to go to polls in the first phase.
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BMC seeks extended police help to continue eviction drive

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After driving out hawkers from around railway stations, the Brihanmumbai Municipal corporation (BMC) has sought further help from the Mumbai police for taking ahead its hawker-eviction drives. The BMC will now evict hawkers outside schools, hospitals and congested areas civic ward wise to make these areas spacious for pedestrians.”While taking strong and continuous action against the hawkers, the support of the police force is needed to maintain the law and order situation”, Nidhi Chaudhari, Deputy Municipal Commissioner- Removal of Encroachments told DNA.The BMC is already holding meetings with the Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) seeking their support for the crackdown on hawkers in Mumbai. The ward offices are already taking police protection during their actions against the hawkers whereever needed, to prevent attacks by the hawkers. There have been several incidents in the past where the civic officers are attacked by protesting hawkers.Chaudhari said, “Mumbai police have already deployed around 4,000 policemen for giving protection to BMC several drives like demolition of slums along Tansa pipeline, demolition of religious structures and for hawkers’ evictions. But, the DCP’s I held meetings with have agreed to provide more police force if needed. In such massive drives, which are in public interest, the BMC, Mumbai police, railway police and other agencies involved in the drives should work as one agencies”.However, the main challenge the civic body faces is that the hawkers return to the locations where the drives are conducted. To avoid this, patrolling is necessary after eviction drives, which does not seem to take place. “BMC is action taking agency when it comes to removal of hawkers while the police are expected to patrol those locations to prevent re-occurrence of hawkers. But the police do not keep vigil and the hawkers put their stalls the next day. BMC can take action and evict hawkers, but patrolling the locations is not possible”, a Deputy Municipal Commissioner said.Commenting on police support for removal of hawkers by BMC, Deven Bharti, Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) said, “Adequate Police protection will be provided as and when required for eviction of hawkers in the city”.Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 6) Shahji Umap added, “We recently conducted our joint meeting of Mumbai police, Traffic Police and BMC. It is decided to provide more protection to BMC during their drive of evicting hawkers. We will co-ordinate for taking proper action”.

BMC resumes demolition drive at Garib Nagar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) resumed its demolition drive in the slums of Garib Nagar at Behrampada (Bandra East) on Monday, two days after a major fire broke out in the region while the civic body was carrying out the operation. The work began under heavy police security in the weekday afternoon.In what is being seen as an indication of the BMC’s hardening stance on demolishing illegal structures — including those of hawkers — across Mumbai, in a first, the civic body chief, Ajoy Mehta, has given the charge of the Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Removal of Encroachments) to an IAS officer. The post is traditionally held by state-cadre officers. Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Nidhi Chaudhari, posted with the civic legal department, has been given additional charge of the demolition of illegal structures across the city.Speaking to DNA, Chaudhari said, “The drive shall continue across Mumbai with coordination of all Assistant Municipal Commissioners, Deputy and Assistant Police Commissioners of Mumbai.”Meanwhile, the H-East ward on Monday resumed its demolition drive in the Garib Nagar slums which was suspended after the major fire. The ward officer resumed the demolition drive late on Monday afternoon, and in the presence of heavy police security, and demolished 20 shanties.However, the ward office has an extended plan of action, which includes demolishing 2096 illegal structures in the region starting from Garib Nagar slum to the ones in front of Bandra Terminus ending at Mumbai airport compound, a senior civic officer told DNA. “We shall continue with our demolition drive with the help of police security. It’s a week-long demolition. We surveyed 326 structures in the shanties in Garib Nagar near the Tansa pipeline. Of them, 240 structures need to be demolished. Unfortunately, just 35 are eligible for alternate accommodation,” the officer said.

Civic body orders removal of hawkers outside rly stations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To tighten the ongoing drive to evict hawkers outside railway stations, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has doubled the fine against the illegal hawkers. For the last four days, the roads immediately outside many railway stations in Mumbai have become spacious as BMC has removed all illegal hawkers. However, considering that the hawkers pay fines and put up their stalls the next day, BMC has not only increased their mobile vans but doubled the fines to discourage the hawkers.Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta gave his nod for the proposal a couple days ago but the decision was communicated to railway officials in a joint meeting of BMC and railway officials on Monday on the course of action on removal of all hawkers up to a 150-metre area outside railway stations under BMC jurisdiction.An officer from BMC licence department said, “The fine has been doubled to discourage hawkers to put up their stalls again. For instance, if previously the removal charges was Rs 240, now it’s Rs 480; and if penalty was Rs 1000, it will now be R s2000. The fine increases according to the type of stalls like eatables, garments and others.”In the joint meeting, the BMC chief also announced that all the Assistant Municipal Commissioners (known as ward officers) of all 24 civic wards will be nodal officers in removal of hawkers outside railway stations. The railway stations from Churchgate to Dahisar on Western Railway, CST to Mulund on Central Railway and CST to Mankhurd on Harbour line fall under BMC jurisdiction.Ajoy Mehta confirmed the decisions announced on Monday and said, “It will be applied for roads outside railway stations only in BMC areas.”

Need more police stns, chowkies: Government Railway Police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Government Railway Police (GRP) during the audit of railway stations on the Western Railway (WR) and Central Railway (CR) has pointed out to the Railways the need for more police stations and chowkies. The GRP will suggest the location of the infrastructure to the railways.The WR has seven police stations to monitor 37 railway stations from Churchgate to Bordi while CR has 10 police stations to monitor 85 railway stations including the Harbour and Trans-Harbour lines.Apart from the infrastructure for better policing, the GRP has mentioned important points for putting up fences and developing boundary walls along the tracks. Officers in the survey team have also noted points at which the Railways should provide better illumination lights for monitoring situations at railway platforms.”Due to lack of chowkies and police stations, it becomes difficult to control any situation immediately. The need for better infrastructure in terms of increasing the number of police stations and chowkies will enable our policemen to enhance the response time and control any untoward incident,” said a senior GRP officer.”During the inspection of railway platforms, we also found that the lights of a few railway platforms were dim and CCTV cameras were unable to provide proper footage of the railway platforms. Few spots were in complete darkness which is a security issue, especially for women,” said the officer.The Deputy Commissioners of Police from Central Zone and West Zone will submit a detailed report on safety measures required and the need for infrastructure at railway stations. A senior officer on condition of anonymity said, “With the increase in commuters, maintaining law and order situation is a challenging task.”Niket Kaushik, Commissioner of Railway Police, said, “We will submit our findings to the Railways and a joint discussion will be held soon.”AUDIT REPORTApart from infrastructure for better policing, officers in the survey team have noted points at which the Railways should provide better illumination lights for monitoring situations at railway platforms.

Punjab HC allows cracker bursting for only 3 hrs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the ban on sale of firecrackers continues in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana High Court has restricted the bursting of firecrackers in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to three hours on Diwali.Taking suo moto cognizance of the alarming increase in air pollution ahead of the festive season, the High Court had issued notices to the Home Secretaries of the two states and the UT on the poor air quality due to firecrackers and directed them to submit details on the number of explosive licenses issued, including temporary and permanent.While ruling out imposing any ban at the eleventh hour, considering a few days are left for the festival, the court restricted bursting of firecrackers from 6:30 pm to 9: 30 pm on Diwali. All Deputy Commissioners (DCs), SSPs and Police Commissioners would be required to ensure strict and meticulous compliance of the directions, regardless of the territorial locations.Senior Advocate Anupam Gupta, who assisted the court as Amicus Curiae, told DNA, “The court has imposed a cap on the issue of licenses under the Explosive Acts. While there would be no issuance of permanent licenses under the Act, without the permission of the High Court henceforth, a cap of 20 per cent has also been imposed on the issue of temporary licenses. The total number of temporary licenses will not exceed 20 per cent of the number of licenses issued last year.”Majority of the licenses issued ahead of the festival are temporary and all such licenses will now be issued only through draw of lots, to be conducted by the Deputy Commissioners. Traders can apply for the licenses only by 2 pm on October 16, which will be followed by draw of lots at 5 pm.The firework traders of Chandigarh who are apprehending a major setback to their business, called for a total boycott of the draw of lots process scheduled on October 16.“As many as 360 licences were issued last year, and this time, only 60 of us would be able to get the licence. What about hundreds of other traders? Our monetary losses have not even been considered once,” rued Devinder Singh, from Chandigarh Firework Traders Association.

BMC warns societies, firms of legal action over garbage

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Brihannmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is taking rapid and strict steps to implement compulsory waste segregation and composting for bulk generators- residential societies and commercial establishments.Apart from issuing revised notices, the Assistant Municipal Commissioners (ward officers) were also directed by the civic chief, Ajoy Mehta, on Saturday to register complaints with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) if bulk generators failed to comply with the rules.Additionally, ward officers will also serve a final notice for waste segregation under the Municipal Solid Waste rules 2016 and if not implemented, the ward can fine an individual with Rs 100 per day and a bulk generator with Rs 500 per day. The fine will be levied for not delivering segregated waste through the bins provided specifically for dry and wet waste.Meanwhile, all 24 ward officers will personally visit bulk generators- societies and commercial establishments– to ascertain why they were unable to meet the October 2 deadline. The ward officers will inspect the premises, discuss the difficulties the societies are facing to implement waste segregation and also introduce various methodology they can imply for composting. The ward officers have to complete the visits in the next 15 days and submit their report to BMC chief Ajoy Mehta. A list of defaulters will also be submitted by ward officers and initiate procedure of law against them.”Assistant Municipal Commissioner, Devendra Jain said, “Although some societies have come forward and have implemented composting, there are many who have not responded. We will visit the societies and guide them for various composting methods that they can implement and also know the problems they are facing. We will give them one last chance to implement the rule otherwise notices will be served under various sections which include prosecution and fines.”ON NOTICEAcross all 24 civic wards in Mumbai, 5,304 notices were issued to bulk generators for waste segregation and composting. However, around 4 per cent of bulk generators only have started implementing till now. The steps are been taken to decrease the garbage load on the city’s three dumping grounds.

EC to take stock of poll preparations on Oct 9-10

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Setting the ball in motion for the Gujarat Assembly polls, the Election Commission said it will review the poll preparations in the state on October 9 and 10.Senior officials said that the Election Commission, comprising Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti, and Election Commissioners Om Prakash Rawat and Sunil Arora, will arrive on a two-day visit to the state on October 9.”The Election Commission will meet representatives of political parties and district officials on the first day of the visit. There will be meetings with the chief secretary, DGP and home secretary the next day,” they said.The EC will review the administration’s preparedness for conducting the elections, which are likely to take place in December.During the meeting with political parties, the EC will seek their cooperation on adherence to the Model Code of Conduct. Similarly, it will direct district officials to ensure that elections are held in a free and fair manner by curbing use of money and muscle power.The three-member EC will also review status of the electoral rolls, availability of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system, among other aspects.In its meeting with the chief secretary, home secretary and the DGP, the EC is expected to discuss polling personnel management, requirement and deployment of police and paramilitary forces during the elections, and others.It is widely expected that the election schedule will be announced in mid-October, just before Diwali, while the polls are likely to be held in December.

Societies face jail over garbage

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Office bearers of housing societies and bulk generators that do not segregate garbage and compost it on-site could face legal action, including a prison term of up to three years and fine ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000.Housing societies and bulk generators, who have been issued Intimation of Disapproval (IoD) and Commencement Certificates (CC) since 2007, are supposed to have a dedicated waste treatment facility, as per BMC’s orders.A circular was sent out to Assistant Commissioners of all wards on Friday to prepare a list of willful violators within 15 days and submit it for further action.Vijay Singhal, additional municipal commissioner (Eastern Suburbs), in charge of the Solid Waste Management department, said, “We have issued a circular directing all wards to visit all such premises and check why they have not started waste processing at their premises. If there is an issue, help them to sort it out and, if it is found that they are willful violators, take action as per law.”He added that there is no scope of rolling back the decision. “The BMC will take any measures necessary to implement waste processing at source,” he added.The BMC had initially set a deadline of October 2 for mandatory waste segregation and composting by housing societies and bulk generators. With apprehensions voiced by housing societies on meeting the deadline due to lack of space for composting, the civic body had given an extention of three months, provided societies submit a detailed plan to the corporation.Advance Locality Managements (ALMs) who have not done enough to promote waste management will also come under the civic body’s scanner. The circular issued on Friday states that the ALM concept was promoted by BMC to involve citizens in cleanliness related issues. The civic body will de-register ineffective ALMs and steps will be taken to appoint new ones.BMC plans to invoke penal provisions of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act (MRTP), 1966 against those found violating these mandatory conditions.As per the MRTP Act 1966, since 2007, all the Intent of Disapproval (IoD) and Commencement of Certificates (CC) were granted with the provision of vermin-composting pit or an area demarcated for processing of municipal solid waste (MSW) withing the building premises. If the ward officials find that vermin-composting pit is not found, or the place is being used for other purposes such as parking, action can be initiated against the society or commercial units under the MRTP Act as well as the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act 1888.

Delhi cops make elaborate security plans for FIFA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the national Capital being one of the hosts for the Federation Internationale De Football Association (FIFA) Under-17 Football World Cup, the Delhi Police have made elaborate security arrangements to make sure that the championship goes incident-free. The threat of terror always looms large over the national Capital, especially during such event.Also, reportedly, the intelligence agencies have alerted the police establishments about the possible terror threats.”The banned terror organisations use such incidents to come into the limelight,” a senior police officer said. He added that to make the event incident-free, they have deployed maximum number of security personnel.Nearly 1,998 police officers will be guarding the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium located in south Delhi, which is the venue for the matches to be played. The matches will be held on four days — October 6, 9, 12, and 16. Six Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCP), 14 Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACP), 68 Inspectors, 171 Sub-Inspectors, 288, Head Constables, 668 Constables, and 183 woman constables will be guarding the stadium during the match days. Also, on days that there are no matches, 345 officers will make sure that the stadium is not visited by anyone.Even though India has been a host country for other events such as the Commonwealth games and Asian Games, it is for the first time that we will be hosting the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. The event will be held in six cities in the country. Besides the local police, officers who have been a part of arrangements during the CWG 2010 have also been asked to be a part of the security arrangements.Additional Deputy Commissioners of Police Vijayanta Arya, Anyesh Roy, Mohammad Ali, RP Meena, AK Lall, and Varsha Sharma have been deployed as well. Besides, nearly 891 police officers from other districts have also been deployed.

DUSU poll candidates get show cause notice for defacing public property

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Monday issued a show cause notice to Delhi University students contesting the students’ union elections, seeking their reply on a plea that has sought directions to municipal bodies to slap heavy fines on political parties and candidates for defacing public property by putting up poll-related posters.A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Harishankar directed the students to be present on the next date of hearing with replies as to why action should not be taken against them.The directions came after an application was moved by petitioner, Advocate Prashant Manchanda, which highlighted Sections 78 and 82 of the Metro Railway (Operation and maintenance) Act, 2002. According to the Act, the offence of defacement was cognizable, non-bailable, and a guilty person could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.Manchanda further alleged that poll candidates disrupted classes. He submitted photographs of advertisements that have been spray painted on walls. He sought directions to the municipal bodies to slap heavy fines and directions to authorities to “refurbish and prevent further defacement of properties by the DUSU political outfits and aspiring candidates”.”We would like to hear the students. It is about their future as the maximum imprisonment is 10 years,” the Bench said.Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North), who was present in the court, said 33 FIRs have been registered against unidentified people in this regard. Appearing for the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, its counsel said they have removed the posters and have directed the concerned officials to look into the matter.The court also sought the reply of Commissioners of the three MCDs and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). The Bench further issued a notice to the Election Commissioner and DU Vice-Chancellor to take appropriate action, and fixed September 20 as the next date of hearing.

After the mayhem, Delhi remains calm

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Capital remained on high alert with prohibitory orders continuing on Saturday. Sources in the police department stated that Section 144 would continue to be imposed in Delhi till September 8.Police also sought to provide a visible deterrent to those looking to indulge in hooliganism by organising flag marches in areas that had witnessed violence post the CBI court verdict against Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.Anand Vihar and Badarpur were the most prominent areas where the flag march was held along with reserved forces and senior police officials in attendance, during the day. This was followed in other areas including Trilokpuri, Jahangirpuri, Nand Nagari and other parts of the city.In another precautionary measure, QRT vans and SWAT teams were mobilised in disturbed areas. Police sources stated that Station House Officers and Assistant Commissioners have been instructed to put up barricades in strategic places. They have also been ordered them to increase patrolling in their respective areas.Special Commissioner(Law and Order) SBK Singh told DNA that all the security apparatus is in place and the police are prepared to handle any eventuality.”Feedback has been taken from all districts and no untoward incident was reported from any part. Normal life has gone on. The prohibitory orders will remain in place for miscreants and in no way will the common man be affected.”Sources claim that these followers may carry out violent activities in different parts of the Capital. This may include torching of DTC buses, parked public transport and markets. Following these inputs, security in these places has been beefed up. Police said that they shut down an ashram of the Dera Sacha Sauda located in the satellite town on Saturday. “The court has ordered us to seal the ashram. We have also deployed forces around the premises,” said Ravinder Kumar, Gurugram police spokesperson.ON HIGH ALERTAccording to intelligence inputs, supporters of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh have started regrouping in areas of Delhi, Haryana and Punjab with the intent of causing trouble ahead of the announcement of the sentence against the godman.

Dera violence: Punjab CM to visit ‘vulnerable’ areas in state to thank people for ensuring peace

Captain Amarinder Singh, the Punjab CM, will visit Mansa, Maur, Bathinda and Balluana (railway station), before concluding his visit in Malout. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh will tour some “vulnerable” areas in the state to thank people and security forces for ensuring peace despite the tension following the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case.An official spokesperson said the chief minister will tour areas of Mansa, Maur, Bathinda and Balluana (railway station), before concluding his visit in Malout.He will be accompanied by senior administrative and police officials, and will assess the damage, if any, on the ground, the spokesperson said.
ALSO READ AK 47, rifles, petrol bombs and 2,500 lathis recovered from Dera Sacha Sauda followersChief Minister Singh has already directed officials to make a list of properties damaged in sporadic violence reported yesterday in the state, he said.The state government will submit the list to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which has ordered recovery of compensation from the Dera.
ALSO READ ‘Who is responsible for this,’ angry Panchkula demands answers after Dera violence The spokesperson disclosed that during brief telephonic conversations with the Deputy Commissioners and Senior Superintendents of Police of the affected areas, the chief minister lauded their good work.He directed the officials to continue to monitor the situation on the ground till normalcy is completely restored and to take all necessary steps to maintain law and order when the court announces the quantum of sentence against Ram Rahim Singh on Monday.

3-day programme for Independence Day celebrations in Assam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Assam Government will observe the 71st Independence Day with a three-day programme in a befitting manner throughout the state. All the Deputy Commissioners and Sub-Divisional Officers are directed to celebrate the occasion by organising various programmes in their respective Headquarters for three days beginning August 13. As per the programme, events such as extempore speech, drawing, music and other similar competitions will be held among school students and the prizes for the winners will be given at the Independence Day function, said a government release here today. Similarly, on August 14 ‘Run for National Integrity’ will be organised in all Circles, Blocks, District and Sub-Divisional Headquarters. Sports competitions will also be organised among children and youth on the 13th and 14th of this month with the prizes distributed in the main function of Independence Day on 15th August, the release added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

HC demands report of bye-laws for solid waste mgmt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Wednesday questioned the three municipal corporations of Delhi (MCD) on their efficacy to curtail the increasing cases of malaria, dengue and chikunguniya in the city after the onset of the monsoon season.According to a recent report by the civic bodies, there have been 288 cases of malaria, 180 cases of dengue and 220 cases of chikunguniya till July 29.A bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and C Harishankar also questioned the Commissioners of the three civic bodies after they sought exemption from appearing in the court.The bench rapped the authorities stating that none of them are interested in gauging the ground reality and the officers are not leaving their office to take note of the situation. Meanwhile, a committee, constituted for formation and implementation of long term action plan regarding solid waste management, on Wednesday submitted its recommendations in the court.The recommendations highlighted the challenges faced in solid waste management included compliance, enforcement of the bye laws, non-availability of segregation of waste.Following this, the bench directed the committee to submit its draft report of the bye-laws for solid waste management within two weeks after the panel sought more time for filing the proposed changes in the draft bye-laws.On a request by the MCD requesting more land for dumping sites, the court observed that no more land can be provided.”You know that people do not have land to live. Why do you want more land for waste. Land is the only precious resource which cannot be increased,” the bench said.

5 cops suspended for taking bribes from truck drivers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Five Delhi Traffic policemen from central and north Delhi have been suspended for allegedly duping truck drivers entering Delhi at the border areas. According to senior police officers, these cops, including an assistant sub-inspector, a head constable and three constables, were forcefully stopping truck drivers at the checkpoints on Delhi border and were extorting money from them, on the pretext of asking them to show receipts of GST paid by them.The cops were found accepting bribes from truck drivers over a couple of days, senior officers said. Departmental action has been initiated against the accused, the officers said.Following the incident, senior traffic police officers have clarified that no traffic policeman is authorised to check GST receipts, which is a task assigned to transport officials.”Such cases must immediately be reported to Delhi Police, be it via social media or phone calls. Deputy Commissioners of Police in all districts have also been instructed to keep a check on such illegal practices in their areas and conduct surprise checks. In the case of these five policemen, an enquiry is on and the charges are being probed,” said the officer.

DNA Exclusive | Terror alert: Massive drive to scan city hotels, cafés

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi police has, in a secret operation against suspected terror activities, scanned about 5,000 second-hand car dealers, 11,000 non-registered guest houses and hotels, besides 22,000 cyber cafés. The crackdown was initiated by Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik a month ago.At a recent meeting with all Deputy Commissioners of Police and other senior officers, Patnaik also ordered a status check of CCTV cameras installed across the national Capital. It has now emerged that over 3,000 cameras are defunct in Delhi.The drive was taken up in view with the approaching Independence Day and recent terror inputs received by the police. Documents accessed by DNA show that most (2,087) hotels and guest houses were checked in west Delhi followed by 2,037 in south.A total 132 hotels and small rest houses near the airport and 423 in New Delhi, including those in Lutyens’ Zone, were also checked and verified.”Small places or hotels — most of them not registered — can be used for stay by subversive elements. Regular checks and raids ensure no such suspected activity takes place within or near the National Capital,” a senior police officer said.Most cyber cafés, where online search terms and e-mails sent were checked, were from Rohini on Delhi’s outskirts. Officers said that such cafés can be used for sharing critical information by terror groups.A total of 2,428 cafés in south Delhi, 2,725 in east and 3,031 in west Delhi were scanned. Northeast Delhi accounted for the least number (196) of cafés checked.The police stepped up vigil on suspicious second-hand vehicle dealers after recent “lone wolf” attacks in London and France.Most such dealers scanned were from east and central Delhi, the areas mainly known for dismantling and scrapping of old vehicles. Officials say these markets are an easy target as unauthorised purchases can be made there without any documentation or legal procedures.Scheduled and unauthorised parking areas are also on the police radar. Such lots are used by gangs of auto lifters to hide stolen vehicles, unless disposed. A total of 536 such parking areas — mostly in central, south and New Delhi — were checked thoroughly.Of the total defunct CCTV cameras, 37 were on railway premises and 13 at the airport. Most defunct cameras (873) were in east Delhi, followed by 640 in north, 224 in southeast, 229 in northwest, 100 in central Delhi, 176 in west and 82 in New Delhi.ALL IN A MONTH11,000 guest houses & hotels,
22,000 cyber cafes searched
3,000 CCTV cameras found defunct in drive launched by Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik

Three IAS officers to be chargesheeted; 4 SE suspended: Sidhu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four Superintending Engineers (SE) in Punjab have been suspended and three IAS officers will be charge sheeted in connection with the allotment of civil works on a single bid, the state’s Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said here today. He said out of work orders of Rs 800 crore, Rs 500 crore were allotted on a single bid. “Four SEs have been suspended for not following the procedure and Municipal Corporation laws in allotting civil works in the municipal corporations (MC) of Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar,” Sidhu said. He said three IAS officers who had allegedly approved these work orders while being the Commissioners of these municipal corporations will also be charge sheeted in this regard. These IAS officers are Sonali Giri, G S Khera and Ghanshyam Thori, said Sidhu. “We will prepare a charge sheet against these IAS officers and send it to the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary for further action,” said the minister. Giri, Khera and Thori were the then Commissioners of MC of Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana respectively. The SEs who have been suspended are P K Goel (MC Amritsar), Kulwinder Singh (MC Jalandhar), Pawan Sharma and Dharam Singh (MC Ludhiana). The vigilance team of the local bodies department had found that the large number of work orders were awarded based on single bid in MC Amritsar, Sidhu said. Then the scope of inspection was extended to MC of Ludhiana and Jalandhar where the civil work orders for year 2016 were inspected, said Sidhu. Among major deviations, Sidhu said the MC Act 1976 was violated wherein the house resolution was must for any work order above Rs 25,000 while the approval of F&C committee of respective MC was also not taken.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Why is there no enabling law for appointment of election commissioners: SC asks Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre as to why there is no enabling law for the appointment of Election Commissioners in the poll panel. The top court agreed to accord final hearing on Public Interest Litigation (PIL) alleging that till now political executives have been appointing Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (ECs) in poll panel.The court was hearing the PIL seeking constitution of a committee comprising of Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of India for appointment of election commissioners.”Till now the appointments have been fair and transparent but we feel there is no procedure as such,” the court observed.In 2015, the plea had sought a direction to Centre ‘to make law for ensuring a fair, just and transparent process of selection by constituting a neutral and independent collegium/ selection committee to recommend the name for the appointment of member to the Election Commission’.It also sought direction to the Centre for constituting ‘an interim neutral and independent collegium/selection committee to recommend the names for the appointment on the vacant post of members to the Election Commission’.The plea had alleged that the Centre’s practice in appointing the member of Election Commission was discriminatory and violative of law, which obligate executive/legislature to make law for ensuring a fair, just and transparent selection process for Election Commission.

Power to act against parties for baseless charges best way: EC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Election Commission today defended its decision to seek powers to initiate contempt proceedings against political parties which level allegations against it without evidence, saying it was the best way to defend itself against unfounded claims. “It is not a question of seeking power to punish somebody under the Contempt of Court Act. It is a question of levelling unfounded allegations. “We can go for defamation which we do not want. We do not want to move court as a complainant,” Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told reporters here. He said having contempt of court powers was the best way out. Zaidi was asked why the Commission wrote to the government seeing powers to initiate contempt proceedings against those who have questioned the neutrality of the body. The EC had in April written a letter to the Law Ministry, urging it to amend the election laws so that it can use the Contempt of Court Act against such parties. Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal had questioned the independence of Election Commissioners A K Joti and O P Rawat. Rawat had subsequently recused himself from cases the EC is adjudicating against AAP MLAs, including the one relating to 20 of them allegedly holding office of profit. “Some even accuse the Commission of working in favour of the winning political parties … In order to address the emerging situation, there is a rationale and a strong-felt need that the Election Commission may also be given power to punish for its own contempt,” the poll watchdog said. Responding to a question on the office of profit case against 20 AAP MLAs, he said the Commission will decide on the next date of hearing soon. The EC had earlier said it will continue hearing a plea against the party’s nearly two dozen MLAs for allegedly holding office of profit, despite the Delhi High Court setting aside their appointment as parliamentary secretaries. Zaidi also said the Commission will decide on the issue of the AIADMK’s symbol war after going through the documents filed by the rival factions.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

No wages for work not done: HC on MCD cleaning staff duties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>No one can take wages for work not done, the Delhi High Court said today referring to MCD cleaning staff not showing up for work. The location and time-wise work roster as well as the identity of each cleaning staff or ‘safai karamchaari’ should be put up on the website of the corporations, the court directed and also suggested that these details be put up at the site which a worker is assigned. “Payment be made only against work actually done. No one takes wages for work not done. Culture of not discharging your duties has to go,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said and added that the cleaning staff would be paid first and then the other MCD employees. The court noted that there was a “huge manpower” of cleaning staff — 15,000 in East MCD, 26,000 in North MCD and 23,000 South MCD — “despite which Delhi was being smothered under garbage and sewage”. The bench directed the Commissioners of the three municipal corporations of Delhi (MCDs) to monitor the attendance of the cleaning staff and to frame a proposal for ensuring they discharge their duties. This was one of the short term measures suggested by the court, which has been monitoring the issue of garbage removal and disposal from the city after it was told that lack of cleanliness also lead to spread of vector-borne diseases like dengue. Apart from that the court also focused on the “insufficient action” taken against those who litter the city or allow garbage to accumulate, despite several littering magistrates assigned to the three MCDs. It took on record the assurance given by the Commissioners of the three MCDs that stringent action will be taken against those found littering and those who cause garbage to pile up which in turn leads to dangerous diseases. “Leave a place clean and it would not be littered. Look at how clean the Delhi Metro is,” the court said. The bench also issued directions regarding creating public awareness regarding collection and disposal of waste, saying no long-term plan for making and keeping the city clean would work without participation of the citizens. The court noted that as there was “no cohesion” in the activities of the three MCDs, therefore a nodal agency is required to design a programme for creating public awareness. To achieve this objective, the bench appointed the DSLSA as the nodal body to be assisted by the Deputy Commissioners of the three MCDs as well as experts nominated by the Centre and the New Delhi Municipal Council. The panel constituted by the court also includes environmentalists M C Mehta, Sunita Narayanan and Almitra Patel. It asked the panel to submit its report on the design and programme as well as the publicity material within four weeks and listed the matter for hearing on July 12. The cost of creating the programme which shall include the emoluments to be paid to those working on it shall be borne by the Delhi government, the bench said. The directions were issued by the court while hearing two PILs filed by lawyers Arpit Bhargava and Gauri Grover who have sought directions to the municipal bodies and other authorities to take steps to prevent spread of vector borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya and malaria.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Pesticide dealers shut shops to protest proposed high GST rate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To protest the proposed ‘high GST rates’ on fertilisers and pesticides in the country, fertilisers and pesticide dealers in Punjab today kept their shops closed. They also submitted memorandums addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, through their respective Deputy Commissioners, demanding repeal of the decision in the interests of dealers and farmers alike. The call for today s bandh was given by Seeds, Pesticides and Fertilisers Association, Punjab. State president of the Association, Mohinder Pal Singh Khalsa, who led the protest in Nawanshahr said the Union government has “proposed high GST rate of 12 per cent on fertilisers and 18 per cent on insecticides. These are the items which were hitherto free from any taxes”. He said that the step would result in making the state farmers spend nearly a sum of Rs 500 crore more annually, thus making farming a more unviable activity. “As the state annually consumes nearly 7,050 lakh MT of DAP, 30 MT of urea and nearly 5,400 MT of insecticides and pesticides, increase in their costs could adversely affect crop yield,” Khalsa claimed. Khalsa demanded immediate withdrawal of the proposed GST on these farm inputs in the interest of all-dealers, farmers and the common man. Endorsing dealers’ demand of roll back of the proposed GST, Kirti Kisan Union state leader Surinder Singh Bains alleged that the Centre was gradually bringing in such a tax structure in the country that it would result in more taxes on the common man, including small shopkeepers, farmers and retailers. Meanwhile, Khalsa claimed that the bandh call was successful in the state. “Except for some small towns and villages, the bandh was complete in big districts like Ludhiana, Ropar, Hoshiarpur, Mansa, Sangrur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran,” he said. He said that their association would launch a joint agitation along with farmers against the proposed GST in the coming days if the decision was not revoked soon.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Delhi HC to continue hearing dengue, chikungunya matter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Delhi High Court will on Friday continue hearing several petitions seeking action by the Delhi Government and civic authorities to stop the spread of dengue and chikungunya. Municipal Commissioners will have to remain present for the hearing. Earlier on Wednesday, the High Court slammed Municipal Corporation of Delhi (north, south and east) in failing to manage the sanitation and garbage management in the national capital. The South and North MCD commissioners had appeared before the court, while the EDMC commissioner got exemption as he was out of the country. After watching the media reports in the court room, the high court clearly said that these reports are showing the ground reality and the reports showed by the MCD are clearly an ‘eye wash’. The court also questioned the MCD over their planning, coordination and preparation leading to clogging of drains and the unaddressed problem of garbage lying unattended in the city leading to vector-borne diseases in the national capital. Earlier on June 2, the court had issued notices to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (north, south and east) for violating court orders in matters relating to sanitation. The Delhi High Court also asked the MCD Commissioners to show cause as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them. Rebuking all the sections of MCDs for keeping in view the growing menace of vector-borne diseases especially dengue and chikungunya, the Court criticised the MCDs for being apathetic towards the problems of people. The court questioned them over their zero preparation leading to clogging of drains everywhere just by light showers in the national capital. The Court further said the duty of the MCD is not only to collect taxes from people but also to provide them facilities. Reprimanding the Delhi Government over the unaddressed problem of garbage lying unattended in the city leading to vector-borne diseases, the Delhi High Court yesterday warned the former of facing a contempt notice in the matter. The court also rapped three Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCDs) bodies over the same issue. The High Court expressed its displeasure over the prevalent situation saying, “You (Delhi Government) have mentioned in your affidavit that you have cleaned all the areas in Delhi, however, the media reports show that the garbage is not collected even in four days.” “Keeping in view of your false affidavit, should we issue contempt of court notice against you?” the court further said. Earlier on May 16, the High Court had pulled up the Centre, the Delhi Government and the civic agencies for failing to take appropriate steps in regard to combating the spread of vector-borne diseases. Taking a dig at all the three authorities, the court said that mosquitoes don’t wait for meetings, and asked the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to conduct mapping of vulnerable areas where dengue and chikungunya cases have occurred. Earlier this month, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal issued directions for a comprehensive plan to make the national capital mosquito free. As per a status report of South Delhi Municipal Corporation, 80 cases of chikungunya and 30 cases of dengue have already been reported in Delhi in just four months, since January 1 this year, even though the season for vector-borne diseases in Delhi is between July and December. In 2016, Delhi saw its first ever chikungunya outbreak that affected 9,661 people. In 2015, 16,000 dengue cases were reported and 60 people lost their lives to the disease.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Allowing mosquitoes to breed akin to culpable homicide: HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Allowing mosquitoes to breed leading to spread of vector borne diseases like dengue is equivalent to penal offences like culpable homicide and rash driving, the Delhi High Court today told the three municipal corporations here and said “heads must roll” for this. “Should it not be tested on the lines of culpable homicide not amounting to murder or rash and negligent driving?” the court asked the civic bodies referring to their officials not doing enough to check mosquito breeding. Ordering that a disciplinary action be taken against the municipal officials who did not discharge their duty of ensuring cleanliness in their respective areas, a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said the MCDs have “pathetically failed”. “Instructions have not been followed, so some heads must roll. Come back with the action taken against the officials and not the poor safai karamchaaris,” the bench said and directed that the commissioners of all three corporations be present before it on the next date of hearing on June 27. The court told the three corporations, represented by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, to first put their “house in order” and ensure their officials are working, before pointing fingers at other causes and agencies for the lack of solid waste management and disposal. The strong words came after the ASG said that the MCDs and the other agencies need to work together in an integrated and synergetic manner to handle the problem. The bench told the ASG that what was being submitted appeared to be an “excellent five-year plan” over which “a lot of chai and samosas would be exchanged”, but it was being proposed under the premise that MCD staff was working. “Is your staff doing their job or not? First address that and set it right. If you are in disarray, then no point in looking at others. First set your house in order,” Justice Shankar said. The observations and directions came after watching videos, showing lack of garbage removal, waterlogged filthy roads and clogged drains in several colonies in the capital, filed on record by a journalist who was appointed as a local commissioner by the court. The local commissioner was appointed while dealing with two PILs, by lawyers Arpit Bhargava and Gauri Grover, seeking directions to the corporations to prevent spread of vector borne diseases, which, as per a health ministry finding is also due to lack of solid waste disposal. The bench said it was “pained” by what it saw in the videos, especially where the municipal cleaning staff were clearing solid waste from drains by hand and added that it was a violation of the law prohibiting manual scavenging apart from “jeopardising” their health. “This is the 21st century and gutters in Delhi are being cleaned by hand,” the bench said. The garbage accumulated over several days in various colonies and on roadsides also irked the court which said after heavy rain the situation in these areas would get worse. The corporations also invited the wrath of the bench for filing “fancy 100 page false status reports” projecting the situation in their respective areas as “hunky-dory”. Rejecting the reports which claimed that regular cleaning was being undertaken and there was complete sanitation in entire east Delhi, the court said the MCDs have “pathetically failed” to discharge their functions. It also rejected their arguments of lack of funds to perform their work, saying neither the citizens nor the statute were concerned with how the corporations do their job. “This kind of grumbling (of lack of funds) cannot be allowed to affect the citizens’ lives,” it said and added that the court cannot assist in sorting out the funding issue. “Let the MCDs file a writ petition saying they do not have funds to perform their function,” the court said. It also said there can be one corporation instead of three as “trifurcation idea seems not to have worked”. The Commissioners of the south and north MCD, who were present in court, also felt the wrath of the bench which said the top officials of the corporations did not appear to have read its earlier orders or even having left their offices to inspect the affected areas. On being told the east Delhi corporation’s Commissioner was in Stockholm, in Sweden, for a conference on solid waste management, a visibly amused bench said, “that is ironical” and added “he can justify his foreign visit”. The court said, “The whole problem is due to the lack or failure to regulate the functions. No one gets out of their office to inspect. There is no regulation.” The court was also of the view that the manner in which the corporations have allowed regularising of unauthorised colonies has contributed to the problem. The bench said that regularisations and conversion of residential units into commercial were being allowed without evaluating the impact on garbage generation. “You are not equipped with the data and you have not even begun planning. You have not begun to do anything. That is a foregone conclusion. You are not even doing grass root level segregation of waste nor educating people about it,” it said. It said the areas where the Commissioners and other senior government officials live are absolutely clean and suggested shifting their residences to areas like Seelampur in east Delhi where garbage is removed after weeks, if ever. Meanwhile, the health ministry submitted a report which stated that there were huge vacancies in the various posts under the corporations that deal with vector borne diseases. The ministry told the bench that there were not sufficient malaria inspectors to carry out inspections nor were there any municipal health officers in the three corporations. It said there would be a huge problem as the rains have started to hit the city leading to waterlogged roads and clogging of drains, as was also seen outside the high court, which are all breeding sites of mosquitoes.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Parole hearing for O.J. Simpson’s robbery sentence set for July 20

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A parole hearing for former football star O.J. Simpson, serving time in a Nevada prison for a 2008 Las Vegas robbery and kidnapping conviction, has been set for July 20 in Carson City, the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners announced on Tuesday. The proceeding will mark the second such hearing held for Simpson, who was acquitted of the 1994 murder of his wife and her friend, since he was sentenced to as much as 33 years for his role in a bungled attempt to recover memorabilia from his storied sports career. If granted parole at next month’s hearing, he will not be eligible for release before Oct. 1, state parole officials have said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Need more powers to act against parties making wild

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Election Commission has sought more powers to initiate contempt proceedings against some political parties which take advantage of the freedom of expression and make wild allegations against it without any credible evidence. In a letter written in April, the Commission has urged the Law Ministry to amend the election laws so that it can use ‘Contempt of Court’ Act against such parties. The letter comes close on the heels of AAP questioning the impartiality of the EC. Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal had questioned the impartiality of Election Commissioners A K Joti and O P Rawat. Following this, Rawat had recused himself from cases EC is adjudicating against AAP MLAs, including the one relating to 20 of them allegedly holding office of profit. “… Some even accuse the Commission of working in favour of the winning political parties…in order to address the emerging situation, there is a rationale and a strong-felt need that the Election Commission may also be given power to punish for its own contempt,” the poll watchdog said. It pointed out that several election management bodies, including those in Kenya and Pakistan have “direct powers” to initiate contempt proceedings.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Top cop orders disposal of pending cases

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Commissioner of Police, Amulya Patnaik, during a law and order review meeting held recently, has directed the department officers to launch a special drive for the disposal of all pending cases.According to a senior police officer, over two lakh criminal cases are currently pending, including for heinous crimes such as murder, rape, and dacoity.”District Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCsP) should launch a special drive to finalise investigation cases and significant progress should be achieved by June 30, 2017,” Patnaik said. He also directed all Joint Commissioners of Police heading various law and order ranges to organise meetings with sub-divisional police officers, in order to ensure progress in pending cases.He also directed that the results of various investigations should be collected at Forensic Science Laboratory or Truth Labs. He further said that continuous efforts should be made to reduce pendency and necessary approval for further investigation should be obtained from the officers concerned.Ruing the staff shortage, however, a senior police officer said: “Registration of cases has increased but the manpower remains the same. This has led to almost 50 per cent pendency. The issue needs to be addressed wisely and effectively. Cracking a whip on investigating officers is not going to work. A single investigating officer has over 200 cases per year. It is not humanly possible for him to solve all of them.”During the meeting, the top cop also directed the DCPs and the JCPs to identify drug peddlers in their respective areas and take effective legal action against them. “In case of failure, strict accountability should be fixed,” he said. Patnaik also directed the Assistant Commissioners of Police and Station House Officers to visits schools and colleges in their areas to create awareness against drugs among students.”All district DCPs are directed to ensure strict compliance in their respective districts and keep action taken report for the review,” the minutes of the meeting stated.Patnaik also directed that the Ears and Eyes scheme should be streamlined by all district DCPs. The SHOs should prepare a list of people who are members of the Eyes and Ears scheme and keep the same in their personal custody. “They should also hold a periodical meeting with Eyes and Ears stakeholders to sensitise them about their charter of duties. Gook work done on the tips of stakeholders should be suitably appreciated,” he directed.

DCs asked to have all arrangements ready before monsoon begins

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today directed Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of all districts of the state to put in place all arrangements before the onset of monsoon. During a video conference with the DCs, Sonowal also directed them to be ready to undertake relief and rehabilitation works in the event of a flood. He also directed the DCs to arrange for all mechanisms for release of ex-gratia payment to flood victims within 48 hours and in special circumstances within 24 hours. For Golaghat district, the DC and SP were asked to earmark and complete highlands for the wild animals to take shelter with help from the people of fringe areas of Kaziranga National Park. Sonowal also directed the DCs of Golaghat, Sivasagar and Jorhat districts to repair the National Highway from Numaligarh to Sivasagar on a war footing within a week. The chief minister took stock of the status of the construction work of border fencing in Karimganj district and asked the DC there to maintain regular liaison with the BSF. DC Karimganj was directed to submit action taken report within one week to the chief minister.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

EVMs used by EC are tamper-proof, parliamentary panel told

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The electronic voting machines used by the Election Commission are tamper-proof and reliable, the poll panel told a parliamentary standing committee today. The stand of the commission before the parliamentary panel comes a day before it is to announce its ‘EVM challenge’ at a press conference here. Senior officials of the Commission, who appeared before the parliamentary standing committee on Law and Personnel, said the EVMs are tamper-proof and very reliable. The commission was represented by Deputy Election Commissioners Umesh Sinha and Vijay Dev, besides other officials. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel and Law, headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma, had today summoned the Election Commission officials and the Legislative Secretary of the Law Ministry over the issue of electoral reforms. Senior officials assured the parliamentary panel that the EVMs are tamper-proof and the commission has decided to use VVPAT or paper trail machines in all future elections which will further enhance the confidence of voters in these machines, a member of the panel said. After several opposition parties urged the EC to revert to ballot paper system, the parliamentary committee had summoned senior officials of the poll panel to discuss issues related to the reliability of EVMs. The EC has also thrown a challenge to political parties to prove that the EVMs used in the recent assembly polls were tampered with after several opposition parties questioned their reliability and demanded going back to the paper ballot system. Last week, after a meeting with 55 national and state political parties, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had said that in all future elections they will use EVMs with VVPAT. Amid concerns raised by the opposition, the Union Cabinet had last month cleared the Election Commission’s proposal to buy VVPAT machines for the EVMs to ensure transparency in the voting process. The proposal involves getting 16,15,000 VVPAT units for EVMs at a cost of around Rs 3,173.47 crore for use in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Delhi reduced to slum, HC forms panel on illegal construction

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi is being reduced to a slum, thanks to rampant illegal construction, the Delhi High Court said today while ordering the setting up of an experts panel to physically inspect such properties. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar appointed former CBI director D R Karthikeyan, India Habitat Centre (IHC) Director Raj Liberhan and retired district judge Ravinder Kaur as the committee members, who will act as court commissioners. “We are really pained to note that there appears to be no regulatory mechanism in place, no transparency at all and as a result rampant unauthorised construction is coming up all over Delhi (which) is a subject matter of multiple proceedings pending before this court,” the bench said. Despite there being regulations in place, every day such constructions are being allowed to come up, reducing Delhi not only to a slum but also becoming a hub of disease like chikungunya and dengue, the bench observed. “It is, therefore, a high time that such construction has to be stopped immediately and the citizens have to comply with the law in place,” the court said. It said the commissioners will inspect the properties of all the three municipal bodies in the city and shall be provided the original records of the properties by the corporations. “They will identify each of such properties and will also do a chemical analysis of the construction to determine the date on which the building was build up,” the bench said. It said they will be paid Rs one lakh as their fees by the corporations and Rs 2,000 each for every visit to the sites and asked the Delhi Police to provide them adequate security while they are visiting the properties. The directions were issued during the hearing of a PIL by the People All India Anti Corruption and Crime Prevention Society, which had sought direction to the authorities to demolish 75 illegal constructions in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation. It also sought to register case against the officials of the corporation, who had allegedly allowed such construction depsite a demolition order against them. Taking note of this, the bench observed “It is extremely distressing that it is only after a petition is brought which is in the nature of a public interest litigation that the municipal authorities are waking up to their statutory duties and law obligations.” “It is even more disconcerting that paper documentation in the nature of show cause notice, demolition and sealing orders are being passed to create a facade of non-compliance with the requirements of the statute whereas under the shield of other documentations, rampant illegal and unauthorised construction is permitted to be continued,” it added. It asked the commissioners to file their status report within six weeks before the court. The bench said the commissioners shall not prepare any report against the illegal construction without hearing the owners of the properties. “Citizens must follow the law and officials must do their duty,” the court said, adding that the constructions which are not in accordance with law will not be protected from demolition at any cost. It listed the matter for July 18.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Constitute SITs on your own in sensitive cases:DGP to CPs, SPs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Haryana Police chief B S Sandhu today directed the Commissioners and the Superintendents of Police to constitute Special Investigation Teams and initiate legal action in sensitive cases. The direction of the Director General of Police (DGP) came during a meeting with the Commissioners of Police (CPs), the Inspectors General of Police (IGPs), the Superintendents of Police (SPs) and Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs) via video conferencing here today, in the wake of the brutal gang rape and murder of a Dalit woman from Sonipat. In view of the overwhelming response from the people about ‘Operation Durga’, launched last month, he said it would continue to ensure safety of women and provide them a secure environment. He directed the officers to ensure publicity of women helpline number 1091, so that they could contact police in case of any emergency. Gazetted officer in each women s police station would be responsible for examining information received on the helpline on a daily basis The officer would inform supervising officers of police stations concerned about any sensitive incident, it was informed in the meeting. The supervising officers would take immediate action on such information and ensure its disposal. Sensitisation training would be provided to police officers and other employees dealing with cases of crimes against women at district level, he added, according to an official release. He said that scheme was being prepared to effectively assess and rebut any information being posted on social media so that wrong information does not reach the people. Sandhu also directed to maintain enhanced vigilance round-the-clock in districts Gurugram, Faridabad, Rewari, Panipat, Panchkula and Yamunanagar, which had larger number of women employees.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Appoint more info commissioners to clear RTI cases: Activist

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Noted RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi has urged the Maharashtra government to immediately announce a successor to Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Ratnakar Gaikwad who is set to retire by the month-end. Gandhi, a former Central Information Commissioner, has written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, urging him to appoint the next State CIC by this month-end and also name three more Information Commissioners (in addition to existing 7) to help dispose of pending RTI applications. Gaikwad’s five-year term as CIC will end on May 31. “There is a huge backlog in some of the benches of the State Information Commission. This is partly due to not appointing information commissioners in a timely manner since 2005,” Gandhi said in the letter sent to the CM’s Office on Thursday. Currently, about 40,000 cases are pending before the Maharashtra State Information Commission. “Most commissioners in the country dispose of around 3,000 cases a year. The Maharashtra Information Commissioners are reported to be disposing of about 5,000 cases per year,” the letter claimed. He said the situation is “grave” in Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and Amravati divisions, which have more than 5,000 cases pending with each of them. Gandhi said the Right to Information Act permits appointment of up to 11 information commissioners in a state. Hence, steps should be taken to appoint three more commissioners in order to clear the huge backlog of cases in the state.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Will hold EVM challenge with machines of recent polls: CEC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Election Commission today said it will offer political parties an opportunity to prove that electronic voting machines used in the recent assembly polls were tampered with. A “challenge” is on the cards, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told a meeting of political parties here, going on record for the first time regarding the EC’s proposed move to counter allegations of EVM tampering. “Although use of VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail system) with EVMs will ensure total credibility and transparency and put to rest all controversy, the Commission will, after today’s meeting, hold a challenge,” he said. It will offer opportunity to political parties to demonstrate that EVM used in recent elections were tampered with or that EVMs can be tampered with even under strict technical and administrative safeguards as applicable during elections, Zaidi said. He, however, did not give any date for the proposed challenge which he announced in his opening remarks at the meeting. Zaidi also said the Commission has “no favourites” and it was equidistant from all parties. “You should be convinced that EC has no favourites…we maintain equidistance from all parties and groups. It is our constitutional and moral duty to stand dead centre of the circle drawn around us by 56 political parties (seven national and 49 state recognised parties),” he said. His remarks come against the backdrop of Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal reportedly questioning the independence of two Election Commissioners A K Joti and O P Rawat. He had claimed in an interview that the two ECs were close to the BJP governments in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh respectively. Following the allegations, Rawat had recused himself from the cases related to disqualification of AAP MLAs the Commission is hearing.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

BJP demands AAP’s derecognition over ‘fudging’ donation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari today demanded that the Election Commission of India derecognise the Aam Admi Party for allegedly providing “wrong information” to various authorities about donations received by it. A delegation of the Delhi unit of the BJP led by Tiwari today met Election Commissioners A K Joti and Om Prakash Rawat, and submitted a complaint against AAP. Based on a report by a TV channel, the BJP alleged there were dissimilarities in the figures which Delhi’s ruling party gave about donations received by it to the Election Commission and the Income Tax department, and what was put out on its website. “We have submitted a complaint to the Election Commission about wrong information provided by the AAP with regard to funds its received, and sought derecognition of the party. This is a big offence,” Tiwari said after meeting the election commissioners. He also claimed the AAP was trying to “divert” public attention from the issue by alleging manipulation of EVMs by the BJP to rig elections. AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj, in a live demonstration at Delhi Assembly today, alleged that anyone knowing the ‘secret code’ can easily tamper with EVMs. The code, he claimed, can be fed into a machine while casting vote. “They are trying to divert attention from the funds issue. They can not do so, they have lied to the Election Commission. Now, they should reply to questions being raised over funds received by them and other corruption charges,” he said. Tiwari alleged “gross discrepancies” in donations shown by the AAP. “There are gross discrepancies in the figures AAP submitted to the EC, the Income Tax department, and what it put on its website,” Tiwari said. The top EC officials maintained the complaint was “very serious” and would be acted upon, Tiwari said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

In a first, MCD poll booths to be ‘tobacco-free’ zones

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a first in the country, the Delhi State Election Commission has declared all the 13,234 polling booths ‘tobacco free’ ahead of the MCD polls, to be held this Sunday. The move comes after Delhi government’s Health Department approached the State Election Commissioner urging him to declare all the polling stations as ‘tobacco free zones’ rather than just declaring them as ‘smoke-free’ as it used to be in earlier elections. In a letter to Commissioner S K Srivastava, Additional Director (Health) Dr S K Arora noted that since chew-able tobacco, a leading cause of oral cancer, is already banned in Delhi, the polling booths should be declared ‘tobacco free’. The decision should be taken in larger public health interest, he stressed. The Commission has now sought cooperation of the Commissioners of all three civic bodies – South, North and East municipal corporation — to create ‘tobacco free’ poll booths for the MCD polls and display multi-colour banners at each location indicating the same. “It is an excellent opportunity to sensitise nearly 1.33 crore adults on a single day as they will come to cast their vote at the polling booths,” Dr Arora said. He said 90 per cent of oral cancers, 40 per cent of all cancers and 30 per cent of tuberculosis cases occur because of tobacco habits. Also, 20 per cent cases of diabetes, hypertension, heart attack and brain stroke are also linked to tobacco consumption, he added. The Health department will also provide signages/banners to be displayed at the entry gate of each polling booth. The banners will have content to educate people about the ill effects of tobacco consumption including smoking. The objective is also to make public aware that polling booths being a public place, the use and sale of all kinds of tobacco is prohibited, he said. Besides, teams of health departments will also supervise and monitor to ensure that there are no violations of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the Election Commission had asked the state election authorities to implement the no- smoke policy in accordance with the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

HC anguished over teachers’ vacancy in Delhi govt, MCD schools

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Anguished by the teachers’ vacancy of around 33,000 in MCD and government schools in the city, the Delhi High Court today directed the authorities to take “immediate remedial measures”. “In a country with such a high rate of unemployment how can 33,000 vacancies be not filled up,” Justice Manmohan asked the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board (DSSSB), the Directorate of Education (DoE) and the municipal corporations. “Keeping in view the excess vacancies, this court is of the view that the DoE, the three MCDs and the DSSSB need to take immediate remedial measures,” the court said. It asked the Director of DSSSB to convene a meeting on April 27 which would be attended by the Commissioners of the three municipal corporations, the Director of Education of Delhi government and the Controller of Exams from DSSSB. The court said a plan of action should be formulated in the meeting on how to fill up the vacancies and directed that the minutes of the meeting be filed before on the next date of hearing i.e. May 16. It asked the authorities to first focus on filling up the vacancies of Trained Graduate Teacher (TGT) and Assistant grade primary school teachers which, according to the Delhi government, which account for 50 per cent of the total vacancies. It directed the three corporations and the DoE to send requisition for all vacant teaching posts to DSSSB within three weeks. The court also asked the DoE to explain on the next date why teaching staff have been deputed for court work and the reason for the over 400 vacant posts of Principals in Delhi government schools. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), meanwhile told the court it has not received any requisition with regard to the vacant Principal posts. The directions came on the contempt plea of an NGO, Social Jurist, which has alleged “deliberate and intentional disobedience” by the Delhi government of the high court’s orders to ensure zero vacancy at the commencement of each academic year in schools here. During the hearing, the court also questioned the manner in which guest teachers were being recruited and whether they fulfilled the eligibility criteria. The DoE said all guest teachers who are recruited meet the minimum qualifications required for the post.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Pb govt to assess damage to wheat crop due to hailstorm, rain

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today directed Deputy Commissioners (DCs) to assess the damage caused to wheat crop in the state due to hailstorm and unseasonal rain. “The Chief Minister has directed all DCs to get the losses incurred by the farmers ascertained immediately to ensure adequate and timely compensation for them,” an official spokesman said here. The DCs have been instructed to initiate the assessment process, particularly in regions from where reports of damage to the Rabi wheat crop have been received, he said. The state government is committed to adequately compensate the farmers for any losses due to vagaries of the weather, the spokesman said. For the past couple of days Punjab is witnessing inclement weather.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

NGOs to approach SC for ensuring political, electoral reforms

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>NGOs including Association for Democratic Reforms and Indian Against Corruption have decided to approach the Supreme Court for ensuring required political and electoral reforms. They have also decided to approach the Centre for expediting implementation of all electoral reforms, election management reforms, democratic reforms which are pending for more than two-and-half-decades. For the first time, NGOs working for democratic and electoral reforms came together on a common platform convened by ‘Bhartiya Matdata Sangathan’. Former Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi, who participated in the meeting, suggested constitution of a working group or panel to review all suggestions and proposals made till now by many commissions and study groups including Election Commissioners and Law Commission.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Sidhu relieves ‘politically-appointed’ chairmen, trustees

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The politically-appointed chairmen and trustees of the Improvement Trusts across Punjab have been relieved with immediate effect. Disclosing this today, Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu categorically said he has taken this decision to ensure greater transparency and efficiency in the working of these Trusts. He said the trusts will now be headed by Administrators (Deputy Commissioners/SDMs) appointed by the government till further orders. Sidhu also intervened to address the issues of stoppage of ongoing development works in different parts of the state and directed the department to issue clarification. A written communication has been sent to all field officers in this regard, he said here. The minister has directed the engineering wing of the department to conduct surprise inspections and get third party audit of these works carried out to ensure quality in the execution of these works.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Pb govt orders DCs, SSPs to take strict action against

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Punjab government has ordered all Deputy Commissioners and police superintendents to take strict actions agiainst bootleggers and rid the state of the menace. “In order to uproot the menace of bootlegging and illegal sale of liquor, clear directions have been given to the DCs and Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs) to curb the illegal sale of liquor,” an official spokesman said. Only legal transfer of liquor will be allowed and strict action will be taken against bootleggers who indulge in illegal transfers from one area to another, he said. Fair competition in the trade will be ensured and licensees will be able to trade without any fears and pressures. In line with its promise of discouraging liquor consumption in poll manifesto, Amarinder Singh led Congress government has already announced to brought down the number of liquor vends and slashed the liquor quota in its new excise policy for 2017-18. The quota of PML and IMFL has been significantly reduced by 14 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively. In addition to these reforms, the group sizes have been increased. With the increase in group sizes, the number of groups has significantly come down to 148 as compared to 626 in the previous year. “Decrease in the number of groups will ensure fair competition and will eliminate the problems of under cutting and bulk sales,” he said. Further, decrease in the number of groups will also help in mitigating the effect of closure of liquor vends within 500 meters area on National and State Highways. About 550 liquor vends will close down with the implementation of the Supreme Court order, which had directed closure of liquor vends within 500 mt area on national and state highways. The quota of country liquor has been reduced by 14 per cent from 10.10 crore proof litres to 8.70 crore proof litres. Similarly, the quota of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) has been reduced by 20 per cent from 4.73 crore proof litres to 3.80 crore proof litres. Punjab is targeting total revenue of Rs 5,440 crore from liquor during 2017-18. The number of liquor vends in the state will be reduced to 5,900 from 6,384 at present, an official said. In another step towards ensuring transparency in liquor trade in the state, Punjab government has also abolished the L-1A license, which had been introduced by the previous Akali-BJP government.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Indus Water meeting: India rejects Pak’s claims that it has withdrawn design of Miyar project

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan said that India has withdrawn the design of the Miyar hydroelectric project in Himachal Pradesh following its objections.Earlier, Pakistani media reports claimed that the Indian delegation agreed to halt the progress on Miyar hydroelectric project’s design after accepting Pakistan’s reservations.However, Indian officials maintained that India never agreed to halt the project.”We may say that the media reports about India agreeing to halt Miyar project are factually incorrect and wrong. India never agreed to halt the project,” the Indian officials said.The development came as the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) meeting of the Indus Water Commissioners of Pakistan and India was held today on water issues for a second day here.The Indian delegation for the two-day meeting was led by Indus Water Commissioner P K Saxena while the Pakistani delegation was headed by Mirza Asif Saeed Baig.Pakistan’s Ministry of Water and Power said in a statement that the discussions were held on India’s proposed Miyar, Lower Kalnai and Pakal Dul hydropower projects as well as on matters pertaining to the exchange of data and conducting tours and meetings of the Indus commission.”On (the) Miyar hydropower project, India has withdrawn its design after Pakistan had made objections on it in the previous meetings of the commission,” the statement said.It said the “Indian side also agreed to a tour of inspection for Pakistan’s Indus Commission which is expected to be arranged before August 2017.”However, the ministry did not share any more details of the inspection tour.The ministry said that discussions were held on Pakistan’s prior objections relating to pondage and freeboard of Lower Kalnai and freeboard and spillway of Pakal Dul hydropower projects in Jammu and Kashmir.”Indian side has agreed to reconsider Pakistan’s observations on these projects and will respond in the next meeting of the Commission,” it said.The ministry said the Pakistani side demanded from India to provide the outflows from Baglihar and Salal dams on the Chenab river during the flood season to help in issuing of early flood warnings.”Indian side has agreed to consider Pakistan’s request and it is expected that India would start providing the required data starting from the coming flood season,” it said.Pakistan has raised objections over the designs of the three projects, including Miyar hydroelectric project, located in Himachal Pradesh’s Lahaul Spiti district, Lower Kalnai and Pakal Dul, both being built in Jammu and Kashmir, and demanded access to the sites, the report had said.

Indian delegation to visit Pak to attend Permanent Indus Commission

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A nine-member Indian delegation will travel to Pakistan to attend 113rd Permanent Indus Commission meeting in Pakistan?s capital Islamabad starting from tomorrow. Pakistan had reportedly forwarded an invitation to India to resolve issues related to the Indus Water Treaty (IWT), sources said. The Permanent Indus Commission is a bilateral commission of officials from India and Pakistan, created to implement and manage goals of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960. It comprises the Indus Commissioners from both sides and discusses technical matters related to the implementation of the treaty. It has met 112 times since 1960. It is Pakistan’s turn to host its next meeting and the Indian Commissioner accepted his counterpart’s invitation for a meeting to take place from March 19. Mutually convenient dates and mutually agreeable agenda are being worked out directly by the commissioners themselves and the government has no role to play in this regard. “No shift in the stand as government and Commission are different, including for purposes of commission meetings,” said sources. The development comes after relations between the two nuclear-armed nations plummeted following the Pathankot terror attack in January last year. Pakistan has firmly stated that it will not accept any alterations or changes to the IWT after India had said that it is ready to engage in further consultations with Islamabad on the matter of resolving current differences over the Kishenganga and Ralte projects under the treaty. Islamabad has argued that India was buying time to complete its two disputed water projects and then insisting that since the project was already complete, it could not be modified. Pakistan has raised objection to the building of the Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric plants by India saying that it violates the provisions of the treaty. Tensions increased over the water dispute when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi threatened to block the flow of water into Pakistan. The World Bank had earlier asked both the countries to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements over the Indus Water Treaty Dispute 1960. The World Bank had said that it was temporarily halting the appointment of a neutral expert as requested by India, and the Chairman of the Court of Arbitration, as requested by Pakistan, to resolve issues regarding two hydroelectric power plants under construction by India along the Indus Rivers system. The treaty which was signed in 1960 by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President Ayub Khan gives India control over the three eastern rivers of the Indus basin, the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej while Pakistan has the three western rivers, the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum. As per the provisions in the treaty, India can use only 20 percent of the total water carried by the Indus River. The Indus Waters Treaty 1960 is seen as one of the most successful international treaties and has withstood frequent tensions between India and Pakistan, including conflict. The treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers, known as the Permanent Indus Commission which includes a commissioner from each of the two countries. It also sets out a process for resolving so-called “questions”, “differences” and “disputes” that may arise between the parties.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Pak wants peaceful resolution of all issues with India: FO

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan wants to resolve all issues, including Kashmir, with India through result oriented dialogue which should not disrupt or breakdown on “flimsy grounds”, the Foreign Office said today. Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s vision clearly states Pakistan’s foreign policy objective of achieving regional prosperity through peaceful neighbourhood. “We want a peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues with India, particularly, the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” Zakaria said at a regular briefing here. He said that Pakistan is hosting the upcoming Indus Water Treaty Commissioners’ meeting. “We have been emphasizing the need for sustainable and result oriented dialogue vis-a-vis our relationship with India – dialogue which should not disrupt or breakdown on flimsy grounds,” the official said. Zakaria said that Pakistan has shown a number of gestures which were not reciprocated by India. “We hope that India will soon realise that dialogue is a key to peace and stability in the region, as well as peace between our two countries, particularly in the context of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. “It is only through peace and dialogue that we can lift millions of our people from the throes of poverty,” he said. The spokesman criticised alleged Indian belligerent posture and what he called “irrational defence build-up”, saying that India remained the largest importer of defence equipment in the region and its hegemonic designs are endangering peace and security in the region and beyond. He lambasted India for alleged human rights violations in Kashmir and said Pakistan raised the issue at the Human Rights Council in Geneva during its ongoing 34th Session. Zakaria also said BJP’s policy of using Pakistan card in their domestic politics was unfortunate and regrettable. He said Pakistan and India should engage in meaningful discussions on further measures for confidence-building, avoidance of arms race and promotion of strategic stability in South Asia. “Pakistan stands ready for such talks with India. Our proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime for South Asia is still on the table,” he said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Avalanche warning issued for hilly areas of Kashmir, Kargil

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An avalanche warning was issued today for hilly and vulnerable areas of Kashmir valley and Kargil district after these places received fresh snowfall. “Medium danger avalanche warning valid for next 24 hours from March 8 to March 9 (1700 hrs) exists for avalanche-prone slopes in Kupwara, Bandipora, Anantnag, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Kulgam, Budgam and Kargil districts of Kashmir Division,” an official spokesman said quoting a statement issued by the Divisional Administration. Accordingly, the spokesman said, all the Deputy Commissioners concerned have been asked to take precautionary measures in their respective districts and advise people not to venture in avalanche-prone areas during the aforementioned period and monitor the situation regularly to avert any untoward incident. The high altitude areas of Kashmir valley and Kargil experienced snowfall since yesterday under the influence of western disturbance which is expected to remain active in the region till the weekend.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

30 Bangladeshis deported from Assam during BJP rule

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Out of 4,022 persons declared illegal immigrants since the BJP-led government came to power in Assam last year, only 30, who were Bangladeshis, have been deported, the Assembly was informed today. Replying to a query by Congress MLA Abdul Khaleque during Question Hour, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said 30 Bangladeshis have been sent back to their country after May 2016. “From May 2016 to December 2016, a total of 4,022 people were declared as foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunal and the process is complete for another three persons,” Patowary said. The Minister said that a total 79,771 persons have been detected in the state as foreigners since 1986, of which 29,729 have been deported so far. Khaleque, citing examples, said that many genuine Indian citizens have been harassed by branding them as foreigners, but ultimately they are freed. “The government is equally concerned about this. We will instruct the Deputy Commissioners to provide voters’ list or other documents immediately to the Foreigners Tribunal if it asks,” Patowary said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Over the past two days, the number of protesters at

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>various dharna sites, especially in sensitive districts, has been going up. In Rohtak, the Jats have gathered at Jassia village. The government is also closely monitoring the situation, the officials said. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has maintained that everyone has the right to hold protest in a peaceful manner, but nobody will be allowed to take law into one’s hand. Haryana’s Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, Ram Niwas said earlier that the Deputy Commissioners can exercise powers given under the National Security Act, 1980, if required, to deal with the protesters. However, agitation leader Malik has been strongly critical of any such move. “…We want to remind the Haryana government that people of Haryana understand the language of love, and coercive methods cannot be used to suppress their voice,” Malik said. Apart from the quota demand, the agitators are demanding release of arrested Jat youths from jails, withdrawal of cases registered during last year’s agitation and grant of government jobs to the kin of youths killed and those injured during the earlier stir and action against BJP MP from Kurukshetra Raj Kumar Saini over his alleged anti-Jat rants. Haryana Health and Sports Minister Anil Vij slammed the INLD, alleging that its leaders were provoking the Jat community to disturb the peace of Haryana for its political interests. “This time the INLD has come out openly in support of agitators to disturb law and order situation in the state. INLD had also remained in power in the state, but at that time they ignored the reservation issue,” Vij told reporters in Ambala today. He alleged that “INLD wants to harm the brotherhood and harmony of the state to get the sympathy of a community”. While criticising Yashpal Malik, Vij said that he had nothing to do with the interests of Jat community. “Malik is doing cheap politics on Jat reservation issue. Moreover, he is issuing provocative statements which would not be tolerated,” Vij said. Vij said that the matter of reservation was pending before the court, therefore, the Jat community should wait for the court decision.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

The Punjab CEO said voters would have to carry their voter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>card to exercise the franchise. In case, someone has lost his voter card, then he could carry copy of one of the documents which are driving license, ID card issued by government department, pass book of nationalised bank, PAN card, Nrega card, Aadhaar card, voter slip authenticated by BLO, to exercise his franchise, he said. To a query, Singh made it clear that it was prohibited to transport voter to a polling booth. “It is a corrupt practice and if a voter comes in candidate’s vehicle and if it is videographed then the election will be cancelled,” he said. However, Singh said the commission has made arrangements for completely disabled voters for bringing them from their homes to the polling stations. Singh informed that holiday had been declared in the state under Negotiable Instruments Act in the state on February 4. “Deputy Commissioners in the state have been asked to ensure the compliance of the government order announcing holiday,” he said. Besides schools and other institutions, malls, multiplexes etc will remain closed tomorrow in Punjab till 5 pm tomorrow, he said, adding non-emergency services would remain shut. “We will take action, if any violation of the order comes to light,” he said. However, he said emergency services like hospitals will continue to function. “In case of emergency services, employees can be given half days in batches to allow them to cast their votes,” he said. Voters who work in Chandigarh, Panchkula or in Himachal Pradesh, will be given paid leave to cast their ballot, he said. He appealed to all the candidates to send their polling agents well in time for the mock polling at 7 AM. “If polling agents do not appear till 7:30 am, we will not wait,” he said. Singh further said over 80 per cent of two lakh poll staff have been dispatched to their respective locations. He said for the first time in Punjab, Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) will be used in 33 assembly constituencies and two at Amritsar Lok Sabha segment in the state. VVPAT will be installed at 6,400 polling stations in the state, he said. VVPAT is a method of providing feedback to voters. VVPAT is attached to the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) to help electors verify that their vote has been cast correctly. There are around 35,000 EVMs with the EC for the polling. “We have set a target of 85 percent of polling this time,” said Singh as against 79 per cent and 72 per cent polling witnessed in 2012 assembly and 2014 Lok Sabha polls respectively. The first time voters will also be given certificates, said the Punjab CEO.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Punjab CEO asks police to be more vigilant to prevent untoward

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Punjab Chief Electoral Officer today asked state police to be more vigilant in view of the blast in Bhatinda to prevent a repeat of such incidents and give “infallible” security cover to politicians, candidates, prominent personalities or any person who is facing a threat. “The local police has to be more vigilant especially when elections are round the corner. The Election Commission of India has been apprised of the current situation,” CEO VK Singh said in a statement. He also advised the political parties to keep from indulging in “mudslinging and blame game”. The Chief Electoral Officer in a communique to the DGP Punjab asked him to strengthen the security arrangement at political rallies, road shows, public places, sensitive and crowded areas. “Political leaders, candidates, prominent personalities or any person who is facing a threat should be given infallible security cover. The local police administration including the SHO City, DSP and SSP would be held responsible for any security lapse,” the communique said. Singh said each vehicle should be checked throughly at check points with the help of bomb squads or sniffer dogs. The DGP has also issued directions to IGs, DIGs, Commissioners and SSPs to ensure full compliance of the ECI directive and take all precautions to ensure security and safety during elections.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Issue guidelines for parties over illegal banners: HC tells EC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bombay High Court today asked the Election Commission to impose conditions on political parties at the time of their registration that they would not indulge in defacement of properties as per the Prevention of Defacement of Property Act and laws governing skysigns and advertisements. The high court also asked the EC to consider issuing proper guidelines to compel the registered political parties against putting up illegal hoardings and posters not only during elections, but all throughout. The order was delivered by a division bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka which heard a bunch of petitions filed by Suswaraj Foundation, Janhit Manch and others challenging illegal hoardings, banners and posters put up on roads, streets and public places by political parties and various other organisations. “It was high time that the Election Commission stepped in to ensure that political parties and its workers remained within bounds in so far as illegal hoardings, banners and posters are concerned,” said the court. The bench further directed that a copy of its judgement be forwarded to the ECI as well as State Election Commission for considering these issues and taking necessary action. The court made it clear that the entire machinery set up under the interim directions, including the Grievance Redress Mechanism, will continue to function. The bench recorded its appreciation for the court commissioners appointed to check illegal posters, banners and hoardings in Maharashtra. “We make it clear that though they will not continue as Commissioners, they can continue to render services by taking tours of different areas and filing complaints about the illegal sky-signs and advertisements.” The PILs filed by Suswaraj Foundation and Janhit Manch’s Bhagwanji Riyani alleged that political workers, NGOs and private organisations put up illegal hoardings, banners and posters in complete violation of civic rules all over the state, defacing private and public properties and spaces. The HC had, on November 26 last year, asked the municipal bodies across Maharashtra to take up a special drive against illegal hoardings, posters and banners. On September 16, 2016, the court again ordered a month- long drive against illegal hoardings and posters. (More)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

225 applicants for 2 posts at CIC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>About 225 people have applied for two positions of Information Commissioners at Central Information Commission. While M A Khan Yusufi’s term has already ended, Basant Seth will be completing his tenure as Information Commissioner on February 16. Responding to an RTI application, the Ministry of Personnel has, however, refused to disclose for now details of applicants for the positions citing exemption clauses which allow withholding records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers and which relate to personal information. On the question of seeking inspection of files related to the appointments, the Ministry said as of now the file is under submission and after decision is taken it will be uploaded on the web site of the Ministry. Applicant Commodore (Retd) Lokes Batra said since appointment of two Information Commissioners was not announced even after four months of advertising the posts on September 2, 2016, he decided to file the RTI. Claiming that in the past similar queries have always been answered, he said he will appeal against the decision. “None of the information requested falls in the category of exemption clauses making a mockery of transparency,” he claimed. “In the past, similar queries have always been responded to,” he said, questioning the decision of CPIO, DoPT not to allow file inspection.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Earlier, on January 23, the apex court had asked the

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Centre to clarify whether the appointment of Singh, a 1984-batch IPS officer, as full-time Director of ED was as per statutory requirement. The bench had also asked the Attorney General to clarify whether Singh’s appointment gave him a two-year tenure as per the provisions of Central Vigilance Commission Act of 2003. The apex court had noted that as per the appointment letter issued to Singh on October 27, 2016, he will cease to hold office the day he superannuates in August 2017 and, hence, it does not comply with section 25(d) of CVC Act which fixes the tenure of the director of Enforcement Directorate to not less than two years. Singh, who was holding the additional charge of the director’s post after being granted extension, was appointed a full time director of Enforcement Directorate on October 27, 2016 till August 31, 2017, the date of his superannuation. “A Director of Enforcement shall continue to hold office for a period of not less than two years from the date on which he assumes office,” reads section 25 (d) of the CVC Act. The apex court had on September 30 last year asked the Centre to give a time frame for appointing a full time director of the agency which probes money laundering cases. The apex court’s direction came on a PIL filed last year by Mumbai-based former IRS officer Uday Babu Khalwadekar, who has sought quashing of ad-hoc appointment and subsequent extensions granted by the Centre to Singh as head of premier investigation agency in alleged violation of the law. He had alleged that Singh had been given “ad-hoc extensions from August 2015 till November 2016” in complete contravention of Section 25 (d) of the Central Vigilance Act. Khalwadekar, in his PIL, referred to other provisions of the CVC Act which provides that the Centre shall appoint ED Director on the recommendations of the Committee, which has the CVC as Chairperson and Vigilance Commissioners as members. Referring to the appointment made to the post during the UPA-II regime, Khalwadekar’s petition said Rajan Katoch was the last full-time Director appointed in March 2012 and he held office for a term of three years till January 30, 2015 and was later given a three-months extension till April 30. Katoch was given ad-hoc extensions till October 31, 2015, it said, adding that on August 19, the ED Director was replaced by another ad-hoc appointee Karnal Singh who is still continuing as a result of several extensions. The ad-hoc extensions and the act of not appointing a permanent Director in ED with a secure minimum tenure is severely compromising functioning of the entire agency itself, the petition said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Rapid Action Force has been deployed at Munak canal,

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>which was damaged by the protesters during the 2016 February stir, officials said, adding central forces are also conducting flag marches in some sensitive areas since yesterday. Rohtak and some of its neighbouring districts including Sonipat and Jhajjar were the worst-hit in last year’s violence, which had also affected Delhi as protesters had cut water supply to the national capital. Deputy Commissioners (DC) and Superintendents of Police (SP) have been directed to ensure that highways and railway tracks are not obstructed and no damage is caused to property, they said. Meanwhile, ‘Khap’ (council) leaders stated that their immediate demands include the release of Jat youths from jails, withdrawal of cases registered during last year’s agitation and government jobs to kin of those killed during the stir. The Haryana government has assured jobs to kin of those killed during in the 2016 agitation. In Jhajjar, the administration has suspended mobile phone services like voice-call, SMS and internet in the district from 8 am to 6 pm on daily basis. District Magistrate Ramesh Chander Bidhan has directed telecom service providers to ensure compliance of these orders, an official spokesman said, adding the decision was taken to “prevent disturbance of public peace and tranquillity”. Anyone found violating these orders will be punished under Section 188 of IPC, he said. The magistrate has also ordered that all liquor shops within 5 km of Rasalwala chowk and Jhajjar-Bahadurgarh Road would remain closed till further orders, the spokesman said. Meanwhile, Fatehabad SP O P Narwal suspended ASI’s Naresh Singh and Suchha Singh and head constables Kuldeep, Surjeet and Subhash for dereliction of duty during a flag march, he said. DC Faridabad Sameer Pal Srow said there is complete peace in the district.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Kashmir: Avalanche hits Army post in Kupwara’s Macchil sector, several soldiers trapped

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Several soldiers are trapped under snow in Macchil sector of Kupwara district near Line of Control in Kashmir after the army post caved in under snow.At least five jawans are reportedly trapped. This is the third avalanche that has hit the army post in last 36 hours.Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have issued a high danger avalanche warning for the hilly areas of Kashmir valley for the next 24 hours.So far, 16 Indian soldiers have lost their lives in two separate avalanches in Gurez sector of Bandipora district and Sonamarg in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal.Three soldiers from Maharashtra were among the 16 army personnel killed in avalanches. Sepoys Anand Gawai and Sanju Suresh Khandareare belong to Akola, while sepoy Vikas Samndare hailed from Beed district of Maharashtra, the official release stated.Gurez and Sonmarg are the same avalanche-prone sectors where 16 soldiers were killed and four others injured in two snowslide-related incidents in March 2012.An official spokesman said the warning has been issued for avalanche-prone slopes of Kupwara, Bandipora, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Kulgam and Budgam and Kargil district of Kashmir division.Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir division, including Leh and Kargil, have been asked to take precautionary measures in their districts and advised people not to venture in avalanche-prone areas.Locals have also been asked to keep clearing snow deposits from roof tops of their houses and bunkers to avoid any damage.While an avalanche hit a patrol party which was on its way to a post in Gurez sector on Wednesday night, the other hit two shelters occupied by two officers and four jawans.Meanwhile, the weather is improving in the Valley with the increase in the maximum temperatures and night temperatures and other areas across the state.

Jat stir: Section 144 imposed in parts of Rohtak

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The district administration has imposed CrPC Section 144 in parts of Rohtak district as a precautionary measure in view of the call given by a section of Jats for a fresh round of quota agitation from January 29.The assembly of five or more people in about 500 metres from national and state highways, along with railway stations in the city has been banned, an official said today.The Haryana government has sought 55 companies of paramilitary forces from the Centre besides deployment of 7,000 Home Guards in the state which saw 30 deaths and widespread vandalism during a similar stir last year.Rohtak and some of its neighbouring districts, including Sonipat and Jhajjar, had been worst-hit by the violence.The agitation had also affected Delhi as the protesters cut water supply to the national capital.The call for fresh stir has been given by some Jat outfits, especially those owing allegiance to the All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS) headed by Yashpal Malik.The Jat community outfits, while accusing the Manohar Lal Khattar government of not fulfilling their demands for reservation, have threatened to launch the next round of agitation from January 29.”Although the leaders of various agitating organisations have promised to hold dharnas in a peaceful manner, still the administration is fully geared up to maintain law and order,” Haryana’s Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Ram Niwas said.All the Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police have been directed to ensure that highways and railway tracks are not obstructed and no damage is caused to property, officials said.Meanwhile, a mahapanchayat of some Khaps (caste councils) was held at Rohtak today, in which they reiterated their call to hold the peaceful agitation from January 29.During the mahapanchayat, Khap leaders maintained that the release of arrested Jat youths from jails, withdrawal of cases registered during last year s agitation and grant of government jobs to the kin of youths killed during last year s stir were their immediate demands.Om Prakash Nandal, new chief of Nandal Khap, who was the convener of the Mahapanchayat meeting held at Rohtak, assured that the stir will be peaceful. “Since the reservation matter is in high court, we will wait for it the final outcome,” he said.Another prominent Khap leader Surinder Singh, told reporters in Kurukshetra that the Jat leadership knows it that the issue of Jat reservation was a legal battle and not a political one.”However, some of the Jat leaders who belong to other states are using coercive methods of threatening to re-launch agitation across the state for vested interests,” he said.

69% of political funding comes from unknown sources

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent call for electoral reforms, especially transparency in party funding, fresh statistics show that political parties in India have received some 69% of their funds from unknown sources.National and regional political parties received Rs 11,367.34 crore of total income during this period, as per a report by the Delhi-based Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a think tank on electoral and political matters. The income of political parties from known donors was Rs 1,835.63 crore, which is just 16 per cent of their total income.At a day-long programme on transparency in political funding, attended by two former Chief Election Commissioners and a Supreme Court judge, speakers asked for more powers for the Election Commission. It should be mandatory for the political parties to receive funds through digital mode, they said. “The Digital India campaign is an opportunity for all political parties to accept money through digital mode and bring in transparency,” said Prof Jagdeep Chhokar. He said in countries several countreis across the world, it was not possible for political parties to accept funds form unknown sources.In the past 11 years, 83 per cent of total income of Indian National Congress (INC) amounting to Rs 3,323.39 crore and 65 per cent of BJP’s earnings amounting to Rs 2,125.91 crore came from unknown sources.Among the regional parties, 94 per cent of Samajwadi Party’s total income of Rs 766.27 crore came from unknown sources. Similarly, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) received 86 per cent of its income ie Rs 88.06 crore from unknown sources.The income of national parties from unknown sources increased by 313 per cent, from Rs 274.13 crore during 2004-05 to Rs 1,130.92 crore during 2014-15.Further, while none of the political parties has so far volunteered to give detailed information about how they coped with the demonetization drive, the audit reports for the financial year 2015-16 reveal that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) declared the largest amount of cash-in-hand at Rs. 3.56 crore. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) declared Rs 39.98 lakh. Bahujan Samaj Party (declared Rs. 26.59 lakh.

‘Cycle’ war: Netaji, Akhilesh at Election Commission office as poll body set to take final call

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Election Commission all set to begin its first hearing on the dispute in the Samajwadi Party with regard to the symbol ‘cycle’, party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday arrived at the office of the poll body here to put forth their stands.The 76-year-old, who had earlier this week attempted to bring on board his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, is accompanied by his brother Shivpal Yadav. The poll panel announced the date of hearing on Tuesday, a day after both factions – led by Mulayam and Akhilesh – submitted their rebuttal to each other’s claims over control of the party.Earlier on Monday, Mulayam met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and Election Commissioners OP Rawat and AK Joti, during which he has reportedly reiterated that Ram Gopal Yadav stands expelled from the party and he continues to remain the Samajwadi Party president. Mulayam, however, later extended an olive branch to his son and said that Akhilesh would become the Chief Minister after the elections.Earlier, Ram Gopal submitted a dossier containing signed affidavits of support for the Akhilesh faction from party delegates, MPs, MLAs and MLCs. The Akhilesh camp urged the poll body to decide on the matter at the earliest.Nominations for the first phase of elections in Uttar Pradesh start in four days, but the Samajwadi Party is yet to finalise candidates, with both Mulayam and Akhilesh releasing separate lists.Elections will be held in seven phases in Uttar Pradesh starting February 11, and nominations for the first phase begin on January 17. Votes will be counted on March 11.

ECI seeks Cabinet Secretary’s reply to respond to Opposition’s Budget delay demand

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Election Commission of India (ECI) has written to Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha, seeking Centre’s stand on the Opposition’s plea to postpone the Budget presentation to a day after March 8, the last date of polling in Uttar Pradesh.As per the ECI sources, this has been done by the Election Commission as per normal procedure. This move from the ECI comes just a day after a delegation of the opposition parties met all three Election Commissioners, Naseem Zaidi, OP Rawat and AK Joti.On Thursday the opposition demanded the date for budget presentation be shifted till after the elections get over. The Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC) and others said they were not in favour of February 1 as the start of the budget session. Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the negation has been put forward as it would lead to biased elections, which are against the constitution and democracy, adding further that they have no problem with any date post elections. “If the government wants, it can call session from 31. But, only the budget should be presented post March 8, as it is the last date of elections. It can choose any date after March 8 as it can announce it any day before March 31,” he said. TMC leader Derek O’Brien resonated the same saying the Centre can present the budget after March 8, once the elections get over. “It is about 15-16 opposition parties together. There is a simple solution – the government has enough time to present the budget after March 8. It can get it passed before March 31. That is the fair way of doing,” he said.

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