India Flash

1. Rajya Sabha creates a record… of suspensions

1. Rajya Sabha creates a record… of suspensions
1. Rajya Sabha creates a record... of suspensions
  • More in suspension: A day after four Lok Sabha MPs were suspended for ‘unruly behaviour’ for the rest of the monsoon session, 19 Rajya Sabha MPs were suspended from the house for the rest of the week for disrupting the sitting on Tuesday.
  • Who: Seven of the suspended MPs are from the TMC, six from the DMK, three from the TRS, two from the CPI-M and one from the CPI.
  • Why: They were suspended for storming the well of the house and sloganeering while demanding discussions on GST hike, high inflation and fuel prices.
  • Unusual numbers? Tuesday’s Rajya Sabha suspensions set a new record with the highest number of MPs from the house of elders suspended in a single batch. But to refresh public memory, in January 2019, then-Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had suspended 45 MPs belonging to the TDP and the AIADMK.
  • ‘Democracy suspended’, said TMC’s Derek O’Brien: “[PM] Modi and [Union Home Minister Amit] Shah have suspended democracy…what are you talking about MPs?”
  • Explanation: BJP’s Piyush Goyal, the leader of the house, said, “The decision to suspend opposition MPs from the Rajya Sabha was taken with a heavy heart. They kept on ignoring the Chairman’s appeals.”
  • Ready for debate: Goyal said the government is ready for a debate on price rise once Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recovers and returns to Parliament.
  • Divisive question: The opposition is seeking discussions under Rule 267 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha, which says the issue that is being raised could be taken up by suspending the listed business of the day.
5 THINGS FIRST

SC to hear CBI plea against Kerala HC order in ISRO espionage case; Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut summoned to appear before ED in money laundering case; Dairy farmers to protest against GST hike; Delhi HC hearing on bail plea of Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam in 2020 riots case; 3rd ODI – India Vs West Indies at Queen’s Park Oval

2. Eight hours and counting… ED asks Sonia to come back
2. Eight hours and counting… ED asks Sonia to come back
  • Fresh summons: After two days of questioning in an alleged money laundering case, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi will face the Enforcement Directorate today for the third time.
  • Question hour: ED questioned Sonia for six hours after her children Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi dropped her off at the agency’s Delhi office on Tuesday. She had been questioned by ED last week for two hours.
  • Parliament to streets: Protesting the ED action, Rahul Gandhi led Congress MPs from Parliament to the Rashtrapati Bhawan alleging that the Modi government was misusing the central agencies to target opposition leaders. Inside Parliament, Congress leaders raised slogans against ED and PM Modi.
  • Rahul Gandhi sat in the middle of the road on Rajpath after the police prevented Congress leaders from marching further. The Congress tweeted Rahul’s photograph comparing him with his grandmother Indira Gandhi, captioning it, “History is being repeated”.
  • Priyanka Gandhi sat in another room at the ED office with medicines for her 75-year-old mother, in case she needed medical assistance.
  • Police vs neta: Several Congress leaders were detained. They alleged the police manhandled them during their protest march. A little later Rahul was also detained. He said, “India is a police state. Modiji is the king.”
  • BJP counters: Sambit Patra hit back at the Congress for protesting the ED action against Sonia saying, “I feel many times that for the Congress, the meaning of ED was ‘entitlement for dacoity’. They thought they were entitled to indulge in dacoity and no one should question them.”
  • The case relates to alleged financial irregularities in the Congress-promoted Young Indian Private Ltd that owns the National Herald newspaper. Rahul was earlier questioned by ED for about 54-55 hours last month over five days in this case.
3. 5G auction gets a record-breaking start
3. 5G auction gets a record-breaking start
  • The government has collected over Rs 1.45 lakh crore on the first day of the 5G spectrum auction from Mukesh Ambani, Sunil Bharti Mittal and Gautam Adani. The fourth applicant, who participated in the 5G spectrum auction besides these three telecom majors — Ambani’s Reliance Jio, Mittal’s Bharti Airtel, and Adani’s new venture — was Vodafone-Idea.
  • Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said bids were also received for the 700 MHz band. Vaishnaw said the first-day bids “exceeded all expectations and surpassed 2015 records”, when the government had received bids worth about Rs 94,000 crore..
  • India’s biggest spectrum auction for 72 GHz of 5G airwaves is worth Rs 4.3 lakh crore. The day-1 of ended with four rounds of auction.
  • Round five of the auction will begin today. Spectrum allocation is likely to be complete by August 14 and the 5G services are expected in many cities by 2022-end, Vaishnaw said.
  • The 5G spectrum offers ultra-high speeds — approximately 10 times faster than the existing 4G — and lag-free connectivity. It is expected to enable billions of connected devices to share data in real-time.
  • Once 5G services are rolled out, a 5 GB movie can be downloaded in 35 seconds compared to 40 minutes in 4G, 2 hours in 3G and 2.8 days in 2G.
  • The 5G is also expected to enable solutions such as e-health, connected vehicles, more immersive augmented reality and metaverse experiences, life-saving use cases, and advanced mobile cloud gaming among others. More here
X-PLAINED
4. Is prohibition behind Gujarat’s hooch deaths?
4. Is prohibition behind Gujarat’s hooch deaths?
The ‘dry’ state of Gujarat has been shocked again with a hooch tragedy, in which the death toll rose to 28 on Tuesday. More here

  • What’s hooch? It is a spurious and illegal liquor. The term ‘hooch’ is linked to Alaska’s Hoochinoo Indians, a tribal community, and used as a slang for substandard alcoholic beverages.
  • And alcohol: Sugary and starchy substances are fermented to make alcoholic beverages. Fermentation is followed by distillation to increase alcohol concentration. Ethyl alcohol or ethanol is the active ingredient in these liquors.
  • When hooch is tragedy: Alcohol brewing is a complicated process and concentrated alcohol’s yield is small, making good quality liquor expensive. Smaller and unregulated brewers dilute it with water and other additives to make the liquor commercially viable. The other additives used at times are methanol and battery acid.
  • Many mistakenly believe that these substances make alcohol more potent. Sometimes, they add industrial methyl alcohol or denatured spirit (a mixture of ethanol and methanol).
  • It’s poison: Methanol or methyl alcohol, a highly toxic substance, is the active ingredient in hooch that brings tragedy to its consumers. Even a 10 ml methanol can cause blindness, and a 30 ml drink can kill a person in 10-30 hours.
  • Are drinkers careless? Methanol tastes and smells like ethyl alcohol. The drinkers don’t know they are consuming a poisonous substance.
  • Linked to prohibition? The debate is yet to be settled. What often happens is that hooch is prepared under unregulated conditions — due to unlicensed manufacturing or secret brewing in places where prohibition is enforced. In states with prohibition in force, these brewers either bribe the authorities to escape the law or make it in substandard settings. This is why activists often oppose prohibition, favouring strict vigilance under a licence regime.
6. On Vijay Diwas, a stern message to ‘iron brothers’
6. On Vijay Diwas, a stern message to ‘iron brothers’
New Delhi on Tuesday slammed “iron brothers” China and Pakistan for their efforts to encourage third countries to join projects relating to their multi-billion dollar connectivity corridor that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). This came on a day when India marked Vijay Diwas by paying tributes to the soldiers who fought valiantly to defend its territory during the 1999 Kargil conflict.

India’s stand

  • External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said such activities under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are “inherently illegal, illegitimate and unacceptable”, and will be treated accordingly by India.
  • New Delhi has consistently been critical of the CPEC projects “which are in India’s territory that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan”.
  • At a meeting of the CPEC joint working group (JWG) on International Cooperation and Coordination on Friday, Pakistan and China decided to welcome interested third countries to join the flagship CPEC initiative.

China’s interest

  • The CPEC is part of Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and was launched in 2013 to improve Pakistan’s road, rail and energy transportation infrastructure besides connecting its deep-sea port of Gwadar with China’s Xinjiang province.
  • Beijing has been using the CPEC to gain control of the Gwadar port and the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, according to a media report.
  • The CPEC has been opposed by local populations from Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the north to Sindh and Balochistan in the south, who feel neglected and marginalised, while their resources get transferred to Punjab and big cities and now to China.
7. A chargesheet against Farooq Abdullah…ahead of J&K polls
7. A chargesheet against Farooq Abdullah…ahead of J&K polls
Ahead of the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a chargesheet against Lok Sabha MP and former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah among others in connection with its money laundering probe linked to alleged irregularities in the state cricket body.

The case

  • The case relates to alleged “siphoning off the funds of Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association by way of transfer to various personal bank accounts of unrelated parties, including those of office-bearers of Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) and by way of unexplained cash withdrawals from JKCA bank accounts”, the ED said.
  • Abdullah, who heads the National Conference (NC), has been questioned multiple times by the agency in this case. It has also attached assets belonging to Abdullah and others worth Rs 21.55 crore in the past.
  • The agency’s case is based on a 2018 chargesheet filed by the CBI against the same accused.

Other accused

  • The ED has also arraigned Ahsan Ahmad Mirza and Mir Manzoor Gazanffer, both former treasurers of JKCA, and some others as accused in the chargesheet. A court has summoned the accused to appear before it on August 27. More details here
8. Hajj is a pilgrimage…and a service, so GST is on, says SC
8. Hajj is a pilgrimage…and a service, so GST is on, says SC
Observing that “there is no merit in the challenge”, the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed the petitions filed by several private tour operators seeking exemption from paying GST on Hajj and Umrah services offered by them to pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia.

The discrimination issue

  • Pilgrims going for Hajj are charged a GST of 5%, with input tax credit, if they avail of services from private operators through non-scheduled or charter flights while those whose Hajj pilgrimage is facilitated by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) are not charged any GST.
  • However, the SC shot back saying that the “Hajj Group Organisers (HGO) and the Hajj Committees do not stand on par and in fact, the Hajj Committees constitute a separate class by themselves, which is based on a rational classification” and as such, it was “of the considered view that the arguments based on discrimination have no substance at all.”
  • It added that since tax exemption “is also a matter of policy” where “latitude has to be given to the decision making”, the court “will have to show judicial self-restraint in this case.” Moreover, the apex court “held that there is a rational basis for classifying specified organisations as a class and keeping out the Private Tour Operators from exemption.”

The tax issue

  • The petitioners also argued that since the amenities during Hajj pilgrimage were provided in Saudi Arabia, they could not be subjected to GST as it was outside the tax regime of India. However, the court clarified that it was not dealing “with the issue of extra-territorial operation of the service tax regime which is kept open to be decided in appropriate proceedings” as the issue is pending before another bench.
9. Did a media trial bias the court against Lakhimpur accused Ashish Mishra?
9. Did a media trial bias the court against Lakhimpur accused Ashish Mishra?
Prime accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri killings case, Ashish Mishra’s luck with the Allahabad High Court (HC) finally ran out with the HC declining to give him bail in the case, though it also blamed the media for running a kangaroo court.

Bail round robin

  • Mishra, son of BJP leader and Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni, was initially granted bail by the HC in February earlier this year, with the court noting in its order that it could not rule out the possibility that the driver of the vehicle in which Mishra was allegedly travelling, sped up after mowing down four farmers and a journalist fearing for his safety.
  • The families of the slain farmers had then appealed to the Supreme Court, which, along with cancelling Mishra’s bail, had come down heavily on the HC for its “tearing hurry” in granting bail to Mishra and asked it to consider the bail plea afresh.
  • The HC, in its order on Tuesday, noted that “the said Thar vehicle was registered in the name of the father of the applicant and he was seen in the said vehicle recovered from the spot, although the applicant was not seen driving it. There are two FIRs lodged by the witnesses having been threatened. The cross-version to the present case does not help the accused.”

Public pressure?

  • Even as it denied bail to Mishra, the HC was equally scathing in its observations about the media’s role, noting that a “media trial apart from taking up the investigation on its own leads to forming public opinion against the suspect even before the court takes cognisance of the case as a result the accused who should have been presumed innocent is treated a criminal.”
  • Stressing that there’s a “vital difference between the convict and accused”, the HC called on observing the “cardinal principles of ‘presumption of innocence until proven guilty’ and ‘guilt beyond reasonable doubt’” and said that “excessive publicity of the suspect in the media before the trial in a court of law, either incriminates a fair trial or results in characterising the accused or suspect as the one who has certainly committed the crime.”
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES

Neeraj Chopra. The Olympic gold medallist was ruled out of the Commonwealth Games following a groin injury sustained during the Athletics World Championship where he won a silver medal. Chopra is the youngest India and the second one after Abhinav Bindra to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics.

Follow news that matters to you in real-time.
Join 3 crore news enthusiasts.

Written by: Rakesh Rai, Tejeesh Nippun Singh, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta
Research: Rajesh Sharma

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.