Supreme Court to consider banning charge-sheeted candidates from polls

The Supreme Court has today agreed to hear a petition that seeks to ban anyone who has been charge-sheeted in a criminal case from contesting elections in India. BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, who is among one of the most prolific filers of public interest litigation in India, is among those who had filed such petitions seeking disqualification of such candidates in elections. The petitioners alleged that the current law — which prohibits only convicted people from standing for elections — is being misused by criminal politicians. Charge sheets are filed…

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Allahabad High Court says Triple Talaq ‘unconstitutional’

The Allahabad High Court has today said ‘triple talaq’ or the divorcing of women under Islamic laws — is unconstitutional in Indian law. The provision “violates women’s rights” and no personal law board is above the Indian constitution, the court said while hearing a petition filed by a Muslim woman from Bulandshahr. The constitution of India assures all citizens of equal rights and triple talaq, which more or less allows any man to divorce his wife by uttering ‘talaq, talaq, talaq’ is a violation of this principle. The constitution of…

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There can be no Equality without Reservations – Ravi Shankar Prasad

Law and Justice minister said that reservations to Dalits and backward communities was essential to ensuring equality of opportunity in government jobs. Delivering a talk on the concepts of freedom and equality in the Indian constitution, Prasad said it was wrong to think that reservations — based on caste and community — was against the concept of equality as guaranteed by the Indian constitution. “The Indian constitution says there shall be no discrimination in employment,” Prasad said. “But can you directly compare the son of a rich father, who has…

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No Income Tax on FCCB proceeds, SC rules on RCom

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the petition filed by the Income-Tax Department against Reliance Communications on taxing of the proceeds of Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds (FCCBs), said the telecom operator. The Supreme Court order has quashed contingent tax liability of RCOM for about Rs 4,800 crore. During Financial Year 2006-07, Reliance Communications had issued FCCBs, as per the extant Guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India and applicable laws, aggregating US $1.5 billion, which amounted to around Rs 6,485 crore at the time. FCCB refers to money raised by…

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Reliance Jio interconnect dispute with Airtel, Idea to end this month

The dispute over providing interconnection facility is set to end in the next two weeks, with Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone giving in to the demands of new operator Reliance Jio and the regulator. The decision to comply comes in the wake of a recommendation for a fine of Rs 3,050 cr to be imposed on the three companies for what it said amounted to wilfully blocking calls from Jio’s network. The TRAI also said that the operators’ actions were liable to invite heavy penal action including cancellation of…

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Government comes up with amended anti HIV discrimination bill

The government is likely to come with an amended HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014, which was approved by the cabinet today. The HIV and AIDS Bill has been drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. The provisions of the Bill seek to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances, the government said today. The Bill seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV…

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Finally, Kerala CM takes a stand on Lawyers vs Media fight

Almost three months after the tussle between various lawyers associations and journalists first hit the headlines, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today took a stand on the issue, urging lawyers to let the media do their job. “The lawyers should realize that they do wrong in blocking journalists from accessing the court premises,” Vijayan said in a statement, two weeks after International Press Institute expressed its concern at the continued blockade of mediapersons by lawyers’ associations. In a letter, the institution sought the intervention of the Kerala High Court Chief…

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Airtel sees Reliance Jio’s problems resolved after Jan 1

Hours after attending a meeting called by TRAI on providing interconnection to Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel said the new operator’s interconnection related problems should be resolved after January 1, 2017. Bharti Airtel said it expects Reliance Jio to be a ‘commercial telecom operator’ by January 1, after which such problems will no longer plague the company. The statement seems to imply a deepening stalemate between Jio and its incumbent competitors. While Reliance Jio maintains that it qualifies fully as a commercial operator, Airtel’s latest statement implies that the company does…

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CCI disposes off 80% anti-trust cases, says D.K. Sikri

The fair trade regulator, Competition Commission of India (CCI), said it has disposed off more than 600 of 750 anti-trust cases handled by the Commission by now i.e. about 80 per cent of the total cases. “Of the information filed, now 80 per cent is not subject to any investigation as only 20 per cent cases go through the investigation stage,” D.K. Sikri, chairman of CCI said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi. “Unlike in the past when we undertook the investigation, in more than 50 per cent…

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TRAI meets with Airtel, Vodafone, Idea on Reliance Jio interconnection tangle

Cracking down on incumbent operators’ efforts to block Reliance Jio subscribers from calling their customers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has asked big GSM companies such as Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone to provide connectivity to the new operator, according to sources. Meanwhile, certain other industry sources said no final decision was arrived at today and the meeting was inconclusive. No official statement has been issued by any of the parties about today’s meeting. The telecom regulator had called for a meeting of all the operators in the…

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Is Reliance Jio getting unfairly blocked by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea?

Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man and the chairman of Reliance Jio has given a rare interview in India’s largest newspaper accusing his telecom rivals of trying to use their incumbent power to violate the law. He said even Reliance Jio employees are having some trouble porting from rival operators to Jio’s 4G network. Ambani’s comments come in the wake of criticism from incumbent operators, via Cellular Operators’ Association of India, against Jio’s decision to offer free calls, saying that this would unleash a tsunami of voice traffic that will sweep India’s…

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Bhim Singh says cancel J&K Article 370, willing to go to UN

J&K NPP leader Bhim Singh called for abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, which he blamed for creating the present condition in the hill state, and said he’s willing to go to the United Nations to fully integrate the state in India. He said Article 370, which gives special status to Jammu & Kashmir, was at the root of most of the problems in the hill state. “Those in Jammu and Kashmir who do not stand by the Indian Constitution cannot be blamed, because the Parliament of India…

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ACC, Ambuja among cement companies facing massive fines from Competition Commission

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed fine of Rs 6,320.6 cr upon ten cement manufacturers for forming independent organization to limit competition by controlling the production and distribution of cement, said the Ministry of corporate affairs. The list of companies included ACC Cements, Ambuja Cements, Binani Cements, Century Cements, India Cements, J K Cements, Lafarge, Ramco Cements, UltraTech Cements and Jaypee Group. ACC Cements (Rs 1,147.59 cr), Ambuja Cements (Rs 1,163.91 cr), Ultratech Cements (Rs 1,175.49 cr) and Jaypee Group (Rs 1,323.60 cr) were the ones penalised with…

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India extends ‘permanent residency’ to foreigners

The Indian Cabinet today approved extending ‘permanent residency’ to foreign investors. So far, one had to be a citizen to be a permanent resident in the country. Others faced hassles such as regular attendance at foreigners registration offices and visa extensions if they were to continue to remain in the country. The present tenure of an investor’s visa does not extend beyond five years. With this move, India joins the leagues of countries like USA, UAE, Singapore and Hong Kong, which offer an option for the well-heeled to remain in…

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Admins of Kerala Facebook group face death threats over anti-religious posts

The administration panel of Kerala’s biggest anti-superstition and rationalist Facebook groups has come under death threats for prompting believers to desert the Islamic faith. The blog, named Mujahir 2015, is written in Malayalam, the language spoken in Kerala. “Those who insult the Prophet must be killed,” the blog said. “To carry out (such an act), a Muslim does not require anyone’s permission.” The blog also gives the photographs of the administrators of the Facebook group. NOT THE FIRST TIME This is not the first time that the group, Freethinkers, has…

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Christian man who married Hindu girl summoned by Tribunal

A Christian man who married a Hindu woman ten years ago has now received a notice from a ‘Special Administrative Tribunal’ of the Catholic Church seeking an explanation. The letter dated six days ago “requests” the man to appear before the ‘tribunal’ to discuss how he ended up getting married and living in a fashion “contrary to the rules of the Catholic Church.” (see bottom for the letter) Religious bodies like the Catholic church wield a lot of power in Kerala, a place with a long tradition of Christianity. The…

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Supreme Court sends notice to Center on Muslim divorce laws in India

The Supreme Court today sent notice to the central government in a case based on a complaint by a Muslim woman that the divorce laws applied to her in India are not in conformity with the concept of gender equality promised by the Indian constitution. The court today sought the Union Government’s reply on questions including whether the Muslim Personal Law as applied in India violates the fundamental principle of equality for both genders and specifically, whether the divorce proceedings contained in it unfairly discriminate against women. In addition to…

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Delhi High Court pollution order to affect some models – Mahindra & Mahindra

India’s biggest sports utility vehicle maker said the Delhi High Court’s order banning the sale of diesel vehicles with engine sizes over 2 liter could hit its sales by about 2%. “Honourable Court’s order today affects the sales of some of the Company’s products in NCR. The vehicles affected represent about 2% of the Company’s total monthly sales. The Company is in the process of evaluating various options to work within the framework provided by the Honourable Supreme Court,” Mahindra & Mahindra said. M&M makes models like Scorpio, Bolero, Quanto,…

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Supreme Court upholds 8th pass as minimum for Panchayat elections in Haryana

The Supreme Court of India has upheld the Haryana Panchayati Raj (amendment) Act 2015 that bans anyone with less than 8th standard education from standing for Panchayati Raj elections. They can, however, stand for Parliament and State Assembly elections. For general category candidates, the minimum qualification is 10th standard pass. The law has been passed under the rationale that someone who has not passed even an 8th standard exam cannot understand the problems of his or her ward and be effective in finding solutions to the problems of the ward….

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The hotspot of communal violence in India is not where you think it is

Incidents of communal violence increased this year compared to 2014, according to numbers from the Home Ministry. Adjusted for population, Karnataka saw the highest level of such incidents, while Madhya Pradesh showed the highest growth over 2014. Total number of such incidents are on track for a 15-20% jump in 2015 compared to last year, according to the numbers. In the first ten months alone, India saw 650 incidents of communal violence, compared to 644 for the whole of last year. However, the trends also show strong regional variations, with nine…

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