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Beant Singh assassination: SC adjourns for six weeks plea for commuting Rajoana’s death sentence

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New Delhi [India], February 12 (ANI): The Central Government on Friday told the Supreme Court that the process of examining mercy pleas filed on behalf of Balwant Singh Rajoana, awarded a death sentence for the assassination of the then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995, has been started and the President of India will take the decision.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde granted six weeks to the Centre after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, told the Bench that process has started and the President will take a decision.
“The process has started. The President of India will take the decision. Balwant Singh Rajaona is accused of assassinating the former Chief Minister of Punjab over the Khalistan issue,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Bench.
The Bench then adjourned the plea for commutation of death penalty of Rajaona for six weeks after the Solicitor General’s request to await the President’s decision on mercy plea ‘under the present circumstances’.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Rajoana, said that his client has been in jail for 26 years.
Earlier, the top court asked the Central government to take a decision on mercy pleas filed on behalf of Balwant Singh Rajoana before January 26.
The top court was hearing a plea of Rajoana seeking direction for expeditious disposal of MHA’s proposal to commute his death sentence.
The Bench had also asked Centre when it would send a proposal to the President for the commutation of Rajoana’s death sentence for killing then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.
The top court in December had said that it is untenable on part of Centre to take a stand that proposal for commutation of death sentence of Rajoana, a former Punjab Police constable, was not processed because of pendency of appeals of co-accused in Beant Singh killing case.
The bench had said once the government has decided to recommend a Presidential pardon for a condemned man, the pendency of appeals in the Supreme Court of his co-accused cannot delay the process initiated under Article 72.
Rajoana has not appealed against conviction and sentence but other co-accused have filed mercy plea and this can’t be a ground to hold recommendation for pardon, the bench had noted.
Centre processed remission in 2019 of Rajoana, who was awarded capital punishment for Singh’s killing. He has been in jail for 25 years.
The top court had earlier said that appeal pending by other co-accused has no relevance to the decision by Ministry of Home Affairs to commute the death sentence of some convicts taken to commemorate 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
It had noted that by a letter dated September 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs had written to Chief Secretary of Punjab government that on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nayak Dev, the release of some prisoners is proposed.
The Centre had sought time to make a statement on the issue of when the proposal will be sent for processing to the President.
The convict, Balwant Singh Rajoana, was sentenced to death for the murder of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, who died in a bomb explosion in Chandigarh on August 31, 1995.
The Centre had decided on September 27, 2019, to commute the death penalty of Rajoana to a life sentence on the special occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. Almost a year has passed but the decision is yet to be implemented.
Now, he has approached the apex court seeking commutation of sentence to life imprisonment for the failure on part of the Central government to decide on his mercy petition filed eight years ago.
A Chandigarh court had, on July 27, 2007, awarded death sentence to Rajoana which was upheld by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on October 12, 2010. Rajoana has not filed an appeal against the decision and instead filed a mercy petition before the President. (ANI)

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Tamil Nadu making major contribution to India’s industrial growth: PM Modi

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Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) [India], February 25 (ANI): Tamil Nadu is making a major contribution to India’s industrial growth, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday while inaugurating and laying the foundation stone of various development initiatives.
Speaking at the event here, he said the Government of India’s commitment to port-led development can be seen through the Sagarmala scheme.
“Tamil Nadu is making a major contribution to India’s industrial growth. One of the basic needs for the industry to grow is a continuous power supply. Today I am happy to dedicate to the nation two major power projects and lay the foundation for one more power project,” he said.
PM Modi called Coimbatore a city of industry and innovation. “Today we begin many development works that will benefit Coimbatore and entire Tamil Nadu,” he added.
Speaking on the modernisation of the Bhavanisagar dam, he said this will irrigate over 2 lakh acres of land and would benefit farmers in the state.
“I am reminded words of the great Thiruvalluvar he said farmers are the ones who truly live and all others live because of them, worshipping them,” he said.
The Prime Minister said Tamil Nadu has a glorious history of sea trade and port-led development.
“I am happy to launch various projects related to V. O. Chidambaranar (VOC) Port, Tuticorin. We recall the efforts of great freedom fighters VOC. His vision for vibrant Indian shipping industry and maritime development inspire us greatly. The projects launched today will further strengthen cargo handling of the port. It will even support green port initiative. Apart from this, we will take further steps to make port into a big transhipment port in the east. Whenever ports are more efficient, it contributes to India being Atmanirbhar and a global hub for trade as well as logistics,” he said.
“The Government of India’s commitment to port-led development can be seen through the Sagarmala scheme. About 575 projects at a total cost of over Rs 6 lakh crores have been identified for implementation during the 2015-2035 period. These works cover ports modernisation, new port development, port connectivity enhancement and coastal community development,” he added.
Emphasising that development and care for the environment are closely linked, PM Modi said the VOC port has already installed 500 KW rooftop solar plant.
“It makes me happy that VOC Port has taken up grid-connected 5 MW ground based solar power plant at a cost of Rs 20 crores,” he said.
The Prime Minister said at the core of development is ensuring dignity to every individual. “One of the ways to provide dignity is to provide shelter to every one. To give wings to dreams and aspirations of people, PM Awas Yojana was started. It is my privilege to inaugurate 4,144 tenements. They are built in several areas. The cost of this project is Rs 332 crore. These houses will be handed over to those who never had a roof over their heads even after 70 years of Independence,” he said.
The Prime Minister also paid his tributes to former Tamil Nadu CMs MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa. (ANI)

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Malayali poet Vishnunarayanan Namboothiri passes away at 81

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Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], February 25 (ANI): Renowned Malayali poet Vishnunarayanan Namboothiri passed away here on Thursday due to old-age ailments. He was 81.
Namboothiri breathed his last at his residence in Thycaud.
He was one of the most widely acclaimed poets and had won many awards. In 2014, he was honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honours from the Government of India.
Known for his elegant style and ease with he handled modern poetry, Vishnunarayanan Namboothiri carved a niche in contemporary Malayalam literature.
He was born on June 2, 1939, at Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district and he completed his postgraduation in English. He worked as an English professor in various colleges.
His famous literary works include ‘Swathantryathe Kurichoru Geetham,’ ‘Pranaya Geethangal,’ ‘Ujjayiniyile Raappakalukal,’ ‘Aranyakam,’ ‘Aparajitha,’ ”Bhoomigeethangal,’ and ‘Mukhamevide’, India Enna Vikaram’, ‘Asaahitheeyam,’ ‘Kavithayude DNA,’ and ‘Alakadalum Neyyambalukalum’.
He has received numerous awards for his works including Ezhuthachan Puraskaram, Vayalar Award, Vallathol Award, Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award and Odakkuzhal Award.
He is survived by his wife Savithri and two daughters. (ANI)

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Patanjali condemns IMA for seeking explanation from Dr Harsh Vardhan over Coronil

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New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): Days after the Indian Medical Association (IMA) demanded an explanation from Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan for promoting Patanjali’s Coronil Ayurvedic medicine, Patanjali Ayurved Limited spokesperson SK Tijarawala on Thursday condemned the IMA.
“IMA has problems accepting the truth. It would have been better if it focuses on putting an end to the spread of misinformation and commission in the profession of medicine,” Tijarawala tweeted.
Earlier in the day, Yoga guru Ramdev said, “Coronil tablets lived up to the protocols set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). 158 countries have certified their sale in their countries. This is historic. Coronil is scientific-evidence and research-based medicine. Any attack on Coronil suggests pettiness.”
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Monday demanded an explanation from Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan for promoting Patanjali’s Coronil Ayurvedic medicine.
“Being a Health Minister of the country, how justified is it to release such falsely fabricated unscientific product to people of the whole country and how ethical is it to promote the product in unethical, wrong and false ways?” Dr Jayalal, IMA national president, had said.
“Let us not adulterate Ayurveda on the pretext of market gain to some monopoly corporate and create a disaster for humanity,” IMA had said. (ANI)

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Punjab housewife bags Rs 1 crore in lottery

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Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], February 25 (ANI): A housewife from Amritsar has won the first prize in a lottery worth Rs 1 crore from a ticket that cost her Rs 100.
As per a statement from the state government, the lucky winner, Renu Chauhan, on Thursday submitted the ticket and required documents to the State Lotteries Department for encashment of her prize.
Expressing elation for the godsend amount, Chauhan said that the blessing has come as a huge relief to her middle-class family.
“My husband runs a cloth shop in Amritsar and this bumper prize money will be a great help so that our family can lead a smooth life,” she said.
The results of the Punjab State Dear 100 + monthly lottery were announced in a draw on February 11, an official spokesperson from the Punjab State Lotteries Department informed.
“Renu, the winner of Ticket D-12228, has submitted the documents today and the prize money will be credited to the winner’s account soon,” the official said. (ANI)

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Mamata writes to PM Modi; asks if Centre trying to impose ‘one nation, one thought’ in educational institutes

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Howrah (West Bengal) [India], February 25 (ANI): Raising concerns regarding the Government of India’s new guidelines for holding online/virtual international conferences and seminars for educational institutes and universities, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi whether the Centre is trying to impose “one nation, one thought”.
In her letter to Prime Minister, Banerjee said, “Our universities must enjoy the highest possible degrees of self-governance and the freedom to conduct their educational activities in regular interactions with their counterpart abroad. Knowledge is neither created by nor belongs to any single country or community.”
“Reasonable regulations and restrictions are understandable, however, the restrictions imposed vide the office memorandum under reference further highlighted the intention of the government of India towards centralization of the higher education system of our country. In other words, is it not the attempt of the central government to introduce thought policing in education institutions by trying to impose ‘One Nation, One Thought’?” alleged the chief minister.
Banerjee asserted that the digital platforms have proved to be a boon for teachers and students from remote and rural areas as well as from cities to get the benefit of interactions with scholars around the world.
Referring to the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution and sanctity of the federal structure, she said, “It will not be out of place to mention that education is in the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution and any non-consultation by the Government of India with the state governments before issuing any such instructions to the educational institutions will be against the spirits of the federal structure enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Such communication will only be seen as an example of contempt for the constitutional power of the states.”
“It may be pertinent to mention here that state governments are duly empowered under law to deal with any act committed by any educational institution, which violates any law or is contrary to the interest to the national security,” added Banerjee.
Banerjee urged Prime Minister Modi to give directions to scrap the new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education.
“I would, therefore, urge you to kindly issue directions to the Ministry of Education for withdrawing the said office memorandum with immediate effect and with suitable advice to consult the state governments before issuing any such directions/orders in the future,” she wrote. (ANI)

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Centre ready to talk to famers at any time: Agriculture Minister Tomar

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New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday reiterated that the central government is ready to talk to protesting farmers at any time.
While speaking to the media here, Tomar said that the farmer unions, which have been protesting against the farm laws for nearly three months, have not given their feedback on the centre’s proposal of putting the farm laws on hold for 1.5 years.
“We have held 12 rounds of talks with the farmers. We are ready to talk to farmers anytime. We can’t implement the farm laws as the matter is with Supreme Court. The Supreme Court constituted committee is yet to submit its feedback,” Tomar said.
“We have given a proposal to farmers of making several amendments in farm laws and putting the laws on hold for 1.5 years. They did not respond to the proposal. We are ready for talks whenever farmers bring their views on the government’s proposal,” he added.
This comes as farmer leader Rakesh Tikait had on Tuesday announced plans for marching to the Parliament with 40 lakh tractors in order to intensify pressure on the central government to withdraw the three farm laws.
Since November 26 last year, farmers have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital, against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. (ANI)

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