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SC issues notice to Centre on plea against ‘retrospective’ extension of ED Director’s tenure

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New Delhi [India], February 15 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on a plea challenging a decision of the Central government to “retrospectively extend” the tenure of Sanjay Kumar Mishra as the Director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
A division bench of Justices Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat also issued notice to Mishra and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) along with the Centre on the plea and sought their responses.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for the petitioner NGO ‘Common Cause’ submitted that Mishra could not have been given any extension since he had already superannuated and such illegal extensions have an effect of destroying the supposed independence of the office of ED Director.
The plea, filed by NGO Common Cause, sought the quashing the Office Order dated November 13, 2020, issued by Centre retrospectively amending the tenure of Mishra, and further sought a direction to the Central government to appoint a Director of Enforcement Directorate in a transparent manner and strictly in accordance with the mandate of Section 25 of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act, 2003.
Mishra was appointed Director of ED for two years by an order dated November 19, 2018. However, the Central government on November 13, 2020, issued an office order in which it was stated that the President has modified the 2018 order to the effect that a period of two years written in the 2018 order dated was modified to a period of three years.
“Thus, by virtue of the impugned Office Order, dated November 13, 2020, the appointment order dated November 19, 2018, has been modified with retrospective effect and Sanjay Kumar Mishra herein has been given an additional one year of service as Director of Enforcement in the Enforcement Directorate,” the plea said.
It further said that there is neither any enabling provision in the CVC Act for extension of service of the Director of Enforcement nor any enabling provision which provides for such retrospective modification of appointment orders.
The NGO has contended that after the end of Mishra’s two-year tenure as Director, Enforcement Directorate, he would have been ineligible for appointment to the said post again by virtue of Section 25 of the CVC Act. It contended that what could not have been done directly under the CVC Act has been done indirectly by the Central Government, which the NGO said is nothing but illegal. (ANI)

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Reliance Jio Infocomm-owned spectrum footprint increases by 55 pc to 1,717 MHZ

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 2 (ANI): Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) on Tuesday announced the successful acquisition of the right to use spectrum in all 22 circles across India in the recently concluded spectrum auctions conducted by Department of Telecommunications, Government of India.
Through this acquisition, RJIL’s total owned spectrum footprint has increased significantly, by 55 per cent, to 1,717 MHz (uplink+ downlink).
In a release, RJIL said it has a balanced spectrum for LTE services and future upgradation to 5G.
“RJIL has the highest amount of sub-GHz spectrum with 2X10 MHz contiguous spectrum in most circles. It also has at least 2X10 MHz in 1800 MHz band and 40 MHz in 2300 MHz band in each of the 22 circles. RJIL has achieved complete spectrum derisking, with average life of owned spectrum of 15.5 years,”the release said.
According the RJIL, it has aquired the spectrum in the “most cost efficient manner” with an effective cost of Rs 60.8 crore per MHz.
“With the enhanced spectrum footprint, especially contiguous spectrum, and pan-India infrastructure deployed, RJIL has enhanced network capacity to service its existing users as well as hundreds of millions of more subscribers on its network,” the company said.
Notably, the acquired spectrum can be utilised for transition to 5G services at the appropriate time, where Jio has developed its own 5G stack.
Talking about the aquisation, the Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh D Ambani, said, “Jio has revolutionised the digital landscape of India with the country becoming the fastest adopter of Digital Life. We want to ensure that we keep on enhancing experiences, not only for our existing customers, but also for the next 300 million users that will move to digital services. With our increased spectrum footprint, we are ready to further expand the digital footprint in India as well as get ourselves ready for the imminent 5G rollout.”
To use this technology agnostic spectrum for a period of 20 years, RJIL will have to make the total payment of Rs 57,123 crore. Out of the total payment, for the frequency band 800 MHz, upfront payment would be Rs 8,623 crore, and deferred payment will Rs 25,868 crore.
For 1800 MHz frequency band upfront payment would be Rs 6,231 crore, and deferred payment will Rs 6,231 crore, and for 2300 MHz frequency band upfront payment would be Rs 5,085 crore, and deferred payment will Rs 5,085 crore.
The company said that as per terms of the spectrum auction, the deferred payments have to be made over a period of 18 years (2 year moratorium plus 16 year repayment period), with interest computed at 7.3 per cent per annum. (ANI)

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Gujarat firmly with BJP’s agenda of development, good governance: PM Modi after BJP’s victory in local body polls

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New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): After Bharatiya Janata Party’s sweeping victory in the Gujarat local body polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said Gujarat is firmly with the BJP’s agenda of development and good governance.
In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister said he admires the pro-people administration of the Gujarat government and the tremendous efforts of the Gujarat BJP workers.
“Results of the Nagar Palika, Taluka Panchayat and District Panchayat polls across Gujarat give a crystal clear message- Gujarat is firmly with the BJP’s agenda of development and good governance. I bow to the people of Gujarat for the unwavering faith and affection towards BJP,” PM Modi tweeted.
“Urban and rural Gujarat has given a unanimous message. I admire the pro-people administration of the Gujarat government and the tremendous efforts of the Gujarat BJP workers. Our party will always work for the development of Gujarat and the empowerment of every Gujarati,” he said in another tweet.
BJP won 1,967 seats, Congress baged 356 seats, and AAP won nine seats, as results were declared for nagar palika elections in Gujarat today.
Out of 980 seats in 31 district panchayats, BJP registered victory on 735 panchayats seats, Congress on 157, and AAP on two seats.
Polling in 31 district panchayats, 231 taluka panchayats and 81 municipalities of Gujarat and by-elections of 23 municipalities and three taluka panchayats were held on Sunday.
The average turnout in taluka panchayats was 66.84 per cent.
Out of 4,715 seats in 231 taluka panchayats in 2015, Congress got 2555, BJP got 2019 and 141 others.
In 2015, due to the Patidar movement, the BJP’s tally was hit. In 4,715 seats of 231 taluka panchayats, 111 seats of BJP, five seats of Congress and one seat of others have been declared uncontested. (ANI)

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Big leaders having green tea from China, Japan must be offered Assam’s ‘kadak’ tea: Priyanka Gandhi’s jab at opponents

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Tezpur (Assam) [India], March 2 (ANI): The poll campaign of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Assam revolved around tea on Tuesday.
Vadra took a jab at the rival camp stating that the big leaders, who started having “green tea from China and Japan” need to be offered “strong tea from Assam”.
Addressing a rally in Tezpur, Vadra said, “Big leaders here fly on chartered planes and nowadays they are having green tea from China and Japan. I feel they should be offered ‘kadak’ strong tea from Assam. They have to be shown their place.”
She further promised that if Congress is voted to power in the state, it will provide a hike in the daily wage of tea workers to Rs 365.
“We will provide Rs 2,000 per month to all housewives as ‘grihini samman’. The woman working in tea gardens will be provided Rs 365 per day. 200 units of electricity will be given free of cost every month. We will create 5 lakh new government jobs. These are not promises but guarantees,” stated Vadra.
Before the event, she had lunch at the residence of a local tea garden worker in Tezpur.
Earlier today, the Congress general secretary, who is on a two-day visit to the poll-bound state spent some time with tea estate workers at Sadhuru tea garden in Biswanath district.
Dressed in a saree and balancing a basket on her back, the 49-year-old was seen plucking tea leaves.

“The life of tea garden workers is full of truth and simplicity and their labour is valuable for the country. After sitting with them today, I understood their work, felt well being of their families and the difficulties of their life,” Vadra tweeted along with pictures of herself interacting with tea workers.
“I will not forget the love I received from them,” she added. The Congress leader further had a tea session with the women tea garden workers and discussed their issues.
Vadra also joined the ‘Jhumur’ dance performers from tea tribes in Lakhimpur.
Assam assembly elections will be held in three phases. In the first phase, 47 seats in 12 districts will go to the polls on March 27. In the second phase, 39 constituencies in 13 districts will go to the polls on April 1 while 40 assembly constituencies in 12 districts to go on polls on April 6. Counting of votes will take place on May 2. (ANI)

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Delhi records 217 new COVID-19 cases, 78 recoveries in last 24 hours

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New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): Delhi reported 217 fresh COVID-19 cases and 78 recoveries in the last 24 hours.
With these new cases, the cumulative count has gone up to 6,39,681 and as many as 6,27,227 patients have recovered in the national capital, said the Delhi government.
As the national capital has not registered any new COVID-19 deaths, the cumulative toll remained at 10,911.
Presently, a total of 1,543 cases are active in the national capital.
Delhi has a cumulative positivity rate of 5.12 per cent and case fatality rate (CFR) of 1.71 per cent, the government said.
India’s total COVID-19 active caseload stands at 1,68,358 on Tuesday as the country added 12,286 new cases in the last 24 hours, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
According to the Ministry, the country’s present active caseload now consists of 1.51 per cent of total positive cases.
It also informed that over 1.48 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far in the country.

As many as 2,08,791 people above 60 or those aged 45-60 with comorbidities have been given first dose of COVID vaccine from Monday 9 am till Tuesday 1 pm, it added. (ANI)

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Maharashtra power minister to table reports in Mumbai power outage tomorrow in state assembly

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 2 (ANI): Maharashtra Power Minister Nitin Raut on Tuesday said that he will table all the reports on the Mumbai power outage of October 2020 on Wednesday in the state Assembly.
“I am going to table all the reports and their findings in connection with October 12 Mumbai power outage tomorrow in the Assembly,” he said while interacting with mediapersons here.
Responding to Union Minister RK Singh’s “Human-error” remark, he said, “Let them say what they want to. Wait for their reactions after I table the findings in the Assembly.”
Meanwhile, addressing reporters here Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said: “Cyber-attack issue is not just confined to Mumbai but it could spread across the country. We should not politicise this issue.”
“I have spoken to Union Power Minister RK Singh about this. He has sought details about it and said that we should remain alert,” Deshmukh added.
Earlier in the day, RK Singh had said that Mumbai power outage of October 2020 was caused by “human error” and there is no evidence to prove that it was triggered due to a cyber attack by China.
Singh’s remark follows a statement put out by the union power ministry yesterday which said there was no impact on operations of Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) due to any malware attack.
A report by US-based cybersecurity firm claimed that Chinese-state sponsored groups, had targeted power sector in India with malware. This came months after the clash between troops of the two nations in Galwan valley in June 2020.
Yesterday, Anil Deshmukh had said that according to a preliminary report, the massive blackout on October 12 last year an attempt at “cyber-sabotage”. A report of the incident prepared on the basis of an investigation by Maharashtra’s Cyber Police Department was handed over to the state energy minister Nitin Raut. (ANI)

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BJP President JP Nadda offers prayers at Jaipur’s Kali Bari temple

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By Nadda-Kali-Bari-Temple
Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India], March 2 (ANI): Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Jagat Prakash Nadda on Tuesday offered prayers at Kali Bari temple in Jaipur.
“I seek blessings from Goddess Kali at this Jaipur’s famous Kali Bari temple. I hope Goddess Kali spreads happiness, peace and prosperity in all our lives,” said JP Nadda in a tweet.
The BJP Chief offered prayers for a couple of minutes at the temple.
Nadda on Tuesday advised party officials to strengthen the cadre and do self-analysis. Addressing the ‘State Executive Meeting’ at Birla Auditorium, Jaipur, Nadda asked the officials to complete the formation of booth committees by September 24.
“A lot of people among us have stopped self-analysis. This reduces our productivity. You all need to start doing self-analysis. You need to analyse — what you are giving to the party, how much contribution are you making to the party, at what level are you accepted in the party,” he said.
“The formation of our booth committees should be completed by 25th September, that is, Deendayal Upadhyay ji’s birth anniversary. There should not be any booth where our booth committee is not formed and every booth should have women, youth, Dalit brothers, people from backward caste in our committees,” he added.
Nadda asked the party officials to ensure BJP’s victory in Rajasthan in the next Assembly polls. (ANI)

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