The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre why it does not form an expert panel to discuss poll freebies. Hearing a public interest petition filed by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay seeking a ban on freebies that political parties promise in run-up to elections, the apex court also asked why the Central government is not calling an all-party meeting to debate the issue threadbare.
“Why the Centre is not calling an all-party meeting to deliberate on the issue,” Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramanna asked Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta. The Solicitor General said that the matter is before the Court and the Government is ready to provide any kind of help the Court needs on the issue.
Pleading on behalf the Central government, Mehta observed that now it was time to decide who can take a look at the issue and define a framework for the committee to deliberate on freebies.
The CJI, in turn, asked who will head the committee and it has a vast canvas. Ultimately, it is political parties who make such promises not individuals. For example, if he fought elections, he would not be able to get even 10 votes because in the present electoral system a political party is important. Throwing the ball in the Centre’s court, Ramanna asked, “Why the Central government does not form an expert panel to discuss the issue.”
Mehta assured the apex court that the Central government was ready to provide help on all aspects of the issue to the top court.
“But there should be a defining line between freebies and welfare schemes, and this line can be drawn by the Election Commission or the government or the Court, so that candidates should know how far they can go on making poll promises,” Mehta said.
At this juncture of the debate in the Court, Ramanna observed that ultimately the onus to run the economy is on the government. So, the Central government should take initiative to formulate rules and guidelines.
However, Mehta rejected the idea and said, “When the announcement of freebies is being linked to Fundamental Rights or, in other words, freedom of expression, it will not be right for the government to enact a law, rules or guidelines thereof.”
Pleading against the freebies in the course of hearing, Mehta also observed that there are such political parties who are not in power in any state, yet they make all sorts of poll promises without knowing how they would fulfil them if they are voted to power.
Advocate Arvind Datar said, “If there is anything in the manifesto of a party it can be considered freebies. There is enough material to estimate the impact of freebies on economy.”
CJI Ramanna also asked if universal healthcare, access to drinking water, and access to consumer electronics could be treated as freebies. What will happen if there is a petition on welfare schemes as well? Wondered the CJI.
Court Amicus Kapil Sibal was also present during the hearing who observed that such poll freebies adversely impact the economy as they are seldom made after taking economic situation into account.
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Centre asks sites, channels not to carry ads of betting sites
In light of the significant financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Monday issued two advisories- one for private television channels and the other for digital news publishers and OTT platforms- strongly advising them to refrain from showing advertisements of offshore online betting sites and surrogate advertisements of such sites.
The Ministry had earlier issued an advisory on 13 June 2022, advising newspapers, private TV channels and digital news publishers to refrain from publishing advertisements on online betting platforms. It had come to the notice of the Government that several sports channels on television, as well as on OTT platforms, have recently been showing advertisements of offshore online betting platforms as well as their surrogate news websites.
The Advisories were supplemented with evidence which contained direct and surrogate advertisements of offshore betting platforms such as Fairplay, PariMatch, Betway, Wolf 777, and 1xBet.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in its advisory observed that promotional content and advertisements of betting platforms are still visible on certain digital news platforms and OTT platforms.
In the Advisories, the Ministry has informed that online offshore betting platforms are now using news websites as a surrogate product to advertise the betting platforms on digital media. In such cases, the Ministry has found that the logos of surrogate news websites bear a striking resemblance to betting platforms.
“Further, it has also come to the notice of that some online offshore betting platforms have started using news websites as a surrogate product to advertise betting platforms on digital media,” the ministry said.
The advisories issued by the Ministry stated that since betting and gambling is illegal in most parts of the country, advertisements of these betting platforms as well as their surrogates are also illegal.
ED raids 12 firms in job fraud case with Chinese link
The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) on Monday raided 12 entities and seized Rs 5.85 crore in a part-time job fraud case involving some Chinese persons and apps. The enforcement agency has conducted searches on 12 firms located in Bengaluru.
The ED said it has seized Rs 5.85 crore so far under section 17 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. Investigation under PMLA revealed that gullible public mostly youth were cheated by some Chinese persons through a mobile App namely “Keep sharer” which promised them to give part-time jobs and collected money from them. These Chinese persons formed companies in India and recruited many Indians as directors, translators (for translating Mandarin to English and vice versa), HR Managers and Tele callers, according to an official statement released by the ED.
They obtained the documents of Indian persons and opened bank accounts by using their documents. The accused Chinese persons developed a mobile App in the name of “Keepsharer” and started its advertisement through WhatsApp and Telegram by offering part-time job opportunities to the youth.
This app was linked with an investment app. For registration on this app, they collected money from youth. Further, they collected money from the public also in the name of investment through this app. The youth were given the task of liking the videos of celebrities and uploading them on social media.
When the task was completed, they used to pay Rs 20 per video and that will be credited in the “Keepsharer” wallet. For some time, money got credited to their wallet, and later on, the app was removed from the play store. Thus, the public was cheated with their investment amount and the remuneration to be paid which run into crores of rupees, the Directorate of Enforcement said.
The money collected through the scam was routed from the bank accounts of some Bengaluru-based companies and then converted into cryptocurrency and transferred to China-based Crypto exchanges.
All the transactions were under the control of Chinese persons through phone and WhatsApp groups. As per the chargesheet filed by the Police, out of 92 accused persons, six persons are citizens of China and Taiwan who were controlling the entire scam. Further investigation in the matter is in progress, the ED said.
ED initiated money laundering investigation on the basis of one FIR registered in South CEN Police Station, Bengaluru City in the matter related to part-time job fraud.
Man passes away while playing Garba, father dies of shock
A 35-year-old man, who had recently got married, suffered a heart attack while playing Garba and died while being taken to hospital in Virar, said the police on Monday. What is equally bad is that the father too died when he saw that the son had died, police said. The deceased was identified as Manish Jain.
According to the police, the deceased Manish lived with his family in Global City Virar West. Manish suffered a heart attack during Dandiya on Saturday night, after which his father Narpat and his brother took him to the hospital, but Manish was declared dead.
“Manish died while he was being brought to the hospital”, the police added.
After learning about his son’s death, his father Narpat also collapsed and died of a heart attack in the hospital.
The Jain family trades in buying and selling gold. The deceased had got married three months back. The Arnala police have registered a case of accidental death.
Earlier, in another incident, a young man in Mumbai died on Saturday after experiencing chest pain while playing Garba. While playing Garba, the man fell down. He was admitted to a nearby hospital, where the doctor declared him dead.
The person was identified as 27-year-old Rishabh. He was a resident of Dombivili West. He worked at a private company.
The Mulund Police has registered the matter under Accidental Death Report (ADR) and has started the investigation.
Amit Shah arrives in Jammu, reaches out to communities
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is on a three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, on Monday met people from different communities including Gujjar-Bakarwal, Rajput, Pahari and Jammu Sikh Community.
During his visit to the Union Territory, the Home Minister will review the security situation, attend public meetings and lay the foundations of various development projects. Shah will hold a couple of meetings with the leaders of the J-K unit of the BJP on Monday.
However, he will make a special visit by offering prayers in the Mata Vaishnodevi Temple on 4 October morning, which will be his first visit to the holy shrine after being appointed as the Union Home Minister.
This visit will be on the 9th day of the ongoing Navaratri festival.
He will later address a public meeting at Rajouri around one-and-half hours after visiting the Vaishno Devi temple.
The Minister will further launch development projects and also lay foundation stones for various projects at Convention Centre in Jammu. Shah will then hold a public meeting in Rajouri and offer prayers at the Raghunath Temple in Jammu.
He will also inspect various developmental projects in Jammu before proceeding to the Kashmir valley. Later in the evening, the Home Minister will hold a number of crucial meetings including the ones regarding the security situation in the region.
On the second day of his visit on Wednesday (October 5), Shah will review the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir at a meeting that is slated to be held at Raj Bhavan in Srinagar.
Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, top officials of the Army, paramilitary forces, state police and civil administration will take part in this high-level meeting expected to begin at 10 am.
The Minister will later address a public meeting here at Baramulla around 11.30 am and will address the gathering.
Before concluding his visit to the Union Territory, Shah will also launch and lay foundation stones for various development projects in Srinagar around 3.30 pm.
Various programmes have been scheduled to take place during his visit to the valley including the ones which will be held by communities like Bakarwal and Gujjars to honour Shah on behalf of the Modi government for working for the welfare of these communities.
In a surprising move, the Modi government recently nominated Ghulam Ali to the Rajya Sabha. Ali joined BJP in 2008 and hails from the Gujjar tribe. Several organisational meetings are on the cards too including the state core group meeting and meeting with party MPs and MLAs.
This is the second visit by Amit Shah to Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of article 370 by the Modi govt in August 2019.
Congress guidelines for president poll: Office-bearers cannot campaign
The Congress on Monday issued a set of guidelines for the election, debarring party office-bearers from campaigning for candidates. Those who wish to support any candidate will have to first resign from their organisational post. The guidelines were issued by the Congress’ central election authority.
Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor are contesting the Congress president election in their personal capacity, the party said, noting that the “delegates are free to elect any one of them, as per their choice, through ballot paper”.
AICC general secretaries/In-charges, secretaries, joint secretaries, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) presidents, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leaders, heads of frontal organisations, chiefs of departments, cells and all official spokespersons “shall not campaign for or against contesting candidates”, it said.
“If they wish to support any candidate, they must first resign from their organisational post, after that they participate in the campaign process,” it said.
The polling for the Congress presidential election will be held on October 17. The counting of votes will be taken up on October 19 and the results will be declared the same day.
More than 9,000 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates will vote in the poll.
“However, no such meeting can be called by the PCC president in their personal capacity,” it warned.
Organising the meeting is the task of the proposer or the supporters of the contesting candidates, it pointed out.
During the election, the Congress said, no candidate can use vehicles for bringing voters nor resort to any “undesired pamphleteering” or any other kind of publication propaganda.
“Controverters of these procedures shall render the candidatures election invalid and make them liable for disciplinary action,” the party warned.
It said utmost care must be taken to ensure that there is no mala-fide campaign against any candidate. “The same would bring disgrace to the party. The sensitivity of the election process must be upheld at any cost,” it cautioned.
In a tweet, Tharoor said he welcomes the announcement by the party’s chief election authority on the organisation’s presidential election.
AAP govt in Punjab wins confidence motion amid stir by opposition
The Punjab assembly on Monday ‘unanimously’ passed the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on 27 September, even as Congress workers staged a walkout.
The BJP members had already announced they would boycott the session. After a lengthy discussion on the confidence motion, Speaker Kultar Singh Sandhwan, put it to vote. He asked MLA’s who were in support to raise their hands and then called on the non-supporting MLA’s.
Announcing the results, Sadhwan said that 91 AAP MLAs supported the motion. He claimed that one of the three SAD MLAs present and the lone BSP MLA did not oppose the motion.
No Congress, BJP or Independent MLA was present in the house at the time of voting. AAP has 92 MLAs, including the Speaker, in the House. “So, 93 MLAs have supported the motion and none are against it. “Thus, the motion is unanimously passed,” the Speaker said.
In the 117-member Punjab Assembly, the AAP has 92 members, Congress 18, SAD3, BJP 2, BSP 1, and 1 is an Independent.
The assembly had taken up the confidence motion after AAP MLAs hit out at the BJP over “operation Lotus’, alleging a bid to topple the six-month old government. The AAP has claimed that 10 of its MLAs were approached by the BJP with an offer of Rs. 25 crore for toppling the Mann-led Punjab government.
However, as the debate began, Congress MLAs staged a walkout, demanding that they be given time to speak and raise issues during the zero hour.
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