THURSDAY www.thestatesman.com 11 OCTOBER 2018 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 20 |` 5.00|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR IVANKA WOULD BE DYNAMITE AS UN ENVOY: DAD P10 P10 WEATHER Generally cloudy sky. Some heavy spells of rain likely. Temperature will be in the range of 29 to 24 degrees Celsius. RAINFALL: 14.3 mm RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max.93% P9 How did you decide on Rafale: SC to govt STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE Min: 26.1°C (+1) SUN RISES 05:32 hrs MOON SETS 19:05 hrs Moon phase: First quarter on 16 October THUMBNAILS The storm surge and waves from Hurricane Michael batter the beachfront homes on Wednesday in the Florida Panhandle community of Shell Point Beach, Florida. nAFP New Solicitor General: Senior advocate Tushar Mehta was on Wednesday appointed the Solicitor General of India, the second highest ranking law officer, almost a year after the post fell vacant, according to an official order. Mehta is at present the Additional Solicitor General. Fingers chopped off: A youth had all his fingers chopped off on the order of a local kangaroo court following allegations that he practices witchcraft. The incident took place in Radhakestapur village in Birbhum district. ATF excise duty cut: After petrol and diesel, the government on Wednesday cut excise duty on aviation turbine fuel to 11 per cent to give relief to the aviation industry that has been in recent weeks hit hard by rising fuel prices and plummeting rupee. NEW DELHI, 10 OCTOBER T he Supreme Court today directed the Centre to provide in sealed covers the "details of the steps in the decision-making process" leading to the Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France, even as the central government sought the dismissal of PILs on the matter calling them “political petitions”. The apex court made it clear that that the information it sought from the Union government would "not cover the issue of pricing or the question of technical suitability of the equipment for purposes of the requirement of the Indian Air Force”. Terming the claims made in the petitions as “grossly inadequate”, a Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asserted that the court was not issuing notice on the two PILs, but wanted to satisfy itself about legitimacy of the decisionmaking process in the Rafale deal. “We would like to be apprised by the Government of India of the details of the steps in the decision making process leading to the award of the order for the defence equipment in question i.e. Rafale Jet-Fighters (36 in number),” the Bench, comprising also Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, said. “We also make it clear that while requiring the Government of India to act in the above terms we have not taken into account any of the averments made The Congress on Wednesday accused the Modi government of “manipulating” the process of Rafale fighter jet agreement by “punishing” bureaucrats who raised objections to the deal and rewarding “obliging officials”. The opposition party also reiterated its demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe. Congress spokesperson S Jaipal Reddy said defence deals of this magnitude are first examined by departments, approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security and then sealed. He alleged that in 2016, the then joint secretary was overruled by the Director General (acquisition) for the go-ahead to the deal, after a new officer was brought in the post, in place of a person who had the reputation of being unbending. “To manage this process, bureaucrats were bulldozed, bullied, punished, promoted, the whole process of ratification was fabricated, stage-managed, and ma nipulated,” Reddy alleged, claiming that “obliging officers” were “rewarded” later. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, posting on Twitter, also raised questions on defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman's France visit, alleging that work has begun to justify the prime minister's decision to buy Rafale fighter aircraft. in the writ petitions which appear to be inadequate and deficient. Our above order is only for the purpose of satisfying ourselves in the matter,” the Bench said. The top court asked the Centre to provide the information it sought by 29 October in three separate sealed covers with its Secretary General instead of the registry, fixing the hearing on the PILs, filed by lawyers Vineet Dhanda and M L Sharma, for 31 October. As the hearing started, the Bench asked Attorney General K K Venugopal, “Suppose we ask you to give the details of the decision-making process only to the judges, how will you react.” Venugopal said it cannot be shown to anyone in the interest of national securi- ty and other issues involved in the defence procurement process. The Bench also asked, “What if we ask you to give details without technical details of aircraft?” The AG claimed that the petitions have not raised any public interest and rather they are “political interest petitions” and that the petitioners have selectively quoted the questions answered in Parliament. “This is a political petition and not a public interest litigation and is part of bitter fight going on between ruling and Opposition party. If notice is issued, it will go to the Prime Minister... Please don't entertain such petitions,” he pleaded. The court was hearing three petitions seeking several directions, including for a court-monitored probe into the deal. Sharma alleged that the pricing of the Rafale aircraft has already been disclosed in the French Parliament and that the Centre's stand was untenable on the issue. Congress member Tehseen Poonawala, who had sought a direction against the Centre on why the Union Cabinet's approval was not sought as part of the Defence Procurement Procedure before signing the Rafale deal with France, withdrew his PIL at the outset. Sharma stated in his plea that the inter-government agreement to buy 36 Rafale jets must be scrapped. It was an “outcome of corruption” and not ratified by Parliament under Article 253 of the Constitution, he charged. NEW DELHI, 10 OCTOBER STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE BHUBANESWAR, 10 OCTOBER It's quite simple really... The PM decided. The processes to justify his decision are yet to be invented. But work has begun. Ps. In this connection, Raksha Mantri is leaving for France tonight RAHUL GANDHI AICC PRESIDENT to rise to one metre and inundate low-lying areas. Flights from Bhubaneswar have been cancelled. Train services on the southern section toward Vijayanagaram • have also been cancelled. Very heavy rainfall in coastal Odisha districts over the next two days may cause floods, warned official sources. The Navy, Coast Guard and Army have been put in readiness. At least three lakh people have been evacuated by late in the evening, officials said. Titlihas a striking similarity to Phailin, the cyclonic storm that had hit Gopalpur on 13 October 2013.• This time the cyclone has come two days earlier and the intensity is only marginally less; Phailin had a wind speed of over 200kmph. The other aspects – landfall, districts to be affected (13), very heavy rainfall, floods and damage are predicted on the same lines. The Odisha government had earned international accolades for its successful handling of Phailinand in evacuating lakhs of people. More on Page 13 Khaleda’s son gets life term for Hasina kill bid DHAKA, 10 OCTOBER Opposition BNP chief Khaleda Zia's fugitive son and political heir Tarique Rahman was sentenced to life and 19 others, including a former home minister, were given death penalty by a Bangladesh court Wednesday for their role in a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2004. The attack on an Awami League rally on August 21, 2004 had targeted Hasina, the then opposition leader, when she was about to finish a speech in front of thousands of supPTI porters. Details on Page 9 #MeToo: Cong seeks Akbar's resignation STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 10 OCTOBER Amid growing allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault against Union minister of state for external affairs, M J Akbar, the Narendra Modi government today continued to keep mum on these serious charges ~ levelled so far by at least seven women journalists against Akbar relating to his stint as a newspaper editor ~ even as the principal Opposition Congress sought a probe into the allegations and Akbar's resignation. As the #MeToo campaign intensifies in India, a number of women journalists have come out and spoken up about their ordeals, accusing Akbar of sexually harassing or even assaulting them when he worked as their boss and editor. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who briefed reporters about the decisions of P11 Five killed as New Farakka Express derails in UP Govt manipulated deal process: Congress Titli: Odisha begins evacuating people Coastal Odisha districts, particularly Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur were put on red alert and evacuation of people from low-lying areas initiated as cyclonic storm Titli, formed over the Bay of Bengal, intensified into a very severe cyclone and approached the Gopalpur-Kalingapatnam coast. The landfall at Gopalpur will take place around 5.30 a.m. tomorrow. Red colour messages were sent out by the IMD with the forecast stating that the wind speed will touch 145 to 165 kmph. Tidal waves are likely BUCK UP BALL KIDS! VERDASCO REAPS THE WHIRLWIND Court directs govt to provide details of decision-making process Min. 66% TEMPERATURE Max: 30.1°C (-2) SUN SETS 17:15 hrs MOON RISES 07.23 hrs CHINA LAUNCHES ANTI-HALAL CRACKDOWN ‘TRADE TENSIONS WILL HARM GLOBAL GROWTH’ M J Akbar. n AFP FILE PHOTO the Union Cabinet this afternoon, refused to answer any question relating to Akbar's alleged sexual misconduct as well as the #MeToo campaign. "Today the issue is Cabinet decisions, please concentrate on that," Prasad told reporters when asked about allega- tions against Akbar. "The issue is Cabinet decisions," Prasad repeated when reporters pressed for an answer on the matter. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had yesterday not answered reporters' persistent queries about serious allegations against her junior minister. The Congress today asserted that Akbar must either offer a "satisfactory explanation" on the allegations or resign immediately. The party has also demanded an inquiry into the charges against him. Congress spokesman S Jaipal Reddy told a press conference that "I think Mr M J Akbar must either offer a satisfactory explanation or resign forthwith. How can he be in the ministry with serious allegations being levelled against him by responsible journalists who worked with him. Let there be an inquiry into it. We demand an inquiry into M J Akbar's conduct.” Reddy also questioned Swaraj's silence on the issue, accusing her of "evading responsibility" over the trauma suffered by Akbar's junior women colleagues over a long period. “It is an extremely serious matter and the minister concerned needs to speak up. Silence cannot be a way out. This matter should be investigated. We would like to hear from both the minister in question and the Prime Minister on this issue,” another Congress spokesman Manish Tewari had told reporters yesterday. Like the government, however, the ruling BJP has also maintained a silence on the allegations engulfing Akbar. Amid the snowballing outrage on the matter, it is being perceived in various quarters that Akbar's position in the Union ministry has become "untenable". Given the #MeToo movement's global spread and resonance, Akbar's role as India's junior foreign minister might turn out to be a liability for New Delhi abroad. Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi has said the allegations of sexual harassment against anybody should be taken seriously and that action should be taken in every such allegation. “Men who are in positions of power often do this. And it applies to the media as well as to politics or senior personnel in companies,” Gandhi reportedly said. “Women are scared to speak out because they think people would make fun of them and doubt their character but now when they are speaking out we should take action in each and every allegation,” she added. STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE LUCKNOW, 10 OCTOBER At least five persons were killed and several others injured when the engine and eight bogies of 14003 Malda Town-Delhi New Farakka Express derailed near Harchandpur railway station in Rae Bareli onWednesday. The accident took place at around 6.05 a.m. when the ill-fated train was approaching Harchandpur railway station on its journey towards Delhi. The exact cause of the accident is not officially known; an inquiry has been instituted by the railways ministry. Railways minister Piyush Goyal has ordered that the inquiry will be conducted by the commissioner, railway safety, northern circle. The accident occurred when most of the passengers were asleep but were jolted from their slumber when the engine and eight bogeys derailed. While the engine and three general compartments overturned, five sleeper coaches derailed. The derailment is the second major rail accident this year, which has so far registered the best safety figures in the past five years, according to official data. Over three dozen people are reported to have been injured. They have been admitted to the Rae Bareli district hospital. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and railways minister Piyush Goyal condoled the loss of lives in the mishap. The railways minister has sanctioned an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the next of the kin of the deceased, Rs. 1 lakh to the seriously injured persons and Rs. 50,000 to those with minor injuries. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has directed the district police and administrative officials to speed up relief and reha- bilitation measures at the accident site. The chief minister has sanctioned Rs. 2 lakh to the next of the kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 each to the injured persons. Following the early morning mishap , which has hampered the movement of trains on one of the busiest rail routes in Uttar Pradesh five trains have either been fully or partially cancelled by Northern Railway. The routes of nine other trains have been diverted. The derailment of the New Farakka Express is the second major rail accident this year, which has so far registered the best safety figures in the past five years, according to official data. The other incident was the death of 13 school children on 26 April after a train rammed into their school van at an unmanned railway crossing in Uttar Pradesh's Kushinagar district. The driver of the van was wearing earphones and unable to hear the approaching train.
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