THURSDAY www.thestatesman.com 01 NOVEMBER 2018 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 16+4 |` 5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR LOANS ALONE WOULD NOT HELP MR ABE’S NEW TEAM KHER QUITS AS FTII CHIEF P4 SENSEX 34,442.05 +550.92 P10 NIFTY 10,386.60 +188.20 WEATHER Partly cloudy sky. Mist in the morning. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 31 and 17 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY ANOTHER ONE-DAY SERIES IS RIPE FOR THE PICKING P11 ` vs $ 73.95 -27 PAISE GOLD 30,610.00 +35.00 RBI autonomy essential: Govt Max. 94% Min. 42% Min: 16.0°C (0) SUN SETS 17:37 hrs MOON SETS 14:23 hrs PRESS TRUST OF INDIA SILVER 38,400.00 +100.00 BRENT CRUDE (IN $) 75.46 -0.45 Modi unveils Sardar statue, tribals protest with black balloons Seeks consultation with RBI on some issues under Section 7 Max: 31.1°C (0) SUN RISES 06:33 hrs MOON RISES 00:50 hrs P16 TEMPERATURE THUMBNAILS Former President Pranab Mukherjee pays homage during a prayer meeting at the memorial of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her 34th death anniversary at Indira Gandhi SNS Memorial, in the Capital on Wednesday. Pak court overturns blasphemy death sentence: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the conviction of a Christian woman who was on death row for eight years for blasphemy, a landmark verdict that sparked nationwide protests, death threats from hardline groups and cheers from human (P13) rights advocates. NEW DELHI, 31 OCTOBER T he government has for the first time used a provision of law to ask the RBI for resolution of differences between them on stressed loans in power sector and other issues, sources privy to the development said. Without acknowledging the notices sent to RBI under Section 7 of the RBI Act, the finance ministry in a statement said, autonomy was “essential” but its functioning must be guided by public interest and needs of the economy. Amid a standoff between the ministry and RBI over the central bank’s handling of weak public sector banks, tight liquidity in the market and ways of resolving bad loans in the power sector, unconfirmed reports claimed that RBI governor Urjit Patel was considering stepping down if the government were to issue an unprecedented direction. “The autonomy for the central bank, within the framework of the RBI Act, is an essential and accepted governance requirement. Governments in India have nurtured and respected this,” the ministry said in a brief statement. Sources in the know of the development said the government has sent at least three letters on different issues under Section 7 (1) of the RBI Act that gives it powers to issue any direction to the central bank governor on matters of public interest. They, however, insisted that the government has not taken any action of issuing any specific direction and has only initiated consultations with the central bank on unresolved issues. Without making any reference to the letters, the ministry statement said, “Both the government and the central bank, in their functioning, have to be guided by public interest and the requirements of the Indian economy.” The government, it said, has never made public the subject matter of those consultations. Sources said, the finance ministry wrote three separate letters in the past few weeks to the RBI on issues ranging from Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework to liquidity management and sought consultation under RBI Act Section 7. The government wants RBI to carve out exemption for power companies under the PCA framework that outlines triggers for declaring a loan account as stressed or NPA, sources said, adding that the second letter pertained to use of RBI’s capital reserves for providing liquidity to the market and a third letter was for relaxing constraints on banks for loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). India ranks 77th in ease of business WASHINGTON/NEW DELHI, 31 OCTOBER India has jumped 23 places to the 77th position in the World Bank’s ‘ease of doing business’ ranking released today, a development that could help the country attract more foreign investments. India was ranked 100th in theWorld Bank’s Doing Business Report last year. The ranking comes as a shot in the arm for the Narendra Modi government which faces strong dissenting voices from Opposition ahead of general election next year. In its annual report ‘Doing Business’ 2019 report, World Bank said India improved on six of the 10 parameters relating to starting and doing busiPTI ness. SEE ALSO PAGE 12 Rafale deal: SC seeks price details of 36 fighter jets from Centre STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 31 OCTOBER In a significant development, the Supreme Court today asked the central government to place before it in a sealed cover within 10 days the pricing details and the deemed advantage in the Rafale fighter jet deal. On 10 October, the court had directed the Centre to provide in sealed covers only the "details of the steps in the decision-making process" leading to the deal in which India is buying 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France. The top court had then stated that the information it sought from the 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”. The court today, however, also said that various details ~ including the steps in the decision-making process for the procurement of Rafale jets and the induction of the Indian offset partner ~ which could “legitimately” be brought into public domain, should be made available to the parties who have filed public interest litigations (PILs) before it in the matter. After the court dictated the order, Attorney General (AG) K K Venugopal told the Bench that pricing details of these jets were not even shared with Parliament. The Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi told the AG that if the pricing was “exclusive” and could not be shared with the court, then the Centre should state this in an affidavit. The Bench, also comprising Justice U U Lalit and Justice K M Joseph, made it clear that at this stage, such details of the Rafale deal which might be considered to be “strategic and confidential” by the The Bench made it clear that at this stage, details which might be considered to be ‘strategic and confidential’ need not be shared with the petitioners government may be placed before the court and need not be given to the petitioners. The court noted that pursuant to its10 October order the Centre placed before it in a sealed cover a note giving the “details of the steps in the decision-making process" leading to the award of 36 Rafale fighter jets. “At this stage, we would not like to record any finding or views with regard to the contents of the said report. Rather, we are of the opinion that such of the core information con- Saudi scribe Khashoggi strangled and dismembered, says Turkey PRESS TRUST OF INDIA ISTANBUL, 31 OCTOBER Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul as part of a premeditated killing and his body was dismembered before being disposed of, a top Turkish prosecutor said today. A statement from chief Istanbul prosecutor Irfan Fidan’s office also said that discussions with Saudi chief prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb have yielded no “concrete results” despite “good-willed efforts” by Turkey to uncover the truth. The statement is the first public confirmation by a Turkish official that Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered after he entered the Saudi Consulate on 2 October to collect paperwork needed to marry his Turkish fiancee. The announcement came as Saudi Arabia’s chief prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb ended a three-day visit to Istanbul, during which he held talks with Jamal Khashoggi Fidan and other Turkish officials. Turkey is seeking the extradition of 18 Saudi suspects detained in Saudi Arabia over the killing of Khashoggi. It is also pressing Saudi Arabia for information concerning Khashoggi’s remains as well as who ordered the journalist’s slaying. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also called on Riyadh to disclose the identity of an alleged local collaborator said to have been involved in disposing of Khashoggi’s body. Khashoggi, a 59-year-old columnist for TheWashington Post, vanished after entering the consulate in Istanbul to pick up paperwork for his upcoming marriage to his fiancee, who was waiting for him outside. A critic of the Saudi royal family, Khashoggi had been living in exile in the United States. Turkey alleges a Saudi hit squad from Saudi Arabia, including a member of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage, during a trip to the United States travelled to Istanbul to kill the journalist and then tried to cover it up. Under mounting pressure, Saudi Arabia changed its narrative about Khashoggi’s killing several times, eventually admitting that Khashoggi died inside the consulate and only recently acknowledging that Turkish evidence shows his killing was premeditated. Saudi Arabia has not commented on the prosecutor’s visit. veyed to the court in the aforesaid confidential report which can legitimately be brought into the public domain be made available to the counsels for the petitioners," the Bench said. "Along with the said facts, further details that could legitimately come in the public domain with regard to the induction of the Indian offset partner (if any) be also furnished to the learned counsels for the parties." When the AG told the Bench that the report which the Centre has already placed before the court was covered under the Official Secrets Act and could not be shared, the Bench said that confidential and strategic information need not be shared. The Bench also noted that in none of the PILs filed before it in the matter, the “suitability” of Rafale fighter jets and its “utility” to the Indian Air Force have been questioned. “What has been questioned is the bona fides of the decision-making process and the price/cost of the equipment (jets) at which the same is to be procured,” the court said. During the hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan, who along with ex-Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie has filed a petition in the matter, said they were seeking a court-monitored CBI probe into the Rafale deal. “That you will have to wait,” the Chief Justice said, adding “Let CBI put its house in order first”. The other PILs in the case have been filed by lawyers M L Sharma and Vineet Dhanda, and AAP MP Sanjay Singh. The Bench asked the Centre to give necessary information to the court and the counsels for petitioners in the next 10 days. It said the parties may then file their response, fixing 14 November as the next date of hearing. Indian Air Force helicopters shower rose petals on the ‘Statue Of Unity’, the world's tallest statue dedicated to independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, overlooking the Sardar AFP Sarovar Dam near Vadodara in Gujarat on Wednesday. STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE AHMEDABAD, 31 OCTOBER Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled the Statue of Unity, built as a tribute to freedom movement icon Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who had unified as many as 562 princely states into the newly independent nation, on his 143rd birth anniversary today. The grand ceremony at Kevdiya village in Narmada district, three kilometres downstream of the multi-purpose Sardar Sarovar Dam, had its share of controversies too as several activists and tribal people protesting the loss of land and livelihood were detained or put under house arrest. However, the tribal people affected by the Rs 2,989 crore memorial for the ‘Iron Man’ of India succeeded in registering their protest in a unique way by releasing in the air black balloons. Recalling the contribution of Sardar Patel on his 143rd birth anniversary, Prime Minister Modi said that had he not unified India, people would have required visa to watch lions at Gir or pray at Somnath temple. “If you are able to travel from Kutch to Kohima and Kargil to Kanyakumari without any hassle, it is because of Sardar Patel’s efforts towards a united India,” said the Prime Minister. Talking about the criticism he is facing about 182-metre statue, Mr Modi said that he is amazed that people see politics in honouring of a great personality like Sardar Patel. Modi also said that the ‘Statue of Unity’ would create employment and build a stronger economy. Sardar Patel’s ‘Statue of Unity’ is an engineering marvel and symbol of technical excellence, he said at the unveiling ceremony which also saw colourful cultural programmes and showering of flowers from Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters. The statue has been designed by Padma Bhushan-winning sculptor RamV Sutar and has been built by Larsen and Toubro. The ‘Statue of Unity’ site also has several other attractions like photo gallery on Sardar Patel, auditorium and a valley of flowers spread over many kilometres on the bank of Narmada river. The ceremony was an all BJP affair as the Opposition Congress leaders were conspicuous by their absence on the dais. Those present on the occasion included BJP president Amit Shah, governors of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, chief minister Vijay Rupani, his deputy Nitin Patel and Gujarat Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi. Hashimpura case: Life term for 16 former cops PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 31 OCTOBER The Delhi High Court today sentenced 16 former policemen to life imprisonment for killing 42 people of a minority community in Hashimpura locality of Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut in 1987. A Bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel reversed a trial court’s verdict which had acquitted the accused. The high court termed the massacre “targeted killing” of unarmed and defenceless people by the police. It convicted the 16 former Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel for murder, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence under the Indian Penal Code. While sentencing all the convicts to life imprisonment, the court said that the families of the victims had to wait 31 years to get justice and monetary relief cannot compensate their loss. The high court directed the convicts to surrender on or before 22 November. The high court’s verdict came on pleas challenging a trial court’s decision to acquit 16 policemen of charges of murder and other crimes in the case. “We have proceeded to reverse the trial court judgement and holding the 16 accused guilty for the offences of criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, murder and destruction of evidence under the IPC,” the Bench said. It said the evidence against the PAC personnel is “clinching” in nature and the charges against them stand true beyond reasonable doubt. The high court had on 6 September reserved its verdict on the appeals filed by Uttar Pradesh, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and some private parties including a survivor of the massacre, Zulfiqar Nasir. It had also reserved its judgement on BJP leader Sub- ramanian Swamy’s plea seeking further probe to ascertain the alleged role of then minister of state for home P Chidambaram in the case. The court had on 17 February, 2016, tagged Swamy’s plea with the other petitions in the matter. On 21 March, 2015, a trial court here had acquitted the 16 former PAC personnel giving them benefit of doubt, saying their identification could not established due to lack of evidence. Nineteen people were named as accused and charges were framed against 17 of them for offences of murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy, by the court here in 2006. The case was transferred to Delhi on a Supreme Court direction in September 2002 following a petition by the families of the massacre victims and survivors. Of the 17 accused, the trial court had acquitted 16, while one died during the trial. The NHRC has intervened in the matter seeking further probe into the massacre in the Hashimpura locality of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. A trial court had on 8 March, 2013, dismissed Swamy’s plea for further probe to ascertain the role of Chidambaram, who was a Union minister between 1986 and 1989, in the incident, saying that he has no locus standi and it is only the police who can move an application for further probe. Thereafter, Swamy had approached the high court with the appeal. SEE ALSO PAGE 3
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