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Principle & procedure: on the court ruling on AAP MLAs; Is decision of HC give relief to AAP MLAs ?

New Delhi : The court ruling on AAP MLAs is a scathing indictment of the EC’s functioning

The Delhi High Court verdict setting aside the disqualification of 20 Aam Aadmi Party MLAs in Delhi is a searing indictment of the manner in which the Election Commission handled the complaint that they held offices of profit while serving as parliamentary secretaries. For a body vested with the crucial power to determine whether lawmakers have incurred disqualification in certain circumstances and advise the President or the Governor suitably, this is an embarrassing moment. The court has not reviewed its decision on merits. Rather, it has ruled that the EC violated the principles of natural justice while adjudicating a lawyer’s complaint against the legislators. It failed to offer an oral hearing on the merits of the complaint and chose to hide under the specious argument that notices had been issued to the MLAs to respond to documents that the EC had summoned from the Delhi government. After saying in its order of June 2017 that it would fix a date for the next hearing, the commission issued two notices seeking replies but fixed no date; instead, it proceeded to give its decision on January 19, 2018. Further, Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat, who had recused himself at an earlier point, rejoined the process without intimation to the legislators. And another vitiating factor was that Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, who had not heard the matter and assumed office only in September 2017, had signed the order. It is a basic feature of judicial or quasi-judicial processes that someone who does not hear a matter does not decide on it.

The high court order scrupulously adheres to the core principles of judicial review of decisions made by a duly empowered adjudicatory body. Courts do not normally plunge into the merits of such a decision, but examine whether there has been any violation of natural justice, whether sufficient opportunity has been given to the parties and whether the proceedings were vitiated by bias, arbitrariness or any extraneous consideration. That a pre-eminent constitutional body should be found wanting in ensuring natural justice while answering a reference from the President is a sad comment on its functioning. It ought to have treated the matter with abundant caution, given the ease with which political parties tend to question the EC’s impartiality. The EC has an opportunity to redeem its name by more carefully considering the same question that has now been remanded to it for fresh adjudication. It could appeal to the Supreme Court, but a better course would be to hold a fresh and fair hearing. The high court has acknowledged the EC’s “latitude and liberty” in matters of procedure, but cautioned that any procedure should be sound, fair and just. In proceedings that may result in unseating elected representatives, fairness of procedure is no less important than finding an answer to the question whether they have incurred disqualification.

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After brief honeymoon, Mayawati won’t support SP in UP bypolls; Is Mayawati speak truth in this Matter ?

LUCKNOW : In a setback to Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati sprang a surprise on Monday by announcing that she would not activate her party cadres for any of the upcoming byelections in UP.
After its twin wins with BSP’s support in Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls + , SP was eyeing the byelections for Kairana parliamentary and Noorpur assembly seats in the coming months. The BSP leader’s announcement means that SP will have to be on its own in the bypolls till the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
In a press statement issued after a meeting Mayawati held with BSP’s district and zonal coordinators, + the party said: “BSP will not activate its cadres in any bypoll in future, the way it did it in Gorakhpur and Phulpur.”
The announcement comes three days after BSP lost the Rajya Sabha election to BJP despite getting support from SP.
Speaking after the defeat, while expressing satisfaction at SP’s effort to back her party, Mayawati had emphasized on Saturday that SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had displayed political immaturity in depending on independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh for BSP candidate’s victory. She also said that had she been in Akhilesh’s place, “I would have given first priority to the BSP candidate”.

Intriguingly, the press note on Monday was issued soon after the meeting with district and zonal coordinators, where Mayawati reportedly said that BSP, SP and all opposition parties must work together to ensure that BJP is not allowed to come back to power in 2019.
“We have taken the decision to extend ties between BSP and SP for the good of the country and its people. BJP may try as hard as it likes to instigate people against BSP and SP, but it will fail. We, and all other opposition parties, will have to work together to ensure that BJP does not come back to power,” she is believed to have told the coordinators.
The press note comes in the wake of Mayawati’s reiteration on multiple occasions since Saturday that the Rajya Sabha result would not have an impact on the “nazdeeki” (closeness) between SP and BSP.

Sources in BSP said Mayawati’s decision not to activate party’s cadres for the bypolls could be tactically aimed at the Kairana bypoll.
“RLD is likely to field former MP and party vice-president Jayant Chaudhary in the Kairana bypoll. If she were to support SP, it may alienate the Jat voters. On the other hand, were she to extend support to RLD, which is now unlikely after the Rajya Sabha polls, it could have had an adverse impact on Muslim voters. Since BSP itself does not contest bypolls, it would make sense for it to stay away right now,” said a party insider.

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Why ATMs are running dry in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana; Is this a Good Situation for Citizens ?

HYDERABAD : V Jagannatha Rao, a retired employee of Karnataka state undertaking MSIL, is a very hot and bothered man these days. The reason: for the past few weeks he has been facing problems getting his hands on some of his own cash as the ATM he frequents close to his home has been sporting the ‘no cash’ sign.
“For the past few weeks we have been facing a problem getting cash from the Neredmet branch ATM for least two to three days a week. The bank officials express their inability to do anything about it as they are not receiving adequate cash,” said the Safilguda resident, who was spotted at the Bank of India’s Neredmet branch ATM on Monday.

Getting an ATM machine to cough up some cash has proved to be an uphill task for Mehboob Basha, who resides at Vinayak Nagar in Neredmet. “Since morning I have visited seven to eight ATMs but could not find any cash. The fear of the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill 2017 (FRDI Bill) bail-in clause has led to the public withdrawing their deposits from the bank,” said Basha.

Downed shutters and ‘no cash’ and ‘out of service’ signs plastered across several ATMs in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and rural AP and Telangana have thrown life out of gear for many in the two Telugu states.
While the cash crunch is less acute in core Hyderabad, other parts of the city and its fringes as well as rural Telangana and AP have been reeling under a severe shortage of currency, with ATMs being filled with cash only once a month in some places.
When this correspondent visited ATMs in places such as Tarnaka, Moula Ali, Kushaiguda, Sainikpuri, Neredmet, ECIL, AS Rao Nagar, Nagarjuna Nagar, Kamala Nagar, Dammaiguda, around 70% of the ATMs were running dry.

In fact, even on Rama Navami day many were forced to spend most of their time running from one ATM to the other in their quest for some cash to meet their festive requirements instead of spending some time in prayer and celebrating the festival.
In fact, ATMs of Andhra Bank and Axis Bank at Neredmet branches were found flashing the message that they were unable to process transactions. A Suresh, an administrative staff member of Slate School at Abids, told TOI, “I checked the two ATMs but found no cash in either of them. On a festival day like Rama Navami finding no cash in the ATM is a big pain.”

On the other hand, while Syndicate Bank’s Moula Ali branch ATM said it had no cash, its deposit machine was accepting money.

Y Ramesh, who runs a provision store in Kushaiguda, and was found outside the branch ATM, said, “I came here to deposit cash as I have to make payments to suppliers online. Only the deposit machine is working. The teller machine is not working. On most days only Rs 500 denomination notes are available.”
Upset at his plans to go shopping being thwarted Y Sai Kumar, a resident of ECIL and aBTech student, said petulantly: “I planned to go shopping at a nearby mall, but could not get any money from the ATM.”

In Vizag city, ATM machines at busy junctions like Dwaraka Nagar, MVP Colony, Maddilapalem, Akkayyapalem and NAD Junction have remained shut for days, hurting those queuing up to draw money for medical purposes and other emergencies the most. Balireddy Ramudu, a financier from Anakapalli in Visakhapatnam, said people in the rural areas are the worst affected as these areas have limited bank branches and ATMs. “More often than not, these ATMs display ‘out of cash’ boards,” Ramudu said.

The situation is no better in the rural areas of Krishna and West Godavari of AP either, where aqua farmers of Kolleru region, who usually conduct big ticket bank transactions every month, are giving banks a miss due to reduced availability of cash in ATMs and bank branches and prefer to park their cash at home and deal only in cash.

“None of the ATMs in our region have been restored post demonetisation and we have been forced to waiting in long queues outside banks branches to withdraw our own money. Cash officers in banks have been permitting withdrawal only of smaller amounts, below Rs 4,000 each, citing a cash crunch and have been asking us to opt for NEFT and RTGS transactions,” said Movva Srinivasa Naidu, an aqua farmer from Kalidhindi of Krishna district in AP.

N Paideswara Rao, a farmer from Srungavruksham village, near Bhimavaram, is upset at the cash crunch in the harvest season. “We are to pay big sums in labour charges during the harvest season, but bank officials did not even permit us to withdraw the money we got through crop loans saying they have no cash. Bank officials say proposed FRDI Bill has affected cash reserves as everyone is preferring withdrawing cash,” he said.

Long queues to close FDs, withdraw one’s savings
With the proposed Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, 2017, sparking off a major scare, banks in Telangana and AP are witnessing long queues for the closure of fixed deposits as well as withdrawals from saving bank accounts.
This has led to banks imposing unauthorised rationing on cash disbursals, ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000 per day per person in their home branches. Many bank customers said they have lost faith in the banking system in the wake of the proposed FRDI Bill and frauds like the PNB scam.

“When the government slaps a surcharge on more than four ATM withdrawals a month, people are forced to withdraw additional amounts to avoid paying surcharge on the fifth. Now, everybody keeps extra cash at home for emergencies,” said AM Dayal of Habiguda in Adilabad district.

The situation in Vijayawada and Guntur is a bit different with people facing a cash crunch over weekends. “I checked 40 ATMs and each of them had a ‘No Cash’ board. Bank holidays have become a nightmare for the common man, who has to spend the day searching for the nearest cash recycler machine (depositwithdrawal machines),” said Metla Ajay Ram, a private sector employee from Vijayawada.

Ganta Ramana Rao, a businessman from One Town of Vizag, said several bank branches are unable to disburse cash to those wanting to withdraw over Rs 1lakh from accounts.
A senior public sector bank official in Vizag said cash availability in currency chests is not too good. “People seem to have developed some phobia about parking their cash in banks in light of proposed FRDI Bill and banking scams.”

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13 MPs, MLAs involved in criminal cases, says HC; Is Criminal MPs & MLAs are taken off from their posts ?

Chandigarh : In all, 13 MPs and MLAs are involved in as many criminal cases in Haryana. The situation is a shade worse in Punjab with 19 MPs and MLAs involved in 29 cases. Information to this effect was furnished by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Information provided by the High Court also made it clear that just one case was decided in a year in Haryana while the number of cases decided after expiry of one year was five. As a result, seven cases were still pending.

In Punjab, no case was decided in a year while just two cases were decided after expiry of one year, resulting in pendency of 27 cases.
The apex court had ordered in March 2014 that cases against people’s representatives should be disposed of within a year.

The Centre had already informed the Supreme Court that 3,816 criminal cases were registered against 1,765 MPs and MLAs. This information was provided by 23 High Courts and did not include cases registered in Maharashtra and Goa.
Just about two months back, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had called for information from both Punjab and Haryana on criminal cases pending before it against legislators and parliamentarians.

The High Court had asked Haryana Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan and his Punjab counterpart Atul Nanda to furnish details of criminal cases involving MPs and MLAs pending in the High Court.

A communication for bringing the dark side of politics to the High Court’s direct notice was sent to them from the office of the High Court Registrar General.
The Supreme Court’s 2013 judgment bars a convicted politician from contesting elections for six years from the date the sentence ends. The information comes at a time when the Centre has agreed to set up special courts to deal with cases against the country’s elected representatives.

The Law Ministry, in its affidavit, said: “As per directions of the Supreme Court, it is proposed to have 12 special courts with an estimated expenditure of Rs7.8 crore over a period of one year to dispose of all cases involving political persons.”
In 2014, 1,581 lawmakers were facing prosecution in 13,500 cases. On an average, 4,200 cases were being handled by each of the 17,000 subordinate courts.
The apex court had ordered in March 2014 that cases against people’s representatives should be disposed of within a year.

Situation worse in Punjab; 19 people’s representatives named in criminal cases 
The apex court had ordered in March 2014 that cases against people's representatives should be disposed of within a year
The Centre had already informed the SC 3,816 criminal cases were registered against 1,765 MPs and MLAs

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Modernisation of Army under way: Sitharaman. Is Defense Minister is saying Right ?

Dehradun : Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said modernisation of Indian Army was under way. She credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the modernisation programme. 
The Defence Minister was here on Sunday to honour students of the state, who have been selected in Indian Military Academy and National Defence Academy in the recent years. 
“When you join the forces after competition of training at your respective academies, you will be proud to join a modernised Indian Army”, Sitharaman said addressing the gathering of successful students. 
She also asserted that the Army was fully prepared to deal with any situation. 
The minister recalled her visit to the Uttarakhand region during childhood days, pointing that the region was then known for Char Dham yatra. “But today Uttarakhand is also known as Veer Bhumi as a large number of youth from the state join defence forces these days”, she said. 
The minister also praised Col Ajay Kothiyal, Director, National Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi, for his efforts towards motivating the state youth to join the armed forces. 
  Nirmala Sitharaman also handed over a cheque of Rs 50,000 each to the successful student of Uttarakhand, who have been selected in Indian Military Academy and National Defence Academy from 2014 to 2018. A total of 140 selected students were felicitated by the minister. She also honoured family members of Victoria Cross awardee Late Gabbar Singh Negi, Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali and other defence forces martyrs.
Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said it was a matter of honour that Prime Minister had reposed faith in a daughter of the country by making Nirmala Sitharaman as defence minister of the country.
Chief of Army Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Uttarakhand Higher Education Minister Dhan Singh Rawat and Mussoorie BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi were among the prominent persons present on the occasion.

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