- Supreme Court rules that delay in deciding mercy plea can be ground for commuting death sentence; Commutes death sentence of 15 convicts to life term.
- Delhi Chief Minister continues his protest in Central Delhi for the second day in spite of rains.
- Sri Lanka arrests 25 more Indian fishermen.
- Three Pak Nationals killed after encounter by BSF near Punjab Border.
- in Australian Open Tennis, Sania Mirza loses in the doubles quarterfinal.
The Supreme Court has held that death sentence of a condemned prisoner can be commuted to life imprisonment on the ground of delay on the part of the government in deciding the mercy plea. Commuting death sentence of 15 death row inmates to life term, including four aides of forest brigand Veerappan, the apex court also ruled that a death convict suffering from mental insanity and schizophrenia, cannot be hanged. The apex court overruled its own verdict in Khalistani terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar's case in which it had held that delay in deciding mercy plea, cannot be a ground for commutation of death sentence.
Today's judgement may have implications in various cases, including the petitions filed by three death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case who had challenged the President's rejection of their mercy plea less than three years ago.Framing guidelines on disposal of mercy petitions and execution of death sentence, a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam ruled that convicts given death sentence must be informed about the rejection of their mercy pleas and should be given a chance to meet their family members before they are executed. It also held that solitary confinement of a prisoner, including death row convict, is unconstitutional and it should not be allowed in the prisons.
The bench also said that execution of death sentence should be carried out within 14 days after rejection of the mercy plea.The apex court also said that the prison authorities must provide legal aid to prisoners facing death sentence so that they can approach courts for commutation of their sentence on the ground of their illness and delay in deciding mercy plea by the government.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has ruled out any negotiation with the Central Government and has demanded action against the Delhi Police personnel who refused to execute the order of some of the Ministers of the State government. He said, he will continue the sit-in dharna till his demands are met and asked his supporters to join the agitation and threatened to flood Rajpath with lakhs of supporters that can disrupt Republic Day celebrations. Mr Kejriwal spent yesterday night at the protest site.
Meanwhile, hundreds of AAP supporters were trying to break the police barricades near the Constitution Club raising anti-police slogans. Braving inclement weather, Mr Kejriwal was listening to the grievances of hundreds of common people sitting inside the car.Metro stations in Central Delhi were closed, causing inconvenience to common people. Rain further added to traffic woes in Delhi hitting commuters in and around central Delhi due to the protest.The protest has caused security concerns as the Republic day is approaching. Mr Kejriwal has resisted all attempts of the Centre to get his protest moved to Jantar Mantar.
Meanwhile, BJP workers have also begun their protest against Kejriwal's dharna at the same site. The party has demanded resignation of Delhi Chief Minister and said that the AAP Government has failed to deliver on its promises.Our correspondent reports that Delhi BJP President Vijay Goel and other leaders have been detained by the police.
The Home Ministry, in the mean time, has asked Delhi Police to observe restraint while dealing with AAP workers. Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi had a meeting with Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde at North Block. He is understood to have submitted a report to the Minister related to the Kejriwal dharna.The Home Minister has already made it clear that there would be no suspension of the Delhi Police offcials till the inquiry is complete. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has come under sharp attack from various political parties over his protest demanding action against some police officials for alleged dereliction of duty. Congress has accused Kejriwal's government of running away from its responsibility and throwing Delhi in a state of anarchy. Party leader Digvijay Singh said, Kejriwal must realise that no government can be run by staging dharnas.
"He has never cared for the law. Therefore, I'm not surprised at what he saying and doing. It is in front of everyone."
BJP has termed the protest as a joint operation of AAP and Congress. Criticizing Kejriwal over his Republic Day comments, party leader Prakesh Javdekar said, he has insulted the Army jawans and the protest is an attempt to divert attention from corruption issues.
"This is complete anarchy, which is a joint operation of Congress and AAP. AAP wants to dug question of its inaction against corruption of Shiela Dixit government, which was their main promise. Then, they want to save the Minister who is indicted by the court, and Congress, which is unable to take on BJP under Modi, wants to prop up AAP."
However, defending the agitation, the AAP leader Gopal Rai said, the protest is for the benefit of common man. Talking to AIR, he said, the police is also not allowing people to approach the protest site and join the sit-in. Mr Rai also denied that the day to day administrative work of the city government is affected.AAP leader Yogendra yadav said that the Central Government is causing inconvenience to people by closing metro stations and creating traffic snarls by blocking important road crossings in the city.
"Police should be asked why the metro stations have been closed. We do not want the metro to be closed. The traffic on the roads is due to those kilometres-long barricades, and not because of any gathering. If those barricades are removed, there will be a crowd in a small area, but the rest of the traffic will become smooth."
Kejriwal and his Ministers began a dharna outside Rail Bhavan yesterday, demanding action against police officials who refused to execute the order of some of the ministers of Delhi government.
Sri Lankan Navy arrested a group of 25 Indian fishermen this morning for alleged violation of the International Maritime Boundary and charged them of fishing in Sri Lankan waters illegally. They were arrested and six of their boats were seized near Delft Island when they were found to be bottom trawling. The fishermen are being sent to Kankesanthurai to be handed over to the Fisheries authorities who will produce them before a magistrate’s court later in the day. More from our correspondent:
"Days after agreement was reached between India and Sri Lanka to release all fishermen in each other’s custody, Sri Lankan Navy today arrested a group of 25 Indian fishermen on charges of fishing illegally in Sri Lankan waters. These arrests come even as 181 freed Indian fishermen are awaiting repatriation and 59 more are yet to be freed under the agreement reached by the two countries last week. A meeting of the representatives of fishing associations of the two countries is expected to be held next week in Chennai. Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister G L Peiris will also hold further discussions on the issue when he is in New Delhi later this month. Abhishek Dayal, AIR News, Colombo."
BSF guarding Punjab border with Pakistan has shot dead three Pak nationals early this morning. BSF sources told our Jalandhar correspondent that the Pakistani nationals were killed following a brief encounter in Amritsar. The troops also recovered 36 kilograms Heroin from two different places. Our correspondent reports that the places of the recoveries and the encounter are different.
"This is the second incident within this month when BSF gunned down Pak nationals. On January 3, two Pak smugglers were shot dead. The troops have also recovered 16 kilograms Heroin in Ferozepur sector and 20 kilogram Heroin in Amritsar sector, today. This is the major recovery in this year by BSF on 553 kilometer long border with Pakistan. A total of 62 kilogram Heroin has been recovered till date. Rajesh Bali, AIR News, Jalandhar."
Amid continuing stand-off between India and Pakistan over the arrest of a Pakistani Truck Driver after seizure of Narcotics during cross-LoC Trade on the 16th of this month, the cross-LoC Weekly Bus Service too has been halted. Pakistani authorities did not allow Weekly Caravan-e-Aman bus service to ply on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road yesterday. The Weekly Cross LoC bus service through Chakkan Da Bagh-Poonch was also stopped by Pakistani authorities. Our Srinagar Correspondent reports that the State Government has submitted a detailed report to the Union Government on this stand-off.
The Union Cabinet has approved a proposal to constitute a Rail Tariff Authority, RTA to advise the Railway Ministry on fares. The RTA is crucial for railways as it will recommend fare revision from time to time taking into account input cost and volatile market condition. The RTA's recommendations, however, will not be mandatory for railways as only the Railway Board can fix the tariff.
Gujarat Congress has submitted details of alleged corruption under the Narendra Modi Government to recently appointed Lokayukta DP Buch and demanded thorough investigations. A delegation of Congress MLAs led by chief whip of Congress in the State Legislative Assembly Balwantsinh Rajput met the Lokayukta yesterday and demanded the probe. Our correspondent reports that Congress has alleged large scale corruption in Sujalam Sufalam water project, working of Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation and mining sector.
In Tamil Nadu, Rajya Sabha polls for six seats will be held on the 7th of next month. Nominations for the six seats have begun today. The vacancies for the Rajya Sabha seats arose as the tenure of six Rajya Sabha members including Union Minister G.K.Vasan and former Union Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, ends on April 2.
In Tamil Nadu, the 167th Sadguru Sri Thyagaraja Aaradhana festival at Tiruvaiyaru, ends today. The Thyagaraja Aaradhana festival was inaugurated last Friday by Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council Chairman C Rangarajan. More from our Correspondent:
"Sadguru Thyagaraja is one of the great musical trinity alongwith Muthusamy Dikshithar and Shyama Sastrigal. Today is Pushya Bahula day when Sadguru Sri Thyagaraja attained the lotus feet of Lord Rama in 1847. Hundreds of musicians paid homage by singing in chorus pancharatna kritis of Sadguru Sri Thyagaraja at his Samadhi today. The idol of Sadguru Thyagaraja will be taken out in a procession in the evening and the Aradhana festival will come to a close with Anjaneyar puja. K. Devi Padmanabhan, AIR News, Tiruchirapalli."
Trimming its initial gains, the Sensex at the Bombay Stock Exchange stood 27 points, or 0.1 percent in positive territory, at 21,232 in afternoon trade, a short while ago. Earlier in the morning, the Sensex had climbed 62 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 21,267, on fresh buying by funds and retail investors, amid rising Asian bourses. Stock markets in Japan, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and South Korea had gained between 0.3 percent and 1 percent, today.
In Australian open Tennis Tournament, the sixth seeded Indo-Zimbabwean duo of Sania Mirza and Cara Black bowed out to the top seeded Italian pair of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci 2-6,6-3,4-6 in Women's Doubles, Quarter Final, today.In Men's Singles World number 3 David Ferrer crashed out of the Men's event. In the quarterfinal match, Spaniard David Ferrer lost to Czech Thomas Berdych 1-6, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6. In Women's Singles China's World Number four Li Na and Canada's Eugenie Bouchard today stormed into the semi-finals of the season's first Grand slam. In the quarterfinals, while Li defeated Italy's Flavia Pennetta, 6-2, 6-2, Eugenie beat Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2. In the other quarterfinals tomorrow, World Number Two Victoria Azarenka will clash with Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, while Romania's Simona Halep will meet Slovakia's Dominica Cibulkova.
In Maharashtra, the Sessions court in Thane granted conditional bail to Joint Commissioner of Income Tax, Sanjeev Ghai who was arrested earlier on the charges of corruption. The Judge directed that he should not tamper with evidence and cooperate with the investigators. During the last week of December 2013, the CBI had arrested Ghai for allegedly accepting a bribe of 3.5 lakh rupees from a businessman to bail him out in a tax evasion case.
The United Nations has withdrawn its invitation to Iran to join this week's peace conference on the Syria crisis. UN spokesman Martin Nesirky criticised Tehran for failing to back the plan to form a Syrian transitional government, which is the basis of the conference. The invitation to Iran, a key ally of the Syrian regime, angered the US and the Western-backed Syrian opposition. The peace conference, due to begin tomorrow, is the biggest diplomatic effort to end the three-year conflict.