11 March 2014

  • Supreme Court defers hearing of Sahara case; Subrata Roy to remain in jail.

  • Apex court asks Centre for details of number of deaths and adverse effects caused to people subjected to clinical trials.
  • Arunachal Pradesh Assembly elections to be held along with Lok Sabha polls.
  • In Uttar Pradesh, state Election Commission bans distribution of free tea at BJP's NaMo stalls.
  • And, mystery continues over missing Malaysian plane; No trace of aircraft so far.
Sahara group Chief Subrata Roy will have to remain in jail, as the Supreme Court has deferred today's scheduled hearing of the 20,000 crore rupee refund case. On the 7th of this month, the apex court had asked the Sahara group to come out with an honourable proposal for depositing 20,000 crore rupees of investors money and posted the hearing for today. The cause list put on the apex court website showed that the case, which was listed before a special bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan and JS Khehar, stands deleted and the same is adjourned. The reason for the adjournment has not been known.The special bench had on the 4th of this month sent Subrata Roy and two Directors Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary to judicial custody till today.
The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to provide details on the number of deaths and severe adverse effects caused to people who were subjected to clinical trials. Expressing concern over the issue, a bench headed by Justice RM Lodha yesterday said that the government must take a balanced approach so that development in the areas of research is not hampered and at the same time people's lives are also protected.The court passed the order after it found that there were discrepancies in the numbers given by the petitioner NGO and the government.
The court also said that compensation was granted only to the kin of those who died during trials and asked why it should not be paid to those who were severely effected but alive. It also directed the Centre to file an affidavit on what steps it was taking for making provision of payment of compensation to the people who are affected in clinical trial.The PIL filed by an NGO has sought directions for regulation of clinical trials of new drugs and chemical entities.
The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to take a decision on Devinderpal Singh Bhullar's fresh mercy plea in the 1993 Delhi blast case, by the 27th of this month, or else it will decide on the issue of commuting his death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of his mental condition. A bench, headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam yesterday adjourned the hearing after the Centre contended that the mercy plea is still under consideration. The court was hearing a curative petition filed by Bhullar's wife, seeking commutation of death sentence on grounds of his mental condition and because of the delay on the part of the government in deciding his earlier mercy plea.
Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his aide Asadullah Akhtar were refused bail by a Delhi Court yesterday in connection with the September 2008 Delhi serial blasts case. The court granted 15 days time, sought by the police to complete its probe against them. Bhatkal and Akhtar filed the bail plea on the ground that the special cell of the Delhi Police had not filed any supplementary chargesheet against them in the stipulated 90 days period since their arrest in the case on December 10 last year.
The Election Commission has decided to hold elections to the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly along with the Lok Sabha polls. The Assembly was dissolved on the 6th of this month, a day after the Lok Sabha poll dates were announced. A press note issued by the Commission said, notification for the election to the 60-member assembly will be issued on the 15th of this month and nomination process will begin from the 22nd. The 26th of this month is the last date for withdrawal of nominations. Voting will take place on 9th of next month, and counting will be held on the of 16th May. The election process will be completed by 28th May.
The Election Commission discussed the transparency guideline norms with the account auditors of major political parties yesterday to curb the use of black money. Official sources said that at a meeting held in New Delhi, the EC briefed auditors about the guidelines it has framed for filing of financial reports of the parties. The Commission, according to its revised transparency guidelines, has already mandated that all political parties should file their audited accounts to it, by the 30th of October. During the meeting, it also sought suggestions from the auditors to improve the guidelines which will be notified by the end of this month.
The Bharatiya Janata Party's bid to attract voters by offering free tea at stalls named after its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi received a blow yesterday when election authorities in Uttar Pradesh ruled that free distribution of tea amounted to bribing voters. Taking a serious view of it, the state Election Commission has banned the free tea distribution at NAMO tea sessions by BJP. Uttar Pradesh chief electoral officer Umesh Sinha said, anything that is being distributed for free by a political party during election would be construed as an attempt to entice voters, something that is not allowed. Talking to AIR, additional chief electoral officer Vijyendra Pandian said, the EC has issued notices to BJP in Lakhimpur Kheri district in the wake of free tea distributions at 'NAMO Chai Pe Charcha' programme.
A Delhi court has recorded the statement of a complainant against former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for allegedly giving misleading information in the affidavit which he had filed ahead of the Assembly elections last year. The Metropolitan Magistrate yesterday commenced recording of pre-summoning evidence in the matter and recorded the statement of the petitioner, who has filed the criminal complaint on behalf of an NGO. The complainant has alleged that Kejriwal had willfully misled the Election Commission by concealing his correct address and suppressing the market value of his property.
The court also allowed an application by the complainant seeking examination of witnesses in support of the complaint. The plea was allowed for examining three government officials, including the record keeper of Delhi's Chief Election Officer, with the matter being fixed for May the 7th.
 Mystery over the missing Malaysian plane continues, as there is no trace of the aircraft, even after days of multi-nation operations. Authorities have expand the area of search and are looking into every angle including hijacking. The Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200 flight MH370 of Malaysia Airlines went missing over the South China Sea on Friday. The Head of Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said at a news conference yesterday that they have not found anything that appear to be objects from the aircraft, let alone the aircraft itself. He discounted reports that a plane door had been spotted. He also denied that the oil slick found in the waters off Malaysia near the last known location of the missing airliner was from the aircraft. Mr. Rehman added that the FBI is also being involved in the probe.Currently, 34 planes, 40 ships and teams from ten countries are involved in the search operations.
Armed men said to be Russian troops and local militias have seized a military hospital in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. Pro-Russian troops are reportedly blockading Ukrainian troops across Crimea. The latest development comes ahead of Sunday's secession referendum, which Kiev and the Western nations have described as illegal.
In Karnataka, nine people have been killed and over 500 houses damaged due to an untimely hailstorm that lashed parts of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region for the last few days. Special Director Disaster Monitoring Centre V.S. Prakash told AIR that preliminary reports received from rain affected areas show crop loss over 1 lakh 24,000 hectares spread over 13 districts of the state. More from our correspondent:
Standing crop in hundreds of acres has been damaged in Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Raichur and Bellary districts due to this hailstorm, putting the farming community through unexpected hardship. Major cash crops like cotton, jowar, tobacco, wheat and horticulture crops like grapes, chikoo and banana have been badly affected. The farmers have also lost over 200 livestock due to hailstorm. The State Development Commissioner had held a meeting of concerned departments in Bangalore yesterday to assess the damages. The Met department forecast says, that cyclonic affect has subsided now and dry weather would prevail over all the districts of Coastal Karnataka, North Interior Karnataka & South Interior Karnataka. Sudhindra, AIR News, Bangalore.

Most parts of Jammu and Kashmir are experiencing a fresh spell of snowfall. Our correspondent reports that traffic on Jammu-Srinagar national highway has been suspended due to snow and landslide at several places. An avalanche warning has been issued for many areas like Keran Karna, Gurez, Kargil and the Kazigund and Ramban sector. Authorities in the valley have also closed primary and middle schools for two days.
In Himachal Pradesh as well, the higher reaches of Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur, Pangi and Bharmour in Chamba District are experiencing fresh snowfall since yesterday greatly affecting normal life. Our correspondent reports that a warning of hailstorms has also been issued for the lower and mid hills of the state during the next 24 hours.
People once again are facing severe cold wave conditions after fresh snowfall in tribal areas and tourist resorts like Manali, Narkanda and Kufri. The minimum and maximum temperatures have decreased by several degrees throughout the state. In Lahaul-Spiti, district authorities issued avalanche warning and advised people living in the snowbound areas to remain alert while moving outside. Shishu Sharma Shantal, AIR News, Shimla. 
India's Heena Sidhu and Chain Singh bagged Gold medals in the 7th Asian Shooting Championships at Kuwait yesterday. While Heena clinched the coveted yellow metal in the Women’s Air pistol event, Chain Singh claimed the Gold in the Men’s Air rifle event.In the tournament, India have, so far, won three Gold, two Silver and two Bronze medals.
Leander Paes and his Czech team-mate Radek Stepanek have advanced to the quarterfinals of the Indian Wells Open Tennis tournament at California. The fourth seeded Indo-Czech pair defeated the Israeli-French team of Jonathan Erlich and Richard Gasquet, 6-3, 7-5 last night to book a quarterfinal berth.
  • The Supreme Court's move towards cleansing the political process is a major story this morning. The Times of India writes that the Supreme Court has directed that Trial Proceedings of elected representatives in cases of corruption and serious crimes - must be completed within a year. "MPs, MLAs can no longer use trial delays as escape route", headlines the Hindustan Times.
  • The Statesman writes that the CBI, yesterday, filed its first charge-sheet in the multi-crore coal blocks allocation scam - against Hyderabad based Navabharat Power Private Ltd. and two of its directors. The Asian Age writes that the SC has directed the CBI to file all the remaining cases by March 28.
  • The Indian Express writes that around 90 big and small airports in the country have been put on alert, to keep a check on transportation of huge amounts of cash, ahead of general elections. Nodal Officers have been designated to keep a watch on passengers carrying excessive cash and gold.
  • Most papers prominently cover the mysterious disappearance of the Malaysian airliner, now in its third day. The Indian Express writes that Malaysia's civil aviation Chief has called it an "Unprecedented Mystery" since dozens of ships and aircraft from 10 countries have unsuccessfully scoured the seas around the region. He said that a hijacking attempt could not be ruled out.
  • Business Line of the Hindu analyses that India's fascination for the diesel car seems to be burning out. Sales are losing momentum as the steady rise in diesel price has hit Demand.
  • "After the Brits, it's Indians who are discussing the weather all the time", headlines The Economic Times, with curious weather conditions bringing on snow in spring season, heavy showers and possibility of the dreaded El Nino phenomenon seeming more likely than earlier forecast.
  • And finally, The Times of India reports that scientists from Georgetown University have developed a blood test that can predict with more than 90% accuracy if a healthy person can develop Alzheimer's disease within three years, so that the disorder can be planned and managed.

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