NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today rejected a batch of review petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets, saying the pleas were without merit.
The rejection of review petitions is tantamount to the apex court giving the clean chit to the Narendra Modi government for the second time.
BS Dhanoa, former Air Chief to ANI: Air Force has always been defending the deal, not just because of aircraft, but also team had gone into all aspects of deal & got us the best deal. I won’t go into politics of it, those who were sceptical of deal, have been proven wrong #Rafale pic.twitter.com/YKB82dufb3
— Smita Prakash (@smitaprakash) November 14, 2019
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph pronounced verdicts on three review petitions filed by the trio, lawyer Vineet Dhandha and Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker Sanjay Singh.
A three-judge bench also rejected the contention that there was a need for registration of FIR in connection with the deal.
“We had concluded that other than the three aspects — Decision-Making Process, Pricing and Offsets — that too to a limited extent, this Court did not consider it appropriate to embark on a roving and fishing enquiry.
“We were, however, cautious to note that this was in the context of the writ petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, the jurisdiction invoked,” said the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph.
About the allegation of irregularities on the pricing of the jets, the top court said that it satisfied itself with the material made available and it is not the function of this court to determine the prices and act on mere “suspicion” of certain persons.
“The internal mechanism of such pricing would take care of the situation. On the perusal of documents, we had found that one cannot compare apples and oranges. Thus, the pricing of the basic aircraft had to be compared which was competitively marginally lower.
“As to what should be loaded on the aircraft or not and what further pricing should be added has to be left to the best judgment of the competent authorities,” the bench said.
The pleas had sought re-examination of Apex Court’s 14th December 2018 verdict which said there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process.
The three-judge bench stated there is no merit in the review petition and no probe required in the purchase deal. The petition is dismissed on the grounds that it is not within the purview of judicial review under Article -32 of the Constitution.
A batch of petitions, including those filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, and lawyer Prashant Bhushan had sought a review, alleging that material facts were suppressed and a criminal investigation should be filed in the case.
The SC termed Rahul Gandhi’s statements against Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “unfortunate” but let him off saying no further contempt proceedings needed to be pursued against the Congress leader.
Gandhi had repeatedly said “chowkidaar chor hai” (the security guard is a thief) in an apparent reference to Modi who calls himself “desh ka chowkidaar” (the nation’s security guard).
Centre has welcomed the Supreme Court decision. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh welcomed the dismissal of the review petitions in the Rafale case. Mr Singh said the NDA Government stands vindicated with this pronouncement.
The Defence Minister said the issues pertaining to defence preparedness and national security should never be politicised. He said that the allegation of corruption in Rafale deal was nothing but an attempt to malign the clean and honest image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and NDA government.
BJP said Congress and party leader Rahul Gandhi must apologise to the country after Supreme Court rejected a batch of review petitions seeking probe into Rafale deal.
Briefing media in New Delhi, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, Mr Gandhi deliberately misquoted Supreme Court and attributed ‘chowkidar’ remark to the apex court.
Party spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said the petitions were politically motivated and an attempt to tarnish the reputation of BJP and NDA government. He said that by dismissing the review petitions, the Supreme Court has given a clean chit to the entire Rafale deal.
On the apex court’s decision regarding Congress leader Rahul Gandhi wrongly attributing the apex court his “chowkidar” remark in Rafale case, the BJP spokesperson said, Congress now stands exposed in front of the whole country. He said the Supreme Court admonished Gandhi for dragging the Court in political discourse. He said Rahul Gandhi’s credibility has gone down after this.
On the other hand, Congress said the Supreme Court has opened the way for a comprehensive criminal investigation in the Rafale case.
Briefing media in New Delhi this evening, party Spokesman Randeep Surjewala said, BJP is celebrating the case without analyzing it. He said, the Supreme Court has clearly said their hands can be tied due to the limitations and rights of the constitution, but the hands of an investigation conducted by an impartial agency are not tied and that can happen.
Bihar Assembly Elections To Be Held On Oct 28, Nov 3, Nov 7; Results On Nov 10
The Model Code of Conduct has come into effect with the declaration of elections.
NEW DELHI: The Assembly elections in Bihar will be held in three phases starting from 28th of next month. The counting will take place on 10th November.
Announcing the poll scheduled in New Delhi today, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said, the Model Code of Conduct, MCC has come into effect with the declaration of elections. He said, 71 assembly constituencies will go to polls in the first phase on 28th October, 94 seats in the second phase on 3rd November and 78 seats in the third phase on 7th November.
The number of phases for 243-member Bihar assembly polls has been reduced keeping in mind security arrangements and festive season.
CEC informed that the voting time has been extended by one hour till 6 PM and COVID-19 patients will vote in the last hour of the day. He said COVID-19 pandemic has forced a new normal in all aspects of life and Bihar assembly elections will be held under new security protocols.
The Chief Election Commissioner said that the number of polling booths has been increased to ensure social distancing and social distancing norms will have to be followed at public gatherings during the poll campaign. The number of people accompanying a candidate for submission of nomination has been restricted to two, while a door-to-door campaign can have a maximum of five people including the candidate.
The Election Commission has also created an optional facility to fill the nomination form and the affidavit online and submission of the same, after taking a print, before the Returning Officer concerned. For the first time, the candidates will have the option to deposit a security amount online for contesting the elections.
Arora informed that seven lakh hand sanitiser points, 46 lakh masks, 6 lakh PPE kits, 6.7 lakh face shields, 23 lakh pairs of hand gloves have been arranged in the wake of COVID pandemic. He added that social distancing norms will have to be followed at public gatherings and other activities during the election campaign.
He said the Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for ensuring the effective implementation of MCC guidelines. The Chief Election Commissioner added that anyone who indulges in misuse of social media with respect to elections will have to face consequences under the law.
Election Commission has informed that it will decide on bypolls for 1 Lok Sabha and 64 Assembly Seats after a review meeting on 29th September on issues raised by some states on poll timing.
Model Code of Conduct comes into force in Bihar:
Announcing the poll schedule in New Delhi today, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) has come into effect with the declaration of elections.
Arora said the number of phases for 243-member Bihar Assembly polls has been reduced keeping in mind security arrangements and festive season. He informed that the voting time has been extended by one hour till 6 PM and COVID-19 patients will vote in the last hour of the day. He said COVID-19 pandemic has forced a new normal in all aspects of life and Bihar Assembly elections will be held under new security protocols.
Arora informed that seven lakh hand sanitiser points, 46 lakh masks, 6 lakh PPE kits, 6.7 lakh face shields, 23 lakh pairs of hand gloves have been arranged in the wake of COVID pandemic. He added that social distancing norms will need to be followed at public gatherings and other activities during the election campaign.
The Chief Election Commissioner said the Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for ensuring the effective implementation of MCC guidelines. He added that anyone who indulges in misuse of social media with respect to elections will have to face consequences under the law.
Cricket Legend Dean Jones Dies In Mumbai
The Australian was working in Mumbai when he reportedly died of a heart attack.
MUMBAI (Maharashtra): In what comes as heart-breaking news to the cricket world, Australian cricket legend Dean Jones has passed away following a sudden cardiac arrest in Mumbai. Jones was part of Star Sports Select Dugout team for Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 and was in Mumbai due to it.
Jones was inside a bio-secure bubble in a seven-star hotel in Mumbai for IPL 2020 duties and suffered a cardiac arrest which led to his demise.
Born in Melbourne, Dean Jones played 52 Test matches scoring 3631 runs at an average of 46.55. With a 216 as his best score, Jones scored 11 centuries and was an important member of Allan Border’s team. Though he boasted an excellent record in Test cricket and is best remembered for his batting and fielding in the ODI format. Through the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was regarded among the best ODI batsmen in the world.
Star India’s full statement on Dean Jones’ demise:
It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing away of Mr Dean Mervyn Jones AM. He died of a sudden cardiac arrest. We express our deep condolences to his family and stand ready to support them in this difficult time. We are in touch with the Australian High Commission to make the necessary arrangements.
Dean Jones was one of the great ambassadors of the game associating himself with Cricket development across South Asia. He was passionate about discovering new talent and nurturing young Cricketers. He was a champion commentator whose presence and presentation of the game always brought joy to millions of fans. He will be sorely missed by everyone at Star and his millions of fans across the globe.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
Hero to a Generation:
Earl Eddings, chairman of Cricket Australia, said Jones would be sorely missed by cricket fans around the world. “Dean Jones was a hero to a generation of cricketers and will forever be remembered as a legend of this great game,” Eddings said.
“Anyone who watched cricket in the 1980s and 1990s will fondly recall his cavalier approach at the crease and the incredible energy and passion he brought to every game he played.
“Although many remember him for his brilliance in the 50-over game, arguably Jones’ finest moment in the national team came in scorching conditions in Chennai in 1986, where his selfless and courageous innings of 210 helped Australia to a famous tie against India.
“Jones remained an immensely popular figure in Australian and Victorian cricket throughout his life and was a much-loved columnist and commentator in every corner of the cricketing world.”
‘THE’ Chennai Test Match:
— Dean Jones AM (@ProfDeano) September 19, 2020
His most notable innings was in only his third Test against India in the Tied Test in Chennai (Madras) in 1986. Suffering from dehydration in the oppressively hot and humid conditions, Jones was frequently vomiting on the pitch. He wanted to go off the field “retired ill” which led his captain Allan Border to say that if he could not handle the conditions, he would “get a Queenslander” (Greg Ritchie, a Queenslander like Border, was the next man in to bat). This comment spurred Jones to score 210, an innings he considered a defining moment in his career and one of the epic Test innings in Australian cricket folklore.
This innings of 210 remains the highest score by an Australian cricketer in India. After the match, Jones was put on to an intravenous drip.
The Cricket Journey:
Jones began his first-class career in the 1981–82 season with Victoria in the Sheffield Shield. Jones also played for Durham and Derbyshire in the English County Championship.
Jones captained Derbyshire to second in the 1996 County Championship, their best finish for 60 years. Jones scored 1,338 runs in the season, more than any other Derbyshire player.
He left Derbyshire mid-season in 1997 after disagreements with teammates.
Jones also had run-ins with authority and teammates in his home state of Victoria. During his career, he scored 19,188 runs in first-class matches, including 55 centuries and 88 half-centuries and a highest score of 324 not out, at an average of 51.85.
Jones was selected on the 1984 tour of the West Indies after Graham Yallop had to pull out due to injury. He was not picked in the original XI but was drafted into the side after Steve Smith fell ill. Jones himself was very ill before the Test, and deemed his score of 48 on his debut as his “best knock”.
Between 1984 and 1992, Jones played 52 Test matches for Australia, scoring 3,631 runs, including 11 centuries, at an average of 46.55.
Farmers Rejoice As Govt Raises Minimum Support Price For Crops
MSP increased by Rs. 50 to Rs. 300 per quintal. APMC Mandis will also continue to function.
NEW DELHI: A month ahead of last year’s schedule, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all mandated Rabi crops for marketing season 2021-22. This increase in MSP is in line with the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
The government said that the hike is proof that procurement at MSP and the APMC Mandis will continue to function, however, the farmer will be free to sell his produce outside these systems anywhere throughout the country to get remunerative prices.
The hike came after assurances by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers that the MSP will not be scrapped. PM Modi called the hike “another historic decision”.
The highest increase in MSP has been announced for lentil (Rs. 300 per quintal) followed by gram and rapeseed and mustard (Rs. 225 per quintal each) and safflower (Rs. 112 per quintal). For barley and wheat, an increase of Rs. 75 per quintal and Rs 50 per quintal respectively has been announced. The differential remuneration is aimed at encouraging crop diversification.
The MSP hike announced today covered wheat, the key crop in Punjab and Haryana, where the farmers’ protest has been loudest. The MSP of wheat has been increased by ₹ 50 a quintal and will be ₹ 1975 per quintal this season. The other big crop in the area, mustard, will now fetch ₹ 4,650 a quintal — a jump of ₹ 225 a quintal.
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) and other state agencies will continue to purchase farm produce at MSP as before. Hon’ble Prime Minister has always given assurance that procurement at MSP will continue, and the mandi system will also continue.
The announcement of the MSP before the start of the Rabi season will help the farmers in deciding on their crop structure. The MSP for pulses (lentil) and oilseeds has been increased to boost production of these crops so that import of these items can be reduced.
During 2009-2014, 1.52 LMT pulses was procured by the government. During 2014-2019, 76.85 LMT pulses have been procured which is an increase of 4962 per cent. The payment made at MSP rates in the last 6 years is Rs. 7 lakh crore which is double that made by the previous government.
MSP rates fixed in line with Swaminathan Commission recommendation:
The Committee headed by Dr M.S. Swaminathan had recommended that MSP should be at least 50% more than the average production cost. The present Government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
The increase in MSP for Rabi Crops for marketing season 2021-22 is in line with the principle of fixing the MSPs at a level of at least 1.5 times of the All-India weighted average Cost of Production as announced in Union Budget 2018-19.
The expected returns to farmers over their cost of production are estimated to be highest in case of Wheat (106%) followed by rapeseed & mustard (93%), gram and lentil (78%).
For barley, return to farmers over their cost of production is estimated at 65% and for safflower, it is 50%. Presently MSP is fixed for 22 agricultural crops.
Support is in the form of MSP as well as procurement. In the case of cereals, Food Corporation of India (FCI) and other designated State Agencies would continue to provide price support to the farmers. Government has set up a buffer stock of pulses and domestic procurement of pulses is also being done under the Price Stabilization Fund (PSF).
The Umbrella Scheme “Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan” (PM-AASHA), comprising Price Support Scheme (PSS), Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS), and pilot Scheme of Private Procurement and Stockist Scheme (PPSS) will aid in the procurement of pulses and oilseeds.
Minimum Support Prices for all Rabi crops for marketing season 2021-22
|Crops||MSP for RMS 2020-21
|MSP for RMS 2021-22
|Cost* of production 2021-22 (Rs/quintal)||Increase in MSP
|Return over cost (in per cent)|
Annual Increase in MSP since last six years (In Rs. per quintal)
|Rapeseed & Mustard||3050||3100||3350||3700||4000||4200||4425||4650|
Despite global COVID-19 pandemic and consequent nationwide lockdown, timely intervention made by Government has led to an all-time record procurement of wheat at about 39 million tonnes for RMS 2020-21. Around 43 lakh farmers benefitted under procurement operations period which is 22 per cent higher than the RMS 2019-20.
In the current situation of health pandemic, all concerted efforts are being made by the Government to alleviate the problems faced by the farmers, various steps taken by the Government are as follows:
- Along with an increase in MSP, the procurement process has been strengthened so that maximum number of farmers may get its benefit.
- Procurement centres for wheat and for pulses-oilseeds are increased by 1.5 times and 3 times respectively during COVID pandemic.
- During pandemic 390 lakh tons of wheat has been procured at a cost of Rs.75,000 crore which is 15 per cent more than the last year.
- With the initiation of PM KISAN SAMMAN NIDHI YOJANA around 10 crore farmers have benefitted. The total disbursed amount is around Rs.93,000 crore
- Nearly 9 crore farmers have received around Rs.38000 crore during COVID pandemic under PM-KISAN.
- 1.25 Crore new KCCs have been issued in the last 6 months.
- Summer Season sowing is 57 lakh hectare, which is 16 lakh hectare more than the last year. Kharif sowing is also 5 per cent higher than that of last year.
- Number of E-NAM markets has increased from 585 to 1000 during Covid pandemic. Last year, e-platform witnessed a trade of Rs. 35000 crore.
- Rs. 6850 crore will be spent for creation of 10,000 FPOs over a period of five years.
- In the last 4 years under FASAL BIMA YOJANA, farmers received a claim of Rs.77,000 crore against the paid premium of Rs. 17500 Crore.
- FASAL BIMA YOJANA is made voluntary.
- Kisan Rail has been started.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 have been promulgated so as to provide alternative channels for farmers to sell their produce outside traditional APMC mandi system and to encourage private participation in agribusiness. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 has been promulgated to build efficient agri-food supply chains and attract more private sector investment in value-addition, scientific storage, warehousing and marketing infrastructure.
Under the Scheme for Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, Rs 1 Lakh Crore will be provided by the banks and financial institutions as loans with interest subvention of 3% per annum and credit guarantee coverage under CGTMSE (Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises) for loans up to Rs. 2 Crore. The scheme will support farmers, PACS, FPOs, agri-entrepreneurs, etc. in building community farming assets and post-harvest agriculture infrastructure.
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