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Likely pitfalls that could derail the Shinde-Fadnavis combination



After hijacking the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) 3-party �auto-rickshaw, new Chief Minister Eknath Shinde converted it into a �two-wheeler with an over zealous pillion-rider in Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Over 3 weeks after they were sworn-in, instead of zooming off, the government is still �parked’ on the road, but is busy clearing the route ahead by yanking off the MVA’s decisions, policies, schemes and projects.

Relegated to the pavement, the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress looked on gleefully as Fadnavis once snatched the microphone as a startled Shinde cast a brief bewildered stare at the audacity.

Many in the Opposition are wondering aloud �how soon’ before the Bharatiya Janata Party heavyweight Fadnavis grabs the reins of power to jump into the driving seat sidelining the ex-autorickshaw driver Shinde.

The challenges before the new regime are both daring and daunting, starting with the much-awaited Cabinet expansion, amid a storm raised by Shinde’s 40-strong band of restless rebel Shiv Sena MLAs.

Then, the Independents or fringes like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) to ensure a �Thackeray’ on board and the frightful prospects of humouring the BJP legislators, with many bigwigs ready to draw first blood at the first slight.

All these would test the best of Shinde’s balancing skills and Fadnavis’ claimed �Chanakya-esque’ mastery to ensure a turbulence-free ride for the new regime.

Among the secret worries are whether the Brobdingnagian BJP with 106 MLAs looking down, would try to grab the cake and leave only crumbs for the rebels, with at least 20 prime portfolios up for grabs and coveted by all.

The next concern for the breakaway group would be the Supreme Court verdict which could make or break the new government, with both sides of the Shiv Sena proclaiming they are the �real’ party.

While winning the trust vote in the House was easy, the next formidable challenge for Shinde would be to win the confidence of the masses and establish his own credibility — a dismaying proposition as many in the past, like Raj Thackeray of the MNS, and others who revolted in different parties all over India have experienced.

A major battle – legal and political – waiting to erupt between the Thackeray and Shinde sides, is over who will ‘conquer’ the Shiv Sena Bhavan (the party headquarters), bag its �Tiger’ logo, the iconic Bow and Arrow election symbol, the well oiled 56-year-old party apparatus, and most important, convincingly delink it from the magical Thackeray surname�

Shinde would have to prove his supremacy over the Thackeray side in the upcoming civic body elections but hurdles are already cropping up with a section of his group reportedly against allying with the BJP.

Retaining the CM’s traditional stronghold of Thane may be a cakewalk, but dislodging the MVA hold over many other civic bodies like Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad, Nanded, etc could pose problems, with or without the BJP’s overbearing shadow.

Top MVA leaders like Thackeray, Sanjay Raut (Sena), Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar (NCP), Nana Patole, Balasaheb Thorat (Congress), have already predicted that the �E.D.’ (Eknath-Devendra) government could fall on its own and the state would be pushed to a mid-term election in a few months.

After Shinde-Fadnavis clear these teething hurdles, they have a table-full of major governance issues like the OBC quotas, handling Covid better than the MVA did, and fast-track or complete several big ticket ongoing projects, estimated to cost over Rs 5 lakh crores.

They are the Mumbai-Nagpur Super Expressway, the Borivali-Thane Tunnel, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, the Mumbai Coastal Road, the southern and northern extension to the Worli-Bandra Sea Link, the Navi Mumbai International Airport, and more than 375-kms of Metro Rail spanning the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

Other mega projects are the Pune Ring Road, Marathwada Water Grid, the Jalna-Nanded corridor linking the Mumbai-Nagpur Super Expressway, augmenting the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, kickstarting the Konkan Expressway, the Sagari (coastal) Highway, Palghar-Raigad Multimodal corridor, and the long pending Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj statue in the Arabian Sea and the Dr B. R. Ambedkar Memorial in Dadar.






New Delhi, 9th December 2023
In a massive crackdown on ISIS, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday arrested 15 operatives of the banned terror outfit during multiple and widespread raids across Maharashtra and Karnataka.

NIA teams swooped down on as many as 44 locations in Padgha-Borivali, Thane, Mira Road and Pune in Maharashtra, and Bengaluru in Karnataka early this morning, and apprehended the 15 accused for promoting terror and terror related acts and activities of the proscribed organisation.

Huge amounts of unaccounted cash, firearms, sharp edged weapons, incriminating documents, smart phones and other digital devices were seized during the raids, conducted as part of NIA’s ongoing efforts to disrupt and demolish the attempts of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to carry out violent acts of terror and take innocent lives.

The accused, operating on the directions of their foreign handlers, had been actively involved in various terrorist activities, including fabrication of IEDs, for furthering the violent and destructive agenda of the ISIS, as per NIA investigations.

NIA investigations have further revealed that the accused, all members of ISIS Maharashtra module, were operating from Padgha-Borivali, where they had hatched the conspiracy to spread terror and carry out acts of violence across India. Pursuing the path of violent Jihad, Khilafat, ISIS etc., the accused had aimed to disturb the peace and communal harmony of the country and to wage a war against the Government of India.

Initial investigations have revealed that the arrested accused had self-declared the village of Padgha in rural Thane as a ‘liberated zone’ and as ‘Al Sham’. They were motivating impressionable Muslim youth to relocate in Padgha from their place of residence for strengthening the Padgha base.

Saqib Nachan, the main accused and the leader and head of the ISIS module, was also administering the ‘bayath’ (oath of allegiance to the Khalifa of ISIS ) to the persons joining the proscribed organisation.

ISIS is a Global Terror Organisation (GTG) , also known as Islamic State (IS) / Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) / Daish / Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) / ISIS Wilayat Khorasan/Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham Khorasan (ISIS-K)). The outfit has been spreading its terror network in India by putting in place localized ISIS modules and cells in various States of the country.

NIA has, in recent months, conducted large-scale raids and busted different ISIS modules by arresting several terror operatives in the ISIS terror conspiracy case in a bid to scuttle the organisation’s heinous and violent anti-India agenda. As part of its efforts towards that end, the agency had registered a case against the ISIS Maharashtra module earlier this year and has, since then, undertaken strong and concerted actions to destroy the various ISIS modules and networks operating across the country.

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Mumbai: Coordinated Maritime Exercise ‘Prasthan’ Tests Readiness and Response Protocols In Offshore Development Area




On Friday, the Indian Navy, in collaboration with defense, state, and civil agencies, conducted a joint exercise named ‘Prasthan’ in the Offshore Development Area off Mumbai. This biannual exercise aims to validate and enhance measures and procedures for responding to contingencies on oil production platforms in the region.

The exercise took place on the R12A (Ratna) platform of ONGC, situated approximately 45 nautical miles west of Mumbai harbor, spanning two phases from the early hours of Friday until late night. The first phase focused on testing security protocols for emergencies such as terrorist attacks and bomb threats from improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, based in Mumbai, and also the Commander-in-Chief (Coastal Defence), West, activated the contingency plan. A Crisis Management Committee, comprising senior officials from defense, state, and civilian agencies, gathered at the Indian Navy’s Operation Centre for a coordinated response to potential emergencies.

During the first phase, the Crisis Management Group evaluated various aspects of emergencies and initiated coordinated actions according to established Standard Operating Procedures. The Indian Navy, in conjunction with the Indian Air Force, deployed anti-sabotage teams to neutralize security threats on the oil platform.

The exercise’s initial phase involved actions to counter contingencies such as terrorist intrusions, bomb threats, man overboard incidents, medical evacuation of platform crew, and oil spills. The second phase focused on responding to contingencies like fires on the oil platform and assisting a disabled vessel in the offshore development area.

Several ships and helicopters from the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, Indian Coast Guard, ONGC, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and the Director General of Shipping participated. Personnel from Maharashtra Police, Customs, Fisheries Department, Mumbai Port Authorities, JN Port Authorities, India Meteorological Department, and other relevant state and central civilian agencies were also actively involved.

The exercise was conducted in a synergistic and coordinated manner, providing a realistic setting to assess the preparedness of all agencies involved. A thorough analysis of the activities will be undertaken to refine existing procedures and identify areas that require further strengthening and improvement.

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Mumbai: ‘There Is Constant Tussle About Controlling Appointment Of Judges,’ CJI Chandrachud




The tussle between the judiciary and the government over the appointment of judges was once again apparent on Friday when Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud breached the topic during the inauguration of the new premises of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) bench in Mumbai.

CJI said that there is a constant tussle about who will control the appointment of judges even as the vacancies arise, and the recommendations are kept pending for a long period of time.

Importance of tribunals

Emphasizing the importance of tribunals in the country, CJI said one of its objectives is to battle the delays and help unclog the courts and aid overall in the dispensation of justice.

The tribunals, however, are plagued with problems, and we ask ourselves whether it is really necessary to constitute so many tribunals, the CJI said. “Because you do not get judges, when you get judges, vacancies arise which are kept pending for a long period of time…and then there is this constant tussle about who will get ultimate control over the appointment of judges,” CJI added.

Appreciating the work culture in Maharashtra, CJI said: “There is a culture of governance where the government successfully has left the judiciary alone. They do not tinker with the work the judges do. They accept outcomes that are favorable…they accept outcomes that are unfavorable because that is the culture of Maharashtra.”

The struggle to acquire space in the city

Highlighting the struggle to acquire space in the city, CJI said that every Mumbaikar would testify to the troubles of securing a space. “Very often we forget the importance of the work that the government does in aiding and supporting the judicial infrastructure,” he said, adding that the government played a proactive role in allotting a place for a new high court complex.

The CJI, who has been vocal for inclusivity, said that to make justice accessible to all, it is necessary to make courtrooms more accessible to differently-abled persons. He added that technology cannot become the sole medium to access justice, and physical access to courts can never be understated and hence must be constantly improved.

Stressing the importance of tribunals, CJI said that it has also helped litigants. “A rightful but weary pensioner or a wrongly terminated single mother may not withstand a long and winded litigation as well as outlast her much more powerful opponent, usually the State, in a long-winded legal tussle,” the CJI said. The tribunals make this journey less onerous for the litigants in matters of public employment.

Infrastructural gaps in the judiciary

A report prepared by the Centre for Research and Planning highlights the infrastructural gaps in the judiciary. “The report found that for a sanctioned strength of 25,081 judges in the district judiciary, there is a shortage of 4051 courtrooms. Notably, 42.9 percent of the total courtrooms have been under construction in the last three years,” CJI said.

He said that there are many barriers that stand in the way of access to justice for many, and the inability to get a timely outcome may impact each person differently. At a certain level, we feel that delay impacts everybody equally, but that is not so, the CJI said, adding it has a disparate impact on everyone.

Giving examples of lactating mothers and a person in a wheelchair, CJI said: “It is no answer to a wheel-chair bound person, a senior citizen, or a lactating mother for our courts to tell them that our courts are better experienced online. The litigant alone must have the choice of how they want to access the courts.”

Democracy in India

While speaking at the Jamnalal Bajaj Awards, CJI said that India has been able to sustain democracy, unlike several other nations that acquired freedom around the same time as India did.

“75 years ago several nations across the world joined India in freeing from colonial rule but so many of these nations have fallen by the wayside. They attained independence but they were unable to attain true self-governance,” said CJI. India is unique because we have been able to sustain democracy. “What is it that sets us apart from several of those nations that attained freedom around the same time? Some say we have internalized democracy, constitutional values. Others will say the strength of our nation lies in its pluralistic culture, all-encompassing humanity,” CJI added.

He underscored that the power of violence, the power of guns has got better of the rule of law in other nations. However, India has survived because of our “ability to dialogue.”

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