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Tuesday,31-January-2023
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PM’s blockade in Punjab was stage-managed, says Amarinder

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Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) chief Amarinder Singh on Friday launched a scathing attack on Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, whose government, he said, had clearly ‘stage-managed’ the blockade that led to a serious security lapse on Prime Minister Narendra Modis route in the state earlier this month.

Amarinder Singh said he had earlier passed the same bridge, where the Prime Minister had been stuck for a long duration, and there was no blockade there.

On January 5, the Prime Minister’s rally in Ferozepur had to be cancelled due to a security lapse after some protesters blocked a route and forced his convoy to spend about 20 minutes on a flyover. The Prime Minister was enroute the National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala when the incident happened.

“Clearly, the Channi government had instructed the police not to remove the farmers who were stopping BJP buses from reaching the spot,” Amarinder Singh said.

Describing the incident as a major security lapse which no Constitutional head should ever have to face, and which could easily have become a threat to the Prime Minister’s life given the proximity to the international border, the former Chief Minister said that instead of taking a defiant stand, Channi should have issued an unequivocal apology.

“We are a sensitive border state and Pakistan’s ISI is always looking to create trouble here,” he said, asserting that “one can never take any chances”.

Amarinder Singh also said that the incumbent government has been exposed as a ‘suitcase di sarkar’ after the recent Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids that had unearthed crores of rupees from the premises of Chief Minister Channi’s kin.

In a social media interaction, Amarinder Singh said the ED seizure from Channi’s kin was a follow-up on the case that the agency had registered after he had ordered an inquiry while he was heading the government.

Unfortunately, Amarinder Singh said, he had been unable to take any serious action against the Congress MLAs who were involved in illegal mining in the state as that would have damaged the party’s interests, while Sonia Gandhi had failed to respond to his query on which minister or MLA she wanted him to sack over the issue.

Labelling Channi as a ‘total failure’, the PLC chief said the new Chief Minister has done nothing except indulging in postings and transfers since taking over.

“Three DGPs have been changed, his home minister has been openly accused in a cabinet meeting by his colleague that money was being taken for the posting of SSP, there was a tug-of-war on the AG’s post. This is not ‘lokaan di sarkar’ but ‘transfer posting di sarkar’, which has now also become ‘suitcase di sarkar’,” he added.

“Even the announcements made by Channi are nothing but projects that were launched or announced by me,” said Amarinder Singh, citing the examples of farm loan waiver, jobs under Ghar Ghar Rozgar scheme, investments in Punjab, free bus travel for women, etc.

Amarinder Singh further said that Manpreet Badal, as the finance minister, had scuttled many of his schemes and plans by claiming to have no funds, which, it appears now, was a “total lie”.

On why no sitting Congress MLA was joining the PLC, Amarinder Singh said they are only waiting for their party to announce the tickets, which is being deliberately delayed as the Congress is “scared” of defections.

Crime

‘Used money for personal enjoyment’, ED to SC on Rana Ayyub’s plea in money laundering case

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday said journalist Rana Ayyub received money through a crowdfunding platform for the purpose of slum dwellers, Covid relief, and some work in Assam, however she diverted the money and used it for “personal enjoyment”.

Ayyub had moved the apex court against the summons issued by a Ghaziabad court in connection with a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, representing Ayyub, contended before a bench of Justices V. Ramasubramanian and Justice J.B. Pardiwala, “can her client be deprived of personal liberty by a procedure not authorised by law?”

Grover said the ED has attached her client’s personal bank account in a bank at Navi Mumbai in which around Rs 1 crore was lying. She pressed that the Ghaziabad court has no jurisdiction to try the offence as the alleged act is claimed to have been committed in Mumbai.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the ED, submitted that Ayyub raised funds of three aspects — slum dwellers, Covid, and for some work in Assam — on Ketto, which is a crowdfunding platform. He added that nearly Rs 1 crore was collected and Rs 50 Lakh was transferred to a personal account in fixed deposit, and after the first campaign was over she kept receiving money. “We found that money was diverted…used for personal enjoyment…people were donating crores without knowing where money was going…,” said Mehta.

He further submitted that a prosecution complaint was filed in the Ghaziabad court by the agency as part of the cause of action had arisen in Uttar Pradesh, where many people, including from Ghaziabad, donated money for her crowdfunding campaign.

Mehta said the money laundering offence is not an independent offence and is always connected to a scheduled offence for which an FIR was lodged in Indirapuram police station of Ghaziabad. He added that money was shown by fake bills, groceries, among others, and was used for personal luxury items and consumption.

Citing Ayyub’s counsel arguments, Mehta emphasized that if a person chose to launder money in Singapore or Thiruvananthapuram, the agency has to go there and lodge a case. He said, “this is not the scheme…”

After hearing arguments, the apex court reserved its verdict on a plea by Ayyub challenging the summonses issued by a special court in Ghaziabad in the money laundering case.

Last week, the apex court had asked the Ghaziabad court to adjourn the proceedings in the money laundering case against Ayyub scheduled for hearing on January 27 to a date after January 31.

The ED, in October last year, had filed a charge sheet against Ayyub, accusing her of cheating the public and utilising charity funds worth Rs 2.69 crore for creating her personal assets, and also violating the foreign contribution law.

Ayyub moved the apex court seeking quashing of the proceedings initiated by the ED in Ghaziabad. The plea contended that the alleged offence of money laundering occurred in Mumbai, while citing lack of jurisdiction.

A special PMLA court in Ghaziabad, in November last year, had taken cognizance of the prosecution complaint filed by the Enforcement Directorate and summoned Ayyub. The special court said that from the perusal of the entire record there is sufficient evidence as to a prima facie case for taking cognizance against Rana Ayyub with regard to commission of offence.

The special court has noted the alleged offence is connection with obtaining illegally money from the general public in the name of charity via ‘Ketto’ platform, which is an online crowdfunding platform, in three campaigns without any kind of approval, raising huge amounts in the bank account of her sister and father and later transferring the same to her own bank account which was not used for the intended purpose.

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National News

Prez Murmu to address joint sitting of Parliament first time

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President Droupadi Murmu will address the joint sitting of Parliament for the first time since being elected to the post. She will outlay the government’s vision for the current year.

The Parliament Budget session will commence from Tuesday and the Finance Minister will table the Economic survey. She will present the Union budget on Wednesday.

President Droupadi Murmu, in her first Republic Day-eve speech, hailed India’s G-20 presidency, saying it is an opportunity to promote democracy and multilateralism, and also the right forum for shaping a better world and a better future.

“India holds the presidency of the Group of 20 nations. With our motto of universal brotherhood, we stand for peace and prosperity of all. Thus, the G20 presidency is an opportunity to promote democracy and multilateralism and the right forum for shaping a better world and a better future. Under India’s leadership, I am sure, the G20 will be able to further enhance its efforts to build a more equitable and sustainable world order.”

She said the ultimate goal is to create an environment in which all citizens can — individually and collectively, realise their true potential and prosper.

The President had also commended the roles of farmers, workers, scientists and engineers in the nation’s development and also praised the armed forces and paramilitary forces.

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Maharashtra

Pawar meets LS Speaker to revoke disqualification of Lakshadweep MP

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 Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar on Monday met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and urged him to revoke the disqualification of party’s Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal whose conviction has been suspended by the Kerala High Court.

Pawar said, “As the Kerala High Court suspended the conviction and sentence of the former Lakshadweep MP and hence we appealed to the honourable speaker to consider the matter of suspension.”

He said that he met with the Lok Sabha speaker and requested him to revoke the disqualification of the NCP’s MP.

The Election Commission (EC) on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it will consider the Kerala High Court order, which suspended the conviction of Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal in an attempt to murder case, and take action in accordance with the law.

Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Faizal, submitted before a bench headed by Justice K.M. Joseph that the by-election cannot go on as the high court has suspended the conviction of his client.

Faizal’s conviction had resulted in his disqualification from the Lok Sabha. The bypoll was announced by the EC after Faizal was disqualified following his conviction in the case.

Senior advocate Maninder Singh, representing the EC, contended before the bench, also comprising B.V. Nagarathna, that the action will be taken in accordance with law against the backdrop of the high court order.

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