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SC issues notice to Centre on petitions challenging ED director’s tenure extension

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Central government on petitions challenging the extension of tenure of current Director of Enforcement Directorate (ED) Sanjay Kumar Mishra.

A bench of Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana issued notice to the Centre and scheduled the matter for further hearing after 10 days. The bench, also comprising Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, said: “We issue notice on all the petitions. List after 10 days.”

The top court was hearing a batch of eight petitions filed by Trinamool Congress and Congress leaders — Dr. Jaya Thakur, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Saket Gokhale, Mahua Moitra — and other petitions filed by advocate M.L. Sharma, Krishna Chander Singh, and Vineet Narain, challenging the extension of tenure of the ED director.

The petitions have challenged the order issued by the Centre on November 17, 2021 to extend the term of the ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra by one more year, and also the Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Act 2021, which allows the extension of the term of the Director of the Enforcement of Directorate up to 5 years.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, representing Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala, submitted that the amendment allows the Central government to give yearly extensions to the ED director up to 5 years, which puts the officer at government’s discretion and compromises the independence of the post. Singhvi added that in the Common Cause v. Union of India judgment, the top court had directed last year that Mishra cannot be given further extension.

A counsel pointed out that Mishra had completed 4 years as the ED Director. Another counsel argued that the ED director’s failure to upload his immovable property returns from 2017-2020 and the vigilance rules and the official memorandum states that clearance for the top post won’t be granted if the returns aren’t uploaded.

Advocates Shashank Ratnoo and Varun Thakur appeared for Thakur, where the Congress leader had challenged the extension granted to Mishra as well as amendments brought out through ordinance in Vigilance Commission Act. The counsel argued that the pertinent point of extension order and amendments being in contradiction of apex court’s own judgment and the soul of VC Act.

The petitioners have argued that extension given to Mishra is a blatant violation of the top court’s directions by promulgating an ordinance to amend the Central Vigilance Commission Act to allow an extension up to 5 years for the term of ED Director.

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‘Women look good even without clothes’, says Ramdev

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 In a potentially controversial development, Yoga expert Ramdev on Friday commented on women’s attires, raising eyebrows in political and social circles.

Addressing a free Yoga training programme here, Ramdev said without batting an eyelid: “Women look good in saris, they look great in salwar suits, and in my view they look good even if they don’t wear anything.”

At that time, he was flanked by Thane’s Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena MP Shrikant Shinde, son of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and singer Amruta Fadnavis — wife of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and other prominent personalities.

Ramdev, 56, was speaking at a Yoga Science Camp & Women’s Meeting organised by Patanjali Yoga Peeth and Mumbai Mahila Patanjali Yoga Samiti here.

He interacted with women who had brought their yoga attires and saris for the conclave and attended a training camp conducted by Ramdev.

Since the meeting started soon after the training camp, many women did not get time to change and attended it in their Yoga suits.

Observing this, Ramdev said that there was no problem if they had no time to switch to saris and they could do it after going home, and then made his remark — termed as ‘sexist’ in some quarters.

He also urged the people to remain happy and smiling, similar to Amruta Fadnavis to live a long life.

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NF Railway to organise first-ever Northeast Half Marathon

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The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) will organise the first-ever Northeast Half Marathon in Guwahati on February 5 next year, officials said on Friday.

To organise the first-of-its-kind Northeast Half Marathon, the NFR has joined hands with Innovations India Pvt Ltd. The Half Marathon will be aimed at the empowerment of sportspersons and the development of sports infrastructure in the northeastern region.

NFR CPRO, Sabyasachi De said that the Northeast Half Marathon will be a series of Marathons that would be conducted across the northeast with the aim of empowering the sportspersons and developing sporting activity in this region.

He informed that the first Marathon of the planned series will be held at Maligaon on the 5th of February, and approximately 3,000 runners from all across India as well as abroad are expected to participate in the race.

Prizes worth Rs 11 lakh would be given to the winners in addition to the trophies, medals and certificates.

The aspiring participants would be able to register through online as well as offline mode for the Marathon.

The NE Half Marathon would highlight all states of the Northeast as one entity and would surely catapult this region into the limelight on both National & International Platforms, De claimed.

Anshul Gupta, General Manager of NFR said that beyond connectivity and promoting tourism, the NFR is also promoting sporting events in various places within its jurisdiction.

The curator of the event, Captain Rahul Bali appreciated the initiative taken by the Railways.

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Delhi govt school classroom scam: Vigilance directorate recommends probe by specialised agency

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 The Directorate of Vigilance (DoV) of the Delhi government has submitted its report to the chief secretary in a case of alleged “irregularities and corruption” in the construction of 2,405 classrooms in 193 schools and has recommended probe.

The DoV report, prepared after seeking the responses of the Education Department and the PWD, prima facie points towards a major scam and has suggested “a detailed investigation by a specialised agency”.

The DoV has submitted the report in the matter related to a complaint dated August 22, 2022, with regards to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report dated February 17, 2020 highlighting glaring irregularities in the construction of additional classrooms in different schools of the Delhi government by PWD. The CVC had sent the report to the DoV seeking its comments on the matter.

The Vigilance Department has also recommended “fixing the responsibilities of the concerned officials of the Education Department and PWD” who were involved in the bungling to the tune of nearly Rs 1,300 crore. It has also recommended to forward its findings along with the replies of PWD and Education Department to the CVC for consideration, said a source on Friday.

Apart from several procedural lapses and violation of rules and manuals to tamper with the tender process, the DoV, in its report, has specifically underlined the role of private persons viz. “M/s Babbar and Babbar Associates”, who, without being appointed as a consultant, not only attended a crucial meeting held on June 21, 2016, in the chamber of the then PWD Minister, but also influenced the Minister for post-tender changes done in the work contracts in the name of “richer specifications” that resulted into additional financial implications of Rs 205.45 crore.

In the report, the Secretary (Vigilance) has observed that “extra constitutional agencies / persons (like M/s Babbar & Babbar Associates) were running the administration and dictating the terms and conditions to the officers and the entire administration both at the policy level as well as the execution level and were implementing such directions of private person in a place like national capital of the country, which is not only against TBR, 1993 and other rules, regulations and guidelines, besides being a serious threat to the securities aspect. This kind of approach will lead to administrative anarchy and chaos.”

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