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CBI vs CBI: Alok Verma submits his response to CVC findings on corruption charges against him

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Alok Verma had approached the apex court challenging the Centre’s decision to divest him of his duties and sending him on leave following his feud with Special CBI Director Rakesh Asthana.

 

New Delhi| CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma filed his response Monday to the findings of the CVC’s preliminary probe report on corruption charges against him in a sealed cover in the Supreme Court after he was told to do so “as quickly as possible” as the scheduled Tuesday hearing on his plea would not be deferred.

Verma, who was asked to file his response to the Central Vigilance Commission’s (CVC) report in a sealed cover by Monday 1 pm, sought some more time from the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi for filing his reply with the secretary general of the apex court around 12.40 pm.

“We are not shifting the date (of hearing). You file it as quickly as possible as we will have to read it,” the bench, also comprising justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph told Verma’s lawyer Gopal Sankaranarayanan.

“Even though we sought a little time from the court, Verma’s reply was filed with the secretary general at 1 pm,” the lawyer told PTI.

Verma’s reply will deal with the CVC report, which was categorised into four parts by the apex court as “complimentary, very complimentary, not so complimentary and very uncomplimentary” for the CBI director.

The apex court, on November 16, had directed Verma, Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who were also supplied with the confidential report of the CVC, to maintain secrecy, saying it was needed to ensure people’s faith in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as an institution.

Earlier, the apex court had said the CVC had made some “very uncomplimentary” findings in its probe on corruption allegations against Verma and wanted further investigations into some of the charges which required more time, adding that there were also some “very complimentary” conclusions.

Summing up the “exhaustive” confidential report of the CVC given to it, the court ordered that a copy of it, along with the annexure, be given to Verma in a sealed cover.

Alok Verma had approached the apex court challenging the Centre’s decision to divest him of his duties and sending him on leave following his feud with Special CBI Director Rakesh Asthana, who has levelled corruption allegations against him.

Asthana has also been divested of his duties and sent on leave.

Pursuant to the top court’s order, the CVC’s inquiry against Alok Verma was conducted under the supervision of former apex court judge Justice A K Patnaik and the report was filed in the court on November 12.

Besides Verma’s plea, the court is also seized of a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, which has sought a probe by a special investigation team against CBI officers.

Besides, it had barred the interim CBI chief, Nageshwar Rao, from taking any major policy decision, but granted him the liberty to perform the routine tasks that were essential to keep the CBI functional.

On November 4, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had also moved the top court contending that divesting Alok Verma of his statutory powers and functions was “completely illegal and arbitrary”.

In an interlocutory application filed in the pending petition, Kharge, who is part of the three-member selection committee that appoints the CBI director, said “as a concerned stakeholder”, he brought to the attention of the court the “brazen and illegal actions” of the political executive in interfering with the independent functioning of the CBI director.

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Rafale steals the show at Aero India

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Bengaluru | Political row hit Rafale jet was the cynosure of all eyes as the breathtaking display of manoeuvres by military aircraft and the aerobatic team cast a spell at Aero India, Asia’s premier air show here on Wednesday.

The city’s skies dazzled with somersaults and stunts by the metal birds, which also paid tributes to the Surya Kiran aircraft pilot killed in a mishap during rehearsal on Tuesday.

The might of the Rafale jet was in full flow as it roared into the skies at the Yelahanka air base, the venue for the event, giving a dazzling display with breathtaking manoeuvres.

The Rafale aircraft flew at low speed to pay tribute to Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi who died in a mid-air collision between two aircraft of IAF’s aerobatics team ‘Surya Kiran” during rehearsal on Tuesday.

Three Rafale jets have landed in Bengaluru for Aero India- two for flying and one on static display.

Rafale has been participating in the Aero India shows since 2011.

India has signed an Inter-Government Agreement with France to purchase 36 Rafales– to form two squadrons.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been carrying on a sustained campaign against the Modi government on Rafale, accusing it of favouring Anil Ambani’s firm as an offset partner and saying it was crony capitalism.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report tabled in Parliament recently revealed that the Rafale deal negotiated by the NDA government to procure 36 fighter jets was 2.86 per cent cheaper than the UPA’s 2007 offer.

The Jaguar, Tejas and Sukhoi 30 aircraft flew in the ‘missing man’ (aerial salute) formation in honour of Gandhi.

Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat, Air Force Chief B S Dhanoa and Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba were also present.

Thebiennial edition of International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition – Aero India 2019 was inaugurated by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the presence of Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.

Enthralling stunts were performed by Sarang aerobatics teams with daredevil crosses and spins, that has been the mainstay of the Aero India for many editions.

The air display began with vintage Dakota aircraft, followed by formations of Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv and Light Utility Helicopter, DO-228, Hawk and HTT40 aircrafts.

Then came the flypast and thrilling manoeuvres by MIG 21, Sarang team, Saras PT1, Embraer along with Sukhoi, Boeing P8I, LCA Tejas, HTT40, Sukhoi Su-30MKI, LUH, F-16 Fighting Falcon, Airbus 330 and the mighty B-52 Stratofortress bomber, among others.

LCA also paid tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who named it as Tejas, by performing certain sets of manoeuvres.

On static display among other things at the air show are HAL’s Light Utility Helicopter(PT-1), Light Combat Helicopter (TD-2), Advanced Light Helicopter (Rudra) and ALH MICU (Medical Intensive CareUnit).

The Aero India official website said a total of 61 aircraft would be on display and 403 exhibitors would be part of the show.

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Vande Bharat Express hits motorcycle, no damage: Railways

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New Delhi | The Vande Bharat Express hit a motorcycle near Allahabad on its third commercial run on Wednesday, the railways said, adding that no one was injured in the incident.

The incident occurred hours after stones were hurled at the train near Tundla in Uttar Pradesh in the morning.

The incident took place near Phaphamau, around 42 km from Allahabad.

“The train hit a motorcycle, which was abandoned by its owner on the tracks as he saw the train approaching while illegally trespassing on the tracks. While the vehicle has completely been damaged, the Vande Bharat Express suffered none. No one was injured and the train will run as per schedule,” Northern Railway Spokesperson Deepak Kumar said.

The train, made indigenously at a cost of around Rs 97 crore, has been plagued by issues since its trial runs commenced in November last year. It had suffered damage to its window panes when stones were hurled on it on two occasions previously.

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India, Saudi agree on need for increasing pressure on countries supporting terror: PM Modi

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New Delhi| India and Saudi Arabia agree that there is a need to increase all possible pressure on countries supporting terrorism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday after holding talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Prime Minister Modi and the Saudi Crown Prince explored ways to further deepen strategic ties against the backdrop of escalating tensions between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack.

The barbaric terror attack in Pulwama last week is a cruel symbol of the scourge spread over the world by this anti-humanitarian danger, Modi said in his press statement with Salman by his side.

“In order to deal effectively with this threat, we agree that there is a need to increase all possible pressure on the countries supporting terrorism in any manner,” Modi said, without naming Pakistan.

He asserted that destroying the terror infrastructure and punishing terrorists as well as their supporters was “very important”.

Prime Minister Modi also called for a strong action plan for combating extremism and so that the powers spreading violence and terror cannot mislead the youth.

The Saudi Crown Prince, in his press statement, said his country will cooperate with India in tackling terrorism, including by intelligence sharing.

The crown prince arrived here on a less than 30-hour visit Tuesday night, a day after concluding his high-profile tour of Pakistan where he said the dialogue was the only way to resolve “outstanding issues” between India and Pakistan.

In a special gesture, Modi received Salman at the airport here, signifying the importance India attaches to the visit by the leader of the Gulf nation.

In a joint statement, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Monday called for avoiding “politicisation” of the UN listing regime at a time when India was stepping up efforts to brand the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group’s chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist.

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