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COA chief Vinod Rai welcomes “excellent” SC order on Lodha reforms

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Vinod Rai

New Delhi | The Committee of Administrators chief Vinod Rai today welcomed the Supreme Court order on mandatory cooling off period for BCCI office-bearers after two consecutive terms and for putting a roadmap in place for the Board’s elections.

The original Lodha Committee reforms suggested only one term of three years before mandatory cooling off but today’s order allows office-bearers two consecutive terms before the mandatory cooling off.

The new judgement effectively means that current acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhary and acting treasurer Aniruddh Chaudhry can contest for another term.

”This is an excellent order by the Honourable Court. I have absolutely no problem with office-bearers having two consecutive terms. Even I had originally wanted a six year term before cooling off period but couldn’t get consensus,” Rai told PTI on what is being seen as the most significant aspect of today’s order.

Rai said another positive to come out today is the timeline set by the apex court for the adoption of the approved BCCI constitution, which will also pave the way for the Board’s elections provided there is 100 per cent compliance by the state associations. The state units have been today warned by the SC to either comply or face action.

”Now we finally have a roadmap in place which will lead to adoption of the new constitution and subsequently elections. Now there is a time-line in place,” Rai said.

He also expressed satisfaction that all the original members have retained their voting rights.

The SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, restored the permanent membership of Railways, Services and Universities and granted membership to Mumbai, Saurashtra, Vadodara and Vidarbha.

”We had maintained that legacy units like Mumbai should retain their voting rights. The draft constitution also mentions that. Every member unit should have voting rights,” the former CAG said.

“Now the SC ruling will ensure that state units will have to comply with the order by deadlines or else COA can move court,” Rai signed off. Another COA member Diana Edulji also welcomed the latest order.

“We are happy with the judgement. We were appointed by the Supreme Court in the first place to oversee reforms. Now that SC has modified its order, we will have to see that it is implemented properly. I hope everybody will comply and cricket will move on,” she said.

“We did not having anything personal (against any BCCI official). We were nominated by the SC to do a job and our focus has always been on that,” she added.

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Bulandshahr violence: Court sent acccused armymen on 14 day judicial custody

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Bulandshahr

Lucknow | A local court on Sunday sent the accused army men in Bulandshar violence Jitendra Malik alias Jitu Fauji to a 14-day judicial custody.

Jitendra Malik allegedly involved in the killing of a police inspector during mob violence in Bulandshahr was arrested on Saturday night. “The Army handed over Jitendra Malik to UP STF team in Meerut yesterday late night,” IG STF Amitabh Yash told PTI here today.

On Monday, a mob of some 400 people rampaged through a village in Bulandshahr district apparently after cow carcasses were found in a jungle nearby. During the violence, Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and a 20-year-old man died of gunshot wounds. Nine people have been arrested in connection with the violence. Earlier Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat said Saturday that full cooperation will be extended in the investigation of the incident

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Pakistan issues visas to 139 Indian pilgrims to visit Katas Raj dham

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Katas Raj dham

New Delhi | The Pakistan High Commission on Sunday said it has issued visas to 139 Indian pilgrims to visit Katas Raj Dham, the famous Shiva temple, in the country’s Punjab province.

Under the framework of a bilateral protocol on visits to religious shrines, Sikh and Hindu pilgrims from India visit Pakistan every year. Pakistani pilgrims also visit India every year under the protocol. “Another group of Indian pilgrims, comprising 139 people, have been issued visas by the Pakistan High Commission to visit Shree Katas Raj Dham in Chakwal district from December 9-15,” the Pakistan High Commission said.

Last month, Pakistan had granted visas to more than 3,800 Sikh pilgrims to visit the country. Some of the pilgrims had attended the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor on November 28 in Narowal. The corridor will link the Darbar Sahib shrine in Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district in India.

Earlier this month, over 220 Indian pilgrims were granted visas to visit the famous Hindu temple, Shadani Darbar, in Sukkur.  Katas Raj is one of the holiest places for the Hindu community in Pakistan. The temples form a complex surrounding a pond named Katas — which is regarded as sacred by the devotees.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood stated that the issuance of visas for yet another group of pilgrims from India was consistent with Government’s of Pakistan’s policy of promoting visits to religious shrines and was a reflection of its commitment to faithfully implement the 1974 Protocol, the High Commission said in a release. He said that Pakistan remained committed to providing all possible facilitation for the visiting pilgrims and strengthening people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

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Large number of Muslim women likely to go to Haj without ‘Mehram’ in 2019: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

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Haj

New Delhi | A large number of Muslim women are likely to go to Haj without ‘Mehram’ (male companion) next year, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Sunday.

Naqvi, while chairing a meeting here with representatives of organisations associated with Haj, said that Haj Committee of India has received more than 2,23,000 applications for Haj 2019 till now. The over 2,23,000 applications include about 47 percent women, he was quoted as saying by a statement released from his office.

Haj application process had started on November 7, 2018, and the last date for it is December 12. Naqvi said that more than 2,000 women have applied to go for Haj in 2019 without ‘Mehram’ with the number likely to go up.

Naqvi said that in 2018, for the first time, the Centre had lifted the ban on women going to Haj without Mehram, which resulted into about 1,300 women going for the pilgrimage without any male companion. They had been exempted from the lottery system and more than 100 women Haj coordinators and Haj assistants had been deployed to assist the Indian women Haj pilgrims, Naqvi said.

For the first time after Independence, a record number of Muslims — 1,75,025 — from India performed Haj in 2018 and that too without any subsidy, he said. Naqvi said that making the Haj process completely digital has helped in making the entire process transparent. For Haj 2019, about 1,36,000 online applications have been received and the online portal for Private Tour Operators (PTOs) is already operational, Naqvi said.

While on one hand, the portal has ensured transparency in the functioning of PTOs, on the other hand it is very beneficial for the pilgrims as they get all the necessary information, he said, adding that the new policy for the PTOs is also likely to be chalked out this year. Naqvi said that the central government, in coordination with Indian Consulate in Jeddah and various concerned agencies in Saudi Arabia, is working to ensure safety and better facilities for the pilgrims.

The bilateral Haj agreement between India and Saudi Arabia is likely to be signed soon, he said.

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