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SC notice to Kerala govt on plea for freeing Devaswom boards of govt control

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New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Friday sought response of the Kerala government and two Devaswom boards of the state on a plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking that such boards be made independent of government control.

A bench of justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph issued a notice to the Kerala government and Devaswom Board of Travancore and Cochin and sought their response in six weeks.

Swamy said that he was aggrieved by the Kerala High Court judgment refusing to strike down various sections of the Travancore- Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950.

He said that these sections of the Act were in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution and also arbitrary.

In his plea, Swamy said that before the high court it was alleged arbitrariness in the process of nominations and elections of the members to the Travancore Devaswom Board and the Cochin Devaswom Board.

“The two Devaswom Boards administer most of the temples situated in the erstwhile Travancore – Cochin part of the present State of Kerala that includes Kollam, Trivandrum, Ernakulam, Idukki and Thrissur Districts in Kerala and part of Kanyakumari District in Tamil Nadu,” he said.

He said that petitioner T G Mohan Das had submitted before the high court that the method of nomination and appointment of the members to the two Devaswom boards are undemocratic and are in derogation of the fundamental religious and administrative rights of the devotees to be part of such process.

Swamy’s plea said that the high court erred in rejecting the contention that when a temple is taken over by the state government on the allegation of mismanagement, is it not incumbent on the government to return the management of the temple to its original owners on the evil being remedied.

He said that the entire Act including the provisions ought to have been struck down as the statute takes over the temples for an indefinite period.

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For million problems in India, there are billion solutions: PM Modi

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Narendra Modi

Mumbai | Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said films and society are reflection of each other and like cinema, India too is changing with times.

The prime minister was speaking at the inauguration of the National Museum of Indian Cinema here. “The country is changing and finding its own solutions. If there are a million problems, there are also a billion solutions,” the PM said.

“Films have an important role in India’s soft power,” Modi said, while narrating how he was struck by popularity of Indian films overseas when he met and interacted with the leaders of foreign countries. He assured the film industry that effective steps are being taken to curb piracy and “camcording”.

“A single-window system for obtaining permissions for film shoots and related matters are on the anvil,” he said. Like the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, there could be a global film summit in India, the prime minister suggested.

“Films also play a big role in the growth of the tourism sector, which gives employment to even the poorest people, even ‘chaiwala’ makes money when tourism grows,” he said.

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Delhi court extends interim protection from arrest to Vadra’s aide till Feb 6

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Robert Vadra

New Delhi | A Delhi court on Saturday extended till February 6 the interim protection from arrest granted to Manoj Arora, a close aide of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, in a money-laundering case.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) told Special Judge Arvind Kumar that Arora was cooperating in the probe. “He joined the probe yesterday. So far he is cooperating,” Special Public Prosecutor D P Singh, appearing for the ED, said.

ED’s Special Public Prosecutor Nitesh Rana sought two more weeks for arguments on the application which was allowed by the court. The case relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property — located at 12, Bryanston Square — worth 1.9 million pounds, which is allegedly owned by Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

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Zakir Naik case: ED attaches assets worth Rs 16.40 cr under PMLA

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New Delhi | The ED has attached fresh assets worth Rs 16.40 crore in connection with its money-laundering probe against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, it said on Saturday.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), in a statement, said it had issued a provisional order for attachment of Naik’s assets, located in Mumbai and Pune, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The estimated value of the immovable assets was Rs 16.40 crore, the central probe agency said.

This is the third such attachment in the case by the ED. The agency is probing the case after taking cognisance of an FIR filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against Naik, who is said to be based in Malaysia at present.

With the latest order, the total value of assets attached in the case by the ED stands at Rs 50.49 crore.

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