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Cannot afford to have question marks on people holding positions in public sphere: Khurshid on Zakir Naik

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Khurshid; Congress

New Delhi: In an apparent reference to Zakir Naik, Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid today said the country cannot afford to have question marks on people in important positions in public but if there is no culpability of an individual, one should not be continued to be “hounded”.

He welcomed reports about Naik, the controversial Islamic preacher who has been staying abroad to evade arrest in various cases in India, likely to return to the country.

Naik, in a statement through his PRO, has, however, said that he would not return home till he felt “safe from unfair prosecution”.

“As long as there are complaints, charges, accusations, it is good that the matter should get to a sensible conclusion. If there is culpability, then that culpability be punished. If there is no culpability, I don’t think that one should continue to hound someone….

“We can’t afford to have question marks about people who have important positions in public sphere,” Khurshid said here.

Khurshid, who is a former Law Minister, said the “sad thing” about Naik was that he was not available to the Indian authorities and the system.

He, however, said it will be a good thing if he returns.

“The news of my coming to India is totally baseless and false. I have no plans to come to India till I feel safe from unfair prosecution,” said Naik in the statement.

He added that he would “surely return to my homeland” when he feels “that the government will be just and fair.”

The External Affairs Ministry has not received any communication from the Malaysian government regarding the deportation of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to India, official sources said today.

In January, the MEA had made a formal request to Malaysia to deport Naik, wanted by India for allegedly inciting youngsters for terror activities through his hate speeches.

Naik is facing various cases, including for hate speech and money laundering, in India and has been staying abroad to evade arrest.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had first registered a case against the 51-year-old Naik under anti-terror laws in 2016 for allegedly promoting enmity between different religious groups.

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India focusing on promoting domestic defence production: Nirmala Sitharaman

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Chennai | Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said the Government was focusing on promoting domestic defence production to build capacities for catering to the need of the armed forces.

In this direction, Prime Minister Narendra Modi came up with the idea of two defence corridors–one each in Tamil Nadu and the other in Uttar Pradesh, she said.

Sitharaman said at present there are several manufacturers who send their components to various big vectors and platforms manufactured outside

“Why is it that we won’t be able to produce those very vectors and platforms in India? And that is one of the reasons– that by announcing the corridor, we have invited quite a lot of manufacturers from abroad to come, choose the location where they want to establish their unit and start producing defence equipment,” she added.

Sitharaman, who was addressing the Tamil Nadu government’s second Global Investors’ Meet (GIM) here, recalled that holding of the Defence Expo last year in Tamil Nadu marked the first time the event was held in the state.

Following that, a lot of industries evinced interest in undertaking defence related manufacturing in the state, she added.

She also assured the Centre’s full cooperation to realise Tamil Nadu’s aspirations for greater industrialisation.

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Priyanka very capable, happy that she will help me: Rahul Gandhi

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Rahul Gandhi

Amethi (Uttar Pradesh) | Welcoming his sister’s entry into active politics, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said he was “very happy” that Priyanka will assist him in the Lok Sabha polls.

“I am very happy that my sister Priyanka will assist me in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha polls, she is very capable,” Rahul said.

He also said that Jyotiraditya Scindia is a dynamic youth leader.

His comments came hours after Priyanka became AICC general secretary and was made in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, and Scindia was given the charge of western Uttar Pradesh.

To a question, Rahul said, “We won’t play on the backfoot, we will play on the frontfoot, be it Gujarat or Uttar Pradesh.”

On being kept out of the SP-BSP alliance, he said, “SP, BSP have formed alliance in Uttar Pradesh to defeat the BJP. I have no animosity against them. I have to take forward Congress ideology.”

His remarks assume significance in the light of the Congress party’s decision to go it alone in the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Rahul, however, said that he was ready to “cooperate” with these parties to defeat the BJP.

The Congress president arrived here in the morning on a two-day tour of his parliamentary constituency.

He would meet and discuss issues with people in his home constituency.

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Jayalalithaa cannot be termed a convict in assets case: Madras High Court

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J Jayalalithaa

Chennai | The Madras High Court on Wednesday held that former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa cannot be termed a convict in a disproportionate assets case and dismissed a petition challenging the construction of a memorial to her on the ground that she was one.

A division bench of justices M Sathyanarayanan and P Rajamanickam made the observation and dismissed the petition by M L Ravi, president of Desiya Makkal Sakthi Katchi, seeking a direction to restrain the Tamil Nadu government from spending money from the public exchequer for construction of the memorial.

The petitioner also said that steps should be taken to recover money if it was spent by the government from her property citing that she was convicted in the disproportionate wealth case.

The bench observed that before the orders could be passed by the Supreme Court on the appeals filed against the Karnataka High Court order, Jayalalithaa breathed her last and therefore, the appeal against her acquittal came to be dismissed as abated.

“It is to be remembered at this juncture that the said person had already had the benefit of acquittal operating in her favour and in the light of the judgement of HC the stigma of conviction against her got erased, which has not been set aside by the apex court on merits for the reason that before the orders could be pronounced, she died.

“Therefore, it cannot be said that Jayalalithaa was a convicted person and as such, there is stigma of conviction attached to her,” the judges said.

Suggesting that the money could be spent on construction of hospitals, educational institutions, for developmental projects and provision of basic facilities to citizens, the court said it was for the state government to take a call and it cannot issue any positive direction to do so.

It declined to accept the main contention of the petitioner that the order of acquittal passed by the Karnataka High Court had been reversed by the Supreme Court in criminal appeals, and Jayalalithaa who was the first respondent in the said appeals became a convict and as such, a memorial in honour of a convicted person cannot be built.

Referring to the money spent from public exchequer for construction of the memorial, the bench said, “The petitioner did not make a challenge to the sanction of funds and the clearances accorded for construction of the said memorial and even otherwise; this Court is of the considered view that the grounds urged by the petitioner lack merit for the above cited reasons.”

The apex court had in 2017 abated the charges against Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate wealth case while sentencing her close aide V K Sasikala and two others to imprisonment.

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