Janaki Mata Temple in Ayodhya

Three issues to watch

(In this weekend feature, Lok Marg’s editors deconstruct recent major happenings to help you make sense of what’s going on and what to expect.)

Waiting for the Ayodhya verdict

Curfew was imposed in Ayodhya while the Supreme Court’s verdict on the long-standing dispute over the site is awaited. The apex court is expected to announce its verdict on the case involving land rights to the disputed site on November 17. If the court’s decision favours the Hindu religious bodies and by awarding the land to them, it will be a big victory for the pro-Hindu Modi regime. Hindu activists want to build a temple, a shrine dedicated to the mythological religious figure, Ram, who they believe was born in Ayodhya. In 1992, activists demolished the Babri masjid, built during in the 16th century by the Mughals.

The forthcoming developments will be keenly watched as there have been protracted clashes over the issue for nearly the past three decades. Whichever way the verdict goes, many fear it could ignite communal tension and even lead to widespread violence across India. It’s a tense situation with huge ramifications.

An Indian Nobel laureate

Abhijit Banerjee, an economist of Indian origin, along with two other economists, has been awarded the Nobel prize for economics. Banerjee is the founder of the Abdul Lateef Jamil Poverty Action Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Banerjee and his colleagues pioneered scientific research, involving randomised control trials, to measure and gauge the efficiency of policies designed to alleviate poverty across the world’s poorest regions.

Banerjee’s work, which conflates rigorous quantitative experiments with development economic theories, has impacted millions of lives across the world by pulling people out of poverty. The award recognises his work and is expected to further boost the use of research as a basis for formulating development economic policies in several of the world’s poorest countries.

Two Indian states go to the polls

As Maharashtra and Haryana prepare to go to the polls on October 21, the odds favour the Bharatiya Janata Party, which, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, surged to an overwhelming victory in the national elections last summer. The BJP has 48 of the 90 seats in Haryana currently, while in Maharashtra of the 288 seats, the BJP has 142 and its ally, the Shiv Sena has 75. The national elections, held earlier this year, witnessed the decimation of the BJP’s opponent parties, chiefly the Congress, and that has given a boost to the party’s popularity and strength across the country. In Haryana, it is widely expected that the party will come back to power by winning the forthcoming elections. In Maharashtra, the BJP’s alliance with the regionally-focused Shiv Sena has been a tense partnership and the pro-Hindu national party would like to gain numbers so that its clout in the alliance is strengthened. Much would depend on how the party has managed and grown its base in the state during the past five years. The electoral contest in the two will be keenly watched and its outcome could determine trends in other state elections in forthcoming months. 

CBI Files Chargesheet In INX Case, Names Chidambaram

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday filed a chargesheet in a Delhi Court here in connection with the INX media case.

Former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, his son Karti Chidambaram, former media baron Peter Mukerjea among others have been named in the CBI chargesheet.

The matter will be taken up by the court on October 21 (Monday). Indrani Mukerjea has already been made an ‘approver’ by the court.

Chidambaram was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. A special court here sent to the ED custody till October 24 on Thursday.

Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar, while sending Chidambaram to the custody, allowed an application filed by Chidambaram seeking western toilet, home-cooked food, medicine and a separate cell.

In August, the senior Congress leader was booked by the CBI to probe the charges of corruption in the same case.

In the CBI case, the court extended his judicial custody in Tihar jail till October 24.

The case pertains to an FIR registered by the CBI for alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 by Chidambaram when he was the Finance Minister.

ED is investigating the alleged offence of money laundering that arose out of the FIR.

(ANI)

Terror Funding Watchdog Gives Pak February Deadline

It is “highly probable” that Pakistan will be formally black listed by global terror funding and money laundering watchdog FATF if it does not swiftly act against terror funding by February 2020.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Friday expressed serious concerns over the lack of progress made by Pakistan to address its terror financing risks.

“Pakistan needs to do more and faster. If by February 2020, Pakistan doesn’t make significant progress, it will be put in the ‘Black List’,” FATF President Xiangmin Liu said while addressing a press conference on the last day of its five-day plenary in Paris.

While Pakistan has escaped the terror black list, according to sources, there was a consensus among members in the global watchdog to retain Pakistan in ‘grey list’ based on its 27-point action plan.

A decision on the status of Pakistan will now be taken by FATF in February next year

Sources privy to FATF deliberations added that “In light of the additional fact of Pakistan’s poor performance on its Mutual Evaluation, chances of Pakistan exiting the Grey List in the next few years are now reduced to nil. The possibility of a formal Black Listing in Feb 2020 is now highly probable.”

Should significant and sustainable progress not be made across the full range of its action plan by next Plenary, the FATF will take action, which could include the FATF calling on its members to advise their financial institutions to give special attention to business relations/transactions with Pakistan, the statement from the global watchdog said.

The note further stated, “Pakistan has only largely addressed five of the 27 action items, with varying levels of progress made on the rest of the action plan.”

The FATF has also expressed serious concerns with the “overall lack of progress by Pakistan to address its terror financing risks, including remaining deficiencies in demonstrating a sufficient understanding of Pakistan’s transnational TF risks.”

The language used by the FATF in its statement on Pakistan has striking similarities as that used for Iran, which is already on its Black List.

By making this decision public, FATF in effect has given notice to global financial institutions that they need to prepare for the imminent ‘red-flagging’ of the jurisdiction and ready their systems for the eventuality of Pakistan entering the FATF ‘Black list’ in February 2020.

The country was placed on the Grey List by the watchdog in June 2018 and was given 15 months to complete the implementation of a 27-point action plan, failing which it would be placed on a list that includes countries like Iran and North Korea.

It included safeguards against money-laundering and terror-financing by banned outfits and non-government entities through banking and non-banking jurisdictions, capital markets, corporate and non-corporate sectors like chartered accountancy, financial advisory services, cost, and management accountancy firm, jewellery and similar related services.

Representatives from 206 countries and jurisdictions around the world began a meeting for the FATF Week in the French capital earlier this week. Six days of meeting were focused on disrupting financial flows linked to crime and terrorism and discuss ways to contribute to global security.

The crucial session was attended by a delegation of Pakistani officials headed by Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar.

“More broadly, Pakistan’s failure to complete its action plan in line with the agreed timelines and in line with the TF risks emanating from the jurisdiction,” the FATF statement added.

In August 2019, the Asia Pacific Joint Group (APJG) of the FATF had placed Pakistan in the Enhanced Follow up list for failure to meet its standards. This was based on its technical compliance being rated as satisfactory on only 10 points out of 40.

Of the 40 technical compliance parameters, Pakistan was ‘non-compliant’ on 30 parameters. And, of the 11 effectiveness parameters, Pakistan was adjudged as ‘low’ on 10.

According to reports, Islamabad had been engaged in hectic lobbying in a last-ditch bid to influence the outcome in its favour. This year, Pakistan’s all-weather ally China held the presidency of the FATF.

(ANI)

CJI Gogoi Recommends Justice SA Bobde As Successor

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, following the tradition of appointment system of his immediate successor, on Friday wrote to the government recommending the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court as the next CJI.

KC Kaushik, former Additional Solicitor General (ASG) and senior Supreme Court lawyer, said that it was a general practice for the CJIs to write a letter to the Central government and recommend the second senior-most judge as their immediate successor.

“As per the tradition, the sitting CJI has to write and recommend to the Central government, stating about his immediate successor. It is normal practice,” Kaushik told ANI.

Sworn in as the 46th Chief Justice of India on October 3, 2018, Justice Gogoi retires on November 17.

If the recommendation of the CJI is accepted by the Centre then Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde would be the 47th CJI.

After the recommendation, Justice Bobde will be the next CJI and have a tenure of one year and five months till April 2021.

Noted legal expert and senior Supreme Court lawyer, Geeta Luthra, said that the writing of letter by the sitting CJI Gogoi to the Central government and recommending the second senior-most judge to be his successor is a healthy convention and a good procedure.

“It is a healthy convention. The convention, it has been seen, most of the time is being followed. The Central government most of the time-honoured the recommendation of the CJI,” Luthra said.

Another legal expert, senior Supreme Court lawyer and former Solicitor General (SG) Mohan Parasaran, said that it is a tradition being followed by each CJI and in this case, the present CJI has written the letter well in advance.

“It is a tradition. All the CJIs followed this by writing a letter and recommending the central government, the second senior-most judge for their successor. The present CJI has written the letter well in advance to the Union of India, which will make a decision and it is normal that the government accepts the CJI’s recommendation,” Parasaran said.

(ANI)

Court Sends Chidambaram To ED Custody From Tihar

A Special court here on Thursday sent former Union finance minister P Chidambaram to the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) till October 24 in connection with its probe into the INX Media money laundering case.

The ED had arrested him yesterday under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar also allowed an application filed by Chidambaram seeking western toilet, home-cooked food, medicine and a separate cell.

On August 21, he was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the charges of corruption in the same case. He was produced before the court today at the end of his judicial remand in Tihar jail.

In the CBI case, the court extended his judicial custody in Tihar jail till October 24. The former union minister was in Tihar Jail since September 5.

Speaking to media persons following the orders, Karti Chidambaram, son of the accused, said that the investigation is “malafide and the main agenda of the investigation agency is to keep him in custody for as long as they can”.

The case pertains to an FIR registered by the CBI for alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 by Chidambaram when he was the Finance Minister.

ED is investigating the alleged offence of money laundering that arose out of the FIR.

(ANI)

Shah Lauds Savarkar, Says History Needs To Be Rewritten

Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday urged historians to present the true Indian version of history and not the British one and the need of writing more about great rulers like Skandagupta and Chandragupta Vikramaditya who had been not given enough due in the existing documented history.

“It is the duty of every country to preserve and nurture its history, it is the duty of the public and of the country’s historians. Till when do we keep on criticising the Britishers for it. Today the country is independent, edit our history and write out new manuscripts. I am sure the truth in our history will make it famous,” he said addressing a seminar at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi.

Shah inaugurated the two-day international seminar on “the role and relevance of famous ruler of Gupta Dynasty, Skandagupta Vikramaditya and the political future of the nation” at the BHU campus.

The Home Minister said the “biggest success” for the Gupta Empire was that they ended confrontation between the Vaishali and Magadha dynasties and moved towards the creation of a united India.Talking about Skandagupta, Shah said the ruler had always tried to save the culture, language, art, literature and governance system of India.

“Chandragupta Vikramaditya had gained a lot of fame in history. But a lot of injustice happened to him in history. His might was perhaps not appreciated as much,” the Home Minister while espousing about the ruler’s significance.

He underlined that the Maurya and Gupta dynasties placed Indian culture at the highest position in the world.

“2,000 years after the Mahabharata period, the 800-year period became known because of two major dynasties — Maurya Dynasty and Gupta Dynasty. Both these dynasties placed Indian culture at the highest position in the world,” the Home Minister said.

Touching upon the contributions of Skandagupta, Shah said, “Skandagupta’s big contributions during his rule was strengthening governance, creation of cities and planning the rule for revenue collection for the effective running of the administration. He fought bravely with Huns.”

“But it is unfortunate that today if anyone asks for 100 pages to study on Skandagupta, they are not available,” he lamented.

Shah continued, “So, there is a need to write about the great rulers like Skandagupta, Chandragupta Vikramaditya and others who had been not given enough due in the existing documented history.”

The Home Minister remembered Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya and thanked him for setting up the BHU, which according to him, had played a key role in rebuilding the country after independence.

“Whatever might have been on the mind of Pandit Madan Mohan Malviyaji at the time of the establishment of BHU, but this university has played a key role propagating Hindu culture and has stood tall to protect it,” Shah said.

“After hundreds of years of slavery it is very difficult for any person to reinstate the pride, only a university can do this. These universities are the reason why we are happy with the present-day image of the country and are assured about its future too,” he added.

Invoking Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Shah credited the former for coining the 1857 rebellion as the First War of Indian Independence.

“Had it not been for Veer Savarkar, the rebellion of 1857 would not have become history, we would have seen it from the point of view of British. Veer Savarkar was the one who named the 1857 rebellion as the first independence struggle,” he further said.

(ANI)

New ‘great’ Brexit deal agreed with EU: Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday said that a new “great” Brexit deal has been reached with the European Union (EU).

In a tweet, Johnson said that the UK Parliament should approve the draft withdrawal agreement by Saturday (October 19).

“We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control — now Parliament should get Brexit done on Saturday so we can move on to other priorities like the cost of living, the NHS, violent crime and our environment #GetBrexitDone #TakeBackControl,” the British Prime Minister said.

The agreement was reached during a telephonic conversation between Johnson and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Echoing similar sentiments, Juncker said that the new Brexit deal is a “fair and balanced agreement”.

” Where there is a will, there is a #deal – we have one! It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is a testament to our commitment to find solutions. I recommend that #EUCO endorses this deal,” he tweeted.

The new Brexit deal comes with just 14 days remaining for the UK to exit the EU. It also comes as Johnson is heading to Brussels for a two-day meeting with the EU leaders.

The ruling Conservative Party has been struggling to finalise a Brexit agreement which has faced opposition and rejection by British lawmakers in the Parliament for the past several months.

Since taking office in July, Johnson has vowed to take his country out of the EU on October 31, with or without a deal.

(ANI)

Courtroom Drama On Last Day Of Hearing in Ayodhya Case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday witnessed high decibel drama when senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan tore papers and a map handed over to him by one of the Hindu parties in connection with the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.

Dhavan, who was appearing for Muslim petitioners, including the Sunny Waqf Board, tore the papers and the map which was handed over to him by the opposition counsel of All India Hindu Mahasabha, during the 40th and last day of hearing in the case.

The advocate was objecting to All India Hindu Mahasabha’s counsel trying to submit map published by Kunal Kishore.

Kishore said that Dhavan tore the map as he thought it would make his case ‘non-existent’.

“He is an intellectual. He thought if this map is presented before the court his case will become non-existent. If he had objections he could have said that in the time that was given to him,” he told ANI.

During the hearing, lawyer of All India Hindu Mahasabha Vikas Singh said, “With great respect to the court, I have not disturbed the decorum of the court.”

In response, Chief Justice (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi said, “If these are the kind of arguments going on, then, we can just get up and walk out.”

Earlier today, the CJI said that the daily hearings on the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid land dispute will end by 5 pm on Wednesday.

“By 5 pm this matter is going to be over. Enough is enough,” Justice Gogoi said while dismissing the intervention application filed by the Hindu Maha Sabha in the apex court seeking more time for arguments.

The five-judge bench Constitution bench headed by Gogoi was hearing appeals challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict, which ordered equal division of the 2.77-acre of disputed land in Ayodhya among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Ram Lalla.

(ANI)

ED Arrests Chidambaram From Tihar After Grilling

The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday arrested former Finance Minister P Chidambaram after grilling him for nearly two hours at Delhi’s Tihar Jail in connection with the INX Media money laundering case.

At present, ED officials along with Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Naveen Kumar Matta are outside the court of special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar for issuance of production warrant.

Chidambaram’s arrest came a day after a special court allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to grill Chidambaram for 30 minutes in connection with the matter to decide on his arrest.

A three-member team of ED including Mahesh Gupta, Sandeep Thapliyal, and Dainik Jain had arrived at Tihar Jail to interrogate P Chidambaram, who is lodged in the case which is also being investigated by the CBI.

Nalini and Karti Chidambaram, the wife and son of the Congress leader, too reached the jail premises ahead of the interrogation process.

Chidambaram is in judicial custody in Tihar Jail since September 5 in a corruption case related to the alleged scam being probed by the CBI and ED. His remand is slated to end on October 17.

The case pertains to an FIR registered by the CBI for alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 by Chidambaram when he was the Finance Minister.ED is investigating the alleged offence of money laundering that arose out of the FIR.

(ANI)

Jaish e Mohammad Chief

Terror Funding Watchdog To Retain Pakistan In Grey List

In a major development, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Tuesday decided “in principle” that Pakistan will remain on its grey list till February 2020 and directed the country to take “extra measures” for the “complete elimination” of terror financing and money laundering.

The meeting of the international watchdog reviewed the measures taken by Pakistan to control money laundering and terror financing, and observed that Islamabad will have to take further steps on the two parameters in these four months, reported Dawn.

The formal announcement of these decisions will be made on October 18.

The country was placed on the Grey List by the watchdog in June 2018 and was given 15 months to complete implementation of a 27-point action plan, failing which it be placed in the Black List.

It included safeguards against money-laundering and terror-financing by banned outfits and non-government entities through banking and non-banking jurisdictions, capital markets, corporate and non-corporate sectors like chartered accountancy, financial advisory services, cost and management accountancy firm, jewellery and similar related services.

According to Dawn, the FATF has linked the blacklisting of Pakistan with “unsatisfactory steps” to curb money laundering and terror financing. The watchdog will make its final decision in February 2020.

The report said that China, Turkey and Malaysia appreciated the steps taken by Pakistan, and on the outright support extended by these countries, the FATF decided not to include Pakistan on the blacklist and give it more time to implement the remaining measures.

On being asked about the development, Pakistan Finance Ministry spokesperson Omar Hameed Khan responded, “it is not true and nothing before October 18”.

A Pakistani delegation led by Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar told the meeting that the country has made positive progress in 20 out of 27 points. The FATF expressed satisfaction on the measures taken by Pakistan and its progress in various areas.

(ANI)