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Coalscam: CBI to further probe case involving govt servants

New Delhi: CBI was today allowed to carry out further probe in a coalscam case in which excoal secretary H C Gupta and others were summoned as accused by a special court which said the agency may place records of the case before the authorities for grant of sanction to prosecute the public servants.

Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said the agency may approach the sanctioning authority with all the records of the case so that the question of whether to give approval to prosecute the government servants could be considered by them.

"Accordingly, the matter is referred for further investigation under section 173(8) CrPC to CBI with direction that during the course of further investigation, the CBI may place before the sanctioning authority the records of the present case beside the order dated October 13 and the present order to consider the question of according sanction to prosecute the public servants involved for the offences which prima facie have been committed by them," the judge said.

The court also asked CBI to file a progress report of its further investigation on December 15 and said the agency should be at a liberty to probe any other aspect of the matter if found necessary by them.

The order came on CBI's petition seeking summoning of two serving senior public servants on alleged corruption charges in a coal blocks allocation case against Madhya Pradeshbased Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL) and others.

CBI had said that Coal Ministry's then Joint Secretary, K S Kropha, and then Director (Coal AllocationI section), K C Samaria, were already summoned as accused for offences under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 420 (cheating) under the IPC and these two should also be summoned for the offences punishable under the Prevention of Corruption (POC) Act.

The court, in its order passed on October 13, had summoned six accused including Gupta, Samaria, Kropha and KSSPL after refusing to accept the CBI's closure report.

1st BJP govt in Maha to be sworn-in Friday, Sena's presence unlikely

Mumbai: The first BJP government in Maharashtra headed by state party chief Devendra Fadnavis will be sworn in Friday with Shiv Sena unlikely to join the new dispensation for now as talks continued between the two saffron parties for a tieup.

44yearold Fadnavis, a fourterm MLA from Nagpur, will be
administered the oath of office by Governor C Vidyasagar Rao
at Wankhede Stadium in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra
Modi, several of his Cabinet colleagues, chief ministers of
BJPruled states, corporate leaders, Bollywood stars and other
celebrities.

A small Cabinet of around ten ministers including state
BJP Core Committee members Eknath Khadse, Sudhir Mungantiwar,
Vinod Tawde and Pankaja Munde besides MLAs from Schedule
Castes and Scheduled tribes is also likley to be sworn in.

"A slim and trim government will take oath tomorrow," a
BJP leader said.

As talks with former ally Shiv Sena for a possible tieup
are still going on, no minister from that party was likely to
be inducted tomorrow.

"It seems unlikely that any Shiv Sena minister will be
sworn in tomorrow. Talks with Sena are on in an amicable
atmosphere for a possible tieup in Maharashtra but there has
been no outcome yet," BJP General Secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy
told PTI.

Maintaining that BJP was looking forward to a decision
soon, he said, "This may not happen tomorrow."

BJP had emerged as the single largest party in the
288member state Assembly with 122 seats but one of its MLAs
Govind Rathod died.

Though technically it will be a minority government until
Sena joins it, declared support from 41member NCP will act as
a hedge for the BJP dispensation. It also has the support of
several Independent MLAs and those from some smaller parties.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is likely to
hold discussions with senior leaders again this evening and
announce the party's stand on joining the government.

Sena MP and spokesman Sanjay Raut said "positive talks"
were on between the two parties and extended best wishes to
Fadnavis and his team.

"A new government led by Devendra Fadnavis is being
formed. Like always, we wish him well. He is a capable, young
leader with clean image. We want him to get the opportunity to
take Maharashtra forward," Raut said.

He, however, went on to add that people's mandate was not
for any single party.

"BJP has emerged as the single largest party and we are
second. In the given situation, if the two parties form a
government, it will be stable," Raut said.

Asked if the option for sitting in the opposition was open
for Sena, Raut said, "We are not standing at somebody else's
door.

"We have and old relationship with BJP. We fought elections
separately. This happens in politics. But attempts have been
made to erase the biterness. If BJP is forming government, it
is our duty to extend best wishes to them," he said.

On whether Uddhav will attend the swearingin ceremony for
which he has been extended invitation, Raut said, "Please wait
till the evening."

Earlier, in an editorial in its mouthpiece 'Saamana', Sena
praised Narendra Modi and Fadnavis, saying the state can
expect 'acchhe din' (good days) under them, but cautioned its
former ally against accepting NCP's support.

"You (BJP) have come to power by promising to convert
Maharashtra into a corruption free and a CongressNCP free
state.

"You (Devendra Fadnavis) come from the Vidarbha region
where the NCP had carried out a huge irrigation scam. By
taking NCP's support from the very beginning, questions have
arisen on the sanctity of your government," the editorial on
the eve of the swearingin.

"The biggest challenge for BJP right now is to prove
majority in the Vidhan Sabha. It is okay to say that you will
form a minority government and even manage to run it. But
running such a government is against the Constitution.

"(Sharad) Pawar has extended support without being asked
for it, but will the (Devendra) Fadnavis government run with
the help of Pawar's support?" it said.

The oathtaking ceremony at Wankhede Stadium will be a
glitzy affair with around 40,000 guests likely to be present.

Invitations for the event have also been sent to Uddhav
Thackeray, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, former Chief Minister
Prithviraj Chavan and other top politicians.

Corporate giants including Ratan Tata, Mukesh and Anil
Ambani, Anand Mahindra, Adi Godrej, singing legends Lata
Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, actors Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan,
Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, cricket icons
Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar are among those invited
for the event.

Fadnavis today met Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, Union
Minister Nitin Gadkari and other senior leaders in Delhi to
personally invite them for the swearingin.

It is for the first time that such an event is being
organised at the famous cricket ground. In 1995, when BJP came
to power in alliance with Shiv Sena, swearingin had been held
at Shivaji Park.

Sharad Pawarled Mumbai Cricket Association has said it
will not charge any fee for its use. Pawar's party NCP has
offered outside support to BJP in government formation.

BJP has roped in noted Bollywood art director Nitin Desai
to design the stage decor which will have giant cutouts of
lotus, the party's election symbol.

Mumbai BJP General Secretary Atul Shah said the theme of
the programme was inspired by former Prime Minister Atal
Bihari Vajpayee's statement in 1980 that he would like to see
the lotus bloom on city seafront.

"The stage, with seating capacity of 200, will be
semicircular, to align with the stadium's outline. An LED
screen has been installed to ensure that everyone present gets
a good view. It will be a modern and hitech stage which will
also highlight the ancient culture of the state. There will be
depiction of Shivaji Maharaj's coronation as well," Desai
said.

He said the vision of the new government will also be
highlighted.

BJP functionaries were today busy giving finishing touches
to preparations for the big day.

Mediapersons were today shown a glimpse of the big lotus
replicas bobbing up on the Arabian Sea that will be visible
from the iconic Marine Drive.

Govt unveils austerity drive; bars First Class travel

New Delhi: Unveiling an austerity drive to cut nonplan expenditure by 10 per cent, government has barred bureaucrats from travelling First Class on overseas visits and have been asked to use video conferencing as much as possible.

With an aim to restrict fiscal deficit to 4.1 per cent of GDP in 201415, the Finance Ministry has barred officials from holding meetings in 5star hotels and put a freeze on fresh appointments and filling up posts lying vacant for over one year.

"While officers are entitled to various classes of air travel depending on seniority, utmost economy would need to be observed while exercising the choice keeping the limitations of budget in mind. However, there would no bookings in the First Class," said the office memorandum.

The facility of Video Conferencing, it said, "may be used effectively".

The Finance Ministry said purchase of new vehicles to meet operational requirement of defence forces, Paramilitary forces and security organisations are permitted but ban on purchase of any other vehicles would continue.

"Such measures are intended at promoting fiscal discipline, without restricting the operational efficiency of the government. In the context of the current fiscal situation, there is a need to continue to rationalise expenditure and optimise available resources," it said.

The government proposes to lower the fiscal deficit to 3 per cent of GDP by 201617. The deficit which had touched a high of 5.7 per cent in 201112, was brought down to 4.8 per cent in 201213 and further to 4.5 per cent in 201314 by way of austerity measures.

"The task before me is very challenging because we need to revive growth, particularly in manufacturing sector and infrastructure," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said in his budget speech. He added that choice has to be made whether or not to be victims of mere populism and wasteful expenditure.

Delhi govt formation: SC finds LG's efforts positive

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today expressed satisfaction over Lt Governor Najeeb Jung's recent moves to explore the possibility of government formation in Delhi and said that he should be given more time as "there could be a minority government with outside support".

Referring to recent media reports, a fivejudge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said, "Whatever I have read in newspapers, it appears that the LG has made positive moves."

The bench asked Prashant Bhushan, counsel for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has filed a plea seeking dissolution of the Assembly, to wait for sometime as the LG had started the consultation process with the political players in the national capital and adjourned the matter till November 11.

During the brief hearing, the bench also comprising justices J Chelameswar, A K Sikri, R K Agrawal and Arun Mishra, said that if the LG feels that there is a possibility of government formation, then he should be given time to explore it.

On the possibility of government formation, the bench said, "There could be a minority government with an outside support of some political outfit."

Bhushan, however, said that there was no possibility of government formation in the national capital in view of the position of political parties in the legislative assembly.

"We should always live in hope," the bench said asking the counsel for AAP to wait till November 11 when it will again hear the matter.

The LG had yesterday decided to invite political parties to explore possibility of government formation in Delhi.

Earlier, the apex court was informed by the Centre that the President has given his consent to LG's proposal to invite BJP to form government.

The court had also rapped the Centre and the LG over the delay, saying that in a democracy, President's Rule cannot go on forever and questioned why the authorities failed to act expeditiously.

At the moment, a party needs the support of 34 MLAs for a simple majority in a House of 70 with three vacancies which are to be filled in byelections late next month.

BJP had emerged the single largest party after the Assembly polls in December last year with 31 seats apart from the support of ally Akali Dal's one MLA in the 70member House. But its numbers have now come down to 28 after three of its legislatorsHarsh Vardhan, Ramesh Bidhuri and Pervesh Vermawere elected to Lok Sabha.

E-visa system likely to be rolled out next week

New Delhi: The Government will roll out by next week the muchawaited electronicvisa system for tourists from select countries including US and Japan.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh along with Tourism Minister Sripad Naik will unveil the first phase of evisa system for tourists from two dozens countries including US and Japan at a function here shortly, a senior Tourism Ministry official said.

While Australia is likely to be accorded the evisa facility during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit Down Under, some countries belonging to BRICS and African region are likely to be announced in the first phase.

The evisa is expected to give a big boost to the foreign tourist arrivals in the country. While in January about 4.95 lakh foreign tourists arrived in India, there were a total of 51.79 lakh during JanuarySeptember this year.

All the arrangements including the software for this system is ready now and will be operational at nine international airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, and Goa.

The official said though there are certain issues yet to be resolved for the Goa Airport, the Government has decided in principle to extend it to Goa as well.

According to the official, about 25 countries including the 13 countries which are currently having the VisaonArrival (VoA) facility in India to be covered under evisa regime.

US, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore are among the countries which will be given evisa facility in the first phase.

Barring a few countries like Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia, all 180 countries will be covered under evisa regime in phases, the official said.

He said China is definitely on the list of countries to be provided evisa facility, but not in the first list.

China is a bigthrust market for India and Tourism Ministry has taken various steps to woo maximum Chinese tourists. While the Incredible India website is being translated into the Chinese language and an infoline will also be established in that language.

Besides guides are being trained in Chinese language to help tourists from that country.

In order to get evisa, one would need to apply in the designated website along the required fees. They would be granted an electronic version of the visa within 96 hours.
 


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