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Nirav Modi-PNB scam: SC defers hearing in PIL till Mar 15 after high courtroom drama

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Nirav Modi

A petition seeking a special investigation team (SIT) probe in the over Rs 11,000 crore “scam” involving diamantaire Nirav Modi and his transactions with the Punjab National Bank (PNB) triggering a verbal duel between the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud and the petitioner, advocate Vineet Dhanda on Wednesday (February 21).

Dhanda’s petition, filed by his father – advocate JP Dhanda – on Tuesday, has made PNB, the Reserve Bank of India and the Union ministries of finance and law and justice parties in the case while seeking a direction for the initiation of deportation proceedings of Nirav Modi and others allegedly involved in the banking fraud, preferably within two months. It has also sought an investigation into the role of the top management of PNB in granting of loans to Nirav Modi and not being able to detect the alleged fraud. Directions from the top court to the Union finance ministry to frame guidelines on the grant and disbursal of loans involving big amounts has also been prayed for along with guidelines for framing of rules for the recovery of loans from the defaulters in a time-bound manner.

Following heated exchanges between the judges and Dhanda, during which Justice Chandrachud dubbed the petition as a “publicity interest litigation”, the top court decided to defer the hearing till March 15 when it will hear submissions by Attorney General KK Venugopal who has objected to the SIT probe and the petitioner’s other demand – the deportation of Nirav Modi.

During the course of the proceedings on Wednesday, the bench repeatedly reprimanded Dhanda while the Chief Justice too pulled him up for questioning Venugopal’s attempt at opposing the demand for an SIT probe.

Soon after the petition filed by Dhanda came up for hearing, Attorney General KK Venugopal opposed the demands made by the petitioner saying: “I am appearing for the Union Of India.We are opposing the petition. There is no need of intervention at this stage. This is a case in which FIRs have been filed, the investigation is on.”

However, Venugopal’s submissions did not go down well with Dhanda who shot back saying if a person takes a loan for Rs 1 lakh from a bank and defaults, he “suffers for not paying” but “the government is not doing anything when another person has walked away with Rs 11000 crore-worth of bank’s money”.

The petitioner asked the bench: “What does the AG mean by saying he is opposing” and added: “They (the government) should be answerable, the rich are escaping with money… a small man is hounded… Let him at least argue on issues.”

The Bench, however, denied Dhanda’s request for a notice to be issued to the centre on his petition, stating that since the Attorney General was present in the courtroom and was opposing the petition, there was no need at the moment for a notice to be issued to the centre.

As Dhanda continued with his demand, Chief Justice Misra shot back saying: “We are not here to hear speeches… you are just creating headlines, issuing notice is not your right”.

Observing that “by way of your petition, you are gaining publicity”, Justice Chandrachud told Dhanda: “It has become a fashion… you see something in the newspaper and then come and file a PIL.”

While Dhanda protested against the observations made by the Chief Justice and Justice Chandrachud, stating that he would withdraw his petition because the “Bench is insulting me”, Justice Khanwilkar intervened to say: “you can make legal arguments but do not make emotional arguments.”

Amid continuing outbursts by the petitioner, Chief Justice Misra asked: “the AG is opposing the petition on merits, shouldn’t we give him an opportunity to explain? Is investigation ordered in a day? These kinds of arguments – wholly emotional – you mean to say we must not hear the AG? (sic).”

Justice Chandrachud reiterated that Dhanda’s plea was “a publicity interest litigation” and said: “we must allow the government to investigate… if the government does not do, we can intervene. We cannot intervene like this… These are all PILs which play for the gallery.”

Dhanda shot back at the Bench claiming that he had been practicing law for the past 16 years and did not need publicity.

The Chief Justice then adjourned the hearing in the case till March 15.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi reveals plan for ambitious 2047 Viksit Bharat project, says work for the project has been ongoing for last 2 years

The Prime Minister said that he does not mean to scare or suppress anyone, but rather has plans to make India a developed nation by 2047.

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A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its election manifesto, which aims at building a Viksit Bharat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an interview with the media, outlined his vision for India’s development by 2047. He also addressed concerns raised by the opposition parties, who suggest that the BJP might seek to amend the Constitution if re-elected in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave his assurance to the people that they do not need to fear when he said that he has big plans for the country in his election speeches. Explaining statement, the Prime Minister said that he does not mean to scare or suppress anyone, but rather has plans to make India a developed nation by 2047.

Speaking to the media, PM Modi said, when he says that he has big plans, no one should be scared. He said he does not take decisions to scare or run-over anyone, he takes decisions for the wholesome development of the country. He added the government always says they have done everything.  He said he did not believe that he had done everything. He added he had tried to do everything in the right direction, yet there is so much he needed to do, because he saw that his country has so many needs.

The Prime minister asked how did he fulfill the dreams of every family? He said this is the reason why he said this has been a trailer. PM Modi said he had been working on the ambitious 2047 Viksit Bharat project for the past two years. And for that, he asked for opinions and suggestions from people across India.  He said he had taken suggestions from more than 15 lakh people on how they want to see India in the coming 25 years.

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Kangana Ranaut meets Dalai Lama in Dharamshala shares pictures on social media ahead of Lok Sabha elections, post goes viral

The Bollywood actor met Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama in Himachal Pradesh’s Dharamshala and said it as one of the most memorable moments of her life.

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The Bollywood actor and BJP candidate for the Mandi Lok Sabha seat met Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama in Himachal Pradesh’s Dharamshala on Monday. She said it as one of the most memorable moments of her life. Kangana Ranaut also shared pictures on social media.

The Lok Sabha elections in Himachal Pradesh are scheduled for June 1, marking the seventh phase of elections to elect four members of the 18th Lok Sabha. As the voting day is still over a month away, candidates contesting in the 4 constituencies are actively participating in various campaign activities. Among them, the BJP’s star candidate Kangana Ranaut, who is contesting from Mandi against Congress’s Vikramaditya Singh, is leaving no stone unturned to win the votes of the people.

Kangana Ranaut also shared what Dalai Lama told her during the meeting. She said, his Holiness ji said that he enjoys being in Himachal Pradesh and absolutely loves Bharat. She said this is such a privilege and such an honour. After her meeting with the spiritual leader, the actor told the media that it was divine. She said it was an experience which she will cherish all her life. She thought it is exceptional to be in the presence of such a being who has sheer divinity around him. She said it was very emotional for her and ex-CM Jairam Thakur. She added she will cherish this experience all her life.

Earlier, Kangana Ranaut slammed Himachal Pradesh minister Vikramaditya Singh for calling her the queen of controversies while she was addressing a poll rally in Mandi. She said, Yeh tumhare baap-dada ki riyasat nahin hai, ke tum mujhe dara, dhamka ke vapis bhej doge. She further added this is the new Bharat of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where a small, poor boy who used to sell tea is the biggest hero and pradhan sevak of the people.

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Election Commission records highest inducement seizure of Rs 4,650 crore ahead of Lok Sabha election

The Election Commission of India records highest inducement seizure of Rs 4,650 in 75-years of history.

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The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced on Monday that the upcoming Lok Sabha elections are expected to witness the highest ever seizures of inducements.

According to a notification from the poll board, enforcement agencies had already seized a record Rs 4,650 crore before the first round of polling, which is yet to start. This was a significant increase over the Rs 3,475 crores seized during the entire Lok Sabha election in 2019.

As part of a level playing field, the Election Commission said that the enhanced seizures reflect ECI’s unwavering commitment to monitor inducements and curb electoral malpractices, particularly in favour of smaller and less resourceful parties.

Significantly, narcotics and drugs, which are the Commission’s main focus, account for 45% of the seizures. The poll body continued, the seizures have been made possible by thorough planning, increased cooperation and coordinated deterrent action by agencies, proactive public participation, and optimal use of technology.

The commission also made statistics on the distribution of inducements that were seized available for public consumption by state. With a seizure of over Rs 778 crore, Rajasthan topped the list. Gujarat came in second with Rs 605 crore, and Maharashtra came in third with roughly Rs 431 crore.

When announcing the polls last month, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar highlighted money power as one of the 4M challenges, along with money, muscle, misinformation, and Model Code of Conduct violations.

Use of black money, over and above political financing and accurate disclosure thereof, may disturb the level playing field in favor of a more resourceful party or candidate in specific geographies, the panel stated in its statement released on Monday.

The poll authority claims that the seizures are an essential part of the ECI’s resolve to hold fair elections for the Lok Sabha that are free from electoral malpractices and inducements.

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