IT searches at BBC’s Delhi, Mumbai offices; employees restricted to step out, mobile phones seized
The Income Tax Department on Tuesday conducted a survey operation at the BBC’s offices in Delhi and Mumbai as part of a tax evasion investigation as revealed by officials.
Reportedly, over 70 sleuths have been carrying out the IT ‘survey’ on the two premises of the news agency. As part of the survey, the IT Department only covers the business premises of a company and does not raid residences and other locations of its promoters or directors.
The tax sleuths also went through the data from the computer in the accounting department and reportedly, all employees have been prohibited from stepping outside and their mobile phones have also been seized.
Also read: BREAKING: Income Tax searches underway at BBC office in Delhi
Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as MP bars him from contesting LS polls for 8 years?
Congress Lok Sabha MP Rahul Gandhi was on Friday disqualified as Lok Sabha MP, a day after a Surat Court convicted him in a defamation case. The notification disqualifying the Wayanad MP was issued hours after Gandhi attended the morning session of Lok Sabha.
What does the notification read?
“Consequent upon his conviction by the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Surat… Rahul Gandhi, Member of Lok Sabha representing the Wayanad Parliamentary Constituency in Kerala stands disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction… in terms of the provisions of Article 102(!)(e) of the Constitution read with Section of the Representation of the People Act, 1951,” the notification read.
Gandhi barred from contesting LS polls for 8 years?
As per law and legal experts, Gandhi’s disqualification came into ‘immediate and automatic’ effect upon his conviction and sentencing despite the grant of bail.
Former Congress leader and Union law minister Kapil Sibal told NDTV that Rahul stands automatically disqualified as an MP with his two-year jail sentence. He said, “If it (the court) only suspends the sentence that’s not enough. There has to be a suspension or stay of conviction. He (Rahul Gandhi) can stay on as a member of parliament only if there is a stay on the conviction.”
Sibal added, “For a statement made in respect of certain individuals, for him to be convicted for two years — it is totally bizarre.”
What does the law say?
The Representation of the People Act, 1951, (RPA) directs immediate disqualification of any lawmaker who is ‘convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years.’ The law also states that if one is convicted in any offence for two years then the seat will be vacant immediately.
Lawyer and senior BJP MP Mahesh Jethmalani told NDTV, “By the operation of the law, he (Gandhi) stands disqualified, but the decision has to be communicated to the Speaker. But as of today, he stands disqualified.”
How can Gandhi avoid disqualification?
Gandhi will have to secure an order from a higher court suspending the conviction. The RPA states, “A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years [other than any offence referred to in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2)] shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.”
It means, that apart from his jail term, Gandhi will not be able to contest polls for subsequent six more years.
Why the disqualification?
Surat Court, on Thursday, awarded two-year jail term to Gandhi in a defamation case for his ‘all thieves have Modi surname’ remark. The case was filed against Gandhi for his alleged ‘how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?’ remarks on a complaint lodged by BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi.
The Court also imposed a fine of ₹15,000 after finding him guilty under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 and 500 (dealing with defamation). However, he secured a bail in the same case.
Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Verma heard the final arguments regarding Gandhi’s 2019 remark, “Why all the thieves, be it Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi or Narendra Modi have Modi in their names.” Gandhi’s counsel Kirit Panwala said, “We will today send a message to Rahul Gandhi to remain present on March 23 in Surat district court. Most probably, he would be present in the court. We will get confirmation on Saturday.”
Gandhi made the alleged remarks while addressing a rally at Kolar in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Also read: Rahul Gandhi sentenced to 2 years in jail in Modi surname defamation case
900 accidents, 31 deaths in 100 days: Samruddhi Mahamarg still a road to prosperity?
On an average, the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway, officially known as the Hindu Hriday Samrat Balasaheb Thackeray Samruddhi Mahamarg, has reported one accident in every two days since its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December last year.
Now, it has come to light that there were 900 accidents and 31 deaths in 100 days of its inauguration. The ambitious expressway, which was touted as the ‘road to prosperity’ by PM Modi might be turning into a nightmare or can one say – it has already turned into one?
With repeated fatalities occurring on the expressway, it’s about time, the The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) identifies and fixes the lacunas on priority. Some of the probable loopholes that might have contributed to repeated accidents may include lack of timely medical facilities, highway hypnosis, repeated animal run-overs due to absence of channel fencing, no check for over speeding, bursting of worn-out tyres, absence of ‘vehicle-fitness’ booths at entry and exit points, absence of highway cops and officials of Regional Transport Office (RTO), absence of road reflectors, counselling booths for drivers, emergency car repair centre, no checking of overloaded vehicles, to name a few.
Million dollar dream project turned delight into sheer nightmare
Moreover, the expressway still lacks basic facilities for the driver like eateries, toilets or even refreshment space, which some have pointed out is one of the many reasons behind hundreds of accidents in just three months.
Despite the absence of any major engineering issues and with limited traffic, the million dollar dream project seems to have turned delight into sheer nightmare for commuters. Also, not much could be assured by the government for women safety on the newly-commissioned expressway so far.
In just 18 days of its inauguration last year, at least 40 accidents on the expressway had occurred that claimed seven lives and left 33 injured. Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari recently admitted that the current emergency response system was inadequate and subsequently announced a plan to improve the same.
Gadkari emphasised the state government will ensure ambulances that are equipped with necessary facilities and tools to rescue injured commuters from vehicles along with provision of skilled manpower.
He assured that in case of emergency, an ambulance will reach the location within 20 minutes of receiving a call for help in the control room. He also admitted that the system currently working on the expressway is not as effective as it should be.
Considered as a pet-project of Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Samruddhi Mahamarg, ahead of its inauguration, had grabbed headlines for the BJP ‘taking Maha Vikas Aghadi’s (MVA) credit’ for the expressway.
Did PM Modi hurriedly inaugurate the expressway?
However, the project was conceptualised and construction for the same began when Fadnavis was the Chief Minister. Despite several claims by Fadnavis and Maharashtra BJP President Chandrashekhar Bawankule of the BJP implementing the project, the controversy that PM Modi ‘hurriedly’ inaugurated the ‘incomplete expressway’ still continues to simmer in the minds of many.
PM Modi, on December 11, inaugurated the Phase-I of 701km-long six-lane Samruddhi Mahamarg – covering a distance of 520 kms and connecting Nagpur and Shirdi.
Also read: Gadkari again receives death threat calls from same caller
Flags of various countries erected at RBI Square ahead of G20 Summit in Nagpur
Ahead of the G20 Summit scheduled to be held in Nagpur on March 20 and 21, flags of various countries participating in the Summit could be seen at RBI Square (aka Samvidhan Square) near Kasturchand Park and GPO Square on Thursday morning.
G20 Summit is the premier forum for international economic cooperation that plays an important role in shaping and strengthening global architecture and governance on all major international economic issues. India holds the Presidency of the G20 from 1 December 2022 to 30 November 2023.
Also read: G20 meet in Nagpur: Beggars, homeless living for 30 years asked to ‘return after 2 months’