Newsletter May 3, 2018










The Supreme Court Collegium on Wednesday deferred its decision to reconsider the name of the Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph for elevation as a judge of the apex court which was sent back by the government last week. All the five judges including Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph took part in the meeting.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday dismissed the narratives that government turning down Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph elevation was anyway linked to the imposition of President’s Rule in the state. He said that the government has the right to seek reconsideration of proposals sent by the Supreme Court collegium as the power flows from three apex court judgements.

“I wish to deny with all authority at my command that it has nothing to do with it (Justice Joseph’s decision) at all, for two obvious reasons. Firstly, a proper (BJP-led) government with nearly three-fourth majority has been elected in Uttarakhand. Secondly, that order was confirmed by Justice (J.S.) Khehar of the Supreme Court,” Prasad said in response to a media query.

“Justice Khehar was the judge who also set aside the National Judicial Commission initiative of the government. Yet he became the Chief Justice of India during the BJP-led NDA government. I think that by itself is (proof) enough,” Prasad said.





Outrage mounted across the Valley Wednesday when street protesters, for the first time, stoned a school bus carrying children, leaving a class II student with a serious head injury, another injured and the rest traumatised.

The incident drew sharp reactions from parents and authorities who questioned the targeting of a school bus while mainstream parties condemned what Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti called a “senseless and cowardly act”.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq of the separatist Hurriyat said the incident was “quite disturbing” and “such hooliganism” will “tarnish our movement”.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said those behind the attack will be tracked down. “Shocked & angered to hear of the attack on school bus in Shopian. The perpetrators of this senseless and cowardly act will be brought to justice,” she tweeted.

Omar Abdullah too condemned the attack: “How does pelting stones on school children or tourist buses help advance the agenda of stone pelters? These attacks deserve our unequivocal condemnation and this tweet is mine.”

Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani also expressed dismay over the stone-throwing incident. “Our strength lies in discipline and we should keep strict vigil over those involved in these incidents… we need to demonstrate mature thinking and follow discipline,” he said.

The state Congress chief Gulam Ahmed Mir blamed the Narendra Modi government at the Centre for deteriorating law and order in the state and claimed that the situation in the Valley is “all time worst since 1947?.

On the Congress’ stand on amnesty given to first time stone-pelters, Mir said the party “follows the law of the land, the constitution and will not endorse anything which is wrong. A wrong is a wrong.”





The BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa, said on Wednesday that his leadership had asked him to seek the cooperation of Gali Janardhana Reddy, which many in the party and the Congress viewed as a reference to Amit Shah who has been trying to distance himself from the tainted mining baron.

“Let me clarify. In Bellary we have given a ticket to the ex-MLA (Gali Janardhana’s brother Somashekara Reddy) who has the best chance of winning. Likewise, in Badami we have nominated the person (B. Sriramulu) who has the best chance of defeating (chief minister) Siddaramaiah, going by the directions of our national president,” Yeddyurappa told a rally in Shimoga.

“Janardhana Reddy is not a candidate. We have been asked by our leadership to seek his cooperation in some districts,” the former chief minister added.

Yeddyurappa’s comments come four days after Shah skipped the Reddy bastion of Bellary, apparently not wanting to share the stage with Somashekara and Karunakara, younger brothers of former minister Gali Janardhana who too are accused in the mining scam and are contesting the May 12 elections as BJP candidates.

On another occasion in late March, Shah had distanced himself from the Reddy brothers and said the party had nothing to do with them.

But eventually the BJP gave poll tickets to Somashekara and Karunakara, and Gali Janardhana has been actively taking part in the campaign.









Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleged on April 30 that Iran had lied about its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and was continuing to carry out a clandestine programme. Soon after, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a written statement saying “Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program”. But within two hours, the White House issued a changed statement online, now saying “Iran had a.”

The White House waved away the change in tense as a “clerical error” — but not before a furore had broken out on the possible policy implications of the statement and the change.

US President Donald Trump has been talking about pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, brokered by President Barack Obama and European nations like the UK, France and Germany, as well as China and Russia. On their recent trips to the US, both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pleaded with Trump to keep the deal with Iran. It is widely speculated that Netanyahu’s declaration in Tel Aviv was done in coordination with the White House.

The Israeli PM clearly wants Trump to dump the deal.

Trump needs to make a declaration by May 12 to prevent international sanctions from being applied on Iran. Trump’s recent appointees, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, are self-declared hawks on Iran. In the wake of the Israeli PM’s press conference, Pompeo said, “Now that the world knows Iran has lied and is still lying, it is time to revisit the question of whether Iran can be trusted to enrich or control any nuclear material.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is charged with keeping tabs on the spread of nuclear weapons across the world, declared “it had no credible indications” that Iran was developing a nuclear device since 2009.

Trump can refuse to sign a waiver of sanctions on May 12, effectively dump the deal and announce his determination to sign a tougher new agreement. If he does this, new uncertainties will unfold.





Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been condemned over comments on the causes of the Holocaust which have been condemned worldwide as antisemitic.

Mr Abbas said that the Jewish “social function” in 20th century Europe, such as money lending, caused animosity towards them which led to the Nazi genocide of six million Jews.

He cited what he said were books by “Jewish Zionist authors” for the claim, which was made during a 90-minute speech to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) parliament in Ramallah on Monday.

The UK’s shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, who was in attendance during Abbas’ speech, condemned his comments and called for him to apologise.





Scores of Indian doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs and other professionals are challenging the UK government in court over being denied the right to live and work in Britain. The professionals, brought together under the banner of the ‘Highly Skilled Migrants’ group, were back opposite Parliament Square on Wednesday to protest against “unjustified” refusals by the UK Home Office of their applications for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in Britain.









The special court set up under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) on Wednesday sentenced gangster Chhota Rajan and eight of his associates to life imprisonment for the 2011 murder of Mumbai crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey.

Judge Sameer Adkar held Rajan and his associates guilty of the murder and imposed a fine of Rs 26 lakh on each of the convicts.

The court acquitted journalist Jigna Vora, a reporter who was arrested in connection with the murder, as also Paulson Joseph, an associate of Rajan accused of handling the financial operations.

Chhota Rajan attended the hearing via video conferencing. He is lodged in a high-security cell in New Delhi’s Tihar jail.

Dey, 51, was shot dead by two motorcycle-borne men on 11 June, 2011, in suburban Powai. In its submission before the special court, the prosecution said Rajan was unhappy with the reports put out by Dey in Mid-Day newspaper where he worked as senior editor.

Jigna Vora was arrested for allegedly badmouthing Dey to Rajan and instigating the gangster against her colleague. However, the prosecution’s contention was thrown out by the court. Vora, who has been out on bail, broke down after her acquittal.

Shortly after the conviction, special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat demanded the maximum punishment for the convicts since it was an attack on the fourth pillar of democracy.





The controversy around the portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinnah in the Aligarh Muslim University students’ union office turned violent on Wednesday.

Several AMU students were injured in a police lathicharge when they were protesting against the police inaction against the armed rightwing outsiders creating ruckus on the campus.

The outsiders reportedly affiliated to the Hindu Yuva Vahini created disorder inside the campus, raising slogans against the Jinnah portrait and burning his effigy on the campus.As news of trouble inside the campus spread, AMUSU leaders and some other students accosted six outsiders and handed them over to the police.

Students alleged that the police released the alleged mischief makers later and did not register any complaint against them, forcing AMU students to protest.





The Supreme Court on Wednesday chastised the Himachal Pradesh govt for its failure to ensure the safety of public servants after a woman official was shot dead allegedly by a hotel owner in tourist town Kasauli when she had gone to supervise the court-ordered demolition of unauthorised constructions.

Calling the shooting a “brazen act”, a bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta said: “We might stop passing any orders if you are going to kill people.”

Assistant town and country planner Shail Bala Sharma had on Tuesday gone to supervise the demolition of an unauthorised construction at Kasauli’s Narayani Guest House when its owner Vijay Singh allegedly fired at her. She later succumbed to her injuries.

Dubbing the incident “extremely serious”, the bench chided the authorities for their failure to ensure the safety of officials and said it was clear that there was “absolutely no regard” for the rule of law as the public servants had launched the demolition drive on the directions of the Supreme Court.

“It is quite clear that some of the appellants are acting with complete impunity and have absolutely no regard for the rule of law or the orders of this court,” the bench said.




Historians, conservationists and artists on Wednesday spoke out against the maintenance of the Red Fort being “entrusted” to cement company Dalmia Bharat Group which, they said, had no known credentials in the work of architectural preservation or heritage management.

While the Indian History Congress expressed its concern over the terms of the agreement between the Tourism Ministry and Dalmia Bharat on the 17th century Mughal era monument, a host of activists, academics and others banded under the cultural group SAHMAT to voice their worries.

A statement from SAHMAT, signed by artist Vivan Sundaram, historian Mushirul Hasan and theatre activist MK Raina, among others, brought up the demolition of the Babri Masjid to highlight its concerns and said the agreement must be rescinded.

“The present regime in power has an unsavoury past in regard to our heritage. It felt no compunction when its followers destroyed a 450-year-old monument of architectural importance in 1992 just because it was a mosque.

“The RSS has long been propagating the cause of declaring all major medieval monuments, including the Taj Mahal and Delhi’s Red Fort, as Hindu structures,” says SAHMAT.





Amazon, the US e-commerce giant, is believed to have made a formal offer to acquire a 60 per cent stake in Flipkart after weeks of speculation in the media that such an overture was imminent.

While details are sketchy, it appears that the Amazon bid values Flipkart at close to $20 billion – 66 per cent higher than the valuation in August last year when the Bangalore-based firm raised $1.2 billion from a technology fund backed by Japan’s SoftBank group.

Amazon is also reported to have offered to pay a break-up fee of $2 billion to affirm the seriousness of its gambit. The break-up fee becomes payable if Amazon reneges on its commitment after signing on the dotted line.





Cambridge Analytica, the data firm embroiled in a controversy over its handling of Facebook Inc user data, and its British parent firm SCL Elections Ltd are shutting down immediately, the company said on Wednesday.

“The siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the Company’s customers and suppliers,” the company’s statement said. “As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business, which left Cambridge Analytica with no realistic alternative to placing the company into administration.”

“Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the company’s efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas,” the company’s statement said.





In what comes as a major relief for consumers who are struggling to get a mobile phone SIM without an Aadhaar card, the government has issued clear instructions to operators asking them to accept alternate documents such as driving license, passport, and voter ID card for providing new connections. The government has asked the mobile companies to follow the instructions immediately, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said. Sundararajan said that ministry has asked the operators to accept other forms of KYC (know your customer) documents, and continue to issue SIM cards.

“The ministry has issued instructions to all telecom companies, asking them not to deny a SIM card to any individual who does not have an Aadhaar number. We have asked them to accept other forms of KYC (know your customer) documents, and continue to issue SIM cards,” she was quoted as saying.





At Facebook’s annual developer conference on Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the world’s largest social network will soon offer an online dating service.

More than 200 million people on Facebook identify themselves as single, he said, and the new service will let these people connect with each other from within the company’s primary app.

“This is for building real long-term relationships, not just hookups,” Zuckerberg said, in an apparent jab at dating apps like Tinder that have a reputation for stoking casual romantic behaviour.

The reaction to Facebook’s dating app was immediate. Shares of Match Group, the company that runs Tinder and other popular dating apps such as OKCupid, plummeted more than 22 per cent – the largest one-day drop in its history – after Zuckerberg’s announcement.





Young Rishabh Pant cracked a blistering 69 (off 29) while captain Shreyas Iyer (50 off 35) hit his fourth half-century of the season as Delhi Daredevils kept themselves in the race for IPL playoffs with a nervy four-run win over Rajasthan Royals, in New Delhi yesterday.

Royals invited Daredevils to bat after rain made it a 18-over per side affair. Rain brought a premature end to the Daredevils innings when the hosts were 196/6 in 17.1 overs and Royals were set a revised target of 151 from 12 overs under Duckworth/Lewis method.

Daredevils then restricted the Royals to 146/5 to notch up the win.

Delhi now have 3 wins from 9 matches while Rajasthan have 3 wins from 8 matches.





Last time, it was a late penalty. This time, a goalkeeping blunder. Real Madrid keep finding ways to get out of trouble in the Champions League. Madrid conceded early again at home and barely held on for a 2-2 draw against Bayern Munich in Tuesday’s semifinal match, advancing 4-3 on aggregate to stay on track for a third consecutive European title.

After Real Madrid eliminated Bayern Munich in the semifinals, Liverpool did the same to Roma on Wednesday, setting up a gigantic clash in the final. After beating Roma 5-2 in the first leg at Anfield a week ago, Liverpool went on the road to Rome and lost 4-2 but advanced 7-6 on aggregate





Sensex 35,176 (+16), Nifty 10,718 (-21), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores) 35,016

Nasdaq 7,101 (-30) Dow 23,925 (-174), S&P 2,636 (-19)

US$-Rs. 66.68 GBP-Rs. 90.75, Euro-Rs. 79.92, UAE Dhm-Rs.18.15, Can$-Rs. 51.90, Aus$- Rs. 50.01

GBP 0.73 /US$, Euro 0.83 /US$, Jap.Yen 109.81 /US$, Aus$ 1.33 /US$, Sing 1.33 /US$, Bang Taka 83.74 /US$, Can$ 1.28 /US$, Mal Ring 3.92 /US$,

Pak Re 115.54 /US$, Phil Peso 51.85 /US$, Russian Rouble 63.69 /US$, NZ$ 1.42 /US$, Thai Baht 31.68 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 26.11 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 9,114

Dollar Index 92.33 Brent Crude 73.17  BDI 1327

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,309 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3154 / 2966, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 42,000





I can’t understand why people are frightened by new ideas. I’m frightened of old ones. – John Cage





There was a man who needed millions of dollars to clinch an important deal went to church to pray for the money. By chance, he knelt next to a man who was praying for $100 to pay an urgent debt.

The businessman took out his wallet and pressed $100 into the other man’s hand. Overjoyed, the man got up and left the church.

The businessman then closed his eyes and prayed, “And now, Lord, that I have your undivided attention…”



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