Centre details supreme court on Lokpal appointment progress
Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal informed the Supreme Court on
Thursday that names for Lokpal, the anti-corruption ombudsman, have been
shortlisted and forwarded to the Selection Committee chaired by the Prime
Mr.Venugopal, appearing for the government, said he received a
letter from the Search Committee chairperson and former Supreme Court judge,
Justice RanjanaPrakash Desai, on February 28 informing him that three panels
of shortlisted names, for the Lokpal Chairperson and judicial and
non-judicial members, had been handed over to the high-power Selection
The court refused a plea by petitioner NGO Common Cause,
represented by advocate PrashantBhushan, to put the shortlisted names in the
public domain for the sake of transparency. Chief Justice Gogoi observed
that there was no provision in the Lokpal Act to gather public opinion on
The court, however, did not dispose of the case despite the AG’s
submission that nothing remained in the matter. Mr.Venugopal said the
Selection Committee comprised high-ranking authorities and it would take
some time to fix a date for all of them to sit together.
Under Section 4 (1) of the Lokpal Act, the Selection Committee
consists of the Prime Minister, LokSabha Speaker, Leader of the Opposition (LoP),
the Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge nominated by him and an
Mr.Venugopal said in the absence of anLoP, the leader of the
single largest party in Opposition in the 16th LokSabha would be a ‘special
invitee’. The AG pointed out that appointment of Lokpal Chairperson or
members would not become invalid “merely by reason of any vacancy in the
NGT seeks compensation from wolkswagen company
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday directed Volkswagen
India to deposit a sum of Rs. 500 crore with the Central Pollution Control
Board (CPCB) within two months for using cheat devices in its diesel
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel
enhanced the compensation amount of Rs. 171 crore, which was recommended by
an NGT-appointed committee, as a means of “creating deterrence.”
During the hearing, the company however contended that prescribed
norms under BS-IV were not violated and that the test results were based on
‘on-road testing’, for which there were no prescribed norms.
While stating that the Rs. 171 crore recommended by the committee
was a “conservative value due to lack of methodology to calculate overall
damage” the bench directed the company to deposit the amount to the CPCB.
The bench further said that the apex pollution monitoring body may
consider utilising the money towards improving air quality in the National
Capital Region and other highly-polluted areas. Additionally, the bench said
that the CPCB can “initiate prosecution upon due consideration.”
Reacting to the NGT order, a Volkswagen spokesperson said, “The
Volkswagen Group in India reiterates that all cars from the group are
compliant with the emission norms defined in India. The Group awaits a copy
of the order. The Group will challenge the NGT order before the Supreme
The directions came when the NGT was hearing a plea moved by
petitioner SaloniAilawadi and others, who sought a ban on the sale of
Volkswagen vehicles for alleged violation of emission norms.
Union government approves new hydroelectric policy
The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a new hydroelectric policy
aimed at boosting the sector, including according large hydro projects the
status of renewable energy projects.
According to the new policy, large hydro projects will also be
designated as renewable energy projects. So far, only smaller projects of
less than 25 MW in capacity were categorised as renewable energy.
With the removal of this distinction, large hydro projects will be
included as a separate category under the non-solar renewable purchase
obligation policy. Under this policy, power purchasers will have to source a
portion of electricity from large hydro projects.
“The hydro policy was in the works for a long time,” Power and
Renewable Energy Minister R.K. Singh said.
He also said the new policy had increased the debt repayment
period for hydro projects to 18 years from the current 12 years with the
provision to introduce an escalating tariff of 2%.
Centre launches E-Dharti app for property related substitutions
Housing and Urban Affairs Minister HardeepPuri today launched e-Dharti
app where all the three modules- Conversion, Substitution and Mutation
related to properties have been made online.
The payment system in Land and Development Office, L&DO has also
been completely digitized.
Work is also going on other three small modules namely Sale
Permission, Mortgage Permission and Gift Permission will be completed soon.
The public can now submit their applications online by visiting
the L&DO website and are not required to visit this office for submission of
them and for follow up of their applications.
Mr Puri also launched e-DhartiGeoPortal, through which the lessee
of the property will be able to see the basic details of property along with
map showing its location.
The lessee can also be issued a Property Card from this office
about his property if he asks for it.
This application will not only benefit public but the Government
also in getting to know the actual status of its vacant properties, whether
there is any encroachment on the property.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has ruled out deploying
ground-based nuclear missiles to Europe.
At a press conference on Thursday in Warsaw, Poland Stoltenberg
said the 29-nation alliance had already started planning for a world without
the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
The United States decision to suspend participation in the INF has
prompted concerns of its European allies.
It formally suspended its obligations under the 1987 INF Treaty on
February 2 and triggered the six-month withdrawal process, citing alleged
Moscow's violation of the deal.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had warned that Europe would
be most vulnerable to any negative consequences of the potential collapse of
The agreement bans all ground-launched missiles, conventional or
nuclear, with ranges of 310 to 3,400 miles.
India excluded from student visa relaxation list
India is, once again, not included in an expanded list of
countries from where students applying for visas will be subject to less
stringent documentation requirements, details provided on Thursday showed.
This follows last year’s controversy when the failure to include
India triggered much criticism, particularly after the U.K. sought to
suggest that the exclusion related to New Delhi’s decision to pull out of a
Memorandum of Understanding on the return of illegal migrants.
The changes are part of a wider update to Britain’s immigration
system that will introduce two new visa routes for setting up businesses in
the U.K. including a “start-up” route and an equivalent one for more
seasoned business people. In both cases, business experts will be involved.
The government has also updated its rules governing a fast-track
visa scheme for wealthy investors which has been used by many Indians. The
scheme, which is open to those who invest at least £2 million in U.K.
government, shares or businesses, offers a faster route to settlement in the
However, amid concerns that the route has been abused for illicit
money flows, applicants will be “required to prove that they have had
control of the required £2 million for at least two years, rather than 90
days, or provide evidence of the source of those funds”, the Home Office
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
India signs nuclear submarine deal with Russia
India on Thursday sealed a $3-billion deal with Russia for leasing
a nuclear-powered attack submarine for the Indian Navy for a period of 10
years, military sources said.
The two countries signed an inter-governmental agreement capping
months of negotiations on price and other aspects of the deal. Under the
pact, Russia will have to deliver the Akula class submarine, to be known as
Chakra III, to the Indian Navy by 2025. It will be the third Russian
submarine to be leased to the Navy.
India has been significantly bolstering its naval prowess in the
backdrop of China’s attempts to expand its influence in the Indian Ocean
Indian cricketers donate towards national defence fund
As a mark of respect for the CRPF personnel who lost their lives
in the Pulwama terrorist attack, the Indian cricketers Friday sported
special Army caps during the third ODI against Australia in Ranchi and
donated their match fee to the National Defence Fund.
Captain ViratKohli came out for the toss wearing the camouflage
military cap, which had the BCCI's logo on it.
He also urged everyone to contribute towards the National Defence
Fund so that the money could be used for the welfare of the families of the
slain CRPF Personnel.