Supreme court reinstates former CBI director conditionally
The Supreme Court on Tuesday “reinstated” exiled CBI Director Alok
Verma, but ordered him to “cease and desist” from taking any major policy
decisions till a high-power committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
decides the question of his divestment in a week.
Now, with just a few days left before the end of his tenure as CBI
Director, Mr. Verma’s fate hinges on the decision of this committee
comprising Mr. Modi, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Congress MP
Mallikarjun Kharge, as Leader of the Opposition.
Thus the court, though placing Mr. Verma back on the saddle, has
effectively clipped his wings. His authority as CBI Director would be
confined to “ongoing routine functions” till the Prime Minister-led
The court ordered him not to undertake “any fresh initiative” with
major policy or institutional implications in the interregnum.
It dismissed the claims of superintendence over the CBI made by
the government and the CVC.
The Alok Verma divestment case has led the Supreme Court to
further protect the tenure of the CBI Director and the independence of the
country’s premier investigative agency from interference by political
With this judgment, the Supreme Court has protected the tenure of
the CBI Director. It has interpreted Section 4B (2) of the Delhi Special
Police Establishment (DSPE) Act of 1946 to expand the meaning of the word
‘transfer’ to include divestment and dispossession of CBI Director, quite
like what happened to Mr. Verma.
DNA technology bill passed by Loksabha
The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a bill that allows regulated use
of DNA technology to establish the identity of certain defined categories of
persons, including offenders, suspects, and undertrials.
The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill allows
the use of the technology to establish the identity of persons in matters of
crime, parentage dispute, emigration or immigration and transplantation of
The Bill provides for establishment of national and regional DNA
data banks and each data will maintain the indices, including crime scene
index, suspects’ or undertrials’ index and offenders’ index.
Replying to the concerns raised by various members about the law
being misused to carry unregulated DNA profiling, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said,
“The potential misuse of DNA samples is not restricted to the biological
material, which is collected under the provisions of this DNA Bill alone.
Any and every blood sample collected by clinical laboratory has the same
potential for misuse”.
Kalyan Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress said the the Bill was a
good step in the criminal justice system but cautioned about a possible
scenario where it could be misused by investigative agencies while
collecting DNA samples.
RBI governor confirms no decision yet on transfer of dividend to centre
The Reserve Bank of India has not yet taken a decision regarding
the quantum of the interim dividend it will transfer to the government, RBI
Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Monday. The central bank would not delay in
announcing the decision once made, he said.
Mr. Das was responding to queries based on a Reuters report that
the RBI would be transferring anywhere between ₹30,000 and 40,000 crore to
the Centre as interim dividend.
The issue of transferring dividends to the Centre has been the
source of considerable tension between the central bank and the government,
with the RBI recently setting up a committee under the chairmanship of
former RBI Governor Bimal Jalan to examine how much the RBI needs to
maintain its reserves, and how much can be transferred to the government.
He said even though the RBI was monitoring the liquidity situation
closely, it would be careful to infuse liquidity only as and when it was
absolutely necessary, so as to avoid a situation of excess liquidity in the
Mr. Das also indirectly stressed on the independence of the
central bank, saying that the final decision on issues within its ambit
would be RBI’s. “The RBI will listen to everybody and interact with
everybody including the government, but the final decision will be taken by
the RBI in an objective manner to the best of its abilities,” Mr. Das said.
RBI sets up panel to improve digtal payments
The Reserve Bank of India has appointed a five-member panel headed
by Nandan Nilekani to suggest ways to improve digital payments. The
committee will submit its report in 90 days from its first meeting.
Former Deputy Governor of RBI H.R. Khan, former Vijaya Bank MD and
CEO Kishore Sansi, former Secretary of Information and Technology Aruna
Sharma and Sanjay Jain, Chief Innovation Officer, Center for Innovation,
Incubation & Entrepreneurship (CIIE), IIM Ahmedabad, are the other members
of the panel.
“To review the existing status of digitisation of payments in the
country, identify the current gaps in the ecosystem and suggest ways to
bridge them,” the terms of reference said.
The panel would assess the current levels of digital payments in
financial inclusion, suggest measures to strengthen the safety and security
of digital payments, provide a road map for increasing customer confidence
to use digital transactions, and suggest a medium-term strategy for
deepening of digital payments.
India and Norway have agreed to closely collaborate on ocean
economy and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The two countries also decided to step up bilateral trade. Prime
Minister Narendra Modi held delegation-level talks with his Norwegian
counterpart Erna Solberg in New Delhi today.
They discussed ways to give new energy and direction to bilateral
ties. The two countries also signed a MoU for holding an India-Norway Ocean
Mr Modi said, he and Ms. Solberg reviewed all areas of the
cooperation. He said they also had fruitful discussions on all aspects of
the ocean economy.
Mr. Modi said, India and Norway have strong cooperation at the
international level and both the countries coordinate closely on issues such
as UN Security Council reforms, multilateral export control regimes and
terrorism. He said, India and Norway are successfully cooperating in the
field of mother and child health under the Norway-India partnership
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un arrives in China ahead of Trump meeting
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in the Chinese capital in
the early hours on Tuesday for consultations with Beijing ahead of a likely
second round of talks with U.S. President Donald Trump.
The talks are taking place amid signs that the dialogue between
Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump could be held either in Hanoi, Bangkok or Hawaii. The
two leaders had last met in Singapore for their first meeting last June.
Last week, Mr. Trump was emphatic in stating that both Pyongyang
and Washington wanted another round of talks.
But ahead of the North Korean leader’s visit to Beijing, Pyongyang
had made it plain that its willingness for talks with Mr. Trump could not be
taken for granted. On the contrary, Mr. Kim announced during his New Year
message that his readiness to meet with Mr. Trump was linked to the lifting
of sanctions that have been imposed on North Korea.
In Beijing, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported that Mr. Kim
was in China till Thursday. Global Times , the state-run tabloid, added that
“(Mr.) Kim is likely seeking advice and assistance from China,” quoting Wang
Junsheng, a research fellow on East Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of
Mr. Kim is also expected to seek further support for his country’s
economic development, the daily observed. Mr. Kim held three summits last
year with Mr. Xi, prior to talks with Mr. Trump and South Korean President
In South Korea, the presidential Blue House spokesperson Kim
Eui-kyeom said on Tuesday that Seoul hoped Mr. Kim’s visit would help secure
permanent peace on the peninsula.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
NASA discoveres new planet outside solar system
NASA’s latest planet-hunting probe has discovered a new world
outside our solar system, orbiting a dwarf star 53 light years away.
This is the third new planet confirmed by the Transiting Exoplanet
Survey Satellite (TESS) since its launch in April last year.
The planet, named HD 21749b, orbits a bright, nearby dwarf star
about 53 light years away, in the constellation Reticulum, and appears to
have the longest orbital period of the three planets so far identified by
HD 21749b journeys around its star in a relatively leisurely 36
days, compared to the two other planets — Pi Mensae b, a “super-Earth” with
a 6.3-day orbit, and LHS 3844b, a rocky world that speeds around its star in
just 11 hours.
All three planets were discovered in the first three months of
TESS observations. “It’s the coolest small planet that we know of around a
star this bright,” said Diana Dragomir, a researcher in the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT), who led the discovery.
However, it is unlikely that the planet is rocky and therefore
habitable; it’s more likely made of gas, of a kind that is much more dense
than the atmospheres of either Neptune or Uranus.
Egypt to host 2019 African football championship
Egypt will host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations between 15th June
and 13th July. Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Ahmad Ahmad
made the announcement in Senegalese capital Dakar yesterday.
The CAF executive committee preferred Egypt to South Africa as
replacement for original hosts Cameroon, who were dropped due to delays in
preparations and concerns over security.
Egypt will stage the biennial showpiece of African football for
the fifth time. Egypt only entered the running to host the Cup of Nations
when fellow north African country Morocco announced they would not bid to do