QBullet: Govt, Oppn Trade Barbs Over ‘Snooping Order’ & More

1. Only 2 Dictators in India: Rahul Gandhi, Amit Shah Spar Over ‘Snooping Order’

Hitting back at Rahul Gandhi over his "insecure dictator" barb at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah on Friday, 21 December, said India has seen only two "insecure dictators", one who imposed emergency and the other who wanted unrestricted access to read letters of common citizens.

While Shah's first reference is obviously to former prime minister Indira Gandhi, his second reference, BJP sources said, was to the Congress President Rahul's father Rajiv Gandhi who, they claimed, wanted a law for unrestricted access to read letters.

"There were only 2 insecure dictators in the history of India. One imposed emergency and the other wanted unrestricted access to read letters of common citizens. Guess who were they," Shah tweeted, tagging Rahul Gandhi.

Gandhi earlier attacked Modi over the Centre's move to authorise 10 agencies to intercept information on any computer system, saying converting India into a police state won't solve his problems but only proves he is an "insecure dictator".

(Source: DNA)

2. Sohrabuddin Case: 22 Accused Let Off for Want of Proof

All remaining 22 accused, mostly junior level police officers, in the alleged encounter killings of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi, and associate Tulsiram Prajapati were acquitted on Friday, 21 December, by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court, which cited insufficient evidence even as it expressed sorrow over the loss of three lives.

Several others have already been discharged in the case. At one point, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah was arrested with regard to the case (and released on bail), but he was discharged in December 2014.

Other high profile accused discharged in the case are former Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria and police officers from three states, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, including two former Gujarat Director Generals of Police PC Pande and Geeta Johri and Deputy Inspector General DG Vanzara.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

3. Calcutta High Court Stays Single Bench’s Order Allowing BJP’s Rath Yatra

The division bench of Calcutta High Court on Friday, 21 December, put a stay on Thursday’s (20 December) single bench order which had allowed the BJP to hold rath yatra in West Bengal. The bench comprising Chief Justice Debasish Kargupta and Justice Shampa Sarka has also reverted the case to single bench and asked it to go through all intelligence reports before delivering a verdict on it.

Interestingly, lawyer and Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared on behalf of Kolkata Police and argued that all intelligence reports were not taken into consideration by the single bench before delivering the verdict on Thursday.

“The division bench has set aside yesterday’s order and reverted it to the single bench. The court today said that the single bench needs to go through all intelligence reports before delivering a verdict on this,” said a counsellor appearing for the state government.

(Source: The Indian Express)

4. No Hurdle for Herald Eviction, says Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry

There is no impediment before the government in seeking the eviction of the publishers of National Herald if they do not voluntarily vacate Herald House in New Delhi and hand over its possession by 3 January, the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry said in a statement after the Delhi High Court “vindicated” the government’s stance in its Friday, 21 December, judgment.

National Herald is owned by a company whose majority stakeholders include Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi.

Herald House, a five-storey building on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, stands on land originally allotted to Associated Journals Ltd. (AJL) at a concessional rate in 1962-63.

(Source: The Hindu)

5. Economists Can’t Decide Farm Loan Waivers Good or Bad: P Chidambaram

Coming down hard on the views of some economists on demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST), senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday, 21 December, refused to buy their argument against farm loan waiver either.

Speaking to reporters, he said, “If they say farm loan waiver is bad politics, let the people decide. Economists cannot decide whether the farm loan waiver is good or bad.”

Pointing out that of the 10 crore farming families in the country, 5.28 crore had oustandings of between Rs 90,000 to a lakh, he demanded, “What do these small and marginal farmers do? I think economists do not understand the plight of these farmers.”

(Source: Deccan Chronicle)

6. No Resolution Passed to Withdraw Rajiv Gandhi’s Bharat Ratna: AAP

The Delhi Assembly on Friday, 21 December, passed a resolution demanding that the Bharat Ratna awarded to late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi be withdrawn, prompting a ruling party MLA to walk out in protest.

The development, the result of an ambush by an Aam Aadmi Party member apparently without the leadership’s endorsement, comes at a time when the AAP is reportedly talking to the Congress for an alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

AAP member Somnath Bharti had added the paragraph on Rajiv at the last minute, and the resolution was passed at the end of the session in the absence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia, and the four-member BJP Opposition.

(Source: The Telegraph)

7. Naseeruddin Shah Not Allowed to Inaugurate Ajmer Literature Festival

Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah, whose recent remarks on mob violence had sparked a controversy, decided not to inaugurate the Ajmer Literature Festival following protests by members of Hindu outfits affiliated to BJP.

Scores of protesters of BJP Yuva Morcha and Bajrang Dal entered the venue and shouted anti-Naseeruddin slogans in the afternoon, just before the inauguration, SHO of Kotwali Thana (Ajmer) Kailash Chand said.

Before reaching the venue, the protesters also tore posters and banners with Shah’s pictures, he added. No FIR was filed.

(Source: The Tribune)

8. Shutdown if US Senate Does Not Approve Border Wall Funding: Trump

US President Donald Trump blamed Democrats for an impending shutdown if they did not vote for “border security”, referring to the proposed wall along the US border with Mexico.

“Shutdown today if Democrats do not vote for Border Security!” warned Trump, in his series of tweets on the day the US Senate prepares to vote on a spending bill which seeks to approve a funding bill for the President’s border wall.

“The Democrats, whose votes we need in the Senate, will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED. If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time. People don’t want Open Borders and Crime!” he said.

On Thursday, 20 December, the US House of Representatives approved more than $5 billion in funding for the wall, close to 24 hours before the partial government shutdown deadline.

(Source: The Statesman)

9. ‘Tandoor’ Murder Convict Set Free After 23 Years in Jail

Former Youth Congress leader Sushil Kumar Sharma walked out of Tihar Jail on Friday, 21 December, more than 23 years after he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the sensational 1995 “tandoor murder” case that had shocked the nation. Earlier in the day, Delhi High Court ordered Sharma’s immediate release, granting remission of his life term.

“We are of the view that incarceration of a convicted prisoner such as Sharma doesn’t result in suspension of all his fundamental rights and he is not denuded of the rights enshrined in every person within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution,” a bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal noted, setting aside the Lt Governor’s decision to deny him remission.

Sharma, now aged 56, was convicted for murdering his wife Naina Sahni in 1995, incensed over her alleged affair with a male friend. He had allegedly tried to destroy evidence by chopping her body and burning it in a restaurant called Baghiya in Lutyens’ Delhi.

(Source: The Times of India)

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