PM: We are working to become a member of Five Trillion Dollar club

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday repeatedly said the digit that is moving towards a $5 trillion economy over the next few years with sustained, comprehensive and holistic development in the nation.

On the inaugural of the first mega global investors summit, "Magnetic Maharashtra: Convergence 2018" in Mumbai, PM said that our country is on the firm path of development simultaneously with the development of the states.

"We are working towards becoming a member of the Five Trillion Dollar club," Modi said.

He also appreciated Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for taking the initiative to make Maharashtra the first state in India to become a Trillion Dollar economy in the next few years, while addressing a gathering of over 200 captains of Indian and global companies at Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai.

Modi noted his government has taken a slew of steps to ensure all-round development of India with an ecosystem comprising development-friendly, investor-friendly governance with minimal governmental interference.

Indian states are now policy-driven, governance is performance-driven with full accountability, a transparent ecosystem, various norms are being eased, the government is changing laws where needed, and scrapped more than 1,400 old or outdated laws, and for new or modified laws, care is being taken to ensure they are simplified, he said.

In recent years, various states of India have also competing among themselves to attract maximum foreign investments as per their needs and requirements, including Assam, he said.

On Maharashtra, Modi said during the past three years, this state has initiated unprecedented measures to lure foreign investors on all fronts, led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

"The state's reforms have transformed business, huge improvements in its rating in Ease of Doing Business, changed the work culture, problems are being resolved in a time-bound manner, debottlenecking has been achieved with inter-departmental cooperation, all of which have reflected on its development," he said.

(With Agency Inputs)


Zainab Ansari’s murder case: Killer gets death sentence

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A court in Pakistan has given accused Imran Ali the death of sentences on 4 different grounds- murdering, kidnapping, rape of a minor and committing an unnatural act in Zainab Ansari murder case.

This has been for the first time in history that the court has taken the decision so fast in such a shortest period of four days.

Announcing the verdict at the Kot Lakhpat Jail here at in-camera trial amid high security, ATC judge Sajjad Hussain handed down the death sentence to 23-year-old Imran Ali on four grounds - murdering a child, kidnapping a child, rape of a minor, and committing an unnatural act with a minor.

Imran has also been sentenced to seven years in jail with a fine of Rs 1 million for desecrating the body of a minor.

He was arrested in January, two weeks after he raped and killed the 7-year-old girl and threw her body into a garbage dump in Kasur city, some 50 kilometres from Lahore.

The brutal rape and murder of the child had sparked outrage and protests across the country. Her case was the twelfth such incident to occur within a 10 kilometre radius in Kasur city over a 12-month period.

The arrest brought to light eight more such killings and many Pakistanis have demanded he be publicly executed.

Prosecutor General Ehtesham Qadir, who spoke to media after the sentencing, said the accused had been given ample chance to defend himself, but he chose to confess his crimes.

He said the prosecution had presented at least 56 witnesses against him in addition to forensic evidence, including the DNA and polygraph tests.

"It was a fair trial in which the suspect was given a chance to defend himself," Qadir said, adding the ATC has awarded the sentence to the accused only in the case of the seven-year-old girl.

"The suspect had also confessed to the killing of eight other girls. He will be tried in these cases separately, he said, adding this was the first ever trial in the history of Pakistan that concluded in four days.

The girl's father Muhammad Amin expressed satisfaction over the verdict, saying: "We are satisfied on the verdict but we wanted him to be hanged publicly."

The girl's mother said, "We want that the suspect should be stoned to death for his crime as hanging in jail is a punishment which is given to other criminals but this beast deserves either public hanging or stoned to death."

Imran will now have 15 days to approach the court to file an appeal. However, the prosecutor general said he had confessed to his crime and was not interested in challenging the ATC verdict in higher court.

"He regrets for his act. He says he became a pervert after having an addiction of watching child pornography on Internet," Qadir said.

Advocate Mehar Shakeel Multani, the private counsel for the suspect, had withdrawn his power of attorney after the suspect made confession before the trial court.

The lawyer claimed his conscience did not allow him to defend a serial killer.

Later, the court provided the suspect with state counsel to complete the trial proceedings.

Showing concerns about the fairness of the trial inside jail, rights activist and senior lawyer Asad Jamal said the trial could not be held in a free and fair manner unless the suspect was given an ample opportunity to defend himself through a counsel of his choice.

He said the trial had been conducted in camera without access to independent observers, members of the bar and independent legal counsel for the suspect.

He said the prosecution could not propose or nominate a lawyer to defend a suspect, as done in the case, because there had always been a clear conflict of interest.

He said it was against the principles of due process of fair trial guaranteed under Article 10-A of the Constitution.

Advocate Jamal said he had also filed an application with the jail authorities, seeking permission to meet the accused to consult him in private to access the need for the steps to be taken, including representation to defend him to ensure a fair trial.

The Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 also requires a trial court to proceed with the trial on day-to-day basis and decide the case within seven working days.

Prosecutor General Qadir, however, said, "All the requisites of justice and fairness had been strictly observed during the trial proceedings."

He said the private counsel for the suspect had cross- examined at least 22 prosecution witnesses before he withdrew his power of attorney.

"Later, the state lawyer appointed by the court completed the cross-examination of the remaining witnesses."

(With agency inputs)

Modi Ruhani

Modi, Rouhani signed 9 agreements

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In order to boost cooperation in key areas of security, trade and energy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inked nine pacts with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, including one on double taxation avoidance.

The two leaders also deliberated on regional situations during their wide-ranging talks.

"Both heavyweights held substantive & productive discussion on cooperation in trade & investment, energy, connectivity, defence & security & regional issues," External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

Addressing a joint press event with Rouhani, PM said the visit by the Iranian president shows how both the sides want to deepen cooperation in key areas, including connectivity.

While giving the details of weighty conversation, PM said they discussed threats posed by terrorism, drug trafficking and other challenges.

On his part, Rouhani said, "We are dedicated to fight terrorism and extremism."

The Iranian president also said that regional conflicts must be resolved through diplomacy and political initiatives.

PM also praised the way the Iranian leader provided leadership in developing strategically-important Chabahar Port.

Apart from tax pact, the two sides also exchanged instrument to ratify the extradition treaty as well as to simplify visa process.

Earlier, Rouhani was given a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan after which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Rouhani and discussed various issues with him.

(With agency inputs)

Iran Prez

Iran prez paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi

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After inspecting a guard of honour at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Iran President Hassan Rouhani paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat in New Delhi today.

On his first ever visit after assuming charge as the President of Iran in 2013, Rouhani also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind.

President Hassan Rouhani had arrived in Hyderabad on February 15 where he addressed a large gathering of Muslim intellectuals and scholars from different schools of thought after performing Friday prayers at the historic Makkah Masjid.

He had stressed upon the cooperation between India and Iran in a bid to embolden the bilateral ties and also called for unity among Muslims across the world. Religious scholars from different schools of thoughts had participated in the session as well.

(With Agency Inputs)

MEA Passport Suspension

Nirav, Mehul passports suspended; Will revoke them if receive no reply within a week: MEA

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While asking the question to billionaire jewellery designer Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has given a week's time to explain why their passports shouldn't be revoked.

If it fails, the Passport issuing authority will go ahead with the revocation. On the advice of the Enforcement Directorate, the MEA has suspended validity of passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi with immediate effect for a period of four weeks. 

"If they fail to respond within the stipulated time it will be assumed that they have no response to offer and the MEA will go ahead with the revocation," the ministry said in a statement.

Announcing the suspension, the MEA statement said,"On the advice of the Enforcement Directorate, the passport issuing authority in the MEA has today suspended the validity of passports of Nirav Deepak Modi and Mehul Chinubhai Choksi with immediate effect for a period of four weeks u/s 10(A) of the Passports Act 1967."

They have been asked to respond within one week why their passports should not be impounded or revoked under Section 10 (3) (c) of the Passports Act 1967, it said.

Both Modi and Choksi left India last month. 

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED yesterday moved separate applications to the external affairs ministry seeking the revocation Nirav Modi's passport as well as that of his maternal uncle and his business partner Mehul Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali jewellery chain. Both are accused in the Rs 280 crore bank fraud case. 

The Enforcement Directorate had conducted searches in several properties linked to Modi in Mumbai, Delhi and Gujarat Thursday, and seized diamond, jewellery and gold worth Rs 5,100 crore.

The raids came after the agency filed a Rs 280-crore money laundering case against Modi, his wife Ami, brother Nishal and business partner Mehul Choksi on Wednesday, following a complaint by Punjab National Bank.

The ED filed the case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after going through a CBI FIR registered early this month. It is understood that the ED also went through the PNB complaint that was made out against Modi and others. The agency, they said, would probe if the allegedly defrauded bank funds were laundered and these proceeds of crime were subsequently used by the accused to create illegal assets and black money.

Modi (46), a regular feature on the lists of rich and famous Indians since 2013, was booked by the CBI, along with wife, brother and business partner Choksi on January 31, for allegedly cheating the state-run Punjab National Bank to the tune of Rs 280 crore. The bank has sent two more complaints to the CBI on Tuesday, saying the scam was worth more than Rs 11,400 crore.

The ED has enllarged its probe to look into the charge of fraud of Rs 11,400 crore, agency officials said.

The CBI also raided the residences of Modi, his brother, wife and Choksi, all partners of Diamond R US, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds and two bank officials -- Gokulnath Shetty (now retired) and Manoj Kharat, who were also named in the FIR as accused.

"The public servants committed abuse of official position to cause pecuniary advantage to Diamond R US, Solar Exports, Stellar Diamonds and a wrongful loss of Rs 280.70 crore to Punjab National Bank during 2017," the CBI FIR has alleged.

The bank had also alleged in the complaint that a fraudulent issuance of Letters of Undertakings (LOU) took place on January 16, 2018 for and on behalf of the accused firms, which approached the bank and presented a set of import documents to the branch with a request to allow buyers credit for making payment to overseas suppliers.

The diamantaire is an India citizen but his brother Nishal and wife Ami are not Indian nationals.

(With agency inputs)