Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute: SC won't hear political or religious arguments, says CJI Misra

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After the hearing of an important Ram Mandir and Babri Masjid dispute case on Thursday, due to the incomplete documentation process, the Supreme Court fixed 14 March as the next date of hearing.

Adding to it, Dipak Misra said that poor citizens were waiting for justice, and 700 petitions in the case can be disposed by devoting a few hours. Books including Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana were submitted in the supreme court on Thursday, along with 87 witness depositions.

But due to the incomplete documentation process, the Supreme Court fixed 14 March as the next date of hearing, according to ANI.

Speaking to reporters, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy quoted Misra as saying that the court would "certainly go on the principle of day-to-day hearing" after the next hearing.

(With agency inputs)

Band Ex PM

B’desh ex-PM sentenced 5-yrs jail in corruption case

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Bangladesh's former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia was today sentenced to five years in jail in a graft case.

Khaleda Zia, 72, also an opposition was sentenced by the Special Court 5 years of jail in the Capital, Dhaka, in connection with embezzlement of 21 million takas (USD 252,000) in foreign donations meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust.

For the same case, her son Tarique Rahman and his four other associates have been sentenced to 10 years in jail.

The ex-Prime Minister on November 30, 2014 lost her last ditch effort to evade the graft trial as the apex court turned down her second 'leave to appeal' petition challenging her indictment and asked her to face trial in the lower court.

Zia had an account named “Prime Minister's Orphanage Trust” with the Ramna branch of Sonali Bank during her governance as Prime Minister.  She and five others were booked in July 2008 by the Anti-Corruption Bureau for misappropriating Tk 2.1 crore that had come from a foreign bank as grants for orphans. 

The ACC alleged that the two charities, the other being the Zia Charitable Trust, existed only on paper and a huge amount of money was misappropriated in the name of the two organisations while Zia was premier during the BNP's 2001-2006 government.

The high court earlier validated the trial in the lower court which on March 19, 2014 had indicted Zia on the corruption charges.

(Agency Inputs)

Rahul Sonias Boss

Rahul Gandhi is now my boss too: Sonia

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In an ongoing conversation with the party workers, former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Thursday said that Congress president Rahul Gandhi is her boss too and that there should be no doubt about that.

Addressing a Congress Parliamentary Party meeting, Sonia said: "We have a new Congress president and on your behalf and my own I wish him all the best. He is now my boss too. Let there be no doubt about that."

She has been the party president for 19 years before Rahul Gandhi took over the respnsibility from her. She remains the chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party.

In the same meet where Gandhi made clear her position in the party, she also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that his government indulges in 'maximum publicity, minimum government' and 'maximum marketing, minimum delivery'.

Launching an all-out attack on the BJP and the Modi government, Sonia Gandhi today said she would work with like-minded political parties to ensure its defeat in the next general elections.

She also accused NDA government at the centre of polarising communities to milk out electoral benefit in poll-bound states. "Violence against minorities, Dalits not sporadic but orchestrated to polarise society for narrow political gains: Sonia Gandhi. I will work with like-minded parties to defeat BJP so India restore to democratic, inclusive, secular, tolerant and economically progressive path."

Talking about the party's performance in the recently held elections, she said that there has been improvement and "winds of change are coming".

"We performed very creditably under tough circumstances in Gujarat &recent by-election results in Rajasthan were huge. This shows winds of change are coming. I am sure Karnataka too will underline resurgence of Congress."

(With Agency Inputs)

Sc Ram Mandir

Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute case: SC to begin final hearing

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The apex court is likely to commence the important final hearing in the politically controversial Ram temple-Babri Masjid dispute case today.

Today’s hearing assumes significance in the wake of the rejection, by a special bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, of the vehement submission by Sunni Waqf Board and others that the pleas be heard after the next general elections.

The bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, had made clear on 5 December last year that it would begin final hearing on the petitions from 8 February and had asked the parties to file the requisite pleadings in the meantime.

According to media spokesperson, the bench is scheduled to start the hearing at 2 pm. The report also said that even though the court was expected to hold day-to-day hearings, this may not be possible because CJI Misra is already part of the Constitution bench on the Aadhaar issue.

Senior lawyers including Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhavan had contended that the civil appeals be either referred to a five or seven judge bench or posted in 2019, keeping in mind the sensitive nature of the case and its ramifications on the country's secular fabric and polity.

But the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board had spoken against deferment of the hearing in the apex court till after the 2019 general elections.

"The board is of the view that hearing in the case be held and the matter be disposed of promptly... I do not know on whose behalf the counsel for the Muslims appearing in the apex court, Kapil Sibal had stated this... No such directive had been given by the board," chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board Zafar Farooqui had said.

Sibal had also come under stinging attack from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who — at that time — was on campaign trail in Gujarat, for his attempt to link the legal tangle to the next general elections, wondering if such an issue should be kept unresolved for political gains and losses.

Under attack, Sibal claimed he did not represent the Sunni Waqf Board in the Ayodhya case in the Supreme Court, and mounted a counteroffensive against Modi, saying he should have checked the facts before criticising him.

(With inputs from PTI)


Maldives excludes India from 'friendly nations' amid crisis

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While excluding India for not supporting amid crises, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen on Wednesday sent his special envoys to three 'friendly nations'- China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

“On the direction of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, members of the administration's cabinet will visit these three countries, friendly nations of the Maldives and will share current scenario,” Yameen's Presidential Office said in a statement.

The envoys would travel to China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, said the announcement from the President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s office, which came hours after Chinese foreign ministry warned India against military intervention in the island nation and appealed to the international community to “play a constructive role on the basis of respecting the Maldives sovereignty."

Both Saudi Arabia and China are wooing the atolls with an aim of “gaining concessions for military bases”.

“China sees the islands as a node in its “string of pearls” – a row of ports on key trade and oil routes linking the Middle Kingdom to the Middle East – while for Saudi Arabia, the atolls have the added advantage of lying a straight three-hour shot from the coast of regional rival and arch-foe, Iran, reported SCMP.

“Saudi Arabia, to lay the ground for the investment, has in recent years funded religious institutions in the Maldives and offered scholarships for students wanting to pursue religious studies at the kingdom’s ultra-conservative universities in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The funding has pushed the Maldives, a popular high-end tourist destination, towards greater intolerance and public piety. Public partying, mixed dancing and Western beach garb have become acceptable only within expensive tourist resorts.”

Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed, who was country’s first democratically elected President, had sought India’s military help to resolve the crisis in the island nation, which is placed under a state of emergency that gives sweeping powers to the law enforcement agencies and the military. India hasn’t responded to the request but issued a statement expressing worry over the government’s reluctance to abide by a Supreme court verdict. 

Yameen has defied Supreme Court's order directing him to release former president Mohamed Nasheed and free political opponents from prison. The opposition and general public have been unrelentingly asking President Yameen to step down and allow a new leadership to take charge. 

Instead, Mr Yameen imposed a state of emergency and ordered the arrest of two of the five judges along former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had sided with the main opposition.

(With agency inputs)