Trinamool MPs walk out of RS to protest govt's 'political vendetta'
Trinamool Congress members today staged a walkout from the Rajya Sabha, charging the government with "political vendetta" for their opposition to demonetisation by arresting their Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay. The charge of political vendetta was squarely rejected by the government. Senior AITC MP Derek O'Brien, while raising the issue during Zero Hour, said since the party has been opposing the decision to scrap old ₹500 and ₹1,000 currency notes, the Centre was sending its investigating agencies after opposition leaders to "scare" them. "And exactly what we had feared has happened...Lok Sabha leader of AITC was called (by the CBI) and arrested on January 3," O'Brien said.
IED detected on Srinagar-Jammu NH
Security forces today detected and defused an improvised explosive device (IED) between Kadlabal and Chursoo section on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway in Pampore area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district. A police official said the bomb disposal squad was rushed to the spot which destroyed the explosive.
Plea against pre-poll freebies promise in Delhi HC
The Delhi High Court today sought responses of the Centre and the Election Commission of India (EC) on a petition seeking to restrain all political parties from making promises of offering freebies to people if they are voted to power. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal asked the EC to explain if its guidelines on election manifesto are in conformity with the Supreme Court's direction given earlier. The apex court in its July 2013 verdict had observed that, "although the law is obvious that promises made in an election manifesto cannot be construed as a 'corrupt practice' under section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, the reality is that distribution of freebies of any kind undoubtedly influences all people and it affects level-playing field." The court asked both the government and EC to file their response within eight weeks. The bench has fixed the matter for hearing on May 24.
US puts Iran 'on notice' after missile launch
The US today put Iran "on notice" for test-firing a ballistic missile and warned of consequences for its "malign actions", signalling a more hardline stance against Tehran that could set the stage for renewed confrontation between the two nations. "As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice," President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said. The adviser said that the ballistic missile launch, the first by Iran since Trump become president, is in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. The pronouncement marked a pivot away from the previous Obama administration's policy of diplomatic engagement with Iran which led to a 2015 multinational nuclear deal. According to reports, Iran's missile test occurred at a well-known site outside Semnan, about 225 km east of Tehran. The Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile flew 600 miles before exploding.
UK House of Commons votes in favour of starting Brexit process
Britain moved one step closer to a final separation from the EU as members of the UK parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing the government to begin Brexit negotiations. Members of the House of Commons voted yesterday by 498 to 114 to advance the bill that would give Prime Minister Theresa May the authority to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty—the formal process of leaving the EU. The bill now faces further scrutiny in the Commons and the House of Lords before it can become law.