A bench of the Supreme Court said that a notice on a similar plea, which had been filed by the father of a seven-year-old who was found murdered inside the premises of Ryan International School in Gurugram, had been already been issued.
The Supreme Court on Friday will hear a public interest litigation (PIL) on the implementation of current rules and recommendations for security and welfare of students in schools across the country. The apex court agreed on Tuesday to hold the hearing on a plea put in by Supreme Court advocates Abha Sharma and Sangeeta Bharti.
A bench of the apex court, comprising of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and AM Khanvilkar, said that a notice on a similar plea, which had been filed by the father of a seven-year-old boy who was found murdered inside the premises of Ryan International School in Gurugram, had been already been issued. In addition to enforcement of existing directions, the PIL by the apex court lawyers has also recommended added guidelines to help make sure that the liability of students’ safety, right from the time the students step into the school bus, falls on the institution itself.
On Monday, the SC had furnished a notice to the Central government, the Haryana police, the CBSE and the CBI over a plea filed by the father of the victim which sought an investigation into the matter by the bureau.
On September 8, a student of the Ryan International School in Gurugram, studying in Class 2, was found murdered in the restroom facility of the campus with his throat slit. One of the bus conductors working with the school, 42-year-old Ashok Kumar, has been arrested in connection with the murder. Further investigations are on to ascertain exact details of the case.
Elected representatives as voters in the Rajya Sabha polls were not bound by law to vote in the manner desired by their parties, the Election Commission of India told the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Referring to a decision rendered by the apex court in the 2006 Kuldip Nayar case, the EC said in an affidavit that this showed that “there is no mandate under the law that an elector must vote in the manner decided by the political party to which he belongs and that he has no right to not vote for any candidate if he so wishes under section 79(d) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, as no disqualification is mandated for cross voting thereon in any election to Council of States”.
The affidavit was filed in response to a plea by the Gujarat Congress challenging the introduction of NOTA in the Rajya Sabha polls held recently in the state. Explaining this further, the EC said that elections were governed by The Representation of the People Act, which made no distinction between direct and indirect elections. As such elected representatives were also voters and the Supreme Court had previously held that every voter has the right to vote or not to vote, it contended.
The EC in its affidavit said that the the April 2017 Gujarat elections was not the first time NOTA was used in Rajya Sabha polls. The affidavit recalled that the Supreme Court had in the PUCL case in September 2013 recognised NOTA and directed that the same be introduced in ballot papers and EVMs.
Subsequently, the poll panel on April 21, 2014 directed that NOTA will be applicable in Rajya Sabha elections too, it said.
Requesting the court to dismiss the petition, the poll panel said there was no infringement of the petitioners rights and that the move was an abuse of the process of law. If the petitioner wanted to challenge the election, he could do so only by filing an election petition, it added.
The government said on Wednesday it will not step in to adjust prices of petrol and diesel, which are at its highest in three years, and blamed a spike in international crude oil prices for the increase.
The price of petrol in Delhi, for instance, has increased by Rs 4.90 a litre in the last two months, triggering criticism from consumers and the opposition.
“It is not in the good interest of the general public for the government to intervene in the day-to-day business of oil marketing companies,” oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said after a meeting with the heads of state-run refiners on Wednesday.
Petrol cost Rs 70.38 a litre on September 13, up from Rs. 65.48 a litre on June 16 when thegovernment introduced the system of revising fuel prices daily in sync with international oil markets. Prior to June 16, fuel prices were revised every fortnight to reflect international prices and exchange rates of the two weeks gone by.
The last time people in Delhi paid around Rs 70 a litre for petrol was in September 2014. But at that time, crude oil cost $96 a barrel (on September 15, 2014), nearly double of the $53 it did on September 13.
“Crude prices are seeing the impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, this has caused a 13% decline in global refining capacity...This has caused international crude prices to increase; petrol has increased 18% and diesel prices have increased 20% in global markets,” said Pradhan.
He said he was optimistic of global prices cooling in the coming days.
The price break-up for every litre of petrol in Delhi shows that state-run companies charge dealers Rs 30.70. The remaining is in excise duty, dealers’ commission and state VAT which takes the price to Rs 70.38.
India’s crude oil basket was at $53 per barrel on September 13, compared to $46 a barrel on June 16.
The fall in crude oil prices since 2014 has been offset by an increase in taxes, particularly the central excise duty that was raised 9 times between
November 2014 and January 2016. The corresponding tax mop up went from Rs 99,000 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 2,42,000 crore in 2016-17. Additionally, VAT, a component levied by state governments, has also been increased in some regions.
Deflecting calls for a rollback on such duties, Pradhan said the revenue is used for financing social and infrastructure projects.
He left the decision on taxes to the finance ministry.
India imports 80% of its oil need, raking up a hefty import bill, but sliding crude prices have trimmed it as well as the current account deficit.
MANY prominent higher education institutions, including Jawaharlal NehruUniversity (JNU), Delhi University (DU), IIT-Delhi and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), are among several hundred organisations which have been barred by the Centre from receiving foreign funds. The Union Home Ministry has cancelled their registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) as they have reportedly failed to file their annual returns for the last five years.
No organisation or institution is allowed to receive funds from abroad unless it is registered under FCRA. It is mandatory for such organisations to submit their annual income and expenditure statements to the government. An educational institution, for instance, needs its FCRA registration number to receive donations from its alumni based abroad.
Among the other organisations whose FCRA licences have been revoked are: the Supreme Court Bar Association, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Panjab University, Gargi College (Delhi), Lady Irwin College (Delhi), Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, Gandhi Peace Foundation, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, Armed Forces Flag Day Fund, School Of Planning & Architecture (Delhi) and FICCI Socio Economic Development Foundation.
The Doon School Old Boys Association, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College (Delhi), Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia International Trust, Co-ordinating Voluntary Adoption Resource Agency, Bombay Diocesan Society, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (Karnataka), Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health (Bengaluru), Shri Mahatma Gandhi Charitable Trust (Gujarat) and Sri Satya Sai Trust have also been barred from receiving donations from abroad.
A Home Ministry official said these organisations failed to file their returns for five consecutive years, 2010-11 to 2014-15, despite being served repeated notices.
When contacted by The Indian Express, IIT-Delhi Director V Ramgopal Rao said, “I’m not aware of this. But IIT-Delhi has nothing to hide. I’m sure we would have filed our returns. This seems like a procedural issue and we will sort this out with the government.”
Promila Kumar, acting principal of Gargi College, said, “We have filed our returns. In fact, we got a reminder about filing returns recently and we informed the government that we have already complied. I’m not sure why this has happened.”
The Vice-Chancellors of JNU and DU did not respond to calls or text messages.
ICMR Director General Soumya Swaminathan claimed that the matter had been resolved. The ICMR is funded by the Government of India, through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, and headed by a Secretary-rank official.
But a government official maintained that “following a review, ICMR’s licence was cancelled as it failed to comply with MHA’s directions”. The office of Health Minister J P Nadda clarified that ICMR had “slipped on some paperwork”.
“The Home Ministry had written to ICMR earlier this year, saying that it has FCRA exemption. However, as per the rules, it is required to submit an annual report to the Home Ministry on the receipt and utilisation of funds. That report will be submitted shortly, with whatever other formality that is required. We expect this to be sorted out in the next couple of days,” said an advisor to the minister.
“Those registered under FCRA were given time to file their annual returns and link their bank accounts. Some of the government-aided NGOs claimed that they were exempted. However, they were told to file their documents… Those who failed to submit their returns stand to lose their FCRA licences. The organisation can, however, appeal against the cancellation, which will be considered on merit,” said a Home Ministry spokesperson.
In May, as a one-time measure, all NGOs were given one month to file their annual returns without payment of penalty.
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“This was followed by regular email alerts from May 19, 2017 to June 14, 2017… daily SMS alerts from May 5, 2017 to June 14, 2017.
However, despite sufficient and adequate notice, it was observed that thousands of NGOs had not uploaded their annual returns for three or more than three years within the stipulated time,” said a ministry official.
Meanwhile, the Home Ministry has directed 1,222 NGOs across the country to validate the bank accounts in which they receive foreign funds, failure of which will invite punitive action. The list includes Sri Ramakrishna Math, Ramakrishna Mission, Indore Cancer Foundation Charitable Trust, Coimbatore Christian Charitable Trust, Delhi School of Social Work Society, Hindu Anath Ashram, Madani Darut Tarbiyat, Rehmat E Alam Hospital Trust (Anantnag), Rotary Club of Mumbai Midwest, Goonj, Madina Education and Charitable Society, Nagaland Bible College, Indian Institute for Nature and Environment Study.
In a circular, the ministry said all NGOs registered under FCRA should receive foreign donations in a single designated bank account. However, many organisations had not validated these accounts, causing problems for the banks which are required to report receipt of foreign funds within 48 hours, said the ministry.
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