India to resume international flights from Dec 15, barring 14 countries

News Network
November 26, 2021

New Delhi, Nov 26: The Centre will resume regular international flights from December 15, barring 14 countries, people familiar with the development said on Friday. 

The countries which do not feature on the list are the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Singapore, sources said. 

The decision has been taken in consultation with the health ministry in light of the Covid situation across the world, especially the emergence of new variants. On Thursday, South Africa confirmed a new variant of Coronavirus which is believed to be more transmissible and vaccine-evasive. 

The variant has been reported in Botswana and Hong Kong as well apart from South Africa. India is not resuming regular international flight operations with Botswana and South Africa.

With some of the countries on the list India has a travel bubble that permits a certain number of flights a week, which will continue, officials explained.

Regular international flights operations were suspended in March 2020 owing to the Coronavirus pandemic. The civil aviation ministry started Vande Bharat flights to ferry Indians who got stuck in other countries during the pandemic. After the Vande Bharat flights, the ministry entered into air bubble agreements with some countries allowing international travel.

With the number of Covid cases steadily going down and the vaccine coverage in the country going up, the Centre was mulling easing restrictions regarding international travel. Two days ago, civil aviation secretary Rajiv Bansal said the ministry is working towards allowing international passenger flights from this year-end.

Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia too recently expressed the ministry's keenness to resume normal international travel operations. “We are evaluating the process. We are coming back to normalcy. First, we allowed 100% passenger capacity in our domestic flights and now we allowed in-flight meals in those flights," Scindia said at an industry summit.

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News Network
August 6,2022

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New Delhi, Aug 6: National Democratic Alliance (NDA)'s candidate Jagdeep Dhankhar has been elected India's 14th Vice President on Saturday. He secured 528 votes. Opposition pick Margaret Alva who got 182 votes has lost.

Dhankar reached Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi's residence at 11 Akbar Road before the announcement of the results for the Vice Presidential Election.

Lok Sabha Secretary General Utpal Kumar Singh, who was the presiding officer for the 16th Vice Presidential election, said that of the 780 MPs eligible to cast votes, 725 MPs cast their vote. Fifteen votes were found invalid and 710 votes were valid.

Described as ‘Kisan-Putra (farmer’s son)’ by the BJP, Dhankhar had said that he had never thought that a person like him with a modest background” would get the opportunity to serve as the second highest Constitutional post.

“I was born in a farmer’s family. I had to walk around 6km to my school,” said Dhankhar, who recently quit as West Bengal Governor.

He was appointed as the Governor of West Bengal in 2019.

Around 93 per cent polling was recorded in the vice presidential election on Saturday, with more than 50 MPs not exercising their franchise.

Officials said of the total 780 MPs, as many as 725 MPs voted till 5 pm when the polling concluded.

The Trinamool Congress, which has 39 MPs, including 23 in Lok Sabha, had already announced its decision to abstain from the election.

However, two of its MPs -- Sisir Kumar Adhikari and Dibyendu Adhikari -- broke ranks and cast their ballots.

The next Vice-President of the country will take the oath of office on August 11, a day after the term of the incumbent Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu ends.

Janata Dal (United), YSRCP, BSP, AIADMK had announced support for Dhankhar. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) extended support to Alva.

Polling to elect the next Vice President of India began at 10 am.

The counting of votes began at 6 pm.

The Vice President of India, which is the second-highest constitutional post in the country, is elected through an electoral college consisting of members of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.

All MPs of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, including nominated members, are entitled to vote in the vice presidential election.

The two Houses of Parliament together have a sanctioned strength of 788 MPs, of which there are eight vacancies in the Upper House.

The Vice President of India is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

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News Network
July 31,2022

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Mumbai, July 31: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials on Sunday conducted search and questioning at Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut's house in Mumbai after he skipped summons twice for questioning in a money-laundering case. The Shiv Sena leader was summoned by the probe agency on July 27 after he skipped an earlier summon citing the ongoing Parliament session in Delhi.

At 7 am, the probe agency team, accompanied by CISF officials, reached Mr Raut's home in Bandup in eastern suburbs of Mumbai and began the searches.

The Enforcement Directorate wants to question Mr Raut, 60, in connection with the re-development of a chawl in Mumbai and related transactions involving his wife and close associates. Mr Raut, who is in the Uddhav Thackeray camp, has denied any wrongdoing and alleged that he is being targeted due to political vendetta.

"...False action, false evidence...I will not leave Shiv Sena...Even if I die, I will not surrender...I have nothing to do with any scam. I am saying this by taking the oath of Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray. Balasaheb taught us to fight. I will continue to fight for Shiv Sena," Mr Raut tweeted shortly after probe agency officials' visit to his home.

Meanwhile, the BJP has welcomed the ED raids at Raut's house. "I am very happy that the ED has intensified its investigation," BJP leader Kirit Somaiya said. BJP leader and MLA Nitesh Rane said that the money of poor Marathi people has been swindled and the ED action was appropriate.

While the ED investigations were under way at his home, Raut's brother and two-time Vikhroli MLA Sunil Raut too was present. 

The Rajya Sabha MP was questioned for about 10 hours on July 1, during which his statement was recorded under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

In April, the Enforcement Directorate attached assets worth over ₹ 11.15 crore of Mr Raut's wife Varsha Raut and two of his associates as part of its probe.

The properties include a flat in Dadar held by Varsha Raut and eight plots at the Kihim beach in Alibaug jointly held by Varsha Raut and Swapna Patkar, the wife of Sujit Patkar, a "close associate" of Sanjay Raut.

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News Network
August 11,2022

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Lucknow, Aug 11: Apparently stung by conviction of one of its ministers and issuance of NBW against another, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is contemplating withdrawal of criminal cases against the ministers and ruling party legislators.

According to the sources, the process of withdrawal of criminal cases could soon be initiated after consultation with the law department. ''Only politically motivated cases will be withdrawn... serious cases will not be withdrawn... many of the cases against the ministers and party legislators were lodged during the governments of the opposition parties,'' said a senior BJP leader was quoted as saying by local news papers.

The leader claimed that a majority of cases were ''politically motivated'' and there was nothing wrong in withdrawing them.

Of the 52 ministers in the UP cabinet, as many as 22 had criminal cases pending against them. A majority of them faced criminal cases in which they could get five-year prison terms if convicted. More than half of the 403 MLAs in the state assembly faced criminal cases. The ministers who faced criminal cases included deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, Yogendra Upadhyaya, Dharmpal Singh Nand Gopal Nandy and some others.

The state government had faced attacks from the opposition parties over the conviction of minister for micro, small and medium enterprises Rakesh Sachan under Arms Act by a Kanpur court and the issuance of NBW against minister and BJP's alliance partner Nishad Party's president Sanjay Nishad.

The SP and the Congress demanded immediate sacking of the ministers. 

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