Please banks, take your money, says Vijay Mallya

News Network
February 14, 2020

London, Feb 14: Liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya once again asked the Indian banks to take back 100 per cent of the principal amount owed to them at the end of his three-day British High Court appeal on Thursday against an extradition order to India.

The 64-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss, wanted in India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to an alleged Rs 9,000 crores in unpaid bank loans, said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are fighting over the same assets and not treating him reasonably in the process.

“I request the banks with folded hands, take 100 per cent of your principal back, immediately,” he said outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

“The Enforcement Directorate attached the assets on the complaint by the banks that I was not paying them. I have not committed any offenses under the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) that the Enforcement Directorate should suo moto attach my assets," he said.

"I am saying, please banks take your money. The ED is saying no, we have a claim over these assets. So, the ED on the one side and the banks on the other are fighting over the same assets,” he added.

Asked about heading back to India, he noted: “I should be where my family is, where my interests are.

"If the CBI and the ED are going to be reasonable, it’s a different story. What all they are doing to me for the last four years is totally unreasonable.”

Lord Justice Stephen Irwin and Justice Elisabeth Laing, the two-member bench presiding over the appeal, concluded hearing the arguments in the case and said they will be handing down their verdict at a later date after considering the oral as well as written submissions in the “very dense” case over the next few weeks.

On a day of heated arguments between Mallya’s barrister, Clare Montgomery, and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) counsel Mark Summers, arguing on behalf of the Indian government, both sides clashed over the prima facie case of fraud and deception against Mallya.

“We submit that he lied to get the loans, then did something with the money he wasn’t supposed to and then refused to give back the money. All this could be perceived by a jury as patently dishonest conduct,” said Summers.

“What they [Kingfisher Airlines] were saying [to the banks] about profitability going forward was knowingly wrong,” he said, as he took the High Court through evidence to counter Mallya’s lawyers’ claims that Westminster Magistrates Court Judge Emma Arbuthnot had fallen into error when she found a case to answer in the Indian courts against Mallya.

Mallya, who remains on bail on an extradition warrant, is not required to attend the hearings but has been in court to observe the proceedings since the three-day appeal opened on Tuesday. A key defence to disprove a prima facie case of fraud and misrepresentation on his part has revolved around the fact that Kingfisher Airlines was the victim of economic misfortune alongside other Indian airlines.

However, the CPS has argued that “there is enough in the 32,000 pages of overall evidence to fulfil the [extradition] treaty obligations that there is a case to answer”. “There is not just a prima facie case but overwhelming evidence of dishonesty… and given the volume and depth of evidence the District Judge [Arbuthnot] had before her, the judgment is comprehensive and detailed with the odd error but nothing that impacts the prima facie case,” said Summers.

At the start of the appeal, Mallya’s counsel claimed Arbuthnot did not look at all of the evidence because if she had, she would not have fallen into the multiple errors that permeate her judgment. The High Court must establish if the magistrates’ court had in fact fallen short on a point of law in its verdict in favour of extradition.

Representatives from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), as well as the Indian High Commission in London, have been present in court to take notes during the course of the appeal hearing.

Mallya had received permission to appeal against his extradition order signed off by former UK home secretary Sajid Javid last February only on one ground, which challenges the Indian government's prima facie case against him of fraudulent intentions in acquiring bank loans.

At the end of a year-long extradition trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London in December 2018, Judge Arbuthnot had found “clear evidence of dispersal and misapplication of the loan funds” and accepted a prima facie case of fraud and a conspiracy to launder money against Mallya, as presented by the CPS on behalf of the Indian government.

Mallya remains on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April 2017 involving a bond worth 650,000 pounds and other restrictions on his travel while he contests that ruling.

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News Network
September 17,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 17: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his 70th birthday and said that India is successfully moving along the path of socio-economic, scientific and technical development under his leadership.

In a message posted by the Russian Embassy on its Facebook page, Putin said he looks forward to continuing constructive dialogue with PM Modi and work closely together on topical issues of the bilateral and international agenda.

Besides Putin, Chairman of the Russian Government, Mikhail Mishustin, and Russian Ambassador Nikolay Kudashev extended their wishes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he turned 70.

"Kindly accept my heartfelt congratulations on your 70th birth anniversary. Under your leadership, India is successfully moving along the path of socio-economic, scientific and technical development. It is hard to overestimate your personal contribution to the strengthening of the special and privileged strategic partnership between our countries," Putin said in the message.

"I value the kind, friendly relations that have developed between us. I look forward to continuing constructive dialogue with you and work closely together on topical issues of the bilateral and international agenda. From the bottom of my heart, I wish you good health, happiness, well-being and every success," he added.

Meanwhile, Mishustin greeted the Indian leader and lauded Prime Minister Modi's considerable personal contribution to the enhancement of the Russia-Indian relations based on the principles of the friendship of mutual trust and strategic partnership.

"On behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation and personally I would like to congratulate you on your 70th birth anniversary. Under your leadership, the Government of India is implementing large-scale programmes aimed at developing the national economy and strengthening international cooperation," he said in a message.

"I would especially emphasize your considerable personal contribution towards the enhancement of the Russian-Indian relations based on the principles of friendship, mutual trust and strategic partnership. Our cooperation in the spheres of trade and economy, investments, science and technology, culture and humanitarian issues is consistently expanding, promising bilateral projects are successfully coming into life," he added

Wishes poured in for Prime Minister Narendra Modi from all corners of the world on his birthday. The leaders across parties greeted him. President Ram Nath Kovind was among the first one to wish the Prime Minister.

Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin are among the foreign leaders who have extended their greetings to the Indian Prime Minister.

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News Network
September 17,2020

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Bengaluru, Sept 17: Rajya Sabha MP and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Karnataka leader Ashok Gasti passed away in Bengaluru on Thursday. He was admitted to a hospital in the capital city on September 2 after he tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19).

The BJP leader who had also served as the chairman of Karnataka Backward Classes commission had taken oath as a Rajya Sabha MP on July 22 this year.

Gasti is credited for organizing the BJP in Raichur district of Karnataka. A member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) he rose through the ranks as an activist of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). He joined BJP when he was 18-years-old and headed the Yuva Morcha of Karnataka BJP.

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Agencies
September 25,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 25: As part of a Right to Education project, Public sector units have claimed to have constructed 1.4 lakh toilets in government schools. But in a survey by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) almost 40% were found to be non-existent, partially constructed, or unused, reported The Hindu.

On Wednesday, in an audit report presented in Parliament, CAG said over 70% did not have running water facilities in the toilets, while 75% were not being maintained hygienically.

In September 2014, Ministry of Human Resource Development had launched Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan to meet the Right to Education Act’s mandate that all schools must have separate toilets for boys and girls.

There are around 10.8 lakh government schools across the country. Overall, more than 1.4 lakh toilets were built by 53 central public sector enterprises (CPSEs).

The audit by CAG conducted a physical survey of a sample of 2,695 toilets built by these companies in 15 States.

In the survey, CAG found out that CPSEs identified but did not construct 83. Another 200 toilets were reported to be constructed, but were non-existent, while 86 toilets were only partially constructed.

Another 691 toilets “were found not in use mainly due to lack of running water, lack of cleaning arrangements, damages to the toilets and other reasons like use of toilets for other purposes, toilets locked up, etc,” said the audit report.

99 schools had no functional toilets while 436 had only one functional toilet, out of the 1,967 co-educational schools surveyed.

It means that the objective of providing separate toilets for boys and girls was not fulfilled in 27% of the schools, said CAG.

To effectively change the behaviour of students, the project norms required the CPSEs to build toilets with running water and hand washing facilities, and to maintain the toilets for three to five years while charging the annual expenses to their CSR budgets.

The survey has found that 72% of constructed toilets had no running water facilities inside, while 55% had no hand washing facilities at all. The audit also noticed “cases of defective construction of toilets, non-provision of foundation/ramp/staircase and damaged/overflowed leach pit, which led to ineffective use of toilets,” read the report.

75% of toilets did not follow the norm for daily cleaning at least once a day. The survey found that 715 toilets were not being cleaned at all, while 1,097 were being cleaned with a frequency of twice a week to once a month. “Cases of non-provision of soap, bucket, cleaning agents and disinfectants in toilets and inadequate cleanliness of pathway were also noticed,” said the report.

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