Citizens' Issues
Anti-KNPP protesters take to sea route

With black flags fluttering in the backdrop, the protesters said they were prepared to sacrifice their lives to protect their livelihood and ecology through the 'jal satyagraha'

Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu): Taking their protest against the Kudankulam power plant to the sea route, hundreds of people on Thursday stood in the waters forming a human chain to demand halting of preparations for fuel loading into the reactor, reports PTI.
The Coast Guard aircraft hovered over the sea and its ships kept a vigil off nearby Idinthakarai as the villagers, including women and children, from Kudankulam and nearby fishing hamlets walked into the sea for the show of strength.
With black flags fluttering in the backdrop, the protesters said they were prepared to sacrifice their lives to protect their livelihood and ecology through the 'jal satyagraha', taking a leaf from a similar protest in central Indian state Madhya Pradesh.
"What we are observing is Jal Sathyagraha - peaceful demonstration in the sea," said anti-nuclear activists who have taken the example of villagers of Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh demanding land as compensation and reduction of Omkareshwar Dam recently.
Though the protest was intended to be from 10am to 4pm, the activists said they would continue it indefinitely on a relay basis.
Officials said Coast Guard aircraft and ships had been deployed to monitor the entire coastal area even as more than 4,000 police personnel, supported by Rapid Action Force, continued to maintain a strict vigil, having almost sealed the entire Kudankulam town to bar entry of outsiders.
Police said they were monitoring the human chain protest from a distance and would not act unless 'provoked extremely'.
The protest in the sea was held even as the Peoples Movement Against Nuclear Energy leader S P Udhayakumar, who has been spearheading the over a year-long stir, remained elusive with police searching for him.
Udayakumar had announced he would surrender before police on Tuesday night but later did a somersault citing people's sentiments against it. 
"They (the people) are prepared to take any risk and even sacrifice their lives to protect their livelihood and ecology and the sea which provided them everything from any nuclear disaster," Amirtharaj Stephen of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy said, adding their protest would remain peaceful.
Meanwhile, police on Thursday served summons at the residence of Udayakumar in Kanyakumari district asking him to appear in a court in Valliyur near here in connection with the protest-related cases pending against him.
The protest against the KNPP turned violent on Monday that led to police firing resulting in the death of a fisherman in Tuticorin district and baton charge on the agitators here and house-to-house searches for PMANE activists.
Their demands included release of those arrested for agitating against nuclear power, compensation for those injured and whose articles went missing during police action, stopping fuel loading in the plant and no action against 'peaceful' protesters.
Fishermen of neighbouring Kanyakumari and Tuticorin districts held a protest condemning the police action on Monday and the killing of one person.


SC says appoint people with judicial background to CIC under RTI

While lifting the stay on appointment of information commissioners under the RTI Act, the Supreme Court said the government should give preference to people from judicial background while appointing such Commissioners

Holding that Information Commissioners (ICs) at the central and state level perform quasi-judicial functions, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the government/s to appoint people preferably from judicial background as members.


A bench of justices AK Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar also lifted the stay on appointment of information commissioners.


The Supreme Court also asked information commissioners to work in benches of two members each, with one of them being a “judicial member” while the other an “expert member”. “The judicial member should be a person possessing a degree in law, having a judicially trained mind and experience in performing judicial functions. A law officer or a lawyer may also be eligible provided he is a person who has practiced law at least for a period of twenty years as on the date of the advertisement. Such lawyer should also have experience in social work. We are of the considered view that the competent authority should prefer a person who is or has been a judge of the high court for appointment as information commissioners. Chief Information Commissioner at the Centre or state level shall only be a person who is or has been a chief justice of the high court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India,” the judgement said.


“The appointment of the judicial members to any of these posts shall be made “in consultation” with the Chief Justice of India and chief justices of the high courts of the respective states, as the case may be,” the apex court said.


The bench passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging Section 12 and 15 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, enumerating the qualifications needed for the appointment of members to the commissions.


The bench, however, refused to quash the Sections but asked the government to modify it so that people from the judicial background are also preferred for the post.


“..without any peradventure and veritably, we state that appointments of legally qualified, judicially trained and experienced persons would certainly manifest in more effective serving of the ends of justice as well as ensuring better administration of  justice by the Commission. It would render the adjudicatory process which involves critical legal questions and nuances of law, more adherent to justice and shall enhance the public confidence in the working of the Commission,” the apex court said in its judgement.


Currently, none of the eight members of the Central Information Commission (CIC), including the Chief Information Commissioner are from judicial background.


The CIC comprises one Chief Information Commissioner and 10 Information Commissioners.


Presently, three posts of Information Commissioners are vacant in the CIC.


The petition filed by one Namit Sharma had contended that since the work of the CIC under the RTI Act is mainly connected with the law, members in the transparency panel should have judicial background.


However, government had opposed the petition contending that it could not be made mandatory that the members should have judicial background.


Uptrend on Sensex, Nifty not broken: Thursday Closing Report

Support for the Nifty lies at 5,415, which if broken, may slow down the upmove

The volatile market pared all its gains but ended in the green following a report that the Inter-Ministerial Group recommended de-allocation of four mines to private companies and encashing of bank guarantees of three companies for non-development of the mines allotted to them in the stipulated time-frame. The Nifty’s intraday low of 5,422 was the highest since 14 March 2012. With a major portion of the session in the positive, the index ended with a marginal gain. The uptrend is still continuing, however, the support lies at 5,415, which if broken may slow down the upmove. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) saw a volume of 54.59 crore shares and an advance decline ratio of 587:849.


The market opened with flat tracking similar sentiments in the global markets ahead of an announcement from the US Federal Reserve on fresh stimulus to boost growth in the world’s largest economy. US benchmarks closed with meagre gains overnight while its peers in Asia were marginally higher in morning trade today.


The Nifty opened at 5,435, up four points from its previous close, and the Sensex gained 24 points at the opening bell to start off at 18,024. However, cautiousness soon saw the indices dip into the negative.


Buying in select sectors enabled the indices emerge into the green at around 10.00am. The gains pushed the market to its intraday high in mid-morning trade. At this point the Nifty rose to 5,447 and the Sensex scaled 18,063.


The volatile market pared its gains and was range-bound near the previous closing levels as investors waited for cues from the US. The sluggish benchmarks fell to their intraday lows in post-noon trade wherein the Nifty dipped to 5,422 and the Sensex went back to 17,976.


Reports of the Inter-Ministerial Group, looking into the coal block allocation issue, recommending de-allocation of four coal blocks allotted to private companies and encashing of bank guarantees of three companies capped the gains in late trade.


The development resulted in the market closing flat with a positive bias. The Nifty added four points to settle at 5,435 and the Sensex finished the session at 18,021, up 21 points over its previous close.


The broader indices settled lower, as the BSE Mid-cap index fell 0.18% and the BSE Small-cap index declined 0.25%.


The top sectoral gainers were BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (up 0.58%); BSE PSU (up 0.55%); BSE Oil & Gas (up 0.44%); BSE Capita Goods (up 0.43%) and BSE IT (up 0.42%). The key losers were BSE Healthcare (down 1.15%); BSE Realty (down 0.53%); BSE Auto (down 0.37%); BSE Metal (down 0.21%) and BSE Power (down 0.13%).


Nineteen of the 30 stocks on the Sensex closed higher. The top performers were Hero MotoCorp (up 1.87%); BHEL (up 1.57%); Hindustan Unilever (up 1.18%); ONGC (up 1.16%) and Bajaj Auto (up 1.15%). The major losers on the index were Bharti Airtel (down 2.8%); Cipla (down 2.44%); Tata Motors (down 1.41%); Jindal Steel (down 1.27%) and Mahindra & Mahindra (down 0.95%).


The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—United Breweries (up 12.07%) and Muthoot Finance (up 7.83%).

The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—Bharat Forge (down 4.25%) and Lupin (down 3.19%).


The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—Nikki Global Finance (up 19.99%) and Modi Rubber (up 19.96%).

The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—GKB Ophthalmics (down 13.86%) Kamanwala Housing Construction (down 12.19%).


Out of the 50 stocks listed on the Nifty, 21 stocks settled in the positive. The top gainers were BPCL (up 2%); Hero MotoCorp (up 1.95%); BHEL (up 1.49%); Bajaj Auto (up 1.13%) and HUL (up 1.11%). The key losers on the benchmark were Bharti Airtel (down 3.03%); Cipla (down 2.74%); Ranbaxy Laboratories (down 1.87%); Siemens (down 1.86%) and Tata Motors (down 1.77%).


Markets in Asia settled mostly higher as investors were optimistic about a positive announcement from the US Fed on fresh measures to boost growth. However, Chinese stocks closed lower on concerns about loans going sour as the government directed banks to support lending to infrastructure projects.


The KLSE Composite surged 0.91%; the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.39%; the Straits Times added 0.02%; the Seoul Composite rose 0.03% and the Taiwan Weighted was up 0.11%. On the other hand, the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.76%; the Hang Seng declined 0.14% and the Jakarta Composite fell 0.08%.


At the time of writing, the CAC 40 of France was trailing by 0.69%; the DAX of Germany was down 0.30% while UK’s FTSE 100 was up 0.05%. At the same time US stock futures were in the negative.


Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of stocks totalling Rs451.19 crore on Thursday whereas domestic institutional investors were net sellers of shares amounting to Rs55.77 crore.


Healthcare service provider Apollo Hospitals today announced its foray into the African market and said it has plans to set up 30 tele-medicine units in that country. As part of this initiative, Apollo Hospitals has inked a MoU with Africa-based AfroIndia Medical Services, Apollo said in a statement. The stock jumped 4.09% to settle at Rs684 on the NSE.


Pharma major Glenmark Pharmaceuticals today said it has entered the phase II clinical trials for its new drug molecule aimed at treating ulcerative colitis. The company's subsidiary Glenmark Pharmaceuticals SA will conduct trials at multiple clinical sites in North America and Europe to investigate the efficacy and safety of the new molecule GBR 500, Glenmark said in a statement. The stock closed at Rs432 on the NSE, down 0.05%.


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