Citizens' Issues
'No malafide intent in short-term passport to Prashant Bhushan'

Prashant Bhushan has challenged the government's refusal to reissue him a passport with usual 10 years validity

 

The central government on Monday told the Delhi High Court that it has "no malafide intention" in issuing advocate Prashant Bhushan a passport with a year's validity instead of the usual 10 years and the decision was taken as criminal cases are pending against him.
 
The government told Justice Rajiv Shakdher that the action to issue a short validity passport of one year to Bhushan was completely in conformity with the prevailing provisions of a 25 August 1993 notification.
 
Bhushan has challenged the government's refusal to reissue him a passport with full validity.
 
Filing an affidavit, an undersecretary in the ministry of external affairs, said: "Passport Authority, despite the fact that criminal cases were pending against the petitioner (Bhushan), had never denied the passport facility to him and also at any point of time had no intention to impede, hamper or confine the movement of the petitioner."
 
Bhushan has contended that merely because a few criminal cases pertaining to being part of an unlawful assembly are pending against him, the government denied him a passport with full validity.
 
The advocate, also a founding member of India Against Corruption (IAC), had staged a protest in August 2012 against the coal scam. Though the protest was non-violent, police had registered a few cases against IAC members including Bhushan for participating in an assembly which was declared unlawful. The cases are pending in Patiala House court here, the plea said.
 
Bhushan has also argued that the one-year restriction on reissuing the passport is "arbitrary, unreasonable and also discriminatory" and thus in violation of the constitution's article 14 (equality before law).
 
As per the plea, Bhushan had applied for renewal/ reissue of the passport to the regional passport office in 2014. The government had informed him that in order to get his passport renewed, he needs to first obtain a no objection certificate (NOC) from the court where criminal cases are pending against him.
 
Though the metropolitan magistrate at Patiala House Courts granted him an NOC, he did not specify the duration of validity of the passport, which led to Bhushan being issued the passport on 12 September 2014 - valid only till 11 September 2015.
 
The government said Bhushan's request for the re-issue of the passport with full validity cannot be acceded to unless the concerned court issues a fresh order in this regard.
 
The government argued that as per the 1993 notification, a person with a criminal case pending and who applies for the issue or reissue of a passport, has to first obtain a NOC from the court where the case is pending and if the court does not lay down any time period for renewal, then a passport of only one year validity would be issued.
 
The court posted the matter for 15th April.
 

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Month after Pansare shooting, killers still at large

Maharashtra Police have formed two dozen teams to probe Pansare's killing with help from the ATS and CID besides announcing rewards ranging from Rs5 lakh to Rs25 lakh by various departments

 

Exactly a month after Communist leader and anti-toll tax activist Govind Pansare and his wife Uma were shot at by unidentified assailants, Maharashtra Police continue to grope in the dark for the elusive shooters.
 
At least two assailants shot at Pansare and Uma from close quarters, before speeding off on a motorcycle, near their home as the couple was returning from their morning walk.
 
While Pansare, 82, succumbed to his injuries in a Mumbai hospital on 21st February, Uma, 78, sustained head injuries and was hospitalised for a fortnight. At present, she is bed-ridden at home.
 
On Monday, several local groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) remembered the lawyer, writer and anti-toll tax activist by holding a silent demonstration outside his home in Kolhapur in Maharashtra.
 
Soon after she returned home, Uma gave her statement to police on the incident and reportedly provided a description of the attackers.
 
Maharashtra Police have formed two dozen teams to probe Pansare's killing with help from the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) besides announcing rewards ranging from Rs5 lakh to Rs25 lakh by various departments.
 
Investigators have travelled to several parts of the state but have so far drawn a blank.
 
The killing was compared to the mystery murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in Pune in August 2013. Dabholkar's killers are also still at large.
 

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CBI says Jet-Etihad deal documents among those leaked

According to CBI probe, the Rs2,058 crore Jet-Etihad deal was one of the many crucial deals whose records were leaked to middlemen

 

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into alleged sale of confidential documents from Finance Ministry has revealed that most of the records related to controversial Jet-Etihad deal were allegedly leaked with the help of officials in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
 
According to reports during questioning of suspects arrested by the agency and phone intercepts available with it, it has emerged that the Rs2,058 crore Jet-Etihad deal was one of the many crucial deals whose records were leaked to middlemen.
 
They said it has come to light that right from the proposal stage to the final documents of the deal, which could materialise after the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in aviation sector was raised from 26% to 49%, records were being regularly leaked from the Finance Ministry.
 
The sources said most of the communication between Finance Ministry, including file notings from very top levels in the ministry, were allegedly leaked.
 
Earlier, CBI had said that “first and second level of decision making in the Finance Ministry were compromised”, but now the agency sources said that probe may bring into scanner officials above these levels.
 
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had approached the Supreme Court and sought a CBI probe against government officials who cleared the deal, while questioning government’s decision to execute the agreement in favour of Abu Dhabi under the existing Air Service Agreement between the governments of India and United Arab Emirates.
 
In connection with leak of confidential documents, CBI has so far arrested five persons including an Under Secretary in the Department of Disinvestment and Grievances Ashok Kumar Singh, Assistant in FIPB section Ram Niwas, Section Officer in the Department of Economic Affairs Lala Ram Sharma, Mumbai based Chartered Accountant Khemchand Gandhi and Paresh Chimanlal Buddhadeb, a partner in Chitale Law firm, Mumbai.
 
It is alleged that the government servants were passing on documents related to foreign investment policies, which were being floated in the ministries, to Gandhi, who in turn passed them on to big corporates for a price. 
 

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