India’s civic space rating downgraded to ‘repressed’ by international organisation Civicus Monitor

Civicus Monitor, an international alliance of civil society organisations, has downgraded India’s civic space rating from “obstructed” to “repressed” in its new People Power Under Attack report for 2019, citing its extreme concern about the crackdown on human rights activists, attacks on journalists and civil society groups, and the lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sudan: At least 18 Indians feared dead in gas tanker blast at ceramic factory in Khartoum

At least 18 Indians may have been killed in a liquefied petroleum gas tanker blast at a ceramic factory in Sudan, the Indian embassy at Khartoum said on Wednesday. The incident occurred on Tuesday at the Seela Ceramic Factory in Bahri area of the national capital Khartoum.

WhatsApp spyware attack: Personal data of 20 of 121 Indians targeted was accessed, says government

The personal data of at least 20 WhatsApp users was accessed in the Pegasus spyware attack, the government told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. The Facebook-owned messaging platform has said journalists, human rights activists and scholars were among those spied upon by unnamed entities that used the spyware developed by an Israeli company.

Chinmayanand case: Woman who accused former BJP leader of rape gets bail in extortion case

The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday granted bail to the law student who accused former Union minister Chinmayanand of rape. This came two months after the woman was arrested over extortion charges.

Hyderabad vet murder: Telangana High Court sets up fast-track court in Mahabubnagar

The Telangana High Court on Wednesday approved the setting up of a fast-track court to hear the case of murder and alleged gang rape of a 27-year-old Hyderabad veterinarian. It will be set up at Mahabubnagar District Court.

Quota for SCs and STs to be extended in Lok Sabha and state legislatures, Centre approves proposal

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to extend the reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for 10 years. With the quota set to expire on January 25, 2020, the government looks set to bring a Bill in the ongoing winter session of Parliament to extend the quota by 10 years.

Kamlesh Tiwari murder: UP court grants bail to man accused of helping main suspects

A court in Uttar Pradesh has granted bail to the man accused of helping those who allegedly murdered Hindu Samaj Party leader Kamlesh Tiwari in October. The Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court allowed bail to Kaifi Ali Rizvi, a cleric based in Uttar Pradesh’s city of Bareilly, on two personal bonds of Rs 20,000 each. The lawyer, representing Rizvi, contended that the accusations against his client were bailable.

UP: CRPF soldier, three others allegedly abduct and gangrape 15-year-old girl

The police in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday said four men, including a Central Reserve Police Force soldier, have been arrested for allegedly abducting and gangraping a 15-year-old girl in Mirzapur district.

UP: After dead rat found in mid-day meal, school principal, 3 teachers and NGO booked

The Uttar Pradesh Police booked four people and a non-governmental organisation for negligence after a dead rat was found in the mid-day meal served at a school in Muzaffarnagar district.

Mob lynching: Centre will change laws to curb cases, Amit Shah tells Rajya Sabha

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that the government has set up a committee to change laws to tackle mob lynching cases.

Sabarimala: SC agrees to hear plea of activist Bindu Ammini seeking protection to pray at temple

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear women’s rights activist Bindu Ammini’s plea seeking directions to Kerala government to ensure safe passage of all women to the Sabarimala temple, regardless of their age or religion.

Bill for protection of personal data approved by Cabinet over a year after Srikrishna panel report

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, which proposes a framework for handling of private data by public and private entities. The proposed legislation will be introduced in Parliament in the ongoing Winter Session, said Union minister Prakash Javadekar.

Unnao rape case: ‘SC asked for trial within 45 days, it’s been 80 days now,’ says Priyanka Gandhi

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday said that the trial in the Unnao rape case had not yet been completed despite an initial 45-day deadline given by the Supreme Court in August. Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly and a former Bharatiya Janata Party leader, is the main accused in the case.

Parliament: India-China have ‘perceptional differences’ over borders, says Rajnath Singh

Union Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh on Wednesday spoke about reports that a Chinese vessel was forced to retreat after it entered India’s Exclusive Economic Zone near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He assured MPs that the Army is intent on defending our borders, adding that India and China have differences in perception of borders.

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill cleared by Union Cabinet, to be tabled in Parliament soon

The controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill has been cleared by the Cabinet, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said on Wednesday. The government has listed the Bill among its items of business for the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament, and is likely to be tabled in the next two days, reported Hindustan Times.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend a 1955 law to grant citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the Muslim-majority nations of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years.

Chhattisgarh: ITBP jawan kills five colleagues with service weapon, commits suicide

Five Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel were killed and two injured in Chhattisgarh on Wednesday after one of the jawans allegedly fired at his colleagues with his service weapon, reported PTI. Later, the jawan who opened fire shot himself too.

The reason for the dispute is yet to be ascertained. It is suspected that the soldier was upset for not getting leave, reported NDTV.

Supreme Court to hear application to stay electoral bonds scheme in January

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear in January 2020 an application filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan to stay the implementation of the electoral bonds scheme, LiveLaw reported.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde took note of the submissions.

‘Phew’, says Karti Chidambaram after Supreme Court grants his father bail

P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram on Wednesday morning heaved a sigh of relief after the Supreme Court granted bail to his father in the INX Media case. “Phew. At last after 106 days,” tweeted Karti Chidambaram. The Congress too hailed the Supreme Court’s order. “Truth finally prevails,” said the party.

The 74-year-old former finance minister has been in custody since August 21 – first with the Central Bureau of Investigation and then with the Enforcement Directorate since October 17. He has been in Delhi’s Tihar jail since September 5.

Delhi High Court dismisses plea challenging Union minister Harsh Vardhan’s election

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea challenging the election of Union minister Harsh Vardhan for allegedly giving false information in his election affidavit, PTI reported.

The plea sought that his election from Chandni Chowk constituency of Delhi be declared void. It was filed by a man who said he was a voter from the constituency.

Hyderabad vet murder: Delhi HC issues notice on plea against media for revealing woman’s identity

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought the Centre’s response to a plea seeking action against media houses for revealing the identity of the woman in the Telangana murder and alleged rape case, reported Live Law. A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notices to the Centre, the governments of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi, as well as some media houses and social networking platforms.

‘Our orbiter had already located Chandrayaan-2’s lander,’ ISRO chief says after NASA announcement

Indian Space Research Organisation chief K Sivan on Tuesday said the space agency’s orbiter had located Chandrayaan-2’s lander much before the National Aeronautics and Space Administration did.

INX Media case: P Chidambaram gets bail in ED case too, will come out of custody after over 3 months

The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to Congress leader P Chidambaram in connection with the Enforcement Directorate’s charges filed in the INX Media case, Live Law reported. The former Union minister had moved the top court after the Delhi High Court had rejected his bail plea on November 15.

The 74-year-old politician had been in custody since August 21 – first with the Central Bureau of Investigation and then with the Enforcement Directorate since October 17. He was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the CBI case on October 22.

GST Council worried about strained revenue, asks states for ways to meet compensation needs: Reports

The Goods and Services Tax Council has expressed concern about the Centre’s ability to meet the compensation needs of states due to lower tax collections in recent months, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. Ahead of its meeting on December 18, the council wrote a letter to states, seeking suggestions to deal with the situation.

The GST Act promises states enough compensation from the Centre to keep their annual revenue growth 14% for five years despite any likely loss due to the implementation of the indirect tax regime.

Bhima Koregaon violence: NCP leaders ask Uddhav Thackeray to drop cases against Dalit protesters

A delegation of the Nationalist Congress Party on Tuesday met Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to demand that the new state government withdraws cases against all Dalit protesters in connection with the violence at Bhima Koregaon in January 2018, reported The Times of India. The NCP is part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government led by Thackeray.

Citizenship Bill: AGP chief says amendment is inevitable, suggests it as ‘bargaining tool’ for Assam

Asom Gana Parishad President Atul Bora on Tuesday subtly hinted at supporting the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The government has listed the Bill among its items of business for the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.

Bora, who is a minister in the Sarbananda Sonowal-led Assam Cabinet, said it was time to move ahead with reality. Bora said the passage of the Bill was almost inevitable. “If it [BJP] wants to fulfil its national agenda, it will be done,” he said, according to The Telegraph. He suggested that people of Assam should rather use it as an opportunity to “bargain better” with the Centre to get more Constitutional safeguards.

Maharashtra: No infrastructure project stopped, only Aarey car shed work halted, says CM Thackeray

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday said that no ongoing infrastructure project was stopped in the state and only the construction of the metro car shed in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony was halted, PTI reported. The announcement came days after he passed an order to stop work in the construction of the metro car shed project.

Sharad Pawar says he was aware of talks between Ajit Pawar and Fadnavis but rebellion was shocking

Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said that he was aware that his nephew Ajit Pawar was in contact with Bharatiya Janata Party’s Devendra Fadnavis when negotiations between the NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress were under way to form government in Maharashtra. But, he told NDTV, he did not think Ajit Pawar would rebel.

The NCP chief said that Ajit Pawar may have decided to rebel after a “heated discussion” with Congress leaders on November 22.

TN wall collapse: CM visits families, announces more compensation, jobs; house owner arrested

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Tuesday met the families of the 17 people who died after a 20-foot-high compound wall fell due to heavy rain on three houses in Nadur village in Coimbatore the previous day, PTI reported. The chief minister’s visit came a day after protesting locals alleged that the wall was built to keep away Dalits in the locality.

SPG Act: Parliament clears amendments, Amit Shah refutes Opposition’s ‘political vendetta’ charge

The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, amid a walkout by the Congress MPs. The Lok Sabha had already passed the bill on November 27.

The amendments will provide security to the prime minister and members of his immediate family who stay with him at the official residence. This security cover will also be provided to former prime ministers and their immediate families, residing at the official residence, for a period of five years from the date on which the prime minister ceases to hold the office.