MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE Prime Minister Narendra Modi is among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people 2020 list, released on Wednesday Kamala Harris CEO of Alphabet Inc Megan Thee Stallion: American rapper, singer and songwriter Giannis Antetokounmpo: Greek professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association Ravindra Gupta Julie K Brown: American Indian-origin investigative journalist with the biologist Miami Herald PIONEERS TITANS Sundar Pichai CEO of Alphabet Inc Dwyane Wade: American former professional basketball player MacKenzie Scott: American novelist, billionaire, and venture philanthropist Jerome Powell: Chairman of the Federal Reserve ICONS B L AC K L I V ES M AT T E R F O U N D E RS ARTISTS Lina Attalah Bilkis Shaheen Bagh protester Alicia Garza Patrisse Cullors Opal Tometi Co-founder and chief editor of Mada Masr, an independent online Egyptian newspaper Ayushmann Khurrana Bollywood actor Nancy Pelosi Speaker, House of Reps Narendra Modi Prime Minister of India Joe Biden US Presidential candidate Michael B. Jordan: American actor and producer Selena Gomez: American singer, songwriter, actress, and producer Ali Wong: Stand-up comedian, actress, and writer Donald Trump US President Angela Merkel Chancellor of Germany TIRUNELVELI THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 24, 2020 `7.00 PAGES 12 CITY EDITION Xi Jinping Chinese president John Roberts US Supreme Court Chief Justice Yousef Al Otaiba UAE’s ambassador to the US TIME’S FIVE CATEGORIES: PIONEERS, ARTISTS, LEADERS, TITANS & ICONS CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Dassault yet to fulfil Rafale offset obligations, says CAG Sudarshan TV violated the Programme Code Govt tells SC | P8 M AYA N K S I N G H @ New Delhi HC relief for Arun Shourie in alleged divestment scam in Rajasthan | P8 Democrats table bill to claw back presidential powers | P9 Rly MoS Suresh Angadi dies of Covid-19 New Delhi: Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi, 65, on Wednesday succumbed to Covid-19. He was undergoing treatment at AIIMS, Delhi after testing positive for the coronavirus on September 11 IPL MATCH TODAY vs Royal Challengers Bangalore will face Kings XI Punjab in their second match in Dubai on Thursday. Bangalore have won their opening match while Punjab lost their first in a Super Over. Opener Devdutt Padikkal will be on focus again for Virat Kohli’s men, while leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi will the one to watch out for for Punjab. ODDS: KXIP 6/5 RCB 8/11 LIVE: STAR SPORTS1/ HOTSTAR @ 7.30PM Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and other Opposition leaders before addressing the media, after a meeting with President Ramnath Kovind over the recent farm sector reform bills, in New Delhi on Wednesday | PTI RS clears 15 bills in 2 days amidst Oppn’s boycott Parliament’s nod to labour code revamp bills; 50 laws approved in both Houses; session over R I C H A S H A R M A @ New Delhi OVER 100 per cent productivity in a truncated monsoon session. That is a landmark the Rajya Sabha could have been proud of had the situation been normal. But the target was achieved amid the absence of the Opposition, which has been boycotting the session since Tuesday over the suspension of eight members from the House for unruly behaviour. As many as 15 weighty bills were passed between Tuesday and Wednesday in the space of nearly seven-and-a-half hours in the Upper House. In other words, one bill every 30 minutes. Legislative agenda wrapped up, both Houses were then adjourned sine die. As for the Opposition, it held a silent march on Parliament’s premises over three farm sector reform bills and later met President Ramnath Kovind to request him return the “unconstitutional” legislations. Eighteen political parties had earlier written to Kovind expressing concern over the manner in which the farm bills were passed in the House of Elders. However, in view of the Covid-19 situation, only Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad got to meet the President. In just 10 sittings, the Rajya Sabha passed as many as 25 bills. An equal number of bill were passed in the Lok Sabha. POLITICAL NEXUS Deepika gets NCB’s call; Bihar top cop takes VRS E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Mumbai THE politics surrounding the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput got curiouser on Wednesday as the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) summoned a few Bollywood A-listers, including Deepika Padukone, for questioning and Bihar Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey sought voluntarily retirement amid speculation on a JD(U) ticket for the forthcoming elections. Pandey had stoutly defended the Nitish government’s demand for a thorough probe into the death of Bihar-born Rajput and the role of girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty in it. The NCB probe into the Bollywood-drug nexus is a fallout of Rajput’s death. It has asked Padukone to appear before it on Friday and Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Ka, poor on Saturday Rakul Preet Singh, Rajput’s talent man. ager Shruti Modi and designer Simone Khambata have been directed to appear before the NCB on Thursday . HC TO GET 10 NEW JUDGES Chennai: The Madras HC will get 10 new judges as the SC collegium on Wednesday approved the proposal for elevation of 10 judicial officers | P4 “The productivity of the House during this session has been 100.47 per cent,” Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said in his valedictory address. Prominent among the eight bills cleared in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday were three on labour code reforms, despite floor leaders of 12 Opposition parties jointly urging Naidu not to let them pass without proper discussion. “These bills affect the livelihood of crores of workers across the country It will be a great blot on . our democracy to have these bills pass unilaterally today the Oppo,” sition wrote. Referring to it, Naidu cited precedents when business was taken up as per schedule and bills approved during boycott or walkout by some members. Naidu said had the letter suggested the postponement of the bill by stating the Opposition members would attend the House later, he would have discussed the request with the government. But there was no such assurance, so he decided to go ahead with the bills, he said. Replying to the debate on the three labour reforms bills, minister Santosh Gangwar said the labour reforms will provide a transparent system to suit the changed business environment. As for the Lok Sabha, it “registered 167 per cent productivity, spending 68 per cent of the time on the legislative business,” said Speaker Om Birla. BMS hits out at Modi govt for passing labour bills EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), an RSS affiliate, on Wednesday hit out at the Centre for ignoring its objections to the labour reform bills. It accused the BJP-led government of pandering to the whims of corporates while turning a blind eye to the needs of employees. “The BMS and other trade unions had given detailed objections to the previous draft of the Industrial Relations Code. None of the objections raised by the BMS and other trade unions as well as the recommendations of PSCL (Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour) in favour of workers was considered in the revised draft,” said BMS secretary-general Vrijesh Upadhyay . He alleged the Industrial Relations Code is tilted too much in favour of employers and bureaucrats. “The last-minute mutilations will adversely affect industrial peace in the country. Some impor tant changes like that on standing orders were not even discussed in the consultation process, which is a violation of the ILO Convention 144 ratified by Indian Parliament,” he added. The BMS said the new law is a clear attempt to diminish the role of trade unions. The Sangh said the decision to allow companies with up to 300 employees to fire workers and close down units without government permission will promote “ease of closing busin e ss, n ot e ase of d o i n g business”. THE Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Wednesday questioned India’s offset policy and came down heavily on foreign vendors for not fulfilling their offset commitments. In its report titled ‘CAG’s Performance Audit Report on Management of Defence Offset’, the national auditor pointed out that French aerospace major Dassault Aviation and European missile maker MBDA, which supplied armaments for the Rafale jets, have not yet discharged their 30% offset obligation. India received the delivery of the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets from the French manufacturer on July 29. They were formally inducted to Indian Air Force on September 10. The total worth of Rafale deal is `59,000 crore. Opposition parties had alleged irregularities in the fighter jet deal. “In many cases, it was found that the foreign vendors made various offset commitments to qualify for the main supply con- TN’s battle against Covid TN crossed the five-lakh mark in number of cured patients, with 5,363 being discharged on Wednesday With 63 persons dying, the death toll crossed a grim landmark of 9,000 Chennai, once again, reported maximum number of cases (980) It was followed by Coimbatore (587), Salem (298), Chengalpattu (297), Tirupur (247),Tiruvallur (218) and Kancheepuram (205). Number of active cases in Tamil Nadu stood at 46,249 FRESH CASES 5,325 TOTAL CASES 5,57,999 Policy review call In view of the fact that the offset policy has not yielded the desired results, the CAG suggested the government review the policy tract but later, were not earnest about fulfilling these commitments,” the financial watchdog said in its report. Giving example of the Dassault Aviation, the CAG said, “In the offset 4 contract relating to 36 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft, the vendors Dassault Aviation and MBDA initially proposed (September 2015) to discharge 30% of their Disburse `1k cr adhoc grant from NDRF: CM EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai CHIEF Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to disburse an ad-hoc grant of `1,000 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) immediately to fight the pandemic as Tamil Nadu had completely spent the State Disaster Response and Mitigation Fund. “The Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness package should be hiked from `712.64 crore to `3,000 crore. So far, Tamil Nadu has received `511.64 crore from the Centre as part of this package,” Palaniswami said during a video conference with Modi. Pointing out that the State has been using only RT-PCR test, the gold standard to identify affected persons, Palaniswami said, “These tests cost nearly `6.8 crore a day. I request the Centre to fund at least 50 per Tender issued by Fit Person of Palani temple for housekeeping staff deemed unfit by court E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Madurai NOTIFICATION QUASHED THE Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court quashed a tender notification issued by Executive Officer cum Fit Person of Arulmigu Dhandayuthapani Swamy temple in Palani for hiring housekeeping service for the temple. The court said that such major decisions that have financial implications ought to be taken only by the board of trustees. Justice GR Swaminathan noted that due to a change in political scenario in 2011, some of the temple trustees resigned from the boards and to fill the vacuum the government had passed a G.O. the same year, appointing Executive Officers as ex-officio fit persons. “Though it was an interim measure, nine years have gone by and the executive officers continue to be at the helm of affairs,” he said. “As per Rule 11 of Collection Allowing the petition of TR Ramesh challenging the notification on various grounds, Justice GR Swaminathan quashed the tender notification dated August 20, 2020 and advised the State authorities to take steps to constitute board of trustees for Palani temple as early as possible of Income and the Incurring of Expenditure Rules, no expenditure shall be incurred without the written order of the trustee. But, if the executive officer himself is also made the fit person so that he can discharge the functions of a trustee, and such a scenario continues for years together, it is certainly a fraud on the statute,” the judge pointed out. The judge also concurred with the contentions of the petitioner’s counsel that the executive officer for Palani temple had been appointed under the Madras Act, 1927 and no fresh proceedings were issued under Tamil Nadu HR and CE Act, 1959. Arguments made by government counsels questioning the locus standi (right to bring an action to a court of law) of the petitioner were quickly rejected by the judge. “He has filed the plea in his capacity as a devotee or worshiper,” he said. Allowing the petition, he quashed the tender notification dated August 20, 2020 and advised the State authorities to take steps to constitute board of trustees for Palani temple as early as possible. Justice Swaminathan also offset obligation by offering high technology to DRDO.” But they have not confirmed the technology transfer till date, it observed. DRDO wanted to obtain technical assistance for the indigenous development of engine (Kaveri) for the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas. Till date, the vendor has not confirmed the transfer of this technology, it said. As per the deal, the company has to invest 50% of the worth of the deal back in India as offset obligations. The investment amounted to around `30,000 crore for which a numbers of Indian firms, including Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence, were chosen. This became a major controversy since the company was totally new in this sector. India adopted the offset policy for defence capital purchases in 2005, according to which all capital purchases above `300 crore through imports will have the foreign vendor invest at least 30% of the value of the purchase in India. quoted from TNIE’s editorial piece (published on September 22) on similar concerns pertaining to administration of temples in Andhra Pradesh that cropped up following the recent Antarvedi temple fire. “Reconstituting temple trust boards with eminent Hindus and men of impeccable character would be a good start. Leaving the temples in the care of the bureaucracy and politicians hasn’t helped,” he quoted, and said that these words are relevant to Tamil Nadu as well. The petitioner TR Ramesh had challenged the notification on various grounds which, apart from questioning the capacity of the authorities, also included that devotees are entitled to offer voluntary service known as ‘Uzhavara pani’ and that cleaning and maintenance should not be given to outsiders in the name of housekeeping contract. cent of the cost of the PCR tests from the PM - CARES fund as Tamil Nadu is facing financial difficulties on incurring such expenses continuously .” On controlling the pandemic, Palaniswami said, “I have personally visited and reviewed the measures in 26 districts, which have proved very effective in controlling the spread of the virus. Farming, food processing, and other industries are almost back to normal across the State,” he added. Due to ef fective treatment, the State has maintained a low mortality rate (1.62 per cent), one of the lowest in the country “As many . as 5,02,740 patients have so far recovered, taking the recovery rate to around 90 per cent, one of the highest in the country. The positivity rate has come down from a high of 10.47 per cent in July to 6.2 per cent. As on date, no district has positivity rate above 10 per cent,” he P4 said. Minister aide abduction has political link? E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Tirupur PERSONAL assistant to Minister of Animal Husbandry Udumalai K Radhakrishnan was allegedly abducted by four persons from MLA’s office in Udumalaipet at 11.10 am on Wednesday . However, the abductors let Karnan free near Vazhapadi, some 13 kilometres away from Udumalaipet, around 11.45 am. Speaking to media, Karnan said that a group of men barged into the MLA’s office and forced him into a car. “I believe, I was abducted due to political vendetta,” he claimed. DSP Ravikumar said that special teams have been formed to trace the abductors. According to various reports, the group of men, who spoke in Tamil Kongu slang, snatched two cell phones, a gold chain and a gold ring from Karnan.
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