Shahrukh Khan’s Alibaug property under Benami Act


Photo caption – Shah Rukh Khan allegedly used land bought for an agricultural purpose for his personal use.
Photo Credits –

Shahrukh Khan’s farmhouse, Deja Vu Farms in Alibaug has been labeled as ‘Benami’ property by the Income Tax department. A report has been filed against the property before the adjudication authority. Khan is required to answer to this report within 90 days. This notice was issued under Section 24 of the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act (PBPT) in December. If the investigation proves that the property is attached to Benani, the act entails the IT authorities to file criminal charges against the accused. This will make him liable for seven years of imprisonment and pay 25 % of the property’s cost. As per PBPT, a transaction is benami when a property is transferred to one person for a consideration paid by another person.

The property is worth Rs 147 million and spans about 19,500 square ft. The major allegation against Khan is that he purchased this agricultural land claiming that it’s for farming purposes. But instead, he built a private farmhouse in the area.

Reports from The Times of India stated that the Déjà vu Farms Pvt. Ltd was integrated into the website of the Registrar of Companies on December 29, 2004. And the directors mentioned were Ramesh Chhiba and Savita Chhiba, Namita Chhiba, who are Khan’s father-in-law, mother-in-law and sister-in-law respectively.

According to NDTV, in the place of an agricultural land, Khan erected a luxurious bungalow with a helipad, swimming pool and attached his property limits to a nearby beach. The IT officials stated that an unsecured loan of Rs 8.5 crore was given by Khan to Deja Vu Farms. It has also been found that the farmhouse has violated the CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) rules.

Delhi: 8 month old baby sexually assaulted by relative


Image Credits: Hindustan Times
Protests against increasing incidences of rapes in DelhiOn January 28th, an eight-month-old infant was allegedly raped by her 28-year-old cousin. The incident occurred in Shakurbasti, northwest Delhi. The child suffered severe injuries in her vital organs and was immediately rushed to the Kalawati Saran hospital. She was kept under ventilator support in the ICU. After undergoing a 3-hour long surgery, her condition stabilized. According to reports from NDTV, the accused confessed guilty of the crime on January 29th and was arrested by the police.

Reports from Hindustan times stated that the baby’s parents left her in their relative’s house as they had to go to work. The child lived with her parents on the first floor while the relatives lived on the ground floor of the same building. The mother of the accused was taking care of the child when her son suggested that he would take her to the room and play with her. On police interrogation, the 28-year-old revealed that he muzzled the child’s mouth to suppress her screams and then raped her.

When the child’s mother returned home in the night, she found that her child’s clothes were stained with blood and she was profusely crying. The child was admitted to the hospital where the doctors confirmed that it was a case of sexual assault. The police were informed and a case was registered.

The 28-year old initially denied his actions during police questioning, following which he escaped from his house. The police later tracked down his location and arrested him. A rape case under the IPC section and POCSO section (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) was registered against the accused at the Subhash Place police station.


Sources: Hindustan Times, NDTV


Pune welcomes Republic Day with 150 WiFi Hotspots

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in collaboration with Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited (PSCDCL), is set to inaugurate 150 free WiFi hotspots across the city on the occasion of Republic Day. Pune residents will now be able to access free internet facility in 199 locations. According to reports from Sakal Times, Google for the first time has tied by with a municipal body like PMC to enable them to set up ‘Google Stations’ that offer free WiFi service.

The citizens will be provided with 50MB data free of cost in hotspot areas at a speed of 512 kbps. Usage above the given limit will be charged with a certain amount for surfing private websites, while usage of government portals will remain free. The users within the network range will have to log-in to the WiFi using a One Time Password (OTP) that will be sent to their registered mobile numbers. This plan is aimed towards the ‘Pune Smart City’ project.

In their statement to the media, PMC said that they wish to reach out to the entire city with their free WiFi connectivity plan and wish to make Pune a digital city by 2020. The locations that are covered in the current plan include public places like hospitals, bus stops, gardens, police stations and government offices.

The current project will require the Smart City Corporation to spend around Rs 110 crore for setting up the infrastructure for the system and an additional of Rs 35 crore towards operational costs. Reports from Pune Mirror state that PMC plans to set up around 400-500 hotspot zones in the coming future. This is a major initiative of the Smart City policy that also includes provisions like emergency call boxes, public announcement systems, environmental and flood sensors.

Sources: Pune Mirror, Sakal Times

Banking Reforms: Centre to infuse Rs 88,000 cr in PSU

Image Courtesy: PTI
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government has moved proposal to infuse additional grant of Rs 88,139 crore.

New Delhi, January 25: On January 24th, the government unveiled its reform plan of infusing over Rs 88, 000 crore through recapitalization to public sector banks. These bonds are going to be allotted to 20 state-run banks during the present financial year. A sum of Rs 52,311 crore is going to be allocated to 11 weak banks to help them maintain a minimum capital. And Rs 35, 828 will be kept aside for 9 strong banks, as reported by Indian Express. This project by the government is linked to the six-point reform agenda that is aimed at aiding the growth and restoring the potential of banks.

PSU banks will now be required to alter their lending systems in terms of advancing loans to big business organizations. They must also monetize non-crore assets, streamline overseas branches, utilize advanced technology and plan to recover loans that have failed. According to reports from The Times of India, Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley stated that the reforms will address the regulatory capital requirement of PSB’s. Banks will have to adopt the measures laid down by the Finance Ministry. They mostly surround six concerns – customer responsiveness, responsible banking, digitalization, credit offtake, PSBs as Udyami Mitra and development of the brand.

Among the various PSB’s, highest capital of Rs 10,610 crore will be given to IDBI. Following it is Bank of India with Rs 9,232 crore, Rs 8,800 crore to State Bank of India and UCO Bank will get Rs. 6,507 crore.

By the end of March, a total of Rs 1 lakh crore will be guided towards PSBs.  For this, Rs 80,000 crore will be generated from recapitalisation bonds, Rs 8,139 crore via gross budgetary support and Rs 10,312 crore of funds will be derived from the market.

Sources: The Times of India , The Indian Express

IRB Jawan kills three Civilians in broad daylight

A head constable, Sanjay Shinde from the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) at Kolhapur killed three civilians on January 16, 2018. He was posted at the  State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) in Daund, around 80kms from Pune, where the incident occurred. A police official stated that Shinde opened fire on three men near the crowded areas of Borawake Nagar and Morinagar Chowk in Daund, as reported by The Times of India.

The victims gunned down by Shinde were identified as Anil Jadhav, Gopal Shinde and Prashant Pawar. All the three of them were killed on the spot. Two of the deceased were attacked when they were riding on a motorbike. The killings occurred in broad daylight in the presence of a huge crowd. The sudden firing resulted in helter-skelter and the traumatized civilians began to hide out of fear. There was a gap of 15 minutes between the killings, as per Pune Mirror reports. According to sources, one of the victims killed in the attack was a close relative of the accused.

Sandip Pakhale, superintendent of police in Baramati region claimed that Shinde procured a pistol from the SRPF armoury. He also suggested old rivalry between the victims and the accused over some private issue or financial matters.

After committing the crime, Shinde escaped and tried to seek shelter in a building where he resided with his family. The Daund policemen followed him there in order to arrest him. Since Shinde was equipped with a pistol, more police staff including SRPF jawans were deployed to the area. However, they failed in their attempt to catch him as Shinde absconded before the arrival of the police. Following continuous search operations, the police learnt that Shinde was hiding in Supa village. Pakhale told Pune Mirror that they successfully trapped Shinde and recovered the pistol from him.

Reacting to this issue, other SRPF officers revealed that Sanjay Shinde was addicted to gambling and prostitution. He allegedly was in debt and owed money to a number of people. And often entered into scuffles with his co-workers.

Sources: TOI, Pune Mirror

Haj Subsidy Canceled, Funds to be used for empowering Minority Women

Image Courtesy: Reuters
Around 1,75,000 pilgrims to visit Haj this year from India.

On January 16th, the government decided to cancel the historical Haj subsidy. The subsidy given to Haj pilgrims can be dated back to 1932. The Port Haj Committee Act was adopted by the British to encourage the Muslims to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Over the decades, the policy was greeted by a number of changes. And in contemporary times it had turned into a matter of criticism. Though the initial discussions to do away with the Haj subsidy began with a Supreme Court order in 2012, it was only in 2017 that the Central Haj Committee decided to abolish the subsidy with start of a new year in 2018.

With the government announcing the withdrawal of the Haj subsidy, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minority Affairs Minister stated that the funds used for the subsidy will now be directed towards education. He claimed that the objective was to empower the women hailing from the minority section. It also interesting to note that the verdict to eliminate the subsidy came a day after the government permitted Muslim women over 45 years of age to perform a Haj yatra, in groups of four, without being accompanied by a male guardian.

However, regardless of the decision to cancel the subsidy, Naqvi told the media that around 1.75 lakh Muslims might be undertaking the Haj pilgrimage through the course of the year. He also added that the Saudi Arabian government is in talks with India to permit Haj pilgrims from India via ships.

Concerning the cancellation of the subsidy, makes one question the actual intention of the government. Did Air India and a Saudi airline feed on the subsidy arranged by the Centre for Muslims to fly budget to Jeddah? The truth is that the Haj subsidy was surrounded by numerous layers.

According to reports from Outlook magazine, in 2017 the pilgrims were required to pay a subsidized return airfare amount of Rs 45,000 for Air India. This advance booking was expensive as the Delhi – Jeddah return ticket was available at Rs 30,000 during the peak season. And in August, again during the peak season, Etihad provided tickets at Rs 39,846.

These figures reveal that the amount paid by the pilgrims was equivalent to or higher than the market price. Thus making the subsidy a financial excuse to keep Air India afloat.  However, Air India stated that the definite rate fluctuated between Rs 63,750 to Rs 1,63,350 based on the ports of embarkation.

Since 2012, there has been a decline in the amount of subsidy allocated. In 2016-17, the Centre released Rs.450 crore towards Haj. Reacting to this, Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen insisted on the cancellation of the subsidies as he was convinced that they were used as an armour to benefit airline companies.

Keeping the matter of airlines aside, Congress positively reacted to Modi government’s decision and demanded the successful utilization of money towards education. And since the government also supplies subsidies for Hindu pilgrimages like Kumbh Melas and the Kailash Mansarovar yatra, the Vishva Hindu Parishad requested the allocation of funds utilised for the education of poor Hindu girls.


Source: The Wire, The Indian Express

Myanmar Charges Reuters Reporters under Official Secrets Act

According to reports from The Guardian, two journalists from Reuters have been held by prosecutors in Myanmar on the charge of violating the State’s Official Secrets Act. The lawyers stated that the indictment entails a maximum of 14 years of imprisonment.

The two accused, Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, covered the Rohingya Muslims crisis in the western state of Rakhine and reported for Reuters. They were detained on December 12, 2017, during their meeting with a group of police officers over dinner.  The police suspected them of causing security breaches by procuring undisclosed documents from the police. It was the same police officers who were in charge of Rakhine state where the security forces were condemned for human rights violation of the Rohingya Muslims. Their ill-treatment of the Rohingya’s is said resulted in the migration of 650,000 people to Bangladesh.

Than Zaw, the lawyer of the reporters stated that he pled for the immediate bail of his clients. However, the judge said that the request will be reviewed during the next hearing on January 23.  Than Zaw also drew attention to the lack of medical aid given to Wa Lone, who is suffering from a hernia through the course of his detention

Reports from BBC suggested that the government arrested the journalists for illegally possessing secret information with the objective of distributing it to international media. Protesting against this, an army of journalists clad in black, gathered outside the court on January 10th and disputed against the arrest of their colleagues.

In the backdrop of the Rohingya crisis, the civilian government of Myanmar under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace laureate has been criticized by governments and media groups around the world. The press freedom of the country is questioned in the light of the threats issued to journalists.

Sources – Reuters, Arab News