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Congress questions ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi's nomination to Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: The Congress has lashed out at the nomination of former chief justice of India Ranjan Gogoi as a Rajya Sabha candidate.

Citing news reports, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala questioned the government's move, saying, "Justice Lokur rightly summarises it - Has the last bastion fallen?"


Justice Lokur, who has criticised the move, was part of the group of the then senior justices who called an unprecedented press conference in January 2018 to lash out at then chief justice Dipak Misra. However, ironically so, former Gogoi was part of that press conference.


In another tweet, Surjewala said: "Did PM Modi consider the advice of his former colleague & Law Minister and Finance Minister, Late Sh. Arun Jaitley before recommending ex-CJI, Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha?" Jaitley had once said that the verdicts are influenced by post retirement jobs.

Randeep Singh Surjewala

Justice Lokur rightly summarises it -:
“Has the last bastion fallen?”

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I agree with Modiji’s Cabinet Minister!

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On Monday, former CJI Gogoi was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the President of India.

Coronavirus update: Govt bans entry of passengers from EU countries, UK, Turkey

New Delhi: With coronavirus cases swelling in the country, the government banned the entry of passengers from EU countries, Turkey and the UK from March 18 till March 31 on Monday.

Union health ministry officials also said four new COVID-19 cases -- one each from Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Kerala -- were reported on Monday, taking the total number of cases in the country to 114.

These cases include 10 discharged, three cured and two reported deaths.

The "contact-tracing activity" of the positive cases had led to the identification of more than 5,200 persons, who were kept under a rigorous surveillance, they added.


The government had earlier suspended all visas, barring a few categories such as diplomatic and employment, in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

After a Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting, the government proposed a set of social-distancing measures to be in force till March 31, the officials told reporters.

"Travel of passengers from the member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the United Kingdom to India is prohibited with effect from March 18," Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Aggarwal said.

"No airline shall board a passenger from these countries to India with effect from 1200 GMT on March 18. The airlines shall enforce this at the port of initial departure," he added.

These temporary measures shall be in force till March 31 and reviewed subsequently, Aggarwal said.

The GoM held its seventh meeting on Monday and after detailed deliberations, social-distancing measures were proposed as a preventive strategy, he added.

The key measures proposed included closure of all educational institutions, gymnasiums, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres, Aggarwal said.

Students should be advised to stay at home and online education should be promoted, he added.

Non-essential travel should be avoided. Buses, trains and aeroplanes to maximise social distancing in public transport, besides ensuring proper disinfection of services," Aggarwal said.

Restaurants should ensure a handwashing protocol and proper cleanliness of frequently-touched surfaces, he added.

They should also ensure a minimum of one metre physical distancing between tables and encourage open-air seating, Aggarwal said.

The government urged the local authorities to have a dialogue with the organisers of sporting events and competitions involving large gatherings, adding that they might be advised to postpone such events, he added.

It also advised the local authorities to have a dialogue with opinion makers and religious leaders to regulate mass gatherings and ensure no overcrowding.

"Local authorities should have a meeting with traders' associations and other stakeholders to regulate hours, dos and don'ts...and take up a communication drive at market places such as sabzi mandi, anaj mandi, besides at bus depots, railway stations, post offices etc., where essential services are provided," Aggarwal said.

Private sector organisations and employers were being encouraged to allow employees to work from home wherever feasible, he added.

The government also called for meetings to be held through video-conferencing as far as feasible.

Meetings involving a large number of people should be minimised or re-scheduled unless necessary, Aggarwal said.

The fourth batch of 53 evacuees from Iran arrived in the country on Monday. They were being quarantined at an Army facility in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer. All of them were reported to be asymptomatic currently, Aggarwal said.

The government also called for compulsory quarantine for a minimum of 14 days for passengers coming from or transiting through the UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait. This measure will also come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 18 at the port of first departure.

The GoM chaired by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was attended by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep S Puri, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai and Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey, among others.

The Centre has suspended the pilgrimage and registration for the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan, beginning Sunday midnight, in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

It has also suspended the movement of all types of passengers through the international border points with Pakistan.

On Saturday, the government announced suspension of all types of passenger movement from 00:00 hours on March 15 through the Indo-Bangla, Indo-Nepal, Indo-Bhutan and Indo-Myanmar borders, barring a few specified border checkposts.

All types of passenger movements through the immigration land checkposts located along the India-Bangladesh, India-Nepal, India-Bhutan and India-Myanmar borders were suspended with effect from 00:00 hours on March 15, except through a few checkposts, and at the India-Pakistan border, with effect from 00:00 hours on March 16 until further orders, according to a home ministry order.

The government has asked Indian nationals to avoid all non-essential travel abroad.


Coronavirus update in Mumbai: Thermal scanners become scarce, pricey

Mumba: As a preventive measure, housing societies in the city have started screening of vendors and visitors. However, the societies are facing the problem of acute shortage of thermal scanners, and wherever it is available, the suppliers are demanding more than double the price for it. Hence, some societies are using thermometers as desperate measure.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the state government are working hard to fight and prevent the spread of the deadly Corona virus. Likewise, some housing societies are also taking preventive measures on their own to stay safe.

For this, the societies have started screening outsiders at the entrance. Vendors, delivery boys and visitors are being checked — being asked to wash or sanitise hands and to wear a mask before entering the society premises.

"We are taking all possible precautionary steps. We are screening outsiders by recording their temperature. If the temperature is above 98, then we will report it to the helpline number given by the BMC.


Also, we have prohibited vendors, courier and delivery boys from going to the doorsteps. The owners are asked to come and collect their products from the reception of the building.

I have circulated a notice in the society that members should carry personal sanitisers to avoid contact of the virus," said Parkash Ruia, chairman of Windermere Housing Society in the city.

“We are using the traditional digital thermometers for screening as thermal scanners are now hard to find. We have installed temporary wash basins and providing sanitisers.

The thermal or digital thermometers which were sold for Rs 2500-2900, are now priced at Rs 6,000 apiece,” said Dhaval Shah chairman of the Lokhandwala Oshiwara Citizen Association.


Not Aamir Khan but his pillow is Kareena’s fav co-star

Mumbai: If you were under the impression that Actor Aamir Khan is Mrs Kareena Kapoor Khan’s favourite co-star, you need to think again.
The actress has just revealed that the tag was not for the superstar but his pillow!
On Aamir Khan’s 55th birthday on Saturday, Kareena shared a glimpse of the actor for his fans on Instagram.
In the photograph, Aamir can be seen sleeping in a flight, with his favourite pillow tucked under his head. Apparently, he carries the pillow with him everywhere.
The actress jokingly wrote: “My fav co-star has to be @_aamirkhan’s… pillow!”

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Aamir and Kareena have been shooting in Punjab for their upcoming film “Laal Singh Chaddha”. Unconfirmed reports state the Advait Chandan directorial will hit theatres on Christmas this year.


Coronavirus scare intensifies in India as cases increases to 110

New Delhi: Coronavirus cases intensified in India as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases climbed to 110. On Sunday, the country recorded its highest daily jump in the number of cases.
As per the data revealed by the Union Health Ministry, till Sunday night, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across India were 110, including the foreign nationals.

The maximum positive cases have been reported from Maharashtra (32), followed by Kerala (22).
On 1st March, there were only three confirmed cases in India. It has increased by more than 35 times in 15 days.

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Experts’ views
According to experts, the number of cases is likely to increase as more than 4000 people who had come in contact with infected persons are under close watch. They also opined that pre-emptive lockdown is the need of the hour.

Suggesting the government to increase testing capacity, they said that present infrastructure to screen suspected cases will become inadequate if the sudden rise in the number of COVID-19 takes place.

Meanwhile, the total number of patients freed from the virus has reached 13 in India.

Coronavirus case globally
The number of novel coronavirus cases globally stood at 163,930 with 6,420 deaths, across 141 countries and territories.

The worst-hit nation after China is Italy with 1,809 deaths for 24,747 cases, Iran with 724 fatalities (13,938 cases), Spain with 288 deaths and 7,753 cases and France, with 91 deaths and 4,499 cases.

On Sunday, Asia had listed 91,973 cases and 3,320 deaths, Europe 52,407 cases and 2,291 deaths, the Middle East 15,291 cases for 738 deaths, the United States and Canada 3,201 cases for 52 deaths, Latin America and the Caribbean 448 cases and six deaths, Africa 315 cases and eight deaths, and Oceania 303 cases and five deaths.


Yes Bank: ED summons Anil Ambani

New Delhi: Reliance Group Chairman Anil Ambani has been summoned by the ED in connection with its money laundering probe against Yes Bank promoter Rana Kapoor and others, officials said on Monday.

They said Ambani has been asked to depose at the Enforcement Directorate office in Mumbai on Monday as his group companies are one among the big entities whose loans went bad after borrowing from the crisis-hit bank.

It is understood that Ambani has sought exemption on health grounds from the agency and he may be issued a new date.
Ambani’s group companies are stated to have taken loans of about Rs 12,800 crore from the bank that turned NPA.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said in a March 6 press conference that the Anil Ambani Group, Essel, ILFS, DHFL and Vodafone were among the stressed corporates Yes Bank had exposure to.

Officials said promoters of all the big companies who had taken large loans from the beleaguered bank which later turned bad, are being summoned for questioning in the case to take investigation forward.

Ambani’s statement will be recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) upon deposition, they said.

Kapoor, 62, is at present in ED custody after he was arrested by the central probe agency early this month.

Ambani’s group companies are stated to have taken loans of about Rs 12,800 crore from the bank that turned NPA.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said in a March 6 press conference that the Anil Ambani Group, Essel, ILFS, DHFL and Vodafone were among the stressed corporates Yes Bank had exposure to.

Officials said promoters of all the big companies who had taken large loans from the beleaguered bank which later turned bad, are being summoned for questioning in the case to take investigation forward. 
Ambani’s statement will be recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) upon deposition, they said.

Kapoor, 62, is at present in ED custody after he was arrested by the central probe agency early this month.

Coronavirus updates in Mumbai: Despite order from Maha government, some theatres still open in Mumbai

Despite the order to close all cinema halls, theatres and gyms in Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Navi Mumbai, several theatres were functioning in the city of Mumbai.

The Free Press Journal found that that Vile Parle’s Suncity Cinema and Juhu’s PVR theatre was still open.

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Despite ban on movie theatres by @CMOMaharashtra @OfficeofUT

Mumbai : Vile Parle Suncity theatre is still open despite govt announcement to close down all theaters. Photo BL Soni

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Despite ban on movie theatres by @CMOMaharashtra @OfficeofUT

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Mumbai : Juhu PVR   theatre is still open despite govt announcement to close down all theatres.

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The Maharashtra Government on Friday invoked the Epidemic Act which empowers the state to forcibly admit a person with coronavirus symptoms to a hospital wherein tests are required.

The Chief Minister said that in light of the rising threat that the virus poses, all gyms, swimming pools and drama and cinema theatres in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Pimri Chinchwad and Nagpur would remain shut midnight on Friday.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday also announced the closure of schools for students belonging to Class 1 to Class 9 in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Schools in Mumbai will remain operational.

The Chief Minister said that these schools would remain closed until further notice.

Exams for 10th and 12th standard students however will continue as normal.

The number of coronavirus cases in the state has now risen to 17. This includes 10 people in Pune, three in Nagpur, three in Mumbai and one person in Thane.

Coronavirus helplines and testing centres as given by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare:

Helpline number: 011-2398046

Email address:

Testing centres in Maharashtra:

Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Mumbai

Indira Gandhi Government Medical College in Nagpur

Pakistan channel issues notice to GEO TV

Islamabad: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory (PEMRA) has issued a show-cause notice to Geo News for discussing "under investigation/trial matters" and also for airing "unipolarity of views in its news bulletins and programmes".

The notice issued on Friday called on Geo News' CEO or any authorised representative of the channel to appear for a personal hearing regarding the matter on March 20, reports The News International.

The development comes a day after the National Accountability Burea (NAB) arrested Editor-in-Chief of the Jang Geo Media Group, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for illegal possession of a piece of land.


Despite giving the channel a week to respond to its notice, PEMRA has already started issuing directives to cable operators to shut down GEO News' broadcast in several cities across Pakistan and push the channel back to the last numbers.

"This is being done at a time when the Editor-in-Chief of the Jang Group/Geo has been arrested by NAB," The News International quoted Geo News Director News Rana Jawad as saying.

"This (censorship) is a manifestation of the conspiracy to shut down, silence and end media," he added.

Jawad further said said that Shakil-ur-Rahman's arrest and the subsequent censorship of Geo shows that the two events were linked to each other so that the largest media group in the country could be silenced and its voice should not reach the masses,


Latest coronavirus update in India: US Embassy, Consulates in India cancels all visa appointments from March 16

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the US Embassy and Consulates in India have cancelled all visa appointments from March 16.

A statement issued by the US Embassy, "US Mission India posts, in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, are cancelling immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments from March 16, 2020, onward." "Your visa appointment stands as cancelled. Once Mission India resumes regular consular operations, appointments will be made available and you will be able to reschedule," it said.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India rose to 82. Out of the confirmed cases, 65 of them Indian nationals while 17 are foreign nationals, according to the official website of the ministry.

The highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases were recorded from Kerala (19). Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi recorded 14, 14, 10, and seven cases, respectively. So far, two deaths due to the lethal infection have been reported in the country.

The development comes after a 68-year-old woman, who had tested positive for coronavirus, died due to co-morbidity -- diabetes and hypertension -- at a Delhi hospital on Friday. India had on Thursday reported its first death from coronavirus.

(Inputs from Agencies)


Latest coronavirus update in India: Malls, theatres, pubs to remain shut in Karnataka for a week amid virus scare

Bengaluru: Fear gripped Karnataka a bit too late on Friday the Thirteenth as a 76-year-old man from Kalaburagi became the first Covid-19 fatality in India and the virus started its spread among techies who work in a cloistered air-conditioned atmosphere making them more vulnerable.

Though the senior citizen had died on March 10, it was only late Thursday night that the results of his samples came in confirming that he was infected.

Soon after Karnataka got the dubious tag of recording the first Covid 19 death in India, the Yediyurappa government scrambled to announce a slew of measures including shuttering all revenue generating centres including malls, theatres, pubs and exhibitions across Karnataka for a week beginning Saturday.

This ban also applies to nightclubs, swimming pools, play areas, music festivals, club events, summer camps, sporting events, weddings, conferences, parties like birthdays and engagements. Dine-in restaurants will also be closed, and only home deliveries will be allowed. Colleges and universities too will shut down for a week.

Further, all Information Technology firm employees have been advised to work from home. The government is keeping a close watch on the IT offices as the virus can spread rampantly in a closed airconditioned atmosphere. The decision will be reviewed in a week, the Chief Minister told the media.

Kalburgi has been isolated and the city is under complete lockdown with tight travel restrictions. The move has stranded many students from across India who are at the Medical College pursuing their studies. Meanwhile, Google in India has confirmed that an employee at their Bengaluru office has tested positive for coronavirus.

"We can confirm that an employee from our Bangalore office has been diagnosed with COVID-19. They were in one of our Bangalore offices for a few hours before developing any symptoms. The employee has been on quarantine since then and we have asked colleagues who were in close contact with the employee to quarantine themselves and monitor their health, said Google India in a statement on Friday.

Out of an abundance of caution, we are asking employees in that Bangalore office to work from home tomorrow. We have taken and will continue to take all necessary precautionary measures, following the advice of public health officials, as we prioritize everyone's health and safety, the statement added.

In another development, two employees of tech giants Mindtree and Dell also tested positive for coronavirus. Karnataka has till now confirmed five other cases in the state. A Bengaluru Dell employee who returned from Austin in America via New York and Texas was the first person to be confirmed in the state. Later, his wife and 13-year-old daughter too were tested positive. Another techie who had travelled from US to Bengaluru via London, was tested positive next.

A 26-year old who had returned from Greece via Dubai to Mumbai was the fifth case. He had been to Greece on a honeymoon and returned to Mumbai in the first week of March. Later, he came to Bengaluru and worked for a day out of his office. The government is trying to trace all the people who came in contact with him.

Meanwhile, sources said the 76-year-old patient who died had arrived from Covid-hit Saudi Arabia on February 29. Though he had arrived from a Covid-19-affected country, his symptoms were misleading and tests for coronavirus were delayed due to old age-related complications such as breathing difficulty, asthma and hypertension.

His throat swab samples reached a Bengaluru lab only on March 11. Five days after his arrival, he developed complications and was admitted to a private hospital in Kalaburagi. Against medical advice, his family shifted him to a hospital in Hyderabad on March 9.

The next day he was brought back in an ambulance from Hyderabad. “He died on way to Kalaburagi, we don’t know when or where exactly,” an official said. All protocol related to the pandemic was followed during the man’s last rites on Wednesday afternoon in Kalaburagi, officials said.