Taking a strong pitch against corrupt government officials under probe by CBI, the Central Vigilance Commission has decided to amend the process of granting sanction for fast-tracking trial against government officials, thereby reducing delays in deciding on such requests.
The practice of holding a meeting with the department of the official facing the allegations, which often delays granting of sanction, will be given up.
This will be followed by dismissing appeals against the CVC’s decision to grant prosecution sanction unless fresh material is produced.
Stressing the need to expedite decision-making on requests of sanction for proposal and sticking to the time limit of three months for grant of sanction or otherwise, the CVC iterated that “competent authorities take unduly long time in deciding these matters”.
A circular issued by the CVC on April 16 stated, “The Commission, on a review of the existing mechanism has decided to dispense with the mechanism of holding joint meetings with the representatives of CBI and the department concerned and henceforth, all such matters of difference of opinion would be dealt and resolved by the Commission on the basis of available documents.”
The new circular proposes resolution of disputes over prosecution sanction between investigation agencies and departments on the basis of available documents and tentative views of the department concerned.
Further more, the circular said, “The concerned ministry/department is required to refer the case to the commission for reconsideration only in exceptional cases when new facts come to light. The commission has observed that generally no new facts come out during these meetings (joint meetings) and there are considerable delays on the part of department/organizations.”
In its order in the Vineet Narain and others Vs Union of India case, the Supreme Court had set three months as the period for grant of prosecution sanction and another month where legal opinion is required from the attorney general.
Despite the SC orders, there has been a consistent trend of delay in sanction to prosecute officials facing allegations of corruption.
According to CBI officials, most of the cases against government officials remain pending due to non-grant or delay in sanction for prosecution.
The circular has also directed the department concerned to give its views regarding the action to be taken against the official within three weeks, while dealing with cases of non-presidential appointees,
According to the latest statistics available from CBI, 17 requests for prosecution sanction are pending beyond four months. Some of the requests are pending since 2012. The requests are pending with different departments including department of personnel and training, home ministry, ministry of defence, IDBI Bank, Bank of India, State Bank of India and South Delhi Municipal Corporation.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan was slammed by the Supreme Court (SC) after his offensive remarks against the Union Minister Prakash Javedkar who had earlier shared a picture of him watching the Hindu mythological show ‘Ramayana’ amid the nationwide lockdown.
The lawyer had tweeted: “As crores starve and walk hundreds of miles home due to the lockdown, our heartless ministers celebrate consuming and feeding the opium of Ramayana & Mahabharata to the people!”
The SC replied to Bhushan by saying that people can watch whatever they wish to on television.
After Prashant Bhushan’s critical Anti-Hindu comments, Jaidev Rajnikant Joshi, a former army personnel from Rajasthan filed an FIR claiming that the lawyer has been insensitive with his comments and had hurt religious sentiments.
According to an OpIndia report, “The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim protection from arrest to Advocate Prashant Bhushan in FIR registered against him by Gujarat police alleging hurting of religious sentiments. Posting the matter to be heard after two weeks, the court issued a notice to the Gujarat Government, ordering them to not take any coercive action against the defendant till the next day of the hearing.”
The question that arises in the minds of many is that why the lawyer has a problem with people watching Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. His words are equal to spitting venom on Hindus.
This isn’t the first time the lawyer has made such inconsiderate anti-Hindu comments. Let us have a look at some of his tweets that prove he is callous and insensitive.
On Gandhi’s 71st death anniversary, recall he was shot by a Hindu communal bigot& RSS member because he opposed the communal violence fanned by them. Today, Godse’s communal progeny, in charge of govt, seek to use Ayodhya temple to cynically fan communal hatred for electoral gain
Dr. Munish Raizada from Chicago- who too had been part of anti-corruption party Aam Aadmi party along with Prashant Bhushan- says, “People have the right to practice the religion of their choice or be an atheist. That is fine! However, that does not give people the right to demean or mock people having religious or cultural faiths and preferences. There have been instances when these (Indian) communists and atheists have disrespected people of the Hindu religion but they seem to be blissfully blind when it comes to Islamic and Christian practices.”
According to Raizada, Prashant Bhushan isn’t the only hypocrite out there. There are many people like him with the same mindset. It is interesting to observe that AAP has been sheltering a bunch of left loonies right from the beginning in various shades. He points out that reflecting back, the very first National Executive committee of AAP has at least 50 % members as communists or a paler shades of that. Was it a trap in the name of anti-corruption? Bhushan is on records while being a part of AAP saying that if AAp comes to power, the industry would be under state control (typical communist economic mind set, where as it is well know that this economic theory has miserably failed).
Here are a few questions to reflect upon. Why don’t the leftists and communists speak about incidents when they are wrong? Why did they not speak up against the wrongdoings of the attendees of Tablighi Jamaat? Is this a conspiracy? What are these people trying to hide behind their Hindu-phobic words?
Schools, colleges and universities worldwide have been closed since March 11, 2020 when COVID-19 was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a global pandemic.
But for 69 lecturers of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), the door was shut against them since May 11, 2018 – two years ago. Like the outbreak of COVID-19, there was no warning. These lecturers were ambushed with retrenchment letters in the middle of the semester while teaching students in class.
The dismissal letters gave them seven days to take their personal property and vacant the premises. They were caught off-guard with mortgages, loans, rent and bills to pay as well as families to feed. They were suddenly without a job and medical insurance.
The stay-at-home retrenchment order was triggered to these “surplus” lecturers who had become “redundant” in the university’s “restructuring exercise.” Was their forced quarantine justified? Let’s look at the facts and revelations, using my situation as a case study.
My teaching load was higher
In all its internal and external releases, University of Trinidad and Tobago has declared that lecturers’ teaching load (as opposed to work-load, which would have included research and service) was the main criterion used to select teaching staff for retrenchment.
UTT’s disclosure to my Freedom of Information (FOIA) application after I was dismissed states that I was carrying a teaching load of 70.8%, excluding Practicum. However, there were other Assistant Professors who had considerably lower teaching load percentages, but were not selected for retrenchment.
Some of them had scores as low as 15%, 28%, 35%, 38%, etc. In fact, of the 20 Assistant Professors who were retained, only two (2) or 10% had higher teaching load percentages than mine.
Although my teaching load percentage (70.8%) was higher than most of my former colleagues, who were retained, I should have earned yet a higher teaching score had it not been for an error and contradiction on the part of UTT.
University of Trinidad and Tobago’s disclosure to me after I was fired reveals that the PRACTICUM courses I taught were not counted as part of my teaching load. However, the same PRACTICUM Term 2 courses (PRAC 1002 and PRAC 2002) were counted for my colleagues, Additionally, a PRACTICUM Term 3 course (PRAC 2001) was counted for others but not for me.
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These errors and contradictions by UTT are important to note because the university has declared that lecturers’ teaching load was the main criterion used to select teaching staff for retrenchment.
These errors and contradictions in computing the teaching load scores for me constitute bias, inequality, unfairness and injustice in selecting me for retrenchment. These mistakes and paradoxes resulted in my dismissal which caused me grave humiliation, pain, suffering, stress, trauma and rejection as well as loss of income, status, dignity, pride and institutional affiliation.
Was this Programme really being phased out?
In many of its releases and correspondences, University of Trinidad and Tobago has stated that I and other lecturers were retrenched because the Secondary School Specialisation courses which they taught were being phased out as part of the university’s restructuring exercise.
At the dismissal meeting at the Centre for Education Programmes (CEP) at UTT, administrator Dr Judy Rocke also told the assembled lecturers that all Secondary School Specialisation courses were being phased out, resulting in us being “redundant” in the university’s “restructuring exercise.” The following facts reveal that this statement is not true.
These same courses were timetabled for a NEW cohort of students during the new semester which began in September 3, 2018. These Secondary School Specialisation courses are taught from Year 2. One of these courses which was not phased out for the new Year 2 student-intake was ANTH 2001- Caribbean Cultural Anthropology, which I taught. After my retrenchment, I was replaced by a lecturer who was not qualified to teach ANTH 2001.
Substitute lecturers not qualified
The Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT) made the following written disclosures to me, dated August 23, 2019. Its Executive Director, Dr Eduardo Ali, stated that my substitute lecturer was “not qualified to teach” ANTH 2001. Additionally, Dr Ali stated that another substitute lecturer teaching the course TVOC 2003: Job Task Analysis in Semester 1 during the Academic Year 2018-2019 at CEP was also “not qualified to teach the said course”.
I began my tenure at UTT as an Assistant Professor in January 2007 – longer than most of my former colleagues, who held Ph.D. degrees in CEP. My latest Performance Management and Appraisal Process (PMAP) appraisal score dated October 3, 2017 was 95 out of 100. This score was given, approved and endorsed by my immediate supervisor, Dr Judy Rocke, who paradoxically selected me for dismissal.
Myskills and qualifications are more diverse than those of most of my former teaching colleagues. My M.Phil. degree is in the Humanities (Literatures in English) and my Ph.D. is in the Social Sciences (Anthropology).
Dr. Mahabir is a former Organization of American States (OAS) Fellow and the recipient of a Government National Award for Education.
The Supreme Court, modifying its order on free coronavirus test at private labs, on Monday said that free testing for COVID-19 shall be available to persons eligible under Ayushman Bharat scheme as already implemented by Centre and any other category of economically weaker sections of the society as notified by the government for free testing.
The apex court insisted that it never intended to make testing free for those who can afford it and asked the government to issue rules to reimburse private labs for free tests.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Ravindra Bhat said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare may consider as to whether any other categories of the weaker sections of the society e.g. workers belonging to low-income groups in the informal sectors, beneficiaries of Direct Benefit Transfer, etc. apart from those covered under Ayushman Bharat are also eligible for the benefit of free testing and issue appropriate guidelines in the above regard also within a period of one week.
“We further clarify that the order never intended to make testing free for those who can afford the payment of a testing fee fixed by the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) for COVID-19,” said the bench.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the government, contended that under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, about 10.7 crore poor and vulnerable families, which means approximately 50 crore beneficiaries, are covered under the scheme and they can avail the benefit of free of cost COVID-19 test even in the private labs. He submitted that beneficiaries under the scheme would get a cashless COVID-19 test in private labs.
The top court noted that the April 8 order intended to make testing in private labs of COVID-19 free for economically weaker sections of the society who were unable to afford the payment of testing fee as fixed by ICMR — Rs 1,500 for screening and Rs 3,000 for confirmative tests.
“Ministry of Health and Family Welfare may issue necessary guidelines for reimbursement of the cost of free testing of COVID-19 undertaken by private labs and necessary mechanism to defray expenses and reimbursement to the private labs,” said the court.
The court said the private labs can continue to charge the payment for testing of COVID-19 from persons who are able to pay the testing fee as fixed by ICMR.
The ICMR on Monday had urged the court to withdraw its free coronavirus test order, contending that the interim order passed on April 8, may work to the detriment of the cause the country is fighting.
The ICMR said the decision to involve private labs in the process of testing was taken after extensive deliberation with the national task force on all aspects. “The Central government, after elaborate and extensive discussions and deliberation with subject experts from various fields, took an administrative decision to involve private labs while imposing price cap for them to ensure that they do not charge more and cannot exploit the citizens,” it said in its affidavit.
“It is, therefore, submitted that final relief is incapable of being granted and only on this ground the ad-interim order deserves not to be continued,” the ICMR added, seeking dismissal of the petition seeking free tests for all citizens.
The apex body for the formulation and promotion of biomedical research insisted, while keeping factor of the resources not being unlimited as a pre-dominant factor, the government also considered the hardship which can be faced by the poor section of the country in the process of testing. ICMR informed the top court that unlike other routine tests being conducted in labs at the will and wish of the citizens, these tests would be conducted only after a qualified physician certifies need for such a test, and this protocol applies to both government and private labs.
The ICMR informed the court that some of the components which are essential parts of the kits like primer probes, master mix are patent protected products, and therefore, cannot be manufactured indigenously without importing these components. It contended the resources cannot be unlimited and the government is bound to prioritise the resources in public interest.
“In view of this position, our country will have to depend upon the import of all these components. This is the problem faced by most of the countries in the world and these patent components are manufactured by few countries only which are out of India”, said ICMR.
Advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi had filed a plea in the court contending there are large sections of society who at present are unable to afford the payment of Rs of 4,500 for testing. He submitted that the government has to take responsibility for getting every person tested. In the event that one person in a family tests positive, the entire family requires testing. He submitted that government hospitals are overcrowded; hence, such persons may be permitted testing of Covid-19 in private labs free of cost. (IANS)