India and Australia will on Saturday sign an interim trade deal encompassing goods and services that is expected to cement strategic relations between the two sides and enhance bilateral trade while lowering tariff barriers. The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (IndAus ECTA) will be signed at a virtual ceremony by commerce minister Piyush Goyal and Australia's trade minister Dan Tehan in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.
Renuka Chowdhury has said she will file a defamation case against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an alleged 'Surpanakha' comment made in 2018. Rahul Gandhi was convicted in a 2019 defamation case, prompting opposition leaders to accuse the government of silencing the opposition. Congress will hold a protest march from Parliament to Vijay Chowk on Friday.
PM Modi will visit Varanasi on Friday to dedicate and lay foundation stone of various projects worth more than Rs 1780 crores. He will launch initiatives including TB-Mukt Panchayat, shorter TB Preventive Treatment and family-centric care model. He will also award select States/UTs and Districts for their progress towards ending TB. Projects include Passenger Ropeway, 55 MLD sewage treatment plant, Khelo India Scheme, LPG bottling plant, primary health centre, 19 drinking water schemes and integrated pack house.
Artist Shalini Bahadur is leaving her gated condo in Gurugram for Chandigarh, taking with her memories of the scenic sarson ke khet, the KMP Expressway, the Aravali Biodiversity Park and the Wazirabad-Chakkarpur bandh. She will miss the city's rustic and modern beauty, her mid-century modern chair in her sun-drenched bedroom, and the view of the Delhi Metro line and Qutub Minar.
Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik met in Bhubaneswar and discussed strengthening India's federal structure. Banerjee is scheduled to meet former Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy in Kolkata and is part of an effort to form a coalition of regional parties before 2024 general elections. Patnaik presented Banerjee with gifts and she reciprocated with a shawl.
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has lifted the moratorium on setting up of new engineering colleges, allowing non-profit societies, trusts and companies to apply for at least three core engineering courses. Preference will be given to those colleges offering courses in multi-disciplinary areas in STEM, in line with the NEP 2020. The move is expected to boost core engineering courses and encourage institutes to start courses in emerging technologies. Relaxed norms for collaboration of engineering colleges with foreign institutions have also been introduced.
The Odisha government tabled a bill to exempt developmental projects from the purview of Social Impact Assessments (SIAs) and public hearing. The bill, Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Odisha Amendment) Bill 2023, seeks to amend the Centre's Act. Activists have opposed the amendment, claiming it is being brought under pressure from corporate houses.
Opposition parties met at NCP chief Sharad Pawar's residence to discuss alleged tampering of EVMs during elections and will approach the Election Commission. The meeting was attended by Congress, CPI, CPI(M), AAP, JD(U) and Shiv Sena, while TMC skipped it. The leaders discussed the efficacy of EVMs and their concerns about voting through them. They also discussed former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's conviction in a defamation case. The meeting comes amid efforts to unite and include more political outfits ahead of 2024 general elections.
Centre's piecemeal extensions to heads of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were challenged in the Supreme Court by Congress leaders and an NGO. Amicus curiae to the Court said that such extensions damage independence and integrity of the investigating agencies and cause frustration among eligible officers. The Court will hear the matter on April 20.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin announced steps to prevent love-related murders, following the death of 28-year-old Jagan, who had eloped with a woman from the same caste. Two of the three accused have surrendered, and the CM urged members of the assembly to unite and maintain harmony. District officials and police will conduct awareness campaigns to prevent such crimes.
In a surprising result, the Telugu Desam Party won an MLC seat despite lacking adequate numbers in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, apparently due to cross-voting from the YSR Congress Party. The YSR Congress Party, which had 151 MLAs in the assembly, could only win 6 of the 7 seats, with its seventh candidate losing to the TDP's Anuradha. The TDP also won 3 out of 4 seats in the graduates' constituency.
Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president A Revanth Reddy appeared before Hyderabad police's SIT on Thursday and submitted evidence to substantiate his allegations of the involvement of Telangana IT minister K T Rama Rao's personal staff in the TSPSC recruitment test question paper leak case. Reddy also questioned why similar notices were not served to KTR and demanded sacking of KTR from the state cabinet. The SIT also took 3 TSPSC employees into custody in connection with the leak case.
Police in Hyderabad have busted a data-theft racket involving the sale of personal data of at least 168 million people, including defence personnel and government officials. The suspects ran three call centres in Noida and have made at least Rs 1 lakh by selling data of 3-4 lakh people. They sold data of defence and government personnel, NEET students, power sector employees, loan applicants, and credit and debit card holders. 12 million WhatsApp users and 1.7 million Facebook users were also targeted. The incident highlights the worrying state of data privacy in India and the threat of banking frauds and identity thefts.
Despite a Surat court convicting Rahul Gandhi for two years in a 2019 defamation case, Congress leaders said the verdict will be fought both legally and politically. BJP hailed the verdict, while other Opposition parties backed the Congress. Union minister Piyush Goyal said that Rahul Gandhi had made it a habit to “defy and disrespects every democratic institution”, while Congress argued Gandhi had no "malicious intent".
A 10-year-old girl was allegedly sedated, abducted and raped by the peon of a municipal school in east Delhi and three accomplices, police said. The main suspect has been arrested while the other accused are still to be traced. The girl was severely traumatised and the school authorities were reluctant to file a complaint. The police and MCD are investigating the case and offering psychological therapy to the girl.
Gujarat court on Thursday convicted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a criminal defamation case and sentenced him to two years in jail, suspended for 30 days to enable him to appeal. The 2005 Supreme Court judgment ruled that disqualification of a lawmaker will depend solely on the actual period of imprisonment. The development has brought the spotlight on the legal regime in the country regarding disqualification of elected lawmakers after conviction.