The Hindu Morning Digest, March 15, 2024

A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court is scheduled on March 15 to hear an application filed by the Election Commission of India (ECI) seeking the return of electoral bonds’ documents. File.
| Photo Credit: AP

Electoral bonds data | BJP received ₹6,060 crore, highest among all parties

The Bharatiya Janata Party encashed electoral bonds worth ₹6060.5 crore — the highest among all parties — between April 12, 2019 and January 24, 2024. In the period, BJP’s share in the total bonds encashed was over 47.5%. The All India Trinamool Congress received ₹1,609.50 crore (12.6%) via this route followed by the Congress ₹1,421.9 crore (11.1%), the second and third biggest parties in terms of encashment in the period.

Electoral bonds data | Future Gaming and Hotel Services purchased ₹1,368 crore worth electoral bonds, most among firms 

Future Gaming and Hotel Services PR whose managing director is the well known lottery magnate Santiago Martin, is the largest donor to political parties for the period April 12, 2019 to January 24, 2024, the electoral bonds data released by the Election Commission, on receipt from the State Bank of India, revealed.

B.S. Yediyurappa booked under POCSO Act

The Sadashivanagar police booked senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, 81, under a section of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) acting on a complaint by the mother of a 17-year-old of sexual assault.

ECI asks Supreme Court to return sealed electoral bonds documents

A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India D. Y. Chandrachud is scheduled on March 15 to hear an application filed by the Election Commission of India (ECI) seeking the return of electoral bonds’ documents handed over to the apex court in sealed cover/sealed boxes on two occasions. The application referred to a direction issued on March 11 by the Bench in its order that the “copies of the statements which were filed by the ECI before this court would be maintained in the office of the ECI”.

Petrol, diesel price cut by ₹2: Petroleum Minister

Oil companies have cut petrol and diesel prices by ₹2, effective from 6 a.m. on March 15, said Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. “Reduction in petrol and diesel prices will boost consumer spending and reduce operating costs for over 58 lakh heavy goods vehicles running on diesel, six crore cars and 27 crore two-wheelers,” Mr Puri said in a post on X.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee suffers injury after fall at residence

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was injured on her forehead after a fall at her Kalighat residence in Kolkata on. After a few tests, doctors found her stable to be discharged. She was then taken back home. There was widespread concern in the State after the incident. Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee was seen at the health facility along with other Trinamool leaders.

Will find a way for people without documents to apply under CAA: Amit Shah

The Union government will soon find a way for people who do not have the required documents to apply for benefits under the Citizenship Amendment Act, (CAA), 2019, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said. In an interview with news agency ANI, Mr. Shah said that according to government estimates, 85% of the people seeking to apply under CAA have the required documents, adding that the government would soon find an alternative for those who do not have the requisite papers.

As Canada doubles down on Nijjar allegations, New Zealand says its stand on investigation has not changed

Canada said that it continues to “actively” investigate the killing of Khalistani separatist Canadian Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The comment, that came in response to statements by New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters during his visit to Delhi, where he spoke about the case in Canada, and evidence shared thus far by Canadian authorities. Canada and New Zealand are part of the “five eyes” intelligence sharing network along with the U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia, that regularly coordinate on security issues.

India seriously considering FTA with Eurasian Economic Union: Belarus Foreign Minister

India is “seriously considering” starting talks for a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Foreign Minister of Belarus Sergei Aleinik declared during his two day visit to India. The remarks from the Belarusian Minister acquires significance as Belarus has been closely aligned with Russia even as President Vladimir Putin continues to push ahead with the military operation against Ukraine since February 2022. 

Rahul Gandhi promises GST exemption, loan waiver for farmers; offer prayers at Trimbakeshwar

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for working only for ‘media attention’ through actions like performing undersea pooja, flying on aircraft and visiting Pakistan and China borders while neglecting the urgent issues faced by farmers, including loan waiver for agrarian and export and import policies. The grand old party’s ally Nationalist Congress Party (SP) supremo Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut joined the former Congress president in his yatra.

I&B Ministry blocks 18 OTT platforms and associated social media accounts for publishing vulgar content

The Information & Broadcasting Ministry has blocked 18 OTT platforms on the charge of publishing obscene and vulgar content. The 19 websites, 10 apps and 57 social media handles associated with these platforms have also been blocked nationwide. Among the blocked OTT platforms are Dreams Films, Voovi, Yessma, Uncut Adda, Tri Flicks, X Prime, Neon X VIP, Besharams, Hunters, Rabbit, Xtramood, Nuefliks, MoodX, Mojflix, Hot Shots VIP, Fugi, Chikooflix, and Prime Play. The Ministry said a significant portion of the content hosted on these platforms was found to be obscene, vulgar, and portrayed women in a demeaning manner.

Notification for granting pension to women issued in Himachal Pradesh

Facing criticism for not honouring a poll promise of giving ₹1,500 per month to women in the age bracket of 18 to 59 years, the Himachal Pradesh government issued a notification for granting pension under the Indira Gandhi Pyari Behna Sukh Samman Nidhi Yojana. On March 4, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu announced that the State government will give ₹1,500 per month to women and said a sum of ₹800 crore would be spent on the initiative, benefitting more than five lakh women annually.

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The Hindu Morning Digest, March 05, 2024

Prime Minister Modi gesturing to the crowd during a public meeting at Nandanam in Chennai on March 4.
| Photo Credit: S.R. Raghunathan

Central government employees protest delays in promotion, threaten non-cooperation if demands not met

Central government employees have threatened a “non-cooperation movement” if an expedited decision is not taken regarding their promotions and the “government does not wake up from its deep slumber.” The officials said that many employees suffer stagnation in their careers and financial losses in pension as they retire without getting promoted.

Allow MPs, MLAs to speak in House without fear of harassment, says Supreme Court

A Constitution Bench on March 4 said the Parliament and State legislatures would lose their representative character in a democratic polity if MPs and MLAs are not able to attend the House and speak their minds in the exercise of their duties as members without fear of being harassed by the executive or any agencies.

Rajya Sabha polls should be free and fearless, to be given ‘utmost protection’, says SC

The Supreme Court on March 4 said the elections to the Rajya Sabha and Council of States required “utmost protection” and the right to vote should be carried out freely without fear or persecution.

No positive outcome in meeting with Amit Shah, say Ladakh bodies

Civil society leaders in Ladakh, who are protesting to demand Constitutional safeguards for the region, met Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday but the “meeting did not result in any positive outcome”.

ED accuses Salman Khurshid’s wife Louise Khurshid and two others of money laundering

The Enforcement Directorate on March 4 alleged that the then Dr. Zakir Husain Memorial Trust’s project director, Louise Khurshid, the wife of senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid, and two others allegedly laundered ₹71.50 lakh.

ADR says it will oppose SBI plea on electoral bonds

As the State Bank of India moved the Supreme Court seeking time till June 30 to comply with a direction to make public details of electoral bonds purchased since April 2019, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), chief petitioner in the electoral bonds case, said it was considering all legal options, including opposing the SBI plea in court.

Uttarakhand Cabinet nod for law to recover cost of damage to public property from rioters

Uttarakhand Cabinet on March 4 gave nod to the ordinance which aims to recover the damage of the public property done during riots and protests from the rioters and those involved in the act. The government has also formed a tribunal which will assess the loss for the recovery. The rioters will also have to pay a fine upto ₹8 lakhs apart from the recovery amount which will be used to pay for the expenses incurred on government staff and other work in riot control.

2024 General Election: Congress gets battle ready as manifesto committee discusses poll promises

The Congress held a series of important meetings on Monday as the party gears for the Lok Sabha elections. The Manifesto Committee, headed by former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, discussed the draft manifesto and separately, meetings of screening committees were held to shortlist candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.

DoT launches services to report, monitor spam and fraud calls

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on March 4 launched Chakshu, a platform for telecom users to report fraud or spam callers. The facility, available at, aims to allow citizens to “proactively report suspected fraud communication,” the DoT said in its announcement. 

Swedish SAAB begins work on new Carl-Gustaf manufacturing facility in India

Swedish defence major Saab on Monday started construction on its new manufacturing facility in India for its iconic Carl-Gustaf M4 weapons with a formal groundbreaking ceremony. The facility is being built in the State of Haryana at MET City at Jhajjar in Haryana. The State has a strong industrial base of good potential partners and skilled employees, the company said.

‘My country is my family’, dynasts incapable of thinking beyond own families, says Modi

Hitting out at the Opposition alliance after Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad mocked him as a person who did not have a family, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 4 said the country’s “140 crore people” were his family and he was working day and night for their development.

AUKUS will ensure safety, security, and peace in the Indo-Pacific: U.S. official

The AUKUS trilateral cooperation between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom will ensure safety, security and peace in the Indo-Pacific, said Bonnie Denise Jenkins, U.S. Undersecretary for arms control and international security. Ms. Jenkins stressed that AUKUS does not violate the non-proliferation treaty and that Australia will remain a non-nuclear state that does not acquire nuclear weapons.

NBBL asked to start interoperable system for net banking in 2024

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), for quicker settlement of funds for merchants, has asked NPCI Bharat BillPay Ltd. (NBBL) to implement an interoperable system for Internet Banking which should be introduced during the current calendar year.

Trump wins Colorado ballot disqualification case at US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court handed Donald Trump a major victory on March 4 as he campaigns to regain the presidency, overturning a judicial decision that had excluded him from Colorado’s ballot under a constitutional provision involving insurrection for inciting and supporting the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

UN envoy says ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe Hamas committed sexual violence on Oct. 7

The U.N. envoy focusing on sexual violence in conflict said in a new report Monday that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe Hamas committed rape, “sexualized torture,” and other cruel treatment of women during its surprise attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Joe Biden, Donald Trump set to win primary races on Super Tuesday; Biden faces dissatisfied Democratic voters

Presidential candidates crisscrossed the country in the run-up to Super Tuesday (March 5) this year, when 17 U.S. States and territories hold their primaries and caucuses to pick their contenders for November’s general election. The support of more than a third of each party’s delegates (i.e., representatives who vote in the parties’ conventions to select the candidate) is up for grabs on Tuesday.

France becomes the only country to explicitly guarantee abortion as a constitutional right

French lawmakers on March 4 overwhelmingly approved a bill to enshrine abortion rights in France’s constitution, making it the only country to explicitly guarantee a woman’s right to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy.

Former Twitter execs including ex-CEO Agarwal sue Musk for over $128 m in severance

Four former top Twitter executives, including former CEO Parag Agarwal, have sued Elon Musk for over $128 million in severance, the Wall Street Journal reported on March 4.

Ranji Trophy semifinal | Mumbai thrashes Tamil Nadu by an innings and 70 runs

The writing was on the wall after Mumbai’s lower-order onslaught on day two. It turned out to be a manic Monday for Tamil Nadu as the hosts completed a thumping innings and 70-run win against their familiar foe to book a berth in the Ranji Trophy final for the 48th time.

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