LIVE: I-T dept records Robert Vadra's statement in benami properties case

Robert Vadra | Photo: Instagram@robert_vadra
Latest news live updates: Income Tax department on Monday questioned Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra for over nine hours in connection with the probe into the 'benami' properties case. However, Vadra described his questioning as "vendetta politics" and said that the government is trying to divert attention from the ongoing farmers' protest.

Educational institutions including schools, colleges, universities, coaching institutes reopened in Bihar and Puducherry from today after a gap of over nine months since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the National Atomic Timescale and Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya Pranali to the nation and laid the foundation stone of National Environmental Standards Laboratory through a video conference.

Meanwhile, the seventh round of talks between protesting unions and three central ministers ended inconclusively today as farmer groups stuck to their demand for the repeal of three farm laws, while the government listed out various benefits of the new Acts for the growth of the country's agriculture sector.

Stay tuned for the latest news of the day.


Saudi Arabia to lift Qatar embargo, open airspace and border

Kuwaits foreign ministry on Monday announced that Saudi Arabia will open its air and land borders with Qatar in the first steps toward ending a diplomatic crisis that has deeply divided regional US allies since 2017.
The state-run Kuwait News Agency reported the announcement, saying that Saudi Arabia would open its borders with Qatar starting Monday evening.
Qatar's only land border has been mostly closed since mid-2017, when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain launched a blockade against the tiny Gulf state, accusing it of supporting Islamist groups in the region and of having warm ties with Iran.
Kuwait has been mediating between Qatar and the four Arab states.
The lifting of the embargo by Saudi Arabia paves the way for Qatar's ruler to attend a summit of Gulf leaders on Tuesday that will be held in the kingdom's desert city of Al-Ula and chaired by the Saudi monarch, King Salman.
The Gulf Cooperation Council summit will be “inclusive,” leading the states toward “reunification and solidarity in facing the challenges of our region,” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was quoted as saying in remarks carried by the Saudi state-run news agency.
The decision by the close U.S. allies comes in the final days of the Trump administration's time in office, and just ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's swearing in.

Amazon's Bezos tops list of richest charitable gifts in 2020

The world's richest person made the single-largest charitable contribution in 2020, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual list of top donations, a $10 billion gift that is intended to help fight climate change.
Amazon's founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, whose “real-time” worth Forbes magazine estimates at roughly $188 billion, used the contribution to launch his Bezos Earth Fund. The fund, which supports non-profits involved in the climate crisis, has paid out $790 million to 16 groups so far, according to the Chronicle.
Setting aside Bezos' whopping gift, though, the sum total of the top 10 donations last year — $2.6 billion — was the lowest since 2011, even as many billionaires vastly increased their wealth in the stock market rally that catapulted technology shares in particular last year. According to the left-leaning Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies, from March 18 through Dec. 7, 2020, Bezos' wealth surged by 63%, from $113 billion to $184 billion.
Phil Knight, who with his wife, Penny, made the second- and third-largest donations last year according to the Chronicle, increased his wealth by about 77% over the same March-to-December period. Knight and his wife gave more than $900 million to the Knight Foundation and $300 million to the University of Oregon.

Extraordinary warning to Trump by 10 former Pentagon chiefs

In an extraordinary rebuke of President Donald Trump, all 10 living former secretaries of defense are cautioning against any move to involve the military in pursuing claims of election fraud, arguing that it would take the country into “dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory.” The 10 men, both Democrats and Republicans, signed on to an opinion article published Sunday in The Washington Post that implicitly questioned Trump's willingness to follow his Constitutional duty to peacefully relinquish power on Jan. 20. Following the Nov. 3 election and subsequent recounts in some states, as well as unsuccessful court challenges, the outcome is clear, they wrote, while not specifying Trump in the article.
“The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived,” they wrote.
The former Pentagon chiefs warned against use of the military in any effort to change the outcome.
“Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory,” they wrote.

Not industries, 'syndicates' thrived in Bengal under TMC: Supriyo

Union minister Babul Supriyo on Monday alleged that the Trinamool Congress government failed to set up any big industry in West Bengal while syndicates and cut money culture have thrived in the state.
In West Bengal, 'syndicate' refers to a group of businessmen, apparently backed by the ruling party, who allegedly force promoters and contractors to buy construction materials, often of inferior quality, at high prices.
Speaking at a seminar on rejuvenating West Bengal economically, Supriyo said the flight of industries from Bengal had started from the 1980s when Jyoti Basu was at the helm and the situation was further aggravated when Mamata Banerjee-led TMC came to power.
"The TMC introduced the custom of cut money and syndicates. All sorts of illegal activities- from smuggling of coal to cattle- took place during its tenure," the minister of state for environment, forest and climate change claimed.
"Show me a picture of Mamata Banerjee setting up a big industry, a picture of her launching a big business investment in West Bengal," the Asansol MP said adding that there would be none.

Boat with more than 20 migrants sinks off Colombia's coast

Rescue workers in Colombia are trying to locate more than 20 migrants whose boat sank as it tried to reach Panama.
The sinking was reported on Monday by officials in Acandi, a municipality along the Gulf of Uraba, an inlet of the Caribbean sea that is lined by dense jungle. Thousands of undocumented migrants cross the gulf each year on small boats.
Migrants traveling through the Uraba region are mostly trying to make it to the United States. Many come from Cuba and Haiti. But it is also common to see migrants from Africa and Asia along this route.
Colombia's navy confirmed the shipwreck and says it is still trying to determine how many migrants were on the boat, and how many survived the accident.

I-T dept quizzes Robert Vadra for nine hours in Benami properties case

Income Tax department officials on Monday questioned Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra for over nine hours in connection with the probe into the 'benami' properties case. However, Vadra described his questioning as "vendetta politics" and said that the government is trying to divert attention from the ongoing farmers' protest.
A team of I-T department sleuths on Monday morning arrived at the Sukhdev Vihar residential premises of Vadra who is married to Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Earlier in the day, an I-T department source related to the probe told IANS, "An I-T team is at Vadra's residence to record his statement in the benami properties matter."
The team of sleuths left his residence at 6 p.m. The team arrived at his residence as he was unable to join the investigation due to Covid pandemic.
Speaking to the media outside his residence after the team left his house, Vadra said, "I replied to all the questions asked by the I-T department sleuths in nine hours. If they come once again, I will share my answers with them." He said that the I-T department questioned him about his business and work and he responded to their queries.

SC to pronounce verdict on Tuesday on pleas against Central Vista Project

The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce its verdict Tuesday on a batch of pleas, which have questioned several aspects including the environmental clearance granted to ambitious Central vista project.
The Central Vista revamp, announced in September, 2019 envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with seating capacity for 900 to 1,200 MPs, that is to be constructed by August, 2022 when the country will be celebrating its 75th Independence Day.
The common Central Secretariat is likely to be built by 2024 under the project against which various pleas have been filed. A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna will pronounce the verdict on the batch of pleas on which it had reserved its verdict on November 5, last year.

PM Modi will inaugurate Kochi-Mangaluru Natural Gas Pipeline on Tuesday at 11 am

TRP rigging scam: Court rejects bail plea of BARC's ex-CEO

A local court on Monday rejected the bail plea of Partho Dasgupta, former CEO of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), who was arrested in the alleged manipulation of TRP (Television Rating Points) scam. Dasgupta had filed an application seeking bail on December 30 after the court remanded him to judicial custody.
On Monday, a court of metropolitan magistrate in Mumbai rejected Dasgupta's application. Dasgupta's advocate Kamlesh Ghumre said an appeal would be filed in the sessions court this week.
In his application, Dasgupta had claimed that he was only an employee of the BARC and not a "whole and sole (authority)", and that there are board of directors and a disciplinary committee above him in the council.

Mumbai Police's crime branch had, however, argued that Dasgupta, in connivance with another senior official from the BARC and ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd's owner Arnab Goswami, manipulated the TRPs of Republic TV and Republic Bharat (Hindi). The police had claimed that Goswami paid in lakhs to Dasgupta in return of the manipulation.

Have nothing to hide and worry, will always cooperate: Robert Vadra

UK judge refuses extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

A British judge on Monday rejected the United States’ request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face espionage charges, saying he was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that extradition would be “oppressive” because of Assange's mental health. She said Assange was “a depressed and sometimes despairing man” who had the “intellect and determination” to circumvent any suicide prevention measures taken by prison authorities.
The U.S. government said it would appeal the decision. Assange’s lawyers plan to ask for his release from a London prison where he has been held for more than a year-and-a-half. READ MORE...

SC to hear next week plea seeking direction to protect forests and wildlife from fires in Uttarakhand

The Supreme Court Monday said it would hear next week a plea which has sought directions to the Environment Ministry and the Uttarakhand government to take urgent steps to protect forests, wildlife and birds from forest fire in the state.
The plea, which came up for hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, has also sought that the entire animal kingdom, including avian and aquatic, be declared as legal entities having a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person. The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, initially told the petitioner to approach the state's high court with his grievance.
You go to the high court. You have prayed for relief with regard to Uttarakhand. You go to the high court there, the bench told advocate Rituparn Uniyal, the petitioner in the case. During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, Uniyal told the apex court that the high court had in 2016 passed directions on the issue related to forest fire.

Theatres and multiplexes prepare to open with 100% occupancy in Tamil Nadu

Parts of Delhi may experience rain and thunderstorms during next 2-3 hours: IMD

Manufacturing shows marginal improvement in Dec, PMI inches up to 56.4

Manufacturing sector activities showed a marginal improvement in December compared to the previous month even as employment generation remained low, showed the widely-tracked IHS Markit purchasing managers' index (PMI) survey.
PMI inched up to 56.4 in December compared to 56.3 in November. However, it remained lower than 58.9 in October and 56.8 in September, the two months during which the economy saw a gradual lifting of lockdowns. A reading above 50 shows growth, while the print below 50 means contraction.
While firms were able to lift input stocks, and did so at the quickest rate in nearly a decade, holdings of finished goods decreased sharply due to the ongoing increase in new work. Output growth eased to a four-month low, but remains strong. READ ON...

LIVE: I-T dept records Robert Vadra's statement in Benami Property case

The Income Tax Department officers on Monday started recording the statement of Robert Vadra in connection with a benami properties case. An IT department source related to probe told IANS, "An I-T team is at Vadra's residence to record his statement in the Benami properties matter."
Vadra is Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law and is married to Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi. He has been unable to join the probe due to the Covid pandemic.
Besides the IT department, Vadra is being investigated by the Enforcement Department under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) pertaining to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property at 12, Bryanston Square, worth 1.9 million pound. It is alleged that the said property is allegedly owned by him. He is currently out on an anticipatory bail.

I-T dept recording statement of Robert Vadra in connection with Benami Property Case

Schools, colleges reopen in Bihar after over nine months

All educational institutions in Bihar, including schools, colleges and coaching centres, reopened on Monday after a gap of over nine months. Physical classes were held for students of standards 9-12 in schools and final year students in colleges. The institutions were closed since March 14 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Wearing of masks, use of hand sanitiser and maintenance of physical distancing have been made mandatory at the educational institutions. Schools have been asked to operate at half the strength to ensure social distancing in classes.
Attendance, however, remained thin as many parents were apprehensive of sending their wards to the educational institutions till they were vaccinated. Many students, on the other hand, were enthusiastic about the development.

Education Minister will announce eligibility criteria for admission in IITs & date of JEE Advanced on Jan 7

Union Education Minister Ramesh Nishank Pokhriyal will announce the eligibility criteria for admission in IITs & the date of JEE Advanced on 7th January.


Supreme Court says it will hear next week a PIL seeking urgent steps to protect the forest and wildlife

Supreme Court says it will hear next week a PIL seeking urgent steps to protect the forest and wildlife, in the wake of the forest fires in Uttarakhand.
PIL seeks directions to Central and state government to frame a policy to prevent wildfires in Uttarakhand.

. We have to strengthen brand India on the basis of quality and credibility: PM Modi

We have to ensure that there is not only global demand but also global acceptance of 'Make in India' products. We have to strengthen brand India on the basis of quality and credibility: PM Modi during the inaugural address at National Metrology Conclave, via video conferencing

Scientists of CSIR should discuss and converse with students, says PM Modi

Scientists of CSIR should discuss and converse with students of educational institutes in the entire country and share their experiences with the NextGen. 
This would help in developing the next generation of young scientists.

The entire country is indebted to all scientists and technicians: PM Modi

We're on the threshold of starting the largest vaccination programme in the world. The entire country is indebted to all scientists and technicians.

India is proud of its scientists: PM Modi during the inaugural address at National Metrology Conclave

The Indian scientists have been successful in coming up with two 'made in India' Covid-19 vaccines. The country is proud of its scientists: Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inaugural address at National Metrology Conclave

PM Modi inaugurates National Atomic Timescale and Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya, via video conferencing

Just in | December Manufacturing PMI stands at 56.4 vs 56.3 in November

December Manufacturing PMI stands at 56.4 vs 56.3 in November

Thin layer of fog envelopes national capital, visibility affected: IMD

People in Delhi woke up to another foggy morning on Monday with a thin layer of fog engulfed parts of the national capital, reducing the visibility here.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the minimum temperature in Delhi today will be 10 degrees Celsius and the maximum temperature will be 18 degrees Celsius.
The national capital, which witnessed rains over the weekend, is expected to receive more rains and thunderstorms today and tomorrow too, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said. Read on...

Malegaon blast case: Pragya Thakur, accused to appear before NIA Court today

BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur and other accused in 2008 Malegaon blast case have been asked to appear before the Special NIA Court on Monday.
Pragya's lawyer, advocate JP Mishra, confirmed that she will be appearing today.
Earlier on December 19, Mishra had stated that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is delaying the trial in the 2008 Malegaon blast case and not them.
Apart from Thakur, LT Col Purohit, Chaturvedi and Kulkarni, Ajay Rahirkar, retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay and Sudhakar Dwivedi are also accused in the case. Read on...

Over 180 arrested for tax evasion in past 2 months: Union Finance Secretary

In the last 1.5 to 2 months over 180 people including managing directors of companies and chartered accountants have been arrested for tax evasion, said Union Finance Secretary Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey on Monday.
Speaking to ANI, Pandey said, "Now we have a software tool via which we have taken action against people with discrepancies in the record, after 2017. In the last 1.5 to 2 months, we have arrested over 180 people including managing directors of companies and chartered accountants for tax evasion." Read on...

Jammu & Kashmir: Movement of vehicles remains suspended from Udhampur to Srinagar due to snowfall

Jammu & Kashmir: Movement of vehicles remains suspended from Udhampur to Srinagar due to snowfall in various areas along Jammu-Srinagar highway

Market news: Sensex up 206 points in opening trade, currently at 48,076; Nifty at 14,089

Sensex up 206 points in opening trade, currently at 48,076; Nifty at 14,089

Modi to deliver the inaugural address at National Metrology Conclave at 11am today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliver the inaugural address at National Metrology Conclave at 11am today.

Sourav Ganguly was under pressure to join politics, says CPI(M) leader

Senior CPI(M) leader Ashok Bhattacharya's statement that BCCI president and former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, who suffered a heart attack and is now hospitalised, was under pressure to join politics created a storm on Sunday.
Speculations were rife that the former batting great will join the BJP ahead of the state assembly elections due in April-May this year. But Ganguly himself never made his intentions quite clear about taking the political plunge.
He underwent angioplasty after a "mild" heart attack on Saturday. He is under treatment in a private hospital in Kolkata. Read on...

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel