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Supreme Court

New Delhi, Jan 23 :  The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will consider after three months the plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking a direction to the Centre for declaring 'Ram Sethu' as a national heritage monument.

Ram Sethu is a chain of limestone shoals between coasts of India and Sri Lanka. According to the epic Ramayana, the Ram Sethu bridge was built by the 'Vanara army' to rescue Sita, who was kidnapped by Ravana.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde took note of the submissions of Swamy that his interim application be listed for urgent hearing for declaring the Sethu a national heritage monument by the Archaeological Survey of India.

"You please mention this after three months. We will entertain this then," the bench which also comprised justices S A Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna said.

The BJP leader submitted that he has already won the first round of the litigation in which the Centre accepted the existence of Ram Sethu.

He further said the union minister concerned had called a meeting in 2017 to consider his demand to declare the Sethu as a national heritage monument but subsequently nothing happened.

The top court referred to pendency of several cases before it and asked Swamy to mention his plea after three months for an urgent hearing.

The BJP leader had earlier raised the issue of declaring Ram Sethu as a national monument in his PIL against the controversial Sethusamudram Ship Channel project, initiated by the UPA-I government.

The matter had reached the apex court, which in 2007 had stayed the work for the project on the Ram Sethu.

The Centre had later said that it considered the "socio-economic disadvantages" of the project and was willing to explore another route to the shipping channel project without damaging the Ram Sethu.

"That the Government of India intends to explore an alternative to the earlier alignment of Sethusamudram Ship Channel project without affecting/damaging the Adam's Bridge/Ram Sethu in the interest of the nation," the affidavit filed by the ministry had said.

The court had then asked the government to file a fresh affidavit.

The Sethusamudram shipping channel project has been facing protests from some political parties, environmentalists and certain Hindu religious groups.

Under the project, a 83 km-long deep water channel was to be created, linking Mannar with Palk Strait, by extensive dredging and removal of limestone shoals.

The apex court had on November 13 last year granted six weeks to the Centre to clarify its stand on the Ram Sethu. It had also granted liberty to Swamy to approach the court if the response of the Centre was not filed.
Market Benchmark Sensex

Mumbai, Jan 23 :  Market benchmark Sensex rose over 250 points on Thursday tracking gains in L&T, Axis Bank and Infosys, despite massive selloff in global equities.

The 30-share BSE index was trading 233.92 points or 0.57 per cent higher at 41,349.30. Similarly, the broader NSE was trading 60.80 points, or 0.50 per cent, up at 12,167.70.

Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Axis Bank were the top gainers in the Sensex pack, rising up to 2.77 per cent, after the companies posted positive quarterly numbers.

After market hours on Wednesday, L&T reported a 15 per cent rise in its consolidated net profit at Rs 2,560.32 crore for quarter to December 2019.

Likewise, Axis Bank posted a 4.5 per cent year-on-year jump in net profit at Rs 1,757 crore for the third quarter ended December 2019 amid improving asset quality.

Shares of Infosys jumped 1.44 per cent after the government said it was working with the managed service provider for the goods and services tax (GST) regime, to improve the performance of GSTN filing portal on a permanent basis.

On the other hand, HUL, Nestle, Asian Paints and Tech Mahindra was trading in the red.

According to traders, despite selloff in other Asian equities amid fears of contagion after a deadly new virus emerged from China, stock-specific action kept domestic benchmarks buoyed.

Bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul were trading significantly lower.

Brent crude oil futures dropped 1.33 per cent to USD 62.37 per barrel.

Meanwhile, the rupee depreciated marginally to 71.21 against the US dollar in morning session.

In the previous session, Sensex settled 208.43 points, or 0.50 per cent, lower at 41,115.38; while the Nifty closed 62.95 points, or 0.52 per cent, lower at 12,106.90.

Meanwhile, on a net basis, foreign institutional investors sold equities worth Rs 176.43 crore, while domestic institutional investors offloaded shares worth Rs 326.22 crore on Wednesday, data available with stock exchanges showed.
Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel

Ahmedabad, Jan 23 :  Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said on Thursday that those agitating against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and seeking "Azadi" should be allowed to leave the country if they wanted freedom.

He was speaking at a programme here on the occasion of birth anniversary of nationalist icon Subhas Chandra Bose.

"The country got freedom in 1947, but you see some people gather and shout slogans of `azadi'. From whom you want freedom? Do you want freedom from your parents? You want freedom from your husband? I don't understand," Patel said.

"India is a free country and the biggest democracy of the world," he said.

"If they want freedom from India, we should request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open the borders and they can go wherever they want," the BJP leader added.

He also alleged that the police was attacked in a pre-planned manner in Ahmedabad during the anti-CAA protest.

"In the city, if you want a bag of stones, it is difficult to get, but truckload of stones were stored on the terrace, with which our policemen and policewomen were attacked," the deputy CM claimed.

"But they forgot that this is not Kashmir, you are living in Gujarat," Patel added.

"We have taken all the steps that could be taken against those involved. Some people have not been able to sleep for two months due to the measures we took," Patel said.

"We have the IIM-A here, where just 15 students gather and protest against CAA by standing outside the institute. I don't know from which states they have come here to study. I don't have any problem with them as they are only students, but I have a problem with their parents who have not trained them properly," he said.

The CAA does not take away anybody's citizenship, he said.

"In Delhi's Shahin Bag, members of only one community are on dharna, I need not say anything more. This has exposed who are feeling affected by the law," Patel said.

"(Hyderabad MP Asaduddin) Owaisi is speaking against the act. This community is hoping that as Muslims ruled over India for 800 years, if these so-called secular, leftists continue to rule India then at some point they can come back to power in this country," Patel said.

"The Indian Constitution and democracy will survive as long as good people are in majority. You have to understand what I mean by good people," he added.

"Or else, you are seeing what is happening in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of people are getting killed, reports of blasts are coming every day," Patel said.
Security beefed up in Delhi ahead of Republic Day

New Delhi, Jan 23 :  Thousand of security personnel have been deployed and CCTV cameras installed at strategic locations in the national capital to keep vigil ahead of the Republic Day celebrations.

Multi-layered security arrangements are in place. Sharpshooters and snipers will be deployed atop high-rise buildings to keep a watch on the 8km-long parade route from Rajpath to the Red Fort on January 26.

Police personnel have been directed to stay utmost alert since Delhi polls are also around the corner. Anti-terror measures like tenant and servant verification, border checking, security of vital installations, malls and markets, patrolling in heavy foot fall areas are being taken.

"We have intensified patrolling in public places. Group patrolling, night patrolling and vehicle checking is being carried out with the help of Central Armed Police Forces. Frisking at metro stations, railway stations, airport and bus terminals have also been tightened," a senior police official said.

At least 150 CCTV cameras have been installed in areas covering Red Fort, Chandni Chowk and Yamuna Khadar, the officer added.

The police have also asked hotels, taxi and auto drivers to remain alert. Besides, security guards and members of Delhi Police's 'eyes and ear scheme' were also briefed.

The security personnel have identified vulnerable spots such as crowded markets, railway stations, bus stands and other high-value establishments and efforts are being made to secure them with deployment of extra police force.

A traffic advisory has also been issued about the police's elaborate arrangement about route diversions for the Republic Day.

No traffic will be allowed on Rajpath from Vijay Chowk to India Gate from 6 pm on Saturday till the parade gets over on Sunday.

Flying of sub-conventional aerial platforms like para-gliders, para-motors, hang gliders, UAVs, UASs, microlight aircraft, remotely piloted aircraft, hot air balloons, small size powered aircraft, quadcopters or para jumping from aircraft are prohibited over the jurisdiction of the National Capital Territory of Delhi till February 15, according to the advisory.

It asked people to report to the nearest police station in case any unidentified object or suspicious person is seen.