127 women were branded witches, killed in Jharkhand between 2012 and 2014

From the level of milk adulteration in the country to money spent on babus’ foreign tours and laws on suicide to killing of women branded as witches in Jharkhand, a range of issues came up before Parliament.

March 16, 2016 05:34 pm | Updated 07:42 pm IST

The Rajya Sabha in session on Wednesday.

The Rajya Sabha in session on Wednesday.

127 women branded witches, killed in Jharkhand

As many as 127 women were lynched in Jharkhand between 2012-14 after being branded as witches, Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary has told the Rajya Sabha.

“As per information provided by the NCRB, a total of 26, 54 and 47 cases were reported under murder for witchcraft in Jharkhand during 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively,” he said during Question Hour.

Babus spent over Rs. 1,500 crore on foreign tours since 2012

Over Rs. 1,500 crore was spent by various central Ministries on foreign travel during the last three years, the Lok Sabha has been informed.

Of the total of Rs. 1,537 crore spent by Ministries, Rs. 509.91 crore was during 2014-15, Rs. 434.94 crore in 2013-14 and Rs. 593.09 crore during 2012-13, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh said in a written reply.

Among the 62 Ministries, the Ministry of Personnel was the highest spender with Rs. 351.65 crore in last fiscal alone and Rs. 289.92 crore in 2013-14 and Rs. 453.95 crore during 2012-13.

Government favours probe into CBSE Class XII Maths paper leak

The government has favoured a probe into the reported leakage of a CBSE Class XII examination paper and suggestions that the questions were rather difficult for the students, after members from several parties raised the issue in the Lok Sabha.

N.K. Premchandran (RSP) and K.C. Venugopal (Congress) said most questions of the mathematics paper were “very difficult” and out of syllabus, while referring to media reports that claimed that the questions were leaked in the Patna region.

While even many bright students in southern India found the questions very tough, on the other hand they were leaked in north India, Venugopal said, alleging that there was a conspiracy behind it and the HRD ministry should intervene.

“The matter deserves enquiry,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said, adding that he would refer the matter to the HRD Ministry.

ED probing Freedom 251 maker Ringing Bells for alleged FEMA violation

The Enforcement Directorate is investigating Ringing Bells, the company which has launched smartphone for Rs. 251, for alleged contravention of FEMA.

Besides, the Corporate Affairs Ministry has ordered scrutiny of the company’s books, while the Department of Electronics and IT (Deity) is reviewing issues related to Freedom 251 smartphone, touted as the world’s cheapest.

Responding to queries related to the smartphone, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “The government through various departments is taking steps to protect the interest of consumers.”

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, he said a complaint has been received against the company by the Department of Revenue under Ministry of Finance.

“Ringing Bells was informed vide Deity’s letter dated February 22, 2016 that mobile phones have been mandated under ‘Electronics and Information Technology Goods (requirements for compulsory registration) Order, 2012’ for compliance to Indian safety standards effective September 13, 2015. Therefore, the company was required to comply with BIS registration based on Indian safety standards,” he added.

The Minister said concerns were raised regarding the offer made by Ringing Bells. The Indian Cellular Association (ICA) informed that a smartphone with the technical specifications advertised by the company cannot be manufactured and made available at such a low price of Rs. 251.

Over 68% of milk in India does not conform to standards

The Lok Sabha was informed that over 68 per cent of milk in the country does not conform to standards laid down by the food regulator and the most common adulterants found in it is detergent, caustic soda, glucose, white paint and refined oil considered “very hazardous” which could cause serious ailments.

A new scanner has been developed which can detect adulteration in milk in 40 seconds and can even pinpoint the adulterant, Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan said during Question Hour. There were murmurs among members when the Minister suggested that these scanners could be purchased through their constituency funds. Though the scanners are costly as of now, each test costs a mere 10 paisa, he added.

81,000 complaints against telcos in 2015

Complaints against mobile service providers have increased to 80,947 in 2015, up from 68,691 in 2014. Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Department of Telecom received 57,634 complaints in 2015 compared with 50,197 in the previous year.

Meanwhile, complaints received by telecom regulator Trai increased to 23,313 in 2015, as against 18,494 in 2014. The Minister was replying to a question if there is an increase in the number of consumers' complaints about bills, connectivity, mobile portability, harassment and so on against the mobile service providers.

Laws on suicide, road mishaps to be amended

Several proposals to amend laws under CrPC and IPC, including those to decriminalise attempt to suicide and legal reforms to combat road accidents, are being considered by the government, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said in the Rajya Sabha.

Mr. Rijiju said the Law Commission has recommended that attempt to suicide be decriminalised.

There is also a proposal for legal reforms to combat road accidents for rash and negligent driving under Section 279 IPC and for causing death due to negligence under Section 304-A IPC, he said.

Mr. Rijiju declined comment on repealing Section 377 IPC as “the matter is sub-judice”.

405 incidents of cross border firing in J&K in 2015

As many as 405 incidents of cross border firing have taken place along the India-Pakistan border in Jammu and Kashmir in 2015 killing 16 civilians.

Minister of State for Home Haribhai Chaudhary said in the Rajya Sabha that 253 incidents of cross border firing have taken place along the International Border and 152 incidents along the Line of Control.

Courts refer more cases to CBI

There has been rise in number of cases being referred by the Supreme Court and High Courts to the CBI for probe, the government told the Lok Sabha.

A total of 292 cases were referred in 2015 by the apex court and High Courts as against 175 in 2014, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.

Various State governments have referred 34 cases 2015 as against 32 in 2014, he said.

In January 2016 alone, the Supreme Court and High Courts have referred 15 cases to the CBI.

India Post payments bank may offer DBT

The proposed payments bank of Department of Posts is likely to provide DBT facility of various ministries, Parliament has been informed.

“The India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) is likely to provide Direct Benefit Transfer of social security payments of various Ministries,” Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

Closed engineering colleges infrastructure for skill training

The government is planning to use existing infrastructure of closed AICTE-affiliated engineering colleges or polytechnics for skill development training programmes, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy told the Lok Sabha in a statement.

National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) compliant courses under the National Council for Vocational Training will be conducted under the Pradhan Mantri Vikas Yojna, Mr. Rudy said.

Already closed engineering colleges/polytechnics may apply directly for affiliation to run the courses, Mr. Rudy said.

9 countries to extend expertise in station redevelopment

Railways has signed MoUs with nine countries, including France, China, Germany, and Russia, for technical cooperation in rail sector, including in station development, MoS for Railways Manoj Sinha told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

Besides this, redevelopment of eight stations — Anand Vihar, Bijwasan, Chandigarh, Gandhinagar, Habibganj, Shivaji Nagar (Pune), Surat and SAS Nagar (Mohali) has been entrusted to Indian Railway Station Development Corporation, he said.

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