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Monday,26-September-2022

National News

2022 Punjab polls to be fought under Amarinder’s helm: Harish Rawat

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Just ahead of meeting four Congress dissident Cabinet ministers and three legislators, Punjab affairs in charge and AICC general secretary Harish Rawat, on Wednesday clarified that the 2022 Punjab Assembly election would be fought under the leadership of Amarinder Singh amid signs of revolt by the Navjot Singh Sidhu faction.

The ‘rebel’ legislators reached Dehradun in the morning to apprise Rawat about the mood of the public against the Amarinder Singh-led government in the state. They, among 20-odd party legislators, have been demanding replacement of Amarinder Singh as he failed to fulfill the 2017 poll promises.

Rawat told the media that Amarinder Singh had welcomed party state President Navjot Singh Sidhu himself, and the decision on elevation was not taken without the CM’s approval.

“We have given the party leadership to Sidhu but not the Congress to him,” Rawat was categorically clear in saying about any move to change the Chief Minister ahead of the assembly polls slated in early 2022.

The four ministers — Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Charanjit Singh Channi and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria — a day earlier said here with the support of at least 20 other Congress legislators their main demand is to ‘replace’ Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

They said they wanted to apprise the high command over the widespread dissidence among the party ranks. They were categorically clear in saying after the closed door meeting that it was high time for the party to opt for a change of guard.

Their main grudge, among others, with the Chief Minister and his aides, was unfulfilled poll promises, particularly the delay in action in the 2015 sacrilege and police firing cases.

Channi told the media that the panel, authorised by the other legislators, would seek time from the Congress high command to listen to their grievances, otherwise it will be difficult for the party to get a repeat in Punjab.

He said the MLAs have also raised a number of issues, including the existence of sand, drug, cable and transport mafias.

Late in the evening on Tuesday, seven of the 20-odd MLAs and ex-MLAs, who were purportedly party to the demand for the removal of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, categorically disassociated themselves from any such move.

Denying outright being part of what they termed as a conspiracy hatched by a section engaged in trying to drive a wedge within the party, these seven leaders have thrown their weight behind the Chief Minister and reposed their full faith in his leadership.

The Punjab Congress leaders who have distanced themselves from the so-called festering revolt in the party are — Kuldeep Vaid, Dalvir Singh Goldie, Santokh Singh, Angad Singh, Raja Warring and Gurkirat Singh Kotli, all MLAs, and Bhalaipur Ajit Singh Mofar, a former MLA.

Their denial came within hours of a list of party MLAs or ex-MLAs being made public by a section of the Punjab Congress, which claimed that these leaders wanted the replacement of Amarinder Singh and intended to take up the matter with the party high command.

The seven party leaders have, however, washed their hands off any such decision and declared that they continue to stand firmly with the Chief Minister.

All seven of them said the closed door meeting held at Cabinet minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa’s residence, after which their names were fraudulently released along with others, had been convened to discuss party affairs.

Some of the participants tried to raise the issue of the Chief Minister’s replacement, but contrary to the claims, no unanimous resolution was passed or agreed upon.

Taking strong exception to the ‘misuse’ of their names in this manner, the seven leaders made it clear that they did not subscribe to any such move against Amarinder Singh.

Maharashtra

India reports 4,777 fresh Covid infection, 23 deaths

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India on Sunday reported 4,777 fresh Covid infection in the last 24 hours, against 4,912 Covid cases reported on previous day, said the Union Health Ministry.

In the same period, the country has recorded 23 more Covid-related deaths, taking the national fatalities tally to 5,28,510 as per the report.

Meanwhile, the active caseload of the country presently stands at 43,994 cases, accounting for 0.10 per cent of the country’s total positive cases.

The recovery of 5,196 patients in the last 24 hours took the cumulative tally to 4,39,95,610. Consequently, India’s recovery rate stands at 98.72 per cent.

Meanwhile, India’s Daily Positivity rate has been reported to be 1.58 per cent, while the Weekly Positivity Rate in the country currently also stands at 1.63 per cent.

Also in the same period, a total of 3,02,283 tests were conducted across the country, increasing the overall tally to over 89.36 crore.

As of Sunday morning, India’s Covid-19 vaccination coverage exceeded 217.56 crore.

Over 4.09 crore adolescents have been administered with a first dose of Covid-19 jab since the beginning of vaccination drive for this age bracket.

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National News

‘Politically motivated’, Bilkis Bano case convict to SC on plea challenging release of accused

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A convict in the Bilkis Bano case has told the Supreme Court that the petition challenging Gujarat government’s remission order is “speculative and politically motivated”.

The plea filed by Radheysham Bhagwandas Shah said: “This court not only on the ground of locus and maintainability, but also on the ground of such speculative and politically motivated petition, should dismiss the said plea with heavy hand and impose an exemplary cost so that such politically motivated petition by strangers are not encouraged in the future.”

The plea cited a number of the top court judgments, including Janata Dal vs H.S. Chowdhary (1992), Simranjit Singh Mann vs UOI (1992) and Subramanian Swamy vs Raju (2013), in which it was consistently held in clear terms that a third party who is a total stranger to the prosecution has no ‘locus standi’ in criminal matters.

The convict also referred to the apex court judgment dated May 13, 2022 on the merits of the case, which after hearing all the parties came out with a categorical judgment that only the Gujarat government’s policy of premature release would be applicable, which prevailed at the time of conviction and not a subsequent policy at the time of consideration of remission.

Shah was challenging the plea filed by former CPI-M MP Subhasini Ali, journalist Revati Laul and professor Roop Rekha Verma against the release of 11 men convicted for the gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and multiple murders during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

A similar plea was also filed by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra.

On September 9, the apex court had directed the Gujarat government to file all records, which formed the basis for granting remission to all the accused in the case. It directed the state government to file its response within two weeks and also asked advocate Rishi Malhotra, representing some of the accused, to file a response.

Shah’s plea contended that if such type of third-party petitions are entertained by the apex court, it would not only unsettle the settled position of law, but would also be an open invitation to any member of the public to jump in any criminal matter before a court of law.

Shah argued that the plea is nothing but a gross abuse of Article 32, as on one hand, the petitioners plead that they do not have the copy of the remission order and yet without ascertaining the reasons for grant of remission, the petitioners have sought quashing of the remission order.

It further argued that the apex court had categorically held that a total stranger in a criminal case cannot be permitted to question the correctness of a decision, and if that was to be permitted, any and every person could challenge a criminal prosecution/proceeding recorded day in and day out by courts even if the person convicted do not desire to do so and are inclined to acquiesce in the decision.

“Interestingly enough, neither the state nor the victim nor even the complainant has approached this court, and thus it is respectfully submitted that if such cases are sought to be entertained by this court, a settled position of law would certainly become an unsettled position of law,” Shah’s plea added.

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Crime

Ankita Bhandari’s body found from Uttarakhand’s Chilla canal

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The body of Ankita Bhandari, a 19-year-old staffer at a resort in Uttarakhand who went missing a few days ago, was recovered from the Chilla canal in the state on Saturday and Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has ordered an SIT probe led by DIG P. Renuka Devi to probe the murder.

The prime accused in the case is BJP leader Vinod Arya’s son Pulkit Arya.

Ankita, a resident of Dobhin Srikot, who used to work in the Vantara resort in Uttarakhand’s Pauri Garhwal. She went missing on September 18.

The BJP has removed Vinod Arya as well as his other son Ankit following the incident.

Taking to Twitter, Dhami poste:, “Today morning, daughter Ankita’s body was recovered. Heart-broken with this heart-wrenching incident.”

On directions of the Chief Minister, the JCB razed to ground accused’s illegal resort on Friday night.

Strict action will be taken against the officers who were involved in the illegal construction of the resort, Dhami said.

“It is our resolve that the those guilty of this heinous crime will bot be spared,” he added.

Ankita’s family had lodged a missing complaint on September 21 with the revenue police and on the District Magistrate’s direction, the matter was trasferred to regular police the next day.

Taking cognisance of the incident, Ashok Kumar, Director General of Police, Uttarakhand, had directed the Superintendent of Police, Pauri for a speedy investigation into the incident.

Following their arrest, they told the police that after murdering Ankita, they threw her body in Chila Shakti canal.

Under the guidance of DGP Uttarakhand, the SDRF started search for Ankita in Shakti Canal, Chila Power House.

SDRF rescue team has been searching the spot and the deep divers were also looking for the body in the bottom of the canal.

The search operation had resumed this morning during which the body was found.

The body has been handed over to the district police.

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