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Sunday,25-September-2022

National News

Assam EVM row: Presiding officer suspended; repoll ordered

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EVM-machines

The Election Commission on Friday ordered repoll at a polling station in Southern Assam after the electronic voting machine (EVM) was found in a BJP candidate wife’s vehicle on Thursday evening.

The EC said in a statement that the presiding officer and three other officials have been placed under suspension and a repoll has been ordered at the Indira M.V. School polling station under Ratabari Assembly constituency in the state.

“Although the seals of the EVM were found intact, it has nevertheless been decided to do a repoll at the Indira M.V. School polling station as added precaution,” the statement said.

The Commission also sought a report from the Special Observer about the incident.

The statement said that after the officials car carrying the polled EVM machine to Karimganj was broken down they boarded a passing private car which was subsequently surrounded by a mob of about 50 people that started pelting stones at them.

The mob at the Kanaishil (under Karimganj district) alleged that the EVM was being taken to be tampered with. The private car was owned by the wife of BJP candidate of the neighbouring Patharkandi constituency Krishnendu Paul.

The statement added that due to the heavy rains on Thursday night and the roads being muddy, the official car of the polling personnel broke down and then they boarded a private vehicle along with their polled EVM and other materials without checking the ownership of the vehicle.

Immediately after receiving information about the incident, the District Election Officer of Karimganj along with the district Superintendent of Police (SP) rushed to the spot and reached there at 10.20 p.m. on Thursday night.During the course of the stone pelting, Karimganj SP Mayank Kumar sustained minor injuries on his collarbone and blank firing had to be resorted to disperse the mob.

The first polling officer, who was found missing in the commotion, was rescued early on Friday morning from a nearby area.

About the incident Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in a tweet said : “Every time there is an election video of private vehicles caught transporting EVMs show up… Unsurprisingly they have the following things in common: 1. The vehicles usually belong to BJP candidates or their associates. ….”

Over 77 per cent of the 73,44,631 voters exercised their franchise in the second phase of polling in Assam on Thursday in the 39 constituencies. Of the three-phase elections to the 126-member Assam Assembly, the third and final phase of polling will be held in 40 seats on April 6.

Nearly 80 per cent of 81,09,815 voters cast their votes on March 27 in the first phase of polling in 47 constituencies. The results will be declared on May 2.

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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