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Friday,26-February-2021

Crime

Bharatiya Janata Party leader shot dead in Odisha

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BJP-dead

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader was shot dead by unidentified men in Odisha’s Khordha town late on Sunday, police said on Monday.

Khordha Mandal President Manguli Jena was shot at near Khurda BJP MLA candidate Kalucharan Khadayat’s residence.

He sustained critical bullet injuries and was admitted to the Khordha district headquarters hospital. He was declared dead on arrival by doctors.

Crime

Court declares Iqbal Mirchi’s family members fugitive economic offenders

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Enforcement-Directorate

In a major boost to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) probing the money laundering case against slain underworld gangster Iqbal Mirchi and his family members, a Special Court here on Friday declared his wife and two sons as “fugitive economic offenders” and also ordered the seizure of their properties in India and abroad.

A Special PMLA court here said that Mirchi’s wife Hajra Memon, and his sons Asif Iqbal Memon and Junaid Iqbal Memon are hereby declared as Fugitive Economic Offenders as per Section 12 of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.

The court said that “their properties in India and abroad are directed to be seized by following due process of law”.

A Special PMLA Court on December 16 last year had issued notices to two sons and the wife of Mirchi to appear before it on February 21 this year under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act (FEOA), 2018 and warned that they would be declared fugitive economic offenders if they failed to comply.

The official had said that the court issued summons to the wife and two sons of Mirchi on its plea filed with the court on December 4 last year.

He had said that in its application to the court the financial probe agency has made a prayer to order confiscation of their assets as envisaged under FEOA.

He said that in the first phase, a prayer has been made for confiscation of 15 Indian properties including the third and fourth floor of Ceejay House having a market value of Rs 96 crore and six bank accounts having a balance of Rs 1.9 crore.

The ED till date has attached properties to the tune of Rs 798 crore in India and abroad under the PMLA provisions.

On the basis of the charge sheet filed by the ED before the Special PMLA Court, open ended non bailable warrants have been issued against them.

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Crime

UK court came down heavily on ex-Mumbai HC judge in Nirav Modi case

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Nirav-Modi

Even as the UK’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday cleared the decks for the extradition of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi in connection with the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) loan fraud case, District Judge Samuel Goozee came down heavily on former Mumbai High Court Judge Abhay M. Thipsay, saying he “never disclosed” his “party-political affiliation” either in the reports biography, or in relation to his declaration as an expert and disclosure of any potential conflict of interest.

In the 83-page judgement, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court Judge said that the extradition request for Nirav Modi is a high-profile case in India and “I have no doubt that Justice Thipsay as a former High Court Judge has overseen many high profile cases in his time”.

He noted: “He entered into the arena of giving evidence in these extradition proceedings with his eyes open to the focus and scrutiny the case would inevitably receive in India. It is inevitable he could have foreseen his affiliation to the Congress party may attract interest.”

Goozee said that having checked his report dated December 20, 2019 and June 29, 2020, “I note that he has never disclosed his party-political affiliation either in the report’s biography or in relation to his declaration as an expert and disclosure of any potential conflict of interests”.

“However, Justice Thipsay is a retired High Court Judge in India, giving evidence as an expert in this extradition request on behalf of NDM (Nirav Modi). He is aware of the nature and interest in these proceedings. He would equally be aware of his own political connections to the Congress which it transpires he joined after his retirement,” it said.

Goozee went on to say, “Justice Thipsay refused to give live evidence when the extradition hearing resumed. Justice Thipsay is a retired judge, who has aligned himself to a political party on his retirement and received adverse commentary in the media.

“However, he also engaged and courted with the media himself. His additional reports and opinions subsequently submitted by the defence have not been subject to scrutiny. His unwillingness to give further evidence in these proceedings, simply because he did not get the protections which in my view there was no sound basis to grant, meant his opinion went unchallenged by the government of India.

“There has been no ability for the Court to further scrutinise his expert testimony. Overall, these factors have the effect, in my assessment, of nullifying any weight I would have attached to his evidence.”

Referring to a press conference by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Goozee said, “Following giving evidence on May 13, 2020, the Indian Law Minister held a press conference. During the press conference, the Law Minster made reference to Justice Thipsay’s evidence in these extradition proceedings. The Minister said ‘he is a retired judge from the Mumbai High Court, and around 10 months before his retirement, the Supreme Court transferred him to Allahabad High Court due to administrative reasons… that tells its own story’.

“The Minister also comments that Justice Thipsay’s evidence was directed by the opposition party in India, the Congress Party; ‘a Congress member, who is a judge, a retired judge, give testimony in [Nirav Modi’s] defence, the situation is so suspicious, that based on it we can conclude that the Congress Party is repeatedly trying to save Nirav Modi’. He also comments that Justice Tipsay’s evidence was ‘legally unsustainable’.”

The Judge said, “I was referred to extensive material regarding the media attention to the government’s comments about Justice Thipsay’s evidence.

“Having considered the transcript of the press conference, it was clear in my view that it was a press conference given purely in a political context, albeit as the Minister of Justice, in the context of the BJP party making political commentary about the Congress party. That in turn, unsurprisingly, garnered significant attention and headlines within the media and in social media platforms.

“It was commentary which Justice Thipsay also was interviewed about himself on television in the period between the first part of these extradition hearing and the resumption of the hearing in September. Unwise political commentary maybe but an equally unwise decision to have engaged with the media himself while these proceeding were sub judice.”

In a major setback to Nirav Modi, the UK court on Thursday ordered his extradition in connection with the Rs 13,500 crore PNB loan fraud case, after almost a two-year long legal battle.

Accepting the prima facie evidence against Nirav Modi, Goozee said: “I am satisfied that Nirav Modi’s extradition to India is in compliance per human rights.”

The District Judge also said that Nirav Modi had the right to appeal the order. “There is no evidence that if extradited, Nirav Modi will not get justice,” the judge said.

Nirav Modi was arrested on an extradition warrant on March 19, 2019 on charges of money laundering, conspiring to destroy evidence and intimidating witnesses.

Nirav Modi is facing probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for a large-scale fraud upon PNB through fraudulently obtaining LoUs or loan agreements. He is also being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a case relating to the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.

Meanwhile, he also faces two additional charges of “causing disappearance of evidence” and “intimidating witnesses” or “criminal intimidation to cause death”, which were added on to the CBI case.

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Bollywood

Allahabad High Court denies anticipatory bail to Amazon Prime India head

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Tandav-5

The Allahabad High Court has refused to grant anticipatory bail to Aparna Purohit, the head of India Originals at Amazon Sellers Service Pvt Ltd, which is showing ‘Tandav’ web series online.

A single-judge bench of Justice Siddharth passed this order on Thursday while hearing an anticipatory bail application.

The anticipatory bail application had been filed by Aparna Purohit in the case under Sections- 153(A)(1)(b), 295-A, 505(1)(b) 505(2) IPC, Section 66 and 67 of the Information Technology Act and Section 3(1)(r) of SC/ST Act.

The allegation in the FIR lodged against the applicant and six other co-accused persons is that a web series is being shown on Amazon Prime Video, which is an online movie OTT platform, has objectionable content.

The web series is being shown through Amazon Prime Video through Head of India Originals, as paid movie.

The movie has been directed by co-accused, Ali Abbas Zafar.

The content of this movie is affecting the image of the Uttar Pradesh police adversely. In a Dial 100 police vehicle, two actors are shown travelling with open doors in a police uniform, consuming liquor and hurling abuses.

It is also seen that Hindu gods and goddesses have been depicted in a bad light with the intention of inciting communal sentiments.

The post of Prime Minister has been depicted in a manner which will adversely affect the democratic system of the country. Caste and community related utterances have been made deliberately so that it may affect the public peace.

Similarly, utterances have been made against the state police, public administration and the constitutional posts so that the element of hate is developed between the communities and there are scenes which show disrespect for the scheduled castes.

All this has been deliberately done to make the web series controversial and gain publicity for the purpose of commercial gain.

The FIR has been lodged against the producer/director and actors/actresses of the movie series.

Aparna Purohit’s counsel submitted that the web series in dispute is a work of fiction and all the places, events, characters and incidents are imagination of the author.

A disclaimer is included in the movie in this regard. The cast and crew of the web series Tandav has already issued an unconditional apology and have removed the offensive scenes.

The applicant along with other co-accused persons filed a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India before the apex court praying for quashing of number of FIRs and complaint cases lodged against the applicant and other co-accused persons on January 27, 2021.

Notices have been issued to the opposite parties, leaving it open for the accused persons to approach the High Court of the state for grant of bail/anticipatory bail. Hence, the applicant sought bail from Allahabad high court.

The state government, meanwhile, vehemently opposed the application. He has submitted that total 10 FIRs and 4 criminal complaints have been filed relating to the disputed web series in the country.

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