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CJI to Shinde: Ignoring political parties after being elected, isn’t a danger to democracy?



 The Supreme Court on Thursday queried Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s counsel, that ‘if completely ignoring political parties after being elected, is it not a danger to democracy?’

Shinde’s counsel submitted that his client is not disqualified, and he has also not left the party, and emphasized on the aspect of dissent within a political party.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing Shinde, submitted that disqualification under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution takes place, only if the Speaker reaches a conclusion that a member has voted against the stand of a party. Salve added that if the Speaker of an Assembly takes one or two months to decide on disqualification pleas against MLAs, then what does this mean? That they should stop attending the proceedings of the House? He further added, “There is no per se illegality principle, until and unless there is a finding of disqualification…”

A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli said, “What is the use of whip then? Does anti-defection apply to only those things?”

Salve replied that the anti-defection law cannot be an anti-dissent law.

The Chief Justice queried, if completely ignoring political parties after being elected, is it not a danger to democracy? Justice Ramana further queried “You say this court and high court should not hear this and this is after you had approached us first.”

Salve said that in facts of this case, there is nothing to show that these people left the party. The Chief Justice told Salve, “Today you say the court can’t go into the issue…because the Speaker has the power”. Salve said, “I am not disqualified, I have not left the party…”

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Uddhav Thackeray faction, submitted that there was no need to refer the issue to a constitution bench.

The Chief Justice posed a query, suppose there are two groups saying we are the real political party, and general members of the political party cannot claim to recognise who is the original political party. Sibal contended that a group may say that they have the support of 40 out of 50 MLAs, so they are the real political party. He added, if the 40 are disqualified? If the Election Commission decides one way or the other, what happens to this defection?

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, also representing the Thackeray group, said that till this court decides, how can Election Commission decide this issue, and later they would say that these proceedings are infructuous?

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, representing the Election Commission, submitted that disqualification of rebel MLA means their disqualification from the House, not from the political party. Datar added that this is not a political issue and the Tenth Schedule cannot interdict this. “I can only decide who can have the symbol after the evidence is adduced,” said Datar.

After hearing arguments, the top court orally asked the Election Commission of India to not take any precipitative action on the claim raised by the Shinde group for recognising them as the real Shiv Sena party in the meanwhile, and allow Thackeray faction to submit their response. The top court said it will decide by Monday whether to refer to a larger bench regarding the constitutional questions involved in the disqualification of MLAs arising from the Maharashtra political scenario.

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People steal beer bottles after truck overturns in Andhra




People stole beer bottles after a truck carrying alcohol cases overturned in Andhra Pradesh’s Anakapalli district.

The incident occurred on the national highway between Anakapalli and Bayyavaram on Monday evening.

As the entire load of 200 cases of beer bottles fell on the ground, locals in the area scurried to steal them instead of helping the truck driver and cleaner, who escaped the accident with minor injuries.

A footage of the incident has gone viral on social media.

Similar incidents of people stealing liquor bottles after road accidents involving alcohol-carrying trucks have been reported in the state in the past.

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Khagaria-Bhagalpur bridge collapse will affect water biodiversity in region




Collapse of Khagaria-Bhagalpur bridge over the Ganga river will have a long-lasting effect on the water biodiversity of the region, as per environmental experts.

Ashok Ghosh, the professor of Mahavir Cancer Institute and former chairman of Bihar state pollution control board told: “Such a big chunk of concrete structure falling into the Ganga will have a big environmental effect for a long time. It will deeply hurt the water biodiversity of the river in this region. The water-borne animals will be adversely affected by it.”

“Unlike silt, the concrete structures used in the making bridges are non biodegradable materials. Hence, there is no question of the concrete structures dissolving in water. The iron rods may turn into rust after coming in contact with water but it is a slow process which takes years. Also, the ongoing projects of cleaning the river will also suffer a big jolt due to the bridge collapse,” Ghosh said.

The concrete structures of such a massive amount change the flow of the river as well. It makes the river more shallow in the region which leads to flooding. Khagaria in particular is affected by floods in the monsoon sessions. The fresh structural disaster would create more trouble for people living in the region,” Ghosh said.

Bihar is located in the low lying area of Himalayan range. As a result, a large number of rivers like Kosi, Kamla Balan, Gandak, Parman, originate from Himalaya and its water cross various North Bihar districts to finally fall in Ganga river.

The biggest challenge of the state government is the silt carried by these rivers and its accumulation in the low-lying areas of North Bihar and in the Ganga river. It makes the rivers more shallow by disturbing the natural drains. It turned worse after the drainage system of various districts were developed in an unplanned manner. The water comes from the Himalayan range but does not return or exit to other sides due the ill drainage system.

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President Murmu Is 1st Indian To Be Conferred With Suriname’s Highest Civilian Award




President Droupadi Murmu has been conferred with Suriname’s highest civilian award by President Chandrikapersad Santokhi to honour the deep-rooted bilateral ties. Murmu arrived in Suriname on Sunday on a three-day state visit – her first since assuming office in July last year.

“An honour reflective of the deep-rooted India-Suriname ties! President Droupadi Murmu @rashtrapatibhvn conferred with the ‘Grand Order of the Chain of the Yellow Star’, the highest civilian award of Suriname by President @CSantokhi,” the Ministry of External Affairs tweeted.

Presidemt Murmu’s statement

President Murmu said she was greatly honoured to receive Suriname’s highest distinction.

“This recognition holds tremendous significance, not only for me but also for the 1.4 billion people of India whom I represent,” she tweeted after receiving the award on Monday.

She dedicated the honour to the successive generations of the Indian-Surinamese community, who have played a stellar role in enriching the fraternal ties between our two countries.

PM Modi congratulates President Murmu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the President on receiving the award.

“Congratulations to Rashtrapati Ji on being conferred the highest civilian award of Suriname – Grand Order of the Chain of the Yellow Star. This special gesture from the Government and the people of Suriname symbolises the enduring friendship between our countries,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted.

Despite her many official engagements, President Murmu spent some time with a group of children who came to greet her in Paramaribo. She offered them India-made chocolates.

President also visited ‘Marinetrap’ where she witnessed the simulation and welcoming of the arrival of the First Indians in Suriname. She also inaugurated the simulated village at Independence Square.

Murmu’s visit to Surinam coincides with 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Suriname

On Monday, President Murmu met her Surinamese counterpart Chandrikapersad Santokhi and later led delegation-level talks between the two sides. Speaking on the occasion, the President said that she was happy to be in Suriname on her first State Visit as President of India when it is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Suriname.

She said that deep historical and cultural ties provide the foundation for the India-Suriname multifaceted and modern partnership.

Bilateral trade between India and Suriname

The President noted that bilateral trade between the two countries is well below potential. She said that there is a need to work together to expand bilateral trade for mutual benefit. She expressed confidence that the agreements signed during the visit would help boost the trade and economic ties. She said that there is scope for further collaboration in sectors like pharmaceuticals, Ayurveda, agriculture and defence, the Rashtrapati Bhavan said in a press release.

The President said that India is committed to enhancing technical cooperation and contributing to the capacity-building and skill development of Suriname’s human resources as per the country’s requirements. The two countries also signed three MoUs to enhance bilateral cooperation.

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