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Covid cases continue to rise in India for 5th consecutive day



As the number of new Covid-19 cases showed an upward trend over the past five days, India reported 14,264 new cases in the last 24 hours on Sunday with the overall tally mounted to 1,09,91,651, health officials said.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that there were 90 more Covid-19 fatalities, taking the overall toll to 1,56,302.

In the past one month, the country has been recording less than 15,000 new infections daily with the toll not going over the 200-mark.

However, in the past few days the coronavirus cases in various parts of the country suddenly showed a spike.

On Saturday, 13,993 cases were reported, on February 19, the count of new cases was 13,193, on February 18 it was 12,881, on February 17 it was 11,610, on February 16 the number was 9,121 and February 15 had 11,649 cases.

Earlier, the health ministry officials said that the average daily new infections for the last 15 days were oscillating between 9,000 to 12,000 while the deaths were between 78 to 120.

On February 9, India had reported 9,110 new cases, the lowest this year so far. Last year, the lowest 9,633 cases were recorded on June 3.

As per the Ministry’s data, there are 1,45,634 active cases at present after 11,667 patients were discharged in a day. Till now, 1,06,89,715 persons have been discharged so far.

The recovery rate has remained to 97.27 per cent, while the fatality rate is down to 1.42 per cent.

The ministry also informed that 6,70,050 samples were tested on Saturday. The cumulative tests done by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) so far stands at 21,09,31,530.

Meanwhile, 1,10,85,173 doses of corona vaccine have been administered in the country since the drive began on January 16 after approval for ‘Covishield’ and ‘Covaxin’.

As per the Union Health Ministry, India has become the fastest nation in terms of the vaccine doses administered, even though many countries had launched their vaccination campaigns earlier than her.


Kids’ kidnap-murder case: Bombay HC commutes death verdict for 2 to life




Bombay High Court.

Bombay High Court.

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday commuted the death sentences on two prime accused – both step-sisters – to life term till death in jail, in the sensational case of the kidnapping of 13 minor children and murdering at least 5 of them, that rocked the state in the early 1990s.

The accused, Seema Mohan Gavit, 39, and Renuka Kiran Shinde, 45, were arrested by Maharashtra Police in 1996 and have so far spent around 25 years under the shadow of the hangman’s noose, at the Yerawada Central Jail, Pune.

Another prime accused and their mother, Anjana, who was also arrested and charged in the case, passed away in 1998 during the pendency of the trial.

A division bench of Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Sarang Kotwal commuted the death penalty, rapping the delays by the government authorities in taking a decision on the mercy pleas of the two.

In 2001, the half-sisters were convicted and awarded the death penalty by the Kolhapur Sessions Court for the stunning kidnappings of 13 children and killing 5 of them brutally.

The death sentence was confirmed by the Bombay High Court in 2004 and then the Supreme Court in 2006.

The sisters had earlier filed mercy pleas before the Governor in 2008 that were declined in August 2013, and later to the President, which was rejected in July 2014, even as people from the USA Japan, Canada, and India appealed to the President for commuting the death verdict, saying that execution of women is extremely rare.

After the rejection of their appeals from both the Governor and the President, they moved the Bombay High Court.

The matter was taken up urgently on August 19, 2014, as the two sisters awaited the gallows that day.

The Public Prosecutor issued telephonic instructions to the YCJ Jail Superintendent Yogesh Desai to stop the hangings till their pleas were heard and the matter came up on the board the following day.

The petitioners contended that the government machinery did not adhere to the rules that required utmost expediency and resorted to a “most casual approach” resulting in a delay of nearly 8 years, which the division bench upheld.

The sisters contended, through their lawyer Aniket Vagal, that the delay was attributable to the executive including the Governor and the Maharashtra Government, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the President, which was denied by the Centre’s lawyer Sandesh Patil.

The judges noted that from the date of the sisters submitting their mercy plea on September 1, 2006 till it was finally disposed of on July 30, 2014, it took 7 years, 10 months and 15 days.

Justice Jamdar and Justice Kotwal also observed how the chronology showed that there was “nothing but the movement of files, delay, and casual approach demonstrated at each stage” and the state government moved “as if it was a routine file, perhaps even slower than that”, at each stage “officers exhibited utter casualness”.

The court also frowned at how, in the period between 2006-2014, modern electronic communication facilities, email, courier, transportation were easily available to all government officers, and termed as “abhorrent” the movement of files/papers in such a crucial matter within the state or the city after gaps of 15 days, month, six months or up to one year.

It also commented on how the matter was circulated before the court only by the petitioner-sisters in 2021 and not by the government since 2016, and the manner in which the two convicts were kept isolated in the ‘Death Convict Yard’ which has an ominous connotation, and was described as “brooding horror of hanging, daunting the prisoner in the condemned cell” by the late Justice Krishna Iyer.

However, the evidence on record shows the kids were brutally murdered, showing the “depravity” of the two convict-sisters which was “heinous and beyond words to condemn”, the bench said, ordering “life imprisonment is till the life of the convict” unless the competent authority decides otherwise, though the (convicts) were beyond reform for society.

The court also cancelled the unexecuted death warrants against the two sisters and disposed of the petition.

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UP cops seize Rs 1 crore cash from car in Noida





Just weeks before the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Gautam Buddha Nagar Police on Tuesday seized a cash of approximately Rs 1 crore from a Delhi-registered car near here in Noida, an official said.

He said that in order to conduct the upcoming elections in the state peacefully, the police have intensified the security arrangements and are regularly carrying out intensive search operations to prevent smuggling of goods.

“Following the same orders, the police today seized a cash of Rs 99,30,500 from a fortuner car bearing registration number DL10CL5201 near Sector 24 stadium crossing,” the official told IANS.

He said that two people in the car, identified as Akhilesh, a resident of Wazirpur in Delhi and Arun, a resident of Karol Bagh, Delhi have been detained by the police.

“The duo was not able to give a satisfactory reason for carrying such a huge amount of cash,” the official said, adding that the accused duo has till now informed that they were working for some cloth merchant.

Meanwhile, sources in the police establishment confirmed to IANS that a team of Income Tax Officials will also arrive as there is involvement of a huge amount of money. Notably, the Noida Police since the imposition of the Model Code of Conduct on January 9, have tightened the security arrangements in the city.

On Monday, senior officials of Noida Police held a meeting with the officials of the Delhi Police to jointly conduct checking operations and share the list of suspected offenders and criminals in the region.

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ED raids house of Punjab CM’s nephew in sand mining case




The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday morning, just weeks before assembly elections, carried out raids at ten different locations belonging to Punjab Chief Minster Charanjit Singh Channi’s nephew Bhupinder Singh Honey, in connection with a Prevention of Money Laundering case pertaining to illegal sand mining in Punjab.

A source said that the ED team conducted first raid at the residence of Honey which is at Homeland Heights early Tuesday morning. No one was allowed to leave the house. The ED was scanning various documents and computers.

The source said that raids of the ED were underway at ten locations across Punjab in illegal sand mining case.

The political parties in Punjab had earlier accused the Chief Minister many times over illegal mining in his own constituency. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had tweeted several times regarding the ongoing illegal sand mining racket. He had tweeted that Punjab CM Channi was not doing anything to stop it.

Local police were already looking into the matter. And on the basis of the local police probe, the ED initiated a money laundering probe.

As of now, the ED has not made any statement regarding the ongoing raids. The sources said that once the raids are over, only then the probe agency will release any statement.

During the raid the ED recorded the statement of those who were present at the house of Honey, the nephew of the Chief Minister.

A large number of people had gathered outside the house and local police were called to avoid any untoward incident.

Further probe in the matter is underway.

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