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Kerala oppn up in arms, demands ‘unruly’ Minister’s resignation




The Kerala Assembly on Thursday witnessed angry exchanges between the opposition and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who was trying his best to defend State Education Minister V. Sivankutty.

Sivankutty along with another present legislator — K.T. Jaleel, a former Minister, and four other former legislators will have to face trial after the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the Kerala government’s plea to withdraw the cases against the CPI-M leaders for vandalism in the state Assembly in 2015.

On Thursday, senior Congress legislator P.T. Thomas sought leave for an adjournment motion demanding to discuss the resignation of Sivankutty in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“Never in the history of the Kerala Assembly has witnessed such vandalism as had happened on March 13th, 2015. Over Rs two lakh property inside the floor of the Assembly was destroyed and it was led by our present Education Minister Sivankutty. It would be good if you can air the visuals in the Victers Channel (this channel airs the online classes in the state) of Sivankutty going berserk with his ‘dhoti’ folded and jumping over the desks. Let the students of Kerala see who is Sivankutty. Can he ever be a role model to the students. I also shudder to think, if Sivankutty continues to be the Education Minister, foreign Universities might go to the extent of not accepting Kerala students. If you (Vijayan) don’t see that Sivankutty is ousted, you too will have to take the responsibility of shielding him,” said Thomas.

Vijayan, replying to the demand, ruled out the resignation of Sivankutty. He said he accepted the verdict of the apex court and also referred to similar acts of vandalism in various State Assemblies in the country.

“The government decided to take legal steps in withdrawing the case and there is nothing wrong in it, as we did it in the general public interest. This has happened before also. The Congress-led opposition has been trying to tinker with the privilege that each member has and such an action is unheard of,” said Vijayan.

“We also know of the manner in which the infamous palm oil case was withdrawn in the past and following the intervention of the court and the strong strictures passed by the apex court, the case still is going on. For the Congress opposition, it has now become a habit to stir up unnecessary things for political needs and this also needs to be seen in that way,” said Vijayan.

Before leading the entire opposition out of the House after the Speaker M.B. Rajesh refused to take up the motion, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan slammed Vijayan.

“Public property has been destroyed and using public money, you (Vijayan) went to all the courts in the country trying to defend this grave vandalism act conducted by your leaders, but you lost that. There is no privilege for anyone who engages in criminal activities and this includes we, legislators also,” said Satheesan.

“How can this Education Minister Sivankutty be a role model to the students and teachers in our state. The whole world has seen the visuals and Kerala has been shamed and it has gone up after even the apex court ruled against what you are trying to defend,” said Satheesan.

Later the entire opposition decided to boycott the day’s proceedings and squatted in front of the Assembly shouting slogans demanding Sivankutty’s resignation.

Outside the Assembly, feeder organisations of both the Congress and the BJP took their position in front and were seen engaging in pushing and pulling the police officials who thwarted the attempt of the protesters to break the police cordon.

Sivankutty was not present in the Assembly as he is recuperating from fever at his house.

The vandalism took place on March 13, 2015 when erstwhile State Finance Minister K.M. Mani was presenting the state Budget for the new fiscal.

The then CPI-M-led opposition had taken a strong stand that Mani, who was accused of taking a bribe of Rs one crore from a bar owner for reopening closed bars, would not be allowed to present the Budget.

When Mani began his speech, the Left legislators went berserk, throwing out the Speaker’s chair from the dais and also damaging the electronic equipment on his table.

The list of the other accused includes former State Minister E.P. Jayaraja; K. Kunju Ahamed, C.K. Sadasivan and K. Ajith, who are no longer legislators, while K.T. Jaleel, the former Higher Education Minister is a legislator now.

Since 2020, the late K.M. Mani’s party- Kerala Congress (M), now led by his son Jose K. Mani moved out from the Congress-led UDF and is presently the third biggest ally of the Vijayan government and has been given a cabinet berth.

National News

Delhi HC reserves order on Satyendar Jain’s bail plea in PMLA casev




The Delhi High Court on Wednesday reserved its order on bail pleas of jailed Aam Aadmi Party leader Satyendar Jain and his two aides in a money laundering case.

Jain has been in custody since May 30 last year and his co-accused are Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain.

Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma heard arguments by accused’s counsel, Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju representing the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

A trial court court had, on November 17, 2022, dismissed the former Delhi minister’s bail application.

The HC later issued notice on his bail plea.

According to the trial court, it has prima facie come on record that Satyendar Jain was “actually involved” in hiding the proceeds of crime by paying cash to entry operators based in Kolkata and then bringing the money into three companies against the sale of shares to demonstrate that the revenue of these three companies was clean.

In the petition before the high court, Jain argued that the Special Judge and Enforcement Directorate have gravely misread and misapplied the Prevention of Money Laundering Act “by identifying proceeds of crime solely on the basis of accommodation entries”.

The accommodation entries cannot itself lead to a punishable offence under PMLA, it was argued.

Because the charge sheet has already been filed in the case, Jain said that he is “not required to be incarcerated” during the trial.

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SC to set up bench to hear Bilkis Bano plea against release of 11 convicts




The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to set up a special bench to hear a plea against the release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case, which also involves the killing of her several family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Advocate Shobha Gupta, representing Bano, mentioned the matter for urgent hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud. The bench, also comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala, assured Gupta that a new bench will be formed to hear the case.

The Chief Justice said, “I will have a bench constituted. We need to break two benches for it. We will look at this in the evening.”

In January this year, the top court had said the question of maintainability would not arise in a matter related to remission of 11 life terms convicts.

In the plea, Bano said release of all the convicts came as a shock to the petitioner, to her grown-up daughters, to her family, and also to the society at large, nationally, and internationally.

The petition said: “The premature release of all the convicts came as a shock not only to the petitioner, to her grown up daughters, to her family, but also to the society at large, nationally and internationally, and the society across segments had shown their anger, disappointment, distrust and protest to the clemency shown by the government by releasing criminals like the 11 convicts of the case.”

Terming the release order mechanical, the plea said the premature release of the convicts in much talked about case of Bilkis Bano, has shaken the conscience of the society and resulted in several agitations across the country.

All 11 convicts were granted remission by the Gujarat government and released on August 15, last year.

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Breaking: India removes all external security infront of the British High commission & high commissioner’s residence




Indian security officials on Wednesday removed the protective barricades from in front of the British High Commissioner’s residence in Delhi.

The move comes a day after the Indian High Commission in London was attacked by pro-Khalistani extremists amid the ongoing crackdown on radical preacher and Waris Punjab De founder Amritpal Singh in Punjab.

The tricolour was removed and replaced by the Khalistani flag by Sikhs protesting outside the Indian High Commission. An official later took down the Khalistani flag and replaced it with a massive tricolour displayed outside the building.

Officials from the mission said the “attempted but failed” attack had been foiled and that the tricolour was now flying “grander”.

The UK Metropolitan Police said two members of security staff sustained minor injuries during the incident and an investigation has been launched.

Attack ‘disgraceful and totally unacceptable’

Responding to the incident, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan said he condemned “the violent disorder and vandalism that took place. There is no place in our city for this kind of behaviour,” he tweeted.

The British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis described the incident as “disgraceful” and “totally unacceptable”.

Foreign Office minister Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon said he was “appalled” and the government would take the security of the Indian High Commission “seriously”.

“This is a completely unacceptable action against the integrity of the Mission and its staff,” he tweeted.

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