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Maharashtra awaits SC nod for bullock cart race



The Maharashtra government is awaiting a nod from the Supreme Court for an almost 400-year-old tradition of bullock cart race that was banned by the Bombay High Court.

Called ‘Shankarpaat’, the bullock cart race is a traditional attraction at the fairs in villages across Maharashtra.

It starts soon after the Ganesh festival and continues right through the remaining Kharif, the entire rabi season and ends around April, ahead of summer.

It is not just popular because of the crowds it attracts, but it gives a push to the local economy wherever the events are held coinciding with fairs. This is a popular sport among the farming community.

Similar bullock cart races are held in Karnataka too, especially the areas that are adjoining Maharashtra.

There have been obvious comparisons with Jallikattu, another traditional sport from Tamil Nadu related to bullocks.

The Nagaraja case had resulted in the Supreme Court banning all such bull-related sports. While in Jallikattu, the men are directly in contact with the bullock, pouncing on the running bull, holding it by the hump and using other means to tame it, in Shankarpaat or the bullock cart race, a pair of bulls or a single bull will race along with the cart with the farmer holding the reins and goading the animal.

In April 2017, the state government passed an act that regularised the sport of Shankarpaat.

A PIL was filed in the Bombay High Court, which put a ban on the bullock cart races.

After the ban, the Maharashtra government approached the Supreme Court, which referred the matter to a five-judge bench.

This year, possibly as an antidote to the lockdown induced lull, there have been multiple attempts in Maharashtra where local farmers have resorted to organising such bullock cart races.

On Sunday, Maharashtra Animal Husbandry Minister Sunil Kedar accompanied by the state’s Animal Husbandry Commissioner Shailesh Kende met Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi and the Maharashtra government’s counsels on the issue.

Patil told IANS: “We are hoping that the Supreme Court will be hearing our case on Tuesday.”

Kedar was supposed to attend the hearing, which was originally expected on Monday, but rushed back to Mumbai for a meeting.

“This is a topic very close to the hearts of hundreds and thousands of farmers in Maharashtra. It also impacts the rural economy,” Kedar said before leaving for Maharashtra.

Bharatiya Bailgada Sanghatana representative Ramkrishna Takalkar, who also accompanied the government delegation, said: “We farmers look after our bullocks just like our family members. There is no torture or cruelty involved with the animal during the bullock cart races, it is a misinformation campaign by animal lovers. The bullocks are fed regularly. What would we get by torturing the animal?”

Takalkar focussed on the economic aspects of the bullock cart races in Maharashtra.

“If there are no race events at the local village fairs, the farmers have valid question to ask: why should we continue to have these bulls?”

He had an even more pertinent question: “On the one hand, you allow horse races and on the other, you ban bullock cart races? Why the partiality?”


Can reduce Juhi Chawla’s 5G suit fine, but on one condition: Delhi HC




The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said it will consider reducing actress-environmentalist Juhi Chawla’s fine – slapped for abuse of the process of law in relation to a lawsuit challenging 5G wireless network technology – from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 2 lakh on the condition she does some service for the public.

A division bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh said: “We will make it Rs 2 lakh but that comes with another condition. Considering that your client is a celebrity, she should do some public work. Her status should be implied for some good of society. She could do a programme for the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA).”

Representing Chawla, senior advocate Salman Khurshid, argued that the petitioner had raised a genuine concern on the impact of 5G technology on the human body. If the cost amount could be waived, his client could go back to pursue the cause, he said.

Later, he said he would seek her instructions on the suggestion made by the court.

Further, issuing notice to the DLSA Secretary, the court listed the case for further hearing on January 27.

On January 21, the DSLSA approached the court seeking the execution of the order, in which Chawla and two others were directed to deposit Rs 20 lakh fine imposed in relation to a lawsuit challenging 5G wireless network technology.

On June 4 last year, Justice J.R. Midha had dismissed her lawsuit against the setting up of 5G wireless networks in the country. Her plea stated the levels of RF radiation are 10 to 100 times greater than the existing levels. It also claimed that the 5G wireless technology can be a potential threat to provoke irreversible and serious effects on humans and it could also permanently damage the earth’s ecosystems.

The court had held that the suit filed by Chawla and two others were defective, non-maintainable, and also contained unverified and vexatious assertions and also imposed the fine.

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Maha BJP MLA Nitesh Rane moves SC for anticipatory bail




BJP’s Maharashta MLA Nitesh Rane, the son of Union Minister Narayan Rane, has moved the Supreme Court, seeking anticipatory bail in an attempt to murder lodged against him in Sindhudurg district last month.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Rane, mentioned the matter for urgent hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, submitting that the matter is a result of political rivalry. After hearing brief submissions, the bench agreed to consider the request to list the matter urgently.

Rane has challenged the January 17 order of the Bombay High Court, declining to entertain his plea seeking anticipatory bail, before the top court. The matter is connected with a road rage incident, which occurred in December last year. The complainant alleged that his motorcycle was hit by a car without a number plate and claimed he heard one of the occupants say “should inform Gotya Sawant and Nitesh Rane”.

The Maharashtra Police had given an oral assurance before the high court that Rane would not be arrested till Monday. However, Nitish claimed the case was registered to stop him from participating in the Sindhudurg District Co-operative Bank elections.

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PM condoles loss of lives in Maha accident




Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressed deep grief over the loss of lives due to an accident near Selsura in Maharashtra. The Prime Minister has also announced an ex-gratia from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for the victims.

In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted, “Pained by the loss of lives due to an accident near Selsura in Maharashtra. In this hour of sadness, my thoughts are with those who have lost their loved ones. I pray that those injured are able to recover soon: PM.”

In another tweet, the PMO said, “PM @narendramodi announced that Rs. 2 lakh each from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of those who have lost their lives in the accident near Selsura. Those who are injured would be given Rs. 50,000.”

At least seven medical students, including the son of a BJP legislator, were killed in a major road accident on the highway in Wardha district of Maharashtra early on Tuesday.

According to a police official, the accident took place when they were travelling in an SUV from Yavatmal to Wardha. At one stretch as the SUV sped on a bridge near Selsura, the driver lost control over the vehicle and it plunged into the river below. All the victims were students of the Sangavi Medical College.

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