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MP Congress all set to use Yatra as launchpad for 2023 campaign



About a year will be left for the state Assembly elections after the Bharat Jodo Yatra passes through Madhya Pradesh in the last week of November. The state Congress leadership therefore is all set to use the opportunity to launch its poll campaign.

Though the Bharat Jodo Yatra would cover just seven districts (around 66 assembly seats), the state unit of the party has planned to make the presence of this Yatra felt in all the 230 Assembly seats.

The party has decided to launch as many as 17 supportive or sub-yatras from different parts of the state, that will merge with the Bharat Jodo Yatra at one point – Burhanpur.

These 17 supportive yatras will cover a total of 6,440 km in 35 days. Yatras from each district and block will proceed keeping in mind that all 17 yatras reach Burhanpur at the same time to merge with the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

The yatras will proceed from one to another district, and the leading yatra will carry the �Constitution of India’, which will be handed over to the person leading the yatra in another district. They will also carry soil from each village on the route and also water from each small and big river on the way.

According to senior Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh, the strategy of these sub-yatras has been made in a way that it can make a huge impact in the upcoming assembly elections in November-December 2023.

A senior Congress leader said that Rahul Gandhi had addressed two campaign rallies ahead of the 2018 assembly elections, while the Bharat Jodo Yatra will cover more than 60 assembly seats, during which he will interact with the people.

Congress leaders said the main objective of the Bharat Jodo Yatra is to mobilise the people of all segments, castes, religions to fight to protect the decades old democratic values, for which people have sacrificed their lives.

“The way people are supporting the Bharat Jodo Yatra, indicates that people are fed up with the BJP rule. In Madhya Pradesh, people had given the mandate to the Congress because they are fed up with fake promises of the BJP government.

“If the BJP hatched a conspiracy against the Congress government in 2020 to gain power again, it was disrespect of public mandate. People will give a reply in the 2023 elections,” said Chandraprabhash Shekhar, a former minister and one of the key functionaries in the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee.

Another reason why the Congress unit in Madhya Pradesh claimed that the Bharat Jodo Yatra will make a huge impact in the assembly elections in the state, as Shekhar explained, was that a campaign like “Ghar Ghar Chalo” had energised the party’s cadre at the lower level, it gave positive results in the municipal elections. Also, making this yatra a mass movement has become the sole aim of each Congress worker, Shekhar added.

The Congress claimed the results of the municipal elections were a semi-final and people have given a solid reply to the BJP, especially those feeling betrayed by the party. The Congress won five mayoral seats including Gwalior and Morena, while two mayoral candidates lost the elections with a margin of less than 500 votes. The ruling BJP, which had all 18 mayoral posts, was restricted to just nine municipal corporations.

“The party was already energised under former chief minister Kamal Nath’s leadership and the results of two elections (assembly polls in 2018 and urban body elections in 2022) are a clear example. But, when it become a mass movement in the presence of the party’s top leadership, it works as an energy booster for the party’s cadre especially at the lower level,” said Jitendra Mishra, a senior Congress spokesperson in Madhya Pradesh.

However, the BJP leaders in the state countered the Congress’ claims, alleging that the Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra has become a platform for those who often speak against the country and raise Pakistan slogans at public rallies. “I don’t think Bharat Jodo Yatra will have any impact in the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, because they have seen Rahul Gandhi’s leadership in the past also. They are making changes in their plan every day, which indicates that they are still confused,” said a senior functionary in the Madhya Pradesh BJP.


Delhi HC stays FIR registration against Max Group owner’s son




The Delhi High Court on Wednesday stayed a sessions court order that had directed the police to register an FIR against Veer Singh, the son of Max Group founder-chairman Analjit Singh, for inducing a woman to cohabit with him and to establish sexual relations with him after performing a sham marriage ceremony.

Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani stayed the order after Singh moved to the High Court.

The court has also issued notices on the plea and the case has been scheduled to come up for next hearing on May 29.

On March 27, Additional Sessions Judge of Saket Courts, Arul Verma, had directed the police to register an FIR under Sections 376, 493, 496, 417, 341, 342 and 354C of the IPC for inducing the woman to cohabit and have sexual relations with him (Veer Singh) without her consent.

The woman has alleged that Singh has “committed rape upon her” as she entered into a sexual relationship with him on the belief that she is “lawfully married” to him and that he is her husband.

The present case pivots around the allegation that Singh induced the revisionist to reel under a misconception of fact that she is lawfully married to him and it is on the basis of this “misconception” of fact that Singh established sexual relations with her.

At the outset, the court noted that the judgments relied upon by Singh’s counsel pertain to instances where there was sexual intercourse on the pretext of false promise of marriage. The court said that it is a case where prima facie there are allegations of commission of sexual intercourse without the consent of the woman.

It has been alleged that Singh and his family members had organised a wedding ceremony on December 4, 2018, in Taiwan and post-wedding rituals like ‘griha pravesh’ (when a newly-wed bride enters her new home with her husband) and ‘dhol’ ceremony.

It is to be noted that a child was begotten from this relationship and it is the revisionist’s case that in May 2020, Singh first got her and the child moved to a rented accommodation and later expressed that he did not want to cohabit with her any more.

The woman represented by advocates Shivani Luthra Lohiya and Nitin Saluja has claimed that Singh has also asked for the child’s custody and is disowning the factum of marriage.

It is alleged that after a sham ceremony was orchestrated by Singh and his family members, the woman has been deceived, followed and observed without her consent. It is alleged that Singh placed CCTV cameras and baby monitors in the bedrooms and the lobby, and recorded her movements without her consent and knowledge.

The court said that by perusing the records, it is revealed that a ceremony was conducted between the parties (the revisionist and respondent Singh) in Taiwan followed by post-wedding functions.

“A perusal of the photographs and videos produced on record reveals prima facie certain essential ceremonies of a de rigueur (proper) marriage were performed viz applying vermilion on the forehead, garlanding each other, applying mehndi and griha pravesh,” the court said.

Verma said that such a ceremony is “bound to induce” the revisionist to believe that a lawful marriage was entered into, and on this basis she agreed to cohabit and have sexual intercourse with Singh.

Singh’s sister had also congratulated the parties via Facebook on their marriage while his father had sent her a voice note welcoming her into the family.

However, Singh’s counsel adverted to certain emails exchanged between the parties to contend that Singh had no intention to marry the revisionist and that both of them had agreed to be in this relationship without a marriage.

To this, the court said that these contentions cannot be countenanced in as much as the abstruse personal messages exchanged between the parties do not unequivocally establish the claim of the respondent and that the messages were exchanged prior in time from the date of the marriage.

In the present case, allegations have been levelled by the revisionist that Singh has committed the offence of voyeurism against her and she placed reliance on her letter dated February 20, 2021, to the SHO of Defence Colony police station.

“Veer and staff members had also video recorded me while I was changing my clothes or when I was breastfeeding my son,” the woman alleged.

“This allegation, which prima facie crosses all bounds of decency and makes a woman feel unsafe in her own abode, definitely needs to be probed by the police,” the court noted.

“CCTV footage to establish incidents of stalking or voyeurism have to be obtained. Even the victim’s statement under Section 164 CrPC has to be recorded and medical examination conducted in order to unearth the truth of the matter,” the court said.

“The allegations as brought forth at this juncture paint a portrait of a hapless woman left in a lurch. Such an affront to the dignity of a woman cannot be brushed under the carpet for it will compound her ignominy,” the court said.

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Disrespect of national anthem complaint: Bombay HC refuses to grant relief to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee




The Bombay High Court dismissed a plea by West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee seeking the quashing of a criminal complaint filed against her by a BJP leader for allegedly disrespecting the National Anthem.

The HC said there was no patent illegality in the session’s court order.

A single bench of Justice Amit Borkar dismissed the application filed by Banerjee challenging a sessions court’s order of January 2023 remitting the matter back to the magistrate’s court for inquiry and on the issue of issuance of summons.

Banerjee in her application said the sessions court, instead of quashing the summons and remitting the matter, ought to have quashed the entire complaint.

Justice Borkar, however, noted there was illegality in the sessions court’s order and hence the HC need not interfere.

A magistrate’s court in March 2022 issued a summons to Banerjee on the complaint filed by activist Vivekanand Gupta alleging that during a public function at Yashwantrao Chavan Auditorium at Cuffe Parade in Mumbai, Banerjee had started singing the National Anthem in the sitting position, and later standing up and singing two verses before abruptly stopping and leaving the venue.

The West Bengal chief minister had challenged the summons before the special court.

In January 2023, Special Judge R N Rokade set aside the summons issued by the magistrate on procedural grounds and asked the magistrate to consider the complaint afresh.

In her application in the HC, Banerjee challenged this order claiming that the summons ought to have been quashed instead of directing the magistrate to consider the same afresh.

Gupta in his complaint claimed that Banerjee’s acts amounted to an insult and disrespect to the national anthem, and hence they are an offence under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act of 1971.

He had lodged a complaint in the Cuffe Parade police station but moved the court of the metropolitan magistrate after the police failed to take any action.

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Mumbai: As IPL begins on March 31, bookies look to make a killing; online websites, apps under police surveillance




Some of the major bookies identified by police include Manoj Metro, Vishal Chembur, Shrayansh, Yogi Thana, Shehnaz Ghatkopar, Mehul CP Tank, Dhaval Lalbaugh, Sonu Jalan, Pravin Bhera, Laxmichand Thana, Mahadev, Ketan A to Z, Justin Goregaon and Nikunj, and they all have 30 agents accepting bets online to evade surveillance.

Some of the popular online betting sites and mobile apps monitored by the police and intelligence agencies are Bet Bhai Book, Bet Exchange, Matrix, Diamond and Bet999. All of them offer 24×7 services on WhatsApp.

Most betting websites and apps are illegal in Europe and the US. They entered India by circumventing rules in violation of local banking laws.

“No specific law bans online betting and offshore companies take advantage of this loophole. The IT Act 2000 regulates cyber activities in India but does not mention the word ‘gambling’ or ‘betting’. Therefore the Act was left for interpretation by the courts,” advocate Bharat Mirchandani said.

According to a report by the International Centre for Sports Security, the betting market in India is worth more than $130 billion.

“Match fixing is a threat to sport and the advent of online gambling has increased the risk of match-fixing by cartels with links to Dubai and Pakistan. The scale of the gambling industry is attractive to organised crime with the range on types of bets possible online,” a cricket administrator said.

Lawyer Rajesh Vanzara said the laws governing betting sites are still ambiguous, and online gambling or betting is still permissible.

“The legislation is yet to draft laws against online betting as there is no explicit legislation with respect to that. Although online betting on IPL is a game of chance, there is no explicit prohibition stated,” Vanzara said.

The Federal Exchange Administration Act makes it illegal to swap the Indian rupee for a different currency outside a currency exchange or bank. So local bookies arrange dummy accounts to allow Indian currency as a wagering payment option or popular cricket betting sites holding licences abroad to avoid legal action. It ensures that punters do not violate the Foreign Exchange Management Act by insisting on payments in Indian currencies.

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