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Sunday,25-September-2022

National News

Pinarayi Vijayan strikes back as Kerala Vigilance picks up Swapna’s close aide

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Hours after Swapna Suresh, prime accused in the gold smuggling case, slammed Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family for their role in the entire episode on Wednesday, her close aide and now colleague P.S. Sarith was picked up by the Vigilance wing of the police from their flat at Palakkad. Sarith is also an accused in the gold smuggling case.

Hearing about it, Swapna said she has no clue who took Sarith away and this is nothing but retaliation for her revelations.

The media and the local police also descended at the flat where Swapna and Sarith live with her children. Even the local police initially had no clue of who took away Sarith in a Swift Car.

It was revealed later that it was the Vigilance department sleuths who picked Sarith. Hearing about this, Swapna lost her cool and screamed politics is a dirty game.

“The Vigilance has only one case and it pertains to collection of commission in the construction of Life Mission flats. But in the case the 5th accused is M. Sivasankar (former principal secretary of Vijayan and top IAS official, who was also in jail for several weeks and is now out on bail in the gold smuggling case). I am the 6th accused and Sarith is only the 7th accused. They have not served any notice and instead they picked him and it was Sivasankar who should have been picked up first. We are not scared of any investigation as we all were in jail for months,” said an angry Swapna Suresh.

Meanwhile, in a related development on Wednesday morning Vijayan had a closed door meeting with police chief and his deputy.

Soon after that former State Minister and Left supported legislator K.T. Jaleel arrived at the police station next door to the State Secretariat, here and registered a complaint against the baseless allegations levelled against Vijayan, his family and himself.

“I have filed a complaint against these baseless allegations levelled by an accused in the gold smuggling case. This is nothing but a conspiracy hatched against the state government and both the Congress and the BJP have joined in this campaign,” said Jaleel.

“All these allegations which she has raked up again have all been probed by three national agencies and today she has aired the same, but with a lot of spice. We are all supremely confident as all these national agencies probed everything and found nothing. The role of P.C. George and his relation with Swapna is conspiracy,” added Jaleel.

Meanwhile across the state, angry supporters of the Congress led UDF took to the streets demanding resignation of Vijayan and at several places they burnt the effigy of the Chief Minister.

But Vijayan moving around with massive security cover while taking part in a meeting here said, in 2018 the state faced the worst floods in a century.

“Later, the state witnessed a never seen before barrage of allegations (gold smuggling case in July 2020) and it went on and on, with various agencies probing it. Finally the people of Kerala gave us a second successive term in office. The people dismissed all the allegations stating that this is their government. The people are with us,” said Vijayan, who is yet to interact with the media on this issue.

State BJP president K. Surendran asked Vijayan to quit and face the probe as an ordinary citizen.

“Swapna Suresh has told the court everything and hence Vijayan should quit and face a probe and come clean,” said Surendran.

Leader of the opposition V.D. Satheesan, leading the protesters at Kollam, said the probe by various agencies came to a standstill after several Kerala BJP leaders teamed up with the CPI-M to stop this probe then.

“But now things have again come out in the open and it’s strange that when Oommen Chandy had to face lot of issues, that law seems not applicable to Vijayan. This cannot happen. We are looking into all options on how this new revelation needs to be taken up at all fronts,” said Satheesan.

Earlier in the day, Swapna said she has no political or any personal agenda.

“I don’t know about politics and I do not care who is ruling the state, then or now. I have given a statement under 164 of CrPC in the past but none came out. Allow me to live, it’s difficult for me to live. Those ladies, who are wives and daughters including Kamala Vijayan (wife of Vijayan), Veena (daughter), are leading a luxurious life while I am suffering,” said Swapna.

On Tuesday, Swapna first accused Vijayan, his wife and daughter that they had a role in shady things like transferring currency notes to the UAE and also on a few occasions transferred vessels which were used to make biriyani from the residence of the UAE Consul general here to Vijayan’s residence and it contained metal objects.

Maharashtra

India reports 4,777 fresh Covid infection, 23 deaths

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India on Sunday reported 4,777 fresh Covid infection in the last 24 hours, against 4,912 Covid cases reported on previous day, said the Union Health Ministry.

In the same period, the country has recorded 23 more Covid-related deaths, taking the national fatalities tally to 5,28,510 as per the report.

Meanwhile, the active caseload of the country presently stands at 43,994 cases, accounting for 0.10 per cent of the country’s total positive cases.

The recovery of 5,196 patients in the last 24 hours took the cumulative tally to 4,39,95,610. Consequently, India’s recovery rate stands at 98.72 per cent.

Meanwhile, India’s Daily Positivity rate has been reported to be 1.58 per cent, while the Weekly Positivity Rate in the country currently also stands at 1.63 per cent.

Also in the same period, a total of 3,02,283 tests were conducted across the country, increasing the overall tally to over 89.36 crore.

As of Sunday morning, India’s Covid-19 vaccination coverage exceeded 217.56 crore.

Over 4.09 crore adolescents have been administered with a first dose of Covid-19 jab since the beginning of vaccination drive for this age bracket.

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National News

‘Politically motivated’, Bilkis Bano case convict to SC on plea challenging release of accused

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A convict in the Bilkis Bano case has told the Supreme Court that the petition challenging Gujarat government’s remission order is “speculative and politically motivated”.

The plea filed by Radheysham Bhagwandas Shah said: “This court not only on the ground of locus and maintainability, but also on the ground of such speculative and politically motivated petition, should dismiss the said plea with heavy hand and impose an exemplary cost so that such politically motivated petition by strangers are not encouraged in the future.”

The plea cited a number of the top court judgments, including Janata Dal vs H.S. Chowdhary (1992), Simranjit Singh Mann vs UOI (1992) and Subramanian Swamy vs Raju (2013), in which it was consistently held in clear terms that a third party who is a total stranger to the prosecution has no ‘locus standi’ in criminal matters.

The convict also referred to the apex court judgment dated May 13, 2022 on the merits of the case, which after hearing all the parties came out with a categorical judgment that only the Gujarat government’s policy of premature release would be applicable, which prevailed at the time of conviction and not a subsequent policy at the time of consideration of remission.

Shah was challenging the plea filed by former CPI-M MP Subhasini Ali, journalist Revati Laul and professor Roop Rekha Verma against the release of 11 men convicted for the gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and multiple murders during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

A similar plea was also filed by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra.

On September 9, the apex court had directed the Gujarat government to file all records, which formed the basis for granting remission to all the accused in the case. It directed the state government to file its response within two weeks and also asked advocate Rishi Malhotra, representing some of the accused, to file a response.

Shah’s plea contended that if such type of third-party petitions are entertained by the apex court, it would not only unsettle the settled position of law, but would also be an open invitation to any member of the public to jump in any criminal matter before a court of law.

Shah argued that the plea is nothing but a gross abuse of Article 32, as on one hand, the petitioners plead that they do not have the copy of the remission order and yet without ascertaining the reasons for grant of remission, the petitioners have sought quashing of the remission order.

It further argued that the apex court had categorically held that a total stranger in a criminal case cannot be permitted to question the correctness of a decision, and if that was to be permitted, any and every person could challenge a criminal prosecution/proceeding recorded day in and day out by courts even if the person convicted do not desire to do so and are inclined to acquiesce in the decision.

“Interestingly enough, neither the state nor the victim nor even the complainant has approached this court, and thus it is respectfully submitted that if such cases are sought to be entertained by this court, a settled position of law would certainly become an unsettled position of law,” Shah’s plea added.

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Crime

Ankita Bhandari’s body found from Uttarakhand’s Chilla canal

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The body of Ankita Bhandari, a 19-year-old staffer at a resort in Uttarakhand who went missing a few days ago, was recovered from the Chilla canal in the state on Saturday and Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has ordered an SIT probe led by DIG P. Renuka Devi to probe the murder.

The prime accused in the case is BJP leader Vinod Arya’s son Pulkit Arya.

Ankita, a resident of Dobhin Srikot, who used to work in the Vantara resort in Uttarakhand’s Pauri Garhwal. She went missing on September 18.

The BJP has removed Vinod Arya as well as his other son Ankit following the incident.

Taking to Twitter, Dhami poste:, “Today morning, daughter Ankita’s body was recovered. Heart-broken with this heart-wrenching incident.”

On directions of the Chief Minister, the JCB razed to ground accused’s illegal resort on Friday night.

Strict action will be taken against the officers who were involved in the illegal construction of the resort, Dhami said.

“It is our resolve that the those guilty of this heinous crime will bot be spared,” he added.

Ankita’s family had lodged a missing complaint on September 21 with the revenue police and on the District Magistrate’s direction, the matter was trasferred to regular police the next day.

Taking cognisance of the incident, Ashok Kumar, Director General of Police, Uttarakhand, had directed the Superintendent of Police, Pauri for a speedy investigation into the incident.

Following their arrest, they told the police that after murdering Ankita, they threw her body in Chila Shakti canal.

Under the guidance of DGP Uttarakhand, the SDRF started search for Ankita in Shakti Canal, Chila Power House.

SDRF rescue team has been searching the spot and the deep divers were also looking for the body in the bottom of the canal.

The search operation had resumed this morning during which the body was found.

The body has been handed over to the district police.

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