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Rakesh Asthana takes charge as Delhi Police Commissioner

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A day after the Centre appointed former Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) Special Director Rakesh Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner, the 1984 batch Gujarat cadre took charge on Wednesday.

Asthana arrived at the Police Headquarter on Wednesday morning and took charge in the presence of several senior officials.

He was accorded the ceremonial guard of honour upon his arrival.

In an order, the Union Home Ministry on Tuesday said, “Consequent upon appointment of Rakesh Asthana, IPS (GJ:84) Director General BSF, as Commissioner of Police, Delhi.l, the Competent authority has approved that S.S. Deswal, IPs (Hy:84) l, Director General of ITBP shall hold the additional charge of post of DF, BSF vice Asthana, till the appointment and joining of the regular incumbent or until further orders whichever is earlier.”

It further stated that accordingly, it is requested to relieve Asthana immediately to enable him to join as Commissioner of Police, Delhi.

Asthana will be in-charge of the Delhi Police for a period of one year till July 31, 2022. His date of retirement was July 31, which has been extended by one year “as a special case in public interest”.

Asthana had also served as Vadodara city’s police commissioner when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was serving as Gujarat’s Chief Minister.

The government had given additional charge of the Delhi Police to Balaji Srivastava after the retirement of S.N. Shrivastava on June 30.

Asthana, a 1984 batch Gujarat cadre IPS officer was currently holding the post of Director General of the Border Security Force (BSF) and chief of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

In October 2018, the battle between then CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Asthana became public, leading the government to intervene in the matter and transfer both the officers from the agency.

Asthana as DG of NCB has been at the forefront of drug seizures and has directed the investigation into the influx of cocaine and synthetic drugs in the Mumbai film industry.

He also led the NCB probe related to the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput involving drugs.

As DG BSF, Asthana has pushed the force to make borders more secure by unravelling tunnels used by Pakistan-based terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.

Crime

2 killed, 13 injured in Mumbai high-rise blaze

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At least two persons were killed and 13 others injured when a blaze engulfed the 18th floor of a building in Tardeo, South Mumbai, on Saturday, the BMC Disaster Control said here.

The fire was noticed at the top part of the 20-storied Kamla Building at around 7.30 a.m.

The Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) rushed with fire tenders as the flames quickly spread to the two upper floors sparking panic among the building residents.

At least 13 injured persons were rescued by the MFB teams, of which four were critical and rushed to the BYL Nair Hospital nearby.

Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar rushed to the spot to supervise the rescue and relief operations.

Two persons succumbed to their injuries and the cause of the fire is being probed.

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Crime

Delhi HC defers till Feb 3, DSLSA’s plea seeking Rs 20 lakh cost imposed on Juhi Chawla

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The Delhi High Court on Friday said it will hear on February 3 a petition by the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) seeking the execution of the order, in which actress-environmentalist Juhi Chawla and two others were directed to deposit Rs 20 lakh for the abuse of the process of law in relation with a lawsuit challenging 5G wireless network technology.

Justice C Harishankar deferred the matter for February 3 after Chawla’s counsel said his client was not served with the petition copy. It was also observed by the court that the appeal in the matter is pending before the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court.

The DSLSA was approaching the Delhi High Court seeking payment of costs of Rs 20 lakh to them by the court. Adv Saurabh Kansal, who appeared on behalf of DSLSA, submitted that the order is yet to be complied with.

On June 4 last year, Justice J.R. Midha had dismissed the lawsuit filed by Juhi Chawla 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 was defective, non-maintainable, and also contained unverified and vexatious assertions and also imposed a fine of Rs 20 lakh for the abuse of the process of law.

On June 2, 2021, the High Court had also questioned Chawla as to why she had directly filed a suit against setting up of 5G wireless networks without making any representation to the department concerned in the government, and insisted the plaintiffs, Chawla and two others, should have gone to the government first. The High Court had also expressed dissatisfaction at Chawla sharing the link of virtual hearing on her social media account.

The hearing of Chawla’s suit was disturbed by unknown persons who were singing Bollywood songs of films in which she had acted. The court directed the Delhi Police to identify the people and proceed against them under the law.

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Crime

Madras High Court refuses to stay Urban local body polls

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The Madras High Court on Friday refused to grant an interim stay to the conduct of Urban local body elections in the state.

While hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Dr. A. Nakkeeran, Rtd Joint Director of Health Services, the court did not allow a stay to the conduct of elections.

Senior counsel, S. Prabhakaran representing, Dr. A. Nakkeeran said that given the alarming situation of the Covid pandemic, there was no urgency to conduct the Urban local body elections now. He said that nothing would happen if the elections were delayed as these civic bodies were not without any office-bearers for the past several years.

The senior counsel also said that the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) has not taken stock of the ground situation of the pandemic before preparing for the elections.

He also said that the TNSEC does not seem to be aware of the number of surging Covid cases, deaths or even on the number of containment zones in the state.

S. Prabhakaran said that the election should be postponed by two more months given the situation of the state and that threat to the lives of the people.

Senior advocate SRL Sundaresan, representing another bunch of petitions, said that when the Supreme Court had set the deadline for holding the elections, the situation in the state was not this worse regarding pandemic.

The senior counsel wanted the elections to be postponed in the interest of public health.

Senior counsel, Siva Shanmugam representing TNSEC, informed the court that the poll notification has to be issued by January 27 as per the orders of the Supreme Court.

The counsel of the Election Commission argued that a circular on Covid protocol was issued by the commission and added that all standard operating procedures followed during the rural local body elections would be in place during the Urban local body elections also.

The court adjourned the case to January 24 after hearing the arguments and refused to grant any interim stay.

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