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Friday,03-December-2021

Maharashtra

Sena Minister to SC: Probe NCB, Aryan Khan’s ‘fundamental rights breach’

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In a significant development, a senior Shiv Sena leader urged the Supreme Court to order a probe by a sitting judge of the apex court into the affairs of Narcotics Control Bureau and violation of fundamental rights of Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan.

Making the plea under Article 32 of the Constitution, Kishore Tiwari, accorded the Minister of State (MoS) status, has urged Chief Justice N.V. Ramana’s ‘top priority’ intervention into the manner in which the ‘biased’ NCB is hounding film personalities, models and other celebs since the past nearly two years with ‘malafide motives’.

He said that under Article 32, the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of India (CJI) are duty-bound to take cognisance of every matter pertaining to the fundamental rights violation, as guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution, which the NCB is flouting.

Referring to the Special NDPS Court (Mumbai) deferring the verdict in the bail plea of Aryan Khan and other accused till October 20 citing public holidays, the plea said this has subjected the accused “to big humiliation and kept in jail in an undemocratic and illegal way” for 17 nights.

This is in utter disregard to the fundamental Right to Life and Liberty as enshrined in the Constitution and the question of ‘bail is the norm, jail is the exception’, which has been upheld and settled by SC many times, as reiterated by former Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi.

Accusing the NCB and its officials of ‘vendetta’ by targeting select celebs, Tiwari demanded a probe into the role of the central narcotics agency and the Mumbai Zonal Director (Sameer Wankhede), whose wife is a well-known Marathi filmstar, in direct competition with the other stars and celebs being hounded.

Pointing a needle of suspicion at Wankhede, the plea said the officer’s wife is trying to make big in Bollywood, and that’s why only leading names in the film industry, their families, national-international models, producers-directors are brought under the NCB lens.

“Starting with the probe into the Sushant Singh Rajput death case, the probe has been ‘totally diverted in an unrelated direction’ … The alleged NCB seizures are ‘miniscule jokes’ compared to the Mumbai Police achievements, or the DRI which last month seized 3000-kgs drugs from Mundra Port in Gujarat,” Tiwari said in the plea.

When the law has been settled by the highest court of the country, the NCB and the Special NDPS Court have “failed to give due regards” by depriving Aryan Khan and others bail, which could be done right away, even on public holidays, and thus there is ‘total miscarriage of justice’.

“With the recent shocking exposure on NCB by Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik, its high time the NCB Mumbai and all-India must be probed by an SC judge to unravel the rackets and the truth…It’s a fit case for immediate intervention by the SC,” Tiwari demanded, among other things.

Contending the NCB’s grudge and autocratic style are even more glaring, the Sena leader added that no contraband drugs were recovered from Aryan Khan, there was no medical examination proving consumption, etc., yet he has been shunted into different types of custody since October 3, echoing former Attorney General of India Rohatgi.

After the NCB swooped on a luxury cruise ship to bust an alleged rave party on October 2, Aryan Khan, along with 7 others were detained, arrested on October 3 and have remained in NCB and judicial custody since for the past 17 days, with their bail order likely be delivered by Special Judge V.V. Patil on Wednesday (October 20).

Maharashtra

Post-surgery, Maharashtra CM discharged from hospital after 22 days

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Maharashtra-CM-Uddhav-Thackeray

After undergoing a spinal surgery 20 days ago, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was discharged from the Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, here on Thursday, officials said.

The CM’s condition is described as fit and fine, but he has been advised to continue work from home for a few days.

Thackeray was admitted to the HNRFH on November 10 and was successfully operated upon on November 12 for solving problems pertaining to the cervical spine, besides a minor procedure for removing a blood clot later.

Thereafter, he was assigned for physiotherapy sessions which are expected to continue for some more weeks and he may not attend office till then.

However, the CM has been attending to important files, holding online meetings with cabinet colleagues or officials and chaired a couple of cabinet meetings, including those pertaining to the Covid-19 variant Omicron threats, during his hospitalisation.

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Maharashtra

Maharashtra: Congress livid as Didi writes UPA’s epitaph

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Relegated to the political pavement as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stormed Mumbai in her 2-day-long high-profile trip which ended on Thursday, the Maharashtra Congress unitedly slammed her for her ‘RIP’-ping comments spelling doom for the UPA.

Banerjee met leaders of two of the 3 ruling allies – Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena’s MP Sanjay Raut and Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray, met civil society members, some industrialists, film personalities, but obviously she had no love lost for the state Congress.

The visiting leader’s shocker came during her brief media interaction, when she virtually blurted out – “What UPA? There’s no UPA now…” stunning the Congress and momentarily even the NCP supremo Pawar seemed dazed but kept his legendary cool.

An enraged Congress top brass hit back, though diplomatically – to avoid antagonising the Sena-NCP leaders or even remotely appear siding with the BJP – and harked on the grand old party’s contributions, the Gandhis’ leadership while blaming Banerjee’s “personal ambitions and ego” and painting the BJP as the real villain.

“The BJP is a threat to the Constitution and Democracy. Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are constantly challenging the dictatorial attitude of the BJP,” said State Congress President Nana Patole.

The Congress Legislature Party Leader Balasaheb Thorat dismissively said, “no individual party can fight the BJP if that party only thinks of its own political gains and personal ambitions” and the Congress remains the sole viable option before the country.

AICC Secretary Sanjay Dutt said, “if there is one party which has been fighting fascist forces and standing up for the people of India, it’s the Congress”, and others are now posturing only to grab the ‘chair’ (power).

“If any other party leader makes any baseless, sarcastic or malafide comments about Rahul Gandhi, we will give a befitting reply and show them the mirror of their past stance and statements,” hissed Dutt.

State PWD Minister Ashok Chavan hit back at Banerjee saying the “Congress and its leadership needs no certification for its commitment to Democracy and Constitution, or its tireless struggle against the BJP’s policies”.

“Since before Independence, Congress has been fighting for the commoners, the rights of the people… The (BJP) central government is using the ‘divide-and-rule’ policy on the opposition parties. In such a scenario, it becomes the responsibility of all non-BJP parties not to indulge in politics that supports this policy of the Centre,” said Chavan sharply.

Patole pointed out how Rahul Gandhi has stood firm against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP, on the land acquisition law and the three black agriculture laws, the BJP’s divisive policies, inflation, unemployment, etc.

“The country is more important than personal ambitions or egos… A political party restricted to one state cannot provide an alternative to the BJP. Given the gravity of the situation, all like-minded parties must come together in the national interest,” urge Patole, adding only Congress is the viable option to the BJP.

Thorat cautioned that criticising Rahul Gandhi would only help the BJP which he has fearlessly challenged, plus the Congress and the entire Gandhi family has borne the oppression of the BJP, but they were not cowed down.

Some political commentators have claimed that despite the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) venturing into uncharted territories where it is barely known or has any base, ultimately they will need Congress support to form the government as it happened during the tenures of the former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda or I.K. Gujral.

Besides Congress, even the Opposition BJP leaders attacked Didi, questioning her ‘private’ meeting with Shiv Sena leaders and asked whether Maharashtra would go the West Bengal way.

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Maharashtra

Omicron concerns: Mumbai, Pune, Nashik postpone schools’ reopening

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Amid concerns of the Covid-19 variant Omicron, the reopening of schools from Class 1 to 7 has been postponed by 10-15 days in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik, officials said here on Tuesday.

The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner I.S. Chahal and Pune Municipal Corporation Mayor Murlidhar have said that schools in the two cities — both among the worst-hit in the Covid-19 two waves in 2020 and 2021 — will now reopen from December 15.

Similarly, the Nashik Municipal Corporation, which was also among the badly-hit cities in the past two years of the pandemic, has also postponed the schools reopening plan to December 10.

However, all schools in the rest of Maharashtra are likely to reopen from December 1, for Class 1 to 5 in the rural areas and 1-7 in the urban areas with full Covid protocols, as announced earlier by School Education Minister Prof. Varsha E. Gaikwad.

Taking precautions, the BMC is currently tracking all passengers who have arrived in the city from the 12 Omicron-hit nations since November 10 to detect if any of them are infected by the new strain.

The state government has also sought information on all passengers landing at the three international airports in the state in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, besides those arriving from other states, by flights originating from the 12 nations.

The BMC has already announced that a 14-day institutional quarantine regime will be compulsory for all such passengers and home isolation will not be permitted under any circumstances.

The state, major cities and district health authorities are gearing up to face the challenge of Omicron by readying hospitals, beds, ICUs, liquid medical oxygen stocks, medicines, doctors, para-medical and non-medical staff, and other health infrastructure to cater to a possible patient rush in the coming weeks, even as Covid-19 vaccination drive has gained momentum.

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