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Cannot release all categories of prisoners due to Covid-19: Supreme Court

The plea had contended despite HPC orders, many continue to languish in jails in Maharashtra.

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Jail Prisoners

New Delhi, Sep 22 : The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it never meant to release all categories of prisoners accused of any offence during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, dismissed a plea by the National Alliance for People’s Movement, through its convenor Medha Patkar, challenging the Bombay High Court decision to uphold the Maharashtra high-powered committee’s recommendation to not release on emergency parole prisoners convicted for offences punishable with less than seven years under special Acts such as the NDPS Act, UAPA, MCOCA etc,

Against the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic, the apex court had, in its order on March 23, had asked states to constitute high-powered committees to decide the release of prisoners on interim bail while considering the gravity of the offence committed and the length of the jail term.

“The present option provided is only as a solution to help decongestion and to avoid the spread of the virus. At the same time, benefit granted in such circumstances cannot be to the detriment of social order by releasing all categories of prisoners irrespective of the categorisation to be made depending on the severity of the crime etc,” said the top court.

The bench observed that it is of the opinion the HPC is constituted for a specific purpose, and interference in a judicial proceeding of the present nature to alter the criteria would not arise unless it is shown to be so arbitrary that no reasonable person can accept it.

The plea had contended despite HPC orders, many continue to languish in jails in Maharashtra.

“Reconsider the cases of 11,000 convicted prisoners for temporary release on emergency parole pending the final hearing of the matter as per the classification of the prisoners done by the HPC and pursuant to the decision of the Government of Maharashtra, as announced by the Home Minister by way of press release dated March 26, if they are yet to be released,” the plea had said.

The apex court said it is necessary to indicate that the cause for grievance may arise for an individual undertrial/convicted prisoner only if such person has been discriminated against as against the prisoner in the same category for which the benefit has been provided by the categorisation made by the HPC.

“But in circumstances where there is any individuous discrimination amongst the prisoners in same category and similarly placed, it would be open for the competent court to examine the same to that limited extent when grievance is raised by the person who is denied the benefit if he/she is entitled to such benefit,” the top court said.

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Now, Maha Dy CM Ajit Pawar tests corona positive

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Ajit Pawar Maharashtra

Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar on Monday tested positive for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Pawar has been admitted to a hospital in Mumbai, ANI quoted his office as saying.

The news comes days after former Maharashtra chief ministr and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis tested positive for the disease.

Fadnavis on Saturday said he had tested positive for coronavirus. The BJP leader was admitted to a government-run hospital in Mumbai and his condition is stable.

With 1,41,001 total active cases, Maharashtra continues to be the worst affected state by Covid-19 in the country. While 14,60,755 patients have recovered from the disease in the state, 43,264 have died so far.

Covid-19 claimed lives of 112 people in the state in the last 24 hours, according to Union health ministry. Mumbai, which crossed the 10,000 mark for deaths two days ago, remained on top, in terms of mortalities, with 46 more deaths taking the toll to 10,105.

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India

Campaigning for Bihar Phase I polls to end on Oct 26 evening

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In Bihar, campaigning for the FIRST phase of assembly elections in 71 assembly constituencies spread over 16 districts will come to an end this evening. Polling will be held on Wednesday. Several constituencies that go to polls in this phase are Naxal violence affected and sensitive from security point of view.

In the first phase a total of 1066 candidates are in fray and over 2.14 Cr eligible voters will exercise their franchise. BJP is contesting from 29 seats, JD(U) from 35 and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) from six assembly seats. The Vikas Sheel Insaan Party (VIP) has fielded one (01) candidate.

The Grand alliance’s RJD is contesting from 42 seats, while Congress has fielded 21 candidates. The CPI-ML has 08 candidates in fray.

The LJP has decided to support BJP candidates on those seats where LJP is not contesting.

Political fortunes of 08 cabinet ministers Prem Kumar, Ram Narayan Mandal, Jai Kumar Singh, Krishna Nandan Verma, Shailesh Kumar, Santosh Nirala, Vijay Kumar Sinha and Brij Kishore Bind will be decided in this phase.

Former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi is contesting from Imamganj assembly constituency as NDA candidate. The RJD has pitted former speaker of Bihar Legislative assembly Uday Narayan Chaudhary against Mr Manjhi. On the last day of campaigning stalwarts and star campaigners are making a last ditch effort to woo the voters.

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Thinnest crowd, sans guest: Covid hurts RSS’ biggest event

Like other years, there were no ceremonial band playing or marches. Bhagwat simply offered his floral tribute to Hedgewar, RSS founder and did ‘Shastra puja’.

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Mohan Bhagwat RSS Chief

New Delhi: The foundation day of BJP’s ideological mentor, thee RSS on this Vijaya Dashami has been unique.

The Sangh’s single largest annual event that usually witnesses hundreds and thousands of cadres systematically assembling at the ground to listen to the Sarsanghchalak was missing.

In fact, to Bhagwta’s own admission, this year it was the thinnest crowd ever — apart from the day of its inception.

This time the RSS annual event that takes place on a sprawling ground in Nagpur, took place inside an auditorium where a handful of cadres were seated with adequate physical distancing, given the pandemic situation.

“This is probably the first time in Sangh’s history since its foundation day that a RSS Vijaya Dashami program has been organised with such a restricted low number. We have done this keeping in view the COVID protocol,” Bhagwat said at the outset.

While he paid tributes to the front line workers who lost their lives fighting the virus and urged all to be mindful of the persistent threat, one couldn’t help but notice that there was no Chief Guest this year. It was also done amid the pandemic in a stark departure from tradition.

Each year, some one of prominence is invited to lecture on this biggest annual RSS event. Former President Pranab Mukherjee created a row when he agreed to be the chief guest of this event in 2018. Last year, it was HCL’s Shiv Nadar. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, Gen V.K. Singh were also among the other guests present at the address. However, 2020 was an odd one out when no one special was invited.

Meanwhile, given it was a small inside arrangement, the stage too was very small in comparison to the mammoth stage that is erected each year on the ground. Only 4 individuals, including Bhagwat were present on stage this time — all wearing a mask.

Only 50 volunteers were allowed inside the Maharshi Vyas auditorium this year. “We are all aware that this Vijayadashami the celebrations are restrained in terms of numbers. We are also aware of the cause. To prevent community spread of Coronavirus social gatherings are restricted,” Bhagwat said.

Like other years, there were no ceremonial band playing or marches. Bhagwat simply offered his floral tribute to Hedgewar, RSS founder and did ‘Shastra puja’.

Though, the event is being beamed live each year, it was the main source of dissemination of the Sangha’s message this year, given no media access was allowed.

The event was beamed live on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. Above 42,000 viewed it through Youtube while nearly 23,000 saw it on the Twitter account of RSS. In fact, while beginning to address, Bhagwat also mentioned those who were joining online.

This is the Sangh’s biggest annual event where the Sarsanghchalak chalks out the broader agenda for the year to come. This time, Bhagwat spoke extensively on the pandemic, Chinese aggression and how India must counter it as well as push for ‘swadeshi’. He also spoke against pro-CAA protestors.

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