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Judge Loya death: Fresh plea in Bombay HC seeking 7-judge bench hearing



CBI Justice Loya

Mumbai, Dec 6: A fresh public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Bombay High Court, seeking an unprecedented seven-judge bench to hear the case concerning the death of former CBI Special Judge B.H. Loya, a lawyer said here on Thursday.

“There have been similar benches in the Supreme Court in the past. However, if our prayer is granted, this will be the first time ever (seven-judge bench) in any high court in India,” lawyer Nitin Satpute, representing the petitioner Sanjay R. Bhalerao, told IANS.

Among the 24 respondents named in the PIL are the Supreme Court Secretary-General, the Bombay High Court Registrar-General, several Maharashtra government departments and officials, police officers, medicos and the Inspector-General of the Special Protection Group (SPG).

The PIL has urged the High Court to treat the voluminous petition as a ‘First Information Report’ and order investigations under its supervision into Judge Loya’s death by constituting a three-member Special Investigation Team comprising IPS officers from state where the Bharatiya Janata Party or its allies are not in power.

Around midnight of November 30, 2014, Judge Loya — who was hearing the politically sensitive Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter killing case in which the name of Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah had figured — suffered a massive heart attack during a trip to Nagpur and was declared dead the following day.

A month after Judge Loya’s death, on December 30, 2014, the Special CBI Court discharged Shah and other top officials from the Sohrabuddin case.

Bhalerao has also sought directions to the Maharashtra Home Department (headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis) not to allot any work to the police officials who had conducted discreet inquiry into the matter without taking into consideration material documents, and whose inquiry report was filed before the Supreme Court.

He said he has pleaded that the Law Department should not assign any work to officers he has named and prayed they must be restrained from entering any government office for professional duties which may directly or indirectly touch the Judge Loya issue.

Bhalerao said the concerned police stations and police officials in Mumbai and Nagpur should be ordered to collect the detailed records of Judge Loya’s itinerary from Mumbai to Nagpur, where he died on December 1, 2014.

Satupute said the PIL has sought that the Home Department and Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) take action against all the police officials in Mumbai and Nagpur under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 for not lodging complaints of alleged offer of bribe of Rs 100 crore to the late Judge Loya.

It has also demanded a thorough probe into all the events and circumstances leading to the death of the judge after the matter was highlighted in a news report on November 21, 2017 in Caravan magazine.

The PIL has demanded a CBI Departmental Inquiry against CBI officials and some members of the judiciary.

In view of the threats to their lives, the petitioner, the lawyer and their families, besides Judge Loya’s family, witnesses, all judges and magistrates must be given proper round-the-clock security from the state or central agencies, to enable them depose freely and fearlessly, the lawyer added.

On November 20, 2017, the Caravan magazine carried an expose on the circumstances surrounding the death of Judge Loya and the matter was taken up in various courts.

In January, the Supreme Court ordered all high courts to transfer all petitions pertaining to the Judge Loya case to the apex court and in April, the matter was closed due to the absence of any material documents on record.

Subsequently, another PIL was filed with fresh government documents in the Bombay High Court, Nagpur Bench in November.



HAL-built light combat helicopter completes weapon trials



HAL , Helicopter
HAL , Light Combat Helicopter; Image : ANI , Sanjay Simha

Bengaluru, Jan 17: The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) developed by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has successfully carried out air to air missile firing on a moving aerial target and is ready for operational induction, the defence behemoth said on Thursday.

Other weapons on the LCH include a 20mm Turret gun and 70 mm Rockets, the firing trials of which have already been completed last year.

“During the tests conducted at integrated test range, Chandipur Odisha recently, Wg Cdr Subash P John, VM (Retd), test pilot, Col Ranjit Chitale, (Retd), Flight Test Engineer from HAL and Gp Capt Rajeev Dubey, test pilot from the IAF, executed a flawless mission and achieved a direct hit on the aerial target, destroying it completely,” said HAL spokesperson Gopal Sutar in a press statement.

According to the HAL, LCH is the only attack copter in the world which is capable of operating at altitudes as high as Siachen glacier.

The helicopter is equipped with helmet mounted sight and a forward looking infrared sighting system, allowing its pilots to detect and attack any target on ground or in the air.


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President Ram Nath Kovind offers prayer at Kumbh



President Kovind

Prayagraj, Jan 17: President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday offered prayers at ongoing Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Governor Ram Naik were also present.


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Supreme Court allows Mumbai dance bars to reopen with restrictions



Mumbai dance bars
Representative Image

Mumbai, Jan 17: The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed dance bars to reopen in Mumbai but imposed regulations such as barring CCTV surveillance.

It said there was no need for CCTV surveillance inside dance bars as it violates privacy.

The apex court said that the performers could be tipped, but showering of cash and coins will not be allowed inside the bars.

The court added that Maharashtra cannot ban dance bars by taking recourse to regulating them, noting that since 2005 no licence has been issued.

“Since 2005 till date, no licence has been issued. There may be regulation but that does not amount to total prohibition,” said a bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan.

Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Sikri said that there could be no segregation of dance stage and that of drinking and eating space as it struck down the provision for “mandatory” installing of CCTV cameras in the dance bars holding that it violates privacy.

The court upheld the definition of obscenity given in the State law saying that it was not vague.

Holding that those visiting the dance bar could give tips, the court said no to the showering of money during dance performances.

The court held as “unreasonable” the provision that says that a dance bar should be one kilometre away from religious places, hospitals and educational institutions.

However, it left it to the state legislature to take a call on the issue.

Striking down the provision that said that the owner of the dance bar should have a “good character” and no “criminal antecedents”, the court said: “There is no precise definition of what amounts to good character and criminal antecedents.”


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