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Kerala church scandal: HC grants bail to priest accused of rape

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Kerala HC

Kochi, July 23: The Kerala High Court on Monday granted bail to Father Johnson V. Mathew, one of the four priests accused in a rape case of a woman parishioner.

The court, however, asked the Malankara Orthodox Church priest to surrender his passport.

Mathew was arrested on July 13, from near Thiruvalla by the Crime Branch police probing the case. He has been holed up at the Pathanamthitta district jail since.

Last week a magisterial court in Thiruvalla had rejected his bail, following which he approached the high court.

In this case the Crime Branch has charged four Kerala priests, including Father Job Mathew who was the first to be nabbed and Father Johnson V. Mathew. Father Sony (Abraham) Varghese and Father Jaice K. George had moved the Supreme Court and managed to get a stay order till their petition is finally disposed.

While Mathew who got the bail on Monday, has been charged for outraging the modesty of a lady, the three others have been charged for rape.

The victim who regularly visited the church had accused five priests of sexually abusing her for a decade. Her husband had complained that she came under the duress from at least five priests.

It was one priest in the beginning who first exploited his wife and then started blackmailing her.

When she sought help from another priest, he too, threatened her and shared her contact with a fellow priest and she was eventually victimised by five of them.

The National Commission for Women is monitoring the case. One of the priests escaped action as the victim had mentioned only four names, according to the police.

IANS

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Why shall CBI’s appeal in 2G case be given priority over pending matters: Advocate to HC

He further argued that allowing the application for early hearing shall be against the interest of justice, as the respondents shall not get adequate opportunity as the records run into lakhs of pages.

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CBI Headquarters

New Delhi, Sep 21 : While the Delhi High Court on Monday was hearing an application seeking early hearing in the 2G spectrum case, the accused persons, including former Telecom Minister A. Raja, businessman Shahid Balwa and others, opposed the said application filed by the CBI and the ED.

When the matter was being heard by Justice Brijesh Sethi, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain informed the court that the matter is of public interest and since Justice Sethi is due to demit his office on November 30, the court may hear the matter expeditiously.

Responding to the arguments, the counsels appearing for the various accused persons opposed the plea moved by the agencies. Advocate Manu Sharma, appearing for A. Raja, argued that there was no reason to grant an out-of-turn, urgent hearing to the appeals moved by the CBI and the ED amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Advocates Vijay Aggarwal, Mudit Jain and Ashul Agarwal, representing Shahid Balwa and several others, too opposed the said petition and stated that the CBI has not explained as to why the appeal filed by them should be given precedence/preference over other appeals.

“Why is the appeal so important and be given this much priority when there are several pending matters wherein the accused persons are languishing in jail,” Aggarwal argued.

He further argued that allowing the application for early hearing shall be against the interest of justice, as the respondents shall not get adequate opportunity as the records run into lakhs of pages.

“However, to address the arguments, each person will not even get 0.89 day to argue his or her case as the concerned judge is scheduled to demit his office. Justice hurried is justice burried,” Aggarwal said.

The court will now hear the matter on Tuesday.

The probe agencies, both CBI and ED, had moved the court in March 2018 challenging the trial court’s order which had acquitted all the accused persons in the 2G spectrum case. In 2017, a special CBI court acquitted all the 18 accused, including A. Raja and K. Kanimozhi.

The scam came to light almost seven years ago when the Comptroller and Auditor General in a report held then Telecom Minister A. Raja responsible for causing the state exchequer a loss of Rs 1,76,379 crore by allocating 2G spectrum licences at throwaway prices.

However, the trial court found that the prosecution failed to prove the charges. This verdict, however, didn’t override the Supreme Court judgement or take away from the fact that the licences issued during 2G spectrum allocation were illegal.

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Encounter on between terrorists, security forces in Kashmir’s Budgam

“Encounter has started at Charar-i-Sharief area of Budgam. Police and security forces are on the job,” police said.

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Jammu and Kashmir Shopian Indian Army

Srinagar, Sep 21 : An encounter is underway between terrorists and security forces at Charar-i-Sharief in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Monday, officials said.

The firefight took place after security forces cordoned off the area and launced a search operation on the basis of specific information about presence of terrorists. As the security forces zeroed in on the spot where terrorists were hiding they came under a heavy volume of fire that triggered the encounter.

“Encounter has started at Charar-i-Sharief area of Budgam. Police and security forces are on the job,” police said.

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India

PM Modi to address IIT Guwahati’s convocation on Tuesday

As many as 1,803 students including 687 B.Tech and 637 M. Tech students will be obtaining degrees.

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Narendra Modi

New Delhi, Sep 21 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the convocation of IIT, Guwahati on Tuesday through video-conferencing.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, his deputy Sanjay Dhotre among others will also join in.

As many as 1,803 students including 687 B.Tech and 637 M. Tech students will be obtaining degrees.

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