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Shiv Sena moves Supreme Court against Governor’s decision approaches Kapil Sibal

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has consulted senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal for legal recourse as to why they were not given three-day time to form the government in Maharashtra.

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New Delhi, Nov 12 : The Shiv Sena on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court against the Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision not to extend the 24 hour time period given to the party to prove its number on the floor to form the government.

The Sena, which has emerged as the second-largest party with 56 seats in the 288-member Assembly, said that it was constrained to move the top court seeking urgent relief against the “arbitrary and malafide actions” of the Governor.

The party sought quashing of the order of the Governor and declaring the action “unconstitutional, arbitrary, illegal, void-ab-initio, and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India”.

Also raising questions on the Governor’s behaviour, it said that he cannot act in such a manner or act on the diktats of the Central Government.

The Sena was invited by the Governor when the single-largest party BJP, which won 105 seats, said that it cannot form a government.

It told the court that the Governor was in “hot haste” as he refused to grant even three days’ time to prove the requisite majority to form the government.

“The impugned actions/decisions of the Governor is violative of Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution. It is ex facie arbitrary, unreasonable, capricious and a malafide exercise of the power in order to ensure that the Petitioner No. 1 (Shiv Sena) is precluded from getting a fair and reasonable opportunity of proving its majority on the floor of the House,” the petition filed through senior advocate Kapil Sibal, lawyers Sunil Fernandes and Nizam Pasha said.

According to the petition, Shiv Sena had requested three days time to give the letters of support to demonstrate that it has the requisite majority to form the government on the same day when it has staked claim to form the government.

The Sena said that the party was in advanced talks for government formation with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) as well as the Congress.

In its petition, the Sena also mentioned the step taken by the party including party MP Sanjay Raut meeting NCP chief Sharad Pawar and said that these talks have been in a positive direction. The party also mentioned resignation of Arvind Sawant, the sole Union Minister from the Shiv Sena in the NDA government, from the Union Cabinet on November 11.

It also informed the court about Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s telephonic conversation with the Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi.

Sena also said that the party has got the support of eight independent MLAs – Narendra Bondekar, Manjula Gavith, Shankar Rao Gadak, Chandrakanth Patil, Ashish Jaiswal, Bachhukadu, Rajkumar Patel and Rajendra Patel Vadraokar.

It pleaded with the court to intervene and direct the Governor to grant reasonable time to the party to prima facie demonstrate the requisite support to form the Government.

The Sena said that the Governor, as per the law, ought to have invited the party to form Government and directed it to prove its majority on the floor of the house.

“…the factum of the majority cannot be decided by the Hon’ble Governor in his own ipsi dixit (an unsupported statement that rests solely on the authority of the individual who makes it) and the floor of the House is the only ‘constitutionally ordained forum’ to the test majority,” the plea said.

Asserting that the government formation is a sacrosanct political process in a democracy and Governor cannot act as a stumbling block for thwarting a political party from forming the government, the party said: “As per the constitutional conventions and practices, the Governor is duty-bound to allow reasonable time for political parties to conclude their negotiation on government formation and not act as an agent/mouthpiece of the Central Government and/or the Ruling party at the Centre.”

The party also cited the example of ninth General Elections, when no party secured an absolute majority and the President invited the largest party (Congress) to form the Government. when the largest party declined the offer, the leader of the next largest party (Janata Dal) was invited and subsequently a minority Government at the Centre was formed with the outside support of other parties.

India

‘Gujarat hub of Chinese investment’: Congress hits out at PM Modi

Citing the overarching anti-Chinese goods sentiment in the country and how several traders’ bodies have boycotted selling Chinese products, Khera asked the centre to articulate its own policy on the matter.

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New Delhi, July 6 : The Congress on Monday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging his home state Gujarat has become the ‘epicentre’ of Chinese investment in India.

This remark comes amid the India-China border tensions that saw 20 Indian soldiers get martyred in the Ladakh region following which the Centre brought curbs on Chinese investments.

“On the one hand, our brave army is pushing the PLA back from the Ladakh border, and on the other hand, PSUs continue to give contracts to Chinese companies,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said at a late night press conference here.

Calling Gujarat the “hub of Chinese investment”, Khera claimed that the process of Chinese investment in Gujarat continues. He also referred to 3 major MoUs signed in the last five years involving Rs 43,000 crore.

“One Industrial Park, the other is the Smart City Project and the Textile Park… Rs. 43,000 crore of MOUs in the last five years is fine, but, in the last 20 days also, the process doesn’t see any question mark, any comma, any full stop from the government. The Prime Minister comes from Gujarat, therefore the question will obviously be asked to the Prime Minister,” he said.

Using strong phrases like “special fondness for China”, the Congress asked the Prime Minister whether the Gujarat government will “reconsider” its approach.

Khera also asked about an alleged agreement with the China Association of Small and Medium Enterprises and whether it will be revoked or not. “We also want to know whether all those companies that you have given special status will be shown the door or not. People want to know, has there been any change in your policies?” he asked.

Citing the overarching anti-Chinese goods sentiment in the country and how several traders’ bodies have boycotted selling Chinese products, Khera asked the centre to articulate its own policy on the matter.

The Congress’s counter-offensive comes days after the ruling BJP had launched a scathing attack on the party and its interim President Sonia Gandhi for allegedly receiving funds from the Chinese government for the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, that she heads.

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Andhra Covid victim’s body dumped into pit by earthmover

The 50-year-old man was admitted to Sri Venkateshwara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS) last week and died on Monday.

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Amaravati, July 6 : Another video has emerged from Andhra Pradesh on Monday highlighting utter disrespect being shown while disposing of dead bodies of Covid-19 victims in the state.

In the second such incident in 10 days, authorities used a JCB excavator to lift the body of a Covid victim from an ambulance and dump it into a pit.

The incident occurred in the temple town of Tirupati in Chittoor district. The front portion of the JCB excavator was brought closer to the ambulance belonging to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD).

Health workers pushed the body onto the excavator, which carried it to a pit and dumped the body in it.

The municipal authorities defended the move, saying the body weighed nearly 180 kgs.

The 50-year-old man was admitted to Sri Venkateshwara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS) last week and died on Monday.

Tirupati Municipal Commissioner P.S. Girisha said they had to bury the body as the attempt by the municipal staff to cremate it had failed, since the body did not fit into the gas furnace. As the wrapping around the body was also torn while shifting it from ambulance to the furnace, they shifted the body back to SVIMS for re-wrapping.

He said it was on the advise of the family that they decided to bury the body. A 14-feet deep pit was dug using the excavator. It was then used to lift the body from the ambulance and dump it in the pit. The official, however, admitted that more workers should have been used to carry the body physically to the pit.

In a similar incident in Palasa town of Srikakulam district on June 26, the body of a Covid victim was shifted from his house to the cremation ground on a JCB excavator. In another incident in the same district, a Covid victim”s body was transported in a tractor.

Taking a serious note of the incidents, the government has suspended six officials.

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had expressed anguish for the inhuman act of transporting the mortal remains of COVID-19 patient through JCB excavator and ordered the immediate suspension of the officials.

“When the protocol in dealing with such cases are clearly mentioned and time and again we have been asking to drive out the stigma on Corona, the officials behaved in an irresponsible manner by transporting the dead body through a excavator which is inhuman and send a wrong signal to the people,” the Chief Minister had said.

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India

‘Covid caused students mental distress’: HC on plea for exam scrapping

The bench has also asked the varsity to state its preparedness of the website portal for handling of the traffic during examinations, keeping in mind the recent technical glitches faced by students during the mock exams.

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New Delhi, July 6 : The Delhi High Court on Monday, while seeking the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s stand on whether to cancel the final year examination of degree courses, said that holding exams is not just a technological issue but also needs to take in account the mental preparedness of students.

“…the UGC and the Central government, ought to also bear in mind that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in enormous mental distress and agony to students. There are families which are suffering medical illnesses and giving of examinations is not just a technological issue but the state of mental preparedness of the students also needs to be assessed,” said the court.

The observations by a single judge bench of Justice Pratibha M. Singh came in while it sought a response from the UGC and Centre over the cancellation of the examinations.

The bench said that the UGC and the HRD Ministry shall take a specific stand as to whether they recommend cancellation of final year examinations.

It has also asked responsible officials from the MHRD and the UGC to join the hearing on Tuesday.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Anupam and several students of the final year of the Delhi University seeking cancellation of the examinations in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The plea sought quashing and withdrawal of the notifications May 14, May 30, and June 27 in respect of undergraduate and postgraduate students, including students of the School of Open Learning and Non-Collegiate Women Education Board.

During the course of hearing, the petitioner”s counsel submitted that the DU”s portal for conducting online open book examination is also not working properly, and the pandemic is at its height.

“Under such circumstances, permitting students to take examinations in community service centres also has a risk of Covid-19 spreading further,” said advocates Akash Sinha and Shubham Saket appearing for the petitioner.

Opposing the submissions, advocate Sachin Dutta, appearing for the varsity, submitted that though there were technical glitches faced on the first day of the mock test, on the second day, the mock tests were conducted smoothly.

On a query from the Court, as to whether the date sheet has been announced, the varsity submitted that though the dates are not readily available with them, these had been published on the website this morning.

Advocate Apurv Kurup, appearing for the UGC, submitted that its guidelines are advisory in nature and are not binding.

Agreeing that a large number of universities do go by the UGC”s guidelines, Kurup said: “Several universities have cancelled their exams and several other universities have also gone ahead and held their exams as per media reports.”

MHRD’s counsel Sunita Ojha told the bench that she does not have any instructions as of Monday and there is no decision which has been published by the Ministry on its website.

The court, noting that “it is clear that the online examination which the DU intends to conduct had various glitches during the mock tests”, has now asked the varsity to provide the data regarding number of students who are studying in the final year and the number of students who are registered for the final year examinations to be conducted through the online process.

The bench has also asked the varsity to state its preparedness of the website portal for handling of the traffic during examinations, keeping in mind the recent technical glitches faced by students during the mock exams.

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