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CBI probe plea dismissed, case transferred to Pathankot

Monitor News Bureau

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New Delhi, May 07: The Supreme Court on Monday transferred the trial of the Kathua rape and murder case to the district and sessions court of Pathankot, Punjab.
The Court also ordered for an in-camera trial to be held on a day-to-day basis without adjournment.
The order was passed by a bench of Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra in the petition filed by the father of the victim seeking the transfer of the trial outside Kathua.
The top court, however, refused to accept the plea made by some accused in the case demanding a CBI probe.
The court observed that since the case already stood committed to the sessions court, there was no justification for a fresh probe.
The accused who were supported by number of BJP leaders had alleged that the inquiry conducted by the Crime Branch of the state police was not based on the principles of justice.
The Court also directed that the proceedings would go according to the J&K’s Ranbir Penal Code rather than the Indian Penal Code even though the case has been transferred outside the state.
The state has also been told to arrange an interpreter to translate the witness reports, which are majorly in Urdu.
Also, the prosecutor, in this shift, would still be appointed by the J&K state, the court observed.
Senior Advocate Indira Jaising along with Deepika Singh Rajawat appeared for the victim’s father, while Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora and advocate Harvinder Chaudhary appeared for the accused.
Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium appeared for the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The apex court also ordered J&K government to facilitate transport and other facilities for the accused and the witnesses at Pathankot. The state has also been given the liberty to appoint a Special Public Prosecutor for the trial at Pathankot.
The Supreme Court will monitor the trial and the matter will now be heard on July 9.
The top court also allowed J&K government to appoint public prosecutor to conduct prosecution of the accused in the trial at Pathankot and asked the government to provide security to victim’s family, their lawyer and witnesses.
The plea made by the state that proceedings of the case be in accordance with the provisions of the Ranbir Penal Code and not the Indian Penal Code, was also accepted.
Before transferring the case to Pathankot, the court considered several options, including Udhampur, Jammu, Ramban and Sambha.
But except Ramban, other places were not acceptable to victim’s family. Ramban was rejected by the accused saying it is dominated by another community hence not conducive to fair trial.
The court also issued directives to District and Sessions Judge Pathankot to personally undertake trial proceedings and not assign it to any additional sessions judge. The court said that it will continue to monitor the progress in trial from time to time.
The victim’s father had filed a plea to move the trial to Chandigarh. The accused had also filed a plea seeking to transfer the case to the CBI from the police.
The victim, an eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community, had disappeared from near her home in a village near Kathua in the Jammu region on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.
The apex court had earlier given a stern warning and said it would transfer the Kathua gangrape-and-murder case from the local court in the “slightest possibility” of lack of fair trial, saying the “real concern” was to hold proper prosecution.
The girl’s father had moved the apex court earlier, apprehending threat to the family, a friend and their lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat. A separate plea was also filed by two accused seeking that the trial in the case be held in Jammu and the probe handed over to the CBI.
The state police’s Crime Branch, which probed the case, filed the main chargesheet against seven persons and a separate chargesheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district last week. The chargesheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed.
The Supreme Court also asked the government to continue providing security to the victim’s family, their lawyer and witnesses.
The petition was filed by the biological father of the victim who had sought transfer of the trial to Chandigarh. The J&K government was against transferring the trial outside the state.
Earlier, the Jammu and Kashmir government had assured the Supreme Court that it will provide all necessary arrangements and security for the trial to go smoothly– thereby opposing the transfer of case.


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Lok Sabha passes bill to empower NIA in fight against ‘terrorism’

UPA repealed POTA for vote bank politics: Amit Shah

Agencies

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New Delhi, Jul 15: The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill 2019 after uproar by the opposition parties on the floor of the House.
The bill empowers the central anti-terror agency to investigation offences committed outside India as well as mandates the setting up of special courts for such cases.
Batting for the Bill in Lok Sabha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah urged members of opposition parties to remain united in passing the same.
Addressing the Lok Sabha, the Home Minister said that rationale behind the bill was to ensure speedy trial in terror-related cases. He further called for voting on the bill, saying it would classify as to who stood against terrorism and who stood for it.
“Terrorism is neither right wing nor left wing, terrorism is terrorism. This is a BJP government and it works as per the provisions of law,” said the Home Minister.
Later, Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy said that “it is the duty of the government to fight terrorism” and hence passing the bill was imperative for the country.
“Hamari ‘chowkidar’ ki sarkar hai. Yeh sarkar desh ki raksha karne ke liye aage rahegi (We have a government of ‘chowkidar’. This government is committed to ensure safety and security of the country). It is the duty of the government to fight terrorism.”
Parliament also witnessed verbal dual between Shah and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi when Satya Pal Singh of the BJP alleged that TADA and POTA were used unfairly by the previous governments.
Earlier, several opposition members, including N K Premachandran and Saugata Roy, questioned the government’s decision to push for a discussion amid the ongoing budget- related debates but Speaker Om Birla ruled that a debate can start.
Reddy said the NIA has been doing a good work and secured conviction in over 90 per cent of cases. It has so far registered 272 cases out of which judgement has been delivered in 52, he added.
Appropriate punishment to the accused at times is not meted out to criminals involved in human trafficking, he said, pitching for the NIA to probe these cases.
With terrorism having international dimensions, he said it is imperative that the NIA is empowered to probe incidents of terrorism targeting Indians, the Indian embassy and other assets abroad.
Tewari said India’s founding fathers have given primacy to civil liberties as they had seen that many criminal laws were brought in by the British to keep Indians suppressed.
When investigation agencies are seen as being misused for political vendetta, then there is a fundamental problem with a bill that seeks to empower a probe body, he said. Tewari though added that his allegation is not aimed at any particular government and is generic.
He also demanded a separation between investigation and prosecution wings for a fair probe.
He accused the government of seeking to turn the country into a police state, and said its ramifications will last beyond its tenure.

UPA repealed POTA for vote bank politics: Amit Shah

New Delhi, Jul 15: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said that the decision of UPA government to repeal POTA in 2004 was a mistake and was taken for the sake of “vote bank politics”, which led to rise in the incidents of “terrorism” between 2004 and 2008.
Intervening in the debate on the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Shah said that BJP government had no intention to misuse the amendments being proposed to strengthen the NIA.
“It (POTA) was repealed to save the vote bank politics. It was helpful in protecting the borders of the country,” he said.
He said that the decision to repeal the POTA, taken by the first UPA government in its first Cabinet meeting, was a “political decision”.
Shah said the opposition members can do their politics but should not use the parliament for this.
Home Minister Shah, who faced some interruptions from opposition members, said the decision to repeal POTA was wrong and the view was also shared by security agencies.
“There was such rise in terrorism between 2004 and 2008 that the UPA had to bring the NIA Bill,” he said, adding that if there were POTA, Mumbai blasts could have been prevented.

Congress calls it attempt to turn India into ‘police state’
Agencies
New Delhi, Jul 15: The government asserted on Monday that a Bill to broaden the National Investigation Agency’s powers is part of its policy of zero tolerance against terrorism and is in national interest, as Lok Sabha took up a discussion on the proposed legislation.
While Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy sought support of all parties for the passage of the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Manish Tewari of the Congress accused the government of trying to turn India into a “police state.”
Tewari opposed the Bill, saying probe agencies are misused for “political vendetta” and “inspired media leaks” from them have turned the maxim of “innocent until proven guilty” on its head.
He also claimed that the constitutional validity of the NIA Act, which led to the investigation agency’s formation, is still not settled as pleas challenging its validity are pending in different courts.
Earlier, several opposition members, including N.K. Premachandran and Saugata Roy, questioned the government’s decision to push for a discussion amid the ongoing budget- related debates but Speaker Om Birla ruled that a debate can start.
Tewari said India’s founding fathers have given primacy to civil liberties as they had seen that many criminal laws were brought in by the British to keep Indians suppressed.
When investigation agencies are seen as being misused for political vendetta, then there is a fundamental problem with a bill that seeks to empower a probe body, he said. Mr. Tewari though added that his allegation is not aimed at any particular government and is generic.
He also demanded a separation between investigation and prosecution wings for a fair probe. He accused the government of seeking to turn the country into a police state, and said its ramifications will last beyond its tenure.

 
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KEG led alliance sweeps Kashmir Press Club polls

Shuja elected first Prez, Moazum VP, Tantray GS, Farooq treasurer

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 15: Shuja ul Haq of India Today was elected first president of Kashmir Press Club for which the elections were held on Monday.

Shuja won by one vote in the closely fought polls. He polled 92 votes while his nearest rival Haroon Rashid of Nida-e-Mashriq got 91 votes. Zulfikar Majid, who was also contesting for the post of president, got 46 votes.

Except President, Kashmir Editors Guild led alliance swept the Kashmir Press Club polls.
Moazum Mohammad of The Kashmir Reader was elected vice president. Wasim Khalid and Syed Tajamul, who were contesting for the post of Vice President, got 24 and 74 votes respectively. Three votes were rejected.

 

Riyaz Ahmad Malik, Ishfaq Ahmad Tantray and Hakeem Irfan were fighting for the post of General Secretary. Ishfaq Tantray of The Tribune emerged winner by bagging 102 votes followed by Reyaz Malik 95 and Hakeem Irfan 28 votes.

There were two contestants for the post of treasurer. Farooq Javeed Khan polled 178 votes while Arshid Rasool got 44 votes.

Seven executive members, who emerged winners, include Habib Naqash with 150 votes, Arshid Hussain with 122 votes, Shafat Kira with 105 votes, Nisar Bhat with 122 votes Gowhar Geelani with 106 votes, Auqib Javeed with 99 votes and Altaf Baba with 86 votes.

252 journalists were eligible to cast their votes for four posts and seven-member executive committee. . However only 231 turned out to vote.

Much excitement was witnessed since morning as scores of journalists assembled to cast their ballots.

In a run up to the polls, candidates tried hard to woo voters through a fierce poster, social media and video campaigns.

Social security, exigency funds, free legal support and other issues were some of the poll promises made by the candidates during canvassing.

An eight member team led by Manzoor Anjum was part of election commission that conducted polls. The elections were conducted under the observation of two lawyers from High Court Bar Association– Bashir Sidiq and Mohammad Ashraf Bhat.

Press club of Kashmir was established last year. Later the erstwhile information directorate building at Polo View was handed over to the journalists. Since then ad hoc body of journalists was running the affairs of Press Club.

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Assembly Elections: Political parties get into campaign mode in Kashmir

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Jul 15: Political parties have kicked off the process to woo the voters even as the Election Commission is yet to decide on the schedule for the Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir is without an elected government since June 19 last year when the then Mehbooba Mufti government collapsed after BJP pulled out of the PDP led alliance.

Though the EC successfully conducted the parliamentary polls in May this year, it did not announce any schedule for the assembly polls.

 

Hopes however rekindled last month when Union Home Minister Amit Shah told the parliament that the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held “in a democratic, free and fair manner as soon as the Election Commission announces the dates”.

Sensing the possibility of early assembly polls, political parties have now switched into a campaign mode to woo the electorate in the state.“We are busy holding district level conventions. Our main focus is on unity. We urge people to unite for the sake of Jammu and Kashmir,” Ali Muhammad Sagar, General Secretary, National Conference, told The Kashmir Monitor.

Sagar said the party has been holding at least three conventions daily in south Kashmir region to put across their agenda. “We are now concentrating on Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara districts. We are holding corner meetings with people. We have given instructions to our workers to ensure that our message reaches to the people at grassroots,” he said.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which lost all the three parliamentary seats in Kashmir, has also reached out to their workers and core supporters for assembly polls.“We have held meetings in South and Central Kashmir. So far people have been busy with agriculture and tourism. Now our president Mehbooba Mufti will visit every constituency to garner support for upcoming election,” said Rafi Ahmed Mir, chief spokesman of PDP.

Mir said there are challenges of vote division before the party, but the party is working out a strategy to woo the voters. “We are activating our workers,” he added.

Similarly BJP, which claims to have over 3.35 lakh members in the valley, has asked its Panchs and Sarpanchs to accelerate the membership drive.“Every Panch or Sarpanch has been asked to enlist at least 500 new members in order to benefit party in the elections,” a party leader said.

Congress too has gone into a campaign mode to woo the voters before polls.

State Congress president G A Mir has held several meetings with former ministers and ex-Legislators to work out a strategy for polls. On Sunday senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad too chaired a meeting of Congress leaders to review the party functioning.

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