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SC disposes suo motu writ petition

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, July 30: The Supreme Court considered on Monday the submission of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association (JKHCBA) that it should dispose of the suo motu cognizance of the Kathua gangrape and murder case in which it has taken strong note of some lawyers obstructing the judicial process.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud took note of the submission by senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, appearing for the JKHCBA, that the trial in the matter has already been shifted to Pathankot in Punjab and has commenced as per its order.

Noting the submissions of the JKHCBA, the bench disposed off the matter.

 

The top court had on April 13 taken strong note of some lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the Kathua gangrape and murder case and initiated a case on its own record, saying such impediment “affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice”.

It had said that it is a settled law that a lawyer who appears for a victim or accused cannot be prevented by any bar association or group of lawyers, for it is his duty to appear in support of his client.

A Bar Council of India (BCI’s) committee had supported the demand of the lawyers’ body there for a CBI probe in the matter saying the bar associations in Kathua had not obstructed the police or the counsel representing the victim’s family in any manner.

The apex court had earlier transferred the trial of the Kathua gangrape and murder case to Pathankot in Punjab and directed that the trial should be held in-camera, be fast-tracked and conducted on a day-to-day basis to avoid any delay.

The top court had also said the trial would be carried out in accordance with the provisions of Ranbir Penal Code, which is applicable in Jammu and Kashmir.

The apex court had said the trial must be fair to the victim’s family as well as the accused.

It had also ordered continuation of security to the family members of the victim, family friends and lawyer representing them and directed translation of statements and records of the case from Urdu to English.

The victim, an eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community, had disappeared from near her home in a village close to Kathua in the Jammu region on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.

The state police’s Crime Branch, which probed the case, filed the main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district.

The charge sheet has revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed.


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Bijbehara: 40 polling booths with zero votes

Mubashir Bukhari

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Bijbehara, Apr 23: Home turf of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, the Bijbehara assembly segment under the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, reported highest concentration of polling stations where zero votes were cast.

Among the 65 booths in Anantnag where zero votes were cast, 40 were located in Bijbehara, one of the six assembly constituencies where voting took place in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections Tuesday.

People cast their votes in 714 polling stations in Anantnag. Bijbehara, the home constituency of PDP president Mufti, had 120 polling booths set up for a population of 93,289 people.

 

A total of 1,893 electorate or 2 per cent exercised their franchise when the polling ended at 4 pm. The voting time for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat was reduced in view of security considerations. The Baramulla Lok Sabha seat, where voting took place in the first phase, saw 17 polling stations with zero while the Srinagar Parliamentary seat, which went to polls in the second phase, recorded zero votes in 90 booths.

Polling in Anantnag, which has 16 assembly seats, has been divided into three phases. The first phase was completed on Tuesday while remaining two will be held on April 29 and May 6. The decision for staggered polling was taken keeping in view the security situation in South Kashmir which has seen many encounters between security forces and militants.

On February 14, over 40 CRPF personnel were killed in a miliant attack in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

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Clubbing of booths kept voters away

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Apr 23:  The clubbing of the polling booths in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency Tuesday discouraged many voters, who preferred to stay at home rather than walking long distances to cast their votes.  

District Anantnag, which went for polls first in the three-phased schedule Tuesday, recorded 13.63 voter turnouts in six segments including Anantnag, Dooru, Kokernag, Shangus, Bijbehara and Pahalgam.

Scores of the voters said that many gave up their plans to cast vote after authorities announced clubbing of the polling booths in the constituency.

 

In Lisser Chawalgam village of Kokernag segment, at least three polling stations catering to different locations were accommodated in a local higher secondary school.

 It included polling station of Shalnaad village as well, which is at least three kilometers away from the station.  

Those who casted their votes claimed that they had to enter secretly into the booth as the area had witnessed stone pelting.

“More people could have come to vote if the locations of the polling booths were not changed at the last moment. Many women didn’t cast their votes as they too had to travel kilometres to reach to the polling station,” said a voter, who had come from Shalnaad to cast his vote at higher secondary school Lisser.

Similarly polling booths in rural areas of Anantnag, Pahalgam too were clubbed, which reportedly affected the voting percentage of these areas.

“South Kashmir usually witnesses low voting percentage. The change in the location of polling booths has further the participation,” said a polling officer.

National Conference Candidate for Anantnag, Retired Justice Hasnain Masoodi, told The Kashmir Monitor that the clubbing of the polling booth was the main reason behind the low voting percentage in many areas.

“The polling booths of Jeshnaad and Makawora have been accommodated in government buildings, which are five to eight kilometers away from these villages. It has made the entire voting exercise inconvenient for the people,” he said.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) earlier also said that clubbing of the polling stations for Parliament elections in Jammu and Kashmir will affect the participation of people in the elections.

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Security bandobast not up to the mark: Mir

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Srinagar, Apr 23: The Congress Candidate from Anantnag Parliamentary Constituency Ghulam Ahmad Mir Tuesday conveyed his gratitude to voters for participating in polling in Anantnag and hoped that the people of other districts will follow suit.

Mir, in a statement, also expressed serious concern over the lack of security arrangements in Anantnag, saying that “the fool-proof security as was assured by the ECI were not visible on the ground, describing it as a lack of concern on the part of ECI.”

“I express my gratitude to voters for participating in polling in Anantnag,” he said saying that he was pleased to observe that the day has passed incident free.

 

Taking a jibe at ECI for lack of security arrangements in the district during polling, Mir said the required security arrangements were not seen on the ground in the Anantnag.

“The assurances of ECI with regard to fool-proof security arrangements have fallen flat, which was a matter of serious concern and should not be repeated in coming phases in South Kashmir,” he said.

Mir urged upon the ECI to look into the security aspect of south Kashmir and ensure that fool-proof security arrangements are put in place to ensure free, fair and incident-free elections.

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