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State okays ACB decision to close Gavit inquiry

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 16 April 2015 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The state government informed the Bombay high court on Wednesday that it had approved the anti-corruption bureau decision to close the open inquiry into the alleged disproportionate assets of former state minister Vijaykumar Gavit, his wife, Kumudini, and his brother, Sharad.

On March 24, the ACB in Dhule submitted its report of the open inquiry to the high court and its director general was granted two weeks to take a decision on it. A division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice V L Achliya was submitted the director general's report in a sealed envelope.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) by Nashik activists for the prosecution of the Gavit trio. The PIL alleged that "illegal assets" were acquired by Gavit when he was minister of the tribal development department, a portfolio he held for a long time.

Gavit's advocate, Mahesh Jethmalani, asked what the director general's final report had said. Justice Patil said: "The final report is in your [Gavit] favour. DG is not in favour of the open inquiry continuing. State government has concurred and sanctioned its closure."

The bench called for the director general's communication to the government giving reasons for closure. After perusing it, the judges said the director general was of the opinion that no case was made out in the open inquiry and nothing further was required to be done.

Jethmalani urged for disposing of the PIL, saying the petitioners' prayers had been granted. "The SIT probed the case; the inquiry was conducted under the auspices and monitoring of the court," he said.

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At standing committee meet, most political parties oppose new hawking policy

MUMBAI: Almost all political parties are united against BMC's new hawker policy. Their common refrain was that the new policy should not disturb residents just to accommodate hawkers.

Corporators of almost all parties opposed the civic authority's decision to disturb peaceful areas after marking them as 'hawking zones'. Already, citizens too have been opposing the policy.

Recently TOI reported about how Pali Hill residents were upset about hawking zones being proposed in their area despite it being a purely residential zone having no footpaths.Residents from south and central Mumbai too strongly opposed the idea of having their areas converted into hawking zones.

The BMC has mapped out about 60,000 'hawking patches' (one will usually accommodate one vendor) across the city and will try to accommodate around 90,000 hawkers at different time slots. Currently, the city has nearly 15,000 licensed hawkers.

During the civic standing committee meeting, MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande raised the hawker issue after stating that there is no proper plan with the civic authority to implement the policy and they are trying to turn the entire city into a hawking zone. Shiv Sena and BJP corporators supported Deshpande, stating that the civic authority should not accommodate hawkers at the cost of disturbing citizens.

"If hawkers disturb residents, action should be taken against them" said BJP corporator Vinod Shelar.

Congress adopted a balanced approach, stating that citizens do need their peace but hawkers too have to earn their living. However, Samajwadi Party corporator Rais Shaikh supported the decision to accommodate more hawkers.

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Bengalis, Malayalees enjoy ‘workday’ new year

MUMBAI: Despite the fact that Wednesday was a working day, the Bengali and Malayalee communities made time to visit temples and prepare the elaborate Vishukani and feast on the occasion of new year.

Poila Boishakh 2015 saw the Bengali calendar turn to the year 1422. Around 300 people prayed to Goddess Kali at the temple inside Shivaji Park. "This is still significant for the festival fell midweek. More people would have come were it the weekend," said Sheela Roy, retired principal of BES school, who volunteers at the club.

Roy spent a busy afternoon preparing a range of Bengali delicacies. "Poila Boishakh began with the morning puja, after which we exchanged greetings over WhatsApp. I cooked a festive spread whose centerpiece was ilish (hilsa) fish. The feast commonly begins with sukto, a mixed vegetable dish that includes bitter gourd. This is meant to teach us to digest the unsavoury experiences that life brings. This is followed by fried potato and brinjal, dal, jackfruit or parwal curry, raw mango chutney and payesh. The meal ends on a sweet note to signify that life comes full circle," Roy said.

The Bengali Association Antop Hill Wadala (BAAW) will stage the play 'Tasher Desh' by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore at Mysore Auditorium in Matunga on Friday, April 17. It had enacted 'Chitrangada' last year. "We will distribute 250 copies of the Bengali almanac to our guests," said BAAW member Asim Bhattacharya.

Working Malayalee housewives rose early to arrange the auspicious 'Vishukani' display, which is laid out in the main hall. The array of puja offerings is placed before Lord Krishna or the family deity. P V Pappu, secretary of the Kandivli Malayalee Samajam, said golden 'konna' blossoms are at the heart of the arrangement.

Meanwhile, several Punjabi celebrities attended a Baisakhi mela at Khalsa College on Tuesday.

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Mumbai school team makes a bookmark at global challenge

MUMBAI: Five students from the city have worked for six months to created unique bookmarks, which have won them a chance to fly to Seattle later this month.

Class VI, VII and VIII students of R N Podar Schol, Santacruz, along with their teacher, Varsha Bhambani, made over 250 corner bookmarks depicting traditional Indian art like Warli, Madhubani and Kalamkari for the Microsoft Global Enterprise Challenge. The team won from among 34 schools from across the world, of which five were from India.

The Bookmates team consists of Kurian David, Pranshu Jindal, Kalyanee Bhor, Avaanya Pandya and Sindhuja Suryanarayan. "We were given the bookmarks industry and soon began researching on types available in the market. We found that corner bookmarks were the most suitable and long lasting," said Kalyanee.

After several brain-storming sessions, the team decided to bring out Indian culture through their product. "We thought of making 3D or fluorescent bookmarks but wanted to ensure our country is represented," said Kurian. The students made the bookmarks out of paper, cloth and beads.

Once the product was finalized, the students created a budget and a pitch for their product and presented it to a panel. "The panel approved of Rs3,000 for the project, with and the students started off with," said Bhambani.

In the first batch, they created 75 bookmarks and sold them going door-to-door for Rs30 each. Soon, they were sold out and another batch was made. "We got feedback from customers that the bookmarks could be slimmer," said Avaanya. The students also worked on creating a brand identity for the product.

In the second phase, the price increased to Rs40. "We once again did a survey to find out if customers will pay more, and we got a positive response," said Pranshu. The team sold the bookmarks at a carnival at their school and made a profit of over Rs6,000.

The trip to Seattle isn't the end of the project for the students, who are confident of running their own business. "We plan to make products like files, rakhis and introduce more prints," said Sindhuja. "We also plan to tie up with an NGO and hold sessions with underprivileged children," she added.

The team will be felicitated at an education conference at the Microsoft headquarters in Seattle between April 28 and May 1.

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4 cops get HC contempt notice for taking 1 year to probe trespass case

MUMBAI: Irked that the Mumbai police had failed to probe a city resident's complaint of trespass, despite court orders, the Bombay high court (HC) has issued a contempt notice against four officers who served at Sakinaka police station in the past two years.

A division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai issued a show-cause notice to the four officers, asking them to explain why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against them for disobeying orders.

The four officers—assistant police inspectors Taral and Kandalkar and sub-inspectors S Chavan and Amit Mhatre—have been given four weeks' time to submit their explanation. The HC has also transferred the probe in the case to Crime Branch Unit 9 and asked it to submit a report within four weeks.

"This petition discloses very sorry state of affairs," said the judges. The HC pointed out that though a cognisable complaint had been lodged, the police took over two months to register an FIR. "Even after registration of the FIR, no proper investigation was conducted despite the orders of this court. Though a solemn statement was made before this court that the investigation would be completed within two weeks, for a period of one year thereafter, nothing has been done. The petitioner, therefore, is perfectly justified in making allegation that the investigating agency is hand in glove with the accused," added the court.

Sakinaka resident Jos Kulangara had lodged a complaint that the accused had broken open the locks of his shop on April 20, 2013. When the Sakinaka police failed to take any action, Kulangara filed a petition in high court in May 2013. The police then lodged a complaint on June 16, 2013.

Kulangara filed another petition in HC in 2014, claiming that though his complaint disclosed a serious offence of trespass and house break-in, which is punishable with a maximum jail term of 14 years, the police had booked the accused under a minor offence of house trespass (section 448 of the Indian Penal Code), which is punishable with a maximum jail term of up to one year or a fine of Rs 1,000.

On April 9, 2014, the HC directed the police to look into the allegations and the evidence and file a report within two weeks.

According to Kulangara, despite specific orders by the court, the police had done nothing and were, therefore, liable for contempt. The prosecutor sought to justify the delay, claiming that the problem arose as the officers were transferred.

The high court was not convinced. "We are not at all satisfied by the explanation," said the judges while issuing the notices to the police officers.

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Bombay HC extends protection to Urdu editor from arrest

MUMBAI: Bombay High Court on Thurday extended its interim relief from coercive steps, including arrest, granted to Avadhnama editor Shirin Dalvi till June 15.

On March 18, a bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai while approving the State's decision to let State CID probe all offence registered across Maharashtra, had also directed that interim relief shall continue till April 15.

Dalvi's advocate Chetan Mali, while seeking extension of court's protection to her, urged the court to take up the issue of quashing of first information reports next week. The bench said it will also take it up at the next hearing on the court reopening after summer break.

Dalvi was booked for reproducing a controversial cover of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Court was informed that five first information reports have been filed in respect of the same article in Mumbai, Thane and Malegaon under Indian Penal Code section 295 A for outraging religious feelings through deliberate and malicious acts

The Urdu daily had to shut down following an uproar over it featuring the cover with cartoon of Prophet Mohammad on January 17. Dalvi moved HC to club the multiple cases filed against her and to quash them.

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Animal activists condemn the chicken abuse during Shiv Sena victory celebration

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 15 April 2015 | 22.23

MUMBAI: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA India) has strongly condemned the cruel abuse of chickens during the victory celebrations for the Bandra (east) bypolls.

"Animals claim no political sides and yet, even when humans celebrate a political win, they still make animals losers. Chickens pose no threat, they are the most gentle beings on the planet, and for them there are no voting rights, just our mercy," stated the CEO of PETA India, Poorva Joshipura, who said she was aghast to see live visuals on TV about the birds being roughly handled and flung in the air by the Shiv Sainiks.

PETA has been inundated with calls and emails from people who were shocked and horrified that chickens—who already suffer so much abuse—are now being abused in this way too.

Apparently, the chickens were used by the political activists as a taunt for the losing candidate, Narayan Rane, who has been nicknamed by his rivals as `kombi chor' (chicken stealer) out of spite.

In 2012, following PETA pressure, the Election Commission of India asked all political parties to refrain from using any animals for election campaigns. In an advisory, it also notified all Indian political parties that any violations of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, will not be tolerated.

Chickens used for meat and eggs are the most abused animals on the planet. Chickens used for eggs are typically crammed into cages hardly bigger than the size of their own bodies, while those used for meat are crammed into sheds with often thousands of other birds struggling for space, informed an animal activist. Instead of giving them more room to move, farmers usually cut off the beaks of birds used for eggs since they peck each other in such close confinement. They are then thrown into trucks, tied upside down on motorbikes, or stuffed into suffocating sacks to be transported to slaughter where they are typically hacked at with dull knives while still conscious.

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Maharashtra bypoll: Shiv Sena Trupti Sawant defeats Narayan Rane

MUMBAI: Congress leader Narayan Rane once again received a major political setback after a widow of former Sena legislator late Prakash Sawant defeated him in a bypoll with a comfortable margin of around 19000 votes.

Sawant led Sena's home turf Bandra E where Matoshree is located. This is Rane's second consecutive defeat after he lost election to Vaibhav Naik on his homeground in Kankavli.

While Rane received 33703 votes, Shiv Sena's Trupti Sawant has got 52711 votes pushing MIM candidate (15050) to third position. Sawant's victory has given Sena a much needed boost ahead of civic polls in Navi Mumbai, Aurangabad and later in Mumbai n Thane.

In Tasgaon R R Patil's widow has won with a thumping margin of over 1 lakh vote. She defeated a BJP rebel.

According to sources Rane's political rehabilitation now looks bleak and he will be at his party's mercy but, for the Congress, there's a silver lining even in the Mumbai loss; the party seems to be back in favour among at least the minorities with more votes this time than in the last year's elections. Also, Cong will not have to deal with a resurgent and, therefore, rebellious Rane and the big guns in the party will breathe easy for now.

Read this in Hindi: उपचुनाव में भी हारे नारायण राणे, समर्थकों की भिड़ंत

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Shiv Sena's Trupti Sawant trounces former CM

MUMBAI: In a major political coup, Shiv Sena's Trupti Sawant trounced former CM and Congress heavyweight Narayan Rane in the Bandra (east) assembly by-election with over 20,000 margin of votes.

A rank novice, Sawant was in the poll fray following the death of her husband, Sena MLA Prakash Bala Sawant early this year. Siraj Khan Rahbar Khan of the MIM came a poor third.

However, analysts say Khan's presence led to polarisation of votes along communal lines, which helped the Sena bag the seat in what was being described as an uneven fight.

Jubilant Shiv Sainiks held noisy celebrations outside Rane's Bandra residence, triggering tension in the area. Timely police intervention averted a crisis.

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Maharashtra okays ACB clean chit to Gavit, HC told

MUMBAI: Maharashtra government informed Bombay High Court on Wednesday that it has sanctioned Anti-Corruption Bureau's clean chit to former cabinet minister Vijaykumar Gavit, his wife Kumudini and his brother Sharad.

A division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice V L Achliya were submitted a report from the ACB in sealed cover containing the decision. The bench questioned on what basis the director-general has arrived at his decision and asked it to be shown to the court at 3 pm. When Gavit's advocate Mahesh Jethmalani asked what the final report says. Justice Patil replied,"The final report is in your (Gavit) favour. DG is not in favour of the open inquiry continuing. State government has concurred and sanctioned its closure."

The court heard public interest litigation by Nashik activists for prosecution of Gavit, Kumudini and Sharad,. PIL alleged that ``illegal assets '' were acquired by Gavit when he was minister of the Tribal Development Department, a portfolio he held for a long time. Last month the investigating officer submitted the report of the open inquiry and the DG's report was awaited.

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