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“High Court humiliated us, protest will continue”: Himachal District Bar Associations

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SHIMLA- Amidst a continuous protest against the move of Himachal High Court for sending circuit courts of Additional District and Sessions Judges to subdivision level, on Sunday, representatives of bar associations from various districts gathered at the Shimla District Court Complex at Chakkar to decide further course of the protest. The move was criticized by angry lawyers practicing at district courts. They claim that it’s a ridiculous move and Chief Justice HP High Court has hurt the dignity and sanctity of the judiciary by not taking their views before making such a decision. The speakers expressed their grief over the humiliation they faced due to this move. Members commented that to deliver justice at doorsteps, first, the High Court should start circuit courts as there is only one High Court in the state, which makes it a compulsion for litigants to travel to the capital city. While senior advocates referred the issue as a serious situation where lawyers at district courts are facing a threat to their livelihood, the amateurs and new comers were almost asleep on back seats. Some members of Himachal Bar Council and Indian Bar Council were also present at the meet. To hear their grievance in their own voice, watch the videos below:

In highly charged atmosphere, speakers referred to the interference of political personalities in Judiciary, which applies to bar associations as well. But, as the present moment demands unity, most of the speakers emphasized the need to stand united. In some statements, representatives of district bar associations hinted towards the wastage of funds, which the High Court received recently. Lawyers also revoked an old demand that they have been making long; five days a week like that in High Court. They questioned the unjust discrimination in serving privileges in courts. However, a senior advocate, president of Hamirpur Bar Association, emphasized the need of focusing on the present issue of circuit court tours and not mix it with other issues. Also, they condemned the regulations in academic policies which are allowing a whole-sale of law degrees, and the fact that the courts are getting crowded with people in black suits, which they bought from educational institutes.

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What are circuit courts tours and why the lawyers are protesting against them?

As a simple answer, now the Additional District and Sessions Judges in Himachal will tour the circuit courts in their respective sub-divisional courts. The litigants can file their cases in their respective sub-division courts and won’t have to travel to their respective district courts. The step was taken under ‘Justice at your doorstep policy’. That means, the litigants won’t need the lawyers practicing at district courts, while at the same time, lawyers at sub-divisional courts are all in gold. Also, some cases have already been transferred to circuit courts. Now, either the lawyers will have to tour the sub-divisions if they wish to continue with their clients or they’ll have to leave the case and issue an NOC so that the client could hire the services of some other lawyer practicing at sub-division level. Why anyone would run to a district court when he/she have courts much near to their homes?

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After the meeting and a delicious lunch, the representatives of district bar associations along with senior advocates had a conversation to decide the fate of their protest and their demand of canceling the move. All the lawyers, except those practicing at sub-divisional courts, present at the gathering agreed to unite and continue with the protest until their plea isn’t heard by the honorable CJ of HP High Court.

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An interesting question that you must consider before you take a side is that whether this move is beneficial and relevant for the majority of the public? If it is, then the lawyers are protesting for their personal survival in a professional world. It will affect the future generations of advocates. The decision has come as damage to the career of advocates. At the same time, don’t ignore the fact that lawyers also make a part of public and society. They also have families and they seek the same kind of security and comfort for their kids as any parents do for their kids. To the lawyer community, the profession you chose comes with a huge responsibility. Judiciary is one of the pillars of democracy. As true human and nationalist, every lawyer is ought to respect what benefits the majority of population.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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HP Statehood Day 2022: Relaxation in Electricity Charges, Third Option in New Pay scale, Higher Pay scale to Constables and other Announcements

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Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government, on the 52nd Statehood Day, has made several announcements. It announced 31 percent DA to employees, relaxation on electricity charges up to 60 units, enhancement of annual income for availing benefit of pensions and welfare schemes.

Benefits of higher scales would be provided immediately to all those constables who were eligible for higher scales. All the constables appointed after 2015 would be eligible for higher scale as per other categories of employees, the government announced.

The State Government announced that now while implementing the new pay scale, the employees would be given a third option besides two options already given to them. The State has recently implemented new pay scales for employees of the State Government. The state government said it felt that few disparities existed in the new pay scales of few categories.

Pensioners of the State Government would also be given pension as per the new pay scales of the Punjab government, the government announced.

The government also announced 31 per cent DA to all the employees of the State at par with the Central Government employees. Also, an increase in annual income for availing the benefits of various welfare schemes and pensions for the weaker sections of the society from existing Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000 was announced.

Now, the domestic consumers of the state whose electricity consumption is up to 60 units per month would not be charged any fee per electricity unit.  They would be incurred zero cost per unit of electricity consumed. With this decision, domestic consumers whose electricity consumption is up to 125 units, would be charged only one rupee per unit cost.  Over 11 lakh domestic consumers would be benefitted from this decision and the State government would incur an additional expenditure of Rs 60 crore on providing this relief, the government informed.

For the farmers in the state, the government announced to reduce the present per unit cost of electricity from 50 paise to 30 paise.  This benefit will be payable from April 2022.

Further, the HP Government said that in the year 1971, the per capita income of the state was only Rs 651 which has increased to Rs. 1,83,286, the GDP of the State has gone up from Rs 223 crore in 1971 to Rs 1,56,522 crore. The literacy rate of the State has gone up to 82.80 percent which was 23 percent in 1971. The agricultural production in the state has increased from 954 metric tons to 1500 metric tons and food grain production in 1971 was 9.40 lakh MT which has increased to 16.74 lakh MT, the state government said.

The state-level function of 52nd Statehood Day was celebrated at historic Thodo ground in Solan, where Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur unfurled the Tricolor and took salute from the contingents of Police, IRB Jungalberi, Home Guards and, NCC girls etc.

The parade was commanded by DSP Pranav Chauhan.

The Chief Minister also honoured three war widows of Solan District including Dil Kumari Thapa, Savitri Devi and Nirmala Devi on this occasion. Head constable Sandeep Chandel was also felicitated by the Chief Minister who has been awarded Prime Ministers Police Medal for life-saving for the year 2018.  

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Covid Restrictions in Himachal Extended Till Jan 31st, State Reports 11 Deaths in 24 Hours

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Shimla-Covid-19 restrictions in Himachal Pradesh has been extended till January 31, 2022. Currently, the state is witnessing a sharp spike in daily Covid-19 cases and deaths. Today, despite a low sampling of 7896, the State reported 1766 new cases and 11 Covid-related deaths. During the last eight days,  the State has recorded over 50 deaths due to Covid-19.

The deceased included a 2-year-old female child too. Shimla district reported the highest five deaths. The Covid death toll in the state had risen to 3927 according to the latest update. But the State did not impose any new restrictions, like on the entry of visitors and curtailing capacity of public transport. Further, during the last 24 hours, Shimla, Solan, and Kangra districts reported more than 250 cases each. 

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 A notification in this regard was issued by the Government of Himachal Pradesh (Revenue Department – Disaster Management Cell) on Monday. 

“Taking note of the present situation of Covid-19 in the State, the restrictions announced on January 5th, 8th, 9th, and 13th will continue to remain in effect till 6 am of 31st January 2022,” the notification said.

Programs scheduled on the occasion of Himachal Pradesh Statehood Day ( 25th January) and Republic Day (26th January) would be held on the condition of 50% capacity of indoor/outdoor spaces.

The educational institutes, including ITI, polytechnic colleges, and coaching institutes, would remain closed. Online classes, however, would continue in schools.

With the ongoing surge in daily cases and deaths, more restrictions could be in stock.

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Mandi Hooch Case: Political Storm Over Arrest and Expulsion of Hamirpur Congress Leader

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Mandi-On Sunday, the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee expelled General Secretary of the Hamirpur District Congress Committee following his arrest from Chandigarh in alleged connection with the Mandi hooch case.

It’s pertinent to mention that last week seven persons had lost their lives in two days and eight others are still hospitalized due to consumption of spurious liquor in Salapar area of Sundernagar Tehsil, Mandi district. Following this tragedy, a police SIT was formed, various places were raided, seizures of incriminating materials were made, several persons were arrested. So far, the police have arrested 13 persons in this connection and more arrests could be made as the SIT unfolds layers of people involved.

Neeraj Thakur, who was said to have risen to a political leader from a salesman at a liquor shop, had created an empire for himself allegedly from the illicit trade of spurious liquor. The worth of his properties and assets is being assessed, but the initial reports suggested his assets were disproportionate to his income. Now every political leader he was in contact with is under the scanner of the police SIT.

Also Read: Mandi Hooch Case: HP Police Claim Bursting Large-Scale Illicit Liquor Trade, Nabs Kingpin

According to Superintendent of Police, Mandi, Shalini Agnihotri, on Sunday, police detained Praveen Thakur, who is a resident of Hamirpur, two persons, identified as Sunny and Pushpender of Uttar Pradesh, AK Tripathi of Jammu and Kashmir, and Sagar Saini of Delhi. The police have claimed that it has also apprehended the kingpin.

The state Congress chief and the opposition leader Mukesh Agnihotri who had been issuing statements holding the BJP government responsible for the Mandi hooch tragedy is on backfoot following the expulsion of Neeraj. At the same time, the failure of the state Excise and Taxation Department in checking this flourishing illicit trade of spurious liquor right under its nose is also evident.

State BJP general secretary Trilok Jamwal, State BJP spokesperson Baldev Tomar and co-media-in-charge Karan Nadda on Sunday issued statements referring to the expulsion of Neeraj as evidence that the Congress leaders were involved in, as well as, patron of liquor mafia in the State.

Further, with elections to the Shimla Municipal Corporation and elections to the state Assembly later this year, this issue has turned into a political storm.  

According to the SIT investigation, the illicit liquor factory was operating in Hamirpur District and raw materials were procured from both within and outside the State. The police said that Gaurav Manhas appears to be the kingpin of the illegal trade. Gaurav, with the assistance of Praveen, Pushpender and Sunny from UP, was running this illegal bottling plant at Hamirpur building owned by Praveen.

In addition, the DGP informed, Manu and Gagan were his partners in the bottling plant busted under the jurisdiction of Police Station Nalagarh. Gaurav has a strong network of distributors and supply chains for raw materials and finished liquor.

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