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No favorable sign for RTI activist who had sought details of Priyanka Vadra’s controversial Shimla land purchase deal

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“The presiding High Court judge in the case was compromised due to a “conflict of interest” as his wife had contested the election for Shimla Municipal Corporation in 2012 on a Congress ticket.” 

SHIMLA- The Himachal Pradesh High Court has appointed a senior advocate, Raman Kumar Bawa, and an assistant as amicus curiae to represent the RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya in the ‘Priyanka Vadra land deal case’. The high-profile nature of the case has made things difficult for the RTI activist, who had sought details of the deal via which Priyanka, a non-resident of Himachal, was allowed to buy land in Charabara, 23 km from capital town Shimla.  The activist filed the RTI on July 2, 2014 seeking file noteings, copies of the sale deeds, relaxations etc. 

Reportedly, the previous lawyer, who was representing the case in the court, had declined to fight the case any further. The reason remained unknown and the lawyer referred to personal reasons, which he didn’t discuss with the activist.  Thereafter, no lawyer in Himachal dared to accept the case and represent the activist. 

Read: Lawyer steps back in high-profile Priyanka Vadra ‘land purchase case’, RTI activist requests HC to appoint Amicus Curiae

In between, a lawyer from Chandigarh expressed his will to represent the case in the Himachal HC, but was not allowed due to legal reasons.  The activist then pleaded assistance of the HC itself to bring the case to logical conclusion and do the justice. 

The court has appointed senior advocate R. K. Bawa who will be assisted by advocate Jivan.  Reportedly, Bawa has served as the Advocate General during BJP government.

Interestingly, the RTI activist was not made aware of this decision to appoint amicus curiae by properly informing through any official mean. He had to file another RTI to obtain the progress in the matter.

Video: All About Priyanka Vadra ‘Shimla Land Purchase Case (in Chronological Order)

 

The Section 118 of the Land and Tenancy Reforms Act, 1972 prohibits sale of the land to non-resident or outsiders except for agricultural purpose. However, Priyanka built a lavish Bunglow in Shimla despite fulfilling any such requirements.  The RTI activist had sought information regarding the relaxation provided to Priyanka under the Section 118 of the said Act.  

A report published on The Wire even said,

RTI activist said that the presiding judge in the case, was compromised due to a “conflict of interest” as Chauhan’s wife had contested the election for Shimla Municipal Corporation in 2012 on a Congress ticket. Following which, Bhattacharya requested that the case be transferred to Delhi to be tried by another judge.

Another interesting fact about the case is that district administration had denied information to the activist.  However, when the activist challenged it and approached the Chief Information Commissioner of Himachal Pradesh, the district administration was directed to provide the sought information under the RTI Act, 2005.

Read: RTI on Priyanka Vadra’s Shimla land deal wrongly rejected, disclose details within 10 days: HP Information Commission

Priyanka filed a petition to prohibit release of the sought information sighting security reasons and being a SPG protectee. But, the RTI activist proved that even this reason wasn’t enough to legally prevent him from obtaining the information.

Then, the activist had alleged the Public Relation Officer of the HC of releasing court orders to media prior to the official date. However, the PRO was given clean-chit without any proper inquiry and without recording statement of the activist, who had filed the complaint.  

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March 2017.  The appointed senior counsel Bawa is believed to have strong political relationships in the State. So, there’s hardly any favorable sign for the activist. The court and Priyanka also seems to be in hurry and aiming to end the case as soon as possible. 

But at the same time, the image of judicial institutions and judges is on stake as a judge in district Mandi was caught red-handed by the Vigilance Department accepting bribe of Rs. 40,000 from one of the party in a check bounce case that involved lakhs of rupees.  This is the first time that people of Himachal read a news about a judge in their own state being booked for accepting bribe (of merely Rs.40K) . The people have now begun to wonder whether corruption and influence of high-profile people prevails in the judiciary too.  

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.

Misc News/Press Release

Himachal Reports 87 COVID-19 Deaths in 11 Days With a Steep Rise in Cases

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COVID-19 deaths in Himachal pradesh on november 10

Shimla-With nine more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, the tally for Himachal Pradesh has jumped to 399. The state is witnessing a surge in November as 87 deaths were reported during the last 11 days. Yesterday’s fatalities included seven males and two females aged between 45 to 87 years. Find the reasons for these fatalities below:

himachal pradesh -Update on covid-19 deaths

Further, according to the state Health Department’s official statistics, 610 new cases of COVID-19 were detected yesterday, of which Shimla reported highest (118) cases, followed by Mandi (116).

In Mandi district, as many as 26 more teachers and some students reportedly tested positive yesterday. The infected also included two doctors of Tanda Medical College, Kangra, and a couple of policemen in Sakoh.

Operation theatre at the Kamala Nehru Hospital, Shimla, was reportedly closed for a week. Similarly, the women police station in Shimla was also closed following the detection of a case.

Further, the state High Court has taken suo moto cognizance of a news report published in an English daily and issued a notice to the government. The news pertained to Indira Gandhi Medical College, which ran out of space for COVID-19 patients in isolation wards.

As per official data, the total for COVID-19 in the state had reached 27418 till yesterday evening (9 pm), of which 5605 were active cases. Mandi district has reported highest 4194 cases, followed by Solan (3958), Shimla (3725), and Kangra (3635).

The state government is barely speaking on the alarming rise in fatalities and its strategy to control it. But Chief Minister, while addressing a public meeting at Sihunta under Bhatiyat Assembly Constituency yesterday, did hail the Prime Minister and claimed that the nation is out of COVID-19 crisis.

“He (PM) has successfully brought the Nation out of Covid-19 crisis,”

Chief Minister said.

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin for November 11, 2020 (9 pm)

 

 

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Himachal Reports 12 COVID-19 Deaths in Single Day, Surge in Cases in Shimla

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Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 deaths till diwali

Shimla-COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in Himachal Pradesh as a record 12 fatalities were reported on Tuesday. Of the 611 new positive cases yesterday, Shimla reported highest 148 with seven fatalities. The deceased included 11 males and a female aged between 47 to 92 years.  During the last three days, the state has reported 25 fatalities. Find the details regarding the causes of deaths below:

Himachal Pradesh Record COVID-19 deaths

The state government had yesterday decided to close all educational institutes in Himachal for 15 days after over a hundred teachers and students tested positive in schools. The government termed it as a special vocation for students, teachers, and non-teaching staff of all educational institutes.

The capital has witnessed a surge as over 750 cases were reported during the last six days. In the season of festivity and marriages, social distancing and other guidelines issued by the MHA for personal protection are being flaunted, which is only fueling the spread. 

On top of it, the COVID-19 Hospitals in the state have begun to run out of beds for patients in isolation wards. The largest medical facility in the state – Indira Gandhi Medical College & Hospital- was packed to its full capacity, which was only 85 beds. Dr Rajneesh Pathania, Principal of IGMC, confirmed the report. According to media reports, DDU hospital, Shimla, had also run out of space. The government is yet to prepare the make-shift hospitals it had announced a couple of months ago. 

So far, according to the official statistics, the state had reported a total of 26808 cases till yesterday evening (9 pm), and the official COVID-19 death tally had mounted to 390.

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin for November 9, 2020 (9 pm)

Update Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 for november 10, 2020

Featured Image: [email protected]

 

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Amid Alarming Surge in COVID-19 Cases and Deaths, Hospitals Including IGMC Running Out of Space

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covid-19 in himachal pradesh igmc beds full

Shimla– Amid the festive season, Himachal Pradesh is witnessing an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases and fatalities. As a matter of huge concern, the Indira Gandhi Medical College & Hospital, Shimla, has run out of beds in isolation facility and can’t accommodate more patient, unless someone is discharged or dies. There was space for only 85 patients at the hospital, which is full presently.

The DDU hospital, too, is running out of capacity with a surge in cases. Further, make-shift hospitals announced by the state government haven’t seen light of day. IGMC is the largest medical facility of the state and COVID-19 patients in critical condition were referred here.  

The situation could worsen due to the ongoing festive and wedding season. Markets are crowded and people are hardly following social distancing norms in marriages.

Further, yesterday seven people including a 16-year-old girl lost their lives. The decision to open schools seems to be backfiring as hundreds of teachers and several students were found positive for COVID-19 during the past few days. There are speculations that the state government could decide on closing schools for some time in the Cabinet meeting to be held today.

Details regarding the causes of fatalities below:

Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 deaths in november 2020 f

On Monday, five doctors and nine staff nurses at the Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Government Medical College and Hospital, Nerchowk in Mandi district, tested positive.

Yesterday, the state reported a record 711 confirmed cases with seven fatalities in a single day. Shimla district reported the highest 204 confirmed cases.

The COVID-19 death tally has now mounted to 378, while the total number of cases had reached 26197 till yesterday evening (till 9 pm).

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin for November 9, 2020 (9 pm)

 

Himachal Pradesh covid-19 cases on november 10

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