Earlier on January 4, 2018, sitting MLA of BJP, Jeet Ram Katwal, was booked for alleged forgery
Shimla: Another state leader of Bhartiya Janata Party in Himachal Pradesh is in trouble in relation to the alleged case of bribery that dates back to 2009.
Earlier on January 4, 2018, sitting MLA of BJP, Jeet Ram Katwal, was booked for alleged forgery in providing information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Chotta Shimla police station has registered a case of forgery on January 4, 2018, under Section 465, 466 and 469 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)on the complaint of Pratap Singh Verma.
As another jolt to the BJP, which had made the corruption charges against then Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh a major issue before the recent assembly elections.
The sitting Member of Parliament from Shimla and BJP leader, Virender Kashyap, has been charge-sheeted in a case relating to a sting operation conducted by a TV channel on April 20, 2009 assembly polls. The sting had created a huge political controversy back then.
The BJP came to power in the State right after the sting broke out and Kashyap also won the elections on a BJP ticket. The case was allegedly hushed up by the district police, Solan, due to political pressure.
However, owing to the petition filed in the High Court by an RTI activist, Dev Ashish Bhattacharya, the case was re-opened in 2013.
Let us remind you that in the newly elected Legislative Assembly of Himachal Pradesh include 22 MLAs who are facing criminal cases. As per a report of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), two of the 21 Congress MLAs and 18 of the 44 BJP MLAs and 1 CPM MLA and one of the two independent MLAs have declared criminal cases against them in their affidavits.
About Virender Kashyap Sting Operation
As per the reported contents of the CD of the said sting operation conducted by a TV channel, Kashyap was seen allegedly accepting a packet of money in exchange of some favour.
As per the audio, it was an alleged bribe from a private party about setting up of an educational institution. However, Kashyap was not holding any official position at that time.
After the sting created a huge political drama, Kashyap claimed that he had found the money in the hotel saying someone might have forgotten it there. A BJP party-worker even handed over the money to the local police next day.
The matter was allegedly hushed up initially, but ruling BJP government had to order an inquiry in 2010 under pressure. The Solan police formed a special team in February and filed a probe report on March 2
The police findings claimed no offence was committed by Kashyap. As expected, the BJP leader was given a clean-chit.
Later in 2013, Dev Ashish Bhattacharya, an RTI activist, challenged the finding of the inquiry conducted by the government in the court. The division bench comprising Justice D.D. Sood and Justice Kuldeep Singh had quashed the investigation report of the police.
In the same year, the court had also served a notice to Kashyap to file a reply within four weeks.
The activist had alleged that the police gave the BJP leader a clean chit without forensic testing like matching the audio with the voice-sample of Kashyap. He alleged the district police did not conduct a fair probe due to high political pressure.
On gaining back the power in 2012 assembly polls, the Congress government also ordered a probe by the Vigilance Department.
The Vigilance sent the said CD for forensic testing. After receiving positive results, the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau filed an FIR under Section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988.
Now, the District and Session Court, Solan, has finally framed the charges against the sitting MP.
The MP, however, is still refuting the charges and calling it a conspiracy.
The State Congress party, which faced a humiliating defeat in the 13th assembly polls in 2017, has found it as an opportunity to poke the BJP government over the corruption charges on the sitting MP and FIR against a sitting MLA.
The Congress is questioning the silence of the BJP over the said case.
HP Govt Employees to Get Higher Pay Scale on Completion of Two Years of Service: CM Jairam
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government employees working in different departments before January 3, 2022, would be given a higher scale at par with other employees on completion of two years tenure of regular service. A higher pay scale was also announced for the Junior Office Assistants (IT) on completion of two years of regular service.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur made these announcements during the Karamchari Maha Sammelan of the Himachal Pradesh Non-Gazetted Employees Federation at the hotel Peterhof on Sunday.
He appreciated the role played by the employee especially frontline workers in the battle against the pandemic.
He said most of the government employees in the state have been given revised pay scales and on average, every employee has got the benefit of a 12 to 15 percent salary hike. There has also been an increase in the pension of about 1.50 lakh pensioners of the state. The financial benefits of Rs. 7801 crore have been given to state government employees and pensioners from the year 2018 to 2022. The pensioners who retired before 2016 are getting the benefit of a 15 to 20 percent increase in the pension while around 40 thousand pensioners who retired after 2016 would be benefitted soon, he said.
He said the daily wages were Rs. 210 in the year 2017 which has been increased by the present state government to Rs. 350. Similarly, 12 per cent interim relief annually has been provided to government employees and pensioners during the present government’s tenure. He said the Himachal government has provided Dearness Allowance to its employees and pensioners on the lines of Punjab and Central governments from the due date. The Punjab government has given only 5 percent interim relief to the employees while the Himachal government has provided 21 percent interim relief to its employees.
“Out of the total interim relief amount given to the employees and pensioners amounting to about Rs. 6500 crore, Rs. 3500 crore has been paid during the tenure of our government” added the Chief Minister.
He said that the state government has increased the government contribution for NPS employees from 10 percent to 14 percent benefitting more than one lakh employees. The NPS employees are being given the benefits of retirement and death gratuity at par with employees falling under the old pension scheme. The government has also increased the upper limit of death gratuity from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.
The Chief Minister said the state government has also increased the honorarium of para-workers working in various departments. The salary of outsource workers has been hiked by Rs 1,500 per month.
Non-Gazetted Employees Federation President Ashwani Thakur thanked the Chief Minister for providing various financial and other benefits to different categories of government employees.
Most Covid Restrictions to be Lifted From March 31, Mask and Hand Hygiene to Continue
New Delhi-The Centre has issued a notification to the States informing that the provisions of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 will not be invoked in the country after March 31. The Union Health Ministry said that the use of face masks and following hand hygiene will continue.
It implies that most of the Covid-related rules and restrictions would end.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued the notification which said that the decision was taken following the overall improvement in the situation and the preparedness of the government in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, local authorities and State police can still invoke fines and criminal cases against persons violating COVID-19 norms under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a senior government official said.
The DM Act was invoked on March 24, 2020, due to the pandemic
“Over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases. The total caseload in the country stands at 23,913 only and the daily positivity rate has declined to 0.28%. It is also worth mentioning that with the combined efforts, a total of 181.56 Cr vaccine doses have been administered,” the notification said.
“I would like to mention that in view of the nature of the disease, we still need to remain watchful of the situation. Wherever any surge in the number of cases is observed, the States/UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at a local level, as advised by MoHFW (Health Ministry) from time to time,” the notification said.
The Indian government had issued various guidelines and measures for the first time on March 24, 2020, under the Disaster Management Act to curb the COVID-19 situation in the country, which have been modified several times thereafter.
India currently has 23,087 active COVID-19 cases and recorded 1,778 new cases and 62 deaths in the last 24 hours. The daily positivity rate has also declined to 0.28%.
HP Cabinet Decisions: Country Liquor Made Cheaper in New Excise Policy, Read All Decisions
Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on March 20, 2022, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The excise policy for the financial year 2022-23 was approved. Approval was also given for the renewal of retail excise vends in the state for the financial year 2022-23 at the renewal fees of 4% of the value of unit/vend.
The State Government said that wants to enhance the government revenue and curb the smuggling of country liquor from the neighbouring states by a reduction in its price.
The brands of Country Liquor will be cheaper as license fees have been reduced. This will help in providing good quality liquor at a cheaper rate to the consumers.
In the new excise policy, the 15% fixed quota of country liquor for manufacturers and bottlers to be supplied to the retail licensees has been abolished. According to the government, this step will give the retail licensees to lift their quota from the suppliers of their choice and further assure the supply of good quality country liquor at competitive prices. The MRP of country liquor will be cheaper by 16% of the existing price.
In this year’s policy, the Gaudhan Vikas Nidhi Fund has been enhanced by Re.1/- from the existing Rs.1.50 to Rs.2.50.
The fixed annual license fee of Bars has been rationalized by abolishing the area-specific slabs of license fee. Now throughout the State, there will be uniform license slabs based upon the room capacity in hotels.
Rates of the annual fixed license fee of Bars in the tribal areas has been reduced considerably.
Further, all the above stakeholders will have to install CCTV cameras at their establishments as it was made mandatory for them.
Wholesale vends and retail vends, the penalty provisions under the H.P. Excise Act, 2011 have been made more stringent.
An end to end online Excise Administration System would be established in Himachal Pradesh, the government said.
HP Government estimates a collection of Rs 2131 crore revenue during the year, which will be Rs. 264 crores higher than the financial year 2021-22 – growth of 14% in state excise revenues.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to amend Himachal Pradesh Disaster Relief Manual-2012 to include deaths due to biting of honey bees, hornet and wasps, accidental drowning and deaths due to accidents of vehicles (including land, water and air) under this Manual.
The Cabinet gave its approval for filling up 11 posts of ‘A’ Class Tehsildar in Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis through Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission.
HP State Toll Policy 2022-23
The HP Cabinet also gave its nod to HP State Toll Policy for the year 2022-23 which envisages auction cum tender for all the toll barriers in the State. During the year 2021-22, toll revenue has registered a growth of 20 percent of the previous year’s revenue.