Shimla–Kotkhai’s Gudiya case has officially concluded for now as the lone accused of raping and murdering a schoolgirl was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 18. For the CBI and the court, justice is served, but not for Gudiya’s parents and several locals, who had already approached the Himachal Pradesh High Court with a plea to re-open the case.
On Friday, District and Session Judge, Shimla, Rajive Bharadwaj (also special judge CBI court) pronounced the sentence and imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000 on the convict.
Earlier, on April 18, 2021, based on the investigation and evidence presented by CBI, the special CBI court had found Anil Kumar alias Neelu – a woodcutter- guilty of raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl, who was returning home from school on July 4, 2017.
However, the parents of Gudiya expressed disappointment and said the CBI had washed its hands off but justice still has not been delivered. They maintained that this heinous crime was committed by more than one person. The parents said they would continue to fight a legal battle to get justice for their daughter.
The court found at least 12 out of 14 points of evidence given by the CBI against the accused. His DNA match with the sample taken from the crime spot was considered one of the most crucial pieces of evidence.
A total of 59 witnesses were produced by the CBI.
Neelu was convicted under Sections 376 (2) (i), 376 (A), and 302 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 4 of the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The court observed that the crime was committed in the spur of the moment. The convict came across the girl while she was on her way home from school through a path in the Haliailla forest of Kotkhai and committed the crime.
Neelu, however, told media that he was innocent and was framed by the CBI. He labelled serious allegations against CBI including threats to his life. He told News 18 that threats were given to him that he would be killed like Suraj, one of the accused killed in police custody on July 18, 2017. He even said that his mother was taken hostage in order to frame him. He said he would approach the higher courts to challenge this verdict.
Known as the Kotkhai Gudiya rape and murder case, the case had created a stir for several reasons and led to widespread anger and protest. The biggest was the alleged botched-up investigation by a Special Investigative Team headed by Inspector General, Southern Range, Zaidi where six persons were falsely framed and one of them was killed in custody. The killed person was identified as Suraj – a Nepalese labourer.
This led to violent protests and clashes of protestors with police. A police station in Kotkhai was set ablaze by a mob of locals. Under tremendous pressure, the case was handed over to the CBI in July. A team of CBI lodged two separate FIRs – one in the case relating to the rape and murder of the minor girl and the second in the custodial killing.
On August 29, CBI arrested IG Zaidi, DSP Manoj Joshi and six other police personnel for framing innocent persons and killing one of them in police custody. Another shocker came on November 16 when then Superintendent of Police, DW Negi, was also arrested over charges of filing fake cases in the custodial killing of Suraj.
The CBI told the court that the remaining five accused arrested by the SIT were innocent and were falsely framed and tortured.
The CBI team investigated for the next eleven months without any success. For this delay in investigation, the agency faced backlash from the state high court. Ultimately, disappointed with the CBI, the court questioned the competence of CBI and asked its Director to appear personally before it.
Immediately after this summons, CBI claimed to had cracked the case in which a woodcutter was arrested. The case was considered to be closed thereafter.
In the court, the investigation concluded successfully, however, parents and locals still express doubts that this CBI investigation was botched up.
Another mystery that wasn’t investigated was that on the evening of July 11, pictures of four youths were posted on then Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s official Facebook page with an update regarding the SIT probe. The update had said the police nabbed these four suspects (shown in those pictures) in the Gudiya case. The post was however, deleted after a few minutes later and it was termed as a technical glitch.
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.