The Shahkot Assembly constituency bypoll witnessed 69% polling till 5 p.m. on Monday, an official said. There was no report of any violence during the polling, the official added. “69% polling has been recorded till 5 p.m. in Shahkot Assembly constituency,” Punjab Chief Electoral Officer S. Karuna Raju said. The polling has been peaceful, he added. However, one person was caught by the security officials with a pistol at a polling booth, Raju said. “I received information from the Jalandhar (Rural) SSP that one person was caught with a pistol at a polling booth,” he said adding if the person found guilty then he could face action for the violation of model code of conduct and under provisions of the people’s representation act. Investigations in this matter were under way, he added. Meanwhile, four voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) and one control unit were replaced at polling booths after they malfunctioned during mock polling, the Punjab CEO said. Polling to the Shahkot bypoll commenced at 7 a.m. on Monday. The State’s ruling Congress is hoping to maintain its winning momentum while the Opposition Akali Dal is trying to retain the seat. The Shahkot bypoll was necessitated by the demise of Akali MLA Ajit Singh Kohar in February this year. The Congress has fielded Hardev Singh Laddi while Akali Dal has given ticket to Ajit Singh Kohar’s son Naib Singh Kohar. The Aam Aadmi Party has nominated Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan for the Shahkot bypoll. While casting their votes, both Laddi and Kohar exuded confidence that they would win. There was enthusiasm among the voters who were coming out to exercise their franchise in the morning. However, there were reports that some polling booths witnessed deserted look as voters did not venture out in the afternoon because of the hot weather. As many as 1,72,676 voters, who are eligible for voting, will decide the fate of 12 candidates. On the Akali Dal’s allegations about the movement of vehicles bearing registration number of other States, Mr. Raju said the teams concerned were following up the matter. But nothing had been substantiated yet, he said. The Election Commission has deployed a total of 1,022 security personnel, including six companies of the Border Security Force, in Shahkot, an official said, adding that 1,416 polling staff were deployed for the Shahkot bypoll.Counting on May 31The counting of votes will take place on May 31. The electronic voting machines and VVPAT are being used at all the polling stations. The Congress is eyeing to maintain its winning momentum while Akali Dal is striving to retain its pocket borough from where late Ajit Singh Kohar was elected five-times. Aam Aadmi Party, which faced a humiliating defeat in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll and civic polls, is desperately looking for the victory. The Congress had won 77 seats in the 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha during 2017 Assembly polls while the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance had managed to win 18 seats. The AAP had won 20 seats while Lok Insaf Party had bagged two seats.
Over at UITM Shah Alam Stadium, the women’s team also scored a morale-boosting 2-1 stunner over host Malaysia.READ: SEA Games: PH team stuns host Malaysia in women’s footballFEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutPatrice Impelida scored in injury time of the first half for the Malditas before Malaysian Dadree Rofunos equalized in the 51st.But the Malditas refused to share a point with their foes and Camille Rodriguez struck the winning goal in the 73rd for the winning goal before a stunned hometown crowd. Flags of SEA Games countries raised at Athletes Village View comments READ: SEA Games: PH booters score first win, deny Cambodians ‘bonus’That win avenged the Nationals’ 1-0 loss during the recent AFC U-23 in Cambodia.The Philippines men’s side will battle Indonesia on Thursday and that win, according to Maro, would inspire them.“Indonesia is a tough team but we studied their game and we know how to handle them,” said Maro. Women Football Match Between Malaysia vs Philippines at Stadium UiTM Shah Alam on 15 August 2017. Photo by Faeiz Shah | MASOCKUALA LUMPUR—From both ends of this city, Philippine football’s goals rang loud and clear.The men’s and women’s football team scored rousing victories against their respective rivals Tuesday night to begin their Southeast Asian Games stint on a bright note.ADVERTISEMENT WATCH: LeBron, Melo, KD clash in star-studded pickup game Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses LATEST STORIES Read Next UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games PLAY LIST 03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:50Trending Articles01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. MOST READ WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief The Malditas, who like their men’s counterparts are hoping for a podium finish, will meet Vietnam on Thursday.The men’s team encountered less resistance.Football match between Cambodia and Philippines at Selayang Stadium during 29th SEA Games Kuala Lumpur 2017 on 15 August 2017. Photo by Dzulfadlil Azim / MASOC“I told them to win the match at 2-0,” said men’s head coach Marlon Maro.He was that specific. And the team responded accordingly.Reymart Cubon came away with go-ahead goal off a corner by Javier Gayoso in the 52nd, before Fil-Japanese Kouichi Belgira converted a free kick in the 81st.ADVERTISEMENT Man sworn in as lawyer by judge who sentenced him to prison as a teen 20 years ago
“I know our players who kneeled for the anthem, and these are smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place for everyone,” Ross said. “They wanted to start a conversation and are making a difference in our community, including working with law enforcement to bring people together. We all can benefit from learning, listening and respecting each other.” Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Baltimore Ravens players kneel down during the playing of the US national anthem before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday Sept. 24, 2017. (Photo by MATT DUNHAM / AP)The owners of the Baltimore Ravens, the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and other teams on Sunday joined a chorus of NFL executives criticizing President Donald Trump’s suggestion that they fire players who kneel for the national anthem.The statements, including those from Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, contrasted a morning tweet from Trump and further escalated the political drama of the league’s game day, which was expected to be one of the most-watched for non-sporting reasons in years.ADVERTISEMENT Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes PLAY LIST 01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss01:04Trump attends World Series baseball game in Washington DC01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Bisciotti said he “100 percent” supports his players’ decision to kneel during the national anthem. At least seven of them did, joined by more than a dozen Jacksonville Jaguars, before the teams played at Wembley Stadium in London.Other players linked arms – and Jaguars owner Shad Khan joined them, standing between tight end Marcedes Lewis and linebacker Telvin Smith. He called it a privilege to do so.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutKraft, who has been a strong backer of the president, expressed “deep disappointment” with Trump and said politicians could learn much from the unifying spirit of a competitive, team-oriented enterprise like football.“Our players are intelligent, thoughtful, and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful,” Kraft said in a statement. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired’,” he said to loud applause.Again in a Sunday morning tweet, Trump urged his supporters to take action: “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin followed up Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” defending Trump, saying the NFL has many rules governing what players can and cannot do.“I think what the president is saying is that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem,” Mnuchin said. “They can do free speech on their own time.”Trump’s remarks provoked team owners and the NFL to stridently defend the sport and its players. Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has taken heat for Kaepernick’s struggle to find a team, quickly condemned Trump’s comments.“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month,” Goodell said. “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”At least seven team owners donated $1 million each to Trump’s inaugural committee. But Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos , Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank , New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, Tennessee Titans’ controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk and San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York were among the league power brokers who issued condemning statements through their clubs.“The callous and offensive comments made by the president are contradictory to what this great country stands for,” York said. “Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens in order to spark conversation and action to address social injustice. We will continue to support them in their peaceful pursuit of positive change in our country and around the world.”Added Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy: “We believe it is important to support any of our players who choose to peacefully express themselves with the hope of change for good. As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely.”This weekend’s games were sure to bring more protests, with Tampa Bay receiver Desean Jackson promising to make “a statement.” View comments E.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Read Next Wozniacki beats Pavlyuchenkova to retain Pan Pacific title Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City MOST READ BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam wrote that they didn’t want to let “misguided, uninformed and divisive comments from the President or anyone else deter us from our efforts to unify,” and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told CBS his team wouldn’t be on the field when the anthem plays before the Steelers game in Chicago.He doesn’t want his players to be divided between those who kneel and those who stand, he said.“We’re not going to be divided by anything said by anyone,” Tomlin said. “We’re not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda.”Quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the kneeling movement last year when he played for the San Francisco 49ers, refusing to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest the treatment of black people by police. Kaepernick became a free agent and has not been signed by a new team for this season.Without identifying Kaepernick, Trump aimed a Friday talk at a Huntsville, Alabama, rally at those players who have knelt for the anthem.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES
For 26-year-old Jyotirmoy Mukherjee, an ideal winter afternoon means playing a good game of cricket. And even though he bats well, bowling is his passion. So what makes this Howrah boy different from the average young man who loves to toss around a ball? For the last seven years, Jyotirmoy,For 26-year-old Jyotirmoy Mukherjee, an ideal winter afternoon means playing a good game of cricket. And even though he bats well, bowling is his passion. So what makes this Howrah boy different from the average young man who loves to toss around a ball? For the last seven years, Jyotirmoy has been an inmate at Presidency Jail, or “correctional home” as they are called in West Bengal-serving a life sentence for murder. He suffers from bouts of depression due to the social ostracism. “There is a huge stigma attached to being imprisoned and we find a staggering number of inmates suffering from mental illnesses,” says B.D. Sharma, ADGP, Correctional Services.To alleviate this sense of dejection, the Rotary Club of Central Kolkata and Satyam Seva Kendra are conducting “a social experiment”. The Rotarians recently played a cricket match against inmates of three prisons and are planning to host an inter-jail cricket tournament soon.They also plan to introduce employment opportunities for inmates, which will continue even after they are released from prison. “We are working on a programme whereby the inmates can take up tailoring of hosiery goods,” says Mudar Patherya, member, Rotary Club. “It’s a win-win situation. The inmates will be able to earn 10-fold more than their current wages while decreasing the cost of production for companies which will outsource the work.””Competitive sports and other activities help us feel normal. It doesn’t feel like a jail,” smiles 29-year-old Dhirendra Kumar Jha, who is under trial for kidnapping and murder and has already spent seven years in prison.advertisement
By BEN HARRIS1. Modern technology is wonderful:In July, promising touch football player Cody Gray was involved in a terrible ski accident and as a result, she is now a quadriplegic. She was to captain the South Australia Heat in the girls’ division on the Sunshine Coast. Although she was in Adelaide, she was able to watch the Heat go around through the wonders of technology. Gray was watching the Heat’s matches on Facetime. As Touch Football South Australia’s Tim Wyld said: “Modern technology allows us to get her up on Facetime and almost be in the sub box and she was barking instructions to the girls from Adelaide.”2. The emergence of the New South Wales Touch Association Development Squad:In 2012, NSW Touch introduced their Development Teams into the National Youth Championships. The boys finished 13th and 10th in 2012 and 2013 respectively, and the girls came eighth and seventh in each of those years. In 2014 both teams made the quarter-finals for the first time. The highlight would have been the boys’ 6-all draw with New South Wales Combined High Schools on day one.3. Developing states are getting there:It is always tough coming up against sides from New South Wales and Queensland considering how strong those states are at touch football. But the other states are closing the gap, and fast. Victoria finished second in their pool in the girls’ division, South Australia missed out on the quarter-finals on for and against, and Western Tigers came third in their group in the boys’ division. Sure other states were on the wrong end of some lopsided score lines, but with time, they too will be pushing for finals spots.4. The four-referee system:For the first time in National Youth Championships history there were four referees officiating selected games in a trial that could change the way the game of touch is refereed forever. The concept was to reduce fatigue among the referees, which ultimately could reduce the number of errors referees can make. From all reports it was a success and only time will tell if the innovation will become a regular occurrence at tournaments.5. Quality players on show:It’s no surprise but touch football produces some stellar athletes. The skills on show this week were second to none, and no doubt we will be seeing a few of the players from this year’s tournament representing their state or country in the future. Shannon Rose in particular – playing in her third National Youth Championships, she became the first player to score 50 touchdowns in the tournament’s history.6. NYC is a fantastic tournament:Touch football is in safe hands. The sport just keeps going from strength to strength and much has got to do with the superb efforts by players, coaches, managers, referees, administrators and spectators. Although some regions were not represented at this year’s event, it did not take away the spirit and value of the tournament.There are plenty of ways to keep up-to-date with all of the latest results, news and information from the 2014 National Youth Championships (NYC). The Touch Football Australia and NYC websites will be updated regularly throughout the event with all of the latest information and can be found by clicking on the links below: www.nyc.mytouchfooty.com www.touchfootball.com.au All of Touch Football Australia’s social media pages will be regularly updated throughout the NYC event, so be sure to ‘like’ and ‘follow’ us by clicking on the links below. Facebook – www.facebook.com/touchfootballaustralia Twitter – www.twitter.com/touchfootyaus (be sure to use the hashtag #nationalyouthchamps) Instagram – www.instagram.com/touchfootballaustralia (be sure to use the hashtag #nationalyouthchamps) The TFA YouTube channel will also have highlights and game live streamed throughout the event. Please click on the link below to be taken to the channel, and be sure to become a subscriber to the channel – www.youtube.com/touchfootballausRelated LinksNYC’s set of six
PSG launching €100M offer for Napoli midfielder Allanby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the lovePSG are preparing a massive offer for Napoli midfielder Allan.Il Mattino says PSG see Allan as a readymade replacement for wantaway midfielder Adrien Rabiot.And they’re ready to offer a massive €90m to convince Napoli to sell – with a further €10m due if they win the Champions League.PSG would also hand Allan a contract worth €8m-a-year.For the moment, Napoli have insisted Allan won’t leave in January, though the size of the offer could force a rethink. TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say
In celebration of the Holiday Season, Rainforest Fund co-founders Sting and Trudie Styler announce that they will be joined by Chris Botti, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor and more artists to be named shortly for the Rainforest Fund Benefit concert, “BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE”.This star-studded evening will take place on Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 at 7 pm in the Stern Auditorium/ Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall in New York City.These musicians and performers will take to the stage to raise awareness and funds for the important work the Rainforest Fund provides to communities of indigenous peoples throughout Brazil and other countries including Belize, Cameroon, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.With the generous support of some of the world’s most well-known artists and philanthropists, the evening continues to be one of the most sought-after tickets of the New York social calendar, raising more than $30 million with all proceeds donated to Rainforest Fund projects and programs.The biennial Rainforest Fund concert provides a major source of funding for the work of the Fund, which was started by Sting and Trudie in 1989, out of a desire to help a community of indigenous Amazonian people in Brazil. Since this humble start, the work of the Fund has expanded to include 23 countries on three continents. Partnering with more than 100 local organizations, The Fund seeks to conserve the environment as well as support hundreds of thousands of indigenous people in their fight to protect their rights to their own land, livelihoods and cultures.For further information on the Rainforest Fund, please visit: www.rainforestfund.org.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s new government has detailed plans to build an oil refinery in the home state of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and to renovate six others as the oil-producing country attempts to lower its dependence on imported fuel.Energy Minister Rocio Nahle said Sunday that Mexico will import 80 per cent of its gasoline needs this year because existing refineries work on average at 38 per cent of capacity due to a lack of maintenance and investment. She says the national oil company Pemex should be able to meet 70 per cent of Mexico’s gasoline needs.Lopez Obrador has said his government will spend an additional 75 billion pesos ($3.65 billion) next year on Pemex, which has seen its crude extraction plummet to levels not seen in years.The Associated Press
New Delhi: Stealing a march over the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress on Tuesday released its poll manifesto for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Through its poll manifesto, the Congress has made an attempt to woo every section of society by promising ‘something’ for all.In its manifesto, the Congress has promised to give Rs 72,000 each to five crore poor families under the ‘Nyay’ scheme, create employment opportunities, including filling up 22 lakh government vacancies, better education & health, re-examination of Rafael deal, amendment in the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), changes in the Press Council of India Act and fixing a single moderate GST rate, passage of contentious Women Reservation Bill in its first sitting, etc. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsFor farmers, the Congress has promised to put them on the path from ‘Karz Maafi’ (loan waiver), to ‘Karz Mukti’ (freedom from loans) and bringing a separate budget for farmers. The 55-page document titled ‘Hum Nibhayenge’ (We will deliver) focused on addressing the issues of joblessness, farm distress, the safety of women and boosting the rural economy, with stress on building a narrative on ‘real issues’ faced by people. The manifesto was released by party president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and senior leader P Chidambaram among others. Speaking on the occasion, the Congress president said that the party would allocate 6 per cent of GDP to education, strengthen government hospitals and give high-quality healthcare access to poor if voted to power. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayThe party also promised to remove the law on sedition from the statute if voted to power. The party promised to enact the Right to Healthcare Act and guarantee every citizen free diagnostics, out-patient care, free medicines and hospitalisation, through a network of public hospitals and enlisted private hospitals. Congress pledged to make jobs its top priority for the youth of the country, saying it will ensure 34 lakh jobs in the public sector by filling all 4 lakh central government vacancies before March 2020, persuading the state governments to fill 20 lakh vacancies and creating an estimated 10 lakh new Seva Mitra positions in every gram panchayat and urban local bodies. The party said it will also provide a fillip to the private sector by incentivising businesses for jobs creation and employing more women. On GST tax, Congress said that it will radically simplify the GST regime with a single moderate rate of tax, zero-rating of exports, and exemption for essential goods and services. See inside
The much-publicised sexual harassment allegation by a sacked employee of the Supreme Court against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and the charge made by the young lawyer on affidavit that ‘fixers’ in league with disgruntled and dismissed SC employees had ‘ganged together to frame the CJI and defame him,’ have shaken the Hornet’s nest. It seems, ruthless enemies within the country, with their demoniacal designs, are all out to atrophy the forward-thinking Supreme Court when the country is elated with several of its recent judgements. ‘No CJI had the courage to take the action against certain elements. This has been happening in the past as well. CJI Gogoi wanted to clean the system. When someone tries to correct wrongs, he is killed or maligned,’ observed Justice Arun Mishra, who was heading the three-member bench that took suo moto cognisance of the ‘matter of great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary.’ Also Read – A special kind of bondWhile the in-house committee of three judges, including two female judges, would look into the allegation against the CJI, the issue that takes prominence is bench-fixing with the help of SC registry. Assisted by CBI, IB and Delhi Police, former SC Judge, Justice AK Patnaik, would go into the roots of this matter. Although such things have been in the air, it was Justice Kurian Joseph who, after retirement, said that he felt the then CJI Justice Deepak Mishra was remote-controlled. Now, Justice Arun Mishra said, ‘The way this institution is being treated for the last three-four years, this institution is going to die. There is a systematic attack, systematic game to malign this great institution,’ while at the same time warned, ‘rich and powerful people thought they could bludgeon and blackmail the court into submission, but little did they know that they were playing with fire.’ And to begin with, the SC sought a report from its registry on how the DND flyway matter, which involves hundreds of crores of rupees, gets listed for hearing contrary to the court’s order. Also Read – Insider threat managementAs such, every institution in the country has been captured by the political establishment. Already, bureaucracy has been subdued; more so in the present regime; rules and procedures are dictated by the political executive. For the lack of organic relationship with the bureaucrats, many IAS officers in the PMO have even sought a shift out, if Modi is re-elected. In demonetisation, etc., RBI was bulldozed into submission, against all the norms. Suppressing the real fraud, CAG trivialises the Rafale matter. Even the EC has no courage to pull up the BJP leadership for violations; minor actions taken only after the reprimand of the SC reminding them of their powers. Poor CBI, IT, ED, CVC, etc., have been acting only in compliance with the whims and fancies of those in power. Media is also made to dance to their tune. Having already sabotaged all the important institutions, it seems, the sight of these powerful people is now set on the Supreme Court, whose reformatory approach is not palatable to them. In the presence of PM Modi, Justice Thakur had burst into tears on a public platform while pleading for support of the government to reform the laggard judicial process. Justice KM Joseph had to face the ire of the government with their hurdles for his elevation to the SC for having quashed the President’s rule in Uttarakhand to uphold Constitution. The country is aware that Justice Khehar had favoured Modi in the Birla-Sahara diary matter, apparently as a quid pro quo in lieu of his own elevation as CJI in spite of the allegation of corruption as revealed in the suicide note of Kalikho Pul, the former CM of Arunachal Pradesh. An upright judge Loya had to pay with his life for his strict legal approach in the Sohrabuddin case that involves Amit Shah, and with remote control in the SC, an enquiry into his death was thwarted and the issue was buried. It is in this context that four senior judges of the SC, including Justice Gogoi, had voiced their concern in public about Justice Deepak Mishra, CJI, usurping all the powers in deciding benches, when bench-fixing has become a norm. Since the time of his elevation as CJI, Justice Rajan Gogoi has set upon the task of making course corrections. The judgements in the recent past themselves speak about their openness. In an extraordinary kind of mea culpa, the SC reversed its verdict on six death row prisoners, not only freeing them but ordering compensation and pulling up the Maharashtra police. It was the crime of rape and murder of a woman and her teen-aged daughter. In yet another judgment, they stayed an SC order to evict more than a million forest-dwelling people. Such pro-activity cannot be digested by those in power, especially when several politically sensitive issues are pending in the SC. Already, to the detriment of BJP, Ram Mandir issue has been quietened. Raking up Rafale matter is worrisome. Also, the chances of over-ruling the earlier order of the SC in 1998, giving immunity to MPs and MLAs from criminal and civil proceedings for their actions while discharging their legislative duties, including for taking bribes to vote in Parliament or an Assembly, are giving sleepless nights to all those who indulge in horse-trading of legislators. The ruling party is more worried for other reasons too. As the election process is on, the writing on the wall is getting strikingly clear. Promises and illusions are no longer mesmerising people. The surgical strike has not cut any ice with them. The pain of demonetisation and loss of businesses and jobs are not forgotten. The patience of farmers and unemployed has been tested enough. The economy is in debt-trap but whitewashed with fudged figures. The environment has been ignored. Thus, people have begun thinking. There is no Modi-wave. Instead, South is anti-Modi. Political arithmetic is also not so favourable in the Hindi belt, including UP, and Bengal, and other states. Under these circumstances, they are not able to swallow the fact that SC reprimands the EC for not exercising their powers. Further, the recent verdict in the case of Bilkis Bano tarnishes the image of Modi since it was he who shielded all those who mattered from communal outfits in the post-Godhra pogrom of 2002. Bilkis Bano was gang-raped in broad daylight by a baying communal mob. She was also the witness to 14 of her family members being killed; heads of children being smashed on the ground. Yet, police, under Modi and Shah, found no evidence to charge anyone. On the order of the SC in 2003, it was the CBI that arrested the accused. It was only after the SC’s directions this March that the police officials, including an IPS officer, found guilty by Bombay High Court for destroying evidence, were punished. Now, to the discomfiture of Modi and BJP, SC ordered that the Gujarat government pay her compensation of Rs 50 lakhs, and give her a job and a house to live in. The country has been witnessing the way bigots of BJP are being protected with their remote control mechanisms. In the Malegaon case of 2008, even the Mumbai-based special public prosecutor Rohini Salian had publicly claimed in 2015 that the NIA in Delhi was leaning hard on her to go easy on the accused in the case. Like how the ‘fixers’ issue has been taken up by the SC, this shocking matter, too, demands judicial intervention. What is strikingly noticeable is that after the change of government at the Centre in 2014, practically all accused began to be set free in cases wherein Muslims were the victims, and the persons charged had affiliation with the RSS and kindred outfits – be it the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Mecca Masjid, or Samjhauta Express incident. In the Samjhauta Express blast case of 2007, recently, Nabakumar Sarkar, a radical Hindutva monk, and others were acquitted. In spite of the fact that it was his 2010’s confession – which he later retracted – that had led the investigators to a whole network of people who were alleged to have been involved with other high-profile cases in which the victims were all Muslims, the court simply pronounced that NIA could not produce evidence to connect the accused. It also appears to be a case of remote control, unless the higher courts decide otherwise. With the present trend in the SC, BJP camp appears to be apprehensive that their dubious methods might not work any longer. The nomination of Pragya Thakur, a prime accused in Malegaon terror case, to contest elections only proves how desperate they are to promote their Hindutva agenda to cover up all their failures. In addition to splashing money, it is a gift of the gab of these yogis, sanyasis, and sannyasins, and the aura of their ochre robes that are being tapped. Such people can even ‘curse’ someone to death, like what Pragya claims! Unfortunately, as against the provisions of only representative democracy in the Constitution, India has been reduced to a ‘choiceless electoral party democracy’, with a deadly cocktail of caste, religion, liquor, and money trying to influence the elections. A virtuous common man who lacks monetary resources cannot even dream of contesting elections. People are anguished; feel that there is no redemption. Yet, the wise among them think that an independent Supreme Court is the only resort to put things in order and to bring back the glory of all other institutions. Since ruthless people are on the job to atrophy the apex court, the country has to stand united in its support, to maintain its independence; to bring about a change. Otherwise, the loss is of the people; of the country. (Dr. N Dilip Kumar is a retired IPS officer and a former member of Public Grievances Commission, Delhi. The views expressed are strictly personal)