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Kerala floods: Death toll rises to 357, red alert withdrawn

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Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram | The Death toll in Kerala has reached up to 357 as floods and heavy rains in the southern state have displaced more than 3 lakh people.

Kerala is facing one of the worst floods in his history with the loss of 21,000 crores already been suffered by the state. Around 6,80,247 people have been forced to stay in relief camps due to constant rains and flood like situation in the state. Chief Minister P Vijayan has appealed to the citizens of Kerala to stay ‘united as one’ to tackle this difficult situation faced by the state.

The MET department has informed that the state could get a relief from rains in the next 24 hours. Similarly, the red alert warning has removed from the major districts in the state except for Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kasaragod. The NDRF, Navy, Army, Coastguard and Air Force have launched a war-like rescue and relief operation in the state. As per media reports, around 42 navy, 16 army, 28 coast guard and 39 National Disaster Relief Force teams have been deployed in rescue operations. While 67 helicopters, 24 aircraft, 548 motorboats and thousands of rescue personnel from Navy, Army, Air Force, NDRF, Coast Guard are pressed into service to evacuate people from submerged areas to relief camps and distribute relief materials.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also made an Aerial review of the situation in the flood-affected regions of Kerala along with CM P Vijayan. PM Modi has announced a relief package worth 500 crores for the state of Kerala.  An ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh to the next kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 to those critically injured is also been announced by PM Modi.

The various State government has also offered help to the state of  Kerala with Telangana government offering 25 crores. The relief amount of 20 crores and 15 crores have been offered by  Maharashtra government and Uttar Pradesh government respectively.  MLA’s and MP’s of various Political parties have donated their entire salary of 1 month towards the relief work in Kerala.

Meanwhile, the central government has sent 3,00,000 food packets, 6,00,000 MT of milk, 14,00,000 litres of drinking water, 150 portable water purification kits with the capacity of 1,00,000 litre each to the state of Kerala. The Central railway has also sent over 14 lakh litres of drinking water to the southern state by a special train from Pune.

 

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Tandoor case: HC asks Delhi govt why Sushil Sharma not released after 29 years of incarceration

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Sushil Sharma

New Delhi | The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the city government why former youth Congress leader Sushil Kumar Sharma, serving life term in the 1995 murder case of his wife Naina Sahni, has not been released after having undergone 29 years of incarceration.

Terming the issue as “serious”, the court issued notice to the Delhi government and sought its stand on Sharma’s habeas corpus plea seeking release from custody in the case on the grounds that he has been jailed for 29 years, including the period of remission, and his continued incarceration was illegal.

A bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal asked the Secretary, Home Department and Secretary of Law and Justice department to be present before it on the next date of hearing, December 18, with the original records of Sharma’s application to the Sentence Review Board (SRB) for premature release and the reasons for rejecting it.

The bench said that “life and liberty of any individual is of paramount consideration” and asked the Delhi government how someone can be kept in custody “indefinitely”. Sharma, in prison since 1995, has contended that he has already undergone the maximum prescribed sentence as mandated under the SRB guidelines.

According to his plea, the guidelines on premature release state that life convicts sentenced for a single offence are to be released after completion of 20 years of incarceration and those who had committed heinous crimes are to be granted the relief after 25 years.

The petition, filed through advocate Amit Sahni, has said even though Sharma’s case falls in the first category, he has also undergone 29 years of incarceration, with remission, and 23 years and six months, without remission.

Now 56, Sharma had shot dead his wife in 1995 objecting to her alleged relationship with a male friend. He had then chopped her body into pieces and attempted to burn it in a restaurant oven. Known as the tandoor murder case, it is one of the landmark cases in India in which DNA evidence and a second autopsy were used to establish the guilt of the accused.

In his plea, Sharma has contended that his conduct in prison and while out on parole has been “exemplary” and he has never misused his liberty. Apart from that, he has also argued that even the Supreme Court, while commuting his death sentence to life imprisonment, had held that he was not a confirmed criminal and there was no evidence to indicate that he was likely to revert to such crimes in future.

Another ground on which he has sought release from custody is that both his parents are over 80 years old and suffering from various ailments and there is no one to look after them.

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Army to extend support to disabled war veterans: General Rawat

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Hyderabad | The Army is taking efforts to compile data on war veterans who suffered disability so as to provide them support, including prosthetic limbs in needed cases, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said on Friday.

Gen. Rawat, here to attend the Convocation Ceremony at the Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering (MCEME), said the aim was also to motive the disabled soldiers that disability does not mean they cannot do anything. “What we are doing is, firstly we are identifying these people. There are disabled soldiers some of them are in the village. Some are elsewhere. Some got disabled in the 1965 war. Some in the 1971 war. They are now very, very old. So, the idea is to first identify and see how their condition is,” he told reporters here.
He was replying to a question on the Army’s plans to extend the support system to soldiers who suffered disability
in the line of duty.

Gen Rawat said the Army was looking at compiling data on the present condition of the veterans. “And once we have compiled the data… then we have to work out the kind of support we have to give them… It is not just monthly support and some people need prosthetic limbs,” he said. The army was now providing very good artificial limbs and artificial systems which can help the affected lead a near-normal life, he said.

Noting that there were two distinct types of people who get disabled while serving the army, the General said some, who lost parts like an eye or a hand, need the support of family members and there were others who were disabled because of service conditions, stress and even lifestyle diseases, but can take care of themselves. Hence, there should be distinct support for the two types of disabled persons.

Earlier, Rawat, in his convocation address, said the graduating officers need to harness the latest technologies. “As technology refines and research throws open new vistas, your challenge would be to harness the latest technologies for the benefit of our great Indian Army,” he said.

He also said future battlespace would be dominated by guided missiles, Artificial Intelligence, unmanned platforms, robots, and network-centric operations.

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Have ‘constricted power’ to review government decisions pertaining to nation’s security, says SC

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New Delhi | The judiciary has “constricted power” to review the decision of procuring 36 Rafale fighter jets as it was crucial to the nation’s sovereignty and the government has far “more leeway” in such matters, the Supreme Court said on Friday.

The top court, which junked pleas challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of Rafale jets, dealt extensively in its verdict with the scope and ambit of judicial review of such decisions, including on defence procurement, taken by the government.

Holding that the apex court has “constricted power of judicial review”, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, “the scrutiny of the challenges before us…will have to be made keeping in mind the confines of national security, the subject of the procurement is crucial to the nation’s sovereignty”.

The bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, said the deal in question did not pertain to the construction of road or bridges. “We also cannot lose sight of the tender in issue. The tender is not for construction of roads, bridges, etc. It is a defence tender for procurement of aircraft. The parameter of scrutiny would give far more leeway to the Government, keeping in mind the nature of the procurement itself.

“The triple ground on which such judicial scrutiny is permissible has been consistently held to be ‘illegality’, ‘irrationality’ and ‘procedural impropriety’,” it said. The top court said however that the scope of judicial review would vary with the subject matter of the contract and there cannot be any uniform standard which could be understood as an “across the board principle to apply to all cases of an award of work or procurement of goods/material”.

Referring to various judgments, it said the award of contracts is essentially a commercial transaction and such decisions are “not open to judicial scrutiny unless it is found that the same have been tailor-­made to benefit any particular tenderer or a class of tenderers”.

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