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NEW DELHI: The Centre on Saturday issued a fresh advisory, directing all states and UTs to strictly enforce the mandatory laws and guidelines relating to sexual assault on women and said the dying declaration of a victim cannot be discarded on the grounds it has not been recorded in the presence of a magistrate. It said probe into rape cases must be completed within two months.

The advisory, issued by the home ministry, comes days after the Hathras incident in Uttar Pradesh as well as crimes in other parts of the country.

The advisory listed key areas of mandatory action by police in cases of crime against women, including sexual assault. These include registration of FIR, collection of evidence for forensic examination and use of Sexual Assault Evidence Collection (SAEC) kits, completion of probe in sexual assault cases in two months and use of the national database on sexual offenders for identifying and tracking repeat sexual offenders among other things.

Asserting the importance of the victim’s dying declaration, the advisory cited Section 32 (1) of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, which provides that the “statement, written or verbal, by a person who is dead shall be treated as relevant fact in the investigation when the statement is made by a person as to the cause of his (or her) death or as to any of the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his (or her) death”.

It is also referred to the Supreme Court order of January 7, 2020, which directed that a particular statement, when being offered as dying declaration and satisfies all the requirements of judicial scrutiny, cannot be discarded merely because it has not been recorded by a magistrate or that the police officer did not obtain attestation by any person present at the time of making of the statement.

The ministry said there should be compulsory registration of FIR and also cited Section 164-A of CrPC which provides that in rape/sexual assault investigation, the victim should be examined by a registered medical practitioner under consent within 24 hours from the time of receiving the information. It said the law also enables police to register a “Zero FIR”, in case the crime is committed outside the jurisdiction of police station.

It asked states to issue directions for compliance and called for stringent punishment for lapses on the part of the officials concerned in investigation of such cases.

It is also emphasised that it is necessary to use the Sexual Assault Evidence Collection kits in every case of sexual assault reported.

The MHA statement stated that “however, even with stringent provisions in law and several capacity-building measures undertaken, any failure of police to adhere to these mandatory requirements may not augur well for the delivery of criminal justice in the country, especially in context of women safety”.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Terrorism enemy of humanity: LG

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SRINAGAR: LG Manoj Sinha on Thursday said October 22 will always remain a black day during his inaugural address of the national symposium and exhibition on “Memories of 22 October, 1947” in the city.

Sinha said we must make both the elderly and the younger generation aware that Pakistan not only shed the blood of the people of Kashmir, on this fateful epoch of history, it tried to divide us, which we have foiled with our unity and goodwill.

The LG said the two-day symposium and exhibition is a medium to expose the atrocities inflicted by the Pakistani government and its army upon innocent women, children, and men of Jammu & Kashmir on October 22, 1947.

“Even after 73 years, the pain and terrors of Operation Gulmarg of Pakistan are fresh in our memories,” Sinha said.

The two-day event on 22nd and 23rd October is being organized by the National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology at SKICC, Srinagar.

A publication, Memories of 22 October 1947, was also launched on the occasion.

Speaking on the representations received from more than 100 prominent people across J&K regarding protection and restoration of places with heritage significance like Mubarak Mandi, Jammu, and Shergarhi, Srinagar, the LG reiterated the government’s commitment towards conservation and protection of the rich culture and heritage of J&K.

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INDIA

After BJP’s Bihar poll promise, MP CM Shivraj says will give free vaccine to poor

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BHOPAL: Taking a cue from BJP in Bihar who announced on Thursday to provide free Covid vaccine to the poor in the state, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that poor families in the state will get free Covid-19 vaccine.

“BJP has said a very good thing in Bihar. And I am also saying the same thing here. Let the Corona vaccine come, every poor in Madhya Pradesh will be administered free vaccine,” chief minsiter Chouhan announced during a poll rally in Gwalior on Thursday evening.

He further said, “I want to save from Corona, then poor will be saved first. we will also try to make arrangements for the rest as well. The BJP government is for the development”.

However, after chief minister’s announcement in Gwalior, an official tweet by Chouhan stated that Corona vaccine will be administered to all citizens in Madhya Pradesh. But, the government later clarified that CM had made the announcement for only poor.

“We have controlled the Corona infection to an extent but, vaccine is the only cure for it and vaccine should be given to the public,” read the tweet by CM.

The Congress though raised objections to the chief minister’s remarks and said that Chouhan’s statement was confusing. “Earlier the chief minister said that Corona vaccine would be provided only to poor families. In his tweeted posted later, he said Covid-19 vaccine will be given to all citizens. This is confusing,” said Congress state media coordinator, Narendra Saluja.

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INDIA

Women hold key to Leh council poll outcome

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LEH: More women than men came out to cast their ballot in the Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council election on Thursday, unmindful of the Covid-19 pandemic, bone-chilling temperature and border tension with China.

The country’s first electoral exercise in the post-Covid period saw 65%, Leh deputy commissioner and Election Authority Sachin Kumar Vaishya said.

A total of 28263 women cast their ballots against 25994 men. Postal ballots stood at 2538, covering those above 65, differently abled, in quarantine or isolation and services.

Polling went off without and incident but weather and Covid posed major challenges. At several places, batteries of the M2 EVMs (electronic voting machines) drained in the cold, the machines froze or took an hour to start. In one village booth, more than 100 kms from Leh, the polling staff had be replaced after many reported Covid symptoms. “The issues were resilved with excellent co-ordination among all arms of the administration,” he said.

The highest polling rate of 85% was recorded in the Sku Markha constituency, while the lowest was reported from the Lower Leh constituency. “Rural areas saw more polling than urban areas,” Vaishya said.

This the first LAHDC-Leh poll after Ladakh was carved out as a union territory last year. Polling percentage is same as the previous election in 2015, though the number of eligible voters has risen by 11% to about 90,000 since then.

Many young voters who were away for studies during the previous election are home this time as their institutions are closed due to Covid. “They may have filled in for some voters who may not have cast their ballot due to fear of Covid or weather to keep the voting percentage same as last election,” Vaishya said.

A 104-year-old woman in the Nubra tehsil was the oldest to cast ballot, while 2,500 were first-time voters. “We went to her (the oldest voter) house so that she could cast her vote. We ensured that no voter is left out,“ Vaishya said.

Some 57 of the 294 booths had all-women polling staff, while women made up 75% of the personnel at 38 booths.

Vaishya said the higher turnout of female voters reiterated the awareness and empowerment among women of Ladakh. He said the turnout showed the vibrancy “of our democracy and electoral process.”

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