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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has refused to interfere with the Uttarakhand High Court‘s interim order dismissing a senior judicial officer’s plea for changing the inquiry officer, who was examining charges of sexual harassment against him, over alleged bias.

A bench of justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi rejected the plea of the additional district judge, saying that he can raise the ground of bias even after the inquiry against him gets over.

“We are not inclined to interfere with the order passed by the high court. The Special Leave Petition is, accordingly, dismissed. Pending application(s), if any, stands disposed of accordingly.

“However, the high court is requested to finally dispose of the writ petition when the matter is listed on October 31, along with amendment application,” the bench said in its recent order.

Senior advocate P S Patwalia, who appeared for the petitioner along with advocate Sachin Sharma, argued that his client has an outstanding record and these allegations were levelled to embarrass him.

He claimed that a day after his plea for a change of inquiry officer was taken up for hearing by the high court, the inquiry officer had closed the defence and started proceedings ex-parte.

The bench said that it will not interfere with the inquiry but can ask the high court to decide on the plea and pass the order.

“If you have a good case on bias, you will succeed. You can argue on the point of bias, even after the inquiry gets over”, the bench said.

The additional district judge in his plea has contended that the inquiry officer, who is a sitting judge of the high court, is also a member of the committee that had recommended disciplinary inquiry against him, and any exercise so conducted cannot be said to be fair.

He claimed that the high court on October 8, without considering the facts and circumstances of the case, by a non-speaking order gave a prima facie finding that it was too late for making the allegation of bias against the presiding officer and had rejected the stay application.

“That it is a gross case of violation of the principle of natural justice wherein the petitioner, who is a member of Higher Judicial Service, imparted justice without any spot on his career for the last 16 years, having outstanding ACR throughout, is now himself rattling for the justice,” his plea said.

The plea sought a stay on the order of the high court as well as on the disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner.

The plea said that in 2017, the petitioner was transferred from the post of registrar of the Uttarakhand High Court and was posted as First Additional District Judge and Session Judge, Haridwar.

It said that on February 1, 2018, the complainant was directed to join/attach with the officer of the petitioner as a contractual employee and just after working for two days on February 1 and 2, he was directed to join at some other place.

To the shock and surprise of the petitioner, he was informed after being suspended and charge-sheeted that the contractual employee had made a “false and frivolous complaint, dated March 19, 2018, to the district Judge Haridwar, alleging therein that the petitioner had tried to take undue advantage and sexually harassed him on February 1 and 2”.

The plea contended that “this bare fact itself shows that complainant was planted by someone having grudges against the petitioner to defame/disable him from performing his official duties”.

The petition claimed that the complainant and his mother, in their cross-examination conducted before the Inquiry Officer, had admitted that they filed the complaint dated March 19, 2018 only because they were promised that the complainant’s job will be regularized.

“Hence, the entire disciplinary proceeding is nothing but a gross abuse of process of law,” it said, adding that on September 21, the inquiry officer had even refused to allow the complainant to withdraw his complaint.

The plea also said that the inquiry officer had dismissed the recusal application dated September 21 filed by the petitioner.

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 calls for complete ceasing of support to terrorist forces in Middle East




UNITED NATIONS: India has called on all concerned parties to completely stop supporting terrorist forces, like the ISIS, while urging all stakeholders in the Middle East to work constructively for peace, stability and development.

India underscored that it has invested considerably in the peace and stability of the region by deploying its personnel as part of UN peacekeeping forces, through humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, capacity building, and will continue contributing towards peace-building in the Middle East.

“India calls on concerned parties to completely stop support to terrorist forces, like ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and others. India also urges all parties in the region to work constructively and in good faith to promote peace, stability and development for the benefit of all people in the Middle East,” India said in a written statement on Monday on the Security Council’s open debate on ‘The Situation in the Middle East’.

India said the truce between Israel and the Hamas has eased the humanitarian situation in Gaza and expressed hope that the temporary truce is converted into a permanent ceasefire, which can save precious human lives on both sides and create a conducive environment for talks.

“It is an unfortunate reality that the interlinked and mutually reinforcing challenges faced by the people of the Middle East have not yet been resolved. Political instability, long-festering conflicts, sectarian divides, issue of refugees and terrorism continue to plague the region. The COVID-pandemic has only exacerbated the threats posed by these challenges,” India said.

The statement made India’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador T S Tirumurti, will go as part of the official record of the Council.

India said it appreciates the agreement between Fatah and Hamas for holding Parliamentary and Presidential elections and also elections for the Palestinian National Council, which will help fulfill the democratic aspirations of the Palestinian people.

India also welcomed the agreements for normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain. “India has always supported peace and stability in West Asia, which is our extended neighbourhood,” India said.

Further, India said the commencement of discussions on the disputed border between Israel and Lebanon is a significant development, expressing hope that this will provide an opportunity to resolve the longstanding issue between the two countries.

India highlighted that Palestinian aspirations for a sovereign and independent state are yet to be fulfilled and stressed that New Delhi has been unwavering in its commitment to the Palestinian cause and continues to remain supportive of a peaceful negotiated resolution of the Palestinian issue.

“India has supported the two-state solution as a just and acceptable solution to the conflict. Establishment of a Palestinian State living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel, within mutually agreed borders should be achieved through negotiations directly by the two parties,” India said adding that any stalemate could strengthen the hands of extremists and shut the door to cooperation thereby jeopardising the security, stability and prosperity of the people on both sides and the region.

Accordingly, India urged Israel and Palestine to resume direct negotiations at the earliest and called upon the international community to take concrete steps towards resuming and facilitating these negotiations quickly.

India noted that the decade-long armed conflict in Syria has claimed over 400,000 lives, displaced 6.2 million people internally and compelled another 6.3 million people to seek shelter in neighbouring countries.

“While we are heartened to see return of normalcy to major parts of the country, we are also reminded of the enormous resources that would be required to provide urgent humanitarian aid, rebuild infrastructure, enable return of the refugees and restore a normal and dignified life of all Syrians,” the statement said.

India said in the statement that it is not only contributing to the return of normalcy and rebuilding of Syria, but has also consistently called for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict through a Syrian-led dialogue, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria.

India voiced concern over the security and humanitarian situation in Yemen and said the recent exchange of prisoners by the Government of Yemen and Ansar Allah, who had been detained in connection with the conflict, is a welcome development.

“India hopes that the parties will take more confidence building measures to provide the necessary impetus for the full implementation of the Stockholm Agreement,” the statement read.

India also hopes for peace and stability in Iraq with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

India noted that in the aftermath of the August blast that brought destruction to vast swathes of Beirut and inflicted heavy loss of lives, India stood in solidarity with Lebanon.

New Delhi sent emergency humanitarian aid of over 58 metric tons to Beirut. “We look forward to the swift formation of a new government that can offer political stability and also tackle the grave socio-economic challenges being faced by the people of Lebanon,” the statement said.

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US, India must focus on threat posed by China: Secretary of state Mike Pompeo




NEW DELHI: US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Tuesday stressed on the need for Washington and New Delhi to work together to counter the threat posed by Beijing to “security and freedom”

Pompeo’s comment came during the crucial 2+2 dialogue between India and the US, which saw the signing of a crucial defence agreement between the two countries.

“There is much more work to do for sure. We have a lot to discuss today: Our cooperation on the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom to promoting peace and stability throughout the region,” Pompeo said during talks with defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar. Pompeo was joined by defence secretary Mark Esper.

Esper too focussed on the apparent threat posed by China, specifically in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Our focus now must be on institutionalising and regularising our cooperation to meet the challenges of the day and uphold the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific well into the future,” Esper said.

The comments assume significance as India is locked in a border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.

In June this year, 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of PLA soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, hardening the mood in India against China and driving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to seek closer military ties with the United States.

In the US, President Donald Trump has made being tough on China a key part of his campaign to secure a second term in next week’s presidential election and Pompeo has been trying to bolster allies to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

This month, India invited Australia to join naval drills it holds each year with the United States and Japan, brushing off Chinese concerns that the exercises destabilise the region.

(With inputs from agencies)

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defence Secretary Mark Esper meet NSA Doval




NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper on Tuesday held talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, covering key aspects of growing strategic ties between the two countries.

Issues of strategic importance were discussed at the meeting, sources said.

The meeting took place ahead of the third edition of 2+2 ministerial dialogue. Esper and Pompeo arrived here on Monday for the crucial talks aimed at further boosting the defence and security ties between the two countries.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held separate talks with their US counterparts on Monday.

Earlier on Tuesday, both the top US administration officials visited the National War Memorial and paid tributes to India’s fallen heroes.

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