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Maharashtra government likely to propose law to reintroduce ballot papers for state and local body polls

The Maharashtra government is planning to reintroduce ballot papers as an option for voters during local body and State Assembly elections

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Maharashtra government

The Maharashtra government is planning to reintroduce ballot papers as an option for voters during local body and State Assembly elections, which is likely to start from March, and may introduce a bill in the state assembly’s Budget Session.

With the electoral procedures falling under the state government’s control, state assembly Speaker Nana Patole on Tuesday directed the state government to explore the option of allowing the use of paper ballots in addition to electronic voting machines (EVMs) during state and local body polls.

Maharashtra Assembly speaker Nana Patole on Tuesday directed the law and judiciary department of the state to examine and draft the law on use of ballot papers in state elections. He confirmed the media that if the draft is ready, the bill can be introduced in the coming budget session. Patole insisted under article 328 of the Constitution, the state legislature has powers to bring such laws.  

Article 328 of the Constitution gives state legislatures the power to make provisions with respect to elections to such legislative bodies as long as these are not under the domain of Parliament. 

Supporting Patole, NCP’s Majeed Memon said there have been a number of complaints with regards to the fairness of conduct of polls using EVMs then what is more important is the faith of people who are casting the votes.

If the Thackeray government introduces this bill, Maharashtra will become the first state to bring in such legislation for elections to be held on ballot papers along with EVMs. All three constituents of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government – Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress – are said to be on the same page regarding the reintroduction of ballot papers.

Also Read: Farmers didn’t insult Indian flag, Chinese army did: Shiv Sena to PM Modi

Electronic Voting Machines, or EVMs, have been in the news over the last few years as opposition parties and activists have raised questions that EVMs are at risk of being tampered with. Opposition parties, especially the Congress, have often alleged that EVMs give votes in favour of the BJP and have blamed the machines for their election defeats. The Election Commission, however, has repeatedly refuted the allegations and maintains that EVMs cannot be tampered with.

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Maharashtra sends controversial IAS trainee Puja Khedkar back to academy

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Trainee IAS officer Puja Khedkar, who has been the eye of the storm, has been asked by the Maharashtra Government to report back to the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie.

A letter from Maharashtra Additional Chief Secretary Nitin Gadre stated LBSNAA has suspended district training of Khedkar and has called her back for further necessary action. The letter said she has been relieved from the district training programme of the state government of Maharashtra and has been asked to join the academy by July 23 under any circumstances.

Khedkar had made it to the headlines for her alleged demands of a separate office and official car, besides using a beacon on her private luxury car without official sanction.

Earlier this month, a report regarding Khedkar and her father’s objectionable behaviour was sent by Pune District Collector Suhas Diwase to the state government.

Reports said Khedkar completed her MBBS and then appeared for the UPSC exams several times. According to her, she joined the IRS in 2019. In a later interview she said she could not join the IRS since there were some technical problems in the OBC allocation of her seat.

Thereafter, in November 2021, she applied and got appointed as the assistant director in the Sports Authority of India. She then appeared for the Civil Services Examination in 2021 and cleared the preliminary exam, the main examination, and the interview, securing the 821st rank.

However, she failed to present herself for a medical test to confirm disability claims of blindness and mental illness due to which she was getting benefits under the category of Persons with Benchmark Disabilities. Consequently, this persisted as a legal battle in Central Administrative Tribunal against UPSC.

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Supreme Court issues notice to CBI, ED on Manish Sisodia bail plea

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Manish Sisodia

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the bail pleas moved by former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

The Supreme Court’s decided to issue notice to the two agencies after arguments on Sisodia’s petitions for bail in two cases relating to alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi liquor policy. The court granted two weeks to the agencies to file their views.

“Views of agencies have to be heard before any decision is taken,” said Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, pointing at the seriousness of the charges slapped on Sisodia. The former Delhi Deputy CM has been under judicial remand since February 2023 over corruption and money laundering charges.

According to Sisodia’s counsel, the charges against him are politically motivated and lack enough evidence. The counsel had sought bail on medical grounds, to which the CBI or ED objected, saying his release might hamper the ongoing investigation into the case by influencing the witnesses or tampering with evidence.

According to the CBI and ED, Sisodia’s involvement in the liquor policy scheme was responsible for substantial state revenue loss and worked in favor of private liquor vendors.

Manish Sisodia, known for his transformational work in the field of education under the Delhi government, is not the only Aam Aadmi Party leader in jail. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Satyendar Jain are also behind bars. While Kejriwal is jailed in connection with the liquor policy case, Jain is in prison for corruption charges.

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PayTm share price slips 2 per cent over SEBI warning

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Paytm

The share price of PayTm fell by nearly 2 per cent on Tuesday following a warning from the the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

PayTm’s parent One 97 Communication had got SEBI’s administrative warning letter on some transactions involving the PayTm Payments Bank during fiscal year 2021-2022. The bourses reacted strongly leading to PayTm shares falling by 1.88% to Rs 460.80 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

SEBI said it had noted the violation with concern and said these matters are being viewed very seriously. The regulator warned the company to exercise caution going forward and improve compliance to rules to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The markets regulator added that failure to comply with rules may force it to invoke enforcement actions as per the law.

In its response to SEBI, PayTm said in a media release that it has always followed listing regulations, as well as any change to these rules over time. The company said it would keep up its commitment to maintain and follow high standards of compliance. Paytm said it intends to provide an adequate response to SEBI on this matter.

PayTm said it has always followed Regulation 23 along with Regulation 4(1)(h) of the SEBI Listing Regulations, without including any change made to these rules over time. Paytm added that the letter from  SEBI has no influence on its finances, operations or other activities in any way.

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