Accused can’t be convicted for charge which is not framed by trial court, says Karnataka HC - Business Guardian
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Accused can’t be convicted for charge which is not framed by trial court, says Karnataka HC

It is worth mentioning that the Bench then observes in para 23 that, ‘Having heard the respective counsel and also on perusal of the material available before the court, the trial court imposed a fine of Rs 4,000 each and accordingly, accused No.1 deposited the fine amount and whether the accused No.2, the revision petitioner herein, has deposited the amount or not is not forthcoming. Admittedly, this petitioner has also not challenged the same in any appeal before the Appellate Court i.e., the sentence of fine imposed by the trial court’

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While fully, firmly and finally espousing the legal right of the accused, the Karnataka High Court in an extremely learned, laudable, landmark and latest judgment titled M Ajithkumar vs The State By Food Inspector, Koppa in Criminal Revision Petition No. 1527/2016 and cited in 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 234 that was pronounced finally on June 24, 2022 has set aside the conviction that was handed down under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act by the Trial Court for a charge which it did not frame against the accused and remanded the matter back to be considered afresh. A Single Judge Bench of Justice HP Sandesh while allowing the petition filed by one M Ajithkumar said that, “There is a glaring error on the part of the Trial Court since charge has been framed for Section 7(1) of the Act and conviction and sentence is passed for the violation of Section 7(2) of the Act. The Appellate Court also failed to take note of this aspect into consideration and concentrated mainly on the minimum sentence.” We thus see that the Karnataka High Court very rightly sets aside the conviction and sentence order passed by the court below.

To start with, this refreshing, remarkable, robust and rational judgment authored by a Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Mr Justice HP Sandesh sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “This criminal revision petition is filed under Section 397 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 praying this Court to set aside the judgment passed by the Civil Judge and JMFC, Koppa dated 24.04.2013 in C.C.No.451/2008 and also set aside the judgment dated 09.11.2016 passed in Crl.A.No.233/2013 by the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Chikkamagaluru and acquit the revision petitioner for the offences alleged against him and grant such other relief as deems fit in the circumstances of the case.”

While elaborating on prosecution case, the Bench then states in para 2 that, “The factual matrix of the case of the prosecution is that the Food Inspector, Koppa has visited the shop belonging to the accused No.1-M. Umar on 16.02.2008 situate at Koppa and inspected the food articles and examined 20 packs each containing 200 miligrams of sungift refined cooking oil and found that there is adulteration in the said oil and noticed that the said oil was supplied by the revision petitioner and filed the complaint against the accused persons stating that they have violated Section 7(2) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (‘the Act’ for short) and thereby committed the offence punishable under Section 16(a)(i) of the said Act.”

Needless to say, the Bench then specifies in para 3 that, “Based on the complaint, cognizance was taken against this revision petitioner and accused No.1 and both of them not pleaded guilty. Hence, the prosecution, in order to prove their case, examined P.Ws.1 to 4 and relied upon the documents Exs.P1 to P13(a) and two memo of objects were marked as M.Os.1 and 2 containing sungift refined cooking oil.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages in para 4 that, “The Trial Court, after considering both oral and documentary evidence placed on record, convicted both the accused and imposed sentence of fine of Rs.4,000/- each, failing which they are liable to serve the sentence of simple imprisonment for seven months. The accused No.1 paid the fine amount and the prosecution also challenged the inadequate sentence and filed appeal in Criminal Appeal No.233/2013 and the First Appellate Court reversed the judgment of the Trial Court and imposed sentence of six months vide judgment dated 09.11.2016. Hence, the revision petitioner-accused No.2 has filed this revision petition.”

As we see, the Bench then stipulates in para 22 that, “Having heard the respective counsel and also on perusal of the material on record, the points that would arise for consideration of this Court are:

(i) Whether the revision petitioner has made out a ground to exercise the revisional jurisdiction to set aside the orders passed by the Trial Court as well as the First Appellate Court?

(ii) What order?”

Point No.(i)

It is worth mentioning that the Bench then observes in para 23 that, “Having heard the respective counsel and also on perusal of the material available before the Court, the Trial Court imposed fine of Rs.4,000/- each and accordingly, accused No.1 deposited the fine amount and whether the accused No.2, the revision petitioner herein has deposited the amount or not is not forthcoming. Admittedly, this petitioner has also not challenged the same in any appeal before the Appellate Court i.e., the sentence of fine imposed by the Trial Court. However, the State has filed an appeal before the First Appellate Court on the ground of inadequate sentence. Hence, the Appellate Court modified the sentence of simple imprisonment for a period of six months, instead of fine of Rs.4,000/-.”

No doubt, the Bench then rightly points out in para 24 that, “The first and the foremost contention of the learned counsel for the revision petitioner before this Court is that there was no adulteration and it was only a misbranding. The counsel also relied upon the document Ex.P10 i.e., the report received from the Divisional Public Analyst cum Regional Assistant Chemical Examiner, Mysuru Division, N.P.C. Hospital Compound, Nazarbad, Mysuru, wherein it is opined that the sample sent for analyst is not adulterated but, it is misbranded wide label-3(e) and the said report is given on 6th day of March, 2008. On perusal of the records of the Trial Court, it is seen that the charge was framed on 18th August, 2011 subsequent to receipt of the report. On perusal of the charges, it is seen that the trial Judge has framed the charge for the offence under Section 7 of the Act, particularly, Section 7(1) in respect of adulteration of food and Section 7(2) is in respect of misbranding food. The charge has been framed for the offence under Section 7(1) i.e., adulteration of food and that is not the case of the prosecution and the case of the prosecution is misbranding.”

Be it noted, the Bench then most commendably enunciates in para 25 that, “On perusal of the complaint which is dated 8th July 2008 particularly, page No.2 in the bottom, it is stated that the information given in the packet is erroneous and also referred that the report of the analyst is misbranded and categorically mentioned in page No.3 that there is violation of Section 7(2) of the Act, punishable under Section 16(a)(i) of the Act. However, the allegation against this petitioner is that he has not issued cash bill in terms of Section 14 of the Act and he had distributed the oil packet, wherein also specifically mentioned that the petitioner has violated Section 7(2) of the Act, punishable under Section 16(a)(i) of the Act. But, the trial Judge has framed the charge for the offence under Section 7(1) of the Act and not for the offence under Section 7(2) of the Act. It is also important to note that the complaint dated 8th day of July, 2008 is subsequent to the receipt of the report from the analyst which is marked as Ex.P10 which is dated 6th day of March, 2008. Hence, it is clear that the report is received on 6th day of March, 2008 and complaint is filed in the month of July i.e., 8th day of July, 2008 and inspite of it, though allegation is in respect of Section 7(2) of the Act, the Trial Court framed the charge for the offence under Section 7(1) of the Act. Hence, very framing of the charge itself is erroneous.”

Most forthrightly, the Bench then mandates in para 26 that, “It has to be noted that the trial Judge, even while passing the judgment invoked Section 7(2) of the Act punishable under Section 16(a)(i) of the Act and not altered the Section from 7(1) to 7(2) of the Act. It is also rightly pointed by the learned counsel for the revision petitioner that no notice was given to invoke Section 7(2) of the Act and though the same is noticed by the Trial Court, the charge has been framed for violation of Section 7(1) of the Act and punishment was provided for the violation of Section 7(2) of the Act. Hence, there is a glaring error on the part of the Trial Court since charge has been framed for Section 7(1) of the Act and conviction and sentence is passed for the violation of Section 7(2) of the Act. The Appellate Court also failed to take note of this aspect into consideration and concentrated mainly on the minimum sentence. Hence, the very judgment of the Trial Court as well as the First Appellate Court requires to be set aside on the ground that the charge has been framed for violation of Section 7(1) of the Act and conviction and sentence has been passed for violation of Section 7(2) of the Act.”

Most significantly, the Bench then holds in para 27 that, “The other contentions of the learned counsel for the revision petitioner are that, no authorization to file any complaint and the delegatee also cannot delegate the powers. He also would contend that no notification was produced regarding appointment of Food Inspector and the independent witnesses have not been examined. It is also his contention that non-furnishing of report of Public Analyst and misbranding of label does not require any opinion from the Public Analyst. When charge has not been properly framed and conviction and sentence is passed for in respect of violation under Section 7(2) of the Act, it is appropriate to set aside the judgments of both the Trial Court as well as the First Appellate Court by keeping open the other contentions of the learned counsel for the revision petitioner and remand the matter to the Trial Court for framing appropriate charges and consider the matter afresh. If need arises, the Trial Court shall also permit the prosecution as well as the revision petitioner to adduce evidence before the Trial Court since, proper charge has to be framed and an opportunity has to be given to the revision petitioner to meet the case of the prosecution and unless the charge is specific, meeting the case of the prosecution by the defence is also very difficult. Hence, the judgment and sentence passed by the Trial Court as well as the First Appellate Court is not legally sustainable in the eye of law and it requires fresh consideration. Accordingly, I answer point No.(i) as ‘affirmative’.”

Point No.(ii)

Finally and far most significantly, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 28 that, “In view of the discussions made above, I pass the following:

ORDER

(i) The criminal revision petition is allowed.

(ii) The judgment passed by the Civil Judge and JMFC, Koppa dated 24.04.2013 in C.C.No.451/2008 and the judgment passed by the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Chikkamagaluru dated 09.11.2016 in Crl.A.No.233/2013 are set aside. The matter is remanded to the Trial Court to consider the matter afresh in accordance with law within a period of six months, since the matter is of the year 2008.

(iii) The revision petitioner and the prosecution are directed to appear before the Trial Court on 25th July, 2022 without expecting any notice.

(iv) The respective parties are directed to assist the Trial Court in disposal of the case within the stipulated time.

(v) The Registry is directed to transmit the records forthwith to the concerned Court.”

In a nutshell, the Karnataka High Court has thus not left even a straw of doubt to make it indubitably clear that the accused can’t be convicted for a charge which is not framed by the Trial Court. It merits no reiteration that all the Courts must definitely pay heed to what the Karnataka High Court has held in this leading case. Of course, we thus see that the matter has been very rightly remanded to the Trial Court to consider the matter afresh in accordance with the law within a period of six months, since the matter is of the year 2008 as mentioned above. No denying it.

Be it noted, the Bench then most commendably enunciates in para 25 that, “On perusal of the complaint which is dated 8th July 2008 particularly, page No.2 in the bottom, it is stated that the information given in the packet is erroneous and also referred that the report of the analyst is misbranded and categorically mentioned in page No.3 that there is violation of Section 7(2) of the Act, punishable under Section 16(a)(i) of the Act. However, the allegation against this petitioner is that he has not issued cash bill in terms of Section 14 of the Act and he had distributed the oil packet, wherein also specifically mentioned that the petitioner has violated Section 7(2) of the Act, punishable under Section 16(a)(i) of the Act”.

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Public administration: Key issues and the way forward

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Public administration: Key issues and the way forward

The fiscal situation of all countries has gone awry amidst the pandemic and India is no exception. Covid-related health expenses besides other expenditure on free food among others led to overall increase in government expenditure. In FY21, actual expenditure was 15% higher than the budgeted, particularly on account of food subsidy, health expenditure and rural development. Coupled with lower revenues (25% lower than the budgeted amount) owing to restrictions and lockdown hitting economic activity, it resulted in higher deficit. Fiscal deficit surged to 9.3% of GDP from the budgeted 3.4% of GDP. This in turn led to higher market borrowing by the government. Net market borrowing of the centre increased to 5.8% of GDP as against 2.0%-2.5% of GDP earlier.

Even the states’ finances went haywire with their revenue receipts falling short of their budgeted estimates by over 21%. However, they curtailed their expenditure, particularly revenue expenditure by 12%, by undertaking various expenditure rationalisation measures, including dearness allowance freeze, deferment of part or full salaries and wages, among others. Moreover, amid the pandemic centre permitted the states to borrow more to prevent drastic reduction in their expenditure. Consequently, states’ fiscal deficit increased to 4.2% of GDP in FY22 from the budgeted 3.2% of GDP. Coming to this fiscal, government has projected fiscal deficit of 6.4% of GDP. Combining with state fiscal deficit of 3.5% of GDP, total fiscal deficit comes at 10% of GDP for FY23. So far this fiscal (Apr-Jul’22) the fiscal deficit of the centre has reached 20.5% of the budgeted target. This is lower than 21.3% of budgeted achieved during the same period last year. Tax revenue remained robust with record high GST revenues which have been possible because of increased compliance and higher economic activity. On the expenditure side, government incurred higher capital expenditure (27.8% of BE in FY23 compared to 23.2% of BE during same period in FY22), which bodes well for our growth potential. Higher deficit level has disrupted out debt trajectory. The FRBM committee recommendations of achieving the combined debt of centre and state at 60% of GDP (40%: centre and 20%: state) by FY23 has moved ahead. In FY22, the combined debt of Centre and states stood at 90% of GDP, thus it appears that the glide path has now been shifted away by several years.

Though the pandemic has made our fiscal situation scary, there are certain positive developments which favour the government’s fiscal scenario. One of the good things is that most of our debt is internal. At end-March 2022, external debt is around 6.5% of the public debt. Low borrowing in foreign currency means that the country is shielded by the external crisis. However, that should not make the government complacent. Another favourable development is the emphasis on capital expenditure by the government at both Centre and states level.

However, there are other key concerns which are denting states fiscal deficit and need to be tackled to ensure faster reduction of debt going forward. One is the rising committed expenditure (which includes salary, pension and interest) by states. Its share in revenue receipts now stands at 55%. Increase in expenditure on subsidies and freebies is also pressurising state finances. States are now resorting to populist measures like providing free electricity, water, public transportation, waiver of pending utility bills and farm loan waiver. Furthermore, revert to old pension scheme (Pay as you Go) by some states (Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh) is another serious problem which would hurt states in future. The end of GST compensation cess is another factor that is going to affect states fiscal situation adversely.

So, the question arises how can the government improve its finances? The first thing that the government can do is use analytics to enhance tax compliance and detect tax frauds. As per the official statistics available informal sector accounted for around 50% of the GDP in 2018. Though there have been some independent studies claiming that this share has reduced significantly to not more than 20% of GDP, India still has a large informal sector. So the next reform could be to bring the informal sector economy under the formal set up. This will broaden their tax base leading to enhanced revenue collection. The administration can also think of increasing the tax rate for super rich people/ businesses, even though it is politically difficult move.

Also, with faster pace of digitalisation and automation there has been an increase in gig economy/free lancing jobs. Future might entail large number of people working in a country for a company not based in the resident’s country. Which country tax rules would be applicable in such cases? Tax revenues are likely to be impacted in future, thus there is a need to consider these while formulating tax policies in future. A good administration should keep in mind the distributional impact of any new tax policy/change in existing policy and accordingly devise compensation plan. Besides improving its revenue stream the government has to improve the quality of capital outlay, focus on education, health, building digital infrastructure and green technology which will strengthen our goal for sustainable development.

Tax incentives or subsidies can be given for green technology adoption and R&D activities. However, it should be ensured that wasteful and redundant tax incentives be curtailed. These ways will make our public administration future ready.

Lastly, it should also be remembered that creating conditions for robust, resilient and inclusive economic growth will support government finances in future.

Disha Kheterpal works as a senior economist in the Indian banking sector with core interests in public administration, external sector dynamics and global economics.

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German inflation hits record 7.9 pc in August

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German inflation hits record 7.9 pc in August

Inflation in Germany soared to a record level of 7.9 per cent in August for the second time this year, the country’s Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) said.

Government measures such as a cheap 9-euro ticket for public transport and a fuel discount had a “slight downward effect on overall inflation”, said Destatis President Georg Thiel, with price increases for transport gradually slowing from 16.3 pc in May to 3.7 pc in August.

However, Europe’s largest economy’s fuel discount expired last week, and pump prices jumped immediately, reports Xinhua news agency.

Standard fuelcost 1.99 euros per litre and was 21.6 cents more expensive than at the end of August.

Meanwhile, diesel prices climbed 8.2 cents to 2.16 euros, according to the German Automobile Club (ADAC).

“The main reason for high inflation is still price rises for energy products and food,” Thiel said.

While prices for food rose by 16.6 pc year-on-year, energy prices increased more than four times as fast as inflation levels, and were up 35.6 pc “despite relief measures”. Without the energy and food price rises, overall consumer price inflation in Germany would be 4.4 percentage points lower, according to Destatis.

Natural gas saw particularly high price increases of 83.8 pc, while prices for light heating oil more than doubled. Among food products, prices of edible fats and oils, as well as dairy products and eggs, recorded the sharpest surges of 44.5 pc and 26.8 pc, respectively.

To cushion the impact of high inflation on businesses and consumers, the German government recently announced relief measures worth 65 billion euros, bringing total inflation measures to 95 billion euros.

The package also includes a one-time payment to enable households to pay their heating bills during the winter.

Minister of Finance Christian Lindner warned last week that high inflation levels were an “impoverishment program for families in the middle of society”.

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81.50 can be lowest for Re as $ index trend is bullish

Domestically, India’s performance has been good when it comes to consumption of make and buy in India products, and rupee has had good support

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Jateen Trivedi, VP Research Analyst at LKP Securities, has said that 81.50 can be the lowest point for rupee as the dollar index trend has been bullish.

In the last three months, the dollar has been moving higher from $102 to $110 and the rupee falling from 78.00 to 80.00. If it continues the bullish momentum, the dollar can touch zones of $115 and the rupee at the same time can be near 81.50-82.00.

Excerpts from the interview:

What are you views on RBI Governor saying that rupee has held its own and moved in an orderly manner despite sharp depreciation in other currencies?

The main cause for rupee’s fall has been the strong performance of dollar against the whole basket of currencies which have dropped 8-13 per cent with respect to EUR, JPY, GBP, hence rupee has also been feeling the heat as dollar index has scaled to 20-year high as the base currency touched $110.

Domestically, India’s performance has been good when it comes to consumption of make and buy in India products. It is the exports which have been hampered with IT and Pharma feeling the heat as demand has slumped after unlocking, hence imports have continued and exports have seen a down trend. Domestically, rupee has had good support.

We have seen that RBI has intervened in the forex market to defend rupee. How do you see the intervention going forward?

Intervention has been seen near the 80.00-mark as RBI has tried to keep rupee not going below 80.00, which also has been supported by crude prices which have fallen majorly from $120 to $85 in Nymex in a span of three months. Hence the fall in rupee has been slow and RBI intervention might get slow once prices start to settle above 79.50. Aggressive intervention might only be a case if rupee falls beyond 80.00 as RBI would not want to draw down on forex reserves.

Does RBI defending rupee to such an extent make any sense? What are your thoughts?

It made sense in an environment where crude prices were also on a boil, but since the prices of Crude have come down, it will be seen that RBI will be participating less in rupee buying/dollar selling. The central bank has been clear in its measures that RBI is ok with slow-paced fall in currency rather quick rise in rupee by selling major forex reserves.

What would be the rupee’s lowest point against the dollar in the next three months?

81.50 can be the lowest point as the dollar index trend has been bullish. In the last three months, the dollar has been moving higher from $102 to $110 and the rupee falling from 78.00 to 80.00. If it continues the bullish momentum, the dollar can touch zones of $115 and the rupee at the same time can be near 81.50-82.00.

What are the domestic factors that you think will put pressure on the rupee in the coming months?

DIIs have been buyers into capital markets which has helped the rupee. If DIIs start booking their profits, then we can see pressure on rupee. Along with that, the southern part of the country has seen major floods damaging crops, which can add pressure on inflation that in turn will add more pressure on rupee. Hence crop arrival numbers will be keenly watched by rupee traders. Negative crude prices and dollar price rising can play major role on rupee’s movement in the coming months.

What could be the remedy to ease that pressure?

There is not much that can be done to arrest the fall of rupee, as most of it has come on the back of global geo-political issues and sharp surge of dollar, adding pressure on global currencies. The RBI can only slow the pace of the fall in rupee, which has been its stance in the current year and we can see that continuing. •IANS

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The economic growth of India is unstoppable

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India Inc is booming, but it has to surmount challenges pertinent to the continuation of its stellar economic performance – how best to attract and retain talent with the prerequisite skills to drive further progress and growth.

With the stabilisation of the COVID-19 situation, India’s economy has made an impressive recovery and is charging ahead to meet its goals for the future. The RGF International Recruitment 2022 Salary Watch: India report shares perspectives on how India’s growth plans and healthy investment portfolios, along with the ongoing digital transformation initiatives and broad adoption of new technologies across various sectors, have contributed to the upward trends in demand for talent and salary increments commensurate with their skills and experience.

Demand for talent in the Industrial Manufacturing sector has been driven up by the Industry 4.0 revolution and the Indian government’s enthusiastic growth trajectory for its electric vehicles (EV) industry. As such, employers are willing to offer talent, particularly in the battery development and automation fields, an average salary increase of 9 per cent.

Those performing senior roles in R&D, Application Engineering and Sales & Marketing have received record salary increments of up to 20 per cent, as compared to 2021.

The Consumer Goods sector accounts for a sizeable slice of India’s GDP, and robust annual growth is expected over the next decade. The rebound in the retail industry, explosive growth in e-commerce and ongoing digital transformation of retail companies have contributed towards the average salary increase of 12 per cent for talent with the prerequisite skills. Those in senior roles with digital capabilities (eg: E-commerce Director/ Manager, Digitalisation Director) are able to command salary increments of up to 15 per cent.

The increased use of digital technologies in the Healthcare & Life Sciences sector, spurred by the pandemic, government policies and investments, has pushed up the market value of telemedicine and digital care solutions to unprecedented levels.

Consequently, the sector is seeing spikes in demand for healthcare talent, particularly in these fields, as well as salary increments averaging 9 per cent. The expanding Medical Devices manufacturing division is also seeing increased demand for talent, particularly in the Production and Operations fields, and an average salary increase of 14.9 per cent, as compared to 2021.

Companies in the Corporate Services sector are seeing a surge in new work orders. This boost in business, along with the accelerated adoption of digital processes as efficiency-improvement measures, have led to the increased demand for talent, particularly human resource personnel with skills in digital tools and IT software, as well as an average salary increase of 15 per cent.

The landscape of India’s Technology sector is being rapidly transformed by the accelerated adoption of frontier technologies like IoT, AI, blockchain, data security, cybersecurity and 5G. Being a “digital talent nation”,

The landscape of India’s Technology sector is being rapidly transformed by the accelerated adoption of frontier technologies like IoT, AI, blockchain, data security, cybersecurity and 5G. Being a “digital talent nation”, India’s tech talent demand-supply gap is low, as compared to other major economies. However, due to high attrition rates and the aggressive war for talent, those with in-demand roles are able to command an average salary increase of 12 per cent. Talent with hot skills in fields like Fullstack Development, Devops, Cloud, Data Science, Cyber Security and IoT are also seeing steep upward trends in salary ranges.

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TERRORISTS KILL ANOTHER PANDIT, INJURE BROTHER

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Govt schemes prospered the lives of people in J-K

A Kashmiri Pandit was shot dead and his brother injured after terrorists fired at them at an apple orchard in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district. The incident took place in the Chotipora area. The deceased has been identified as Sunil Kumar Bhat. His brother Pintu has sustained injuries. Security force personnel have been deployed in the area after the incident. Police sources said the militants fired at Sunil Kumar, son of Arjun Nath, and his brother Pitambar alias Pinto in the Chotigam village of Shopian district. “Sunil Kumar died on the spot while his brother Pitambar alias Pinto was shifted to hospital.

“ The area has been cordoned  offf and reinforcements have been rushed to the village to nab the assassins,” sources said. Reports said that both the brothers were non-migrants and were living in their ancestral village when the killers struck. Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha condemned the killing of a Kashmiri Pandit by terrorists in South Kashmir’s Shopian district. In a tweet the L-G said the terrorists responsible for the act won’t be spared. “Pained beyond words on despicable terror attack on civilians in Shopian. My thoughts are with the family of Sunil Kumar. Praying for speedy recovery of injured.

The attack deserves strongest condemnation from everyone. Terrorists responsible for barbaric act will not be spared,” office of the L-G J&K tweeted. “Terrorists fired upon civilians in an apple orchard in Chotipora area of Shopian. One person died and one injured. Both belong to minority community. Injured person has been shifted to hospital. Area cordoned off,” police said. Meanwhile, additional police parties have reached the spot and an operation has been started to nab the attackers. Leaders cutting across party lines unequivocally condemned the killing of a Kashmiri Pandit on Tuesday by terrorists in South Kashmir’s Shopian district. Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina said, “Coward Pakistani terrorists targetted minority Hindus. Two brothers — Kashmiri Hindus — Sunil Kumar and Pintu were targeted by coward Pakistani terrorists.

 

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Afghan women’s lives have changed unrecognisably

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A year on from the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, senior UN official Ramiz Alakbarov, who is the Resident Coordinator in the country, described his fears for girls’ lives and called for women to play a full role in reviving the Afghan economy. Rights groups say that the Taliban have broken multiple pledges to respect human rights and women’s rights since taking over Afghanistan a year ago. After capturing Kabul in August last year, Taliban authorities have imposed severe restrictions on women’s and girls’ rights. “Shortly before the Taliban takeover in 2021, I visited an orphanage in Kunduz, a city in the north of Afghanistan.

I was heartbroken when I spoke with a young girl there who had lost her entire family the day before, following intense fighting between the Afghan National Security Forces and the Taliban,” said Ramiz Alakbarov, Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Since then, Alakbarov said these challenges have grown exponentially and efforts to build a stable future for children like the ones I met last year in Kunduz have become more demanding. “From hunger to chronic poverty, the scale of suffering in Afghanistan continues to rise across many areas since the Taliban advanced on Kabul last summer,” he said. Over half of the country’s population now live below the poverty line.

Nearly 23 million people are food insecure, many of them severely so, and more than two million children are suffering from malnutrition. In June 2022, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck the central region of Afghanistan, killing over 1,000 people and pushing already vulnerable communities to the brink. “I am especially worried about Afghan women and girls, whose lives have changed unrecognizably since the Taliban returned to power last summer. Since 15 August 2021, we have seen a significant rolling back of their economic, political, and social rights and a worrying escalation in restrictive gender policies and behaviours,” he said. Without the right to education, work and freedom of movement, women now find themselves increasingly relegated to the margins, he added. According to a new analysis by UNICEF, keeping girls out of secondary school costs Afghanistan 2.5 per cent of its annual GDP.

If the current cohort of three million girls were able to complete their secondary education and participate in the job market, girls and women would contribute at least USD 5.4 billion to Afghanistan’s economy, the UN agency said. UNICEF’s estimates do not take into account the non-financial impacts of denying girls access to education, such as upcoming shortages of female teachers, doctors and nurses, the ensuing impact on decreasing attendance for girls in primary school and increasing health costs related to adolescent pregnancy. The estimates also do not account for the broader benefits of education, including overall educational attainment, reduced child marriage and reduced infant mortality,

 

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