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Billed as World’s Largest, Bihar Government tells Patna High Court human chain participation was Voluntary

The PIL wanted to know under what provision the state government decided to stop traffic on national and state highways for the January 21 human chain programme in support of prohibition

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Human chain of Bihar being questioned b Patna High court
Law and Order (representative image) Pixabay

Patna, Jan 20, 2017: The Bihar government today assured the Patna High Court that participation in Saturday’s human chain, billed as the world’s largest, was voluntary and alternative routes are being created to avoid traffic chaos due to the closure of national highways and state highways for five hours.

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Principal Additional Advocate General Lalit Kishore gave the state’s reply to a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Sudhir Singh during hearing of a PIL filed by NGO “Forum for Public Interest Litigation”.

The PIL wanted to know under what provision the state government decided to stop traffic on national and state highways for the January 21 human chain programme in support of prohibition.

The counsel for the petitioner, Shahibhusan Kumar, presented before the court a newspaper report which stated that block education officer of Sasaram passed a coercive order that students who do not participate in the human chain programme would be deprived of benefits provided by the state government.

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The court directed Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh and Director General of Police P K Thakur to personally appear before it tomorrow to clarify on this and also how media comes under essential services to get exemption for plying vehicles on that day.

Kishore told the court that participation in human chain programme is voluntary and “there is no mandatory order for participation”. People are requested to join the programme through appeal, he said.

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Regarding participation of school students, he said, the Education Department, which is conducting the human chain, has exempted students below class V from participating in the human chain and participation of students of class V and above is voluntary.

The Nitish Kumar government has planned the gigantic human chain spread across more than 11,292 km involving around two crore people.

prepared by Saptaparni Goon of NewsGram. Twitter: @saptaparni_goon

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Anti-Graft Fight in Doubt after Court Puts Guatemala Vote

A high court ruling barring a crusading former prosecutor’s candidacy has turned Guatemala’s presidential election on its ear less than a month before the vote

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guatemala vote
FILE - Guatemala's Attorney General Thelma Aldana speaks during a joint news conference with the commissioner of the United Nations International Commission Against Impunity, CICIG, in Guatemala City, April 19, 2018. VOA

A high court ruling barring a crusading former prosecutor’s candidacy has turned Guatemala’s presidential election on its ear less than a month before the vote, and raised concerns about what will happen to years of efforts to fight endemic corruption.

The rejection of Thelma Aldana’s appeal means at least two of the top three candidates according to polls will not appear on the June 16 ballot, and analysts said Thursday the Aldana decision in particular appeared to spring from fears over her zealous prosecutions of corruption in politics and business.

guatemala vote
A high court ruling barring a crusading former prosecutor’s candidacy has turned Guatemala’s presidential election on its ear less than a month before the vote. Pixabay

“I think that the deeply entrenched, established powers that be in Guatemala are absolutely terrified of a candidate like Thelma,” said Christine Wade, a political scientist at Washington College in Maryland. “She has a proven record as attorney general of jailing former presidents and vice presidents. … And it’s really difficult to see this constitutional court decision as anything other than politically motivated.”

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Aldana’s candidacy was denied on the grounds that she lacked a document accrediting that she didn’t have any outstanding accounts after having been responsible for public funds from her time in office. (VOA)