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Madras HC slams TN politicians for promoting freebie culture and making people lazy

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN
Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, April 1: The Madras High Court on Monday expressed its strong displeasure over the way in which political parties in Tamil Nadu are vying with each other to garner votes by offering freebies such as television sets, fans, mixer grinders, laptops, washing machines and even monthly cash doles.

Instead, the court said they should concentrate more on promising and delivering jobs, infrastructure development, improving health, transport facilities and agriculture.

Justices N. Kirubakaran and B. Pugalenthi lamented that the freebie culture had made the people lazy and dampened their spirit to work hard. They declared that promising freebies should also be declared a corrupt practice since it vitiates the purity of the election process and influences the voters.

It was pointed out that if one party promises a cash dole of INR1,000 another comes up with a counter promise of INR1,500 a month.

If this trend continues, a day might come soon when some political party in the State will offer to visit the houses of voters and cook food for them every day, and another party may offer not only to cook but also to feed the voters, the judges wrote in their verdict.

The court also came down heavily on voters who accept money for exercising their franchise, thereby making the entire democratic exercise a mockery.

“It is stated that every candidate has to shell out about INR200 million in the election to an Assembly constituency as many voters have become corrupt and sell their votes for a few thousands, biriyani and a quarter [liquor] bottle. It is the stark reality. If that is so, how could people expect good leaders? Do people, who sell their votes, have any moral right to question their leaders? In a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve,” the Bench observed.

The tax payers remain mute spectators to the public exchequer being drained on distributing freebies, the judges said. People of the State have become so lazy that migrant workers from the north and north eastern parts of the country have to be employed in every other field of work, be it hotels, industries, shops and saloons. Migrants are employed even for agricultural work in the State, they pointed out.

“The way in which things are happening today, one would not be surprised to see that migrant workers would be the owners of the movable and immovable properties here in due course. And the sons of the soil will become workers under them. It may be the only achievement, probably, the political parties have attained through election promises by providing freebies for the past 20 years,” the Division Bench said.

Stressing the need to arrest such practices at the earliest, the court posed a series of 20 questions to the Government of India as well as the Election Commission of India, and sought a reply by April 26. The court wanted to know whether the Centre has taken steps to enact a law governing the promises made by political parties in their election manifestos and the action taken so far by the Election Commission of India against parties which make irrational promises.

The observations were made and the questions posed while passing orders on a writ petition to de-reserve the Vasudevanallur Assembly constituency .



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AG says no legal impediment to Bathiudeen attending Parliament

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Public Security Minister: Those detained under PTA shouldn’t be allowed in

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, says there is no legal impediment to Opposition MP Rishad Bathiudeen attending Parliament while being detained in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

The CID arrested the leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) in the early hours of April 24 for aiding and abetting the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombers.

Multiple blasts in different locations killed 270 people and wounded about 500.

The AG set the record straight in the wake of the CID failing to arrange for MP Bathiudeen to attend Parliament on May 4 and 5.

The Island learns that Police Headquarters recently consulted the AG as regards the legality of the Vanni District SJB MP attending parliamentary sessions and the SJB, on his behalf, requested the Speaker to facilitate the arrangements.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. Its parliamentary group comprises four, including Bathiudeen.

The police sought the AG’s advice after having received a missive from Serjeant at arms Narendra Fernando in that regard. The AG has advised the police that MP Bathiudeen could attend parliamentary sessions.

However, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera has advised the police against the ACMC leader attending Parliament. The Minister has issued instructions in this regard having requested the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to prevent those detained under the PTA from attending parliament.

MP Bathiudeen has been detained for a period of 90 days pending investigations. His brother Riyajj too has been detained under PTA for 90 days.

 Minister Weerasekera, in Parliament yesterday (5) defended his decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament. Dismissing concerns raised by SJB MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran about the ACMC leader being deprived of his right to attend parliament sessions, Minister Weerasekera emphasized that he was responsible for public security.

Minister Weerasekera reminded Speaker Abeywardena that he had requested him not to allow anyone detained under PTA to attend parliament pending conclusion of investigations.

Weerasekera said that the CID wouldn’t have detained the MP concerned without valid reasons.

Perhaps, Field Marshal Fonseka had no concerns for public security, the former Navy Chief of Staff said, emphasising that the government wouldn’t conduct investigations the way the former Army Commander and the TNA spokesman desired.

Bathiudeen earlier served in the Cabinets of President Mahinda Rajapaksa (2010-2014) and President Maithripala Sirisena (2015-2019). The ACMC switched its allegiance to SJB at the 2020 August parliamentary election after having backed Sajith Premadasa’s candidature at the 2019 presidential.

Bathiudeens’ lawyer Rushdhie Habeeb told The Island that the decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament was political. Habeeb said that the issue at hand would be raised vigorously, both here and abroad, and a media briefing would be called soon to explain the situation.

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MONLAR draws attention to ticking COVID time bomb in plantations

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of estate workers had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and given the generally congested living environment and lack of health facilities on plantations, the entire estate sector was a ticking time bomb, Moderator of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) Chinthaka Rajapakshe said yesterday.

Rajapakshe told The Island  that the latest outbreak on the estates had occurred after the return of some persons from Colombo during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

“We had warned that this would happen. People kept on returning home although the preparedness of the plantation economy to face a COVID-19 outbreak was non-existent.”

 “If one person gets it, the entire line will get it, and therefore urgent steps should be taken to minimise COVID-19 spread,” Rajapakshe said, adding that such an eventuality would not only destroy lives but also cripple the plantation sector, causing an enormous loss to the state coffers.

 

 

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Clandestine dealings of fishers will precipitate spread of deadly Indian variant here – Expert

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

There was a risk of the deadly Indian COVID-19 variant spreading to Sri Lanka as well, Chief Epidemiologist of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera told the media yesterday in Colombo.

Dr. Samaraweera said that Sri Lankan fishermen continued to interact with their Indian counterparts in mid-sea and therefore it was only a matter of time before the Indian variant entered Sri Lanka.

“We must be extremely vigilant. We have seen the devastation caused by this variant in India. These mid-sea interactions by the fishing community must be stopped.”

Dr. Samaraweera added that although the Dambulla Economic Centre

had been reopened for business yesterday morning, health officials had been compelled to close five shops as their owners violated the Covid-19 protocol.    

“This is a commercial hub where people from all parts of the country converge. So, if there are COVID-19 cases here, then it will spread across the country. Therefore, people have to act carefully and responsibly.”

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