Karnataka hits back, vows special aid for Kannada schools in Maharashtra

Times of India | 5 days ago | 23-11-2022 | 02:07 am

Karnataka hits back, vows special aid for Kannada schools in Maharashtra

NEW DELHI: With the Supreme Court set to hear petitions on Karnataka-Maharashtra border dispute from Wednesday, the one-upmanship between the two states has escalated, with Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday announcing his government’s decision to offer special grants to Kannada-medium schools in Maharashtra and pension to Kannadigas in the neighbouring state who fought for “unification” of the state. The move comes close on the heels of Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde promising pension to “freedom fighters” from Belagavi and other parts in Karnataka, which are claimed by Maharashtra. Shinde also spoke of extending benefits of Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (cashless medical care) for such “freedom fighters”. Maharashtra, since its inception in 1960, has been entangled in a dispute with Karnataka over the status of Belgaum (renamed Belagavi) and 80 other Marathi-speaking villages in the southern state. The Karnataka chief minister on Tuesday expressed confidence of protecting the state’s borders and said his government had formed a strong legal team to present Karnataka’s case, which included ex-attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, senior advocate Shyam Divan, Karnataka’s ex-advocate general Uday Holla and advocate Maruti Jirale. Shinde had on Monday set up a committee of 14 members to give suggestions and guide Maharashtra’s team of lawyers on its petition filed in the apex court in 2004. Bommai further asserted that Karnataka was prepared to challenge the maintainability of the petition. The State Reorganisation Act of 1956 was passed under Article 3 of the Constitution and after the reorganisation of states, there was no instance of any review petition ever being considered, he claimed. Bommai also cautioned Shinde against creating a row between the two states, which are in harmony. “I want to tell the Maharashtra chief minister and the government not to create a controversy between states when there are harmonious relations, when we are treating everyone equally,” Bommai said. “The border dispute is a political tool used by all parties in Maharashtra. But they will never succeed,” Bommai said. With agency inputs

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The Indian Express | 5 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 05:45 am
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OF THE 2,33,13,762 children enrolled in government and aided schools across Maharashtra 19,55,515 (8.38 per cent) do not have Aadhaar cards, according to recently released data from the state government. Of the 2,13,58,247 children, who have Aadhaar cards 40,01,250 are invalid meaning their enrolment will not be counted in addition to those having no Aadhaar card.Ahead of the teacher approval process, the data has become a cause of worry for many schools. Posts of teachers allotted to each school are based on the number of enrolled students. Students having valid Aadhaar cards are considered enrolled, and it is factored in while calculating the student-teacher ratio to approve required posts of teachers.The data reveals 91 per cent of students have Aadhaar enrolment and 18 per cent of it is invalid.“There are mistakes in particulars such as name, date of birth or gender etc on invalid Aadhaar cards. Due to lack of willingness among parents to take steps for correction, the schools are going to have to take the responsibility,” said Mahendra Ganpule, spokesperson for Maharashtra Headmasters’ Association, adding that apart from the fixation of approved posts of teachers, from January 2023, midday meal scheme is going to be linked with Aadhaar.According to the district-wise data, the Pune district tops the list with 18,03,893 children out of 21,13,564 having Aadhaar cards, but 17 per cent of these are invalid. Thane district takes the second place with 15,23,235 of 17,55,388 students having Aadhar, but 16 per cent of those are invalid. Mumbai suburban ranks fourth in the list after Nashik district.The Pune district also has the highest student count without Aadhar at 3,09,671. The districts of Thane, Mumbai and Aurangabad take the second, third and fourth positions in terms of students, who have no Aadhaar.“Considering that these are the districts with highest student enrollment; in case of the count of students enrolment with or without Aadhaar they appear at the top in sheer numbers,” explained an official from the school education department, adding that the schools have been additional time till December 12 to complete Aadhaar updation on the student portal.

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Admission criteria for BSc Nursing course changed after Bombay High Court order
The Indian Express | 5 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 05:45 am
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Eligibility criteria for admission to BSc Nursing course in Maharashtra has changed. Aspirants will now have to re-register with the Maharashtra Common Entrance Test (CET) Cell with marks obtained in Physics, Chemistry and Biology (PCB) in Class XII examinations.Considering that admissions to 1,200 out of 6,030 total seats in BSc Nursing have already been confirmed after the first round of admissions, the new criteria will be applicable for the remaining seats.The change has been introduced amid the ongoing process following an order by the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court last week stating that nursing admissions will now be on the basis of marks obtained by candidates in Physics, Chemistry and Biology (PCB) in Class XII examinations; instead of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).The Private Nursing School and College Management Association (PNSCMA) had moved court against the CET Cell circular issued in June stating that admission to nursing courses be done on the basis of the qualifying criteria set by the Indian Nursing Council (INC).Referring to this criterion issued by the INC in April this year, PNSCMA president Dr Balasaheb Pawar said, “It stated that states can either hold a 100-mark aptitude test for nursing admissions or admit candidates who have scored 50 percentile and above in NEET. While the former was not planned in Maharashtra, the latter was unfair to aspirants as until now candidates seeking admission to BSc Nursing were only expected to have appeared for the NEET.”The association on Sunday held a counselling session for colleges and candidates regarding the changed process and appealed candidates to re-register for the admission.

Admission criteria for BSc Nursing course changed after Bombay High Court order
Legal profession was only way to make difference, says first blind senior advocate
The Indian Express | 5 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 05:45 am
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“I knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was nine,” says 68-year old senior advocate Santosh Kumar Rungta, who has been visually impaired since childhood. “It was in the third standard that I decided that if I ever want to make some difference in the life of the blind the only profession to achieve this is the legal profession. I studied with this single focus in mind.”Rungta made the news last week when Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud told the senior advocate, who was appearing in a matter related to the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission, that he will ask the National Informatics Centre to work with him on making the court’s software disabled-friendly.There is a reason the CJI sought his assistance. Over the last four decades, Rungta has been at the forefront for fighting for the rights of people with visual impairments and other disabilities. He was made a senior advocate in 2011 by the Delhi High Court, the first blind lawyer to receive this designation.His work in court for those with visual impairments began in 1993, when he argued in the Supreme Court — and won — for allowing blind and partially blind candidates to write UPSC exams in Braille or with the help of a scribe. On October 8, 2013, it was in a case argued by him that the apex court directed the government to implement three per cent reservation for disabled persons in government jobs. In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Rungta moved the Delhi High Court challenging the non-inclusion of persons with disabilities in the Antyodaya Anna Yojana and the National Food Security Act.Born to a business family in Kanpur, Rungta says that he had difficulty in his eyes since birth. “I have had glaucoma since birth. This resulted in a situation that I could not see in any kind of light and my eyes had to be covered,” Rungta says. After losing his father when he was barely two years old, Rungta soon realised that he was treated differently by those around him.“The attitude of business families is that if I could be a potential contributor to the business then one could consider giving me a status at a later stage. At a very early age, whatever I could gather from hearing from my family members, I realised that there was some kind of charity approach in their behaviour towards me,” Rungta says, adding that it was this approach that “created a sharp reaction” within him. “This was a trigger for me. I knew I had to do something to be independent,” he says.In 1960, when Rungta was six years old he was admitted at Modern School for Blind Children, Dehradun, a residential special school by one of his elder brothers. He says that some of the teachers at the school focussed on “individualised teaching” which he greatly appreciates.Rungta completed his LLB from Kanpur in 1978 from Dayanand College of Law and in the same year became the All-India General Secretary of National Federation of Blind at the age of 24. “Since the headquarters of the federation were in Delhi and I was the chief office bearer it was my responsibility to look after the federation and that’s how I landed in Delhi. I also decided to continue my legal studies and pursued LLM from Delhi University’s Law Faculty,” he explains.After enrolling with the Bar Council of Delhi in 1982 Rungta had initially thought of going back to Kanpur to practice. “I had booked my tickets and I was paying one last visit to then Delhi Development Commissioner SC Vajpayee who had been helpful in our effort to ensure employment for the blind in the Delhi government. It was he who insisted that I start my practice in Delhi and through his help I was empanelled “gaon sabha” cases under Delhi Land Reform Act,” Rungta says. He recalls that his first case pertained to the encroachment of farmer’s land by zamindars wherein he was asked to argue to seek interim relief for the farmers. Rungta argued the case before a Justice Wadh of the Delhi High Court knowing fully well that the petition filed was ‘defective’ and poorly drafted. He says: “I was asked at the outset by the bench, ‘Is this the right way of drafting, why should I not throw it out’. I told the judge that I had not drafted the petition to which he asked me to point out the defects in the petition. I was very happy as I knew all of them…when I reached the seventh defect, the judge asked me to stop and heard me and I got interim relief.” Rungta was only 28 when he secured interim relief in his first case.Having relied on braille notes all his life, Rungta believes that although technological advancements have helped visually impaired lawyers immensely, one cannot completely depend on technology while appearing before courts. “Just last week I was appearing in a matter and I realised that my braille notetaker did not switch on. I was next to argue and I luckily had the hard copy of my braille notes as backup,” he explains, adding that his speed of reading also becomes slower as compared to reading hard braille copy where the lines are longer.He had some hiccups in his interaction with the courts. Rungta is reminded of an incident in the Delhi HC before a single judge bench where his matter was dismissed without him having uttered a word. “It didn’t happen once but five times. I can’t say with certainty what the reason was, but else could it be?”In another incident, there was a very open assertion by the bench in one of the lower courts — who refused to recognise him as an advocate because of blindness. “I was told that how could I be recognised as an advocate, when I can’t identify the signature and so questioned my competence on accepting the vakalatnama,” he says.These incidents aside, Rungta has had a flourishing practice since the past four decades. He says that he has had visually impaired juniors in the past and is open to more in the future. When asked how he faces everyday challenges while appearing in court, Rungta explains that he always keeps his “ears towards where the bench sits”.“I don’t rely on my juniors to ascertain whether the judge has entered the courtroom. I listen to what is happening in the court. I try to understand if the court master is talking, if the lawyers in the courtroom–these are things that I picked up over the years, especially when I did not have infrastructure to me,” Rungta says.On the improvement of infrastructure in courts to make them more disabled-friendly, Rungta says that when it comes to mobility requirements for visually impaired persons, human assistance and walking sticks are the most useful. Though ramps are useful for the physically disabled, the construction of pathways with blocks for visually impaired persons sometimes causes more trouble for people that can see. “What is really needed is e-courts to become compatible with softwares used by visually impaired lawyers. PDF files should be compatible for us. We still don’t have sign interpreters for hearing impaired lawyers. For blind witnesses appearing in cases, braille printers should be provided so that they can read their statements and affirm their signatures as required,” he suggests.Rungta’s lives with his wife, Sushma Rungta, who retired as director at the Lok Sabha Secretariat . While his son 33-year old Aviral runs his own business, his daughter, 37-year old Pratiti Rungta, is also an independent advocate practising electricity and debt recovery tribunal matters.For aspiring visually impaired lawyers, Rungta had this to say: “There is no better profession for them than the legal profession. But they need to have the attitude and the commitment to succeed. They need to be patient, selective in their first case, put in extra labour, use technology but avoid becoming over dependent and keep abreast of all laws. If they follow this they are bound to succeed. It may take them longer than those who can see, but they will eventually.”

Legal profession was only way to make difference, says first blind senior advocate
Maharashtra govt ends Central library building row, issues Rs 53 crore fresh tender
Times of India | 6 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 05:00 am
Times of India
6 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 05:00 am

MUMBAI: The government has issued a fresh tender worth Rs 53 crore for carrying out civil and electrical works in the state's Central library building in Kalina. The call for new works ends the much-controversial takeover of land from Mumbai University and its transfer to a private builder to commercially exploit it in return for building the library premises, a proposal mooted by the then public works department minister Chhagan Bhujbal. Interestingly, documents accessed by TOI show that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government also paid the builder Rs 137.07 crore for cancelling the 12-year-old agreement and taking back the land, "despite the infrastructure company not fulfilling the agreement". The matter dates back to November 26, 1993, when a 4-acre plot was taken from the Mumbai University for a paltry sum of Rs 1.6 lakh to construct a Central library on lines with the Asiatic library. The then government decided to hand it over to a private firm which was to construct 23,423 sqm of the building for the Central Library, in lieu of which it could exploit the rest of the land and construct 18,421 sqm of private construction - residential housing and a commercial complex. The land was given for a 99-year lease at Re 1 per sqm. On July 6, 2010, the work order was issued and it was agreed to complete the construction in 36 months. The library building was to be built at a cost of Rs 82.5 crore. "However, despite the fact that time went by and construction did not complete, the government did not take any action against the developer. The state government must set up an inquiry against the ministers and the officers who let this pass and caused losses to the state exchequer," said RTI activist Anil Galgali. What was shocking was the turn of events after 2019. In September 2019, following disputes, the state government decided to scrap the project as there was no progress. The private builder demanded a compensation of Rs 229.6 crore, but after an audit, the state settled the matter and paid the former Rs 137.07 crore and budgeted for Rs 46.67 crore for completing the unfinished work, which ballooned to Rs 53 crore in 2022. Galgali said the government did not benefit from this contract, instead it incurred an additional loss of Rs 107 crore. "In fact, the infrastructure company which did not complete the contract benefited in the bargain. If the initial cost of construction was Rs 82.5 crore, on what basis was Rs 137.07 crore paid to the developer?" he asked. He has demanded an inquiry to be set up by the chief minister and deputy chief minister.

Maharashtra govt ends Central library building row, issues Rs 53 crore fresh tender