kOLLAM l saturday l april 17, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION SC norms for fast disposal of cheque-bounce cases The SC on Friday issued a slew of directions for fast disposal of cheque-bounce cases, which have choked justice delivery system 30% Negotiable instruments act to be amended Evidence through affidavit The Supreme Court said there should be a single trial in multiple chequebounce cases, if transactions involved are the same. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde asked the Centre to make suitable amendments in the Negotiable Instruments Act and recommended that cases lodged in 12 months time against a person be clubbed into one case ■ ■ The apex court directed all high courts to issue guidelines for trial courts for speedy disposal of cheque bounce cases The court also said the evidence in such cases can now be tendered by filing affidavits, and there would be no requirement to examine witnesses physically Share of cheque-bounce cases in total pendency at trial courts & high courts CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Bid to ramp up production, supply of oxygen, vaccines E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi Health officials collect swab samples from a reluctant child at the community hall in Perunguzhy as part of the mass testing drive in T’Puram on Friday | B P Deepu A health worker administers the first dose of vaccine to an elderly woman in an autorickshaw stationed outside Govt LP school, Kariyam, on Friday | Vincent Pulickal State’s Covid fight in tatters Lack of politically-driven machinery and funds threatens to scuttle containment of 2nd wave as daily count breaches 10k-mark; state mobilised resources through Covid Brigade last year alarming rise 1,560 new cases in Kozhikode, highest in state Section 144 imposed within limits of 32 local bodies in Kozhikode, 10 in Wayanad ICSE defers board exams for Classes 10 and 12. New dates will be announced in first week of June Vaccine shortage hits drive T’Puram: Covid-19 vaccine shortage has forced many districts to keep several mega vaccination centres shut, causing inconvenience to people arriving for spot vaccination. Among the three regions, Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam suffered most from the shortage on Friday. S h a i n u M o h a n @ T’Puram STATE WIDE A LACK of politically-driven machinery and funds to make necessary resources available to contain the aggressive second wave of Covid-19 is likely to derail the containment efforts of the state. On Friday, the state’s health system was stretched further when daily case count rose to 10,031, taking the total number of patients to 69,868. The test positivity rate (TPR) touched 14.80%. According to experts, the TPR is likely to reach new highs in the next two weeks and cases are likely to double. They say the state will require more resources to manage the caseload. The state has decided to increase testing. As per studies, the state has already reported South African, Brazilian and cross-over strains of Coronavirus and a mass vaccination drive is the only practical strategy that Fresh cases Active cases Deaths April 15 8,126 63,551 20 April 16 10,031 69,868 21 could bring any difference to the containment efforts. However, the shortage of vaccines is going to be a challenge and hence testing, isolation and treatment would be the only ways in front of the state right now. Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) state president G S Vijayakrishnan said the state needs to equip the hospitals to take on t h e s e c o n d w ave o f t h e pandemic. “In 2020, the state had mobilised resources through Covid Brigade and around 900 house surgeons were appointed for Covid duty. Now all these resources are unavailable. The second wave is likely to be more aggressive and a large number of cases are likely to get report- ed in a short span of time. So the state needs to take immediate measures to mobilise more resources for each district,” said Vijayakrishnan. He said there needs to be more nursing staff, doctors, lab technicians and resources for effectively managing the second wave. “With stringent restrictions in place, we used our existing healthcare machinery extensively for managing the first wave, but now the non-Covid care treatment cannot be compromised. There are accident cases, non-Covid emergency care, deliveries which we need to handle,” said Vijayakrishnan. He said that as per guidelines, there is no need of a doctor during vaccination drives. “The state needs to use the existing resources judiciously to tide over the second wave. Currently we are using doctors for swab collection which could be easily done by a paramedical staff,” said Vijayakrishnan. ● More on P5 Faced with an acute shortage of medical grade oxygen and vaccines in the wake of the massive second Covid wave that is nowhere near its peak, the Centre on Friday sought to ease all bottlenecks as part of its crisis management and step up their production. Prime Minister Narendra Modi did a comprehensive review of the oxygen situation and urged Union ministries and state governments to build synergy to address gaps in the system. The meeting came a day after the government decided to import 50,000 metric tonnes of oxygen after first claiming that there is enough production capacity within India to meet the demand. To address vaccine shortage, the government sought to scale up production of the indigenous Covaxin developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, by providing `65 crore aid to the company’s unit in Bengaluru. It has already allowed Mumbai-based Haffkine Institute to produce Covaxin on technology transfer basis. Covaxin’s share in the current vaccine pool in just about 15%, as the present capacity of Bharat Biotech is about 1 crore doses a month. The Centre plans to increase production to 2 crore doses by May-June and by 6-7 crore by July-August, for which talks are on with at least two more companies - Indian Immunologicals Ltd, Hyderabad and BIBCOL, Bulandshehar. The meeting convened by the PM specifically took stock of the oxygen availability in 12 high burden states, including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Hary- Covid victims being cremated at Swarnrekha Ghat in Ranchi on Friday | PTI Maharashtra Aurangabad district administration has acquired the oxygen plant of R L Steel in Chitegaon of Paithan to produce nearly 500 medical grade oxygen cylinders per day New Delhi IndiGo to waive fee to change time or date on domestic tickets that are booked between April 17 and April 30 due to Covid. However, cancellation fee will be chargeable Uttar Pradesh Full lockdown across all UP districts this Sunday Andhra Pradesh Vaccine stock exhausted, just 4,300 doses could be administered on Friday; CM writes to Modi for 60 lakh more doses ana and Rajasthan. These states have already been allocated 4,880 MT, 5,619 MT and 6,593 MT for meeting their projected demand as on April 20, April 25 and April 30, respectively . NATIONWIDE April 15 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 2,00,739 93,528 1,038 April 16 2,17,353 1,18,302 1,185 Variants of concern Of about 14,000 Covid samples whose whole genomic sequencing has been carried out, 1,189 tested positive for variants of concern, the Centre said on Friday High Court quashes Crime Branch FIRs against ‘unnamed’ enforcement officers E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Kochi IN A MAJOR setback to the LDF government, the High Court on Friday quashed two FIRs by the state Crime Branch against ‘unnamed officers’ of Enforcement Directorate (ED). They were registered based on the revelation by Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair — accused persons in the gold smuggling case — that the officers had forced them to give false statement against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other higher-ups in the government. While disposing of the petitions filed by ED Deputy Director, Kochi, P Radhakrishnan, Justice V G Arun observed the Crime Branch could not register FIRs for the offence under Section 193 IPC (fabrication of false evidence) against the ED offi- Vivekh Suffers heart attack cials in view of prohibition under Section 195(1)(b) of CrPC. As per that, only the court before which the proceedings in a case were pending could take cognisance of an offence relating to the fabrication of evidence. Appearing for the ED, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the FIRs against the officers of a central agency alleging flaws and excesses during their investigation are against the very concept of cooperative federalism. Such action, if permitted, will impair the conduct of the free, fair and impartial investigation by the central agencies, he said. The court further observed that the proper remedy for the Crime Branch would have been to approach the Prevention of Money Laundering ● More on P4 Act special court. The actor was hospitalised with a 100% blood clot a day after taking the Covid vaccine, but the two may not be related, said the vice-president of SIMS hospitals | P5 Nomads living at Kozhikode beach pull tarpaulin sheets over their living area to protect their belongings from rain | T P Sooraj met dept forecasts above normal monsoon E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Kochi BRINGING cheer to the farm sector, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast a normal monsoon season for the country and an above normal season for Kerala. Releasing the IMD’s longrange forecast for the South- west Monsoon this year, Ministry of Earth Sciences secretary M Rajeevan said on Friday that rainfall was likely to be 98% of the Long Period Average (LPA), with a model error of plus or minus 5%. The LPA of Southwest Monsoon rainfall over the country as a whole is 88cm, he ● More on P4 said. Qualified woman can’t be denied job citing night duty: HC The High Court held on Friday that a qualified woman cannot be denied a job on the ground that “she is a woman” and that the nature of employment would require working at night. “It is the bounden duty of the governments and government functionaries to take all appropriate steps to see that a woman can carry out the duties as- signed to her at all hours, safely and conveniently. If that be so, there would be no reason for denying appointment to a qualified hand only on the ground that she is a woman and because the nature of the employment would require her to work during night hours,” the court said. The HC also set aside a notification JHARKHAND Govt claims there is no shortage, but patients are facing problems in getting oxygen support. A task force has been formed to address it EC bans rallies from 7pm to 10am in Bengal Kolkata: In the all-party meeting called by the Election Commission on Friday, there were no takers for the TMC’s suggestion to club the remaining phases of the polls. However, keeping in view the serious Covid situation, the EC asked parties to religiously follow protocols. The poll panel warned them of criminal action in case of violation of Covid guidelines. “Candidates and political parties shall ensure absolute, adherence to Covid guidelines...” the poll panel said. Kollam: The body of a 42-yearold nun was found inside the well of St Joseph’s convent, Kureepuzha, on Friday. The deceased is Mabel Joseph, a native of Karunagapally. Based on preliminary findings, police are treating the death as a case of suicide. The incident came to light when inmates found a suicide note from her room after she failed to attend the morning prayer. P4 state duty-bound E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @Kochi BIHAR Govt claims oxygen availability is sufficient for the next 7-10 days. But private hospitals complain of oxygen scarcity 42-year-old nun found dead in convent well As High Court has foiled the LDF government’s ploy to sabotage the probe by central agencies, the move to conduct a judicial probe against them should now be withdrawn, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said. HC rejected the government’s attempt to play the victim card, said Union minister V Muraleedharan. P4 T’Puram: The state government will seek legal opinion on whether to move an appeal against the High Court verdict. “It’s too early for the government to react. But there is a feeling within the apparatus that the verdict should be challenged in a higher court,” said sources. P4 Madhya Pradesh Daily supply up from 130 MT to 295 MT. In 34 districts. 1,273 O 2 concentrators installed till date. Air Concentrator Units are being installed in 8 districts E X P RE S S READ HC rejects govt’s attempt to play victim card: Oppn State govt may move appeal against order O2 status check for the post of safety officer — issued by the Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd (KMML), Kollam, a Kerala government undertaking -- which stated that only male candidates can apply The court found the no. tification violative of the provisions of Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India. Justice Anu Sivaraman issued the order on a petition filed by Kollam native Treasa Josefine, a safety and fire engineering graduate, challenging the KMML notification for the post of safety officer. I welcome the High Court verdict. I’m really happy to be a part of the change and hope it’ll encourage and motivate other women in future — Treasa Josefine The petitioner argued that the notification was discriminatory and that the right of the petitioner for being considered for appointment was violated because of the said provision. The KMML managing director submitted that the post of safety officer is a statutory post and the provisions of the Factories Act have to be complied with while issuing notification ● More on P4 to fill up the post. MGU lands in row over mass failure in exams Kottayam: MG University has landed in a row following the mass failure of students who appeared for first semester MCom exams. As per the results announced on Thursday, only 773 (31.2%) of the 2,482 students who appeared for the exams held in November 2019 have passed. After students came out against university authorities, the results were withdrawn from the varsity website. P4 Shaji grilled for 6 hrs in illegal assets case Kozhikode: A special unit of the Vigilance and AntiCorruption Bureau (VACB) on Friday quizzed IUML MLA K M Shaji in connection with the cases against him for amassing disproportionate wealth. The probe team interrogated Shaji for six hours from 9am at the bureau’s Kozhikode office. Shaji, it is learnt, denied the charges of accumulating money illegally. P4
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