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DMK launches statewide protests against eviction from Tamil Nadu Assembly, HC adjourns hearing of plea

The DMK has moved the Madras High Court challenging the floor test that took place in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Saturday, which was won by AIADMK leader E Palaniswami

FP Staff February 22, 2017 12:13:24 IST
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DMK launches statewide protests against eviction from Tamil Nadu Assembly, HC adjourns hearing of plea

Highlights

11:21 (ist)

Governor Rao is emotional, his friends played on that: Subramanian Swamy

As information about Palanisamy meeting the governor spread beyond the limits of Chennai, reactions started pouring in.

Speaking to News18, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said, "First Sasikala, and now Palanisami have produced the list. Panneerselvam has not been able to produce a list even now. It has become a national disgrace that Vidyasagar Rao took so much time to do what should have been done earlier. His friends played on his emotions. I have no doubt about his integrity, but he is a bit sentimental about friendships. The Centre said they wouldn’t take an official stand. It is between the governor and the President, and the Constitution."

13:34 (ist)

Next on the anti-Sasikala camp's radar — her husband M Natarajan

Cold, hard facts in the black and white of court judgments have that welcome quality of stripping popular myths constructed around shadowy people. One such is Sasikala’s husband - M Natarajan.

He features early on in the DA case files: “Tmt. Sasikala Natarajan is the wife of one Mr. M. Natarajan who had joined Government service as a Publicity Assistant in the Department of Information and Public Relation, Government of Tamil Nadu, in the year 1970 and thereafter promoted in succession eventually as Deputy Director in the year 1986 in the same department. He tendered his resignation from Government service on 1st November, 1988 which was accepted by the Government of Tamil Nadu with retrospective effect on 3rd April, 1991.”

So, where is this man, known to be all powerful behind the scenes?

Sometimes spotted on flights to New Delhi, known to travel overseas often, seen on the rare television interview but more often known as the person who has exerted outsize clout over Poes Garden insiders, he’s next on the radar of the anti-Sasikala group. He showed up suddenly to lay a wreath on Jayalalithaa’s body on 6 December last year and then faded into the shadows as quickly as he surfaced. BJP leader L Ganesan tried to introduce him to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Later, during the last rites, Natarajan, Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Tamil Nadu Congress chief Thirunavukkarasu with far from sombre faces made for quite a photo op.

He was arrested in a land grab case in 2012, has been accused of land grabbing, assault and cheating in a whole bunch of cases in 2011 but is out and thriving at his Chennai den. Oddly (and predictably) enough, he was hospitalised in Chennai with a certain “breathing problem” on the same day Sasikala allegedly “pressurised” OPS to step down as Chief Minister. Expect more in the Sasikala family to develop chest pain and breathing problems in the coming weeks.

12:43 (ist)

At Poes Garden, a long pending revenge of the cameras

What does it take to gather two bus loads of cronies and get them to shout slogans in praise? Packed mutton biryani, moonshine and the vague promise of political stakes in the hazy future. Not a big deal for a party, although in crisis, which won big in the Assembly elections less than a year ago.

The crush at Poes Garden when Sasikala finally decided to leave for her appointment in jail is less about her loyalists and grip over the party - it’s a long pending revenge of the cameras on a street that has been the ultimate stonewall for hacks. You can't ask questions, can't take pictures, you'd have to stand in line but half a kilometre away, tender ads would be cancelled if you wrote a line out of place, the list of no-nos at TN's seat of political power was endless.

Yet, because of Jaya's political aura and success, her admirers had a totally different equation with her - they see Sasikala as the schemer who misled Jaya. Never in Jayalalithaa’s reign would you have seen her Land Cruiser slow to almost a halt on Poes Garden Road; what we saw today is proof that Sasikala’s alleged authority over the police  has been busted. Gritting her teeth and muttering something under her breath, Sasikala banged her right hand hard on the soft and fragrant flowers atop Jayalalithaa’s memorial, it seemed like she promised to fight on.

Tamil Nadu’s voters are not particularly keen, though. Sample actor Siddharth's tweet: "Why ask for 4 weeks, why not 4 years time?" in reaction to Sasikala's futile delay tactics citing ill health.

07:53 (ist)

Key highlights from Day 8: Sasikala convicted, Panneerselvam expelled, Palanisamy new AIADMK leader

The week-old political drama in Tamil Nadu got some level of closure with the Supreme Court dashing all hopes of Sasikala's political ambitions through its verdict. Here is a look at the key highlights of the day.

1. SC upholds Sasikala's conviction

The Supreme Court pronounced its verdict on Tuesday morning sentencing VK Sasikala to prison for the next four years. In a 570-page judgement in the 19-year-old case that also involved J Jayalalithaa, the apex court ordered that Sasikala, 60, a close aide of the late chief minister, surrender forthwith and serve the remaining part of her four-year jail term.


2.Sasikala delays surrender, buys time

Sources told NDTV that 61-year-old Sasikala is unlikely to surrender or make herself available on Tuesday for imprisonment because she has not yet received a copy of the lengthy court verdict. 

3. Sasikala expels Panneerselvam from primary member's post

4. Sasikala elects Palanisamy as new face of AIADMK 

Sasikala's loyalist Edappady K Palanisamy was elected the Legislature Party Leader, a move apparently aimed at projecting him as the next chief minister, while O Panneerselvam, the caretaker chief minister, was sacked from the party's primary membership, the latest in a series of tit-for-tat moves that the two factions have been making.

5. Palanisamy meets Governor C Vidyasagar Rao

Newly elected AIADMK Legislature Party Leader Edappadi K Palanisamy on Tuesday met governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and staked claim to form the government.

6. Clamour to turn Jaya's house into memorial grows louder

A signature campaign to turn 'Veda Nilayam', the official residence of late AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa into a memorial, has elicited a huge response from party cadres and the public. 

7. Floor test by weekend

22:21 (ist)

Sasikala and co moved to Poes Garden to hold Jayalalithaa's assets: SC verdict

A week ago, Tamil Nadu watched with astonishment the transformation of the soft-spoken O Panneerselvam into a rebel who could stand Sasikala’s meddling no more. Where did he get his confidence from when he did not even have the numbers? Even today, he has 11 or 12 MLAs with him. Did he know something about how the case verdict may turn out?

Even when MLAs hastened slowly, even though his MP crossovers were more and they don’t really matter in the local Assembly, even when Sasikala kept threatening him and calling his a "zero" mocking the "O" in OPS, he stayed smiling and relaxed, although tired. After the Sasikala verdict, all that poise makes total sense. 

Now, with Sasikala trying the old “health reasons” trick to delay her trip to jail and a new player Edappadi Palanisamy turning up to claim the chief minister's post, OPS remains firm that he will win the floor test. It’s entirely likely that the OPS camp is banking on Governor Vidyasagar Rao to give them some time, now that the Supreme Court verdict has validated the governor’s waiting game in round one of the political drama in Tamil Nadu. The man on the street does not have a problem with that. "They kept Amma in hospital for 75 days, they were in no hurry to tell us what’s going on. What’s the big hurry to swear in a new government? Let the governor take his time," they say.

The damning Supreme Court judgement against Sasikala and troupe certainly helps the OPS cause. Sample this from page 561 of the 570-page ruling (A1 is Jayalalithaa, A2 is Sasikala; A3 is Ilavarasi and A4 is Sudhakaran):

"Although A2 to A4 claims to have independent sources of income but the fact of constitution of firms and acquisition of large tracts of land out of the funds provided by A1 indicate that, all the accused congregated in the house of A1 neither for social living nor A1 allowed them free accommodation out of humanitarian concern, rather the facts and circumstances proved in evidence undoubtedly point out that A2 to A4 were accommodated in the house of A1 pursuant to the criminal conspiracy hatched by them to hold the assets of A1."

20:41 (ist)

Why is Sasikala so deeply reviled in Tamil Nadu?

The most common words that pepper replies to this question are "mafia", "goondas", "fear" and "rowdies". 

"The Mannargudi mafia is not that simple to understand. You can do a PhD on it," says TR Jawahar, group editor, News Today, who has covered Tamil Nadu politics and Jayalalithaa’s reign in great depth. This palpable sense of distaste for the disproportionate assets case accused also finds mention in the tail end of the 570-page judgement in the Supreme Court. Here is an excerpt:

"The attendant facts and circumstances encountered as above, demonstrate a deep-rooted conspiratorial design to amass vast assets without any compunction and hold the same through shell entities to cover up the sinister trail of such illicit acquisitions and deceive and delude the process of law. Novelty in the outrages and the magnitude of the nefarious gains as demonstrated by the revelations in the case are, to say the least, startling. 

"A growing impression in contemporary existence seems to acknowledge, the all-pervading pestilent presence of corruption almost in every walk of life as if to rest reconciled to the octopoid stranglehold of this malaise with helpless awe. The common day experiences indeed do introduce one with unfailing regularity, the variegated cancerous concoctions of corruption with fearless impunity gnawing into the frame and fabric of the nation’s essentia. 

"Emboldened by the lucrative yields of such malignant materialism, the perpetrators of this malady have tightened their noose on the societal psyche. Individual and collective pursuits with curative interventions at all levels are thus indispensable to deliver the civil order from the asphyxiating snare of this escalating venality.”

13:56 (ist)

It's a fatty judgement, said the Supreme Court judges

It took just eight minutes for the Supreme Court to announce its decision that abruptly cut short the political career of VK Sasikala, a long-time companion of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, according to a report in NDTV. "You can understand too much of fatty judgement. We have taken the burden on us...we will read out the conclusion," said Justice Pinaki Chandra Bose.

To this, the second judge, Amitava Roy, said, "We are setting aside the high court judgement and restoring the trial court judgement in full. Case against A1 (Jayalalithaa) is abated. All convicted and surrender forthwith."

13:34 (ist)

PINNED POST: Timeline of the infamous DA case starting from Subramanian Swamy's plea in 1995

Following is the chronology of events in the disproportionate assets (DA) case in which the Supreme Court on Tuesday convicted AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala that also involved the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa.

1996: Subramanian Swamy, then Janata Party chief, files a case against Jayalalithaa alleging that during her tenure as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996, she amassed properties worth Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to her known sources of income.

7 Dec 1996: Jayalalithaa arrested. Many allegations follow, including accumulation of disproportionate assets.

1997: Prosecution launched in sessions court in Chennai against Jayalalithaa and three others for having assets 'disproportionate' to their known income.

4 Jun 1997: They are charge-sheeted for offences under sections 120-B IPC, 13(2) read with 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

1 October 1997: Madras High Court dismisses three petitions by Jayalalithaa including one challenging the sanction granted by then Governor M Fathima Beevi for prosecuting her.

Trial progresses. By August 2000, 250 prosecution witnesses examined and only 10 more remained.

In the May 2001 Assembly elections, AIADMK secures absolute majority and Jayalalithaa becomes the chief minister. Her appointment is challenged due to her conviction in October, 2000 in the Tansi (Tamil Nadu Small Industries Corporation) case. The Supreme Court nullifies the appointment. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

13:26 (ist)

O Panneerselvam: Jayalalithaa's 'Mr Faithful' rises again

After filling in as the interim chief minister twice, O Panneerselvam is back at the helm of things. After the Supreme Court verdict which convicted VK Sasikala in the 20-year-old disproportionate assets case, OPS (even though expelled from AIADMK), is in a stronger position than his competition.

From humble origins as a farmer and tea shop owner to Fort St George, the seat of power in Tamil Nadu, he has travelled a path of unexpected twists and turns. Jayalalithaa had sprung a surprise by handpicking him to fill her shoes in 2001 when she had to step down due to her conviction in TANSI land scam case. But this time, following her conviction, it was more or less clear he was leading the race among his colleagues, considering his unflinching loyalty to Jayalalithaa that even earned him the sobriquet 'Mr Faithful.'

Incidentally, the politician had then chosen not to function from the chair on which his 'revered' leader sat while he performed the role of night watchman. He duly vacated the post after Jayalalithaa was acquitted in the case.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

12:36 (ist)

Vidyasagar Rao stands vindicated for delaying AIADMK gen secy's swearing-in

The Supreme Court verdict convicting AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala in a 19-year-old disproportionate assets case, effectively ending her chances of ever taking office as Tamil Nadu chief minister, is a vindication for Governor Vidyasagar Rao.

Throughout the political turmoil, the governor had been targeted for his use of "delaying tactics". There were elaborate conspiracy theories drawn and endless sound bites given on why his office had taken the wait-and-watch approach. With the apex court indicating that it would deliver the verdict within a week, it made little sense for Rao to call Sasikala for swearing-in and usher in a Constitutional crisis should there be an unfavourable verdict (as it turned out to be the case). Considered legal opinion was of the view that he was right in not rushing into a hasty decision. No less than former Attorney-General of India Soli Sorabjee had come out in his favour.

But politics in India is a 24x7 reality show, driven by TV ratings. To the breathless media and its many pundits, the governor's "delay" was a sure sign that somebody was conducting a backroom operation from somewhere, dictating his actions. No evidence was offered for such a conjecture, but what's the point in waiting for facts when journalism can be conducted through speculation?

For all the heat being piled on him, governor Rao showed admirable patience in holding his counsel and not taking a decision that could trigger another crisis in the state later. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

09:39 (ist)

A case of dissenting view: Bachan Singh versus State Of Punjab on 9 May, 1980

An important verdict in which the former Chief Justice of India PN Bhagwati made a dissenting note was the Bachan Singh vs State Of Punjab on 9 May, 1980, which is held up as a significant example in law schools.  While four judges of the bench that heard the case were together in their verdict with their “majority view”, Justice Bhagwati had a “minority view” which was rejected.

This is how Justice Bhagwati’s wrote: 

“I have had the advantage of reading the careful judgment prepared by my learned brother Sarkaria. but I find myself unable to agree with the conclusions reached by him. I am of the (view that Section 302 of the Indian |Penal Code in so far as it provides for imposition of death penalty as an alternative to life sentence is ultra vires and void as being violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution since it does not provide any legislative guidelines as to when life should be permitted to be extinguished by imposition of death sentence. I would therefore strike down Section 302 as unconstitutional and void in so far as it provides for imposition of death penalty as an alternative to imprisonment for life. I shall give my reasons for this view on the day on which the Court reopens after the summer vacation.

And this is how the final order, that referred to the minority view, read: 

“In accordance with the majority opinion the challenge to the constitutionality of Section 302 of the Penal Code in so far as it provides for the death sentence as also the challenge to the constitutionality of Section 354(3) of the CrPC, 1973 fails and is rejected. The Writ Petitions and other connected matters may now be placed for hearing, in the usual course, before the Division Bench for consideration of the individual cases on merits, in the light of the principles enunciated in the majority judgment.” 

In a two-judge bench, as in the DA case, there cannot be majority and minority views and if the judges are dissenting, it will have to go to a bigger bench so that there will be a conclusive verdict later.

09:09 (ist)

If it's dissenting verdicts, what we are going to see today is a phenomenon that’s getting rarer

Since both the names of the judges appear in the listing of the DA case, it’s expected that the judges are going to give separate judgments. If they dissent in their verdicts, the outcome for Sasikala and Tami Nadu politics can be be dramatically different. 

But another important question is if it’s good for the development and practice of Law? According to this analysis by LiveLaw that looked at there verdicts from 1950 to 2014, the phenomenon of dissenting opinions by judges has declined since 2011 after steadily rising from 1980. The increasing number of two judge-benches and the heavy workload are cited as the possible reasons.

Still, that the judges chose to write separate verdicts on the DA case, that has already taken 20 years and a lot of the courts’ time, shows that there’s something special about this case. Would it make some legal breakthrough? In case the verdicts are dissenting, the opportunity costs are going to be much higher because the hearing might start all over again which would entail more time of the SC judges, lawyers and even the final delivery of justice.

The LiveLaw study also has found out that in the benches of the Chief Justice of India (CJI), the rate of decline in dissent is more than in other benches. Between 2011 and 2014, there hadn’t been a single case of dissent. Could it be because the “persona” of the CJI or the indirect influence of his authority on a subordinate judge? One of the judges in the bench that heard the DA case is quite senior.

So, is it a good thing for the democracy and the judiciary?  Looks like it is although it could further delay the already sluggish judicial processes. It’s indeed gladdening that we are going to witness today is something that’s getting rarer. Can we expect some new useful addition to our jurisprudence? Let’s wait and see.

08:33 (ist)

A-list of legal minds who will always be associated with DA case

As we wait for the Supreme Court verdict, le's take a a look at the A-list of legal minds whose names will remain associated with the disproportionate case that has its roots in a gaudy million dollar wedding that pockmarked both Tamil Nadu and Jayalalithaa’s legacy and continues to haunt Sasikala. Everytime Jayalalithaa went in and out of courts for 19 years, these are the folks behind those headlines. 

Justice John Michael D’Cunha: Special Court judge who delivered the September 2014 verdict that sent Tamil Nadu into a tizzy -  he convicted and jailed the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 for holding disproportionate assets. In November 2016, he was appointed judge of the Karnataka High Court.

Justice CR Kumaraswamy: The judge who acquitted Jayalalithaa of all charges in the Disproportionate Assets case. Was his judgement a “tragedy of arithmetic errors” as Subramanian Swamy calls it? The last word on that comes up this week. 

BV Acharya - first special public prosecutor in the case.

Fali S Nariman: After Jayalalithaa was jailed, her team leaned on this eminent jurist to get bail for the AIADMK chief.

Justice HL Dattu: Former Chief Justice of India Dattu heard Jayalalithaa’s petition in the Supreme Court against Karnataka High Court’s rejection of her bail plea in the DA case. 

Justices PC Ghose, Amitava Roy: Heard the appeal against the High Court Judgment delivered by Kumaraswamy J, and reserved the verdict June 2016 after 20 days of court arguments. 

Senior Advocate L Nageswara Rao: Appeared for Jayalalithaa as defence counsel in Supreme Court, argued that appeals by DMK and Subramaian Swamy had no locus.

B Kumar, S Senthil: These two led 25 lawyers from Tamil Nadu defending Jaya; strengthened the hands of more famous lawyers pushing for bail, played a leading role in the Karnataka High Court acquittal. 

08:15 (ist)

TS Sudhir, political commentator for Firstpost, tweets: 

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

Feb 22, 2017 - 12:03 (IST)

'MLAs complained about being caged'

Advocate K Balu said that AIADMK MLAs were kept at Golden Bay resort for 11 days and that many had filed a complaint about being caged.

Feb 22, 2017 - 11:58 (IST)

MK Stalin-led DMK's hunger strike protest over ruckus that took place in Tamil Nadu Assembly underway

Feb 22, 2017 - 11:57 (IST)

​No Confidence Motion against P Dhanapal
 

On Tuesday, MK Stalin had said that the DMK would move a no confidence motion against P Dhanapal. This response came after P Dhanapal claimed that he was specifically targetted by the DMK for hailing for a particular community.

“When we see that the Speaker is deliberately harping on his community to maligns us, it is very regrettable. It is a matter of shame, according to us, for Tamil Nadu,” Stalin had said. 

with inputs from PTI

Feb 22, 2017 - 11:53 (IST)

Massive security arrangements 

Massive security arrangements have been put in place across Tamil Nadu to prevent untoward incidents during the protests.

Feb 22, 2017 - 11:50 (IST)

DMK cadre protests 

The DMK cadre observed hunger strike in all district offices across Tamil Nadu protesting eviction of DMK MLAs from the state Assembly on Saturday, 18 February. 

Working president of the party, MK Stalin, is participating in the strike from Trichy.

Feb 22, 2017 - 11:36 (IST)

Panrutti Ramachandran reacts 

Panrutti Ramachandran said that there is no secret ballot in the Parliament or Assembly, it is used only during elections. The reason it is not used in the Parliament and Assembly is to prevent defection.

Feb 22, 2017 - 11:34 (IST)

Madras High Court adjourns case

The DMK petition challenging Tamil Nadu chief minister's trust vote win, Madras High Court adjourns case till Monday asking petitioners to submit video of ruckus in Tamil Nadu Assembly.

Feb 22, 2017 - 11:31 (IST)

Updates from 22 February, 2017 begin here 

Feb 20, 2017 - 16:40 (IST)

Palaniswami's bid to woo the public? 

Earlier in the day, Palaniswami 'did a J Jayalalithaa' by deciding to close down 500 more Tasmac liquor shops just like his leader had done when she returned to power in May 2016.Among his other decisions was to announce a housing scheme to build 5,000 independent homes for fisherfolk, implementation of an election promise to give working women a 50 percent subsidy to buy a vehicle and an in emolument for pregnant women from Rs 12,000 to Rs 18,000, which will benefit six lakh women. 

Read the full analysis here

Feb 20, 2017 - 16:30 (IST)

AIADMK leader TTV Dinakaran reaches Bengaluru Jail

AIADMK Deputy General Secretary TTV Dinakaran has reached the Bengaluru Central Jail and will be meeting VK Sasikala, who has been jailed in the disproportionate assets case for four years, reports NDTV.

The DMK has moved the Madras High Court challenging the floor test that took place in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Saturday. AIADMK leader E Palaniswami had won the trust vote after proving he had the support of 122 MLAs, but the proceedings were marred by violence.

DMK launches statewide protests against eviction from Tamil Nadu Assembly HC adjourns hearing of plea

MK Stalin with DMK MLAs outside the Tamil Nadu Assembly. PTI

According to a report in The Times of India, former DMK Rajya Sabha member R Shanmugasundaram mentioned the matter before the first bench on Monday and sought an urgent hearing. The bench of acting Chief Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh and Justice R Mahadevan asked him to file a petition. The report said it could be heard on Tuesday.

This comes a day after the DMK called for a state-wide hunger strike on 22 February, to protest the fracas that took place inside the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Saturday while a floor test was taking place to determine the confidence enjoyed by chief minister E Palaniswami. DMK working president MK Stalin called the floor test a "murder of democracy", and appealed to governor C Vidyasagar Rao to nullify the vote of confidence won by Palaniswami.

According to a separate report in The Times of India, violent protests were being held throughout Monday in various parts of Tamil Nadu. A DMK worker from Pudukottai, Thangam, attempted to immolate himself, while a group of cadres in Tiruvarur staged a daylong hunger strike, the report said. In Trichy, police arrested 19 persons for burning an effigy of speaker P Dhanapal, while in Pudokottai, a DMK worker attempted self-immolation but was rescued by party cadres. Meanwhile in Karur, 26 persons, including the district secretary, were arrested for forcing traders to down their shutters during a protest march.

Palaniswami had won the trust vote by a 122-11 margin on Saturday, after the eviction of DMK members and walkout by its allies, amid stormy scenes during which mikes were uprooted, chairs toppled and sheets of papers torn and hurled around. Immediately after the eviction of DMK, Stalin had met Governor Vidyasagar Rao and urged him to postpone the trust vote.

Recalling his demand for secret voting on the motion of confidence moved by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Speaker P Dhanapal's rejection of it, he said, "Finding no other way to register our protest, we resorted to peaceful dharna inside the House. However, the Speaker ordered expulsion of all the members of the DMK without following the procedure."

"The Assembly guards forcibly evicted us and many of us sustained injuries. Other opposition parties staged a walkout strongly protesting the action of speaker," he said.

The DMK leader claimed that the speaker "ignored the rule that if the House is adjourned after moving a motion, it lapses". He said it was "a mockery of democracy and a severe blow to the Constitution".

He cited a 1988 precedence, "when voting on a Confidence Motion was held by the Speaker with only two factions of the ruling party present in the House. (It was) later declared as invalid and void by the then governor".

He also appealed to the Governor to weigh the proceedings in the state Assembly, focusing on the Speaker's declaration that the Confidence Motion moved by Palanisami was adopted in absence of members of all the opposition parties. It urged him to invoke his Constitutional powers to nullify the proceedings to protect the spirit of democracy and Constitution.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date:

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