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High Court notices to AP Govt on Sawhney appointment

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has once again given notices to the AP Government based on a fresh petition that challenged the appointment of State Election Commissioner Nilam Sawhney. The petitioner’s advocate said that the appointment of Ms. Sawhney was unconstitutional and in violation of the Supreme Court orders. The petitioner sought the removal of Ms. Sawhney from the post immediately.

The High Court admitted the petition, took up hearing and issued notices to the Government for its response. Since yesterday, there has been an all out attack on the SEC from the Opposition parties. The High Court had questioned the suitability of Ms. Sawhney for the post of SEC earlier while cancelling the MPTC and ZPTC elections. The judges of the AP High Court have been freely expressing their observations against the Jagan Reddy regime freely now.

The judges were especially unhappy with the way additional advocate general Ponnavolu Sudhakar Reddy spoke in an objectionable tone in front of the High Court a few days back. With respect to Ms. Sawhney, the High Court started highlighting how she had deliberately overlooked and made the Supreme Court order lifeless and redundant.

Petitioner Regu Mahesh was contending that Ms. Sawhney had enjoyed a position of profit in her capacity as CM’s Advisor prior to becoming the State Election Commissioner. This was against the rules and hence her appointment should be withdrawn.

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High Court double shock to AP Govt on Sangam

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The division bench of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh refused to stay the order of the single judge on the issue of the taking over of the Sangam Dairy management by the State Government. Earlier, Justice Somayajulu ruled that the Government’s taking over of the Sangam properties was unconstitutional and in violation of the laws of the land.

The Government challenged the single judge order before the division bench of the High Court. The division bench made it clear that it would not deem it correct to interfere with the single judge order at this juncture. It would have to go into the details if it really needed to consider the Government’s claim that it was interfering only to save the properties which were being misused by the present management.

The division bench comprising Justice Praveen Kumar and Justice Lalita said that they would like to uphold the single judge order for now, saying that the Government had no powers to take over the management of the dairy unilaterally. The original management should be allowed to take its own decisions.

Finally, the High Court postponed the next hearing till after the summer vacation. The court ignored the advocate general’s argument that the dairy properties would be misused if the Government did not interfere.

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CID police have beaten me, Narsapur MP tells court

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The arrested Narsapuram MP Raghurama Krishna Raju has given a written representation to the district court in Guntur that the CID police have beaten him. His lawyers told the judges that the police took law into their hands and there were injuries on Mr. Raju’s legs.

As a result, a high drama followed in the Sixth Additional Munsif Magistrate Court. The judges took a serious view of the allegations levelled by the MP. Senior advocates filed fresh petitions before the judges. Consequently, a special division bench is being formed to hear the petitions of Mr. Raghurama Raju.

The special bench was formed at the head of Justice Praveen. They have received the special motion moved by the senior advocates representing the Narsapuram MP.

After Raghurama told the court about the police beating him up, the court took his petitions into consideration. Then the CID shifted him to the hospital. Raghurama’s lawyers filed two petitions for getting bail for Raghurama Raju.

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No bail to Raghurama Raju in AP High Court

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has dismissed the bail petition filed by YCP rebel MP Raghurama Raju. The MP is currently in the police custody. The HC initially asked why Raghurama has come directly to the High Court when they have to approach the local courts concerned.

Raghurama’s lawyers argued that their client was a Member of Parliament but the CID officials illegally took him into custody without prior notice. They said that the very cases filed against Raghurama were in violation of the Constitution. However, the HC did not take their arguments into consideration.

Additional advocate general Sudhakar Reddy argued on behalf of the Government and the CID officials. The AAG told the court that Raghurama has hatched a conspiracy along with two media channels to defame the Government. The MP has instigated feelings of the people along the caste and religious lines. The CID officials were still investigating into the matter and that bail should not be granted.

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High Court suspends Jagan order on Amara Raja

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has given an early conclusion to the Amara Raja closure controversy. It has straightaway suspended the Jaganmohan Reddy Government’s order for the closure of Amara Raja Batteries near Tirupati in the Chittoor district. The court gave relief to the industry management after the Amara Raja advocates submitted that they have been implementing the guidelines given by the AP Pollution Control Board.

In the beginning itself, there has been pressure on the family of MP Galla Jayadev since he was actively taking part in the agitation against the Capital shifting. The Galla family has been fighting a political battle like many other TDP leaders. They remain unshaken by the closure of Amara Raja Batteries and approached the court for relief.

Today, the High Court has also expressed its objections to the AP Government not giving correct details on the Coronavirus problems in the field level. It faulted the Government for submitting an incorrect affidavit on the availability of Covid treatment facilities. While the Government claimed all facilities were being provided to patients, the nodal officers themselves were saying that they were not able to find enough beds for patients.

The High Court threatened to ask the Chief Secretary to file an affidavit if the Government did not try to be transparent.

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Review decision on SSC, Inter exams: AP High Court asks state govt!

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The AP High Court on Friday (today) asked the state government to review its decision on holding SSC and Intermediate public exams in May and June in the wake of increasing corona cases in the state.

The High Court heard the petitions seeking cancellation or postponement of exams.

The court observed that holding these exams involves 30 lakh students, parents, teachers and taking this into consideration the government should review its decision on holding exams.

The court posted the hearing for May 3. The court directed the state government to tell its opinion to the court on holding exams on May 3. The court ordered the state government to file a counter with all details on May 2.

The court questioned the state government how students who were infected with Covid-19 will appear for exams. It said as per norms such students should be under quarantine.

The government advocate argued that they will hold separate exams for such students. However, the court expressed doubt over such possibility.

The court also observed that whether Covid infected students will be mentally prepared to write exams.

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HC dismisses BJP, TDP petitions on Tirupati bypoll

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has dismissed the two petitions filed by the BJP and the TDP seeking cancellation of the April 17 Tirupati by-election. Both the parties have sought the nullification of the bypoll saying that the ruling YCP resorted to large scale use of bogus voters. The court held hearings on the petitions today and ruled that it would not be able to interfere with the election process at this juncture.

BJP candidate and retired IAS officer K. Ratna Prabha filed the first petition seeking a fresh notification for the election. Her advocates brought to the notice of the court that there was vide evidence to show how the ruling YCP leaders brought outsiders to vote in the Tirupati parliamentary constituency.

It was for the first time that Ratna Prabha contested in the direct election after she was retired as the Chief Secretary of Karnataka state. The BJP Delhi leaders have promised to give all their support to her candidature. Her election managers were also forced to complain to the Central Election Commission on the bogus voters problem. Finally, she filed the petition in the court.

The TDP also filed its petition and complained against the serious election violations resorted to by the YCP leaders. The Congress also made serious allegations against bogus voting but it did not go to the court.

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HC orders AP Govt to hold daily reviews on Covid

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has instructed the AP Government to hold daily review meetings on the Coronavirus situation in the State. This is very important considering the large scale complaints about the lack of hospital beds and the exorbitant costs of tests and medicines. The court asked for forming special flying squads on the part of the Government to enforce compliance of the Covid guidelines at the hospitals.

The HC orders came after hearings completed on the public interest litigation petitions filed by several civil society organisations and activists. The court said that the flying squads should check whether the hospitals were providing proper services at reasonable rates.

The court took serious note of the AP situation following reports that the State became the worst hit in the entire country in the deadly second wave of Coronavirus.

The court made specific instructions to the Government to review availability of remdesivir and other emergency medicines at proper rates. The hospitals should be made to display on the boards on the in-patients and vacancies of beds. The Government should review the availability of oxygen on a daily basis considering the serious threat being posed because of its scarcity and exploitation.

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High Court blocks sale of Govt lands in Vizag

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has ordered the Jaganmohan Reddy Government to stop the sale of the Government lands in Visakhapatnam. The court issued these interim stay orders on the Government lands located at over five places in and around the port city. These orders were issued after hearing a petition filed against the Government’s notification. The petitioner challenged the notification and sought the court’s intervention to stop the sale of public property.

The High Court has pointed out how there were already stay orders on the sale of the Government property under the Build AP programme. The same orders would be applicable now to the sale of the public lands in Visakhapatnam. This has come as a big shock to the Jagan Reddy regime, which is desperate to mobilise funds to develop the Executive Capital city in the North Coastal Andhra.

In the beginning itself, the Opposition parties strongly objected to the sale of public property. They accused CM Jagan and some top leaders in the Government of buying back the Government lands in the name of their benamis.

The North Andhra leaders have expressed many concerns that the ruling YCP leaders were bent on lotting the public resources in the name of Executive Capital there.

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Andhra HC pulls up govt over multiple issues on Covid

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The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Thursday was critical of the state government over multiple issues pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic.

The court expressed its dismay at the government failing to furnish information on what measures it took to control the pandemic, asking why it failed to file a counter affidavit to the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Thota Suresh Babu last September.

Similarly, the court demanded the state furnish information on the coronavirus second wave, number of cases, tests, results, availability of beds, medicines and other aspects.

It also asked the government as to what actions it took against private hospitals which violated the orders.

Lawyer Narra Srinivas, representing a petitioner, informed the court that the illegal diversion of Remdesivir injection into black market is causing major hiccups to patients.

Meanwhile, the court said that if the government does not file a counter-affidavit by Tuesday, it will take action against the government.

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High Court orders stay on AP parishad polls

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In a major blow to the Jaganmohan Reddy regime, the High Court of Andhra Pradesh has given stay order on the latest election notification issued by the State Election Commission. SEC Nilam Sawhney issued the notification for the ZPTC and MPTC polls the same day she assumed charge as the new SEC. She gave this notification without completing the constitutional formality of holding the all political parties meeting.

The Opposition parties have approached the High Court seeking dismissal of the Nilam Sawhney poll notification. The HC found fault with the SEC not following the Supreme Court guidelines that four weeks gap should be there between the polling day and the election notification.

Besides issuing the stay order, the High Court has also asked SEC Nilam Sawhney to file her affidavit in the court before April 15. With this, it became clear that the SEC would be left with no choice but to postpone the parishad polls. The High Court has ordered Nilam Sawhney not to take any further steps to take forward the election process.

This is undoubtedly the first major shock to the Jagan Reddy regime since Justice A.K. Goswami took over as the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh.

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High Court opts Sunday hearing on Pawan petition

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has decided to continue its hearing of the Jana Sena and the BJP petitions against the State Election Commission on Sunday also. Both the parties have filed house motion petitions on which hearings were held today. The advocates of the petitioners submitted their arguments. After hearing them, the court decided that it would continue its hearings on Sunday though it would be a holiday.

The Jana Sena advocate argued before the court that the SEC violated the constitution by not issuing a fresh notification for the ZPTC and MPTC elections. It was over a year ago that these elections were postponed in view of the Coronavirus threat. In the past one year, many young people have got voting rights. It would be totally undemocratic and unconstitutional on the part of the SEC to deny the voting right to these young voters.

The High Court heard these arguments and asked the SEC advocate to submit their arguments on Sunday. The Parishad elections were postponed on March 15, 2020.

In its affidavit filed today, the SEC has said that the election process was already started and hence it could not be reversed under any excuse.

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High Court tells Nilam to file counter on polls

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In a big hurry, new State Election Commissioner Nilam Sawhney issued election notification on the first day of her taking charge yesterday. In the same hurry, the BJP leaders have filed a house petition before the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, seeking dismissal of the Nilam poll notification. The court took up immediate hearing and asked Nilam Sawhney to file the SEC counter on the issue by tomorrow.

The High Court has also heard the petitions filed by three other candidates. They sought a fresh notification so that they would be able to file their nominations. The court took due note of this. As such, Nilam Sawhney would now have to file her counter in the court by tomorrow.

The petitioners have also told the court how Nilam Sawhney has issued the notification without holding the all-party meeting as per the election process. It was after issuing the notification, she held the all party meet.

Obviously, in her counter, Sawhney would repeat the same story that she has been saying in the past two days. It is that there is no point in starting the elections afresh since the process had already begun in March last year. The same nodal officers would continue this time also. Since this is the first case since she became the SEC, all eyes are on the High Court order tomorrow.

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HC 3-member bench to hear 3 Capitals petitions

The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has decided to restart hearings on all the 189 petitions against the Capital shifting. For this, a three-member bench has been formed with Chief Justice AK Goswami, Justice Joymalya Bagchi and Justice N. Jayasurya. In all probability, the bench will restart hearings next week itself.

The court hearings on all these cases were taken up during the previous CJ Maheswari. Once he was transferred following Jagan Reddy’s letter, the hearings came to a grinding halt. Once again, the cases came to the fore. The Jagan Reddy Government has started insisting on the early disposal of all these petitions so that it would be able to go ahead with the Capital shifting. Following a submission by the Advocate General, the fresh bench was formed.

As per records, the majority petitions sought the High Court’s orders to stall the Capital shifting. The petitioners argued that the decentralisation and the CRDA repeal bills were unconstitutional and illegal.

The Amaravati farmers were arguing that they sacrificed their lands only after the Government made huge promises to build the Capital City in their area. They said that the new Government committed breach of trust and violated the agreements that were signed between them.

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Relief to Naidu, Narayana: AP High Court stays CID inquiry in Amaravathi land scam

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In a major relief to TDP chief and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and former municipal minister P Narayana, the AP High Court today (Friday) issued stay orders on CID cases filed against him in Amaravathi land scam.

The AP High Court issued stay orders for four weeks and directed CID not to proceed against Naidu and Narayana.

The APCID had recently served notices on Chandrababu and Narayana and directed them to appear before it for inquiry on March 24 in connection with irregularities on assigned lands in the Amaravathi capital city project.

The CID also filed FIR against them.

Naidu and Narayana approached AP High Court against CID notices and FIR.

In their petitions, Naidu and Narayana told High Court that the YSRCP government in Andhra Pradesh had filed false cases against them out of ‘political vendetta’.

The HC agreed with the arguments made by the lawyers of Naidu and Narayana.

The HC directed CID to submit evidence against Naidu and Narayana on alleged irregularities in land pooling for Amaravathi.

It asked CID to inform what evidences they had gathered in their investigation.

However, the CID told HC that it cannot disclose details at this stage as the investigation is in the primary stage and if they were allowed to conduct full-fledged inquiry, they can gather all the details and evidence.

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High Court green signal to SEC to hold municipal polls

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has given its go-ahead to the State Election Commission to conduct the municipal elections as per its recent notification. As such, the civil polls will now be held on March 10 and counting will be on March 14. The court has dismissed over 16 petitions which challenged the legality of the re-start of the civic polls after a year’s time.

The municipal polls were actually begun in March last year itself. But they were postponed at that time because of the Covid pandemic. Now, the petitioners claimed that it was not correct on the part of SEC Ramesh Kumar to go ahead with the restart of the elections without giving a chance to the new voters to take part in the election process.

The petitioners sought the court to issue an order to stall the elections and issue a fresh notification after duly taking into account the aspirations of the new young voters. However, the SEC lawyers contended that once an election process began, there was no chance to stall the same. The constitutional requirement was that it should be completed without fail.

Ever since the SEC restarted the local body elections, the YCP has been creating one hurdle or another. Now, the petitioners’ efforts to stall the elections went in vain.

With this, the stage is set for another tension-filled battle between the YCP and the TDP candidates with both the parties claiming having tactical and public support.

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High Court asks TTD to submit details of Sri Vari assets

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has ordered the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) to submit details of all the Sri Vari assets all over. The court gave this instruction after hearing the arguments made by a petitioner’s lawyer seeking an order to stall sale of all sorts of assets of the TTD. The petitioner sought the court’s intervention to protest the properties of the TTD in the State and in other places in the country.

The High Court has also asked for details of the report submitted by the Committee led by Retired Supreme Court Judge that made recommendations for the protection of the TTD properties. The petitioner’s lawyer has said that there was a need for saving the TTD properties from sale. And, the list of all the properties held by the TTD should be placed in the public domain.

The TTD lawyer told the court that already, the details of properties were placed before the public. Then, the court has asked for submitting those details to it.

The petitioner complained to the court that the TTD has no right to sell the movable and immovable properties of Sri Varu since the devotees had made those donations out of sentiment.

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Cancel municipal polls: petitioner to AP High Court

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Not a single day passes without some case being filed in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh relating to governance and elections. Today, a petitioner approached the court seeking an order canceling the notification given by the State Election Commission for the municipal elections. The court heard the arguments and postponed the next hearing for tomorrow.

The petitioner’s lawyer argued that the Election Commission was wrong in going ahead with the election without having the latest electoral lists. He wanted the latest rolls of electors to be prepared and based on them, fresh elections should be held. This argument was nothing new. Already, a similar case was filed against the panchayat elections but the court did not stall the elections.

As per the latest notification, the elections are going to be held for 12 municipal corporations, 75 municipalities and nagar panchayats. The polling is to be held on March 10 and counting on March 14. This election was a continuation of the process that was initiated in March last year itself when the election was postponed on account of the Coronavirus infections.

The municipal elections are going to witness serious battles between the ruling YCP and the Opposition. Both the TDP and the Jana Sena are preparing for epic battles this time. If both the parties come to an understanding, the YCP will have to fight a losing battle in major corporations like Vijayawada, Vizag, Tirupati and so on.

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High Court shock to Kodali Nani, asks for tapes

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has refused to give immediate relief to Minister Kodali Nani without seeing the videotapes of his statements made against the State Election Commission (SEC). The SEC lawyer has asked the court not to give its order without seeing the tapes. Problems arose in the past when the High Court gave relief to Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy and MLA Jogi Ramesh without checking what they said against the SEC.

Kodali Nani moved a House Motion before the High Court today as it was a holiday being a Sunday. Nani’s lawyer told the court that the SEC has banned him from speaking to the media and holding official meetings as well even though the Minister has not said anything hurtful.

The High Court then asked whether Nani’s lawyer had attached the video showing Nani’s statement against the SEC. When he said that it was not attached, the court asked him to provide the video tomorrow. The hearing was also postponed for Monday afternoon at 2.15 p.m.

SEC Ramesh Kumar took a serious note of the SEC getting adverse orders from the court in the case of Peddireddy and Jogi Ramesh. This time, he made sure that the court should get to know full details of Kodali Nani’s outburst against the SEC before issuing any order.

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Andhra SEC can’t use ‘eWatch’ app until Feb 17 as HC adjourns case

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In a major setback to Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, the high court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing on ‘eWatch’, an election monitoring app, until February 17, rendering it useless until then.

The court said the SEC cannot use the app until it procures a security certificate, and directed the SEC to reply to the queries raised by the Andhra Pradesh Technology Services (APTS), the nodal agency for conducting security audit and issuing a security certificate, without which no app can come into play.

The court took up the PILs filed against eWatch, which were heard by Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Praveen Kumar.

C. Sumon, representing the state government, informed the court that based on the SEC’s request, APTS conducted preliminary tests and sent a report about the security flaws and concerns detected in eWatch.

The APTS highlighted that allegedly the source code of Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Department was used in the development of eWatch.

Sumon apprised the court that the SEC has not allegedly produced any document to show that the social welfare department gave permission to use its source code.

In this regard, the APTS sought more information from the SEC and it was highlighted that if the source code was used without the knowledge of the social welfare department, then there is the possibility of a major cyber security threat to the department.

The APTS generally takes five days just to check the security worthiness of an app.

The election commission expressed its willingness to use the election monitoring app of the Election Commission of India (ECI) if it is allowed to do so while the SEC’s counsel submitted that the app developed by the state government, Nigha, was not working.

The court enquired if the state government has any objection if the app developed by it is used by the SEC.

Sumon informed the court that he had no instructions on the status of the app developed by the state but said that the state will not have any objection.

Andhra Pradesh has witnessed a war of poll apps in the run-up to the rural local bodies elections.

Earlier, three petitions were filed in the court challenging the app, which attracted criticism from the ruling YSR Congress Party as well as the BJP.

The petitioners as well as YSRCP leaders alleged that Kumar ignored ECI’s CVIGIL app and the state government’s apps and went for an altogether new app.

According to the plaintiffs, the State Election Commission allegedly did not have the required security certificate under the Andhra Pradesh cyber security policy and other government orders, while Kumar had failed to approach the relevant government agency to secure a security certificate.

Though the election commission’s newly appointed secretary, Kannababu, said that eWatch was completely developed inhouse while launching it, the petitioners alleged that it is not clear as to who exactly developed the digital app.

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