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Centre’s escapist statement on AP High Court shifting

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BJP MP GVL Narasimha Rao asked a question in Rajya Sabha about the status of the AP High Court shifting to Kurnool. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad gave his reply in which he said in so many words that the Centre had no role in this matter. He told Rajya Sabha that the maintenance and expenditure of the High Court were all borne by the State Government itself. Whereas, the administration of the High Court was solely looked after by the Chief Justice of AP.

Having said all these things, the Union Minister indicated that the High Court shifting would be possible only with a consensus between the AP Government and the Chief Justice of AP. There was also no time limit for this. From this, it was clear that the shifting of the High Court was not solely in the hands of the State Government. Hence, the so called decentralisation bill of the Jagan regime would not by itself stand a legal ground with regard to the High Court shifting.

When it comes to the High Court, the majority opinion among the judges and the advocates has been against shifting from the beginning. Now, the ball is back in the court of the High Court. The present Chief Justice would play a crucial role in this affair now. Even after change of the Chief Justice, there were many instances wherein the High Court was still passing orders against the Government’s decisions. It is highly likely that the Jagan regime would once again bring pressure on the president Chief Justice as well. Nothing can be ruled going by how things take curious twists in AP these days.

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Restrain SEC from using ‘eWatch’, says plea in Andhra HC

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A lawyer has moved the Andhra Pradesh High Court to seek an order to restrain State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar from using ‘eWatch’, an election monitoring digital app.

In his petition, advocate K Sudhakar from Prakasam district instead sought the use of ‘CVIGIL’ app of the Election Commission of India or ‘Nigha’ of the state government.

Questions have been raised as to when and how the tenders for developing ‘eWatch’ were notified.

On Wednesday, Kumar had launched ‘election watch’ or ‘eWatch’ to monitor the ongoing rural local body elections, which the State Election Commission Secretary Kannababu said was developed in-house.

Some of the categories in which people can lodge complaints include public officials involved in promotion of candidates or parties, canvassing within 100 metres of polling stations, booth capturing and election-related violence.

However, the ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) leaders allege that the app has been developed to “benefit” the opposition Telugu Desam Party. They have instead launched their own app ‘Netram’ to solicit complaints from the public.

Before these two apps, the TDP was the first political party to solicit complaints from the public on election violations in the form of photographs and videos.

The TDP had set up a control room with a call centre number to receive the complaints, including on WhatsApp.

“Please take the advisories from advocates of the party’s legal cell,” said a TDP leader, aimed at helping TDP supporters contesting the elections.

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AP High Court’s another blow to YCP on panchayat polls

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has given one more shock to the ruling YCP on the issue of the panchayat elections. It has summarily rejected the petition filed by a person seeking cancellation of the panchayat elections. The petitioner’s advocate argued that over 3.6 lakh young people were not able to vote since the authorities could not prepare the 2021 voters lists. As a result, the State Election Commission (SEC) went ahead with the polls based on the 2019 electoral rolls.

The petitioner also contended that SEC Ramesh Kumar would have postponed till the latest 2021 rolls were available. It was unethical on the part of the SEC to go ahead with the polls without giving voting rights to the youngsters.
However, after hearing the arguments, the High Court expressed its helplessness at this stage and it would not be able to interfere with the election process which had already begun. The court rejected the plea for stalling the panchayat elections and dismissed the petition. The court has also rejected another petition which has made a similar argument.

From day one, the YCP has been moving earth and heaven to postpone the panchayat elections till after SEC Ramesh Kumar’s retirement in March-end. Somehow, the circumstances were not favourable to the Jagan regime while Ramesh Kumar was having the last laugh all the time.

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AP High Court to hear new petition against panchayat polls

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One issue or another is constantly obstructing the AP panchayat polls. First, CM Jagan wanted the elections to be completed in March last year. His Government was thinking of shifting Capital after finishing the polls at that time. The State Election Commission postponed the elections because of Coronavirus in March last year. Now, after the Supreme Court gave the green signal, the panchayat polls were restarted.

But now, once again, another petition was filed before the High Court of Andhra Pradesh against the polls. A student named Akhila filed the petition seeking the court’s order to stay the elections. She took objection to continuing to hold the elections with over 3.6 lakh young people not getting their voting right. Her petition is coming up for hearing today. If the court stays the polls now, then Ramesh Kumar would have no chance to complete the poll during his tenure.

This problem arose because the SEC is holding the election based on the 2019 voter list. SEC Ramesh Kumar had to do this as the State Government officials could not furnish the latest 2021 voter list in time.

Rumours doing the roads say that some hidden forces are once again working overtime to postpone the election till after Ramesh Kumar retires in two months.

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AP SEC moves house motion against single bench

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AP State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar is putting up a strong fight against the Jaganmohan Reddy Government. He has now moved a house motion before the division bench of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh. The SEC sought dismissal of the single bench order that suspended the SEC’s recently released schedule for the local body elections.

Mr. Ramesh Kumar’s lawyer argued before the court that the single bench did not consider the long mediation held by the SEC with the Government and the political parties. The SEC plea is coming up for hearing today in front of the division bench of the High Court.

Also, the SEC was also going to meet with AP Governor Biswabhushan Harichandan to brief him about the latest developments regarding the local body elections. Mr. Ramesh Kumar has taken a serious view of the suspension of the poll schedule despite the fact that similar elections were held in different parts of the country and the world already.

The SEC maintains that it has taken the final decision on the poll schedule only after consulting the Government and all the political parties. The Government’s argument alone cannot be taken as the criterion for suspending the schedule now.

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AP government gets huge respite as HC cancels local elections schedule

In what could be termed as a huge respite for YSRCP government of Andhra Pradesh , High Court today cancelled the schedule issued by state election commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar and concurred with the argument of the state government that the local body elections could not be held at this moment because of the planned vaccination schedule. Details as below.

The government of Andhra Pradesh and state election commission have been at loggerheads ever since state election commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar postponed local body elections citing Covid 19 proliferation last year. At that time CM YS Jaganmohan Reddy alleged that State election Commissioner has been working as per the orders of former chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu as both of them belong to the same community and as he was appointed by the former chief minister. But recently Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar has been planning to conduct local body elections before he steps out from his position . But it seems now, the government is adamant and wants to have elections only after he steps out.

In this backdrop, Nimmagadda released schedule of local body elections recently, citing that COVID has been in control in AP, which came as shocker to the government. But as vaccination plan for COVID-19 is in place already, government has invoked article 19 of the constitution i.e. right to live and the Honourable court has concurred with the argument put forward by the government. So, the court has made the schedule released by SEC null and void.

We need to wait and see how the political parties respond to this.

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No relief for Jagan Govt in house motion before High Court

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The Andhra Pradesh High Court refused to pass urgent orders in the house motion moved by the Jagan Reddy Government on the issue of panchayat elections. However, the court postponed the hearing to Monday. The lack of immediate relief from the court came as a minor setback to the Government.

Already, the election code of conduct came into force from today itself. State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar was sticking to his decision to go ahead with the elections. There were serious counter reactions from all sections in the Government but still the SEC was determined to conduct the elections as per the schedule.

Now, just like in many other instances in the past, the YCP Government once again challenged the SEC decision on the February local polls before the High Court. Since there was not enough time to approach the Supreme Court, the Government immediately opted for the house motion.

The local polls issue was already heard in the High Court. It was based on the orders of the court itself that AP Chief Secretary Adityanath Das along with other officials met with the SEC personally. However, the differences between the SEC and the Government remained unresolved.

The SEC had also accused the Government on record of deliberately postponing the local polls in order to hold the same after his retirement after March. Ramesh Kumar also blamed YCP MP Vijay Sai Reddy for announcing that local polls would be held after April.

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AP High Court tells Govt to file its counter on AB petition

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Only one day has passed since the new Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh has taken charge. Today, the High Court ordered the AP Government to file its counter on the AB Venkateswara Rao petition. The Ex Intelligence Chief had sought the court’s orders for preventing the AP police from arresting him in the name of scam in purchase of intelligence devices.

The High Court heard the case today and ordered the Government not to arrest Mr. Venkateswara Rao for the next 14 days. It postponed the next hearing to January 18. Also, the court asked the Government to file its counter by January 18. The Ex Intelligence Chief had petitioned that the Government was trying to illegally arrest him.

It may be recalled that CM Jaganmohan Reddy has complained against previous CJ Justice JK Maheswari in a letter to the Chief Justice of India. Consequently, the AP Chief Justice was changed. In just days, many cases relating to the AP Government’s decisions are coming up before the court.
The High Court has taken note of the charges levelled by AB Venkateswara Rao and promptly gave him relief. It is going to be yet another curious case wherein the Government would have to face embarrassment if the police cannot prove charges of corruption against the Ex Intelligence Chief.

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Centre notifies transfer of AP Chief Justice Maheswari

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Amid a huge controversy, everything was going as per a predetermined script in Andhra Pradesh. Weeks ago, CM Jagan Reddy wrote a sensational letter to the Chief Justice of India complaining against the AP High Court Chief Justice. Today, the Central Government issued a notification, transferring AP Chief Justice J.K. Maheswari to Sikkim. With this, the Union Law Ministry brought the curtains down on the Jagan-CJI letter issue.
At the same time, Sikkim Chief Justice Aroop Kumar Goswami was appointed as the new Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh. The notification with respect to his transfer was expected soon. Justice Maheswari had served in AP during a tumultuous period when countless cases came up before his court against the Government. Eventually, his judgements and observations had created distance between the High Court and the Government.
Now, it would be a matter of just a few months how Justice Aroop Kumar would lead the AP High Court. The judges would have to abide by the laws while delivering their judgements. But that was creating tensions in the day to day dealings with the petitioners and the Government.
AP High Court is also getting a new judge. Kolkata High Court Judge Justice Joymalya Bagchi is transferred to AP High Court.

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SVBC staff plea rejected by AP High Court in porn issue

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has upheld the decision of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) with respect to the removal of over 5 employees on the charges of misconduct. The court said that the action of the staff of TTD’s Sri Venkateswara Bhakti Channel deserved stringent punishment and rejected the employees’ plea for reinstatement.

The TTD petitioned the High Court that they were removed from the jobs without giving prior notice. This was against the terms and conditions of employment and the principles of natural justice. However, Judge Satyanarayana Murthy took a serious view of the behaviour of the staff. He summarily set aside their petition.
It may be recalled that a TTD employee sent a porn video clip to a devotee who actually requested for the clipping of a devotional programme. The management ordered a vigilance enquiry which revealed that many employees in the SVBC channel were seeing porn video clips in the office.

Following availability of enough evidence, five SVBC staff were outright removed from service. The whole issue came to the surface after the devotee who received porn clips immediately complained to the TTD Chairman SV Subba Reddy and Executive Officer Jawahar Reddy.

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High Court orders case against AP IAS officer

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has delivered its order on the recusal petition filed by the YCP Government against Justice Rakesh Kumar. The court said that AP Build Mission Special Officer Praveen Kumar had failed to prove the charges he made against the judge in his affidavit. The IAS officer sought the stepping down of Justice Rakesh Kumar since he made biased statements against the Jaganmohan Reddy Government.

When the court insisted on proof of the judge’s comments, Praveen Kumar’s lawyer could not submit the paper cuttings or TV news clippings. Consequently, the court expressed deep anguish over the indifferent attitude of the Government. It also commented that the Government was needlessly interfering with the judicial matters.

Eventually, the High Court ordered its Registrar to file a case in the police station concerned against Praveen Kumar. The court also instructed the chief judicial magistrate to file a case of contempt of court. This is the first time in recent years that the court issued serious orders against an IAS officer.

Mr. Praveen Kumar told in his affidavit that the judge’s anti-Government comments were published in the Andhra Jyothi newspaper but there was no proof of the same.

Also, in its legal conflicts with the Government, this is the first time that the High Court directly initiated action against a senior officer of the Government.

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Local polls: AP High Court gives 3-day deadline for Jagan Govt

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No wonder, the High Court of Andhra Pradesh is all close to getting involuntarily involved in the day to day administration of the State. In its order today, the High Court ordered the Jagan Reddy Government to send three top level officials to meet with the State Election Commission.

The three officials should meet the SEC within the next three days after receiving the order copy. These officials should also be of the rank of the Principal Secretary. The court orders were with respect to the need for the Government to cooperate with the SEC to conduct the local body elections.

This time, the High Court mentioned even minute details with respect to the implementation of its order. Obviously, the judges were of the opinion that they would have to be specific and targetted in making the Government to implement their orders. Till now, the court orders were not being straightaway implemented in the name of approaching the higher court for appeal.

It is well known that the Jagan regime was unwilling to cooperate till after SEC Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar would retire in March next year. But, as head of an autonomous Constitutional institution, Ramesh decided to hold local polls in February. The Government has been dragging the litigation in the matter by filing one petition or other. Now, the court disposed of the Government petition and ordered for specific action without further delaying local polls.

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AP High Court unhappy with CBI probe into Dr Sudhakar case

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It is well known how the High Court of Andhra Pradesh has been expressing its disappointment at the policies of the Jagan Reddy Government. Now, the High Court has also expressed its dissatisfaction at the probe being conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the Dr. Sudhakar case. The court ordered the CBI to change the investigating officer and appoint an additional director-level officer to investigate the sensational Dr. Sudhakar case in Visakhapatnam.

The High Court asked the CBI to submit its next detailed report on its investigation by March 31. The hearing was postponed for the first week of April. The court issues these orders after it received the report of the CBI on the investigation that was completed so far.

It may be recalled that the harassment, humiliation and arrest of Dalit doctor Dr. Sudhakar in the middle of the road created a sensation all over the State. The Dalit organisations and the Opposition had led agitations against the manner in which Dr. Sudhakar was persecuted and eventually admitted to the Government Mental Hospital in Vizag.
The investigation was handed over to the CBI following petitions that the AP police would not do justice. Now, none other than the High Court had expressed dissatisfaction on the CBI inquiry as well.

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High Court orders Jagan Govt to follow SEC decision

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The Jaganmohan Reddy Government has received one more blow from the High Court of Andhra Pradesh. The court gave its order after hearing both sides on holding the local polls. The High Court said that the decision of State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar would be final. The Government would have to follow his decision and cooperate with him in holding the elections.

The court took the SEC lawyer’s argument into consideration that the Election Commission would change its poll schedule as and when there would be guidelines from the Central Government on the Coronavirus vaccination. As such, the court told the AP Government to start cooperating with the SEC on the poll schedule.

The court had also ordered the Jagan regime to send three senior officers to meet with the SEC for following his instructions on the local polls. The three officers may also brief the SEC about the emerging situation on the vaccination and the virus infections. But, the SEC would take the final decision on conducting the polls. As per the SEC decision, the Government should start taking required measures to implement that decision.

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CM Jagan’s unstoppable plan to shift High Court to Kurnool

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The YCP Government is making unbeatable smart moves to shift the High Court of Andhra Pradesh from Amaravati to Kurnool as early as possible. The Jagan regime is confident that the BJP Government at the Centre would have no objection to this. Moreover, it is just enough for Union Home Ministry to denotify on this issue so that the High Court could be shifted to Kurnool without further hurdles.
During his recent visit to Delhi, CM Jagan had sought Amit Shah’s support for this. The ruling YCP leaders say that the BJP AP unit had made it an election promise to set up the High Court in Kurnool. Now, the Jagan regime was making fast moves to first get the Centre’s support on the shifting of the High Court.
However, there were already stay orders on the formation of 3 Capitals. As such, the stay orders would also be applicable to the High Court shifting issue as well. It is a question now whether the Union Home Ministry would take these state orders into consideration or not.
On its part, the BJP was saying that it was against 3 Capitals. At the same time, they were saying they were committed to the High Court in Kurnool. Whatever, CM Jagan seemed to have focused on shifting the High Court first and then the Executive Capital to Vizag.

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Local polls not possible: Jagan Govt again tells High Court

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The Jaganmohan Reddy Government in Andhra Pradesh has once again informed the High Court of AP that local body elections could not be held in February. The decision of State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar could not be implemented because of a more programme to be carried out in the same month.

The YCP regime told the court that the Coronavirus vaccination programme would be taken up on a massive scale all over the State in January and February months. The Government filed its additional affidavit in the court, giving all these details. For this vaccination drive, all the police and other departments would be required. Immediately four weeks after the first dose, the second dose would have to be administered.

The Government’s advocate told the court that the vaccination drive was the only reason why it could not take up the local polls in February. For this, the SEC advocate requested the court to give some time to file its counter. The next hearing was posted for the coming Friday.

Apparently, the Jagan regime was giving one twist or another to the issue just to postpone local polls till SEC Ramesh Kumar retires in March.

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Thanks to liquor lovers for saving AP State: High Court

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh heard arguments on the petitions filed against the sale of public property under the Mission Build AP project. The Government lawyer commented that the AP regime was implementing welfare schemes which no other State Government was taking up anywhere else in the country. The lawyer gave this reply when the court asked where the need was for selling public assets.

The High Court passed an interesting comment, saying that the whole people of the State knew how best the Government was implementing the welfare schemes. In particular, the liquor lovers should be thanked for their huge contribution that saved and helped the State Government to implement welfare schemes. The liquor lovers did not hesitate to patronise and buy the liquor even at very high prices during the Coronavirus time.

At one point, the High Court asked the Government lawyer whether there was a financial emergency in the country. The court asked the Government to file its counter.

The petitioners pleaded with the court to prevent the Government from selling public property in the name of Build AP. The next hearing was postponed for December 17. The petitioners asserted that the Government had no right to sell away public assets. There was no need to sell public property to mobilise funds.

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Where’s white paper on TTD assets? HC asks AP Govt

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh heard arguments on a petition regarding mismanagement of the assets of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD). The petitioner’s lawyer complained that there was no transparency in the maintenance and management of movable and immovable properties of the TTD.

The court took notice of the petitioner and asked the AP Government’s advocate as to why it had not provided the white paper on the TTD assets till now. The issue of white paper came up during an earlier hearing. The court asked the Government what had caused the delay in providing details of the assets.

The High Court made it clear to the Government that it was important to put facts on the TTD assets before the public. It was necessary to let the general public, devotees and the donors know about assets of the TTD.

The petitioner told the court that the TTD was not consulting the endowments department on issues regarding the management of the TTD assets. As there was no transparency, the SriVari properties were in danger of falling into the hands of private persons. Nobody has a right to tamper with the TTD properties as they were donated by the devotees who have faith in the God.

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AP High Court dismisses Govt plea for stay on polls

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The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has straightaway dismissed the petition filed by the State Government seeking stay on the local body elections. The Government has asked for stay on the decision taken by State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar.

The High Court made it clear to the Government that the SEC was an autonomous Constitutional institution and it was vested with powers to take independent decisions regarding the elections. As such, the State Election Commission has a right to conduct the elections. It was not proper on the part of the Government to object to that.

Meanwhile, the advocates representing the Election Commission told the court that the decision on conducting the local polls in February only after analysing the emerging Coronavirus situation in the State. The overall threat perception was studied at the state, national and international levels.

The SEC advocates further told the court that it was decided to constantly study the impact of Covid so that all the necessary preventive measures at the time of elections. The High Court agreed with the arguments of the SEC advocates and summarily dismissed the Government’s plea.

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AP High Court declines Govt plea for stay on SEC polls

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Once again, the YCP Government has faced yet another setback in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh. The court has refused to give stay orders on the decision of State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar to hold local body elections in February. The Government has pleaded with the court to postpone the elections in view of Coronavirus.
During the arguments, the SEC’s lawyer Aswini Kumar has said that the local body elections will be held in February itself as per the earlier orders of the High Court only. The Government’s lawyer said that the administrative machinery was not ready for holding the elections and the same has been communicated to the SEC.
The confrontation between the SEC and the Jagan regime is continuing unabated with no solution in sight. Ultimately, it seems the Government will continue the litigation on this aspect till Ramesh Kumar retires in March next year. The CM and the ruling party Ministers have given ample indications to this effect already.
Going by the past experiences, analysts say that the Government would also drag this local body elections issue also to the Supreme Court of India to buy time. Eventually, CM Jagan will be able to fulfill his desire not to allow Nimmagadda to hold elections.

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