|Tuesday, March 28, 2000,
St Kitts trial resumes
BJP to release White Paper on
CVC proposal to strengthen CBI
Cong seeks Naidus
Withdraw UP religion Bill: Opposition
Link CTBT with disarmament: Cong
AIIMS bodys urgent meeting
HC directive to free 52 more
Sikhs planning to
Aerated drinks to cost more in
Lawyers stir: govt to set up
Ex-PMs discuss state of nation
NEW DELHI, March 27 (UNI) In a significant political development aimed at occupying the Opposition space, four former Prime Ministers Mr V P Singh, Mr Chandra Shekhar, Mr H D Deve Gowda and Mr I K Gujral today met for the second time this month and discussed the state of the nation, including how the economic reforms pursued vigorously by the NDA government has proved counter productive for the common man.
The former Prime Ministers earlier had an hour-long meeting with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee earlier in the day and wrested an assurance that jhuggi dwellers would not be removed until they were provided with alternate accommodation. "Bulldozers is not the answer for poverty", said Mr V P Singh after the meeting with the Prime Minister.
Talking to newspersons before the second round of conclave of former Prime Ministers, Mr Gujral ruled out that the exercise was prelude to the formation of third front or political combinations. "We are concerned citizens discussing about the nations affairs.
Among the issues that would come up for discussion tonight include the right of the poor to exist, deteriorating law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the state of the economy.
The former Prime
Ministers are planning to release a document listing
these problems at a news conference here tomorrow. Mr
Mohan Guruswamy who had quit as Adviser to Finance
Minister Yashwant Sinha was conspicuous by his presence
at the meeting of former Prime Ministers held at the
residence of Mr V P Singh. Replying to a question Mr
Gujral said they would brief the other former Prime
Minister, Mr P V Narasimha Rao, about the outcome of the
St Kitts trial resumes
NEW DELHI, March 27 (PTI) The St Kitts case trial against controversial godman Chandraswami and his aide K.N.Aggarwal alias Mamaji resumed today after a gap of about three years with the CBI examining former Revenue Secretary N.K.Sengupta.
The duo, facing charges of criminal conspiracy and forging of certain documents to tarnish the image of former Premier V.P.Singh, appeared before Special Judge Ajit Bharihoke, who recorded evidence of the CBI witness, Mr Sengupta.
Mr Sengupta, who was the Revenue Secretary of the Government of India from September, 1988, to December, 1989, said he had accorded sanction for the deployment of two officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to the USA and the UK.
He had also approved the alleged visit to St Kitts of the then ED officials Deputy Director A.P.Nanday and Enforcement Officer R.K.Dubey.
Mr Sengupta, 66, who has since retired and become an MP, identified his signatures on the relevant files and said the sanctions were granted by him in the absence of the Finance Secretary.
Mr Bharihoke had framed charges against Chandraswami and Mamaji for allegedly fabricating a bank document to show that Mr V.P.Singhs son, Mr Ajeya Singh, had opened an account in the First Trust Corporation, a private bank in St Kitts Islands, in 1986 and deposited $ 21 million there.
By examining Mr Sengupta, the prosecution wanted to prove that some government officials had visited St Kitts Islands in connection with the forgery.
Chandraswami and Mamaji could not cross-examine Mr Sengupta as their counsel was absent due to the ongoing lawyers strike. The court, however, assured them that they would be given an opportunity to cross-examine the witness at a later stage of the trial, if they desired so.
Mr Sengupta was the ninth witness examined by the CBI. Earlier, the agency had examined eight witnesses in the case before the trial was stayed by the high court in 1997.
Tomorrow another CBI witness, former Finance Secretary G.K.Arora will be examined by the CBI.
Resumption of the trial
follows a December, 1999, order of the Delhi High Court
upholding a lower court order framing charges against
Chandraswami and Mamaji and discharging former Prime
Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and former Union Minister
CVC proposal to strengthen CBI
NEW DELHI, March 27 (UNI) The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has sought to strengthen its investigative arm, CBI, by exempting it to seek state permission to probe Central Government employees working in the state.
Besides, the CVC has mooted corruption-free government services as a fundamental right. "I am planning to write to the Constitution Review Committee for making every citizen to get corruption-free services from all public servants as a fundamental right" Mr N. Vittal, Central Vigilance Commissioner, told reporters here today.
Mr Vittal said he has written a letter to Centre to allow the CBI to probe its corruption-accused employees in the states without the latters permission. "It will be a step towards strengthening the CBI".
If the CVC were to investigate employees of the Centre, public sector units and banks working at the states, it will have to get state government nod to begin investigations under Section 6 of the CBI Act. Karnataka, for instance, has not given a general clearance to the CBI for investigating the Central Government employees.
If the CVC were to have its way, the Section 6 of the CBI Act would be deleted, giving de facto status to Section 5 of the Act which allows the CVC to probe the Central employees working at the state level.
On the fundamental right for corruption-free state services, Mr Vittal suggested that all government departments should assure of bribery-free services instead of giving out long citizen charters.
He said the
Parliamentary Sub-Committee looking into the CVC Bill
should consider giving supervisory powers over the
Enforcement Directorate as well. Currently, the
CVCs powers are restricted to the appointment of ED
BJP to release White Paper on Constitution
HYDERABAD, March 27 (PTI) The BJP today said it would come out with a comprehensive White Paper on amendments made to the Constitution in the past 50 years "to expose the hue and cry" made by the Congress over the issue of constitutional review.
"Of the 79 amendments made to the Constitution in the past 50 years, 58 were made during the Congress regime alone", BJP spokesman M. Venkaiah Naidu told reporters here.
He charged the Congress with "even tampering with the basic structure and spirit of the Constitution during its rule at the centre".
Mr Naidu said the BJP had decided to release a comprehensive White Paper on April 14 in New Delhi, the day the Congress proposed to hold a meeting and observe Save Constitution Day at Nagpur.
"After shaving the Constitution, the Congress is now talking of saving the Constitution", he said.
"The White Paper,
intended to counter the Congress disinformation campaign,
also seeks to expose its double standards, political
bankruptcy and rank opportunism on the issue of the
review of the constitution", he said.
Cong seeks Naidus resignation
HYDERABAD, March 27 (PTI) The main Opposition Congress today staged a walkout in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly after Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu rejected their demand for his resignation for not paying power bills.
Accusing Mr Naidu of being a defaulter and not paying power bills for the past two years for the agriculture pumpsets used in his farm in Nellore district, leader of Opposition Y.S. Rajeskhar Reddy demanded his resignation.
Amid trading of charges from the Treasury and Opposition Benches, Mr Reddy said "there cannot be one rule for the Chief Minister and another for the common man. If the Chief Minister is a defaulter what action was taken so far."
The Chief Minister told the House that if there were arrears it would be paid immediately and asked the Opposition not to politicise the issue.
Mr Naidu assured the
House that the State Transmission Corporation (TRANSCO)
would initiate action against all defaulters,
irrespective of their position, and he would pay the
arrears and penalty the Corporation would impose.
Withdraw UP religion Bill: Opposition
LUCKNOW, March 27 (PTI) A Rs 1128.48-crore deficit Budget without fresh taxes was presented in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly today amid uproarious scenes as opposition members made a noisy demand for the withdrawal of the controversial UP Religious Places Bill.
Vidhan Sabha also passed a vote on account for Rs 9,231 crore moved by Finance Minister Harish Chandra Srivastava before adjourning for the day even as opposition members trooped into the well of the House raising anti-government slogans.
Members, mainly those belonging to the BSP and the Congress, began demanding the withdrawal of the Bill as soon as Mr Srivastava rose to present the Budget. Some of them were also seen later hurling copies of the Budget.
Presenting the Budget, Mr Srivastava said he would try to bridge the deficit of Rs 1128.48 crore by curtailing expenditure and augmenting financial resources.
He estimated total receipts for 2000-01 at Rs 46215.02 crore against a total expenditure of Rs 49935.04 crore.
The government proposed to create 10 lakh employment opportunities in the organised and unorganised sector. A revolving fund of Rs 100 crore would be set up to enlist the participation of private sector in infrastructural development. A proposal to raise a police force for helping tourists was also announced.
Link CTBT with disarmament:
NEW DELHI, March 27 Days after conveying its position to the USA on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Congress today preferred to distance itself from the remarks that sounded more like an echo of New Delhis official stand.
After meeting President Bill Clinton last week, the Congress had said that the party President, Ms Sonia Gandhi had emphasised the need for India to maintain a credible minimum nuclear deterrence in view of its security concerns.
Today the party spokesman, Mr Ajit Jogi, said the Congress President did not use these words as informed to the media by senior CWC member Pranab Mukherjee.
He said the Congress President had talked of total global disarmament and that there must be a linkage with the CTBT.
The Congress, he said, was firm on its commitment to the "Action Plan for Nuclear Weapons Free and Non-Violent World Order" presented to the United Nations by the late Rajiv Gandhi in 1998. The plan is for time-bound and phased elimination of nuclear weapons, with a reliable verification mechanism.
He then went on to elaborate the Congress view on the CTBT and said the government should evolve a national consensus on the issue since it was vital to the security of the nation.
"There is no national consensus on the CTBT. The government has to take the Opposition into confidence and evolve a consensus," he said.
The Congress view, he said, was that the countrys long-term security was important and no final view had yet been taken or emerged from the debate.
Mr Jogi said even the scientific community was divided in its opinion on the adequacy of conducting nuclear tests.
The Congress said the countrys nuclear policy was extremely important to the defence and security of the nation and that no party should try and politicise it. "The whole nation should be on the same wavelength", Mr Jogi said.
The party also said
since the government was privy to certain classified
information on the subject, it alone was in a position to
take a view from time to time depending on the inputs
they had on the nuclear issue relating to overall
AIIMS bodys urgent
NEW DELHI, March 27 The Union Health Ministry has ordered an emergency meeting of the governing body of the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) to take stock of the situation arising out of the reinstatement of former medical superintendent of institute, Dr R.C. Anand.
Dr Anand, who has been reinstated as the MS of RP Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, was caught red-handed almost two years back while accepting a gratification of Rs 10,000 from a Faridabad-based pharamaceutical supplier. He was arrested by the anti-corruption branch of the Delhi Police.
Sources in the Health Ministry told TNS here today that the decision was taken by the Union Health Minister, Mr N.T.Shanmugham, in a meeting with senior health officers here today. The meeting is expected to take place in this week.
In a communication sent to the AIIMS Director, the Health Minister said that the suspension of Dr Anand be revoked and the matter be examined by the governing body.
HC directive to free 52 more undertrials
NEW DELHI, March 27 (PTI) Close on the heels of its earlier order for the release of 200 undertrials from the Central Tihar jail here, the Delhi High Court today directed the authorities to release 52 more such prisoners after they furnished personal bonds in the respective trial courts.
Mr Justice Dalveer Bhandari, who, on March 10, had ordered the release of 200 undertrials being detained in judicial custody for nearly three years for want of surety in the bail granted to them by various courts, appointed a panel of four lawyers to act as a amicus curiae to find out how many such prisoners were still lodged in the jail under judicial custody.
The panel comprising Mr
Ashok Arora, Mr Rajiv Awasthi, Mr Mukesh Kalia and Mr
Santhosh Kohli, was asked to furnish its report by April
3, the next date of hearing. Waiving the condition of
furnishing the surety by each of the undertrial, the
court directed them to furnish personal bonds in the
trial courts to secure their release.
Sikhs planning to
NEW DELHI, March 27 Sikh families of Chatti Singhpora and other neighbouring villages are planning mass migration from the area, a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee fact-finding team said here today.
"The people there are waiting for the bhog ceremony scheduled for March 31. They have decided to migrate, as they have lost confidence to stay back and feel secure," Dr Jaspal Singh, a former Ambassador to Mozambique and DSGMC member, who headed the DSGMC fact-finding mission to the area.
The four-member delegation included the DSGMC president, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, Mr Harinder Pal Singh, SGPC member and Mr Manjit Singh, DSGMC member.
Aerated drinks to cost more in Delhi
NEW DELHI, March 27 (PTI) Aerated drinks and chewing tobacco will be costlier, while jute products, black and white TV sets, automobile tyres and tubes and kerosene stove will be cheaper in the Capital from April 1, 2000.
Finance Minister M.S. Saathi, who presented the Delhi Government Budget 2000-2001 in the Delhi Assembly today, proposed to increase sales tax from 12 per cent to 15 per cent on aerated drinks and from 8 per cent to 12 per cent on chewing tobacco.
The Rs 6,950-crore
balanced Budget, which is 6.25 per cent higher than the
revised Budget of the current financial year, exempted 12
items from sales tax, including newsprint and kerosene
stove, and reduced the rate from 8 to 4 per cent on 14
items, including jute products, black and white TV sets
and tyres and tubes.
Lawyers stir: govt to set up panel
NEW DELHI, March 27 (UNI) The government said today it was setting up a commission of inquiry in an effort to break the stalemate over the month-long Lawyers strike.
The commission will be
headed by Justice N.C. Kochhar (retd) of the Rajasthan
High Court. Solicitor-General Harish Salve told the Delhi
High Court that a notification in this regard would be
issued in a day or so.
CM presents Budget
9 killed in road
labourer to death
Probe on into
HDW deal: CBI
3 of family
of SAARC body
Kerala Govt to ban paan
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