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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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N A T I O N

Govt to adhere to 27 pc OBC quota: Arjun
New Delhi, March 29
Even as union human resource development minister Arjun Singh maintained that the government will strictly adhere to reserving 27 per cent seats for backward classes in institutions like the IITs and IIMs, political parties across the spectrum took exception to the Supreme Court order today staying the implementation of the quota till Aug 3.

SC analyses parties’ stand on quota
New Delhi, March 29
In the process of putting halt in the extension of OBC reservation in institutions of higher learning, the supreme court has dealt in details with the comparative stands of the anti-reservation students and the government to come to the conclusion that the new act passed by the UPA government required to be stayed.

Stay on Quota
Centre under pressure
New Delhi, March 29
While the UPA government will formulate its stand on the Supreme Court’s stay on the OBC quota Bill after the law ministry has studied the detailed order, the Centre has come under pressure to find ways of ensuring the speedy implementation of this law.



EARLIER STORIES


Bollywood actress Rekha and actor Kamal Hassan with the 'FICCI living legend in Entertainment Industry Award' in Mumbai
Bollywood actress Rekha and actor Kamal Hassan with the 'FICCI living legend in Entertainment Industry Award' in Mumbai on Wednesday night — PTI

V.P. for continuation of present system
Lucknow, March 29
The results of the census ascertaining the number of backward castes (OBCs) present in the country would be available by 2011, till then, the former Prime Minister V.P. Singh has favoured the continuation of the present arrangement of providing 27 per cent OBC quotas in educational institutions.

Troop Pullout
Azad hints at panel of security experts
New Delhi, March 29
Giving indications that a committee of security experts would be formed to meet the PDP’s demand for troop reduction, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today said the security forces in the state were not only guarding borders but also saving lives of people.

Denial of sex a ground for divorce: SC
New Delhi, March 29
Laying down 14-point parameters for determining the mental cruelty caused by spouses to each other in a failed marital relations, the supreme court in an important ruling has said unilateral decision by one of them to refuse sexual relations would be a sufficient ground to seek divorce.

Internet censorship in China: Amnesty
New Delhi, March 29
The internet, which has had an established presence in China for more than a decade, is being used as a tool to deny freedom of expression, according to a report released by Amnesty International India here today.

Khanduri retains 35 depts
Dehra Dun, March 29
Uttarakhand Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri retained major departments with himself while allocating portfolios to his council of ministers today. Khanduri will look after 35 departments, including home, finance, PWD, information, industrial development, civil aviation, power, alternate sources of energy, higher education, medical education, personnel, jails, justice, general administration, vigilance, social welfare, urban development and housing and women empowerment and child development.

BJP wins in Bazpur
Dehra Dun, March 29
The result of the Assembly elections in the Bazpur constituency was declared today, which made the BJP a clear winner. The victory has increased party’s tally in the Uttarakhand Assembly. The election was postponed earlier due to demise of a Congress candidate in a road accident.

Farmers seek hike in paddy, wheat MSP
New Delhi, March 29
Demanding hike in the MSP of paddy and wheat, farmers today threatened to boycott state procurement agencies in Punjab, if the government failed to lift the anti-peasant policies.

Atwal for Fazilka-Karachi rail route
New Delhi, March 29
Favouring enhancement of people-to-people contact between India and Pakistan, Lok Sabha deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal today said that New Delhi and Islamabad should work towards the opening up of rail link between Fazilka in Ferozpore district and Karachi.

Left opposes Prasar Bharati privatisation
New Delhi, March 29
The Left today sought the intervention of the Prime Minister to prevent privatisation of Prasar Bharati. “The employees and multi-crore assets of AIR and Doordarshan should be with the government and let the Prasar Bharati act independently on the lines of Indian Railways,” said Hannan Mollah, CPM leader and chairman of a parliamentary committee in the Lok Sabha.

FTV banned
New Delhi, March 29
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has banned the satellite channel FTV for two months with effect from April 1. The reason cited by the ministry for prohibiting transmission or re-transmission of the channel on all platforms across the country till May 30 this year is that it beams “programmes that are against good taste and decency, denigrate women and are likely to adversely affect public morality”.

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Rehman inaugurates studios at Whistling Woods International.
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Govt to adhere to 27 pc OBC quota: Arjun
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 29
Even as union human resource development minister Arjun Singh maintained that the government will strictly adhere to reserving 27 per cent seats for backward classes in institutions like the IITs and IIMs, political parties across the spectrum took exception to the Supreme Court order today staying the implementation of the quota till August 3.

Arjun Singh told mediapersons here soon after the Supreme Court decision that he would do “what is constitutional and legally correct. It is just an interim order. We have full faith that the Supreme Court would declare the ruling void,” the minister observed.

Emphasising that the government would take legal opinion and act accordingly, he pointed out that the quota law was a unanimous decision of Parliament and “we would strictly adhere to it. Every single member of Parliament voted in favour of it (quotas) and lets see who comes out in the open and speaks against it now”.

While the Congress said the ruling was unfortunate and showed that the court was still driven by the old mindset, the BJP charged the government with not making the law foolproof. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said this was an interim arrangement till the next hearing and “if a better factual foundation is available then I am sure that can be used. The court had not stigmatised the concept of reservation per say”.

The BJP stressed that the Supreme Court order had questioned the credibility of the Congress-led UPA government itself. “Unfortunately, the UPA had handled the issue casually and irresponsibly,” BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said. BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar urged the government to take a comprehensive view on the policy for the uplift of the disadvantaged sections.

The Left parties, supporting the Manmohan Singh government from outside, also felt aggrieved with the apex court’s interim order. “In our Constitution, the responsibilities of the judiciary, the executive and the legislature are clearly defined,” noted CPM leader Sitaram Yechuri. He regretted that “these are coming under question with this judgement”.

On its part, the CPI said the Supreme Court’s interim order was retrograde as it would not help in the implementation of policies for the establishment of social justice and equality. “Parliament has to intervene effectively,” CPI’s D. Raja said. CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan hoped that the Supreme Court would consider the desire of the people and wanted the UPA government to take effective steps following the order.

Former Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh, who heads the Jan Morcha, suggested a referendum on the issues of reservation. He did agree with the court’s view that reservation amounted to “vote bank politics”.

The Youth For Equality (YFE), a student group which spearheaded the anti-quota agitation, welcomed the Supreme Court’s interim order describing it as a “victory for the common man against politicians”. The YFE insisted that the Supreme Court stay was the beginning of a process for scrapping the controversial law seeking to provide reservation for OBCs in institutions like the IITs and IIMs. The organisation accused politicians of trying to create caste-based vote banks.

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SC analyses parties’ stand on quota
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 29
In the process of putting halt in the extension of OBC reservation in institutions of higher learning, the supreme court has dealt in details with the comparative stands of the anti-reservation students and the government to come to the conclusion that the new act passed by the UPA government required to be stayed.

The main issues raised by the contesting parties were summarised by the court as:

The stand of the petitioners:

(a) The figure of 27 per cent reservation arrived on the basis of a mythical figure in the absence of any acceptable data for determining the percentage of OBC population.

(b) The 1931 caste-based census cannot hold good after eight decades whereas the national sample survey and national health and family survey establish hollowness of the claim of 52 per cent OBC population.

(c) Act passed by the government with “vote bank” politics in mind and “talent bank” given a go by. This tendency would result in producing “intellectual pigmies” instead of “normal intellectuals” from these institutions of specialised learning.

(d) Caste may be a starting point for identifying the Backward Class, but it is not definitely the sole basis.

(e) Non-exclusion of creamy layer has affected the validity of the act itself.

(f) The Mandal commission only covered selected 0.15 per cent of the total village population and 7 per cent of district blocks to arrive at the 52 per cent OBC figure.

(g) The Mandal commission had added 8.6 per cent non-Hindus also in the backward list and thus increased total percentage of non-Hindu backwards to the level of 17 per cent without any clear cut data.

The government response to it:

(a) The concept of OBC reservation is not anti-merit as a certain percentage of standard has to be achieved by quota students.

(b) In absence of caste data there is no alternative but to project the population proportion of social groups.

(c) The Mandal commission findings has nothing to do with 1931 census, but was based on multiple approach in contemporary context.

(d) Reservation policy not against unity and integrity of the nation but means integrating the society.

(e) The list of OBC is identified on the basis of social and educational backwardness.

(f) There is state-wise list available on modification, deletion and addition of Backward Classes in the OBC list.

(g) Reservation an affirmative action against centuries-long historical oppression of SCs, STs and other backward classes.

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Stay on Quota
Centre under pressure
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 29
While the UPA government will formulate its stand on the Supreme Court’s stay on the OBC quota Bill after the law ministry has studied the detailed order, the Centre has come under pressure to find ways of ensuring the speedy implementation of this law.

Among the options being suggested is that the government should convene an all-party meeting to decide on its next course of action, explore the possibility of a judicial review or else Parliament should go in for a fresh legislation overriding the apex court order.

The Centre, however, finds itself in a bind. Although it would like to steer clear of a confrontation with the judiciary, it cannot allow this state of flux to continue for too long because of the widespread political ramifications. With crucial Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh coming up the next month, the Congress will be accused of being anti-reservations by its political opponents like the BJP and the Samajwadi Party, who will accuse it of not putting up a strong case in the court.

Even as UPA allies and Left parties reacted strongly to the Supreme Court’s decision, the Congress appeared to be a divided house. Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi chose his words carefully, stating that the court decision was an interim arrangement and that the court was not against the concept of reservation but was only against the lack of database.

In contrast to the party’s official ambiguous response, senior leader and AICC general secretary Digivijay Singh was far more forthright. He said not only was this Bill passed unanimously by all political parties but also reservations for the OBCs in Central Government services on the basis of the Mandal Commission report had already been upheld by the apex court.

Several Congress leaders endorsed the court order, saying its observations were in consonance with the report of the Parliamentary standing committee on the HRD ministry which had also pointed to the outdated database and recommended that a fresh caste-based census should be undertaken to ensure proper implementation of the OBC quota Bill.

Hitting out at the order, the Left parties described the Supreme Court judgement as "retrograde" with the CPI seeking the intervention of Parliament for ensuring social justice, said party National Secretary D Raja.The CPM said the order was uncalled for and wanted the government to take all steps to ensure reservation was implemented.

The order also elicited an equally strong response from the southern parties with DMK chief Karunanidhi terming the SC's stay shocking and called for consultations among all political parties. Meanwhile, railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav has said while the issue should be discussed, weaker sections of society are bound to be discouraged by the decision.

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V.P. for continuation of present system
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 29
The results of the census ascertaining the number of backward castes (OBCs) present in the country would be available by 2011, till then, the former Prime Minister V.P. Singh has favoured the continuation of the present arrangement of providing 27 per cent OBC quotas in educational institutions.

Responding to the SC directive Singh remarked, “How a routine census can establish the position of OBCs, as since 1931 no caste-based census has been conducted.” He reminded that the 27 per cent quota for OBCs was passed in Parliament that represents the ‘will of the people’ and can not be ignored by the Supreme Court.

Hoping that the issue would be resolved in an amicable manner he said for the decision to be conclusive it should also consider the marginalised section in the upper castes.

Meanwhile, the students of IIT Kanpur hailed the interim stay by the Supreme Court, supported by other elite central educational institutions.

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Troop Pullout
Azad hints at panel of security experts
Prashant Sood
Tribune New Service

New Delhi, March 29
Giving indications that a committee of security experts would be formed to meet the PDP’s demand for troop reduction, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today said the security forces in the state were not only guarding borders but also saving lives of people.

Azad, who today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, said that any committee looking into the question of troop relocation should not include political leaders.

“It is the job of the defence ministry, the home ministry and the state government to look into location or dislocation of the security forces.

Political parties should keep away from it,” he said.

Without naming the PDP, he indicated that the issues being raised now by the party's alliance partner were already being addressed by his government. “We have taken measures in the past one-and-a-half years to get hotels, schools and orchards vacated from the security forces. But this cannot happen overnight. The security forces have come to protect us and it is our duty to provide them alternative accommodation,” he said.

Ruling out demilitarisation, the Chief Minister indicated that the issue of troop reduction was not new to his government and was being looked into. “If further impetus is needed, I don't mind that. But there should not be a committee of political leaders,” he said.

Asked about his stance on need for a political consensus on any troop reduction, Azad said his objection was to involvement of political parties in such decision-making. “It should be left to security agencies,” he said.

Sources said the centre could tomorrow announce a committee of security experts to look at ways to address issues raised by the PDP.

The PDP has already indicated its readiness to accept such a committee. Azad was called to Delhi by the central party leadership following a series of meetings with the PDP patron, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

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Denial of sex a ground for divorce: SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 29
Laying down 14-point parameters for determining the mental cruelty caused by spouses to each other in a failed marital relations, the supreme court in an important ruling has said unilateral decision by one of them to refuse sexual relations would be a sufficient ground to seek divorce.

The court said any unilateral decision by either the husband or the wife to refuse sexual intercourse for a considerable period of time and not to have children would amount to mental cruelty.

The decision, given by a three-judge bench of Justices B.N. Agrawal, P.P. Naolekar and Dalveer Bhandari in a high-profile case involving two senior IAS officers, said if the husband underwent sterilisation operation without the consent of his wife and without any medical reasons, it would also amount to mental cruelty to the wife.

“Similarly, if the wife undergoes vasectomy or abortion without medial reason or without the consent or knowledge of the husband, such an act may lead to mental cruelty against husband,” the court said.

The judgement came on an appeal of IAS officer Samar Ghosh in a 16-year-old matrimonial dispute as he had sought divorce from his wife Jaya Ghosh, also an IAS officer, on the ground of mental cruelty.

It was Jaya’s second marriage with Samar Ghosh in 1984 after she had divorced another IAS officer Debashish Gupta from whom she had a daughter.

Her second marriage had also gone strained with Samar Ghosh in 1990 when he had filed a divorce suit and the trial court had allowed it.

But the Calcutta high court reversed the judgement, which was set aside by the apex court, holding that the case of mental cruelty caused by Jaya as per the enumerated grounds to her husband were proved beyond doubt in the trial court.

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Internet censorship in China: Amnesty
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 29
The internet, which has had an established presence in China for more than a decade, is being used as a tool to deny freedom of expression, according to a report released by Amnesty International India here today.

The report titled ‘Undermining freedom of expression in China - the role of Yahoo! Microsoft and Google’ alleges that Yahoo, Microsoft and Google have colluded with the authorities in the practice of censorship in China.

Condemning the role of the three companies in facilitating government censorship in China, Amnesty has said, “Yahoo! has provided the Chinese authorities with private and confidential information about its users that included personal data used to convict at least two individuals. Microsoft has been accused of shutting down a blog on the basis of an informal government request. Google has launched a censored version of its international search engine in China.

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Khanduri retains 35 depts
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, March 29
Uttarakhand Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri retained major departments with himself while allocating portfolios to his council of ministers today.

Khanduri will look after 35 departments, including home, finance, PWD, information, industrial development, civil aviation, power, alternate sources of energy, higher education, medical education, personnel, jails, justice, general administration, vigilance, social welfare, urban development and housing and women empowerment and child development.

Former leader of BJP legislature party in previous Congress government, Matbar Singh Kandari is given the charge of irrigation, flood control and drinking water while former finance minister in interim BJP government Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank will look after health, family welfare, ayurveda, science and technology. Banshi Dhar Bhagat is the minister of forest, wildlife, environment and transport former Speaker Parkash Pant has been allocated the departments of tourism, religious tourism, culture, parliamentary affairs, legislation and reorganisation. Bishan Singh Chufal has been made the minister of rural development, panchayati raj and cooperatives while Diwakar Bhatt, the lone Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) minister in the cabinet, will look after revenue, land management, disaster management, food and supplies and rehabilitation.

A former RSS ‘parcharak’ Trivendra Singh Rawat will look after agriculture, agriculture education, minor irrigation, animal husbandry, dairy development and fishries. Madan Kaushik from Hardwar will be the new minister of primary and secondary education, sugarcane development, sugar industry and excise while the independent legislator Rajinder Singh Bhandari will look after the departments of labour, employment and training, sports, youth welfare, census, khadi and cottage industry.

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BJP wins in Bazpur
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, March 29
The result of the Assembly elections in the Bazpur constituency was declared today, which made the BJP a clear winner. The victory has increased party’s tally in the Uttarakhand Assembly. The election was postponed earlier due to demise of a Congress candidate in a road accident.

The BJP candidate and the sitting MLA of the constituency, Arvind Pandey defeated Kailash Rani of the Congress by a margin of 4045 votes. The polling took place on March 25 and the counting of votes was done today. The BJP candidate was polled 34532 votes against 30687, of his rival Congress candidate. The victory has given much needed respite to the Chief Minister BC Khanduri, as it would reduce his dependence on the allies.

The BJP had fallen short of majority by one seat in the State Assembly elections held on February 21. But now its strength has increased to 35 seats in a house of 70 members. It had formed government with the support of allies, which include three independent members and three members of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD).

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Farmers seek hike in paddy, wheat MSP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 29
Demanding hike in the MSP of paddy and wheat, farmers today threatened to boycott state procurement agencies in Punjab, if the government failed to lift the anti-peasant policies.

Apart from fixing low MSP, the government has also imposed restrictions on stock limits on traders, refusal of rail wagons for transport and imposed zonal restrictions.

Warning the government, Bharti Kisan Union president Balbir Singh Rajewal said, “If it (government) continued with such controls to hit the farmers, they will definitely boycott the state procurement agencies in Punjab during wheat procurement.”

In a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said the MSP for the coming wheat crop should be immediately reviewed. The government has fixed a MSP of Rs 750 per quintal and declared a bonus of Rs 100 for the coming wheat crop.

“The government must link the MSP of wheat with wholesale price index with 1966-67 as base year and fix it at Rs 1,150 per quintal,” he said.

Balbir Singh said heavy rains and hailstorms recently had hit the standing crops of wheat, fodder, potatoes, vegetables, sunflower, mustard causing heavy damage. The Punjab government had declared a compensation of Rs 5,000 per acre for the damaged crop, which, he said, was not sufficient.

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Atwal for Fazilka-Karachi rail route
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 29
Favouring enhancement of people-to-people contact between India and Pakistan, Lok Sabha deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal today said that New Delhi and Islamabad should work towards the opening up of rail link between Fazilka in Ferozpore district and Karachi.

“More and more people-to-people contact is a must to bridge the gap between India and Pakistan and every effort should be made to enhance contact between the people of the two countries,” Atwal said in an interaction with young MPs from Pakistan, who are on a visit to India.

Atwal, who has repeatedly taken up the issue of the opening up of the Fazilka-Karachi rail link with the Government of India, said MPs belonging to the two sides should pursue the issue vigorously with their respective government to ensure the opening of the section at the earliest.

“Though Sufi saints Bulle Shah and Baba Farid do not belong to our religion (Sikh), their Sufi Kalam are part of the Guru Granth Sahib…We never objected to it and we rever it and recite it everyday”.

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Left opposes Prasar Bharati privatisation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 29
The Left today sought the intervention of the Prime Minister to prevent privatisation of Prasar Bharati.

“The employees and multi-crore assets of AIR and Doordarshan should be with the government and let the Prasar Bharati act independently on the lines of Indian Railways,” said Hannan Mollah, CPM leader and chairman of a parliamentary committee in the Lok Sabha.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he urged that the GoM should resist from privatisation of the institution.

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FTV banned
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 29
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has banned the satellite channel FTV for two months with effect from April 1. The reason cited by the ministry for prohibiting transmission or re-transmission of the channel on all platforms across the country till May 30 this year is that it beams “programmes that are against good taste and decency, denigrate women and are likely to adversely affect public morality”.

The ministry said that it had come to the notice of the government that some cable operators in the country were transmitting/re-transmitting a satelite channel “FTV.com India” with programmes as “Midnight Hot” showing skimpily dressed and semi-nude models.

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No toll tax on Army vehicles

Shimla, March 29
The Himachal Pradesh cabinet at its meeting held here late this evening under the chairmanship of Virbhadra Singh decided to exempt Army vehicles from the toll tax imposed by the state government at various barriers of the state. — PTI

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