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N A T I O N

OBC QUOTA
DMK bandh against SC verdict today
Chennai, March 30
The supreme court judgement on reservation for OBCs drew statewide protests in Tamil Nadu today with the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its allies calling for a statewide bandh tomorrow.

Karat for implementing Sachar report
New Delhi, March 30
Terming the supreme court ruling on quota as “unfortunate and uncalled for,” CPM general secretary Prakash Karat today asked the Centre to implement the Sachar committee report.

Anti-quota docs write to Centre on Karunanidhi’s ‘attack’ on SC
New Delhi, March 30
Doctors spearheading the anti-reservation movement, who are party to a case in the Supreme Court, today sent a letter to the government, raising the issue of the alleged attack by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on the Supreme Court and the bandh call given by him for tomorrow in the state against yesterday’s judgement.

 

EARLIER STORIES

SAARC SUMMIT
Iran’s plea for observer status to be taken up
New Delhi, March 30
Iran’s application for observer status in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is likely to be taken up for consideration at the ministerial meeting preceding the April 3-4 summit.

Flags of participating SAARC nations on display outside the Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Friday. — A Tribune photograph

Flags of the participating SAARC nations on display outside the Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Friday.

UNICEF India chief accused of rape bid
New Delhi, March 30
The UNICEF India head was today accused of sexual harassment and attempted rape by a former employee of the same organisation. Additional commissioner of police (crime against women cell) Tajender Luthra said, “We have received a complaint and are examining it. In her complaint, 44-year-old Archana Pandey accused Cecilio Adorna of attempted rape. — UNI

Suchitra, Priety in row over Shekhar Kapur
Mumbai, March 30
It is a cat-fight between two prominent names of Bollywood fraternity, appearing in pages of the mainstream Mumbai media, Suchitra Krishnamurthi, and Bollywood heart-throb Priety Zinta, calling names to each other over Shekhar Kapur.

Politburo to discuss CPM’s course after Nandigram
New Delhi, March 30
The tattered image of the CPM after the Nandigram firing and the way forward would be the dominating issue in the party’s three-day Politburo and central committee meet beginning here tomorrow.

2 new judges for Punjab & Haryana, HP high courts
New Delhi, March 30
The President has issued orders for the appointment of two new judges each in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Himachal Pradesh High Court.

Cong-NCP battle shifts to UP
New Delhi, March 30
The tussle between Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress is no longer confined to Maharashtra. A similar one-upmanship is now being witnessed in the election-bound Uttar Pradesh.

J&K political crisis ends
New Delhi, March 30
The political uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir ended today with the UPA government announcing a mechanism to meet the demands of the PDP and the party deciding to return to meetings of the state cabinet.

Dhanush testfired
Balasore, March 30
India's indigenously developed surface-to-surface ballistic missile, Dhanush, was today testfired from a naval ship in the Bay of Bengal off the Orissa coast.

Do not use old return forms
New Delhi, March 30
The government today asked all tax payers to wait for the notification of the new return forms for the assessment year 2007-08 and not to file their returns of income in the old forms.

 


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OBC QUOTA
DMK bandh against SC verdict today
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, March 30
The supreme court judgement on reservation for OBCs drew statewide protests in Tamil Nadu today with the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its allies calling for a statewide bandh tomorrow and the state assembly passing a resolution opposing the “deprivation of quota” to OBCs.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said, “The people of Tamil Nadu, cutting across party lines, are greatly upset over the stay given by the supreme court on March 29, 2007.”

He appealed to all to observe a day-long bandh tomorrow in protest and said Tamil Nadu would come to a standstill and the bandh would be total and peaceful. Public transport, including air services, in the state would not be functioning tomorrow and cinema halls would remain closed, he added.

He said the denial of reservation to OBCs was an act of wounding the sentiments of crores of Indians.

Karunanidhi said after the supreme court passed its judgement yesterday, union HRD minister Arjun Singh telephoned him last night and assured that he would initiate steps to make the law legally and constitutionally valid though it had ben stayed by the court.

The Chief Minister today also wrote to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee to convene both houses of parliament on the issue and decide whether OBCs would be able to enjoy the privilege of reservation from the coming academic year.

He said, “The OBCs look upon the government of India to come to their rescue and protect their right of reservation.”

Karunanidhi pointed out that in the past while a nine-member constitutional bench of the supreme court had upheld the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in government services, a two-member bench of the court had stayed the reservation in educational institutions, which he felt was contradictory.

As such, he urged the central government and legal experts to examine whether the stay given by the two-member bench was legally valid.

Karunanidhi felt that the apex court’s stay was not in consonance with the letter and spirit of the constitution.

The Tamil Nadu assembly today adopted a resolution stating that the verdict depriving OBCs of reservation in elite central academic institutions had caused a “setback to the social and educational advancement of the oppressed classes.”

The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), an ally of the ruling DMK, organised protests in many parts of the state and their legislators came to the assembly wearing black shirts and also black badges in protest. PMK president G.K. Mani told the state assembly that the party was observing the day as “black day”.

The PMK MLAs also held a cycle rally with black flags in the city and appealed to the people of Tamil Nadu to observe tomorrow as a “black day” and hoist black flags.

Though the opposition All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) are yet to comment on the issue, they too are likely to support the bandh as they too share the same view on the reservation issue.

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Karat for implementing Sachar report
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 30
Terming the supreme court ruling on quota as “unfortunate and uncalled for,” CPM general secretary Prakash Karat today asked the Centre to implement the Sachar committee report and urged the Manmohan Singh government to consult all political parties to overcome the apex court stay on OBC quota in institutions of higher learning.

“We are disturbed by the trend arising in the judiciary (on the reservation issue).... Access to higher education has become the prerogative of the privileged few. Whatever safeguards remain for the others, especially those educationally backward, these doors are also being barred by the higher judiciary. The Centre should take the counsel of all political parties to overcome this difficulty,” Karat said.

Addressing the party’s national convention on the Sachar committee recommendations, Karat expressed anguish over what it termed as “growing tendency in the judiciary” to “abrogate legislative rights of the deprived sections.”

Referring to two earlier supreme court judgements, Karat said while one had made higher education “a commercial and business activity,” the other ruled that the state had no role in fixing quota for private institutions.

These verdicts had placed higher education out of the reach of the common people, whether majority or minority, the CPM leader said, adding that the apex court’s reasoning for yesterday’s order was “specious.”

He said in the 1990s, a nine-member constitution bench of the apex court had upheld job reservation for OBCs, barring those in the creamy layer. “Now why is it going backward?”

Every state was granting job reservation on the basis of that judgement, Karat said.

The CPM leader said the party”s charter for advancement of Muslim community, which had been largely circulated among “intellectuals” and “opinion makers” would be thoroughly discussed in the convention.

The charter asks the Centre to prepare a time-bound programme with financial backing, identify Muslim-dominated areas, formulate a sub-plan on the pattern of tribal sub-plan, provide reservations for Dalits, special educational facilities for Muslim girls and boys and provisions of adequate compensation to all victims of communal riots.

“It will be later finalised by the party and forwarded to the government,” he added.

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Anti-quota docs write to Centre on Karunanidhi’s ‘attack’ on SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 30
Doctors spearheading the anti-reservation movement, who are party to a case in the Supreme Court, today sent a letter to the government, raising the issue of the alleged attack by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on the Supreme Court and the bandh call given by him for tomorrow in the state against yesterday’s judgement.

Doctors’ counsel Vivek Tankha sent the letter to the government through additional solicitor-general Gopal Subramaniam with copies to the Prime Minister, union home minister and Tamil Nadu government reminding them that the implementation of the apex court verdict was the constitutional responsibility of every government.

“The contents of the news directly attributed to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Shri M. Karunanidhi, are per se violation of the apex court’s orders and contemptuous,” the letter said.

The government was requested that it should ensure compliance of the apex court judgement staying the OBC reservation in education institutions of higher learning by issuing instructions to this effect to the home secretary and the chief secretary of Tamil Nadu on the face of the tomorrow’s band call.

“I am afraid a blatant defiance of the court directives by the state government may result in a perception that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution,” Tankha in the letter said.

Karunanidhi has been quoted as saying in the letter as per the media reports that “I will not say its a motivated judgement, but I am sad that the judgement has made some people wonder if it is one.”

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SAARC SUMMIT
Iran’s plea for observer status to be taken up
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 30
Iran’s application for observer status in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is likely to be taken up for consideration at the ministerial meeting preceding the April 3-4 summit.

It will be quite difficult for international players to keep Iran out of the SAARC fold for long, despite the known opposition from the US. More so, especially, after Afghanistan’s inclusion in the regional body.

Myanmar will be another hard-to-resist country for the SAARC membership if that country were to show interest.

Russia is a surprise omission in the five-nation club of SAARC observer countries, consisting of the US, European Union, Japan, China and South Korea. SAARC-watchers here feel that the grouping, in its 22nd year, is on the roll and on a take-off stage like never before. It will be a matter of time before Russia too gets into the SAARC observer fold.

The first-ever expansion of SAARC with the joining of Afghanistan as the eighth member and five major economic powerhouses joining it demonstrates that South Asia and SAARC are getting globalised.

Foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea, Li Zhaoxing, Taro Aso and Song Min-Soon, respectively, will make presentations at the opening session of the summit on April 3.

Assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher will be representing the US at the summit.

The increasing globalisation of SAARC is also going to put pressure on Pakistan for reviewing its policy on the issue of land transit rights for India to Afghanistan.

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Suchitra, Priety in row over Shekhar Kapur
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 30
It is a cat-fight between two prominent names of Bollywood fraternity, appearing in pages of the mainstream Mumbai media, Suchitra Krishnamurthi, and Bollywood heart-throb Priety Zinta, calling names to each other over Shekhar Kapur.

After a heated argument between Suchitra and Priety, Suchitra opened up to a tabloid reporter with her sob story, saying that the dimpled lass stole her husband, the London based filmmaker Shekhar Kapur. Suchitra did not produce anything dramatic that would confirm the charges put on Priety, she said, “It is just a woman's instinct, which is very strong, I know they were involved".

Shekhar and Suchitra’s marriage is in a poor shape for a year now and they have been staying apart, their divorce came through only last month.

The lady is now back in Mumbai, trying to resurrect her career as a singing actress after a decade.

Suchitra told the tabloid that Priety had phoned her several times to explain things.

"She has been trying to give me a lot of explanations. I told her never to speak to me again," Suchitra stated.

After Suchitra's much known drama, Priety has now hit back calling her accuser a nutcase.

"It’s unfortunate that I am bearing the brunt of someone else's paranoia. It clearly shows that Suchitra is unstable," Priety told a rival tabloid.

Last heard of was that the two are challenging each other to sue.

While the root cause of all this, Shekhar Kapur, flitted in and out quietly attending the FICCI seminar in Mumbai.

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Politburo to discuss CPM’s course after Nandigram
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 30
The tattered image of the CPM after the Nandigram firing and the way forward would be the dominating issue in the party’s three-day Politburo and central committee meet beginning here tomorrow.

The meet would take stock of the situation in West Bengal and hear the state leaders on the issue, which had resulted in open criticism from Left Front allies CPI, Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party on the unilateral decision by the West Bengal Chief Minister Buddadeb Bhattarcharya.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and other senior leaders have admitted that the people of Nandigram have drifted away from the party and CPM had failed to allay their apprehensions on the land acquisition issue.

In the wake of police firing which killed 14 persons, Left intellectuals, CPM sympathisers, and allies turned against it, and the party would have to do some serious thinking to see through the crisis.

Other issues that are expected to figure in the meeting are the forthcoming elections to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, functioning of the UPA government, present political situation in the country, Supreme Court stay on implementation of OBC quota in institutions of higher learning and international developments.

On the foreign policy front, the meeting will discuss American opposition to the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and will ask the UPA government to resist such pressures and go ahead with the project.

The volatile situation in Sri Lanka and the Indo-Pak talks would also come up for debate.

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2 new judges for Punjab & Haryana, HP high courts
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 30
The President has issued orders for the appointment of two new judges each in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Himachal Pradesh High Court.

Mr Justice Viney Mittal of Punjab and Haryana High Court has been transferred to the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

The new Additional judges appointed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court are: Lakshmi Narayan Mittal and Nawab Singh, while Kuldip Singh and Rajeev Sharma have been appointed in the same capacity in the HP High Court, a Law Ministry spokesman said here today.

Their appointments, made initially for two years, will be effective from the day the judges take oath of their office, he said.

Besides, the orders for the transfer of the Gujarat High Court’s judges B.J.Shethna and P.B.Majumdar, who were in the news recently for an open scuffle, have also been issued by the President. They have been transferred to the Sikkim and the Rajasthan High Courts, respectively.

All transferred judges have been asked to assume the charge of their offices in the high court concerned on April 14 or before, the spokesman said.

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Cong-NCP battle shifts to UP

Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 30
The tussle between Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress is no longer confined to Maharashtra. A similar one-upmanship is now being witnessed in the election-bound Uttar Pradesh.

Over 10 days ago, the NCP had announced its decision to contest from one of the Allahabad assembly segments in the upcoming polls and named Anugraha Narain Singh as its candidate. NCP spokesperson D.P.Tripathi had even publicly appealed to the Congress to adhere to coalition dharma by not fielding any candidate against their contestant.

The Congress has, however, chosen to respond in its own inimitable style. It has quietly whisked away the NCP candidate Anugraha Narain Singh, who is now the Congress nominee from the Allahabad City South seat.

While appealing to the Congress for cooperation, the NCP spokesperson had even gone as far as to suggest that the two parties bring together their young leaders - Congress scion Rahul Gandhi and Supriya Sule, NCP MP and Pawar’s daughter - for a joint campaign in order to defeat communal forces. In a reciprocal gesture, the NCP promised to support the Congress on all the other seats in Allahabad.

Taking potshots at the Congress, Tripathi had lamented the demise of the grand old party in Uttar Pradesh and particularly in Allahabad which has an old association with the Nehru-Gandhi family. On its part, the Congress promptly spurned the NCP offer, saying it was rather amused by this suggestion.

Just when everybody thought that the last word had been said on this matter, the Congress sprung a surprise by walking off with the NCP candidate from Allahabad for whom it had sought support.

This minor incident is, however, symptomatic of the strained ties between coalition partners, the Congress and the NCP. Their relations hit a low when the two contested the recent civic and zila parishad elections in Maharashtra separately. The situation worsened when the NCP had a pact with the Shiv Sena for the Pune mayor’s post.

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TopJ&K political crisis ends
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 30
The political uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir ended today with the UPA government announcing a mechanism to meet the demands of the PDP and the party deciding to return to meetings of the state cabinet.

Under the mechanism, the government has decided to constitute an expert panel, a review committee and a high-powered committee headed by the defence minister, which will take decisions on suggestions made by the first two panels.

Prime Minister's media adviser Sanjay Baru said the mechanism, decided by the centre in consultation with the Jammu and Kashmir government, had been set up to examine some of the "problematic aspects" of the current situation in the state.

He said the expert panel, to be headed by the defence secretary, would determine whether there was need to "relocate and reconfigure the security forces." While making its determination, the panel would ensure that cardinal aspects of security were not compromised in any manner. The panel, having representatives from the ministries of defence, home affairs, the armed forces and the Jammu and Kashmir government, would be an expert and professional body intended to carry out an in-depth assessment of the situation.

The review committee would look into the application of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act to different areas of the state. "This would conform to legal requirements for a periodic review of the application of the act," Baru said.

The high-powered committee, headed by the defence minister, would include representatives of the central and state governments.

Baru said the Jammu and Kashmir government had already initiated action to return properties, buildings and orchards occupied by the security forces for logistic purposes. However, a nodal officer would be appointed to survey the remaining properties occupied by the security forces and determine how many more of these could be restored to their owners. "If this is not possible, compensation to be paid will be determined in consultation with the state government."

PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed lauded Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi for resolving in "a dignified manner" the tangle that had strained the relationship between the two alliance partners in Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Dhanush testfired

Balasore, March 30
India's indigenously developed surface-to-surface ballistic missile, Dhanush, was today testfired from a naval ship in the Bay of Bengal off the Orissa coast.

The test launch was conducted from the INS, Subhadra, about 40 nautical miles from Chandipur in the sea, at around 2.30 pm, sources said.

Dhanush, said to be the naval version of surface-to-surface missile, Prithvi, was being exclusively developed for the Indian navy and has a striking range of 250 km to 350 km.

It can be deployed as an anti-ship weapon as well as for destroying land targets depending on the range. — PTI

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Do not use old return forms
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 30
The government today asked all tax payers to wait for the notification of the new return forms for the assessment year 2007-08 and not to file their returns of income in the old forms.

In a statement here, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said income tax return forms were assessment year-specific and were, therefore, required to be notified separately for each assessment year.

For the assessment year 2007-08, the return forms are under preparation, it added.

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