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N A T I O N

Cheque bounce cases
Courts can grant relief: SC
New Delhi, April 15
In the era of liberalisation with several financial institutions having direct impact on consumers, the Supreme Court has extended the scope of vicarious liabilities in the cheque bouncing cases apart from criminal liabilities, holding that the trial courts can grant compensation to victims who suffered injury due to the dishonouring of cheques.

UP for grabs 2007
EC earns bouquets and brickbats

Rampur, April 15
The Election Commission is getting literally bouquets and brickbats for its work. While its strict vigil and monitoring leading to genuine polling is being praised, lower percentage of voting is coming under attack.

Rahul’s remarks create ripples
New Delhi, April 15
Congress scion Rahul Gandhi appears to have acquired a penchant for generating controversies. He first kicked up a storm during his campaign in Uttar Pradesh with his comments on Babri Masjid. Today, he followed it up with an equally “politically incorrect” statement which created ripples not just in domestic political circles but also across the border in neighbouring Pakistan.






EARLIER STORIES


Amitabh prays at Tirupati ahead of son’s marriage
Amitabh Bachchan offers prayers, ahead of son Abhishek’s marriage, at Tirumala Venkateswara temple in Tirupati on Sunday. Tirupati, April 15
 Ahead of his son Abhishek's marriage with Aishwarya Rai, Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan today offered special prayers at the venerated Tirupati temple here.

Amitabh Bachchan offers prayers, ahead of son Abhishek’s marriage, at Tirumala Venkateswara temple in Tirupati on Sunday. — PTI photo
In video
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BJP now talks of equal rights to Muslims
New Delhi, April 15
After rubbing the Muslim electorates in a wrong way in the alleged CD controversy, the BJP is now trying to woo the minority community in Uttar Pradesh by promising to give “equal rights” if voted to power.

Children play in the water of an ornamental pond at India Gate in New Delhi on Sunday. Temperatures across the country have reached the 40 degree Celsius mark, announcing the onset of a warm summer.
RISING MERCURY: Children play in the water of an ornamental pond at India Gate in New Delhi on Sunday. Temperatures across the country have reached the 40 degree Celsius mark, announcing the onset of a warm summer. — AFP

LTTE threat: Navy faces uphill task
Rameswaram, April 15
The Indian Navy's motto in the battle zone in the sea diving off the Tamil Nadu coast is, "Hit first and keep hitting."

Police enrols 70,000 street kids in schools
Patna, April 15
Finally, there is an image makeover for the much criticised Bihar police. This time for a greater social cause related to underprivileged street children.

NASA paid $26.6 m to astronauts’ kin
New York, April 15
NASA paid $26.6 million to the families of seven astronauts who died aboard space shuttle Columbia, a settlement that has been kept secret for more than two and a half years, a report said today.

Hand pump brings cheers
Patna, April 15
Prospective bridegrooms of Baidwan under naxal-infested Kaimur district are more than happy these days, courtesy a hand pump.

BA flight delayed as pilot refuses to fly
New Delhi, April 15
In a midnight ordeal lasting more than 12 hours for 225 passengers for London, a British Airways flight failed to take off from here when its pilot expressed his inability to fly complaining he did not have proper sleep.

Ansal shootout case
Eyewitness writes to rights panel
New Delhi, April 15
Hari Krishna, an eyewitness in the infamous Ansal Plaza shootout case, has again approached the National Human Right Commission to intervene in a false case registered against him by the Delhi police.

Eunuchs can conceive, choose a gender
New Delhi, April 15
Hermaphrodites, commonly known as eunuchs, can now choose a gender of their liking and some can even give birth to babies, thanks to a special procedure developed at the AIIMS here.



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Cheque bounce cases
Courts can grant relief: SC
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 15
In the era of liberalisation with several financial institutions having direct impact on consumers, the Supreme Court has extended the scope of vicarious liabilities in the cheque bouncing cases apart from criminal liabilities, holding that the trial courts can grant compensation to victims who suffered injury due to the dishonouring of cheques.

Making a distinction between fine imposed for criminal liabilities and the grant of compensation, the court ruled that where the offenders sentenced to jail term but no fine is imposed, they are liable to pay compensation to the complainant in terms of the provision of section 375 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

Though the fine could be imposed in terms of the provision of the Negotiable Instrument Act applicable to cheque bouncing cases, but “when the fine is not imposed, compensation can be directed to be paid for loss or injury cause to the complainant by reasons of commission of the offence,” a Bench of justice S.B. Sinha and justice Dalveer Bhandari ruled.

Although the purpose of section 375 was to achieve the same, fixing vicarious liabilities on offenders, but legal difference between fine and compensation was that the amount of compensation can be directed to be recovered and the fine is imposed, thus the fine stands on a higher footing than compensation awarded by the courts.

Ordinarily, the fine should be lesser than the amount, which could be granted as compensation by the civil court upon appreciation of the evidence for losses, which might have been reasonably suffered by the complainant, the apex court said.

“The jurisdiction of civil court, in this behalf, for realisation of the amount (of cheque) in question must also be borne in mind. A criminal case is not a substitution for a civil suit.”

“While the trial courts shall give due weight to the need of the victims, it cannot ignore the right of the accused… the discretionary jurisdiction must be exercised judiciously,” the court said.

The ruling came in a cheque bouncing case filed against Goodvalue Marketing Company Ltd by Kotak Mahindra and the trial court in Mumbai imposing a fine of Rs 25,000 on the former, failing which its chairman was sentence to a month’s jail term.

Besides, the Goodvalue chairman was directed by the trial court to pay Rs 15 lakh as compensation for dishonouring the cheque issued by the company.

When the case went in appeal before the High Court, it directed Goodvalue and its chairman to deposit Rs 5 lakh each within four weeks towards the compensation amount with it, which the company challenged in the apex court. The apex court, however, ruled that the compensation of Rs 1 lakh would be the reasonable compensation for the loss suffered by Kotak Mahindra.

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UP for grabs 2007
EC earns bouquets and brickbats
Satish Misra/TNS

Rampur, April 15
The Election Commission is getting literally bouquets and brickbats for its work.

While its strict vigil and monitoring leading to genuine polling is being praised, lower percentage of voting is coming under attack.

“One of the reason for lower polling percentage in the first and second phase of Assembly elections is that the poor and downtrodden, who have been voting till now on the basis of their ration cards, are not able to exercise their franchise,” a local farmer of Nagalia Jat village in Moradabad, Sunil Sahai, pointed out.

“Since the ration card carries the names of not only the head of the family and his wife but also of the entire family consisting grown up children and their spouses and even of servants, the polling official are only permitting the head of the family and his spouse to vote,” he said.

“Beyond ration card, a poor in a village does not have any other document that can enable him or her to cast vote,” a motor mechanic in Rasoolpur village, Adil Ahmad, said.

While Mulayam Singh Yadav has criticized the EC of scaring a voters from voting, many retired government servants like former UP chief secretary Brijendra Sahay and former DGP Prakash Singh could not caste their votes despite possessing valid photo identity cards as they discovered to their dismay that their names were missing from the voter list, a teacher in an Intermediate College in Joya, Om Prakash, said.

“Why can’t the EC does not work round the year and only gets hyper-active at the time of an election or a few months before the election,” a Padma Shree awardee Suhsil Sahai observed.

The EC’s directives have empowered the local administration to harass and torment the ordinary three-wheeler driver who is being questioned if a poster of a party or a candidate was found pasted on his vehicle, a journalist Sitaram Tiwari had pointed out in Mathura last week.

Editor-cum-owner Pavan Navratna said: “I find it strange that the EC observers come to me and demand to show my account books and seek to know about the payment received on publication of certain advertisements.”

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Rahul’s remarks create ripples
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
Congress scion Rahul Gandhi appears to have acquired a penchant for generating controversies. He first kicked up a storm during his campaign in Uttar Pradesh with his comments on Babri Masjid. Today, he followed it up with an equally “politically incorrect” statement which created ripples not just in domestic political circles but also across the border in neighbouring Pakistan.

Talking about the contribution made by the Nehru-Gandhi family during his campaign in the poll-bound state of UP, the young Amethi MP remarked: “Once my family decides something, it doesn’t go back. Whether it is about India’s freedom, dividing Pakistan or taking India into the 21st century.”

While the Congress’s opponents were quick to pan Gandhi’s statement, the reaction from Islamabad was equally swift and fast. Referring to Rahul Gandhi’s remarks regarding his family’s role in the division of the country in 1971, Pakistan said this only proved allegations that India had interfered in its internal affairs and tried to destabilise the nation.

“This is a clear admission of it,” Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told Geo TV but made it clear that Islamabad would not pursue the matter with India. “This is not new. Everyone knows what happened in 1971,” she added when asked if Pakistan would take it up with New Delhi.

Back home, the young Gandhi was at the receiving end from the opposition as well as the CPI while the Congress was hard put to defend him.

Senior BJP leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra charged that Rahul was insulting all freedom fighters by crediting his family alone with the country's independence, alleging that he had shown disrespect to Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and other leaders of the freedom movement. He was equally critical of Rahul for attributing the creation of Bangladesh to the Gandhi family.

Malhotra reminded the young Gandhi that it was during his family’s rule that agreements were signed with Pakistan to give back everything that Indian forces had won in that conflict.

While Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh said Gandhi was trying hard to find a niche for himself, CPI leader D.Raja maintained that he should speak on issues confronting the people of UP and refer to the misrule of the Mulayam Singh Yadav government.

Defending Rahul Gandhi, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said he did not see any error in reminding the country of historical issues. “None of the elements in the speech is factually wrong,” he said, adding that after Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel's contribution to the independence struggle, the tradition was carried forward by Nehru. The spirit of Rahul's statements was to remind and underline Indira Gandhi's remarkable victory over Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh war, he said, underlining that the then opposition leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee had hailed her as Durga at that time.

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Amitabh prays at Tirupati ahead of son’s marriage

Tirupati, April 15
Ahead of his son Abhishek's marriage with Aishwarya Rai, Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan today offered special prayers at the venerated Tirupati temple here.

Accompanied by friends, industrialist Anil Ambani and politician Amar Singh, Amitabh reached the temple located on the Tirumala Hills and sought the blessings of Lord Venkateswara, also known as Lord Balaji, the presiding deity.

The superstar placed the first wedding invitation card at the feet of the deity, seeking blessings for Abhishek and Aishwarya, who are to tie the knot on April 20.

The three made a donation of Rs 5.1 million each to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which runs the affairs of the country's richest temple, for education of poor children and treatment of poor patients.

"Since there is a wedding in the family and at the same time elections are also being held in Uttar Pradesh, we offered prayers to seek blessings of Lord Balaji. We are strong believers in Lord Balaji," said Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh.

Anil, his wife Tina, and Amar Singh are among the select group of people invited by Amitabh for the wedding.

Anil Ambani and Amar Singh had also accompanied Amitabh when he had visited the temple in December 2005 to offer prayers after recovering from serious health problems.

The Bollywood superstar had then promised to offer diamonds worth Rs 90 million to the deity.

TTD officials, who welcomed the three as they reached the temple premises, took them to the sanctum sanctorum through the special entrance for VVIPs.

Temple sources said the visit by the VVIPs did not cause any inconvenience to thousands of common devotees standing for 'darshan'.

Nearly 50,000 persons offer prayers at the temple every day and on special occasions the number cross 100,000.

The devotees offer prayers and make huge offerings on fulfilment of their wishes, recovery from health problems, victory in elections or success in business or other missions. — IANS

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BJP now talks of equal rights to Muslims
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
After rubbing the Muslim electorates in a wrong way in the alleged CD controversy, the BJP is now trying to woo the minority community in Uttar Pradesh by promising to give “equal rights” if voted to power.

“Muslims require all-round development and not mere professional secularism. The BJP will give Muslims their equal rights,” said a party statement here quoting BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi as telling people at election rallies in Uttar Pradesh.

Muslims constitute 15 per cent of the total electorate in UP. The BJP, which has reportedly based its electoral strategy on hatred against them, must have calculated that it would not get a single vote of theirs.

However, after the CD row, which allegedly contains speeches and comments, which could whip up communal passions, turning out to a major political controversy and putting the BJP in a tight spot, the saffron party appears to have come out with a new strategy which appear to woo Muslims.

The BJP has withdrawn the disc in the face of mounting allegations that the saffron party tried to stir religious passions to polarise voters in the state. However, it had placed advertisements, which attacked the community.

Naqvi’s statement, however, would offer little solace to rubbed wounds of Muslims as it evokes fears amongst them as the BJP has strong views on the uniform civil code and it is articulating “equal rights”, in a different manner now.

Naqvi accused the Congress and the Samajwadi Party of trading “appeasement” for minority votes.

“The BJP is committed to guaranteeing economic, social and educational improvement and security of all sections, including minorities. Muslims require all-round development and not professional secularism,” the statement quoted Naqvi as saying.

He also accused the ruling Samajwadi Party of threatening state government officials and police during elections.

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LTTE threat: Navy faces uphill task
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Rameswaram, April 15
The Indian Navy's motto in the battle zone in the sea diving off the Tamil Nadu coast is, "Hit first and keep hitting." With the Indian Navy faces an uphill task of not only thwarting intrusion by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) into Indian waters but also preventing the smuggling of arms and ammunitions to Sri Lanka, its policy is to launch a fire attack the moment it spots any foreign vessel within our waters since it borders a battle zone.

The Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar have been witnessing militant activities, including trans-shipment of arms and ammunitions, piracy and smuggling over the past many decades.

However, over the last 27 years since insurgency began in Sri Lanka with the LTTE fighting an armed struggle for their homeland it has been very active in the sea, posing a threat to both the countries. The LTTE even has its own sea wing called the Sea Tigers.

Said commander Subroto Mukherjee, in charge of the naval detachment here. "When you combat an enemy in the sea, you have to be in the offensive from the beginning and then only can you protect the nation's marine interests." There are three layers of surveillance, aircraft patrolling, ship patrolling and naval detachment action, he added.

There are seven naval detachments from Nagapattinam, about 325 km north of here, along the coastline and two warships, whose personnel numbering around 600 are engaged in fighting a proxy war in the high sea.

Smuggling of commercial goods like tobacco, beedis, lungis and bicycle parts and even drugs like cannabis had been going on for decades as the prices are at least 10 times more in Sri Lanka than here.

The Indian Navy along with the Coast Guard has been able to contain smuggling of these items to a large extent but not totally wipe it out.

But what is worrying the security agencies in this region is that the LTTE is using Indian fishermen for the smuggling of arms and explosive making materials and also garnering support among the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees staying at the Mandapam camp, 20 km north from here.

After increased surveillance the LTTE has been offering huge sums to Indian fishermen for their boats for smuggling consignments of arms and ammunitions and bomb-making materials but it is the refugees who actually act as the couriers.

The discovery leading to seizures of metal bars, steel ball bearings and detonators buried in the beach in this region proved the fact that the militants enjoy local support. This is not only posing a big threat but making the job of security agencies operating here more difficult.

The Sri Lankan Navy firing on Indian fishermen in the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar is a comparatively new phenomenon since the ethnic strife started in Sri Lanka.

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Police enrols 70,000 street kids in schools
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, April 15
Finally, there is an image makeover for the much criticised Bihar police. This time for a greater social cause related to underprivileged street children.

An unique move of its kind in the country, it was ADGP Abhayanand who conceived this new role for the police by involving the force to enrol street children in schools.

As a result, in the last three months the state police got nearly 70,000 children registered in different schools across the state.

The results were indeed encouraging at a time when the usual Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and efforts by other non-government organizations failed to yield the expected outcome.

Few days ago, policemen got 35 children of sex workers enrolled in a school in Sasaram.

The police even conjured an imaginary character, Roopchand, for the cause of the children of sex workers. The non-existing man was registered as the father of all these 35 children to ensure their admission to school.

Official sources say that when the police recently raided Sasaram's Barda red light area near the busy Grand Trunk Road, they found that the children of the sex workers had never been to school.

A sex worker complained that earlier their children were ridiculed, looked down upon and even beaten up by teachers as well by students. But with the intervention by the police, the scene has changed in the past few months.

On his part Chief Minister Nitish Kumar feels that the new role of the police, beyond their usual job of policing, will change the perception of the common masses about the force and will go a long way in reforming the cops on the ground.

Besides, senior cops argue that the move is also expected to help them to strengthen their grassroots level information network which can be decisive in combating Maoist problem on one hand, and establishing the supremacy of police over criminals on the other.

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NASA paid $26.6 m to astronauts’ kin

New York, April 15
NASA paid $26.6 million to the families of seven astronauts who died aboard space shuttle Columbia, a settlement that has been kept secret for more than two and a half years, a report said today.

Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla was among those killed when the shuttle broke up as it re-entered the earth's atmosphere on February 1, 2003.

The report said its request yielded just seven pages of documents that leave many questions unanswered, including exactly when the settlements occurred.

A NASA official said, "The Columbia astronauts were our friends and co-workers. Our concern always has been with the crew's families and their loss, and as a result NASA didn't announce details of the settlement in an effort to protect the personal privacy of the Columbia families." — PTI

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Hand pump brings cheers
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, April 15
Prospective bridegrooms of Badwan under naxal-infested Kaimur district are more than happy these days, courtesy a hand pump.

Till the other day, the non-availability of drinking water had meant no brides for them. But a simple hand pump has changed all that this summer.

The hand pump installed in the village ahead of "lagan", the traditional marriage season in summer across rural Bihar, under a rural development programme by the Nitish government, has brightened the marriage prospects of middle-aged unmarried men here.

They now cheerfully look forward to marriage negotiations from families of prospective brides.

Official sources in the district say that on several occasions in the last few years, marriage negotiations had failed to mature due to shortage of drinking water that discouraged girls’ families from marrying off their daughters to men of this village.

"No girl’s father was ready to give his daughter to a boy from this village due to the water problem", officials said.

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BA flight delayed as pilot refuses to fly

New Delhi, April 15
In a midnight ordeal lasting more than 12 hours for 225 passengers for London, a British Airways flight failed to take off from here when its pilot expressed his inability to fly complaining he did not have proper sleep.

Flight BA 143 was scheduled to leave Delhi at 2.30 am this morning but did not take off after the pilot, Captain William, said he would not fly as he had not had enough sleep, airport sources said.

The pilot said he could not sleep as there was some disturbance in his hotel, the sources said. All the passengers, who had boarded the flight, were offloaded, leaving many of them fuming.

The airline could not make alternative arrangements for the passengers and the flight was delayed till 3.20 pm today when it took off for London.

British Airways spokesperson Radhika Raichy said “the crew hadn’t had enough rest. The safety regulations of British Airways doesn’t allow them to operate in such conditions. “The entire crew had a disturbed night,” she said.

British Airways apologised for the inconvenience caused to passengers, saying their safety was “paramount” and could not be “compromised”.

Sunil Thapar, a traveller, said most passengers felt British Airways was negligent in its handling of the matter.

“There were hundreds of people going back but they basically asked them to board some buses and just left us to our devices,” he said. — PTI

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Ansal shootout case
Eyewitness writes to rights panel
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, April 15
Hari Krishna, an eyewitness in the infamous Ansal Plaza shootout case, has again approached the National Human Right Commission to intervene in a false case registered against him by the Delhi police.

In a letter addressed to the chairman of the commission, he has written that perhaps for the first time in the history of Indian judiciary a case was registered against an eyewitness of an importance case only to shield the police personnel involved in the case.

“Our only guilt was that we tried to say boldly what we saw at the spot. It is really surprising in democratic countries like us. Belying our constitutional guidelines, we are still compelled of being ruled by the police not by the people,” he said.

“If an eyewitness is targeted then who would like to become an eyewitness. Precisely due to this reason, eye witnesses are becoming hostile in most of sensitive cases in recent time,” he added.

“In infamous Swiss woman rape case near Siri Fort Auditorium about three years back, the police interrogated suspects across the country and abroad but could not get any clue. The case is still unsolved. The reason is simple. No body wants to be an eyewitness. Few people become but most of them become hostile prior to the working out of the case,” he added.

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Eunuchs can conceive, choose a gender

New Delhi, April 15
Hermaphrodites, commonly known as eunuchs, can now choose a gender of their liking and some can even give birth to babies, thanks to a special procedure developed at the AIIMS here.

After proper diagnosis, some 1,100 patients have already given proper gender identities as males or females and all of them are leading a normal life, doctors at the premier research and referral institute said.

“Treatment is available at select centres. At least 18 of the treated patients have also given birth to babies,” said Dr D.K. Gupta, head of the department of paediatric surgeries.

“After diagnosing physical attributes present inside the body and demands of the family, we conduct surgeries to reconstruct the vagina, uterus and even the male genitals,” Gupta said.

He said some time he and his team had to conduct as many as six-seven operations on one patient to put everything in order and said early diagnosis was the best way to treat such complications. — IANS

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