|Sunday, February 20, 2000,
AIIMS staff boycott function
SC allows limited mining in
BJP flays Cong on Constitution
Statute review a ploy: Mishra
Absence of AJTs hits pilot
Uphaar tragedy: memorial to Capt
Govt firm on CPC
Historians ask ICHR to apologise
Living-in is not marriage: HC
Website has sent right signals:
Upswing in crime rate
AIIMS staff boycott function
NEW DELHI, Feb 19 (PTI) For the first time in the history of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here, the faculty boycotted the annual convocation ceremony today.
"Only a few of the 486-member faculty attended the 29th annual convocation ceremony with just two professors participating in the convocation procession", a member of the faculty association of the AIIMS (FAIMS) said.
The boycott, described as a "success" by the FAIMS, was observed following protests by the faculty over "insult" to some FAIMS members by the institute body after inviting them for a meeting to discuss pay package and other issues.
A FAIMS press note said the Director, Dr P.K. Dave, had indicated that "he was just a figurehead who is being manipulated ad lib by the Health Ministry",.
"This servile attitude is responsible for the denigration of the institute and has paved the way for its destruction the Health Ministry at the behest of the private sector", the note charged.
Chief Justice A.S. Anand, in his address, said the human side of the medical profession should not be overlooked as medicine, like law, demanded utmost adherence to ethics.
"It is extremely sad to find that in the pursuit of our professions, we become conscious of our expectations and, with impunity, ignore our obligations", he said.
Referring to strikes by doctors for pay revisions, he said pay packages should be realistic and working conditions congenial for doctors but "a human beings pain and physical helplessness cannot be cashed upon".
Professionals, including doctors, lawyers and teachers, should not stop work as grievances could be redressed later but losses in terms of time, work and services were irreparable, the Chief Justice said.
SC allows limited mining in sanctuary
NEW DELHI, Feb 19 (PTI) The Supreme Court has asked the Gujarat government to set up a high-level committee to study the impact on environment due to limited mining in the reserve forest of Narayan Sarovar sanctuary, home to about 1200 endangered chinkaras.
A Division Bench headed by Mr Justice G.T. Nanavati, since retired, also restrained the government from giving permission to others to carry out mining operation or to put up cement plant within the area of 10 km from the periphery of the old sanctuary without obtaining orders from the court.
"The state government shall constitute a committee headed by a retired judge of the Gujarat High Court and consisting of experts in the fields of hydrology, soil erosion and other related disciplines to make a comprehensive study of the relevant environmental aspects and also to study the effects of the present limited mining operations permitted by this court, the bench of Mr Justice Nanavati and Mr Justice S.N. Phukan said in their recent order.
On April 14, 1981, the state government through a notification declared a part of the forest area in Lakhphat Taluka of Kutch district as a wild life sanctuary having a total area of 765.79 sq km.
Twelve years later, it
cancelled the notification and issued another limiting
the chinkara wild life sanctuary to an area
of 94.87 sq km. On a petition, the high court had quashed
both these notification, thus, reviving the 1981
BJP flays Cong on Constitution review
BHUBANESWAR, Feb 19 (PTI) The BJP today criticised the Congress saying it was coming up with different views on the issue of constitutional review and demanded that the party clear its stand on the issue.
"The Congress needs to clear its stand on the review of the Constitution as there are contradicting views coming from their leaders," party general secretary M. Venkaiah Naidu told reporters here.
Claiming that the Congress had said, in 1976 "There is a need for a second look at the Constitution," he questioned why a section of the party was now opposing the government move.
He denied any hidden agenda behind the move to amend the Constitution and said it was rather aimed at strengthening the Constitution.
The government was not changing the Constitution, but had only set up a committee to study it, he said, reacting to senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjees statement here on Thursday that the government should come out with details on the review as only then the people or the Opposition would be able to react to that.
While the Congress itself had amended the Constitution 70 times, it was now opposing the review, Mr Naidu, he said, adding the Congress was free to put forward any objection or any point, if it desired.
Claiming that the Congress was running out of plank or issues during the poll, Mr Naidu said the party had no right to seek vote on the issue of stability.
They had changed three Chief Ministers in Orissa and were now claiming that they could provide a stable government, he said adding, "Congress is the second name of instability."
Congress leaders were facing an identity crisis, he claimed adding that the party was in a dilemma whether to support or oppose the government move to review the Constitution.
They supported the RJD government in Bihar and later said it was a mistake, he said, and added that it was the case everywhere.
The last Lok Sabha election had proved that the name Gandhi was not sufficient to collect votes in favour of the party, he said.
A lot of political changes would take place after the election to the four states, he claimed.
Mr Naidu was here to campaign for the BJP-Biju Janata Dal combine for the second phase of elections in the state on February 22 when polling will be held for 77 Assembly constituencies.
On the seizure of "The Times" magazine by the West Bengal Government, Mr Naidu said anything hurting the sentiment of the society should be stopped and banned. This had happened in the past in the case of screening of several films which had hurt the sentiments of a section of the society.
Statute review a ploy: Mishra
NEW DELHI, Feb 19 (PTI) A former Chief Justice of India and Rajya Sabha MP, Mr Ranganath Mishra, has termed government move to review the Constitution as a "political ploy" and said it will not serve any purpose.
"It will not be a useful exercise," Justice Mishra said here last night after addressing a round table meeting on "Constitutional and Legal Aspects in Crisis Management".
He said that the NDA government move smacked of "political motive" as there were ample provisions under the Constitution to amend it according to the needs.
"After all, we have amended it 85 times," he pointed out.
Refusing to comment on the constitution of the review panel, he also declined to offer any suggestion on it, saying "I dont think they need my suggestion".
He said he had not discussed the matter with the Chairman of the panel, Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, as he was "not in favour of embarrassing anyone".
Earlier at the meeting, the Congress MP virtually admitted the partys defeat in the ensuing poll to the Orissa state assembly, saying "It is one thing to vote out a government after a crisis. That is actually happening in Orissa. But there is an urgent need to evolve some mechanism and fool-proof implementation system in crisis management".
He, however, rejected suggestions that to deal with any calamity like the Orissa cyclone there was a necessity for a constitutional amendment.
On the other hand, another former Chief Justice of India, Mr P.N. Bhagwati, has supported the government in setting up the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) and said it should also consider the controversy over persons of foreign origin occupying high offices.
"I do not think
that there is anything wrong in setting up a commission
to review the working of the constitution after the
period of 50 years.... As we gain experience from the
working of a Constitution we should keep it constantly
under review," Justice Bhagwati told Enadu TV.
Absence of AJTs hits pilot
NEW DELHI, Feb 19 The controversy over the purchase of the Advance Jet Trainer (AJT) was delaying the process of proper training of the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots.
Senior IAF officers pointing to the delay which was now being caused in the purchase of the AJTs say that although it was not hampering the training of pilots but was definitely delaying it. The officers say that in the absence of the AJTs the pilots were forced to train on the MiG 21 and other top of the line aircraft, which actually delayed their training.
The officers were of the view that now an unnecessary controversy had been created over, which of the AJTs to be bought. The IAF had made its choice clear and it was up to the government to make a decision. They rule out the possibility of having another round of assessment as it would only further delay the acquisition of the AJTs.
The IAF had shortlisted the British Aerospace Hawk and the French Alpha Jet as its choice for the AJTs. However with the Alpha Jet having already stopped the production of the AJTs, the choice if made would only provide second hand trainers to the IAF. On the other hand the IAF was also in favour of the Hawk as not only would that be new aircraft but were apparently best suited for the training of the Indian fighter pilots.
The IAF officers were
also concerned about the shortage of men in the
operational areas. Although the officers feel that the
IAF did not suffer from a shortage of recruits like the
Army, its shortage of men in operational areas was being
met by transferring men from other actions to the
operations side. The IAF was wanting that the government
increase its authorisation to hire more men.
Water may go out of poor mans reach
NEW DELHI: Drinking water may go out of the reach of the poor if the World Banks proposal for privatisation of drinking water supply becomes a reality.
The Union Governments zeal for privatisation as a solution for major problems has been extended to the drinking water sector. The focus of the privatisation move at a World Bank sponsored seminar held here was however limited to 15 metropolitan centres. Nearly 14 per cent of the countrys rural population and 10 per cent of the urban population have no access to drinking water. This population did not figure in the seminar.
The seminar, "Private Participation in Water Supply and Sanitation" was jointly organised by the Union Urban Development Ministry and the World Bank on February 7 and 8. At present the major hurdle faced by water supply sector is the shortage of drinking water supply which has remained unchanged despite manifold increase in the population. But this aspect was not touched at the seminar.
Among other things, the seminar discussed case studies of private participation in drinking water supply in other countries including case studies from Buenos Aires, Sydney and Guinea. The effort was to identify several components for privatisation of drinking water supply applicable to India. Among these components identified were mobilisation of strong and sustained political support from the highest authorities and establishment of a monitoring mechanism for both public and private operators in the drinking water sector.
Several participants expressed reservations over the World Banks proposal, implementation of which would necessitate a steep hike in water tariff, thus making drinking water even more inaccessible to the poor. As of now, poverty and lack of monetary resources are the major reasons why the poor are unable to have access to drinking water, it was pointed out.
Defending the privatisation proposal, Secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development, Ashok Pahwa, said that water tariff need not go up in case of privatisation. There will be need for government financing and subsidies in the initial years of privatisation. It is also imperative that the Government pay its dues in full so that domestic consumption tariff is not high.
Some participants however felt that privatisation would certainly lead to rise in tariff and deprive the poor of drinking water. The water tariff would need to be so structured that life-line supply would be available at minimum cost, they said.
The seminar was told
that the current financial requirements for the drinking
water sector is of the order of Rs 28,000 crore a year.
Out of this, the Government can provide only Rs 7 to 8
crore, leaving a deficit of Rs 20,000 crore. Efficiency
is poor and 35 to 40 per cent of the water is wasted due
to rusty and faulty pipes. Mr Pahwa felt that here the
private sector could play a meaningful role. IPA
Uphaar tragedy: memorial to
NEW DELHI, Feb 19 The Punjab government has decided to raise a memorial in honour of Capt Majinder Singh Bhinder, in Amritsar district, in recognition of his bravery. Captain Bhinder lost his life, while trying to save the lives of 160 persons trapped inside Uphaar Cinema in 1997. In the incident, 59 persons lost their lives, including the Captain his wife and his four-year-old son.
The memorial will be raised at Chowk Mehta, the Captains native place, in Amritsar district. The state government has sanctioned Rs 25 lakh for the memorial and Rs 5 lakh have already been disbursed as first instalment, sources said.
When the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, visited the house of Captain Bhinder to condole his death, he promised his father Capt Vardip Singh that a gate and full size statute would be raised in memory of the gallant soldier.
Earlier this week, the All-India Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association (AIEWA) moved the Delhi High Court after The Tribune (November 9, 1999) highlighted the anguish expressed by Captain Bhinders parents to the attitude of the defence authorities and the Chief Ministers unfulfilled promise.
The defence authorities had denied pension on the grounds that his death was not "attributable" to the military service.
Mr Justice A K Sikri issued show- cause notices to the Defence Ministry, the Chief of the Army Staff and others on a petition seeking family pension for the Captains parents.
The Defence Ministry had refused special family pension to parents on the grounds that the death of their son was not "attributable" to the military service, according to the the petition filed by advocate Bhim Sen Seghal and R K Saini said.
The AIEWA, which moved the court under its legal aid scheme, contended that Captain Bhinder lost his life while trying to save those trapped inside the cinema hall "unmindful" of the safety of his wife and his son the three fell victim to the smoke that had spread inside the theatre.
AIEWA counsel contended that armed forces personnel were treated on duty for 24 hours and were called for aid of the civilian administration during such calamities.
AIEWA informed the court that the defence authorities had rejected both "special family pension" and "ordinary family pension" to his parents by treating his death outside the ambit of army duty.
He was not an ordinary soldier, but had won many awards and medals during his career.
Govt firm on CPC amendment
NEW DELHI, Feb 19 (PTI) The government yesterday made it clear that it would go ahead with notifying the amendment to the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) aimed at reducing the time taken by courts to decide civil cases and called the proposed February 24 strike by lawyers opposing it as "self-centric".
"The new code of civil procedure amendment) Act is intended to give relief to long suffering members of the public. It certainly will reduce professional incomes (of lawyers). It is not the governments goal or policy to preserve those at current levels,"Law Minister Ram Jethmalani told reporters.
Defending the abolition of second appeal in a high court, he said these appeals sometimes took 10 to 15 years, and added, "Lawyers have no business to strike. If at all anybody had to oppose the new code it should have been the consumers of justice (litigants)."
"One of the most disgraceful scandals about the legal system is the delays and through this new code the government is trying to reduce the period of litigation," he said.
Historians ask ICHR to apologise
NEW DELHI, Feb 19 (PTI) The controversy over the withdrawal of two volumes of the book "towards freedom", took a new twist today with their editors and noted historians K.N. Panikkar and Sumit Sarkar demanding an "unconditional apology" from the India Council for Historical Research (ICHR), but ruled out recourse to legal action.
"It is sheer absurdity on the part of the ICHR as we have not got a single line informing us about withdrawal of our work. It is through the Oxford University Press (OUP), that we came to know about it," Mr Panikkar told reporters here.
Criticising the HRD Ministers statement yesterday in Patna "virtually justifying" the withdrawal of the volumes, Mr Panikkar said: "What he is talking about is not updating of history, but changing the history. One cannot update a document upon which history is based. The document remains as it is. He (Joshi) is talking about changing of documents."
In a communication on February 3, the ICHR asked OUP to temporarily withhold publication Mr Panikkars and Mr Sarkars book and return them for perusal by a review committee of the council.
Living-in is not marriage: HC
ALLAHABAD, Feb 19 (PTI) Allahabad High Court yesterday ruled that mere living together of a man and a woman did not give them the status of husband and wife under the provisions of Indian law.
The ruling was given by a two-member Bench comprising Mr Justice M Katju and Mr Justice D R Chaudhari on a writ petition filed by Brijnath Singh Tripathi, assistant public prosecutor here, seeking regularisation of his service on the plea that he was not living with two wives.
Tripathi was selected in 1972 as a public prosecutor and was posted at the police headquarters here on probation.
Website has sent right signals: Vittal
CHENNAI, Feb 19 (PTI) The Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), Mr N.Vittal, today defended the commissions initiative of putting names of officers accused of corruption on the website, saying it has had a much wider impact than anticipated.
"It has sent a signal to the public at large that even high officials and public servants can be brought to book or at least attempts are being made to bring them to book," he said at a two-day conference on "Discon Y2K", organised here by the Rotary Club.
Stating that the world would come to know about corruption if names were put on the Internet, he said it would also facilitate "transparency in working and punishment of the corrupt".
Claiming that only 6 per cent of those accused of corruption in the country were convicted and the rest acquitted, Mr Vittal alleged that those at the top usually got away. In South Asia "the big fish unless they belong to the opposition rarely get fried," he alleged.
Mr Vittal said the commission was now contemplating appointing advisory councils at the village-level to trap corrupt officials and penalise them.
While he was initiating steps to curb corruption at the government level, the "supply side of corruption was yet to be tackled, he said.
The three large corporate associations FICCI, Assocham and CII were yet to respond to his suggestion not to bribe officials for getting things done, he added, reminding the Rotarians that some of them could belong to these august bodies.
Quoting the United Nations development report, he said India stood 73rd in the global corruption index.
Upswing in crime rate
SRIGANGANAGAR, Feb 19 With 74 murders, 60 rapes, 280 incidents of snatching and looting and 525 cases of theft being recorded here, the crime graph in this border district has registered an upswing. The district police registered 6,454 complaints under various sections of the IPC during 1999.
Being a border district,
adjoining Punjab and Haryana, Sriganganagar has the
dubious distinction of having the maximum number of
registered suicides in the northern region, with the
figure hovering around 178 during the past 12 months. The
menace of drugs, synthetic as well as traditional, has
assumed an alarming proportion here.
Battle between leader and worker
ATHAGARH (Orissa), Feb 19 (UNI) A keen tussle is on the cards in this coastal constituency of Orissa, where the longest serving Chief Minister of the state, Mr J.B. Patnaik and a firebrand worker from Biju Janata Dal and sitting MLA, Mr Ranendra Pratap Swain, take on each other in a multi-cornered contest.
The man in trouble is none other than Mr Patnaik, who left the constituency a decade ago and served as Chief Minister for a record 14 years in three terms. He is now also the pradesh Congress chief desperately heading the ruling partys campaign to bring it back to power.
Mr Patnaik came to the centrestage of Orissa politics when he assumed the post of Chief Minister in 1980 and contested the byelection from Athagarh. He won the seat again in 1985 while continuing in the post.
But it turned out to be a different story for Mr Patnaik in subsequent elections, he skipped the 1990 and 1995 assembly elections but entered the House, winning a byelection from Begunia in 1995, only after becoming the Chief Minister. This is for the first time Mr Patnaik is contesting the assembly election without being in power.
He is pitted against the formidable Mr Ranendra Pratap. Given Mr Patnaiks long innings in politics in contrast to his rival not even being a minister, it was initially perceived that it would be a one-sided fight. But Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayeess visit, which came as a big morale booster for the BJD cadres, seemingly changed the equation in Mr Swains favour.
Mr Patnaiks presence in the fray has evidently surcharged the poll atmosphere in the area with the small town of Athagarh bustling with festival-like activity. Loudspeakers keep blaring round the clock, gates and arches have sprung up all over and posters and banners have literally left no walls, bylanes and squares untouched.
While the Congress highlights Mr Patnaiks achievement during his long tenure as Chief Minister and also his love for the people of Athagarh and the unholy alliance of the BJP-BJD, the BJD depicts the misrule and all misdeedsof Mr Patnaik.
A poster signed by the Athagarh Tigiria constituency Jana Jagaran Manch dotted the town everywhere listing 16 points of Mr Patnaiks nefarious activities linking him in a sex scandal and corruption cases and appealed to the people to reject the former Chief Minister.
The political situation in Athagarh has undergone a sea change and the supporters of Mr Patnaik are of the opinion that it would be a tough time for their leader to romp home with easy victory as the firebrand BJD worker has given him a run for his money. Mr Swain has been successfully contesting the seat since the 1990 assembly elections and is now all set to score a hattrick on an anti-incumbency factor that seemly has engulfed the whole state.
It is a fight between the king of politics (J.B. Patnaik) and the king by name as Mr Swain is more popular by his nick name "Raja says Purna, a farmer of Radhagobindpur. The villagers, he proudly says, are all in favour of Raja who is the karmi (worker) and not the leader (Mr Patnaik).
Mr J.B. Patnaik
loyalists were pinning all hopes on the fact that the
people of Athagarh would never ditch the former Chief
Minister and would spring a surprise in the poll,
upsetting all calculations, of the BJP-BJD combine.
Bihar repoll peaceful
PATNA, Feb 19 (UNI) A turnout of more than 40 per cent was recorded today during repolling in 301 polling booths in 63 Assembly constituencies in Bihar which went to the polls in the second phase of the elections on February 17.
State election office sources here said the repolling was incident-free and peaceful. The turnout, which was initially low during the morning hours, picked up later in the day.
In estimated 83 per cent voters exercised franchise today in repolling to 35 polling stations in 10 constituencies of Manipur where polling was disrupted during the first phase of elections on February 12.
Campaigning ends in Manipur today
IMPHAL, Feb 19 (UNI) After a violence-marred first phase, campaigning for the second phase of elections in Manipur ends tomorrow with 32 constituencies of the 60-member Assembly going to the polls on Tuesday.
Prominent candidates in the fray include Chief Minister W. Nipamacha Singh who is locked in a five-cornered contest at Wangoi. Mr Nipamacha Singh, who has been elected from the constituency in four consecutive elections from 1985 to 1995 on different party ticket, faces the challenge from the MPP, the CPM, the Congress and the BJP.
His Deputy, Mr L.Chandramani Singh, faces the battle of ballot at Patsoi by four candidates from the Samata Party, the NCP, the Congress and the CPI. Mr Chandramani tasted defeat in 1990, although he holds the distinction of becoming the first Speaker of the state Assembly in 1972 after getting elected as an Independent.
Violence marred the first phase of polling in 27 constituencies on February 12, with at least five persons losing their lives and a 72 per cent polling recorded.
remanded in judicial custody
costs man his life
for duping students
10 die, 31 hurt
in road mishap
Bandh hits life
in North Tripura
6 killed as
jeep, truck collide
2 JD(S) leaders
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