|Tuesday, March 14, 2000,
IAF men leave for Sierra Leone
DMK, ADMK members clash in LS
Smoker caused Punjab Mail fire
Army ex-chief Gen Kumaramangalam
Clinton to skip Bangalore
LS passes TRAI Bill
PM to inaugurate Khalsa art expo
Laloo determined to stall CBI work
PCI blames Punjab Police
NEW DELHI, March 13 The Press Council of India has passed strictures against the Punjab police for acting in an illegal and autocratic manner by raiding the premises of the Editor of Sarita magazine.
The Punjab police acted in an illegal, high-handed and autocratic manner and had misused the power vested in it to threaten, harass and terrorise the complainant (the Editor of the magazine) and that too in a matter which was sub-judice and the court of law had yet to deliver the verdict of guilt against the complainant, the Chairman of PCI, Justice P.B. Sawant, while accepting the findings of the PCI inquiry committee said.
The committee found that the Sessions Judge, Patiala, while granting anticipatory bail to the Editor of the magazine, Mr Vishwa Nath and his sons, had directed them to cooperate with the investigation, not to tamper with the evidence or attempt to win over the witnesses or leave the country without prior permission.
The court further directed the Editor not to write or publish any article touching upon Hindu religion or mythology in any of his publication.
These directions issued by the court, the committee observed were sufficient to show that the raid by the Punjab Police on the premises of the Editor was unjustified and unwarranted as the court directives had not been violated by the complainant.
The police authorities had quite obviously acted in a show of strength to threaten and terrorise the Editor though there was no case for the conduct of such a massive operation against a man who neither was a criminal nor a person charged with sedition, the committee observed.
Mr Vishwa Nath had alleged that a posse of about 40 armed police personnel made raids on his residence. The raids were conducted by SHO of Rajpura, Harinder Singh Ghai.
The police had raided the premises on the basis of a private complaint filed by one Anand Narayan Sharma, who had taken objection to some of the articles published in October 1995, May 1997, June 1998 and December 1998 issues of the magazine.
Mr Sharma in his complaint had alleged that these articles hurt the sentiments of the Hindus.
The committee observed that the Punjab Police in its comments to the inquiry had not denied that a large posse of heavily armed policemen raided the residence of the Editor at 5 a.m. with sten gun and rifles on January 12, 1999.
The very fact that the raid was made in the early hours of a cold winter morning spoke volumes. No cogent explanation had been given by the respondent regarding the manner in which the raid was conducted and that too in a case falling under Section 295A (obscene object) of the Indian Penal Code.
The raid was
conducted as if to arrest an anti-national person who if
not immediately swooped down upon would flee the course
of justice and regardless of the fact that the Editor
concerned was a respectable person having deep roots in
society, the committee said.
IAF men leave for Sierra
NEW DELHI, March 13 The first batch of the Indian Air Force contingent, part of the United Nations peacekeeping force stationed at Sierra Leone, left here last evening.
The IAF contingent, consisting of four Mi-8 and four Chetak helicopters, 30 officers and 119 other ranks, is the biggest ever to have participated in any of the UN peacekeeping missions earlier.
Part of the six-nation UN peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone, the IAF will be the only air element supporting the peacekeeping forces. The other countries are Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Liberia and Guinnea. Operating under the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL), they would assist in enforcement of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process.
The IAF contingent services may include cargo re-supply, troop movement, transportation, medical support and casualty evacuation. Due to the nature of peacekeeping operations, such services may involve operations into hostile area of fields where there is no ground support. The contingent would be based at Lungi air field and would be fully self-sufficient by way of tentage, engineering and power generation, messing and related administrative and logistics needs. The term of deployment is likely to be one year.
The Indian Air Force has been part of UN peacekeeping operations in the past, which includes operations in Congo in 1961-62 and Somalia during 1993-94. In both these operations, the IAF contingents earned laurels for their work.
The task force Commander of the IAF contingent would be Group Captain B.S. Siwach. The second batch is expected to leave tomorrow and the remaining personnel will leave by the end of the week.
With its participation
in Sierra Leone, the IAF would maintain its tradition of
participating in UN humanitarian operations. The highest
standards of military professionalism under most trying
circumstances displayed by the IAF contingents in earlier
operations will be maintained in Sierra Leone.
Army ex-chief Gen Kumaramangalam passes away
BANGALORE, March 13 (PTI) Gen P.P. Kumaramangalam, former Chief of the Army Staff, died in the early hours of today at the Air Force Command Hospital here following cardio respiratory failure, defence sources said. He was 87.
General Kumaramangalam was in the intensive care unit of the hospital for the past six months. He is survived by wife, a son and a daughter.
General Kumaramangalam had his education at Eton and Woolwich in England and was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery in 1933.
During the World War II, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He was taken PoW in Italy in 1942. He escaped but was imprisoned in Germany again.
At the end of the war he returned to India and become a Brigadier in 1948. After holding several positions, including the Deputy Chief and Vice Chief of Army, he became Chief of the Army Staff in 1966 and held that position till 1969.
The funeral of General Kumaramangalam will take place here with full military honour tomorrow, sources said.
DMK, ADMK members clash in LS
NEW DELHI, March 13 (PTI) The Lok Sabha tonight plunged into turmoil as DMK and ADMK members virtually came to blows following a charge made by ADMK member P.H. Pandian against Union Minister T.R. Baalu.
Trouble broke out when Mr Pandian, participating in a discussion on a Bill concerning debt recovery tribunals, made the charge against Mr Baalu, which was strongly contested by the Union Minister.
Despite vociferous protests from DMK members as also objections from Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha that accusations should not be hurled in such a manner against any member, Mr Pandian remained unrelenting.
The ADMK member said that he was within his rights to make a charge against Mr Baalu, who is not only a Member but a Minister.
Smoker caused Punjab Mail fire
NEW DELHI, March 13 The Commissioner of Railway Safety has stated that the fire that claimed 18 lives in the six sleeper coaches of the Ferozepore bound Punjab Mail last month was caused due to the inadvertent negligence of a smoking passenger.
The report has also absolved the railways of any responsibility by stating that the incident occurred due to "failure of other than railway staff" possibly due to negligence of a smoking passenger.
Eighteen passengers trapped in the flames died while 15 others were injured when the fire broke out in 2137 Dn Mumbai-Ferozepore Punjab Mail at about 3.33 a m on February 19. The fire is said to have started somewhere between Dushkeda and Savda, 12 km from Bhusaval towards Delhi.
Sources in the Railway Ministry said that this provisional finding has been appended to the preliminary report of the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Central Circle, Mumbai, Mr Sharat Chandra Gupta.
Apart from holding a statutory inquiry under Section 114 of the Railway Act, 1989. The CRS has also made a few recommendations to improve the element of safety in railway passenger trains including deployment of travelling ticket checking staff and better supervision by trains superintendents and conductors and frequent patrolling of coaches by security staff travelling in coaches.
In a statement issued
after the mishap, the Railway Ministry had said that the
possibility of carelessness on part of some cigarette
smoking passengers could not be ruled out. The ministry
had also not ruled out the possibility of sabotage or
LS passes TRAI Bill
NEW DELHI, March 13 (PTI) The Lok Sabha today passed a Bill to strengthen the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and set up a tribunal to settle all disputes, with Communications Minister Ram Vilas Paswan announcing that all district headquarters would have Internet connections by June 2002.
As the Opposition charged the government with rushing through the Bill and earlier promulgating an Ordinance "bypassing and ignoring" Parliament, Paswan said the TRAI would have powers to fix tariff, besides regulating and giving recommendations on new services. The Bill was adopted by voice vote, amid a walk-out by the Left parties and RJD after their plea for raising further objections was rejected by the Chair.
Paswan rejected an opposition demand to send the Bill to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Telecommunications for a clause by clause review saying the Government did not want to delay it.
Replying to the debate on the Bill in the House, he said government planned to start a rural areas development fund to strengthen the communication network across the country.
The minister said a
Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal would
be created for adjudicating disputes between a licensor
and a licensee, the service producers and consumers,
thereby reducing the burden on TRAI.
PM to inaugurate Khalsa art
NEW DELHI, March 13 The Ministry of Culture and the National Museum are organising a month-long exhibition as a finale to the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa. The exposition, said to be the first of its kind, will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at the National Museum here on March 14.
According to sources in the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, over 200 artefacts belonging to the Sikh era will be on display at the exhibition titled Piety and Splendour Sikh heritage in Art.
Sources in the national museum told The Tribune here on Monday that the art objects include a Katar belonging to Guru Gobind Singh, besides miniature paintings, jewellery, coins, arms and manuscripts.
These are said to have been procured from Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh, National Museum, Crafts Museum, Sheesh Mahal and Kila Mubarak Museum in Patiala, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum in Amristar and Himachal state museum in Shimla.
Apart from these, art objects have also been procured from the private collections of C.L. Bharany, Brigadier Sukhjit Singh of Kapurthala and Bhai Sikandar Singh of Bagarian.
Union Minister of Tourism and Culture, Mr Ananth Kumar told newspersons last week that Panj Piaras memorials and institutions would be set up in several places.
How silly are Indian laws?
NEW DELHI: In Memphis, USA it is illegal for a woman to drive a car unless there is a man either walking or running in front waving a red flag to warn approaching pedestrians or motorists.
Silly. But there are sillier laws in India, many of them old and dysfunctional and more often than not used for harassing people, note lawyers.
For instance, a Sarai Act of 1867 makes it obligatory for a sarai or inn-keeper to give a free glass of drinking water to any passer by. Recently a five star hotel in the capital was prosecuted under the Act because it did not give the passersby water on three occasions, says Bibek Debroy, Director, Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies.
Then there is a law that states "whenever a seal of the East India Company is required, instead of the seal of the East India Company, a seal of the state or Central Government will do". This was extended to Arunachal Pradesh not long ago, says Mr Debroy who has compiled 3279 central statutes.
And a quote from the Santhals Paraganas Act, 1858, says normal laws cannot be applicable "to the uncivilised race of the Santhals".
Still part of the law in India, is the Bengal Warehouse Association, 1858, set up in Calcutta, Section 36 of which states that if the association is ever wound up, the assets will in the first instance have to be sold to the East India Company. Under the Coronors Act of 1871, when someone dies, the coroner has to sign a piece of paper stating how and why the person died.
And under the various causes listed out under accident the options are falling out of boat into the Hooghly whereby he was drowned or a kick from a horse which fractured his skull and ruptured blood vessels in his head.
Though we no longer have juries in India, the Coroners Act says that the jury must eventually sign saying "... and so said the jury upon the aforesaid".
Also a Section in the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, talks about situations where one can foreclose a mortgage without court intervention, says Mr Debroy.
Instances where one can foreclose a mortgage without court intervention are when the mortgage belongs to an Englishman, which does not concern us. But this is law in the year 2000, he notes.
"India has about 3,279 central statutes and about 30,000 state statutes coined since the times of the British, most of which continue till date with minor modification," notes Mr Debroy suggesting that such irrelevant laws should be scrapped as they are impeding smooth governance.
However, Gautam Bannerjee, a Supreme Court lawyer says most of them have been modified and new definitions have come in, so the old ones which sound funny are of no significance now and at the same time are doing no harm by remaining there.
Nonetheless, all that the government has to do is to point out which laws in the statute book have become irrelevant and repeal them, says Bannerjee noting that repealable laws can be done so by just one bill.
Similarly Law Commission Chairman B. P. Jivan Reddy sees no harm in such statutes being retained. "What is the harm"? he asks noting that a government committee has already given a report on the existence of some 11,000 such laws.
Even as the likes of Mr Reddy find no harm in retaining such outdated laws, which are one too many, Mr Debroy insists that they need to be taken up quickly as part of legal reforms as they would hold back economic development.
According to an estimate, there are about 30,000 state statues but no one can say how many central statutes are there because one section of the Copyright Act says that the monopoly of publishing all statutes vests with the government, rues Mr Debroy.
Though the government
set up a committee on administrative law reform, its
report says, "We are a committee to examine law
reform but no one is in a position to tell us how many
statutes there are in the country".
Laloo determined to stall CBI work
PATNA, March 13 (UNI) The RJD supremo, Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, today reiterated his resolve to stall the CBI work in Bihar unless the investigating agency obtained permission from court or the state government.
The CBI has sought Governor V.C. Pandes permission to prosecute Mr Yadav and the Chief Minister, Ms Rabri Devi, in a disproportionate assets case.
Mr Yadav told newsmen today that the CBI was set up under the Delhi Police Establishment Act, which only permits it to function in union territories. The West Bengal Government also had not allowed the agency to work in the state without its permission, he pointed out.
The former chief minister, whose RJD returned to power in the state after an event-filled eight-day hiatus, demanded the immediate resignation of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre.
"The NDA government has no moral right to continue after the people thwarted its fascist role in the RSS case and undemocratic norms taken by Governor Pande on the formation of the government, he said.
He also demanded immediate recall of the Governor "after it was proved that his action in calling Mr Nitish Kumar to form the government was "unconstitutional.
Thanking all parties for uniting on Bihar and RSS issue, Mr Yadav said the secular forces were more united and hoped that soon the NDA government would be toppled to form a secular government.
Jaitley, Sushma among BJPs RS nominees
NEW DELHI, March 13 (PTI, UNI) Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj, who unsuccessfully contested the Bellary Lok Sabha seat against Ms Sonia Gandhi, and former Congress leader S.S. Ahluwalia are among the 17 BJP candidates named for the March 29 Rajya Sabha biennial elections.
While Mr Jaitley has been fielded from Gujarat, Mr Rajnath Singh, who seeks re-election, and Ms Swaraj have been nominated from Uttar Pradesh.
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kailash Joshi and Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Vikram Verma have been fielded from the state, while former Congress MP M. Rajasekhara Murthy is being pitted from Karnataka.
The party has decided to support Law Minister Ram Jethmalani from Maharashtra.
The list of candidates for the elections released by the BJP central election committee included BJP national executive member Ravi Shankar Prasad (Bihar), Mr Manmohan Samal (Orissa) Mr Kripal Parmar (Himachal Pradesh), Mr Balbir Punj, Mr Ram Bux Varma and Mr Ramnath Kovid (all from UP) and Mr Bal Apte (Maharashtra).
Two other candidates from Gujarat are Mr Lekhraj Bachani and Mr A.K. Pate.
Cong fields Dilip Kumar for
NEW DELHI, March 13 The Congress today decided to field thespian Dilip Kumar as its nominee for the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra and Telugu film director Dasari Narayana Rao from Andhra Pradesh.
With the Congress President deciding against granting nominations to those who lost the recent Lok Sabha elections, several party leaders who were anticipating to secure nominations to the Upper House were disappointed.
For instance in Andhra Pradesh where the Congress has the strength to ensure election of two MPs, there was a keen tussle with several senior leaders like former Chief Minister K. Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy, former Union Ministers, P. Shiv Shankar and G. Venkataswamy pressing for their case.
However, all three had lost the last Lok Sabha elections and the same rule is said to be standing in the way of nomination of party spokesman Ajit Jogi from Madhya Pradesh.
In Karnataka, Congress
President Sonia Gandhi decided to renominate Mr K. Rahman
Khan, while bringing in two fresh faces, Mrs Rani Satish
and Mr K.B. Krishnamurthy, son of a former Chief Justice
of the state.
Clinton to skip Bangalore
BANGALORE, March 13 (PTI) Karnataka Chief Minister S.M. Krishna today said US President Bill Clinton would not visit the city due to paucity of time.
Mr Krishna reacting to queries by reporters here on Clinton skipping Bangalore visit said "I am a student of International Law and I know how the tours of US President is fixed".
No loss of life in Maharashtra
PUNE, March 13 (PTI) An earthquake, measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale, rocked several parts of Maharashtra and Goa late last night, the Meteorological Centre said today. However, there was no loss of life, officials said.
Woman SI kills
2 Army men
killed in encounter
Life term for
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