|Friday, March 31, 2000,
President gives away awards
Minorities panel team for Chatti
Defence Ministry to pay property
No decision yet on Cabinet
Lawyers divided over
RS reverses jolt Cong
Rly cranes: HC seeks details
Five held for attack on Rakesh
Check money power: BJP
N. Rly stops accepting credit
BPSC ex-Chairman exonerated
President gives away awards
NEW DELHI, March 30 (UNI, PTI) President K.R. Narayanan today gave away awards to 70 eminent persons from various fields at a simple ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Eleven received the Padma Vibhushan, 20 the Padma Bhushan and 39 the Padma Shri.
Prominent among the awardees are CEC M.S. Gill, flute player Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, vocal classical singer Pandit Jasraj, senior BJP leader Sikandar Bakht, journalist and environmentalist Anil Kumar Agarwal, famous dancing pair Radha and Raja Reddy, industralist Ratan Naval Tata, film star Hema Malini, film music director A.R. Rehman and veteran film producer Ramanand Sagar.
Famous economist Prof Jagdish Natwarlal Bhagwati, novalist R.K. Narayanan, information technology leader of Infosys Technologies Mr N.R. Narayana Murthy, Mr Abdur Rahman Rahi and Dr Gurdev Singh Khush were not present at the 45-minute ceremony to receive their awards.
Three awardees Padma Bhushan K.J. Somaiya, Padma Bhushan Dr Suryanarayana Srinivasan and Padma Shri E. Nilakanta Singh were awarded posthumously.
Vice-President Krishan Kant, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Home Minister L.K. Advani and other senior Cabinet ministers attended the investiture ceremony.
The oldest among those honoured was the 124-year-old sage from Bagpat in Uttar Pradesh, Swami Kalyan Dev, who walked up to the presidential dais with the help of two of his disciples to receive the Padma Bhushan.
After receiving the award, he blessed Mr Narayanan and later while returning to his seat the Prime Minister who stood up in respect. The Swami, who was born on June 21, 1876, was honoured for his yeoman service towards spreading education and fighting social evils.
Another noted economist Jagdish N. Bhagwati, who was not present, was also honoured. Noted Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, superstar Rajni Kanth, and H.Y. Sharada Prasad, who served three Prime Ministers as Information Adviser, were among the 20 Padma Bhushan awardees.
Among the 42 noted scholars, authors, artists, social workers and scientists were Alyque Padamsee, painter Anjolie Ela Menon, vocalist Shubha Mudgal, film director Shekhar Kapur and Everester Santosh Yadav.
Grigory L Bondarevsky, President of SOS Childrens
Village J.N. Kaul and noted Bengali author and first wife
of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, were
honoured with the Padma Shri.
Minorities panel team for Chatti Singhpora
NEW DELHI, March 30 (UNI) A team of the National Minorities Commission left for Jammu and Kashmir today to make an assessment of the situation arising out of the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Chatti Singhpora village of Anantnag district on March 20 night.
The team, which includes Commission Chairman Justice Mohammed Shamim and Vice-Chairman Trilochan Singh, will make a spot assessment of the episode and the present situation.
Mr Trilochan Singh appealed to the minorities to maintain peace and exercise restraint and not to issue provocative statements. He condemned nefarious designs being carried out by some sections to create panic in the country.
A six-member group, led by the Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Mr Chaman Lal Gupta, will leave tomorrow morning for Chatti Sinhgpora village in Jammu and Kashmir to participate in the bhog ceremony of the deceased.
The group is going there at the direction of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Home Minister, Mr L.K.Advani. Other members of the team are a former Union Minister, Mr Madan Lal Khurana, the BJP MP, Mr S.S. Ahluwalia and a former Delhi Industry Minister, Mr S.S. Balli.
The DGPC will provide Rs 2 lakh each for the families of victims as a token of sympathy. This is apart from the ex-gratia amount announced by the governments of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.
The National Human Rights Commission has been urged to order compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the next of kin of 35 Sikhs killed by militants in Chatti Singhpora village.
In a petition filed before the Commission, Mr M.S. Butalia, a Sikh advocate, said both Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir Government have failed in their duty to provide adequate security to its citizens and were both liable to pay the compensation. The Commission should direct the government to pay an interim relief of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of those killed within a week.
He alleged that in spite of having information about the intended mass killing, the government did not react to the situation and failed to take remedial measures to save the lives of unarmed citizens.
Defence Ministry to pay property
NEW DELHI, March 30 In a major decision the Defence Ministry today decided to pay rentals for private properties taken over by the Army and the Rashtriya Rifles engaged in counter-insurgency duties in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Necessary orders and instructions had already been issued to the Director-General of Defence Estates DGDE earlier this month to initiate action for the assessment, sanction and release of payment of rentals for all such lands and buildings taken over by the Army and the Rashtriya Rifles, press note issued by the Ministry of Defence said.
The decision would go a long way in assuaging the feelings of the people, whose houses have been taken over, specially those of the migrant community which left the state at the height of militancy. It had been a long pending demand of the people who had been complaining that the Army and the Rashtriya Rifles had taken over their houses but they had not been paid anything for it.
The note said private properties of over 600 citizens of Jammu and Kashmir were under occupation by the Army and the Rashtriya Rifles posted in different parts of the state for counter insurgency duty during the period from 1993 onwards.
Rentals in respect of
these properties as per the DGDE report has been
estimated at Rs 25 crore approximately, at the rate of Rs
1.35 crore per annum for the land and Rs 2.20 crore per
annum for the buildings. The rentals for these properties
have not been paid so far.
No decision yet on Cabinet expansion: PM
NEW DELHI, March 30 (UNI) Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today set at rest speculations about immediate expansion of his Cabinet, saying that he would take a decision at an appropriate time .
Replying to questions from newspersons here on the expansion of the Cabinet, he said no decision had yet been taken to expand the Cabinet. However, he admitted that there were a few vacancies, arising from the resignation of Mr Nitish Kumar, Mr Naveen Patnaik and Ms Uma Bharti.
These vacancies would be filled at an appropriate time, Mr Vajpayee said, after the investiture ceremony for the conferment of wards.
The Prime Minister did not say when he proposed to undertake the Cabinet expansion.
There was speculation that the Prime Minister might expand his Council of Ministers after the Rajya Sabha elections. Ms Sushma Swaraj, among others, were taken as perspective candidates for the Cabinet berths.
concern over the large scale cross-voting in the recently
concluded Rajya Sabha elections, Mr Vajpayee said all bit
political parties were affected by this phenomenon. The
issue of cross-voting would be discussed at the all-party
meeting convened by the Election Commission on April 29.
Lawyers divided over strike
NEW DELHI, March 30 (UNI) Clear divisions emerged today over the issue of ending five-week-long lawyers strike while the government said a court order on suspension of police officials responsible for February 24 crackdown would amount to interference in its decision-making process.
"There is no question of suspending the agitation till the police officials are suspended, said Mr Rajiv Khosla, Secretary of the Delhi Bar Association. Similar views were expressed by Mr K.K. Sareen, President of the New Delhi Bar Association, after senior advocate P.N. Lekhi assured the court that he would make all possible efforts to persuade agitating lawyers to call off their strike.
Mr Lekhi, arguing for a
coordination committee of various Bar Associations, was
responding to a Division Bench comprising of the acting
Chief Justice, Mr Devender Gupta, and Mr Justice Cyriac
Joseph who suggested that the agitation should be
RS reverses jolt Cong
NEW DELHI, March 30 The reverses suffered by the Congress in the Rajya Sabha, particularly the defeat of its nominee in West Bengal, Mr D.P. Roy, to Trinamool Congress backed independent, Mr Jayanta Bhattacharya, has jolted the party.
For the second time in two years, Congress President Mrs Sonia Gandhis handpicked candidate was rejected by the party legislators. In 1998 it was Mr Ram Pradhan, who lost in Maharashtra and now it was Mr Roy.
Officially, the party said it would prefer to wait for the reports to be submitted by the General Secretary Pradesh Congress chiefs and candidates concerned.
Despite the fact that the Congress chose to expel rebel candidate, Mr Rajni Ranjan Sahu, who contested and lost from Bihar a day before the voting, the party preferred to refrain from commenting as to why it did not take similar action in UP where industrialist and Delhi Congress office-bearer M.M. Agarwal got elected as an independent.
The party spokesman, Mr Ajit Jogi, parried questions as to what action the Congress would consider, especially against Mr Agarwal, who contested the 1996 parliamentary elections on the Congress ticket from Delhi and also the previous Assembly elections here.
"We are aware of the results and awaiting reports from the General Secretaries concerned, PCC chiefs and candidates. After their reports we will decided on future course of action," Mr Jogiz said at daily briefing.
Meanwhile, there are reports that yet another senior leader Mr Madhavsingh Solanki has written a letter to the Congress President on the state of affairs in the party.
Although there was no official confirmation, Mr Solankis purported letter has been a talking point in the party circles especially as it comes in the wake of a slavo fired by Mr Kapil Sibial.
Rly cranes: HC seeks details
NEW DELHI, March 30 (PTI) The Delhi High Court has asked the Railway Board to place before it precise details regarding the information provided to the CBI for investigating the import of 140 tonnes cranes used for retrieving coaches at the time of accidents to ensure speedy relief measures.
A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice Devinder Gupta and Mr Justice Cyriac Joseph issued the direction yesterday after it was informed that Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had told Parliament during the Budget session that a CBI probe has been ordered into the import of 12 cranes from a German firm, Gottwald, in 1998 at the cost of Rs 132 crore.
The court while directing the CBI to place before it the FIR registered in the case on July 11, the next date of hearing, also asked the petitioner to submit additional documents if he had any.
The direction came on a three-year-old public interest litigation (PIL) by a Pune-based social worker Vivek Khare, seeking probe into the purchase of the cranes which allegedly were sub-standard and procured hurriedly by calling tenders only from a Germany and a UK firm in 1996.
The petitioner alleged that the purchase was made by the Railways without exploring other feasibility and calling the global tenders. The cranes had proved most ineffective and were almost lying idle since their arrival in the country, the PIL claimed.
The petitioner alleged that government in January 1996 had invited limited tenders from Gottwald and UKs Cowans for the supply of eight cranes but they put a condition that if the demand was doubled by the Indian government, their production cost would go down considerably and they would give seven per cent concession in the cost.
Consequently the demand was doubled from eight to 16 cranes by the government, which itself was violation of the tender rules as under law only 30 per cent flexibility could be allowed in any deal.
After the approval of the deal, eight fully developed cranes were imported from Gottwald and the government proposed that the German company would supply 80 per cent parts for four others to be assembled here in participation with some private firms which would manufacture the remaining 20 per cent parts.
However, Gottwald did agree for such a proposal while Cowans failed to supply four cranes it had agreed upon, the PIL alleged.
Stating that the required maximum speed of the cranes was 90 km per hour so that these could be moved to accident sites quickly, the petitioner claimed that the cranes supplied by Gottwald could not move beyond 30 km per hour.
The Safety Commissioner
had not even issued any safety certificate to these
cranes, the petition said, adding even Comptroller and
Auditor-General (CAG) in its report said "the
purchase is done without exploring other
Five held for attack on Rakesh Roshan
MUMBAI, March 30 (PTI) Five alleged members of the Bahrain-based Ali Buddesh gang have been arrested in connection with the attempt on the life of actor-director Rakesh Roshan at Santa Cruz in suburban Mumbai on January 21.
The five, identified as Sachin Khambe (20), Anant Jadhav (30), Abdul Mamuni (26), Uttam More (26) and Sunil Gaikwad (33) were arrested from the Wadala and Kalina areas of the metropolis in the past week, Additional Commissioner of Police Subhash Awte said here today.
Check money power: BJP
NEW DELHI, March 30 (PTI) The BJP today asked political parties to suggest steps to check "vulgar display" of money power in the Rajya Sabha elections which it said had led to cross-voting during yesterdays biennial poll.
Claiming that the party had increased its strength in the Upper House, BJP spokesman M. Venkaiah Naidu said: "All parties should think over the issue (of use of money power) and find a meaningful and constructive solution to this menace."
He acknowledged that there had been cross-voting in Uttar Pradesh against his party, but said several Independent MLAs in Karnataka, besides 43 of the BJP, had voted in favour of party candidate Rajasekhara Murthy for his stature as a long-time legislator there.
The "vulgar display of money power" had led MLAs of different parties to switch loyalty during voting for the Upper House, he said, adding that parties should come out with suggestions at the all-party meeting convened by the Election Commission on April 29.
Mr Naidu said while 11 of its Rajya Sabha members had retired, 16 were elected during these elections. Law Minister Ram Jethmalani, supported by the Shiv Sena and the BJP, was also elected as an Independent from Maharashtra.
While five members were elected from Uttar Pradesh, three of them won from Gujarat, two each from Bihar and Madhya Pradesh and one each from Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa and Karnataka.
Asked to comment on BJP leader Sushma Swarajs remarks on the low number of votes garnered by some BJP nominees from Uttar Pradesh, Mr Naidu said some of the contestants had won but "with narrower margins than expected".
Mr Naidu said the
central leadership had asked the Uttar Pradesh unit to
submit a report on the Rajya Sabha elections. "We
have noticed cross-voting in some states. Look at what
happened in West Bengal, Orissa and Karnataka," he
N. Rly stops accepting
NEW DELHI, March 30 The passengers, who went to buy rail tickets using their credit cards, are a harried lot in the tussle between the banks and the Northern Railway.
"We have stopped accepting credit cards to purchase rail tickets as the banks have not paid up huge sums of dues pending for more than a year," senior official of Northern Railway told The Tribune.
Four banks, with whom the Railways have an arrangement, have not paid around Rs 17 lakh, the official said.
The banks were Andhra Bank, Vijaya Bank, Canara Bank and the Bank of Baroda.
Senior Andhra Bank officials admitted that the Railways have stopped honouring their credit cards. They said "we have received a notice from the Railways and we will inquire into the matter."
On the other hand, Vijaya Bank officials said "no dues were pending. On the contrary, the Railways have to pay us some dues."
Railways officials said "the dues were the rail fare, based on the tickets purchased by the passengers using the credit cards."
A passenger purchasing a rail ticket using the credit card has to pay 2.5 per cent extra amount as bank charge apart from the fare cost.
"What we are asking is the legitimate money as the passenger has travelled by train. The banks have charged the amount and the service charge from the passenger but they have not passed on the rightful money of the Railways," the official added.
However, caught in the middle are the harried passengers who come to a railway station to purchase tickets.
"I came here to buy tickets for my family for the summer holidays. I just got my credit cards as it is too risky to bring hung amount of money in such a crowded area. The card counter is closed, which makes me think twice whether I should buy the ticket myself or ask an agent," Mr G K Sharma, who had come to New Delhi railway station, said.
Bitten by the bad experience of dealing with the banks, the Railways too have worked out a strategy.
"We want the banks to sign a new agreement for the continuation of the scheme," the officials said.
The new agreement includes a bank guarantee, an assured sum of Rs 30 for every transaction, which the previous agreement lacked.
Surprisingly, the Railways have an agreement with the bank with a mandatory clause of full payment (rail fare) by the next working day. But, that seems to have been ignored by the banks resulting in the backlog.
"About Rs 70 lakh was pending in 1997 and with much difficulty we were able to recover the amount. But, still about Rs 17 lakh were pending and we could not go on this way," the senior officials said.
While the recovery of
the due amount from the banks would continue on the one
hand, the Railways officials said the credit card service
would resume only after the banks accept the new
agreement, which would grant some security to the
BPSC ex-Chairman exonerated
NEW DELHI, March 30 (PTI) The Supreme Court has exonerated former Bihar Public Service Commission Chairman Ram Ashray Yadav of all charges of misbehaviour, but remarked that his conduct "at times" was not exemplary.
The court gave its findings in a report to the President on a reference made in January, 1997, by the then incumbent Mr Shankar Dayal Sharma, who sought an inquiry as to whether Mr Yadav should be removed from office on grounds of misbehaviour.
A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice A.S. Anand in its 19-page report yesterday said, "In our opinion no charge of misbehaviour has been established against Mr Yadav".
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