|Monday, April 17, 2000,
Focus to be on rollback
APHC open to talks with Centre
IA may resume flights to Nepal
SC: AICTEs nod binding on
Pondy ministry expanded
Illegal arms racket unearthed
Bhatt to make film on Taslima
Focus to be on rollback
NEW DELHI, April 16 (PTI) After a month-long recess, the second phase of the Budget session of Parliament begins tomorrow in the backdrop of the demand for rollback of prices of essential commodities and the controversial issue of Constitution review, which has come under fierce attack from the opposition.
During the stormy first phase, that witnessed frequent adjournments, Parliament could not carry out its scheduled business on most days as the RSS and Bihar issues overshadowed the proceedings.
Rising prices of essential commodities, the governments failure to rollback prices of fertilisers and public distribution system (PDS) foodgrains and hike in kerosene and LPG prices are expected to be raised by the Opposition and some constituents of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the session which is scheduled to conclude in mid-May.
The BJPs allies, including the TDP and the JD (U), have given adequate notice of their intention to take up the demand for rollback of the administered prices and restoring the cut in subsidies.
This time the Constitution review issue is also likely to create a furore in Parliament with the Congress, the Left and many other opposition parties seeing in it an attempt by the BJP and Sangh Parivar to implement a "hidden agenda", including an attempt to perpetuate itself in power for five years without majority.
Disclaimers by the government that the review would not alter the parliamentary democracy nor the basic structure of the Constitution have failed to satisfy the Opposition.
The ruling party and its allies have rejected all these apprehensions saying the review was only aimed at toning up the Constitution in the light of its functioning in the past 50 years. Any recommendation made by the commission could only be implemented after they are brought to Parliament and amendments effected through two-thirds majority.
A highlight of the second phase may be discussions on the Subrahmanyam Committee report on the Kargil conflict and the hijack of the Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar in Afghanistan.
The Opposition also views a design behind the Sangh Parivars opposition to Deepa Mehtas film "Water" and the ICHR decision to discontinue two volumes of "Towards Freedom" and are planning to raise them during the session.
The Left parties are opposed to denationalising the coal-mining sector with a proposed amendment in the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act of 1973 and has decided to make every effort to see that this legislation is not passed in Parliament.
The CPI-M and the CPI are also likely to rake up the issue of disinvestment of the public sector undertakings (PSUs).
On the legislative side, the government has several pending bills including the controversial womens reservation which was introduced in the last session.
Bills like the CVC and money-laundering besides two WTO-related Bills including patents were with the standing or select committees of Parliament.
The Lok Sabha will apply the guillotine on the discussions on demands for grants of various ministries on April 25, completing the second phase of the budget process.
APHC open to talks with
NEW DELHI, April 16 The All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) will consider the offer of talks from India with an open mind and come out with an "appropriate response" after serious deliberations, Kashmir Awareness Bureau (KAB) in charge Abdul Majid Bandey said here today.
Talking to TNS on the telephone, Mr Bandey said the APHC was still waiting for a talks offer from the Indian Government and "we can only take a stand after the offer".
Asked about Union Home Minister L. K. Advanis statement that the talks would be held within the framework of the Indian Constitution, Mr Bandey said: "In that case they are not interested in negotiations".
"We have to go in
for talks with an open mind and without any
pre-conditions", he said, adding that
"basically the Kashmir problem can only be resolved
when all three parties to dispute are involved".
IA may resume flights to Nepal
NEW DELHI, April 16 (PTI) Indian Airlines flights to Nepal, suspended in the wake of the hijacking of its Airbus to Kandahar, may be resumed soon with India and Nepal signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) next week on putting in place extra security measures at Kathmandu airport.
"I expect the finalisation of the MoU by Wednesday and, thereafter, it will be up to the Indian authorities to resume the flights. I expect the flights to be resumed sooner than later," Nepalese Ambassador to India Bhekh B Thapa told PTI today.
The extra security measures suggested by the Indian Civil Aviation authorities and accepted by their Nepalese counterparts include special steps at the check-in point of the Indian Airlines counter at Kathmandus Tribhuvan airport, installation of a second X-ray machine and frisking of passengers by Indian security personnel after they had been cleared by the Nepalese airport security, Mr Thapa said.
"Only finer details of the security apparatus need to be finalised," he said when asked whether Indian security personnel involved in the arrangements would be based in Nepal or if they would be shuttled by the aircraft and at what point the frisking would take place.
In a bid to speed up the
resumption of suspended flights, Nepalese Premier G.P.
Koirala had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister
Atal Behari Vajpayee about three weeks ago while Foreign
Minister Chakra Bastola met External Affairs Minister
Jaswant Singh last week on the sidelines of the
non-aligned Foreign Ministers Conference in
Cartagena. A visit by Mr Koirala to India is also on the
cards later this weak.
Maintenance case: HC ruling set aside
MUMBAI, April 16 (PTI) Can a court deny maintenance pendente lite (pending litigation) to a Christian wife on the ground that her marriage to a Hindu was void ab initio?
No, says the Supreme Court which recently set aside a verdict of the Mumbai High Court on the same issue.
Mr Justice V. N Khare and Mr Justice N. Santosh Hegde Ramesh agreed to pay Rs 7500 per month as interim maintenance.
Ramesh married Madhavi, alias Magdelene Periera, here on January 19, 1983, in accordance with Hindu rites. Before her marriage, Madhavi was a Christian but claimed to have undergone the mandatory "shudikaran" (conversion) ceremony before performing the rituals of a Hindu marriage.
According to her counsel, Amit Kumar Bhowmik, Madhavi was a Hindu at the time of her marriage to Ramesh and her two minor children were also Hindus. However, the marriage ran into rough weather in 1991 and Ramesh agreed to provide for maintenance to his two daughters and his wife.
Since he did not comply with the promise, Madhavi filed a petition in a family court for judicial separation in 1992. She asked for interim relief including maintenance pendente lite for herself and her daughters besides injunction to restrain her husband from encumbrancing her matrimonial home.
However, Ramesh moved the family court for declaring his marriage with Madhavi as null and void on the ground that she was a Christian before and continued to be so. While the court granted maintenance for daughters, maintenance pendente lite for Madhavi was kept in abeyance. The court framed issues in both the petitions in 1993.
In June 1997, Mr P. L. Joshi, family court Judge, rejected Madhavis plea for maintenance pendente lite for herself as he came to conclusion that her marriage to Ramesh was void ab initio. He also held that she was not entitled to any relief because the marriage was not performed as per the Hindu vedic rites because she was a Christian at the time of the nuptials.
He thus decided the main petition, upholding Rameshs contention without even the evidence being led or embarking on the trial, Madhavis counsel Amit Bhowmik pointed out.
Being aggrieved, Madhavi challenged the lower court order in the high court which on December 14 last upheld the family courts verdict and rejected her petition.
She then filed an appeal before the Supreme Court which felt that it was not proper on the part of the high court to record any opinion about the legal position of the marriage when the matter was pending in the family court.
Clintons remark bitter reality
NEW DELHI, April 16 (UNI) US President Bill Clintons remark that the massacre of 36 Sikhs in Kashmir during his Indian visit is part of a strategy of those who do not want peace there reflects how minorities are being made scapegoats for some vested interests, says veteran Akali leader Gurcharan Singh Tohra.
"Mr Clintons remarks again put into focus the question who perpetrated the crime that warrants an impartial and a high-level probe," Mr Tohra said here today.
The Akali stalwart agreed with the US Presidents observation that the Kashmir problem grew out of the "founding of the nations of India and Pakistan," adding that the trouble for Sikhs also began from that period of time.
"The bitter reality that Mr Clinton has hinted at is in fact a Sikh tragedy", he said, adding that "the community has been the worst sufferer of the Partition. Thousands of Sikhs lost their lives and the migrants from West Punjab could get only a fraction of their properties they had left in their native places."
"Sikhs lost as many as 174 historical gurdwaras, even the cradle of their religion Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak. And as a minority in India, the community was subject to discrimination on grounds of religion, language and culture which invariably expressed itself in politics," he added.
Mr Tohra said the Sikh community in the valley felt "highly insecure" following the March 20 massacre in Chatti Singhpora village of South Kashmir and wanted to migrate which would "go against the pluralist culture and democratic set-up of the country".
The Akali leader, who recently met President K.R. Narayanan and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in connection with the massacre, said the minority community would feel secure only when the real perpetrators of the heinous act were thoroughly exposed.
SC: AICTEs nod binding on universities
NEW DELHI, April 16 (PTI) In a major judgement, the Supreme Court has ruled that the government cannot prevent a university from granting affiliation to a private engineering college once the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) recognises the colleges capability to provide technical education.
"The procedure for obtaining the affiliation and any condition which could be imposed by the university, could not be inconsistent with the provisions of the AICTE Act. The university could not, therefore, in any event have sought for approval of the state government," the apex court said.
The Jaya Gokul Trust wanted to establish a self-financing engineering college and approached both the University of Kerala as well as the AICTE. A team of professors from the university after inspecting the facilities recommended favourably.
The AICTE also after scrutiny of the facilities granted approval to the trust for establishing an engineering and technical college in April 1995.
However, when the university sent the name of the trust for granting affiliation to its college to the government for its views, the latter rejected the request for the same.
Terming the state governments refusal to grant permission as "illegal and void on merits", a Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Mr Justice M.J. Rao and Mr Justice M.B. Shah said: "It is obvious that there is no need to approach the state of Kerala for its approval for starting the engineering college".
Mr Justice Rao writing the judgement for the Bench said the recommendation of the AICTE included the consent of the government as its Director of Technical Education was a member of the state-level committee as per AICTE regulation.
Moreover, the Secretary, Technical Education of the Government, was also a member of that committee, the Judge observed.
The Bench said: "If the state government had any technical objections to the grant of affiliation to the college, its only remedy was to place its objections before the AICTE or before the state-level committee."
Mr Justice Rao said if the government came across facts later on that a college, which had been granted affiliation, was not following the terms and conditions set by AICTE, it "could always write to the AICTE, to enable the latter to take appropriate action."
Setting aside the
governments order refusing the grant of permission,
the Bench directed the university to consider the
trusts application for final affiliation on the
basis of the approval granted by AICTE in 1995.
Ghani Khan ready to quit on mahajot
CALCUTTA, April 16 (PTI) West Bengal Congress President ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury today threatened to leave the Congress if it was embarrassed over joining the "mahajot" (grand alliance) to oust the CPM from power in the state as Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee maintained the BJP would not be dumped.
After a crucial meeting with Ms Banerjee on the formation of the alliance ahead of the civic polls next month, Mr Chowdhury told reporters that he would "walk out" of the party if some Congress leaders felt that he was putting them in difficulty by joining "mahajot."
When pointed out that some Congress leaders have strong reservations over the formation of such an alliance with the BJP as a constituent, he said, "How does the question of BJP arise? We are talking to Mamata Banerjee. We will drive away the CPM with the help of Mamata. If some Congress leaders think that I am putting them in difficulty, I will walk out."
Sitting by Mr Chowdhurys side, Mr Banerjee asserted the "mahajot" would be formed before the civic poll with Trinamool Congress, the Congress and the BJP.
"The Congress is a co-partner. But our alliance with the BJP will continue. Nobody is untouchable. It is a political fight against the CPM. We will not allow the anti-CPM votes to be divided," she said.
Digvijay flays BJPs dual policy
BHOPAL, April 16 (UNI) Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh said that today the BJP dual policy over the Ram Temple issued had again been exposed.
Reacting to the statement of senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj that the temple matter was a political, not a religious, issue, Mr Singh said never before in the democratic history of India had such an instance of betrayal by a party been found.
He said in statement here today that Ms Swarajs remarks had made clear the true character of the BJP. Earlier, the partys views on the Ram Temple issue were also made evident by the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.
statement has exposed the hidden agenda of the
BJP, he alleged, adding that the Congress had
repeatedly pronounced that the issues of Ram Temple,
Article 370 and uniform civil code were, in fact, the
concealed agenda of the BJP.
Rally marks end of Khalsa celebrations
MUMBAI, April 16 (UNI) The Sikh community in Mumbai today took out a procession to mark the completion of year-long celebrations to commemorate the tercentenary of the Khalsa Panth.
The year-long celebrations of the 300 years of Khalsa Panth ended on April 13, on Baisakhi day.
Dressed in traditional attire, members of the Sikh community irrespective of their age came out in huge numbers to join the procession which is known as "nagar kirtan". It was led by "panj pyaras" (five beloved Sikhs) and Guru Granth Saheb was carried amidst chanting of religious hymns. At several points, sharbat and butter milk was served to the devotees. People from other communities also joined the procession.
The procession started from Gurdwara Guru Nanak Satsangh Sabha at Chunabhatti and culminated at Guru Nanak High School ground at Guru Tegbahadur Nagar, Central Mumbai. It was organised by Guru Tegbahadur Kalgidhar Panchayati Sevak Jatha and several other organisations of the Sikh community from Mumbai.
After the procession, bhajan-kirtans and religious discourses by the leaders followed.
On April 13, a function
was organised by the community at the Garodia Nagar
municipal ground which was attended by state Chief
Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. The concluding ceremony will
take place on April 22 at Guru Tegbahadur Nagar.
Pondy ministry expanded
PONDICHERRY, April 16 (PTI) The Congress-led coalition ministry in Pondicherry headed by Mr P. Shanmugham was today expanded with the induction of three ministers, taking its strength to five.
The three new ministers Mr Rangaswamy (Congress), Mr Theni C. Jayakumar, TMC MLA and former minister and Mr E. Valsaraj (Congress) were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Lt. Governor Rajani Rai at a simple function at Raj Niwas.
Illegal arms racket unearthed
GREATER NOIDA, April 16 The Noida police claims to have unearthed an illegal arms manufacturing racket. The police also arrested a youth allegedly involved in the racket and recovered two .312 bore countrymade revolvers, four pistols and some equipment.
Kakor police station received information that a gang involved in arms manufacturing was active in Kakor village. The police raided the place and arrested a youth in this regard.
The suspect, Uday Vir,
in his statement to the police, confessed that he was
operating from his residence and the factory was also
located nearby. He confessed that he was selling the arms
to anti-social elements active in western Uttar Pradesh.
Bhatt to make film on Taslima
NEW DELHI, April 16 (PTI) Just when the whole world seems to be shunning her, Mahesh Bhatt is out to put exiled Bangladeshi novelist Taslima Nasreen on a pedestal.
"I want to make a film on Taslima Nasreen. I am impressed by her. You can say I feel inspired by her," Bhatt, who was in Delhi for the shooting of a science-based show on Doordarshan said.
But what is it about her that has impressed him so much?
seen a questioning mind in a person, especially a woman,
of that religion. She had dared to raise questions (in an
orthodox set-up) and she was punished for that. And she
is paying the price for it," he says.
action planned against Laloo
ghosts in UP?
bail for 2 executives
Fire claims five
drug antibiotic too
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