|Tuesday, April 18, 2000,
Do not politicise review: PM
Tie-up with SAD to remain: BJP
Govt committed to
remove gender bias
figure in House
57 RS members take oath
US project on Indian authors
Seminar to review forest policy
Release judges property:
SC ruling on public counsel
Congress disowns leaders
stand on Jharkhand
Do not politicise review: PM
NEW DELHI, April 17 (UNI) Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today blamed his political opponents of playing vote bank politics on all issues and asked them to desist from politicising the review of the Constitution which was aimed at removing social imbalances.
Addressing a Dalit rally here, he said the parties playing vote bank card would not succeed as the people have realised their designs. "We do not treat any section or issue as that of vote bank. We work for bringing social justice and equality to all sections of society, including Dalits," Mr Vajpayee said.
He charged the Congress with indulging in mud-slinging and using unparliamentary language over the past few days on the proposed constitutional review in the name of Dr B.R.Ambedkar, the father of the Indian Constitution, whose birth anniversary was on April 14.
In the absence of any political issue to talk about, the Congress was trying to make the review of the Constitution an issue, he said adding that the party, which was responsible for carrying out a majority of the amendments to the Constitution, was trying to mislead the public on the issue.
The BJP or its erstwhile Jana Sangh always believed in a democratic set up of the society and would do nothing to take away the rights and liberty of the people, the senior party leader said.
"The committee to deliberate upon the review was not aimed at changing the basic fabric of the Constitution, but to assess its performance during the past 50 years," he assured the people.
"The Constitution review panel has been formed to see the working of the Constitution during the past 50 years."
Mr Vajpayee said former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were responsible for 90 per cent of the 79 Constitutional amendments which have been carried out so far.
Defending the right of the government in setting up the Constitution review panel, he said there were in-built provisions in the Constitution to review it, if and when required.
Moreover, the committee comprises people of high integrity. "There are former Supreme Court judges, outstanding public personalities and constitutional experts in the panel and the advice of the Chairman of the committee (Justice M.N.Venkatachaliah) had been taken before deciding on the terms of reference," the Prime Minister said.
Mr Vajpayee said even after more than 50 years of Independence, certain sections of the society, including Dalits, were yet to be given their rights.
Mr Advani said the Congress had supported the debate on the motion of vote of thanks of the Presidents Address, which included his governments intention to set up a panel to review the Constitution.
"The Congress was supporting our move (to have a review of the Constitution), but after the name of former Speaker P.A.Sangma figured in the list of members of the panel, the party changed its attitude," he claimed.
Mr Advani said Dr Ambedkar left the maximum impact on the Constitution and he wanted the country to know about the life of such a personality. Dr Ambedkar had in one of his books written that there was nothing wrong in reviewing the Constitution, if need be, he informed.
He blamed the Congress
for using Dalits as vote bank and not bothering about the
welfare and rights of the lot. His governments
intention was to provide a situation where rights of the
minorities and Dalits were protected and they feel safe,
the Home Minister said, adding that there was a need for
providing financial and social security to Dalits as
provided in the Preamble of the Constitution.
Tie-up with SAD to remain:
NEW DELHI, April 17 The BJP today maintained that its tie-up with SAD was there to stay and it was having no talks with Mr Tohra-led Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) to dislodge Mr Prakash Singh Badal in Punjab.
Party spokesman and general secretary Mr Venkaiah Naidu, when asked to comment on reports that the SHSAD was in touch with the BJP national leadership to bring about a change in the Punjab Government, told TNS that "there is no question of leaving SAD".
He said there had been no talks, whatsoever, with any party in Punjab and "these are just rumours".
Mr Naidu, however, said it was possible that some meeting could have taken place at the state-level but then this had nothing to do with the party.
Mr Naidu said SAD had been the most trusted ally of the BJP and they would continue to work together.
Party sources said BJPs unstinted support for SAD had been conveyed recently to the Chief Minister when he was in the Capital to attend the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa.
Sharing the podium with the Punjab Chief Minister at the national museum here, the Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader, Mr L.K. Advani, had appreciated the role of SAD during the Emergency and their steadfast support to the Vajpayee government during crisis. This was also an indication of the good rapport between the two parties, the sources said.
Meanwhile, Mr Naidu said the BJPs Central Election Committee had cleared the candidature of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Ram Parkash Gupta and his ministerial colleague Ram Chandra Balmiki for the coming biennial elections to the state legislative council.
He said the CEC, which met here yesterday, also cleared the names of three party nominees each from Karnataka and Bihar and one candidate from graduate constituency in Maharashtra.
Mr Naidu said the party had renominated Mr Ramchandra Gowda, Mr Shankar Murthi and Mr M.R. Thanga from graduate constituencies in Karnataka and Mr Ashok Modak from Maharashtra.
For Bihar Legislative Council seats, the party has nominated Baleshwar Bharati, Ganga Prasad Singh and Praveen Singh.
Mr Naidu said the BJP would contest six seats in Uttar Pradesh, and that names of the remaining four candidates would be cleared by party President, Mr Kushabhan Thakre in consultation with Mr Vajpayee after receiving the list from the party unit.
In Bihar, he said the party could get elected its two nominees comfortably while for the third seat it was depending on its allies with whom talks were going on.
Clarifying on the decision of the national executive committee of the BJP to bring into effect from a prospective date the extension of the terms of party presidents to three years and that too for a single term. Mr Naidu said this had been done as there were several state unit presidents who had not even completed two years.
The decision would mean that the existing party President, Mr Thakre could seek another term. Mr Naidu said the elections to the party president would be held sometime in June after the organisational elections at the state-level were completed by May 25.
Govt committed to remove gender bias
NEW DELHI, April 17 (UNI) The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today admitted that a lot more remains to be done towards elimination of discrimination against women though the country had made significant progress, in this direction.
"Our aim is to remove barriers and roadblocks so that new avenues are opened to a new world of opportunities for women", he said while inaugurating the sixth meeting of the Commonwealth ministers responsible for women affairs here.
Mr Vajpayee referred to the various steps taken by the government to eliminate discrimination against women, including the introduction of a Bill to reserve one-third of the seats for women in Parliament and state legislatures, plan to provide free education to women up to degree-level and introduction of a womens component plan in all sectors of national development strategy to ensure that benefits of development do not bypass women.
Delivering the keynote address, Commonwealth Secretary-General Donald C. McKinnon recalled that India was instrumental in "giving the Commonwealth its identity as we know it today by seeking to remain a member of the association even after embracing a republican form of government". The London Declaration of 1949 was a reflection of the courage and vision of Pandit Nehru as well as the sagacity of those other leaders of the Commonwealth which made the agreement possible.
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, said the government was finalising a national policy on empowerment of women. Once passed by Parliament it would act as a guide at every level and in every sector by mainstreaming gender perspective into policies, plans and programmes.
The Minister of State
for Human Resource Development, Ms Sumitra Mahajan, in
her welcome address hoped that the Commonwealth
Ministers meeting will come out with
recommendations that will have an effective impact on
women and development in the Commonwealth countries.
NEW DELHI, April 17 (UNI, PTI) Congress members Buta Singh and Jagmit Singh Brar in the Lok Sabha said the brutal massacre of Sikhs at Chatti Singhpora in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir by terrorists supported by the ISI of Pakistan was part of the game to drive out the minorities from the state.
Raising the issue during zero hour, Mr Buta Singh said the government had failed to protect the minority communities.
Match-fixing: Mr Kirti Azad and Mr Kirit Somaiya (both BJP) demanded exemplary action against those involved in the match-fixing scandal. Former cricketer Manoj Prabhakar and others, who claimed to know the facts should be given adequate protection so they could divulge them, they added.
Petrol refining: The Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Mr Ram Naik, informed the Lok Sabha on Monday that the petroleum refining capacity in the country had increased by 43.40 million tonnes in 1999-2000 to 112.54 million tonnes. This would enable meeting the domestic demand for diesel and petrol fully and leave substantial products surplus for exports.
Kerosene duty: The government had no proposal to reduce import duty on kerosene, the Lok Sabha was informed today by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr S.K. Gangwar, in a written reply.
Foreign lawyers: The government on Monday informed the house that it had no proposal to allow foreign lawyers to practise in any court in the country.
The issue relating to agitation by lawyers was raised during zero hour by Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), who was supported by others.
The Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr Arun Jaitley, said this point was made clear by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to a delegation of the lawyers. The Prime Minister also made it clear to the delegation that neither was the government considering any proposal to make it a practice for the lawyers for appearing in any examination every five years, Mr Jaitley said.
Mr Jaitley said there was consensus in the House regarding amendment to the Civil Procedure Code.
Statute review: The chairman and members of the National Commission to Review the Constitution have been selected on the basis of their knowledge and expertise on constitutional issues, the Lok Sabha was told.
In written replies to various questions on the issue, the Minister of State for Law and Justice, Mr O. Rajagopal, said the chairman was also selected for his knowledge of the working of the democratic institutions of the nation.
Old-age pension: The Social Justice Ministry would soon move a proposal to the Cabinet to propose old-age pension for the unorganised sector, Minister for Empowerment and Social Justice Maneka Gandhi told the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
supplementaries during the question hour, she said the
ministry had urged the Chief Justice of India to issue
instructions to various courts to put all cases
pertaining to old people on the fast track which had been
57 RS members take oath
NEW DELHI, April 17 (PTI) Union Ministers Radiant Singh, Ram Jethmalani and Arun Jaitley, former ministers Sushma Swaraj and Arjun Singh and business tycoon R.P. Goenka were among the 57 newly-elected members who took oath as Rajya Sabha members today.
In the recently-held biennial elections for 60 seats in the Upper House, 16 nominees of the BJP and 15 of the Congress were elected.
Three members did not take oath.
Welcoming the members, Chairman Krishan Kant said the Rajya Sabha looked forward to their "valuable contribution" in the smooth functioning of the House and informed debate.
Other members who took the oath included, Sakshi Maharaj (SP), former Union Ministers Janeshwar Mishra (SP) and Hansraj Bharadwaj (Cong), former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kailash Joshi and journalists Balbir Punj (BJP) and Rajeev Shukla (Loktantarik Congress).
Noted lawyer R.K Anand,
film producer Dasari Narayana Rao, former Opposition
leader in Madhya Pradesh Vikram Verma, RPI leader
R.S.Gavai and S.S. Ahluwalia and Rajasekara Murthy, both
of whom recently quit the Congress to join the BJP, were
among those who took oath.
US project on Indian
NEW DELHI, April 17 In an interesting development, Indian authors will not only be read, but be heard in the USA very soon.
On the occasion to mark the 200th anniversary of the US Library of Congress, the US Ambassador, Mr Richard F Celeste today launched an exciting new project under which voices of Indian authors would be made available to members of the U S Congress and to the general American public through the Library of Congress Archive of World Literature on tape.
Also present at the launch were the Library of Congresss South Asia specialist from Washington, Dr Allen Thrasher, and its Indian representative, Ms Lygia Ballantyne. Under the project, Indian authors would be invited to share excerpts of their works on tape, which would be made available in the U S Library of Congress.
They will join the company of great writers like Octavio Paz, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Pablo Neruda whose voices are already in the archives.
The oldest federal cultural institution of the USA, the Library of Congress is celebrating its bicentennial on April 24. In recognition of the important cultural and democratic roles the library has played over the past 200 years both in the USA and abroad, Ambassador Celeste and the New Delhi office of the library today hosted an event where librarians, authors, scholars, publishers and bookdealers were invited to celebrate and honour this repository of knowledge.
The library is one of
the worlds largest with 119 million items. As part
of its mission to serve the U S Congress and all
Americans, the library operates six overseas offices. The
New Delhi office was opened in December 1961. For 38
years, its has collected thousands of books, journals,
music, and videos from the region and other research
institutions in the USA. In addition to buying books for
American libraries, the New Delhi office has cooperated
with local institutions to preserve Indias printed
culture through extensive microfilming projects.
Lawyers stir: transfer of 4 cops ordered
NEW DELHI, April 17 (UNI) The Delhi High Court today directed the government to immediately transfer four senior police officials responsible for the February 24 crackdown on a lawyers demonstration and said the first sitting of the inquiry commission set up to probe the incident must take place within a week.
Officials responsible for ordering a baton charge on lawyers are Deputy Commissioner of Police Pranab Nanda, Assistant Commissioners of Police T.S. Bhalla and Vijay Malik, besides SHO at the Parliament police station Tilak Raj Mongia.
Though the government has transferred Mr Bhalla and Mr Malik, the court said they must be transferred to some other posts to facilitate a fair and independent inquiry. All transfers should take place within a week, said a Division Bench comprising Mr Chief Justice Devendra Gupta and Mr Justice Cyriac Joseph. However, the judges said the transfers will not cast a stigma on their careers.
"The matter does not warrant any further action against the officers at this stage. But we feel disturbed by the extent of force used. Policemen beating individual lawyers, including a woman, were behaving as if they were mad dogs on a street," said Mr Justice Joseph while reading out the order.
He said the governments decision to suspend three policemen seems a half-hearted action. All other policemen who used unwarranted force should be identified within two weeks and suspended forthwith.
The judges said the Division Bench saw video tapes supplied by lawyers and police, besides wireless log books of the police before pronouncing the order. They noted that wireless log books do not contain details of the baton charge.
The incident occurred on February 24 when nearly 12,000 lawyers from all over the country were marching towards the Parliament to present a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, in protest against controversial amendments to the Civil Procedure Code and proposed changes in the Advocates Act.
Mr Justice Joseph said lawyers could not go on strike as litigants have a fundamental right to a speedy trial. At the same time, stopping other lawyers from entering court premises amounts to criminal offence and contempt of court.
The judges said the
prolonged agitation had caused injustice to the
litigants. They said the governments delay in
setting up a commission of inquiry resulted in a loss of
confidence among the lawyers community. They also
directed the government to ensure that the inquiry
commission begins its work on or before April 25.
Sonia summons Ghani Khan
CALCUTTA, April 17 (PTI) Congress President Sonia Gandhi today summoned WBPCC chief A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury in the wake of his threat to quit the party over the mahajot (grand alliance) issue.
Mr Chowdhury, who held a meeting with some state Congress leaders at the PCC office here, told newsmen that Ms Sonia Gandhi rang him up this morning and wanted to talk to him.
The state Congress chief said he would leave for the national Capital either tomorrow or the day after.
Mr Chowdhury had yesterday stated that he would quit the party if the Congress leadership thought that he was an embarrassment to the party.
Reiterating that the mahajot to oust the CPM from power in the state was inevitable, Mr Chowdhury, when asked about the BJPs inclusion in it, said, "we do not have anything to do with the BJP. We will only talk to Ms Mamata Banerjee".
Ms Banerjee after his meeting with Mr Chowdhury yesterday had, however, stated that the BJP would be a partner of the mahajot.
Earlier during the day, he discussed the progress of the mahajot and seat-sharing for the next months municipal poll at the meeting in which Chief Whip Abdul Mannan, WBPCC Vice-President Pradip Bhattacharya, PCC General Secretaries Manas Bhuniya and Sultan Ahmed were present among others.
Seminar to review forest policy
NEW DELHI, April 17 A three-day seminar aimed at attempting a re-appraisal of Indias Forest Policy will begin here on Wednesday. The seminar being organised by the Indian branch of the Commonwealth Forestry Association (CFA), the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the DFID (UK), the Planning Commission and the Ford Foundation will be inaugurated by the Minister of Environment and Forests and CFA patron, Mr T.R. Balu.
Sources in the CFA, an international NGO, told TNS here on Monday that the seminar titled "Indias Forests Beyond 2000" will address five main themes, including forest policy options, management options, international agendas, institutional mechanisms and inter-sectoral issues in forestry.
The seminar is expected to tackle the difficult issues inherent in forest management in the wake of enormous biotic pressure on forests.
Dr Vinod Kumar Bahaguna, Deputy Inspector General (Forests), Ministry of Environment and Forests and Secretary of the Indian unit of the CFA told mediapersons here today that over 120 delegates are likely to attend the seminar.
Release judges property: court
MUMBAI, April 17 (PTI) On a plea made by suspended judge Jaysingh Wadhu Singh, a special court today ordered the release of his movable and immovable properties which were attached on February 25 following the proclamation issued against him and two others in a case of alleged nexus with the underworld.
The order was released by the Designated Judge A.P. Bhagale, who disagreed with Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam that the plea of the accused for the release of his properties should be rejected because he had not surrendered before the court in accordance with the proclamation order. The judge turned down the apprehension of the police that Mr J.W. Singh may dispose of his properties if released by the court.
The properties released by the court are Kripa Nivas building owned by the suspended judges wife and father-in-law at Sion in Central Mumbai, a shop located in the same compound, garments belonging to the business run by his son, Rs 10,500 cash and jewellery. The estimated value of the building was Rs 90 lakh.
The judge ordered him to pay Rs 2,500 to court receiver who had prepared an inventory of the seized property.
By an order of the
proclamation, the court had ordered Mr J.W. Singh, to
present himself on March 15. Accordingly, he had moved an
application through his constituted attorney Pradeep
Mahajan and pleaded for time until March 29. His plea was
considered and he appeared in person on that day before
the court which ordered him to surrender before the
SC ruling on public counsel
NEW DELHI, April 17 (UNI) In a significant judgement, the Supreme Court has held that involving a public prosecutor in the investigation of a criminal case is unjudicious as well as pernicious in law.
At any rate no investigating agency can be compelled to seek opinion of a public prosecutor under the orders of a court, the court added, while setting aside a Madras High Court order directing the investigating officer in a dowry death case to withdraw the charge sheet already filed in the trial court and consult the public prosecutor before filing a fresh charge sheet in tune with the opinion of the public prosecutor.
The ruling was given by a Division Bench comprising Mr Justice K.T. Thomas and Mr Justice D. P. Mohpatra while allowing two appeals.
Investigating officer had filed the charge sheet in the case in which a young bride Selvi committed suicide on December 29, 1997 by hanging herself from the ceiling fan. She was married to Arasu Elango in 1997. Investigating officer filed the charge sheet against Arasu and his mother under Sections 304-B and 498-A, IPC.
The impugned high court order was made on a petition by Selvis father alleging that Arasus sister and her father were not arraigned as accused.
The Supreme Court, in its judgement, said that investigation and prosecution were two different facets of the administration of criminal justice. The role of public prosecutor is inside the court whereas investigation is outside the court. Normally the role of public prosecutor commences after investigating agency presents the case in court on the culmination of investigation, the Judges noted.
The judges said the high
court had committed an illegality in directing the
investigating officer to take back the final report in
the case and file a fresh report incorporating the
opinion of the public prosecutor. Such an order cannot
stand legal scrutiny and hence we allow the appeal and
set aside the impugned high court order, the judges said.
Congress disowns leaders stand on Jharkhand
RANCHI, April 17 (UNI) The Congress today disowned the statement of its leader m.k. Sinha opposing the creation of a separate state comprising 18 districts of Bihar and said it was committed to the formation of a Jharkhand state.
Sinhas statement as "an individual stand"
the party said it had nothing to do with what had been
said by Mr Sinha on the issue of statehood. Bihar
Minister of State for Forest and Congress legislator from
Kolebira in South Bihar Theodare Kiro said the Congress
was committed on the Jharkhand issue.
Award for Aishwarya
Vyas is new WWF
Four of family
Blood bank on
Panel to oversee
5 die as bus
falls into ditch
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