Tuesday, March 13, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Motion of thanks defeated in RS
Govt embarrassed over Balco issue
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 12
The government faced an embarrassing situation when the Rajya Sabha defeated Motion of thanks on the President’s address to the joint session of Parliament by 103 to 64 votes today.

As Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee concluded his reply to the three-day debate on the motion of thanks, the House adopted an amendment moved by senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee on the recent Balco disinvestment issue. The amendment points out that the Presidential address did not make a mention of the government’s decision to sell Balco to a private company whose track record is not known and is of doubtful nature.

When Chairman Krishan Kant asked Mr Mukherjee whether he, like other members would withdraw his amendment, the Congress member said that the would like a division on the amendment.

Earlier in the day, the Lok Sabha adopted the President’s Address to the joint session of Parliament.

In his reply, the Prime Minister said that the government’s decision to announce ceasefire in J&K was hailed by people in the state. He said that before the time limit for the ceasefire in J&K expires, the government will hold consultations with various political parties on the issue. “A solution will be found through dialogue. Kashmir is a national and political question linked to the unity and integrity of the country.”

Mr Vajpayee described UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s reported statement ruling out implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir as “very significant. Now a solution is possible on documents prepared on the basis of Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration.’’

The Prime Minister said the government will soon honour its poll promise of setting up a National Judicial Commission. “I would like to assure the House of the constitution of a National Judicial Commission soon.’’

Mr Vajpayee drew attention to a decrease in the number of cases pending in the Supreme Court. He said that the number of such cases has come down from one lakh in the early nineties to 22,000. He said that the government wants to bring about amendments in the Civil Procedure Code and is keen that a bill to this effect is passed in the ongoing session of Parliament. He said that the government will set up fast track courts from April and will make financial provisions to ensure that 1,700 such courts are set up soon.

Referring to Mr Pranab Mukherjee’s suggestion of judicial reforms, the PM said these alone are not enough. “Administrative reforms are also needed. Reforms are needed in every sphere.’’

Mr Vajpayee said that the issue of re-organisation of states was difficult but was sorted out through debate and discussion.


Govt rejects Jogi’s offer on Balco

New Delhi, March 12
The Central Government tonight rejected Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi’s offer to buy 51 per cent stake in Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco), terming it as “non-serious and frivolous”.

“Even the Supreme Court has not taken notice....it was a passing reference. Government does not react to frivolities,” Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie told mediapersons after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.

He was responding to reports on the Chhattisgarh Government’s willingness to pay Rs 552 crore to buy 51 per cent of Central Government’s share in Balco which was sold to Sterlite Industries for Rs 551.5 crore.

Mr Shourie, accompanied by Law Minister Arun Jaitley, said the disinvestment process in Balco had been transparent right from the beginning and “if Mr Jogi was serious about this, he should have participated in the process since it began”. PTI

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