Tuesday, March 20, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Ex-SC judge to hold probe

New Delhi, March 19
Chief Justice of India A.S. Anand today conveyed to the government that he was not in a position to spare the services of a sitting judge of the Supreme Court for the probe into Tehelka expose but would choose a retired judge for the purpose.

“The government has been informed by the Chief Justice of India that, in principle, sitting judges should not be spared for such inquiries and hence he is unable to nominate a sitting judge,” an official release said today.

However, for nominating a retired Supreme Court judge to hold the inquiry, the Chief Justice has told the government that he would revert to it after he was able to finalise the name of such a judge.

The government had written to the Chief Justice on Saturday to recommend either a sitting or a retired judge of the Supreme Court, preferably a sitting jugde, to function as a single-member inquiry commission.

After receiving the letter from the government, the Chief Justice is understood to have consulted his colleagues in the court and they were of the “unanimous view” that it would be difficult to spare a sitting judge. PTI


Samata men to resume work
Nitish, others withdraw resignations

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
The partners of the National Democratic Alliance government with the BJP in the vanguard have taken to the offensive in blunting the countrywide action plan of the Congress to dislodge the corrupt and shameful union government which proved to be a damp squib.

After the exit of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress from the NDA grouping, the BJP leadership has persuaded Mr Nitish Kumar and two other Samata ministers in the Atal Behari Vajpayee Government to withdraw their resignations.

The high drama of the Samata ministers resigning with their leader George Fernandes having fallen from grace in the wake of “defencegate” was only a natural corollary. However, after holding the spotlight for more than four days, Mr Nitish Kumar, overseeing the Agriculture portfolio, and Ministers of State in Digvijay Singh (Railways) and V. Sreenivasa Prasad (Consumer Affairs) have acquiesced to remaining in offices of power.

Mr Fernandes told mediapersons that his colleagues had put in their papers to express solidarity with him. The Samata Parliamentary Party at its meeting here today decided unanimously that the ministers should withdraw their resignations and return to their work desks expeditiously.

Mr Nitish Kumar, who appeared unbudging about staying on in the government, said after the Samata Parliamentary Party meeting that “it is a collective decision and what Mr Fernandes has observed is the ultimate thing.”

Clearly, there were fissures in the Samata Party about the three ministers withdrawing their resignations as evidenced by the comments of an agitated Prabhunath Singh. “I don’t know what decision was taken at the Samata’s Parliamentary Party meeting,” he said. A strong section of opinion in the Samata Party was that the three ministers should severe their links with government till Mr Fernandes reappeared in the Vajpayee Cabinet.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP reaffirmed that there was no question of leaving the NDA in the lurch. The TDP with the largest block of 28 seats in the Lok Sabha after the BJP is directly responsible for keeping the NDA afloat by extending support from outside.

The TDP, however, is miffed by the alleged murky deals and believes that the NDA Government which has suffered a serious loss of face might have to pay a price for its misdemeanours in next month’s assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Pondicherry.

Supporting an independent inquiry into defencegate, the TDP maintained that the probe should be completed within the stipulated time of four months without dragging on indefinitely. “The Prime Minister must be believed when he has promised to cleanse the administration,” the TDP added.

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