Tuesday, September 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

SC stands by EC order
Hearing on caretaker govt in Gujarat on Sept 17
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 2
Observing that Gujarat is not an issue before the apex court as the Election Commission (EC) has decided to hold the Assembly elections in the state in November-December, the five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court said today that it could not give its opinion on the presidential reference before the October deadline for reconstituting the dissolved Gujarat Assembly.

The Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Mr Justice B.N. Kirpal, said it could not find fault with the EC disclosing that November-December was the most likely date for going through with the democratic process in Gujarat.

The Supreme Court fixed September 17 for hearing the presidential reference under Article 143 of the Constitution and asked the parties concerned to file their written arguments by September 16.

The apex court decided to proceed on the presumption that whatever had been stated by the EC was correct and that the Bench would go into the issue of Article 174 being read with Article 324 while deciding the presidential reference.

The Bench issued notices to the Union Government, the Gujarat Government and Chief Minister Narendra Modi on a public interest litigation petition that under the Constitution there was no provision for a caretaker Chief Minister.

Even as Solicitor-General Harish Salve pleaded for early hearing on the presidential reference, the Bench said: “It will be our endeavour to give an opinion as expeditiously as possible. However, if you think a decision can be given by October 2, it is impossible for all practical purposes.”

On the scope of the hearing, the Bench said it would not entertain any clarification on the facts and circumstances outlined by the EC for taking the decision to defer the poll (in Gujarat). “We will proceed to hear the matter taking whatever the EC has stated in its order as correct.”

The Bench said it would hear only legal arguments pertaining to the issues raised in the presidential reference. Clearly, the Bench did not want to go into the merits or demerits of the EC having reached the conclusion that deferment of poll had become necessary in the prevailing circumstances in Gujarat.

Representing the EC, senior advocate K.K. Venugopal informed the court that the Assembly elections in Gujarat would be held in November-December this year.

On August 26, the Supreme Court had issued notices to the EC all state governments and national political parties on the presidential reference.

The three issues on which President A P J Abdul Kalam had sought the opinion of the Supreme Court were:

Was Article 174 subject to the decision of the Election Commission under Article 324 as to the schedule of elections of the Assembly?; could the Election Commission frame a schedule for the elections to an Assembly on the premise that any infraction of the mandate under Article 174 would be remedied by a resort to Article 356 by the President; and

Was the Election Commission under a duty to carry out the mandate of Article 174 of the Constitution by drawing upon all requisite resources of the Union and the state to ensure free and fair elections.


Left asks PM to stop Modi yatra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 2
The Left parties today asked the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime to stop the BJP’s postponed “gaurav rath yatra” and instead undertake “legitimate election campaign” in Gujarat.

They also demanded that the government ban the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and put its leader Ashok Singhal behind the bars for his reported utterance that the post-Godhra riots in the state would deter any possible offensive by the minority community in future.

In a statement here, the CPI said the Gujarat Government’s decision to postpone the launching of the yatra should give them an opportunity to think about the yatra itself.

By now it had become clear to everyone that the call for the yatra was an “attempt to whip up tension once again, with the sole objective to deepen the communal divide and intimidate the minorities with an eye on the election”, it said.

CPM Polit Buro member Prakash Karat said: “The yatra should be cancelled altogether as its resumption in the present situation, will hamper any return to normalcy”.

Echoing his views on the cancellation of the yatra, CPI (M-L) central secretariat member Ranjit Abhigyan said a ban should be imposed on the saffron organisation for “spreading communal hatred for political purposes’’. 


Gaurav yatra put off to avoid tension, says Jaitley
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 2
The BJP today said the main Opposition party’s decision to launch its yatra from Phagvel village tomorrow, showed the situation in Gujarat was normal.

“By its decision to launch the yatra, the Congress has come around to what we have been saying that the situation is normal. The party, by its action, has conclusively re-emphasised it,” BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley told mediapersons here.

Appreciating the decision by Chief Minister Narendra Modi to postpone Gaurav Yatra till September 7, Mr Jaitley said, “The state unit of the BJP did not want to create tension and has shown statesmanship by deferring the yatra.”

“The Congress wanted to take out the yatra at the same time and same place as the one planned by the BJP so as to create tension,” Mr Jaitley alleged.

Mr Jaitley, who is in charge of party affairs in Gujarat, said while the Congress had constantly opposed the Gaurav Yatra with the party President Sonia Gandhi even seeking Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s intervention to stop it, the party was going ahead with its own event.

Sources said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi took the decision of postponing the yatra without even consulting the central leadership which had created a problem.

The central leadership had persuaded former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel to be present in Phagvel from where the yatra was to be flagged off. BJP General Secretary Rajnath Singh was to flag off the yatra, but now Mr Patel has conveyed that he would not be available on September 7.

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