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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Uma Bharati to float new party
New Delhi, January 27
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharati today announced setting up of a political party after 90 days and ruled out her return to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from where she was expelled for anti-party activities.
BJP rebel Uma Bharati addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Friday BJP rebel Uma Bharati addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Friday. — Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Karnataka imbroglio: Cong puts up brave front
New Delhi, January 27
The Congress today put up a brave face when faced with the prospect of losing its government in Karnataka, saying it had worked till the very end to buy peace with its ally, the Janata Dal (S), and save the secular formation in the state.


EARLIER STORIES
 

SC permits withdrawal of Simran custody case
New Delhi, January 27
The case pertaining to the custody of Simran, a 13-year-old girl from Amritsar, became murkier today as her mother told the Supreme Court that the child was “safe and alive” in Washington. But in-laws of Ms Nirmaljit Kaur, seeking custody of the child, distributed an “adoption” deed among mediapersons claiming that she was not the biological mother of the child as she never gave birth to her and only adopted her in 1992 when her husband was alive.

Left warns govt on Iran issue
New Delhi, January 27
Left parties today virtually dictated to the Manmohan Singh government the stand it should take at the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) meeting next week on the Iran issue and warned that US President George Bush was an “unwanted guest” to the country.

Saudi King took initiative on ‘Delhi Declaration’
New Delhi, January 27
The visit of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud is viewed here as historic as this is the first time they have entered into a bilateral agreement with any country.

Amitabh visits Akshardham
New Delhi, January 27

More than a month after people of Delhi saw a visibly ill Amitabh Bachchan at the Escorts Hospital, his fans saw a rather rejuvenated Amitabh, who greeted them by waving enthusiastically after offering prayers at the Akshardham temple here. Amitabh and Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh visited the temple to offer prayers on the occasion of the latter’s 50th birthday.
After emerging out, he waved enthusiastically to fans gathered outside the temple, who were relieved to see their fully recovered superstar, with no signs of the pain that had plagued him for over a month.

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and his family friend and SP leader Amar Singh come out of Akshardham temple in New Delhi on Friday after praying on the 50th birthday of Amar Singh. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and his family friend and SP leader Amar Singh come out of Akshardham temple in New Delhi on Friday after praying on the 50th birthday of Amar Singh

Take action against tax officials: SC
New Delhi, January 27
The Supreme Court today came down heavily on officials of the Income Tax Department for not disposing of a tax refund case of a company in time, resulting in an interest of Rs 40.84 lakh on the refund amount to have been settled 17 years ago.

Petition for FIR against expelled MPs rejected
New Delhi, January 27
The Supreme Court today dismissed a petition for the registration of criminal case against eleven MPs expelled from Parliament for their “involvement” in the cash for query scam.


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Uma Bharati to float new party
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 27
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharati today announced setting up of a political party after 90 days and ruled out her return to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from where she was expelled for anti-party activities.

Addressing the meet-the- press programme at the Press Club of India here, darling of the Rashtriya Swyamasevak Sangh family but estranged from her mentors in the BJP vowed to “root out the foreign elements” from Indian politics and form governments in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in the next Assembly elections.

Sparing none in her former party, Ms Bharati chose to train her guns on not only former Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani respectively but also on BJP President Rajnath Singh saying “those who are taking out ‘Nyaya Yatras’ and begging for justice cannot do injustice to me. They have done injustice to ideology, betrayed the people of Madhya Pradesh and insulted millions of party workers”.

“You cannot have Ram and Jinnah together. There should not be double standards. There has to be clarity of thoughts. Mr Rajnath Singh will have to clarify who is the real party — the Leader of Opposition praising Jinnah in Pakistan or the party chief swearing by Hindutva outside Jhandewalan (RSS headquarters in Delhi).”

She said the recent changes in the key BJP panels was akin to a shopkeeper changing the position of his goods in the shop. 

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Karnataka imbroglio: Cong puts up brave front
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 27
The Congress today put up a brave face when faced with the prospect of losing its government in Karnataka, saying it had worked till the very end to buy peace with its ally, the Janata Dal (S), and save the secular formation in the state.

Congress leaders, who had been negotiating with JD (S) leader and former Prime Minister H.D.Deve Gowda throughout the day, had hoped he would succeed in dissuading his son H.D. Kumaraswamy and legislators from joining hands with the BJP.

Realising that Mr Gowda had failed to deliver on his assurance, the Congress was quick to put the record straight on its own last-minute efforts to save the government.

It also did not hesitate to blame the JD (S) for spurning its offers of a patch-up.

Congress spokesperson Ambika Soni explained that their party had given in to all JD (S) demands in its endeavour to keep communal forces at bay. It had agreed to the adoption of the “Maharashtra model” in Karnataka wherein the junior partner would be allocated key departments like Home and Irrigation and a coordination panel would be constituted to ensure the smooth functioning the coalition government. Ms Soni did not publicly criticise Mr Gowda but bitter party leaders privately maintained that despite the public posturing, the father and son were actually acting in tandem.

Mr Gowda, Ms Soni said, had assured them that he would persuade his son and his legislators to accept this formula and that their letters of support would reach Mr. A.K. Antony, AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka, who is camping in Bangalore. Instead, Mr Antony got a letter from Mr Gowda in which he admitted his failure and suggested that Mr Dharam Singh should resign instead of facing a confidence vote.

This suggestion was promptly rejected by the Congress on the ground that it was not willing to hand over the government on a platter to communal forces and would rather expose the JD (S) for joining hands with the BJP and betraying the secular cause .

This decision was taken by Ms Sonia Gandhi in consultation with Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who was monitoring the situation in Delhi, and the state leaders.

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SC permits withdrawal of Simran custody case
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 27
The case pertaining to the custody of Simran, a 13-year-old girl from Amritsar, became murkier today as her mother told the Supreme Court that the child was “safe and alive” in Washington. But in-laws of Ms Nirmaljit Kaur, seeking custody of the child, distributed an “adoption” deed among mediapersons claiming that she was not the biological mother of the child as she never gave birth to her and only adopted her in 1992 when her husband was alive.

The adoption document, with a handwritten statement of Simran, was distributed soon after the Supreme Court permitted Ms Nirmaljit Kaur to withdraw her case against her in-laws for the custody of the girl. She made a statement in the court that she faced no threat to her life and her “daughter is alive and safe living with some relatives in Washington”.

The girl stated in the handwritten statement: “I have now come to know about my real mother as Ms Kuljit Kaur. After my birth on January 1, 1992, my real mother gave me to Ms Nirmaljit Kaur, who also got recorded my birth entry with date of birth as February 16, 1992, to show me as her real daughter.

However, Ms Nirmaljit Kaur did not care for me and also did not bring me up with the result that Mr Surinder Singh (her father) had given me to Gurbachan Singh Batra, his elder brother, and his family members and I am being brought up nicely almost since 1992-93. I had gone to the USA with Arminderjit Singh (nephew of Gurbachan Singh) and stayed there for about a year.”

Earlier, Ms Nirmaljit Kaur, appearing in person, told a Bench of Ms Justice Ruma Pal and Mr Justice A.R. Lakshmanan that her child “is living with some relatives in Washington. I have enquired from my relatives there and she is alive and safe. I don’t want to pursue the case any further.”

When Ms Justice Ruma Pal put a straight question to Ms Nirmaljit Kaur as where her child was in Washington, she said: “I don’t want to disclose the address as I am under pressure from the media…I am negotiating with them (in-laws).” At that stage counsel for in-laws watched the proceedings silently and did not utter a word.

After recording her statement, the court allowed Ms Nirmaljit Kaur to withdraw the petition for the custody of Simran.

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Left warns govt on Iran issue
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 27
Left parties today virtually dictated to the Manmohan Singh government the stand it should take at the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) meeting next week on the Iran issue and warned that US President George Bush was an “unwanted guest” to the country.

“We are going to write a letter to the Prime Minister telling him in clear terms that we do not want the Government of India to vote for any resolution that proposes to take the matter to the Security Council,” CPI General Secretary A.B. Bardhan told mediapersons after the meeting of the parties here.

Emerging from the meeting, attended by CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, CPI National Secretary D. Raja, Forward Bloc leaders Debabrata Biswas and G. Devarajan, Bardhan said India should not support the game played by the USA and the European Union at any cost.

The Left parties, which provide crucial outside support to the Congress-led UPA government, asked the government to make public the proposals handed over to the USA about the separation of civilian and military nuclear facilities.

“It is unfair to keep such a vital issue away from public scrutiny,” they said.

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Saudi King took initiative on ‘Delhi Declaration’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 27
The visit of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud is viewed here as historic as this is the first time they have entered into a bilateral agreement with any country.

The signing of the Indo-Saudi “Delhi Declaration” has been possible because of the initiative of the King himself even though it was worrisome to the Saudi officials that this would set a precedent and can create problems with other countries.

The King, authoritative sources said, would have it no other way on the ground that “other countries are not India” and the Monarch has gone out of his way to describe “India as special.” He has also stressed that he considers India his second home.

The King expressed similar sentiments when Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat called on him. The ‘Delhi Declaration’ is wide ranging for the strategic partnership in the critical energy sector, putting economic cooperation on an overdrive coupled with major investments in the petroleum sector as well as joining hands in dealing with the menace of terrorism.

When Prince Bandar called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh he spoke about the invisible man who observed that being invisible did not mean that he did not exist but that others could not see him.

Prince Bandar alluded to India being a revelation and like the invisible man which has “opened our heart and eyes.”

Clearly, this landmark visit of the Saudi Monarch after a gap of five decades has opened new vistas and an entirely new chapter in Indo-Saudi relations. The Saudi leadership has been overawed by the allround development and the high growth path that India has achieved for itself. If the Prime Minister had sidestepped protocol in personally receiving the Saudi King at the airport on his arrival here, the visiting Monarch has set new precedents in taking forward the oil rich country’s ties with India to a new high.

Sources in the high power Saudi delegation observed that the King was highly impressed with the R-day parade and pageant and it will not be long before the two countries are also engaged in a strategic military partnership. All this assumes significance as there are nearly 1.5 million Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia.

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Amitabh visits Akshardham
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 27
More than a month after people of Delhi saw a visibly ill Amitabh Bachchan at the Escorts Hospital, his fans saw a rather rejuvenated Amitabh, who greeted them by waving enthusiastically after offering prayers at the Akshardham temple here.

Amitabh and Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh visited the temple to offer prayers on the occasion of the latter’s 50th birthday. After emerging out, he waved enthusiastically to fans gathered outside the temple, who were relieved to see their fully recovered superstar, with no signs of the pain that had plagued him for over a month.

This was Amitabh’s first appearance in the Capital after his recent surgery for an intestinal ailment at Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital.

Amitabh was accompanied by wife Jaya, son Abhishek and daughter Shweta Nanda.

Also accompanying them were Amar Singh’s wife and two daughters, MP Jaya Prada and Tina Ambani.

As soon as word of Amitabh’s visit to the temple at around 9 am spread, thousands of fans and a horde of mediapersons gathered outside the temple.

Though the megastar declined to speak to mediapersons, Mr Amar Singh said he had made a donation of Rs 50 lakh to the temple.

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Take action against tax officials: SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 27
The Supreme Court today came down heavily on officials of the Income Tax Department for not disposing of a tax refund case of a company in time, resulting in an interest of Rs 40.84 lakh on the refund amount to have been settled 17 years ago.

A Bench of Mr Justice H.K. Sema and Mr Justice A.R. Lakshmanan directed the Finance Ministry to take appropriate action against the officials concerned.

Allowing the plea of Sandvik Asia Ltd seeking refund of the interest as well as further interest on the total due amount of Rs 40.84 lakh, assessed for four consecutive assessment years between 1977 and 1983, the court directed the department to pay it 9 per cent more interest on the due amount.

Since the loss to be caused due to the payment of further interest of 9 per cent was solely due to the negligence of the tax officials, action should be taken against them, the court said, asking its Registry to send the order to the Finance Ministry.

The case was settled by the department between 1986 and 1998 and accordingly Rs 40.84 lakh interest was to be refunded to the company.

Since the money was not paid and there was delay in settling the dues, the company had moved the apex court.

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Petition for FIR against expelled MPs rejected
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 27
The Supreme Court today dismissed a petition for the registration of criminal case against eleven MPs expelled from Parliament for their “involvement” in the cash for query scam.

A public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a direction for registration of the FIR was filed by the Supreme Court Young Lawyers Association (SCYLA).

A Bench of Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Mr Justice C.K. Thakker asked SCYLA’s counsel M.N. Krishnamani, if any body had filed a complaint with the police and it had refused to take cognizance of the same..

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