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EDITORIALS

Complicating “Saral”
Beware, PC would be watching
T
HE new return form that Mr P. Chidambram’s income tax department is introducing is a great development — only for the tax sleuths and income tax consultants that is — because now it will be impossible to fill the form without the help of a professional and even then the taxman will have the right to poke his nose in your daily life.

Colombo on course
Not deterred by Tamil Tigers’ tactics
A
lthough the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have neither softened their offensive posture nor ended their violent provocations, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse appears determined to persist with negotiations. In rising to this endeavour, Mr Rajapakse’s government is moving apace on three fronts.



EARLIER STORIES

Costlier petrol
June 7, 2006
Make it uniform
June 6, 2006
Trust the doctor
June 5, 2006
Demilitarisation of Siachen
June 4, 2006
Boat ride to death
June 3, 2006
Strike and after
June 2, 2006
Returned to the sender
June 1, 2006
Court’s posers
May 31, 2006
Looking for alternative
May 30, 2006
Creek of contention
May 29, 2006


Defiance of SC
Gowda & Co. can’t stall the project
T
HE manner in which Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has been trying to circumvent the Supreme Court’s April 21 order on the execution of the prestigious Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project is highly deplorable. His attempt to push forward a Bill for taking over India’s first private infrastructure project from its developer, the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise, is in defiance of the apex court’s directive.

ARTICLE

The A.Q. Khan network
Is the case closed?
by K. Subrahmanyam
R
ecently the Pakistan government announced that the A. Q. Khan case has been closed. On May 25 the subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee on International terrorism and nonproliferation of the US Congress held a hearing on the subject, “The A. Q. Khan network: Case closed?”

MIDDLE

A rare human being
by V.N. Datta
S
OME people even if you meet them for a short time leave their profound impact, and are seldom forgotten. Mr O.P. Mahajan was one such individual. I met Mahajan for the first time in Amritsar at the residence of Mr G.R. Sethi, a distinguished journalist, in early 1953. Mr Sethi had set up a college for boys and girls in memory of his talented daughter, who had died in tragic circumstances.

OPED

Waiting for Telengana
Committee striving for “consensus”
by G.S. Bhargava
T
HE failure to redeem the promise of carving out a separate Telengana State out of Andhra Pradesh sticks out like a sore thumb in the two-year record of the UPA government. It figures in the Common Minimum Programme of the ruling alliance and was included in the President’s address to the joint session of Parliament, marking the Government’s assumption of office, on June 7, 2004.

Cloud seeding–the Chinese way
by Clifford Coonan
R
avaged by a seven-year drought and choked by poisonous dust storms, China will ‘seed’ the clouds looming over its cities with rockets and chemicals ahead of the Olympics to be held here in 2008. While some countries pray for rain and other cultures dance to bring on the downpour, China leads the world in using cloud seeding to induce rainfall.

Legal notes
Faulty probe trips IOC irregularities case
by S.S. Negi
A
faulty inquiry procedure followed by the Indian Oil Corporation’s disciplinary committee to dismiss its Hissar Depot Manager 10 years ago for alleged irregularities in supply of high speed diesel, has resulted in his reinstatement by the Punjab and Haryana High Court with full back wages.


From the pages of

 
 REFLECTIONS

 

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Complicating “Saral”
Beware, PC would be watching

THE new return form that Mr P. Chidambram’s income tax department is introducing is a great development — only for the tax sleuths and income tax consultants that is — because now it will be impossible to fill the form without the help of a professional and even then the taxman will have the right to poke his nose in your daily life. As far as the taxpayer is concerned, the form is an unmitigated disaster, because it would not only make paying tax a very complicated proposition, it would also entail maintaining a comprehensive record of all household expenses, just like companies do. This is a clear case of invasion of privacy and takes one to a nanny state. The big tax evaders will still be able to ward off the tax net, but the ordinary folks — salaried or otherwise — will be put to untold harassment. The new form 2F is so odious that in comparison, the existing “Saral” form indeed appears saral. But then, the government cannot help taking retrograde steps every now and then which make life miserable for the common man.

It has been noticed all over the world that tax compliance improves if tax rates are low and complexities involved in furnishing details are minimal. This new form tries to make the conventional wisdom stand on its head. It not only expects every taxpayer to be thorough like a chartered accountant about every rupee that comes into his house and is spent, but also makes him bear with economic policing.

To analyse so much of data, the income tax department will further increase its already bloated staff strength, increasing the cost of tax collection manifold. That will be yet another excuse for levying more tax. The standard justification that has been bandied about is that the honest person has nothing to fear. The problem is that in the current state of affairs, it is the honest man who has the most to fear, be it from policemen or taxmen. There is no reason why the government should dump the common citizen further at the mercy of either.

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Colombo on course
Not deterred by Tamil Tigers’ tactics

Although the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have neither softened their offensive posture nor ended their violent provocations, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse appears determined to persist with negotiations. In rising to this endeavour, Mr Rajapakse’s government is moving apace on three fronts. First, and by far the most important, is his stoic refusal to be provoked — by successive incidents of violence and killings — into abandoning the path of negotiations to end the Tamil-Sinhala conflict. Second, he has persuaded the international community, particularly the Norwegian facilitators, to recognise the LTTE for the terrorist organisation it is. (The European Union’s ban on the LTTE attests to the success of President Rajapakse’s campaign). Third, he has managed to bring about an all-party consensus on working for a political solution to end the ethnic conflict.

The third development is the most recent and is no mean achievement, considering that the bipartisan approach had broken down. President Rajapakse’s creation of the All-Party Conference (APC) as a core component of the effort to resolve the separatist question is a major advance in a polarised situation further vitiated by competitive domestic politics. Although he has been working towards this since he assumed office in November, it has taken substantive form now and is poised to move forward. The APC has now decided to appoint a committee that would be asked to draw up a framework for a political solution to end the conflict. As it encompasses all the major political players — who have at different times been involved in the peace process — it is representative of the Sri Lankan consensus for resolving the conflict.

This should also serve as a signal to the LTTE that it may no longer be able to exploit to its advantage the differences between the mainstream political parties. This development, coming ahead of the Oslo talks – between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE – on June 8 and 9 and soon after the EU clampdown, should make the Tamil separatist leadership rethink their attitude and return to negotiations.

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Defiance of SC
Gowda & Co. can’t stall the project

THE manner in which Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has been trying to circumvent the Supreme Court’s April 21 order on the execution of the prestigious Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project is highly deplorable. His attempt to push forward a Bill for taking over India’s first private infrastructure project from its developer, the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE), is in defiance of the apex court’s directive. The judgement is crystal clear: remove all hurdles and hand over all land for the expressway and townships to NICE. However, the government is trying every tactic to scuttle the order, little knowing that it can be hauled up for contempt of court. The Chief Minister’s father, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, and brother, Mr H.D. Revanna, former PWD Minister in the Dharam Singh government, have been opposing the project for political reasons. No wonder, the Chief Minister seems to be acting at their behest. Changes in the law, if passed, would nullify the 1997 Framework Agreement for the project which was duly upheld by both the Supreme Court and the Karnataka High Court.

The Rs 2,250-crore mega project, aimed at promoting an integrated corridor between Bangalore and Mysore consisting of residential, industrial and commercial facilities covering 20,139 acres of land, kicked off a major controversy when Mr Deve Gowda alleged irregularities and charged NICE with acquiring excess land for real estate business. The Dharam Singh government, which was dependent upon Mr Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular) for survival, stalled the project. The Supreme Court took the government to task and fined Rs 5 lakh for filing an appeal with mala fide intent and frivolous arguments against the High Court verdict upholding the project.

The issue in question is: can a state government continue to defy the apex court—and so brazenly? The project has been hanging fire for years mainly because of Mr Deve Gowda’s unrelenting campaign against the promoters and pressure from the land mafia and vested interests. The Supreme Court has called the bluff and Mr Kumaraswamy, as a constitutional authority, would do well to implement the ruling without changes.

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Thought for the day

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The A.Q. Khan network
Is the case closed?
by K. Subrahmanyam

Recently the Pakistan government announced that the A. Q. Khan case has been closed. On May 25 the subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee on International terrorism and nonproliferation of the US Congress held a hearing on the subject, “The A. Q. Khan network: Case closed?” The subcommittee was chaired by Congressman Edward Royce and was attended among others by Representatives Brad Sherman, Gary Ackerman and Thomas Tancredo. Expert witnesseses were Dr David Albright, Dr Leonard Weiss and Mr Andrew Koch.

Dr Albright in his testimony focused attention on the US being remiss in assisting the overseas prosecution of key members of the Khan network. The US had ignored the multiple requests from Swiss authorities for cooperation to prosecute three key members of Dr A. Q. Khan network, father and two sons, the Tinners. He said: “I find this lack of cooperation frankly embarrassing and those of us who believe that the United States should take the lead in bringing the members of the Khan network to justice for arming our enemies with nuclear weapons.”

Dr Leonard Weiss pointed out that Pakistan was still not selfsufficient in building nuclear weapons. It still needed specialised materials for the weapons themselves and for the production of fissile materials for the weapons. He quoted a report from the British daily Guardian that according to a July 2005 document prepared by British, French, German and Belgian intelligence agencies for the European Union, since the beginning of 2004 the Pakistanis were making extensive efforts to procure materials and components for the nuclear and missile programmes.

What was more, the range of this procurement went beyond the requirements for Pakistan’s own nuclear programme. According to the document, 20 Pakistani government entities were active in the procurement effort and hundreds of companies around the world were involved. He added: “As long as Pakistan needs a network to provide it with materials and equipment for its own nuclear programme, that same network can and will be used to spread the technology to others.”

Dr Leonard Weiss was an aide to Senator John Glenn and helped him in drafting the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978. Drawing upon his knowledge of the developments of the 80s he told the committee: “As in the 80s we have jumped back into bed with the Pakistanis, this time to help us to fight Al Qaeda, instead of the Soviets and I fear we are once again getting the bad end of the deal.”

Mr Andrew Koch, writer of award-winning stories about Dr A. Q. Khan and Iran’s attempts to build its nuclear programme, disclosed that Pakistan had rebuilt its own suppliers network, particularly in Europe and Iran had done the same. In the year 2004 the Swiss authorities were able to intercept a shipment of 60 tons of aluminised steel from a Russian supplier to Pakistan through several front companies in Dubai. Mr Koch narrated his visit to the Karachi armaments exhibition in November 2000 and in that show, Khan Research Laboratories was fully represented. The Pakistani military were 70 per cent of the attendees.

Brochures were distributed on the products of Khan Laboratories and it offered a full range of nuclear products, including “complete ultra centrifuge machines”. Mr Koch was of the view that the Khan network was not the activity of Dr Khan alone but an institutionalised one in which Pakistani military was fully involved.

This subcommittee proceedings have evoked comments in Pakistan and are viewed as an attempt to apply pressure on General Musharraf. While this may be an effort to apply pressure on behalf of Congress it does not appear to involve the US Administration as no official witness was sent to appear before the committee. The important disclosure before the committee was contrary to assertions of the Bush Administration that a nuclear proliferation network succeeding Dr Khan’s was in place and quite active. It is also in the knowledge of the intelligence agencies of the Western European countries.

Dr Albright complained about US Administration’s noncooperation in prosecuting members of Dr Khan’s network . But this noncooperation is in conformity with the Dutch Prime Minister Dr Ruud Lubbers’ disclosure that the CIA had an interest in Dr A. Q. Khan going back to 1976. If Dr A. Q. Khan’s activities had the CIA patronage it would be embarrassing to the CIA and successive US Administrations to expose the full scope of the activities of Dr Khan’s network.

There has been a recent report that the CIA attempted to plant misleading data and drawings on the Iranians. Mr Koch’s detailed description of Dr Khan flaunting his “complete ultra-centrifuge machines” in official brochures in the year 2000 would tend to indicate that at that stage the Pakistan government and Dr Khan were not unduly worried about US pressure. One should also bear in mind that when Pakistan tested a succession of North Korean missiles the US Administration’s reaction was very muted.

These developments taken together compel the conclusion that the Reagan-Bush and Clinton Administrations were permissive of Pakistan’s and Dr A. Q. Khan’s proliferation. Most of the nuclear ayatollahs were in Administration at that time and they were also equally soft on Chinese proliferation to Pakistan.

The Bush Administration and perhaps 9\11 brought about a change in US policy of patronising Dr A. Q. Khan and the Pakistani proliferation activities. While they may have got Dr A. Q. Khan sacked they may not be in a position to cooperate in the prosecution of members of the Khan network as it would expose the previous administrations.

Surely Pakistanis must be aware of this weakness of the US Administration. Therefore General Musharraf was in a position to persuade President Bush and British Prime Minister Blair to accept his cock and bull story of the Pakistani government not being involved in Dr Khan’s proliferation.

The Bush Administration is not able to apply pressure on Pakistan and they have not commented on Dutch Prime Minister. Dr Lubbers’ disclosures would highlight that the US has something to hide on Khan’s activities. Most of the nuclear ayatollahs happened to be those who manned the Administration in the period 1980-2000. No doubt this is a speculative assessment. But one is unable to find an alternative rational explanation to the contradictory behaviour of US government complained about by Dr Albright.

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A rare human being
by V.N. Datta

SOME people even if you meet them for a short time leave their profound impact, and are seldom forgotten. Mr O.P. Mahajan was one such individual.

I met Mahajan for the first time in Amritsar at the residence of Mr G.R. Sethi, a distinguished journalist, in early 1953. Mr Sethi had set up a college for boys and girls in memory of his talented daughter, who had died in tragic circumstances.

Of short stature, fair-complexioned and well-built, Mahajan had a broad forehead, thick dark hair on his head, penetrating eyes, and thin moustaches. Wearing a white shirt, pyjama and coat, a typical traditional Amritsar dress, Mahajan looked smart. He had just passed his M.A. in economics obtaining a good second division. Despite his best efforts, he could not secure a job in any college. A congenital malady had hit his nervous system, and he could barely stand up in an upright position. Due to this physical handicap, no educational institution was willing to recruit him.

In early 1960s Dr Vikas Mishra, head of the economic department Kurukshetra University (later the Vice-Chancellor) appointed Mahajan as an Asstt. Lecturer. Mahajan completed his Ph.D in record time. By his dedication and spirited hard work Mahajan rose to the position of a lecturer, Reader and Professor.

Three passions dominated Mahajan’s life: love of learning, flair for research and commitment to the welfare of students. He shunned politics. He was strictly a private person. I never heard him talk ill of anyone. On the frailties of human nature, he would just smile way. A delightful conversationalist, he was a clever chess-player who would flatten his rivals in no time. His table was large and he would entertain his hosts liberally with delicious victual.

Mahajan’s quest for learning was so passionate that he would miss no opportunity of attending the annual economics congress meetings, no matter where they were held, whether in Madras, Calcutta or Srinagar. he would make it a point to read his research paper there. Of course, he had his limitations. Due to his physical disability, he could not move out to consult the libraries outside Kurukshetra. By his amazing scholarly commitment and single-mindedness he won the admiration of scholar like Dr V.K.R.V. Rao, K.N. Raji, Brahmananda and others.

For his self-promotion Mahajan approached none. Nor was he given any recognition by national or state agencies. There was nobody to push him forward. His own life was a model of complete self-reliance and self-cultivation. He had tempered himself so well that he felt neither elated by anyone’s praise or depressed by neglect. He had no complaint against anyone.

Mahajan died in Kurukshetra last month. He was one of the kindest, brightest, and most humane of men and I have learnt much from him and his way of life, and in utter humility, I bow to him, in admiration and reverence.

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Waiting for Telengana
Committee striving for “consensus”
by G.S. Bhargava

THE failure to redeem the promise of carving out a separate Telengana State out of Andhra Pradesh sticks out like a sore thumb in the two-year record of the UPA government. It figures in the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the ruling alliance and was included in the President’s address to the joint session of Parliament, marking the Government’s assumption of office, on June 7, 2004.

A Telengana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader, A. Narendra, a minister in the Union Council of Ministers, was so excited by the inclusion of the Telengana commitment in the President’s Address that he confidently claimed that the new State was just six months away.

Incidentally, there is a double irony about Pandit Narendra, as he is called in Hyderabad, rubbing shoulders with sea green secularists in the Union Council of Ministers, because not so long ago he was a hard-core Hindutva votary. The BJP of which he was a nominal member sent him packing when he joined the TRS.

That was despite the Andhra State BJP adopting a resolution at its national conference at Kakinada in 1968 endorsing a separate Telengana. A quotable quote of senior BJP leader, Bandaru Dattatreya, on that occasion was “one vote, two States!”

More relevantly, the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh joined forces with the TRS, to trounce the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and its ally the BJP in the 2004 general election. The Congress tally had jumped from 91 in 1999 to 186 in 2004, a gain of nearly hundred percent, while the TRS opened its account with 26 seats. Together they had two-thirds majority in the 294-member State assembly. The TRS joined the State Government getting five ministerships. However, the bonhomie did not last long.

The TRS wanted the State assembly to adopt a resolution favouring formation of a separate Telengana State as a prelude to the Centre moving in the matter. The Chief Minister, Dr.Y. Chandra Shekhar Reddy vetoed it saying that the agreement with the TRS was for establishment of a second States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) to go into the pros and cons of redrawing the boundaries of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, among others. The TRS did not agree. With the Congress party and its ally, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), having won the assembly election in Maharashtra, the demand for a separate Vidarbha State suffered in salience. In the circumstances, the TRS saw no gain in going for a second SRC .It was also time consuming.

Further, the TRS and the State Government did not see eye to eye on peace talks with the Naxalites. The Government, at the instance of law enforcement agencies, had been insisting that the Naxalites surrender their arms before the Government would enter into talks with them but the extremists would not agree to the precondition. The TRS sided with them, despite instances of violence against police officers. It was because the TRS leadership was vulnerable to physical threats from the Naxalites although the argument put forward by it was that they did not want the Naxalites to hijack the Telengana movement.

The Chief Minister was unfazed by the TRS walkout from the Government because his party had 186 members in the 294-member House. Also, of the five TRS ministers, one broke ranks by staying on as a minister. In short, the TRS was on a weak wicket at the State level. Apparently, the State Congress leadership was having second thoughts on the alliance with the TRS. It began to think that they had overestimated the TRS contribution to the 2004 election win and in the process underestimated their own position. Thanks to untiring campaigning by YSR the Congress party was at the top. Outside the Telengana districts also the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) suffered heavily, with several of its ministers from the Circars also eating dust.

The TRS was better placed at the Centre with five MPs. In view of the relatively meagre strength of the Congress party with just 146 members in a 515-member Lok Sabha, an addition of five was welcome. It did not also adopt a confrontationist stance towards the Manmohan Singh Government. For instance, Chandra Shekhar Rao, who was a Cabinet minister, was originally allotted the shipping portfolio. When the DMK, another coalition partner, laid claim to the shipping portfolio, Chandra Shekhar Rao readily ‘sacrificed’ it, saying it made no sense for one from landlocked Telengana to be a shipping minister.

Meanwhile, the Congress sub-committee headed by Defence Minister, Pranab Mukerjee, has been striving indefatigably for consensus on the formation of Telengana State. Mukerjee noted that the Bahujana Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati and the Communists–not to mention the TDP – are against splitting of Andhra Pradesh. He is, however, outraged by the BJP coming out openly in support of Telengana, with the party president, Rajnath Singh and L.K.Advani, going on record. He claimed that having failed to ensure the formation of Telengana when the BJP was heading the NDA Government it had no moral right to shift its position.

The BJP, for its part, buried its 1998 resolution in support of Telengana because of its alliance with the TDP. Now with the TDP spurning the alliance, the BJP has reverted to its 1998 position. Tit for tat. Whether the BJP somersault facilitates Telengana or not, it shows that the issue is caught in the whirlpool of party politics.

More importantly, the committee approach is proving a slow process. It is said that Dr. Manmohan Singh, being a bureaucrat by temperament and training, has a flair for the committee system. It can be faulted for holding up decisions but never for inadequate cerebral application. In the process, however, as it happened in Jharkhand, denial through delay of what the people regard as a legitimate demand, makes the ground fertile for extremists, call them Naxalites or Maoists.

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Cloud seeding–the Chinese way
by Clifford Coonan

Ravaged by a seven-year drought and choked by poisonous dust storms, China will ‘seed’ the clouds looming over its cities with rockets and chemicals ahead of the Olympics to be held here in 2008.

While some countries pray for rain and other cultures dance to bring on the downpour, China leads the world in using cloud seeding to induce rainfall. In the last five years, the practice has produced enough precipitation to fill the huge Yellow River four times over.

It has become a tradition in Beijing to seed the clouds ahead of major public holidays such as May Day and National Day, to ensure rain disperses pollution, clears dust and ensures crystal clear skies for a military drive-past or a gathering of delegates for the National People’s Congress.

China has pitched the Beijing Olympics in 2008 as the “Green Games” and will be viewed around the world as a showcase for the country’s efforts to combat pollution and encourage sustainable energy use. The World Bank says 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in China, including Beijing.

This week, officials in China reckoned that economic losses caused by environmental pollution may account for about 10 per cent of China’s GDP (gross domestic product).

The joke commonly heard in Beijing is that the government will close the factories and coal-fired power plants near the city for the duration of the Olympics to make sure of blue skies. But cloud seeding is a more serious option which the government will be examining. The Games will be the biggest test to date of the effectiveness of cloud seeding.

There is an ongoing debate among meteorologists about the effectiveness of the practice, though most agree the principle works. Some studies show cloud seeding can increase precipitation by up to 30 per cent, but others are wary of the overall effect on the environment.

In the last five years, Chinese Air Force jets have flown nearly 3,000 flights and sowed rainmaking chemicals to bring down 210 billion cubic metres of water over three million square kilometres, nearly a third of China’s territory, the country’s Department of Forecasting Services and Disaster Mitigation said.

It is a practice that ties up a lot of resources. Rainmaking rockets and shells were used in 1,952 counties across the country and 3,000 people are employed in the business with a formidable arsenal of 7,000 cannon and 4,687 rocket launchers.

Cloud seeding is becoming increasingly common in China as a means of offsetting the effects of drought. Much of the country is short of water, and the water table is dropping at an alarming rate in many places.

Weather specialists induced rain in early May in Beijing to help relieve drought and wash tonnes of dust from the Gobi desert dumped on the capital by a rash of sandstorms. Artificially-induced rain was used to help put out three major forest fires that raged in north and northeast China for 10 days before they were subdued last Friday.

By arrangement with The Independent

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Legal notes
Faulty probe trips IOC irregularities case
by S.S. Negi

A faulty inquiry procedure followed by the Indian Oil Corporation’s disciplinary committee to dismiss its Hissar Depot Manager 10 years ago for alleged irregularities in supply of high speed diesel, has resulted in his reinstatement by the Punjab and Haryana High Court with full back wages. Court proceedings undertaken for all these years have come to naught and the case is back to square one, with the Supreme Court directing a fresh investigation into it.

IOC’s Hissar depot manager Santosh Kumar was sacked for showing irregular supply of diesel and issuing a common challan against two supplies on two different dates, according to the inquiry officer’s report to the committee. But the Apex court disapproved of the committee’s proceedings for dealing with the case in a “mechanical” manner and directed that it would look into all records available afresh and give its findings in three months.

However, Kumar was restrained from placing any new material before the committee. Since the very basis of the committee’s finding was questionable, the High Court’s order for reinstatement of Kumar to his post was also termed as “unsustainable” by the Supreme Court.

Apex court to the rescue

The public interest litigation (PIL) is a potent weapon in the hands of a common man to pull any authority to the court on any public cause. The Supreme Court has strongly disapproved of attaching a condition of depositing money with the court for hearing a PIL. A peculiar case of this nature arose from the Bombay High Court’s order directing a social activist to deposit Rs one lakh with it to prove his credentials, for hearing his PIL four years ago against Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

In his petition M P Tripathy had raised the issue of alleged “questionable” means of garnering support by Deshmukh during a trust motion on June 13, 2002. Though Deshmukh had won the trust motion, he had to resign soon after, under Opposition and public pressure.

Since the PIL became infructuous due to the resignation, Tripathy sought refund of the money which the High Court declined and instead ordered a probe into its source. The explanation about the source made by him in an affidavit was not accepted by it. The apex court took serious view of the High Court’s approach and ordered immediate refund of the amount to Tripathy with full back interest. It pulled up the High Court for going into “unnecessarily and unwarranted controversy” and termed its approach as “not correct”.

Slow going

The Parliamentary standing committee on Law has rapped the Delimitation Commission for slow pace of work in delimiting Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies. It raised doubt as to whether the work would be completed before the next Parliamentary polls due in 2009 and expressed “anguish” over the failure to expedite work in respect of those states which will be going to the polls soon. Since the 2001 census figures were published only on December 31, 2003 the Commission feels the delay was inevitable. The Law Ministry did dub the delimitation work a time consuming exercise.

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From the pages of

February 8, 1952

A Great King

THE death of His Majesty King George VI came, like the reign which it brought to a close, without attracting attention. He was called to the throne unexpectedly when his elder brother’s abdication was on everybody’s lips and in everybody’s mind. Little thought was given to whether the younger brother wished to take his place. He was taken for granted and he quietly accepted the presumption. A London message recalls that he ascended the throne “in a wave of indifference and unflattering comparison with his elder brother.” The first two years of his reign were years of peace with the clouds of war gathering ominously. Thereafter his people passed through successive ordeals unknown in their history and won through to victory which brought new anxieties and troubles in its train. The quiet sharing of these trials and tribulations won him the affection of the people in whose griefs he sorrowed and whose hardships he shared, never as a King and always as “a very ordinary man.”….

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Do not worry about your past life or the sins you may have accumulated therein. If you really desire to know the Truth and work diligently for it, you will certainly find it. Nothing in your past life can stop you. Do not waste your precious time in dissecting the past. Look to the future.

— The Bhagvad Gita

Even as a tree has single trunk, but many branches and leaves, there is one religion —human religion—but any number of faiths.

— Mahatma Gandhi

Man should remain detached and realise that everything is God’s. He should dedicate his body and mind to him to whom they actually belong.

— Guru Nanak

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