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Pesticides in cold drinks: SC notices to Pepsi, Cola
New Delhi, August 4
After the Centre for Science and Environment came up with its fresh report on alleged presence of pesticides far higher than permissible limit in Pepsi and Coca Cola products, the Supreme Court today issued notices to the two multinational companies on a petition seeking setting up of a regulatory mechanism for soft drink products in the country.

Internal security situation deteriorating: experts
New Delhi, August 4
Security experts yesterday came together on a platform to express worry over the deteriorating internal security situation and said there was need to whip up a level of concern about whether “we were going in the right direction”?

HC rejects plea for making Pathak report public
New Delhi, August 4
The Delhi High Court today rejected the plea of Andaleeb Sehgal, an alleged beneficiary in the Iraqi oil-for-food scam, for making Justice Pathak Inquiry Authority report public.




EARLIER STORIES



Actress Priyanka Chopra and veteran actor Rajesh Khanna greet each other during the announcement of Rs 1 crore Red Carpet Trophy, to be awarded to the best acting talent of the country, in Mumbai on Thursday night.
Actress Priyanka Chopra and veteran actor Rajesh Khanna greet each other during the announcement of Rs 1 crore Red Carpet Trophy, to be awarded to the best acting talent of the country, in Mumbai on Thursday night. — PTI

FM denies leak by govt
New Delhi, August 4
Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram maintained today that Justice R S Pathak Inquiry Authority report on the Iraq oil-for-food scam was not leaked by the government and that the “only copy or copies (of the report) are with the Prime Minister.”

Boucher meets Bengal CM
New Delhi, July 4
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) may be adopting strident anti-American posture and threatening to go along with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the issue of “sense of Parliament” resolution on the Indo-US nuclear deal, but when it comes to discussing serious business with the Americans the CPM's conduct is pragmatic.

SC issues notice to govt on wheat import policy
New Delhi, August 4
The food policy of the government today came under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, which issued a notice to the Union Government on a writ petition challenging the import of “substandard and pesticide-stricken” wheat even when multi-national companies and private traders are allowed to procure it directly from farmers for the purpose of export.

SC seeks affidavit from police in Shivani murder case
New Delhi, August 4
The Supreme Court today sought an affidavit from the Delhi police stating clearly the portion of the police diary statements, it was relying or not relying upon, to prove its case against the accused in the murder of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar.

Movie retrospective likely of actor MPs
New Delhi, August 4
Parliamentarians can look forward to some relaxed evenings during the winter session of Parliament watching retrospective of the work of their colleagues who have earned a name in the world of cinema.

Rabri endorses ‘Lalu rakhi’
Patna, August 4
After “Lalu dolls” and “Lalu lemunchoos”, it is time for “Lalu rakhi” to adorn the shops for the forthcoming rakhi festival.



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Pesticides in cold drinks: SC notices to Pepsi, Cola
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 4
After the Centre for Science and Environment came up with its fresh report on alleged presence of pesticides far higher than permissible limit in Pepsi and Coca Cola products, the Supreme Court today issued notices to the two multinational companies on a petition seeking setting up of a regulatory mechanism for soft drink products in the country.

A Bench of Mr Justice S.B. Sinha and Mr Justice Dalveer Bhandari issued the notice after the government had failed to take a clear stand on the issue during the past eight months after a notice was issued to it by the court.

Though a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in 2004 by a private organisation, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), in the wake of the first report of the Centre for Science and Environment, notice to the government was issued only in January, 2005.

Since then the matter had been caught in a legal wrangle with Pepsi and Coca Cola resisting issuance of notices to them on various technical grounds, including the government’s proposal to bring a comprehensive Food Security Act.

When the court today sought to know the government stand on the issues raised in the PIL, the government counsel said it was planning to replace the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act with the food security law and a comprehensive food security Bill would be brought before Parliament.

Serious doubts were raised over the government’s sincerity in this regard by CPIL counsel Prashant Bhushan, who said the government had been telling this for the past two years after the petition was moved raising various important issue involving the health of people, particularly children being allured by the cola companies to consume their products.

Mr Bhushan said if the government was not coming up with the new law, then at least the provisions of the PFA Act should be strengthened and some guidelines needed to be issued by the court to regulate the soft drink manufacturers.

Besides the demand for a regulator, the PIL had sought multi-fold directions to the government, including constitution of an expert committee to evaluate harmful effects of soft drinks on human health, specially children, check the use of harmful chemicals, making disclosure of contents and their quantity on the packagings mandatory for the cola companies with warning about the harmful effect of any chemical used.

Above all, the petitioner sought immediate control and check over “misleading advertisements” by the soft drink manufacturers about their products, particularly the ads targeting children and unwary uneducated people by roping in celebrities to sell their products through false claims.

“The government has a constitutional duty to protect its citizens from any health hazard and to ensure that they live a healthy life… but it is not willing to take any action against the cola companies,” Mr Bhushan said, adding that even the Joint Parliamentary Committee had come up with adverse comments on soft drink products and their harmful effects on humans.

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Internal security situation deteriorating: experts
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 4
Security experts yesterday came together on a platform to express worry over the deteriorating internal security situation and said there was need to whip up a level of concern about whether “we were going in the right direction”?

At a discussion here on “Whither Internal Security”, the panel of experts said there were various references for a reason for concern and there was continuous escalation of security problems. The discussion was chaired by Mr N. N. Vohra, Special Representative of the Government of India for the J&K dialogue and the other participants included Mr B. Raman, former Special Secretary, Mr Ajeet Doval, former Director, Intelligence Bureau, and Dr Ajai Sahni, Director, Institute of Conflict Studies.

While in his opening remarks, Mr Vohra pointed out that terrorism was without any boundaries, in his concluding observation he said there were many references which should be a reason for concern. He referred to the last annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs and pointed out that for the first time the ministry had stated that more than one third of the country was afflicted with some kind of internal disturbance and that 165 districts in 14 states were affected by Maoists activities.

He was of the view that there were times when the police knew what was needed to fight terrorism, but that was a thing of the past and nowadays they are clueless.

Taking a cue from here, Mr B. Raman said for counter terrorism to be effective the police has to be effective and that it has to be given authority to deal with domestic terrorism. He said what was surprising was that the Indian security and police experts had very little knowledge about the latest developments in their field outside the country.

This, he said, came out after the recent Mumbai blasts. Firstly, there was notion that incidents like London blasts and the Madrid blasts could not happen in India and secondly, the experts had very little knowledge of measures being taken in other countries.

He said there was need to have a database for modus operandi of the terrorists as it was constantly evolving and there was no such database available in the country. He said this area was highly neglected and in a situation where the country was facing not only domestic terrorism and terrorism from foreign jehadis but also state- sponsored terrorism, there was a need to counter terrorism effectively.

Mr Ajit Doval said there has to be a realisation that the internal security was a matter of importance if India has to achieve its stature internationally. Pointing to the need for following the right “discourse”, Mr Doval said Indian nationalism had no political instrumentality available.

Referring to a common minimum programme of a previous government, he said it had no mention about internal security and the matters that affected it. Besides, when raised, the issue was said to be to controversial and resulted in conflict within the government itself.

In an apparent reference to militant organisations from J&K holding talks with the government, he said there was a need to follow the right discourse by the political element in the country.

Mr Ajai Sahni, while stressing that there was a continuous escalation of security problems, said there was no permanent strategy for defence. Pointing to Bihar, he said the entire police system was in a decay there and the entire Indian strategy has always been defensive.

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HC rejects plea for making Pathak report public
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 4
The Delhi High Court today rejected the plea of Andaleeb Sehgal, an alleged beneficiary in the Iraqi oil-for-food scam, for making Justice Pathak Inquiry Authority report public.

A Bench headed by Mr Justice T S Thakur rejected the plea of Sehgal, holding that without examining the contents of the report how such a direction could be issued.

The court directed the government to place the report before it in a “sealed cover” while issuing notices to the Centre and the Pathak authority on Sehgal’s plea.

Sehgal’s counsel Rajiv Sawhney made the plea during the hearing of his pending writ petition challenging the procedure adopted by the authority during probe.

He cited media reports regarding the contents of the authority report published today as the ground for making it public.

Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the government, opposed the petition contending that Sehgal had nothing to do with the report as it was a matter between the government and the authority, which was set up to go into the truth of the matter.

As per the Inquiry Commission rules, the report has to be submitted to the government, which would take appropriate action on it, including placing it before Parliament.

The probe was not ordered to indict any one, neither was it the job of the probe commission, the ASG said, adding the authority was constituted only to know the veracity of the Paul Volcker report on the UN oil-for-food scam.

Sehgal’s counsel sought to make the report public contending that the media reports on its contents were quite “damaging” for his client.

When the court asked as what was the basis for him to draw the conclusion apart from the media reports, Sawhney said he did not have any other means to know them and therefore, he was seeking to make it public.

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FM denies leak by govt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 4
Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram maintained today that Justice R S Pathak Inquiry Authority report on the Iraq oil-for-food scam was not leaked by the government and that the “only copy or copies (of the report) are with the Prime Minister.”

“I can say with utmost confidence that there has been no leak from the government side,” he stressed.

Stating that the Prime Minister had informed him last evening about the receipt of the Pathak Inquiry Authority report, the Finance Minister dismissed allegations that the Enforcement Directorate was acting at his behest. “I don’t interfere with the Enforcement Directorate,” he added.

CPM leader Sitaram Yechuri said that corruption charges against former External Affairs minister K Natwar Singh did not stand, as they had not been proved in the Justice R S Pathak Inquiry Authority report.

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Boucher meets Bengal CM
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 4
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) may be adopting strident anti-American posture and threatening to go along with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the issue of “sense of Parliament” resolution on the Indo-US nuclear deal, but when it comes to discussing serious business with the Americans the CPM's conduct is pragmatic.

This was quite apparent when West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya met Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, who came to India today on a five-day visit, despite the fact that Mr Boucher is a Joint Secretary-level officer in the state. Mr David Kennedy, spokesman of the USA Embassy here, said Mr Boucher, who arrived in Kolkata from Dhaka, said Mr Boucher wanted to meet a wide cross-section of people and officials in Kolkata and the Chief Minister agreed to see him. “I don't read too much into this meeting,” Mr Kennedy said regarding the Boucher-Bhattacharya meeting. The West Bengal Chief Minister has emerged as his party's poster boy of economic reforms and foreign direct investment.

Mr Boucher is coming here tomorrow. His official meetings are on August 7, when he holds series of meetings with his counterparts in the Ministry of External Affairs and energy-related ministries. The last such official-level interaction between India and the USA had taken place in June when Mr Boucher's counterpart in the MEA, Dr S. Jaishanker had gone to Washington.

The entire gamut of bilateral, regional and international issues will come up for review during Mr Boucher's discussions with the MEA officials. The Indo-US nuclear deal will constitute an important point in these discussions.

The UPA government is keen on having a full-length discussion in Parliament on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

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SC issues notice to govt on wheat import policy
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 4
The food policy of the government today came under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, which issued a notice to the Union Government on a writ petition challenging the import of “substandard and pesticide-stricken” wheat even when multi-national companies and private traders are allowed to procure it directly from farmers for the purpose of export.

A public interest litigation (PIL), filed by noted environmentalist Vandana Shiva, challenged the government’s food policy on the ground that high import of wheat would not only compromise the country’s food security but would “shift the spate of farmers’ suicides from the cotton-growing region to the wheat-growing areas.” Taking cognisance of the PIL, a Bench of Mr Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Mr Justice D.K. Jain issued notice to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and sought its reply to the questions raised in the petition by her.

“The 57 lakh tonnes of wheat imported from various countries by the government is substandard, disease-stricken, pesticide-contaminated and unfit for human consumption,” Ms Shiva’s advocate Pinkey Anand told the court. Even the Australian authorities had said it was “unfit” for human consumption, she claimed.

She said as per the media reports and even from government sources, the imported wheat “contains pesticide more than five times beyond permissible limit and is unfit for human consumption.”

The food policy was also challenged on the ground of higher price of Rs 1,000 per quintal paid to the imported wheat, which clearly violated the minimum support price (MSP) scheme under which the price paid to farmers was fixed at Rs 700 per quintal.

Questioning the food policy of the government, Ms Shiva in her PIL said on one hand it was importing wheat from abroad and on the other multi-national companies and private traders were allowed to earn profit on its export and export of its products after they were permitted to procure it directly from the farmers.

“The import will have negative and disastrous consequences on the country’s food policy, increase the price of wheat, send a panic signal to the market and result in large-scale hoarding and collapse of public distribution system (PDS),” the PIL said.

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SC seeks affidavit from police in Shivani murder case
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 4
The Supreme Court today sought an affidavit from the Delhi police stating clearly the portion of the police diary statements, it was relying or not relying upon, to prove its case against the accused in the murder of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar.

A Bench of Mr Justice S.H. Kapadia and Mr Justice R.V. Raveendran issued direction to this effect in the wake of former Haryana IG R.K. Sharma's plea demanding the gist of the statement of Shivani's husband Rakesh Bhatnagar, recorded by the Delhi police Investigating Officer (IO).

The said statement forms the part of the police diary which usually is not provided to the accused.

Additional Solicitor General Vikas Singh, appearing for the police, told the court that the documents sought by Sharma were not being relied upon by the prosecution to prove the case. Only those documents could be supplied to the accused as per the procedure of the law on which the prosecution had been relying upon, Singh said opposing the plea of Sharma.

He said even in the case of witnesses' statement recorded under Section 161 of the CrPC by the IO, the accused were entitled to only that portion of it, on which the prosecution would rely upon. If a particular portion was thought of as unnecessary and left out, that would not be supplied to the accused persons, he argued.

After Singh made a specific statement that the documents demanded by Sharma were not being relied upon by the prosecution, the Court directed the police to file an affidavit making it clear that they would not rely upon those portions of the case diary. The police was given two weeks time to file the affidavit.

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Movie retrospective likely of actor MPs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 4
Parliamentarians can look forward to some relaxed evenings during the winter session of Parliament watching retrospective of the work of their colleagues who have earned a name in the world of cinema.

With the two Houses of Parliament having a sizeable number of actor-turned-politicians, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi has taken up a suggestion to hold retrospective of the cinematic work of these MPs. The proposed screening will also include work of directors and of those MPs who have distinguished themselves in regional cinema.

While the Lok Sabha has actors like Dharmendra, Govinda, Raj Babbar and Jaya Prada as its members, the Rajya Sabha has Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha and Dara Singh. Film director Shyam Benegal is also a member of the Rajya Sabha.

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Rabri endorses ‘Lalu rakhi’
Tribune News Service

Patna, August 4
After “Lalu dolls” and “Lalu lemunchoos”, it is time for “Lalu rakhi” to adorn the shops for the forthcoming rakhi festival.

Lalu has even prompted Harvard Business School to consider including resurgence of Indian Railways under him into its curriculum.

The “Lalu rakhi” is now selling in the markets of Patna and other places at a price ranging between Rs 15 and Rs 40 depending on the material used. Customers are all eager to get a glimpse of this high -profile rakhi.

Ms Rabri Devi, former Chief Minister of Bihar, does not find anything wrong with the manufacturer's decision to name his product after Lalu.

She said, “I see nothing wrong in it. Laluji's name is being used here to promote something good”.

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