SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Keeping the Ustad’s legacy alive
Varanasi, August 22
Ustad Bismillah Khan’s immediate family, citizens of the city he loved, his admirers across the world as well as the state government of Uttar Pradesh are trying in their own ways to carry on his legacy. ‘Khan Sahib’ as he was fondly called passed away on Monday at the age of 90.

Punjab farmers protest in Delhi
Seek hike in paddy, cotton MSP 
New Delhi, August 22
Farmers from Punjab gathered in the Capital today to protest against “anti-farmer” policies of the Centre.



Farmers under the banner of Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) from Punjab sit in dharna to protest against the policies of the Centre at Parliament Street in New Delhi on Wednesday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal
Farmers under the banner of Bharti Kisan Union  from Punjab sit in dharna to protest against the policies of the Centre at Parliament Street in New Delhi on Wednesday

‘Vande Mataram’ issue rocks Parliament
New Delhi, August 22
Both Houses of Parliament today witnessed uproarious scenes and adjournments as the ruling coalition and Opposition members clashed over the government’s statement that singing of the national song ‘Vande Mataram’ on September 7 was voluntary.








EARLIER STORIES




Dr Iqbal Singh Ahuja of Ludhiana, who brought the test-tube baby technology to the region, is honoured by former Sikkim Governor Randhir Singh, during a symposium on Rajiv Gandhi’s role in national integration at the India International Centre in Delhi on Tuesday
Dr Iqbal Singh Ahuja of Ludhiana, who brought the test-tube baby technology to the region, is honoured by former Sikkim Governor Randhir Singh, during a symposium on Rajiv Gandhi’s role in national integration at the India International Centre in Delhi on Tuesday. Dr G.V.G. Krishnamurthy, former Election Commissioner, Mr Bhishm Narayan Singh, former Governor of Tamil Nadu and Assam, and Meghalaya Governor M. Jacob are also seen in the picture. Tribune photo: Rajeev Tyagi

TRS to intensify struggle against Congress
Hyderabad, August 22
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which quit the UPA government today, is all set to intensify its struggle against the Congress government at both the Centre and state.

TRS departure good riddance for Cong MLAs
Hyderabad, August 22
The decision of the TRS to quit the Union Cabinet has not come as an unexpected development here, considering the Congress’ inability to give a firm commitment on the Telangana issue at this juncture. Sources in the Congress here say that Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy played a major role in the party’s stand on the issue of a separate state. YSR, who is opposed to bifurcating the state, was able to convince the party high command that TRS’ departure would make no dent into the popularity of the Congress in the state.

BJP promises quotas in minority institutions
New Delhi, August 22
With an eye on the coming Assembly poll, especially in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP today announced that it would allow caste-based quotas in minority educational establishments as well if voted to power at the Centre.

BJP targets Cong in oil-for-food scam
New Delhi, August 22
The Bharatiya Janata Party today made an effort to target the Congress in the Iraqi oil-for-food scam discussion in the Lok Sabha and described the Justice R S Pathak Inquiry Authority report a “masterly defence” of the Congress.

Office-of-Profit law challenged 
New Delhi, August 22
Four days after the UPA Government notified the Office-of-Profit Act after President A.P.J Abdul Kalam gave his assent to it on fresh passage by Parliament, it was today challenged in the Supreme Court with a Trinamool Congress MP seeking quashing of it.

Domicile clause for election of RS MPs goes
SC okays amendments in RPA
New Delhi, August 22 
A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court today put its seal on twin amendments in the Representation of People Act, opening the territory of every state for contesting the Rajya Sabha elections by removing the mandatory bar of domicile for its MPs and introduction of open ballot system to curb cross voting for money considerations.

Refer my case to Sonia: Natwar
New Delhi, August 22
Taking a hard stance, suspended Congress leader K. Natwar Singh has asked the party's disciplinary action committee to refer the issue of his expulsion to party president Sonia Gandhi.

Sikhs protest over chopping of teenager’s hair
Jaipur, August 22
Hundreds of angry Sikhs today took to the streets here, protesting against the alleged chopping of hair of a teenaged Sikh boy, who dared to raise his voice against eve-teasing in his school.

Pre-1996 retiree servicemen to get medical benefits also
New Delhi, August 22
In a relief to ex-servicemen who retired before January 1996, the Supreme Court today directed the Centre to provide medical benefits in the same manner as were available to those retiring after January 1, 1996.

Cable TV men stir over police raids
Mumbai, August 22
Cable TV operators in Mumbai have suspended the transmission of all channels other than Doordarshan after the Social Service Branch of the Mumbai Police raided their premises yesterday.

TV lovers cannot view Arab TV channels
New Delhi, August 22
The TV viewers cannot view the Arab TV channels like Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabia, Q TV any more as under the new guidelines of government on downlinking and transmission, they cannot beamed into the country.

No intrusion in Kakrapar N-station
New Delhi, August 22
After several hours of combing operation, jointly conducted by the CISF and Gujarat police, the Centre has been informed that there is no breach of security at Kakrapar Nuclear Power Station in Gujarat.

Red Cross bound by RTI Act: CIC
New Delhi, August 22
While directing the Indian Red Cross Society, Ludhiana, to furnish information relating to its accounting system to the appellant, the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) ruled that the Right to Information Act was applicable to the society as it had been established by a law made by Parliament.

MLA jailed for molestation
Patna, August 22
The ruling JD(U) MLA from Islampur in Nalanda district, Ram Swaroop Prasad,was sent to jail by Hilsa court on charges of molesting a Dalit woman. Official sources informed that the JD(U) MLA was sent to 14 days judicial custody by Hilsa court on Monday.

Atwal releases book on Sikhism
New Delhi, August 22
Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal today released a book “Why Americans Love Meditation and Sikhism”, which brings out the true colour of religiousness, philosophically and psychologically.


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Keeping the Ustad’s legacy alive
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Varanasi, August 22
Ustad Bismillah Khan’s immediate family, citizens of the city he loved, his admirers across the world as well as the state government of Uttar Pradesh are trying in their own ways to carry on his legacy. ‘Khan Sahib’ as he was fondly called passed away on Monday at the age of 90.

Khan sahib’s second son, 50-year old Naiyer Hussain Khan, whom the Ustad had groomed as his successor in his lifetime said: “Abba’s single-minded devotion to his art is perhaps his most important legacy.”

Sitting in the baithak of their two-storeyed ancestral house inside the winding bylanes of Sarai Harh, Naiyer often broke down as he remembered the many cherished moments with his father who was also his guru and taught him from the age of seven.

The baithak is a virtual gallery . All four walls are covered with various certificates, mementoes and framed photographs of his concerts along with Presidents, prime ministers, film stars and musical geniuses. The simple takhat is where the Ustad gave lessons to his students,including his sons.

Till the very end Khan Sahib practiced the shehnai for at least two hours every day in complete solitude in his room on the top floor. Naiyer said the last piece of advise that his father gave him was never to let go of his riyaaz which he said could take one to the pinnacle of one’s chosen profession.

The son-shishya recalls his abba telling him: “Swara is a clean thing, a pure thing in music. It is a mirror. When he played he saw his own image in the mirror. Even if his mind wandered here and there for a little while when he struck the precise swara oblivious of all else his heart was overjoyed and he felt that he was playing before a mazaar (sacred tomb) or before a rishi of yore|”

Recalling the last concert at Jaipur on June 14, Naiyer said old age had made abba’s lip lose the grip on the instrument . He asked me to take over and later in his own style asked the applauding crowd if they missed not hearing Ustad Bismillah Khan?

Perhaps very few people outside Varanasi know that Khan Sahib was a great football player who played at the defender position. He was also the city’s greatest patron for the game. “He co-founded the Benaras Sporting Club in 1936, the state’s only professional football club of which he remained the patron till the very end,” informed Shakil Ahmad, son of another now dead co-founder and a close family friend.

No wonder amongst the thousands of mourners who came to pay homage to the departed shehnai maestro at the Beni Bagh park where his body lay in state were the members of the present football team, which includes two Nigerian players as well.

In remembrance of Khan Sahib’s contribution to the game, and fulfilling his desire Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav yesterday announced the construction of a stadium in the sprawling Beni Bagh park to be named Ustad Bismillah Khan Stadium.

The Uttar Pradesh Government has also announced a Sangeet Ratna award with a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakh in memory of the shehnai maestro A music academy to give instructions in shehnai will be set up in Lucknow in his name for which a grant of Rs 1 crore has been announced by the state government.

Ustad Bismillah Khan sahib who raised the shehnai from an instrument considered fit for marriage ceremonies, naubatkhaanaas and religious occasions to concert status remained till the very end a humble person with dervish-like qualities recall his neighbours and shopkeepers of Sarai Harh.

A neighbour recalls that despite the awards and rewards he preferred not to fly. He mostly travelled by train with his retinue of 8-10 accompanists often reaching the railway station by cycle rickshaw. Heading a caravan of 4-5 cycle rickshaws, he waved to us passersby, no less happy than a prince in a Rolls Royce!”

Devoutly religious, Khan Sahib’s riyaaz did not begin till he had performed his fajir namaz. “ He was most particular about his namaaz, riyaaz and meals in time. His meal was mostly a green seasonal vegetable and rotis” recalled his son Kazim who was also incharge of seeing to his meals and medicines.

According to abba music, sur and namaaz were all different ways of reaching Allah. He believed that if a musician was not in communion with spirituality or Allah his art was hollow. “Unless one becomes a mystic the music does not stir souls” , Kazim recalls his father’s words.

No wonder a stream of visitors had come to place flowers and pray at the still fresh grave of the mystic-musician at the Fatmain graveyard at Sigra locality since morning. The spot where the grave is located is where the Ustad had been playing nauhas in memory of the matyred grandsons of the Prophet during the 5th and 8th of the holy month of Mohurram.

His adopted daughter and disciple Dr Shoma Ghosh said despite fame that he earned across the globe, his substantial earnings as well as the highest awards India could give him, Khan Sahib continued to be humble and poor. ”

“He gave away money to fakirs and sadhus everyday. He had a firm belief that by remaining poor he would never forget his roots,” recalls Ghosh.

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Punjab farmers protest in Delhi
Seek hike in paddy, cotton MSP 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22
Farmers from Punjab gathered in the Capital today to protest against “anti-farmer” policies of the Centre. They also presented a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, demanded “enhancement of minimum support price of paddy, cotton and sugarcane and a special economic package to relieve Punjab farmers from the vicious debt trap.”

The protesters, who began their demonstration from Gurdwara Bangla Saheb in the morning, also asked the government to direct the FCI and other government procurement agencies in states to pay directly to farmers for commodities purchased from them. Besides, they also demanded debts of those farmers, who were unable to pay back their loans, be waived off to put “an end to spate of suicides in the farming community in Punjab and other parts of the country.”

Talking to The Tribune, the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) general-secretary, Mr Balkar Singh Dakaunda, said farmers in Punjab were finding themselves in a situation of severe economic crisis and to get them out of the vicious debt trap, they should be given a special economic package on the lines of the one sanctioned for farmers of the Vidarbha region.

Condemning the “anti-peasant policies” of the government, the BKU leader said the Centre should stop importing grains and cotton from foreign countries at higher prices than they purchased from the Indian farmers, and instead give them remunerative prices to counterbalance the effects of the rising cost of production.

He said the BKU rejected the increase of Rs 10 in the MSP of paddy and cotton as announced by the Centre and instead demanded an increase of Rs 500, Rs 200 and Rs 100 in procurement prices of cotton, paddy and sugarcane, respectively.

“Moreover Punjab farmers should be given a subsidy of Rs 10 per liter on diesel as for pumping out water from the ground, diesel has become indispensable due to a perennial crisis in supply of electricity in the state.

Moreover, due to scanty rains this monsoon in the Punjab and Haryana belt, peasants have had to invest more on crops than they normally do,” he said.

Mr Dakaunda also demanded that the state government’s policy of displacing peasants from their lands and giving them to private companies and MNCs be stopped immediately, besides a complete ban on importing all agricultural products and those related with subsidiary agricultural occupations. 

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‘Vande Mataram’ issue rocks Parliament
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22
Both Houses of Parliament today witnessed uproarious scenes and adjournments as the ruling coalition and Opposition members clashed over the government’s statement that singing of the national song ‘Vande Mataram’ on September 7 was voluntary.

In the Lok Sabha, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Deputy Leader V.K. Malhotra wanted the government to clarify whether singing the national song on September 7 in schools was mandatory or not.

Upon this, a Left party member made some remarks, which were later expunged by the Speaker, about the song. This provoked the BJP and Shiv Sena members to raise their voices, saying that the remarks made by Mohammad Salim of the Communist Party of India-Marxist were ‘anti-national’.

The Speaker tried to pacify the BJP and Shiv Sena, but they continued to raise a din, forcing him to adjourn the House till 11.30 p.m.

When the House met again, Arjun Singh said, “It was a decision taken at an all-party meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to observe September 7 as marking the end of the centenary year of the national song.”

“The government will not impose the decision on anybody and those who want to sing ‘Vande Mataram’ can sing.” His statement was protested vociferously by the BJP members, who walked out. However, they came back after a few minutes. The Shiv sena continued to shout slogans against the remarks, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the house at 11.50 till 12 noon.

The Opposition members demanded an apology from the minister while chanting slogans of Vande Mataram.

Mr Singh had said last week that it was not binding on citizens to sing the song - penned by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in 1876 - on September 7, the day marking the culmination of year-long centenary celebrations of the song.

‘Vande Mataram’ was adopted as the national song at the Varanasi session of the All-India Congress Committee on September 7, 1905.

In the Rajya Sabha, Opposition BJP and Shiv Sena members charged HRD Minister with trying to appease a minority community, leading to adjournment of the house twice. Raising the issue during zero hour, BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi wanted to know why Singh has shifted his stand on singing of the national song in schools during the centenary celebrations of freedom movement on September 7.

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TRS to intensify struggle against Congress
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 22
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which quit the UPA government today, is all set to intensify its struggle against the Congress government at both the Centre and state.

TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao will kick off the stir with fast unto death at Jantar Mantar from Wednesday, while the party MLAs have decided to stall the Assembly proceedings in Hyderabad tomorrow.

“We will not allow any business to take place in the Assembly tomorrow;” Mr K. Vijayarama Rao, TRS floor leader in the House, said.

The party cadre will simultaneously undertake protest demonstrations, rallies and public meetings across the nine Telangana districts.

Mr Rao also made it clear that the TRS would soon take a decision on continuing with the UPA. “We are still with the UPA, though we have quit the Cabinet. We will soon decide on this,” he clarified.

“By deciding to sail with the UPA even after all this, the TRS seems to still believe in the efficacy of achieving Telangana through lobbying,” Mr K. Nageshwar, political analyst and a professor in Osmania University, the hotbed of the Telangana movement, commented.

Making light of the development, Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy said, “They must have thought that by resigning from the government, they can take their agenda forward. I don’t think the move will have any impact.”

Opposition Telugu Desam Party remarked that both the Congress and TRS would have to explain their actions to the people of Telangana. “The TRS has achieved precious little during its honeymoon with Congress for the past two years,” TDP Parliamentary Party leader K. Yerran Naidu said.

“Why did the TRS leaders choose to resign at this juncture? What happened to their earlier stand that they had left the decision (on Telangana) to Sonia Gandhi?” questioned Mr B. V. Raghavulu, state secretary, CPM, which is opposed to a separate state.

Congress leader and party in charge for AP affairs Digvijay Singh insisted that his party could not give any commitment in the absence of consensus on the issue. “Unfortunately, there is no consensus. There are different views on the issue in our own party,” he admitted to a Telugu channel.

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TRS departure good riddance for Cong MLAs
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 22
The decision of the TRS to quit the Union Cabinet has not come as an unexpected development here, considering the Congress’ inability to give a firm commitment on the Telangana issue at this juncture.

Sources in the Congress here say that Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy played a major role in the party’s stand on the issue of a separate state. YSR, who is opposed to bifurcating the state, was able to convince the party high command that TRS’ departure would make no dent into the popularity of the Congress in the state.

The TRS, which had five ministers in the state, had to pull out of the YSR Cabinet in July last year following the Chief Minister’s public utterances against the division of the state. Following the recent debacle of the TRS in the local elections, YSR found himself in a better position to prevail upon the party leadership of the waning support to a separate state.

The Chief Minister was successful in conveying that the party would suffer in the Andhra and Rayalaseema regions if the Telangana demand was to be conceded by the Congress. YSR also proved his mettle as the undisputed leader in the state by silencing the Congress MLAs from the Telangana region, who were vocal proponents of a separate state earlier.

In any case, it would not make sense for the Congress to hasten the process of bifurcating the state, as such a move would amount to handing over the future Telangana state on a platter to KCR’s TRS.

“If at all Telangana were to be granted, it would happen at a time when it suits the political interests of the Congress,” said a party MP from the state.

The Congress legislators, especially from Telangana, would view this development as a good riddance. They would have a better opportunity of cornering Cabinet berths in both the state and the Centre if TRS would not have to be accommodated.

The TRS, with its five MPs and 26 MLAs, is all set to go on an agitation mode. Given Mr Chandrasekhar Rao’s ability to rouse people’s passions, he is likely to give sleepless nights to the Congress government in the state.

The party has a natural ally in the BJP, which has already declared its support for a separate state. Mr A Narendra, the second in command in the TRS, is a former RSS and BJP politician, who is rearing to join hands with the saffron party.

The BJP, which enjoys little support in the state, may have got a new lease of life with the latest development. 

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BJP promises quotas in minority institutions
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22
With an eye on the coming Assembly poll, especially in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP today announced that it would allow caste-based quotas in minority educational establishments as well if voted to power at the Centre.

Addressing a rally organised by the BJP’s SC/ST cells here, senior BJP leader and Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani said his party would reverse the UPA’s Constitutional amendment that bars caste-based reservations in educational establishments designated as minority institutions.

“Only, we, and not any other party, opposed this move as a big flaw. And we will remove this ban on SC/ST reservations in minority institutions when we come to power (at the Centre),” the former Deputy Prime Minister said.

His comments came in the wake of the Cabinet’s clearance to a Bill aimed at providing reservations for OBC candidates in elite government educational establishments.

Mr Advani, who had told the BJP’s last national executive to use the quota row for the benefit of the party, insisted the government had not been able to explain why it wanted to exempt minority institutions from the reservation laws.

Also, he alleged that the UPA moves had declined reservation benefits to Jains and members of the Rama Krishna mission, whom he described as part of the Hindu society.

Mr Advani, whose party faces a multi-pronged challenge in Uttar Pradesh elections due early next

year, called the economic condition of Dalits a “barometer” of national development.

Meanwhile, former BJP president and Rajya Sabha MP M. Venkaiah Naidu accused the ruling

UPA of polarising society by declining reservation benefits to SCs and STs in educational

establishments designated as minority institutions.

“This is sheer polarisation if you have reservations only in Hindu institutions and not in Christian

or Muslim institutions,” Mr Naidu remarked.

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BJP targets Cong in oil-for-food scam
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22
The Bharatiya Janata Party today made an effort to target the Congress in the Iraqi oil-for-food scam discussion in the Lok Sabha and described the Justice R S Pathak Inquiry Authority report a “masterly defence” of the Congress.

The discussion on the Jusitce Pathak report took a stormy turn, leading to a short adjournment when BJP member Maneka Gandhi invoked Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s name and made an allegation about her approval to the visit of the party delegation led by Mr Natwar Singh to Iraq in 2001 in connection with the oil-for-food programme, remained inconclusive. The discussion would continue tomorrow.

The BJP MP’s words resulted in commotion in the House and senior ministers P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal took strong exception to Ms Maneka Gandhi’s charge.

Initiating the discussion, Mr Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI termed the report as a “grey area, and observed that justice has not been done as he had let the main player go “scot-free.”

He said former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh “should not have stooped so low as to help his son and the family to procure oil contracts.”

Mr Dasgupta was followed by Ms Maneka Gandhi, whose references to Ms Sonia Gandhi, resulted in a pandemonium, forcing Deputy Speaker Charnjit Singh Atwal to adjourn the house for 20 minutes till 6pm.

When the House reassembled, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee persuaded the members to let Ms Maneka Gandhi finish her speech as he emphasised that the rules of the House had to be complied with and assured that he would look into the records and expunge all objectionable portions.

After Ms Gandhi, it was the turn of the Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, who forcefully argued that no one from the Congress delegation other than Mr Natwar Singh knew about the deal.

In a forceful defence of his party, the minister said the Pathak Committee concluded that there was no shred of evidence against the Congress.

“It was unfortunate that a leader of a delegation on a goodwill mission used the occasion for the benefit of his family,” Mr Sibal said, while pointing out that the name of the Congress figured in the report of UN-appointed independent inquiry committee headed by Paul Volcker because of the possibility that Mr Natwar Singh and his son Jagat Singh projected themselves that the Iraqi authorities got the impression that they were representing the Congress.

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Office-of-Profit law challenged 
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 22
Four days after the UPA Government notified the Office-of-Profit Act after President A.P.J Abdul Kalam gave his assent to it on fresh passage by Parliament, it was today challenged in the Supreme Court with a Trinamool Congress MP seeking quashing of it.

Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Drivedi, who filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court Registry today, sought interim stay on the operation of the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Act, 2006) so that the Election Commission could go ahead with its proceedings on various applications for the disqualification of MPs and MLAs on the issue of office-of-profit.

Trinamool Congress, headed by former Union Minister Mamta Banerjee, is in the forefront in filing the complaints for disqualification of Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and nine other Left leaders for the alleged violation of the office-of- profit provisions, prior to the passage of the new law.

The petition said the new law providing immunity to MPs and MLAs against disqualification for their allegedly holding the office-of-profit, was violative of Article 14 (equality before law) and Articles 102(1) (a) 103 (dealing with qualifications and disqualifications of MPs) of the Constitution and “arbitrary and discriminatory”.

The petitioner said it was strange that a law had been made applicable with retrospective effect to save a large number of legislators from being covered under the disqualification provisions pending before the Election Commission. While annexing the May 31 message of the President to Parliament for reconsideration of the law, the Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP said the Act “has been passed (again) in undue haste and without seriously addressing any of the concerns raised by the President.”

“Except for some lip service to the exalted office of the President, none of the concerns raised by him were seriously addressed to by either House of Parliament,” it said, pointing out that Law Minister H.R Bhardwaj in his speech in Rajya Sabha had “admitted” that the Bill had been brought to protect some members.

The petitioner gave graphic details of how the case of Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan was treated and how different yardsticks were followed for Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who held the post of chairperson of the National Advisory Council, and how she resigned to allegedly take political mileage out of it.

Trivedi’s counsel P.H Parekh said he was likely to mention the petition before the Bench of Chief Justice of India tomorrow for its early hearing.

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Domicile clause for election of RS MPs goes
SC okays amendments in RPA
S.S Negi
Legal Correspondent 

New Delhi, August 22 
A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court today put its seal on twin amendments in the Representation of People Act, opening the territory of every state for contesting the Rajya Sabha elections by removing the mandatory bar of domicile for its MPs and introduction of open ballot system to curb cross voting for money considerations.

The court for the first time since the implementation of the Constitution in 1950 defined the character of Rajya Sabha and held that “residence or domicile are not the essential ingredients of the structure and the composition of the Upper House and that residence is neither a constant factor, nor a constitutional requirement but a matter of qualification prescribed by Parliament in exercise of its power under Article 84.”

With the removal of the bar of domicile for Rajya Sabha MPs, a five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice Y.K Sabharwal gave approval to the election of all those members who had been elected from a state other than that of their birth as the court at the time of admitting a PIL by noted journalist Kuldip Nayar and others on the issue in 2004 had said the elections held in the interim period would be subject to its final verdict.

It rejected the argument forwarded by petitioners that the removal of the domicile condition hit at the roots of the “basic structure” of the Constitution as it tend to change its federal character.

The Bench having Mr Justice K.G Balakrishnan, Mr Justice S.H Kapadia, Mr Justice C.K Thakker and Mr Justice P.K Balasubramanyan with the CJI, said “as long as a state has a right to be represented in the Council of States by its elected representatives, it cannot be said that federalism is affected.”

Irrespective of the changes in the provision of domicile for Rajya Sabha MPs, “their role, functions, powers or prerogatives, especially in the matter of legislation, remain unchanged,” the court held.

The court emphasised more on the representative character of a state in the Rajya Sabha irrespective of the fact whom the MLAs had elected and who in their opinion was fit to represent them. Three essential requirements —electors, elected MPs remaining the representatives of the state and MLAs choice to elect them — remained the same, it ruled.

It said there was nothing unconstitutional in Parliament making the changes in the law relating to election from time to time as it had been cast with the responsibility to bring legislative measures as and when required in this regard.

On the question of open ballot system, requiring an MLA to show his vote to the party whip that he had only voted in favour of the party candidate, the court said if the indirect voting system “becomes a source of corruption then the sunlight and transparency have the capacity to remove it.”

In apparent reference to the recent allegations of money bags changing hands in Rajya Sabha elections, the Bench said “we can only say that legislation pursuant to a legislative policy that transparency will eliminate the evil that has crept in would hopefully serve the larger objective of free and fair election.”

It made it clear that no such restriction has been put on the members of electoral college that votes to elect President and Vice-President, also through indirect vote.

Since proper functioning of political parties was the essence of Parliamentary democracy, enforcing discipline on their members against corrupt practices in voting would add to “purity” of poll process, the court said.

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Refer my case to Sonia: Natwar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22
Taking a hard stance, suspended Congress leader K. Natwar Singh has asked the party's disciplinary action committee to refer the issue of his expulsion to party president Sonia Gandhi.

In reply to the show-cause notice issued to him by the DAC, Mr Singh told its Chairman A.K. Antony that it was rather extraordinary that his case for suspension/expulsion was being considered by a committee, two members of which, had earlier been expelled by the Congress party for six years for anti-party activities .

"In view of this, my case should be referred to the Congress president," Mr Natwar Singh said.

The former External Affairs Minister was suspended after he was indicted by the Justice Pathak Authority for misusing his position for getting oil contracts for people close to him. He was issued a show-cause notice on August 9 and the DAC had asked him to explain why he should not be expelled from the party.

Mr Natwar Singh's reply comes ahead of the Jat mahasabha rally in Jaipur tomorrrow which he will address. The Rajasthan PCC has termed the rally as a government sponsored event and said no Congress leader of the Jat community would attend it.

Mr Natwar said in his reply that the Justice Pathak Authority had not referred to his affidavit submitted during the hearing.

He said no country in the world, except India, had taken seriously the Volcker committee report.

On the three letters he had written to the Iraqi authorities, Mr Natwar cited the examples of some top leaders from the West leading their country's business delegations to lobby with host nations.

"Our delegations go all over the world to promote our goods. All our embassies abroad are doing the same." he said.

Mr Natwar said the show-cause notice referred to his "misconduct" and asked where this term had been used by the Justice Pathak Authority.

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Sikhs protest over chopping of teenager’s hair

Jaipur, August 22
Hundreds of angry Sikhs today took to the streets here, protesting against the alleged chopping of hair of a teenaged Sikh boy, who dared to raise his voice against eve-teasing in his school.

All shops and markets were closed in the Sikh-dominated Raja Park area of the city today as the chopping incident enraged the Sikh community, who have taken the incident as an insult to the Sikh religion.

Inderprit Singh, a class XII student of Kendriya Vidyalaya No. 3, while on his way back from school on motorbike yesterday, was stopped by a group of youths and allegedly forced into a car. They also reportedly beat him mercilessly and forcibly chopped off his hair. Then they dropped a dazed Inderprit near the school.

Inderprit says one of the youths named Arjun Meena, whom he could identify, used to stand outside their school and tease girls, against which he protested. Arjun suspected that Inderprit was instigating his girlfriend, a student of the same school, against him.

Earlier on July 24, Inderprit was beaten by Arjun and his friends.

Inderprit’s family had lodged a complaint with the Gandhi Nagar police station. A complaint was filed only after the intervention of SP (East) V.K Singh. Inderprit’s family complained that the police did not do anything further in the matter.

As a follow-up to the incident, the emboldened youths beat up Inderprit yesterday and chopped his hair, mouthing foul language.

Nirmal Kaur, Inderprit’s mother, told UNI,”We have been residing in Jaipur for the past 18 years but no such incident has occurred in the past. My son only raised his voice against a wrongdoing and had to pay with his hair, which is the highest insult to a Sikh.”

She added, “The police came to our house yesterday, tried to console us but is not doing anything to nab the culprits.” The police is on the lookout for the culprits.—UNI

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Pre-1996 retiree servicemen to get medical benefits also
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 22
In a relief to ex-servicemen who retired before January 1996, the Supreme Court today directed the Centre to provide medical benefits in the same manner as were available to those retiring after January 1, 1996.

A Bench of Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Mr Justice C.K. Thakker said either the Union government would waive the amount of contribution required to be paid by them for getting the post-retirement medical benefit, or pay such amount and not claim it from the retirees.

The court said medical benefits should be provided to ex-servicemen and their families in the same manner as were available to those retiring after the cut off date.

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Cable TV men stir over police raids
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 22
Cable TV operators in Mumbai have suspended the transmission of all channels other than Doordarshan after the Social Service Branch of the Mumbai Police raided their premises yesterday.

Mr Ganesh Naidu, who heads the Cable Operators Federation, said the decision to strike was made from 8.30 pm last evening and would remain in force till further notice.

According to the cable TV operators, the police raided several cable TV operators and seized re-transmission equipment of channels like Star Movies, AXN, HBO, etc. for allegedly showing movies with an ‘adults only certificate’. The cable TV operators said they did not have any say on the programmes transmitted by individual channels.

The police said it was only enforcing orders of the Bombay High Court, which bars cable TV operators from transmitting films that have either an A or U/A certificate.

The Bombay High Court had last week taken the Director General of Police to task for not taking action against cable TV operators violating the court’s earlier order banning adult movies on TV.

The decoders of the channels like Star Movies, Star One, Star Gold, HBO, Zee Cinema, AXN, Set Max, Sahara One and Sahara Filmy had been sealed.

However, the police did not take any action against DTH operators so far. Both DishTV and Tata-Sky were continuing broadcast as before.

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TV lovers cannot view Arab TV channels
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22
The TV viewers cannot view the Arab TV channels like Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabia, Q TV any more as under the new guidelines of government on downlinking and transmission, they cannot beamed into the country.

Rejecting media reports that it has banned some Arab TV channels under the pressure of Israel, the government today said most of them have not so far applied for beaming.

“The UPA Government reiterates that the Arab TV channels like Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabia, Q TV have not yet applied to be downlinked in India till date. Hence they cannot be transmitted, re-transmitted through cable, DTH networks in India for public viewing,” Minister of Information & Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs, P.R. Dasmunsi informed the Lok Sabha. 

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No intrusion in Kakrapar N-station
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22
After several hours of combing operation, jointly conducted by the CISF and Gujarat police, the Centre has been informed that there is no breach of security at Kakrapar Nuclear Power Station in Gujarat.

“The CISF has informed the Ministry of Home Affairs that nothing has been found after the combing operation,” Home Ministry spokesperson Omkar Kedia told The Tribune here.

Ever since there was a report about the possible intrusion, Union Home Secretary V. K. Duggal had been in constant touch with the Gujarat police DGP and the CISF Director-General, the spokesperson said.

Earlier in the day there was a report that the villagers had informed the local police that two armed men were seen entering the Kakrapar station.

Immediately, the Gujarat police and the CISF which provides security in the inner power station, sealed the premises and started the combing operation.

Commandos took up positions inside the control room for the reactors while CISF troops along with local police combed the 1.6 km “exclusive zone” between the Kakrapar station’s outer fence and an inner barrier around the nuclear plants.

Protection systems were also in place to shut down the reactors in case of any eventuality.

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Red Cross bound by RTI Act: CIC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22
While directing the Indian Red Cross Society, Ludhiana, to furnish information relating to its accounting system to the appellant, the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) ruled that the Right to Information Act was applicable to the society as it had been established by a law made by Parliament.

Directing the CPIO to provide the information sought by appellant Hitender Jain regarding the accounting system of the Ludhiana branch of the society, the Information Commissioner Padma Balasubramanian said, “Since the Ludhiana district branch of the society has been established in terms of a central Act, it is bound to appoint a CPIO and provide information sought by a citizen in terms of the RTI Act”.

The appellant also sought similar information from the Punjab branch of the society, Chandigarh Red Cross Society, Fetahabad District Red Cross Society.

While allowing the appeal of the appellant, the CIC gave one month time for the CPIO to furnish the information and collect applicable charges from the appellant.

Mr Jain had moved the CIC after he did not get the information sought from the CPIO and the appellate authority.

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MLA jailed for molestation
Tribune News Service

Patna, August 22
The ruling JD(U) MLA from Islampur in Nalanda district, Ram Swaroop Prasad,was sent to jail by Hilsa court on charges of molesting a Dalit woman.
Official sources informed that the JD(U) MLA was sent to 14 days judicial custody by Hilsa court on Monday.

The case of molestation reportedly dated back to February this year. The arrest of the MLA, however, was in line of the assurance already made by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar that “no one was above the law”.

The incident was close on the heels of the recent drunken brawl by another JD(U)MLA Sunil Pandey at a city hotel. 

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Atwal releases book on Sikhism
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22
Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal today released a book “Why Americans Love Meditation and Sikhism”, which brings out the true colour of religiousness, philosophically and psychologically.

Written by Prof Mohinder Pal Singh, an academic council member of the London Diplomatic Academy, the book has won appreciation amongst scholars. Several MPs were present.

 

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