SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Karunanidhi mobilises support for Setu project
Chennai, September 19
Unfazed by attacks from the BJP and the Sangh Parivar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi is trying to mobilise support in favour of the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SCSP) from all political quarters and turn it into an issue in the interest of Tamils.

BJP executive meeting from tomorrow
New Delhi, September 19
With Ram once against taking the centre stage in the political battlefield, the BJP’s national executive meeting at Bhopal is all set to reimpose its faith on veteran leader and Hindutva mascot L K Advani to lead the party’s offensive against the Congress-led coalition in the coming elections.

Punjab opposes groundwater law
New Delhi, September 19
While the degree of exploitation is varied widely across the country, some states have a large number of semi-critical, critical and over-exploited assessment.

Restart news bulletin from Rohtak: Haryana
Punjab seeks cess on ad revenue of pvt channels
New Delhi, September 19
Punjab has suggested that the Centre should levy cess on advertisement revenue earned by the private television channels and give 70 per cent of this to the states for their welfare-related communication programmes.

Antony rules out unilateral ceasefire in J-K
New Delhi, September 19
Defence minister A.K. Antony shakes hands with Coast Guard Director Vice-Admiral Rusi Contractor as defence secretary Vijay Singh looks on prior to a commanders conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. The government today asserted that there no was question of a unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir during Ramzan unless there was an offer for a ceasefire from terrorist groups.

Defence minister A.K. Antony shakes hands with Coast Guard Director Vice-Admiral Rusi Contractor as defence secretary Vijay Singh looks on prior to a commanders conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. — AFP photo


Women huddle under a sheet of plastic as they cross the street during a heavy downpour in Hyderabad on Wednesday. Sixteen people have been killed and 10 injured in the past 24 hours due to heavy rains across the state. The Andhra Pradesh government has put five districts on high alert.
Women huddle under a sheet of plastic as they cross the street during a heavy downpour in Hyderabad on Wednesday. Sixteen people have been killed and 10 injured in the past 24 hours due to heavy rains across the state. The Andhra Pradesh government has put five districts on high alert. — AFP

EARLIER STORIES




Developments in society influence media: Ninan
New Delhi, September 19
Noted columnist and author Sevanti Ninan at a debate on ‘Media and society’ held in the capital recently said: “Numerous developments within society do influence the media tremendously. Over the past few years the reader and viewer have changed considerably and Indian society has been going through a period of change and transformation.”

Son of ex-chief of state Cong gets breather
Hyderabad, September 19
Former Andhra Pradesh Congress chief K.Kesava Rao's son K.Venkat, involved in a sensational murder case, got a breather, with forensic report concluding that his business partner Prashanth Reddy could have committed suicide.

Entertainment tax to be cut
New Delhi, September 19
Information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi today said the proposed draft Broadcasting Regulation Bill is at the stage of discussion and will in no way gag the freedom of media.

China ‘plan’ to divert Brahmaputra
MPs seek Centre’s intervention
Guwahati, September 19
A group of MPs from the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have jointly knocked at the doors of the central government expressing concern over the fresh reports about China’s plan to divert the course of the Brahmaputra, the main channel in the Northeast.

OBC Quota
Nariman questions caste as basis
New Delhi, September 19
Noted constitutional expert Fali S. Nariman today questioned in the Supreme Court the criterion of caste as the sole determining factor to provide reservation for the backward classes, saying that it would make weeding out “creamy layer” virtually impossible.

Mid-Day functionaries get interim bail
New Delhi, September 19
In an interim relief to four functionaries of tabloid Mid Day, including two journalists found guilty of committing contempt of court by publishing a series of articles against former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Y.K. Sabharwal, the Supreme Court today granted them interim bail on award of the sentence fixed for September 21.

Don’t set terms, NCP asks Left
New Delhi, September 19
With no solution in sight to the stand off between the Left and UPA on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Nationalist Congress Party has called a meeting of its office-bearers here on September 26 to take stock of the political situation in the country.

No pension for illegal occupants of govt houses: SC
New Delhi, September 19
Continuing its drive against errant politicians and bureaucrats possessing government houses illegally, the Supreme Court today said if an official did not vacate his house after retirement, his pension should be withheld.

Now, daughters perform last rites
Patna, September 19
For the first time in the memorable past, women here dared to break an age old tradition where daughters and not sons performed the last rites of the dead. Even men of this village are learnt to have extended their support to the fairer sex.

22 detained for torching bus
Bangalore, September 19
Security has been tightened in the city, with the police detaining 22 persons in connection with the torching of a Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation bus which charred two people to death and the attack on the residence of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister N.Karunanidhi’s daughter in the city.

N-deal: Rift in CPM to the fore
Kolkata, September 19
With Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee publicly advocating in favour of the nuclear deal, the rift in the CPM over the controversial deal has now come to the forefront.

Termination of Cops
HC no to filling vacancies
Lucknow, September 19
The Allahabad High Court today refused to stay the termination of thousands of constables of civil police and PAC by the Mayawati government. It has however restrained the state government from filling the vacancy caused due to the cancellation of the appointments.

RJD leader shot dead
Patna, September 19
The opposition RJD today demanded Chief Minister Nitish Kumar`s resignation in the wake of the killing of its leader Pappu Khan.

Violence over of student
Lucknow, September 19
Following a truck knocking down a B Tech student in Faizabad, students went on a rampage burning down five trucks and one jeep. The police have arrested 50 students.

 



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Karunanidhi mobilises support for Setu project
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, September 19
Unfazed by attacks from the BJP and the Sangh Parivar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi is trying to mobilise support in favour of the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SCSP) from all political quarters and turn it into an issue in the interest of Tamils.

Almost all political parties in the state, except the AIADMK and the BJP, which practically has no presence here, are supporting the project. Even the opposition MDMK leader, who is an ally of the AIADMK, spoke in favour of the project and said, “Any attempt to stop the project, using the name of religion is totally unacceptable to us.” Karunanidhi today stuck to his guns and again questioned the existence of Ram and said that there was no historic proof of Ram’s existence.

He said that there was no scientific proof of Ram having constructed a bridge and that he was an expert in engineering. In a question and answer statement today he further asked, “You tell me whether Rama lived. I had only stated that there was no person in the name of Lord Ram. What is wrong in that? The author of Ramayana Valmiki had said a lot of things about Rama, what do they (the BJP and Sangh parivar) say about all those things?”

The Chief Minister drew flak from the BJP and its allies propagating Hindutva by saying, “Some say there was a person over 17 lakh (1.7 million) years ago. His name was Ram. Do not touch the bridge (Ram Setu) constructed by him. Who is this Raman (as Ram is referred to in Tamil)? In which engineering college did he study and become a civil engineer? When did he build this so-called bridge? Is there any evidence for any of this?” He even went to the extent of saying that the opposition to the SSCP was part of a large conspiracy by “some jackals who wanted to destroy the Dravidian movement”.

Only to prevent the good scheme, they got hold of the name of a person who was supposed to have lived 17 lakh years ago,” he said. Commenting on the attack on his daughter Selvi’s house in Bangalore last evening, allegedly by Bajrang Dal activists, he said, “I treat these things like a speck of dust. I only welcome this kind of opposition.” He condoled the death of two persons after a bus was set ablaze on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border and remarked, “The culprits have shown that this is the culture of the Ram Bhaktas”.

The Chief Minister said the Tamil Nadu government would definitely prevail upon the centre to continue the project. “We have convened an all-party meeting here on September 24 just for this purpose,” he added. Meanwhile, the Left parties, too, came down heavily on the BJP and some of its allies for opposing the SSCP and also questioned the veracity of the Adam’s Bridge being built by Ram.

Tamil Nadu CPM secretary N. Varadarajan warned the central government against succumbing to the pressure of the “communal forces” and stall the SSCP and alleged that the BJP and other “communal forces had taken up an illusionary issue of Ram Setu” and had made a big issue of the affidavit submitted by the centre. The CPI, too, lent support to the SSCP and its national secretary D. Raja, during his visit here, said what was termed as Adam’s Bridge or Ramar Sethu in the Palk Straits is a tombolo, a sand deposit. He said there was no scientific proof that Ramar Sethu was built by a battalion of simians at the behest of Rama.

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BJP executive meeting from tomorrow
S Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
With Ram once against taking the centre stage in the political battlefield, the BJP’s national executive meeting at Bhopal is all set to reimpose its faith on veteran leader and Hindutva mascot L K Advani to lead the party’s offensive against the Congress-led coalition in the coming elections.

The move to project Advani, who brought the party to the centre-stage by riding the Ram Rath Yatra in the 1990s, is in line with the saffron party’s ambition to cash in on the opportunity thrown at it by the Congress-led UPA government, which filed an objectionable affidavit in the Supreme Court on the Ram Setu issue.

Though the Manmohan Singh government quickly withdrew the controversial affidavit to defuse the political fallout, it is understood that a majority of the leaders in the BJP believe that the issue has the potential to boost the party’s prospects and that none other than Advani fits in the scheme of things.

“Despite resistance from some quarters within the Sangh Parivar, generally there is a realisation within the party that there got to be clarity on the leadership issue and with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee exhibiting indifferent health and Rajnath Singh not able to make a mark, there could be no better choice than Advani,” a top leader said on condition of anonymity.

“It is unlikely that a formal announcement is made on Advani during the executive,” he added.

However, on the eve of the national executive, the saffron party’s eagerness to carry out a nationwide campaign on its own on the Ram Setu issue received a set back of sorts with the RSS directing the top brass of the party to lend support to the VHP-sponsored Shri Rameshwaram Ram Setu Raksha Samiti.

Sources said the RSS was keen that the BJP, like in the case of Ram Temple movement, did not hijack the Ram Setu movement launched by the VHP.

In a related development, the BJP, which was keen on adopting a separate resolution on the Ram Setu issue, has following the dictat from the RSS decided to remain content with making a reference to the issue within its overall political resolution.

During the three-day meeting, beginning on September 21, the saffron party is also expected to up its ante against the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government on the internal security situation, the plight of the common man, mounting woes of farmers and the poor people.

“There will be a political resolution, which will critically analyse the UPA government’s policies, the Sachar Committee Report on minorities and Ram Setu issue besides hosts of other political issues,” Mr Javadekar said. There will be a separate economic resolution and a resolution on the internal security, he added.

The BJP leaders are likely to go ballistic against the possible threat to country’s sovereignty due to Indo-US Nuclear deal in the present form.

The meet, could be bereft of the presence of charismatic leader and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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Punjab opposes groundwater law
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
While the degree of exploitation is varied widely across the country, some states have a large number of semi-critical, critical and over-exploited assessment. The Planning Commission report "Groundwater Management and Ownership" says that out of 5,723 assessment units assessed jointly by state groundwater departments and the CGWB, 4,078 (71%) are safe, 550 (10%) semi-critical, 226 (4%) critical and 839 (15%) over-exploited.

But just six states, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajashthan and Tamil Nadu, comprising 1,413 assessment units have 762 units that are semi-critical, critical or over-exploited. The figure puts these states at 54 per cent against a national average of 29 per cent.

In most parts the prime cause of over-exploitation is the rising demand for groundwater for agriculture and same is the case with Punjab. The report says that water demand for the kind of agricultural practices being followed in the state is very high and a large part of it is for groundwater.

Consider this-out of 137 blocks in Punjab, only 25 are safe. As many as 103 are over-exploited, five critical and four semi-critical.

Punjab is not in the favour of groundwater legislation as it apprehends that such a step will cause hardships to farmers.

But to tackle groundwater over-exploitation, the state favours initiatives like crop diversification, that is extending MSP to other crops to wean away farmers from paddy cultivation which is water intensive.

Other initiatives include large-scale artificial recharge, controlled, regulated and metered electrical supply in critical areas, micro-irrigation through promotion of drip and sprinkler to conserve water, alteration in crop calendar like encouraging late sowing of paddy to decrease evapotranspiration and encouraging industries.

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Restart news bulletin from Rohtak: Haryana
Punjab seeks cess on ad revenue of pvt channels
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
Punjab has suggested that the Centre should levy cess on advertisement revenue earned by the private television channels and give 70 per cent of this to the states for their welfare-related communication programmes.

Punjab information and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia, who addressed the 26th Conference of Ministers of Information and Cinematography here today, suggested that a revenue-sharing formula should be worked out for licence fee.

According to an official spokesman, he said the information and broadcasting ministry should levy a cess on advertising revenue of all private television channels and 70 per cent of this revenue should be distributed among the states on the basis of number of television set owners.

Majithia said the Centre should work out a revenue-sharing formula of licence fee collected from operations such as DTH, FM Radio and down linking.

Calling for steps to protect the interests of cable operators and their employees while introducing CAS, Majithia said priority of CAS licence should be given to local cable operators. He demanded a Punjabi bulletin on the national channel of Doordarshan and AIR, saying that a sizeable Punjabi population lived outside the state. He said progress of the state should be adequately reflected on Doordarshan.

Seeking 100 per cent broadband connectivity for rural areas, Majithia said the state's population was mobile and it had a sizeable share of immigrant population who wanted to remain in touch with their native places. Terming Badal as the most progressive village of the state, he said broadband service for villages should be started from there.

Suggesting a liberal policy to grant community radio licence on demand, he sought community radio licence for all educational institutions of the state. He said the state government was prepared to train the students to run these stations.

Pointing out that the state has more than 90 heritage sites but these could not be popularised earlier due to restriction on shooting films at these destinations, he said the state government had simplified the procedures.

Referring to the sting operation involving Uma Khurana and reportage of Gurjar agitation and events related to Dera Sacha Sauda, he called for strong policy guidelines and code of conduct for correct portrayal and preventing the media from blowing them out of proportion.

He said Azadi Express Exhibition Train may be routed through the prominent places directly linked with martyrs including Ferozepur, Faridkot and Ludhiana.

He assured the state government's commitment to curb the menace of piracy.

Speaking at the conference, Haryana’s chief parliamentary secretary Dharambir Singh urged the ministry to restart the news bulletin from AIR Rohtak and increase the LPT capacity of Hisar Doordarshan Kendra to HPT.

Dharambir Singh said the Broadcasting Bill should be passed and not allowed to lapse. He said that the Cable Television Networks Act needs to be implemented with a firm hand.

He said there was need to take measures to curb motivated and biased sting operations.

He said Haryana was in the process of appointing district-level monitoring committees on Broadcasting Content and these would be functional shortly. He also sought funds from the Centre for training of PR staff.

The CPS said that fine under Copyright should be enhanced to curb piracy.

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Antony rules out unilateral ceasefire in J-K
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
The government today asserted that there no was question of a unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir during Ramzan unless there was an offer for a ceasefire from terrorist groups.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Coast Guard Commanders’ conference here, defence minister A.K. Antony said, “We cannot decide unilaterally. It depends on them (militant groups) as well”.

Certain political parties in the state had requested the centre to announce a ceasefire during the month, a move that was opposed by security forces which are of the view that such truces have in the past been used by terrorists to re-group themselves. Besides, the militants are currently facing the heat from the security forces and the offensive should continue.

As far as the ceasefire with Pakistani forces along the frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, it is between the two countries and has been by and large holding good for the past three years, Mr Antony said.

To another question about the delay in making public the first list of Raksha Udyog Ratnas, which is expected to include some of the private sector companies, the minister admitted that this had been delayed following concerns raised by trade unions. These unions backed by political parties, including the UPA allies Left parties, have expressed their opposition to the inclusion of private sector in this list. It would allow these companies to negotiate to foreign companies for investments in India as part of the defence offsets as part of the multi-crore defence deals.

Allaying fears of trade unions, Antony said there was no move to do away with defence public sector undertakings and that the entry of the private sector in the armament field was meant to strengthen the sector.

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Developments in society influence media: Ninan
Charu Singh

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
Noted columnist and author Sevanti Ninan at a debate on ‘Media and society’ held in the capital recently said: “Numerous developments within society do influence the media tremendously. Over the past few years the reader and viewer have changed considerably and Indian society has been going through a period of change and transformation.”

“Lower prices help the reader to sample newspapers and magazines available in the market. Whether it is the print media or television, lower prices are being competitively maintained. However, this is really giving into consumerism and does not help the news industry on the whole,” says Ninan.

Ninan points out that in the case of television, low prices had led to substandard cable service. “Unwilling to pay is so universal that advertisement-free cable TV is simply not an option today. In other countries the world over, every one pays in value three times more then what we pay but they get better quality and advertisement-free options.”

Ninan candidly observes that society often determines what is most watched and determines in turn advertising. She also mentioned that there were new financing trends in media, which need to be watched with care.

Alok Mehta, an Editor with Outlook, mentions that, “at one time there was pleasure in reading a newspaper. However, today this trend has changed with increasing consumerism and media’s avid response to it.”

Mehta mentions that the change in trend has occurred, “partly because expenditure has gone down on news resources and this has happened due to the constant need for low pricing. As a result many papers have resorted to using stringers, however, this directly reflects on both credibility and quality.”

“To check this trend the Press Council recently made a move that helps them suspend a publication if it does substandard work. This is at least a much needed move to check this trend,” says Mehta. Another dangerous trend he pointed out was “unchecked funding, people with agendas funding newspapers. Transparency in funding is required to be brought about.”

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Son of ex-chief of state Cong gets breather
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, September 19
Former Andhra Pradesh Congress chief K.Kesava Rao's son K.Venkat, involved in a sensational murder case, got a breather, with forensic report concluding that his business partner Prashanth Reddy could have committed suicide.

Experts of the A P Forensic Science Laboratory have found gunshot residue (GSR) on the hands of the realtor who died at Venkat's residence here on September 9 under suspicious circumstances. In a report submitted to a local court, the forensic experts said that the presence of GSR in the cotton swab collected from Reddy's hand suggested that he pulled the trigger using his friend's licensed revolver.

The GSR analysis, a study of the residue deposited on the palm and fingers of the person who opens fire from a firearm, holds key to resolve the mystery surrounding the death of Reddy, who was said to be having differences with Venkat over property matters.

Only one round was fired from the revolver and the X-ray report of the brain also supported the suicide theory, as it showed the "internal bullet path" to be pointing upwards. The bullet travels upwards only when a person fires at himself.

The police has already registered a murder case under IPC 302 and arrested Venkat last week. He is currently lodged in the Chanchalguda jail here. The sensational case had triggered a political storm in the state, forcing Kesava Rao to resign as APCC president to facilitate "free and fair inquiry".

While Venkat has been claiming that his friend had shot himself to death due to "personal problems", the family of the deceased alleged that he was murdered.

Facing allegation of "cover-up", the Congress government had entrusted the investigation to the CID. The CID officials took Venkat to his house to reconstruct the crime scene and also grilled his wife Divya who was a witness.

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Entertainment tax to be cut
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
Information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi today said the proposed draft Broadcasting Regulation Bill is at the stage of discussion and will in no way gag the freedom of media.

Briefing mediapersons here today on the outcome of the two-day conference of state information ministers, Dasmunsi said the states had agreed in principle to the long standing demand for reduction of entertainment tax.

He said a group of ministers would meet here on October 5 to sort out issues related to the Prasar Bharati structure and personnel.

Seeking support of the states for monitoring television content, the minister acknowledged that the uplinking and downlinking guidelines under which channels may be penalised for airing questionable content did not have legislative backing. The guidelines require the channels to adhere to the programme and advertising code prescribed by the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.

The government was keen on giving these guidelines a legislative backing by creating a regulator through the Broadcast Services Regulation Bill, to enforce the content code, but the broadcasters resisted the move. The issue was taken up by Dasmunsi at the conference.

He hoped that the Monitoring Committee mechanism at the district and local level for programmes and advertisements telecast by TV channels, which was proposed in the last SIMCON (State Information Ministers Conference) would have yielded the desired results.

Responding to the demand for allowing broadcast of news and current affairs programmes by private FM channels, the minister clarified that the government has not allowed it as there is no effective system to monitor the FM stations.

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China ‘plan’ to divert Brahmaputra
MPs seek Centre’s intervention
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 19
A group of MPs from the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have jointly knocked at the doors of the central government expressing concern over the fresh reports about China’s plan to divert the course of the Brahmaputra, the main channel in the Northeast.

Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) spokesman Apurba Kumar Bhattacharyya said party MPs, Dr Arun Kumar Sharma, Sarbananda Sonowal and Kumar Dipak Das along with BJP MPs from Arunachal Pradesh, Tapir Gaon and Khiren Rijiju submitted a petition to the union water resources minister, Prof Saifuddin Soz, requesting the Centre to look into the matter and take up the same with Chinese authorities.

“The AGP will launch a mass agitation in the region if China goes on with its plan to divert the channel of Brahmaputra as it will spell doom for the Northeastern states as the channel is the lifeline for the region’s agrarian economy and life in general,” the AGP spokesman said.

The Brahmaputra originates from the glacier of Kailash range of the Himalayas. South of Rake Kanggyen Tso Lake in South West Tibet at an altitude of 5300 meters, it traverses the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, passes through Arunachal Pradesh and Assam before cutting through the length of Bangladesh and finally plunges into the Bay of Bengal. The total length of the river is 2880 km out of which 1625 km lies in China, 918 km in India and 337 km in Bangladesh.

The AGP-BJP MPs from the region have partitioned the Centre to examine the veracity of latest media reports about the China’s intention to dam Yarlung Tsangpo (known as Brahmaputra in North East India) and divert it to the arid North East China.

“China last year officially denied having any such plan to dam and divert the great river, media reports in China continued to harp on China’s plan to dam the river beginning from the year 2009. Our MPs have drawn the attention of the Union Water Resources Minister to it and called for clarification from Government of India,” the AGP leader said.

The NE MPs in their memorandum to the union water resources minister mentioned that as per media reports the proposed Chinese dam project would involve construction of a hydroelectric project at the Great Bend of Brahmaputra (a sharp U-turn near Indian border) to generate estimated 40,000 MW of electricity and subsequent diversion of waters northwards. If it happens in reality disaster would befall on North East India and Bangladesh.

It was learnt that a mechanism was being evolved to resolve disputes between Indian and China over rivers that originate in China. Both the country would soon nominate their representatives to form a joint working group. A meeting is likely to be held in Beijing later this month to discuss the issue over Brahmaputra waters by representatives of both the countries.

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OBC Quota
Nariman questions caste as basis
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 19
Noted constitutional expert Fali S. Nariman today questioned in the Supreme Court the criterion of caste as the sole determining factor to provide reservation for the backward classes, saying that it would make weeding out “creamy layer” virtually impossible.

As the Constitution has emphasised on striving for achieving the goal of casteless society, therefore, the starting point for identification of socially and educationally backward classes on the basis of caste “is forbidden” under Article 15(1), he said.

The world “class” in the Article “is used in the sense of groups or communities identified on any basis… but no attempt has been made to formulate a criteria on this basis,” he said, arguing before a constitution Bench, hearing the case pertaining to 27 per cent OBC quota in education institutions, challenged in a bunch of petitions.

The obvious criteria sufficient to identify backward groups or communities could be on the basis of economic condition to be determined on the income of the family, educational status of parents, environs of birth, primary schooling of child, location of residence, living accommodation, occupation, location of state where the child has completed major part of secondary education, he said.

Nariman, appearing for anti-reservationists, said the criteria for determining the real beneficiary among the OBCs must be done on the basis of a law nothing less than that. It could not be done by any executive order or otherwise, there has to be a law laying down criteria for determining the beneficiaries of reservation.

He said since the Constitution strives for making India a “caste-less” society, this was the reason that compelled every successive government to eschew the questions regarding caste in each census done after Independence.

If the caste was made the sole basis for determining the backwardness of a person to make him entitled to reservation, then there was logic in the argument that weeding out the “creamy layer” would be virtually impossible.

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Mid-Day functionaries get interim bail
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 19
In an interim relief to four functionaries of tabloid Mid Day, including two journalists found guilty of committing contempt of court by publishing a series of articles against former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Y.K. Sabharwal, the Supreme Court today granted them interim bail on award of the sentence fixed for September 21.

A Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhan and V.S. Sirpurkar, though refused to stay the high court order of conviction, said the newspaper functionaries should be released on bail for a period till the Supreme Court takes up the matter for hearing.

The Bench gave the interim relief to them when their appeal against the conviction order was specially mentioned for urgent hearing by senior advocate Shanti Bhushan before the Bench.

The apex court a in brief hearing while refusing to advance the date of hearing, said the case would come up in the normal course on the date fixed by the Registry but till then the Mid Day functionaries would not be arrested after their sentence. The Registry has fixed the case for hearing on September 28.

The maximum sentence for contempt of court as prescribed under the law is six-month jail term.

A high court Bench comprising Justices R.S. Sodhi and B.N. Chatturvedi in its verdict on September 11 had convicted Mid Day editor (City) M.K. Tayal, publisher S.K. Akhtar, resident editor Vitusha Oberai and cartoonist Irfan Khan, holding that they had crossed the “Lakshman rekha” on criticism of judiciary and attempted to “scandalise” the former CJI and “tarnish” the image of Supreme Court as an institution.

Mid Day in its articles had raised questions over the correctness of sealing orders passed by a Bench, headed by Justice Sabharwal and claimed that they were intended to “benefit” his son’s business interests.

But the high court had said after a “careful” scrutiny of the affidavits of the Mid Day functionaries and arguments of their lawyer Sahanti Bhushan, it had come to the conclusion that an “attempt” was made to tarnish the image of the Supreme Court.

The High Court had based its judgment on various apex court rulings on contempt cases, saying that a “Lakshaman rekha” had been fixed by the Supreme Court for media about criticising judicial orders and the newspaper had “crossed” it.

Justice Sabharwal amidst the contempt proceedings in an interview to a newspaper had refuted the allegations by describing them as “baseless, reckless insinuation and malicious”.

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Don’t set terms, NCP asks Left

New Delhi, September 19
With no solution in sight to the stand off between the Left and UPA on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Nationalist Congress Party has called a meeting of its office-bearers here on September 26 to take stock of the political situation in the country.

It has also decided to hold a meeting of its working committee in Shillong on October 12 to prepare the party’s strategy for the upcoming assembly elections in four states.

The NCP, which has backed the Congress on the Indo-US nuclear deal, today appealed the Communist parties not to go to the UPA-Left committee for talks with any pre-conditions. The NCP stance came in response to a statement from the CPM leader Prakash Karat in which he had asked the government not to operationalise the deal for six months and wait for discussion in Parliament. On the Ram Setu issue, the NCP said that the government had rectified its mistake. The matter was in the Supreme Court and political parties should wait for the outcome. — TNS

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No pension for illegal occupants of govt houses: SC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
Continuing its drive against errant politicians and bureaucrats possessing government houses illegally, the Supreme Court today said if an official did not vacate his house after retirement, his pension should be withheld.

This came a day after a bench, headed by Justices B.N Agarwal yesterday questioned the union and state governments to take on errant politicians who flouted laws with impunity and continue the illegal possession of the government properties in Delhi as well as in state capitals.

The apex court has been asking the Centre to bring changes in Section 441, dealing with trespass of properties and make it non-bailable offence so that if any person occupies government properties illegally, he could be arrested.

The court has been monitoring vacation of government properties across the country from illegal occupation of politicians, political parties and government officials since 2004 and has evicted thousands of houses in the national as well as state capitals since then.

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Now, daughters perform last rites
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 19
For the first time in the memorable past, women here dared to break an age old tradition where daughters and not sons performed the last rites of the dead. Even men of this village are learnt to have extended their support to the fairer sex.

The credit of this initiative in traditional Bihar came from a non-government reformist organisation, Arjak Sangh. The organisation has been campaigning for long to change the mindset of the people of Nawada. Official sources informed that as a result of this silent revolution daughters were now carrying out the last rites of the dead. Recently Sharmila and Meena of Nawada, daughters of Ulas Mato, carried their deceased father’s body to the cremation ground though the family has three sons. The daughters even performed the last rites.

Secretary of Arjak Sangh, Brahmdeo Prasad said the aim was to send out a message that daughters are as good as sons and that there is no difference in the two.

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22 detained for torching bus
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, September 19
Security has been tightened in the city, with the police detaining 22 persons in connection with the torching of a Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation bus which charred two people to death and the attack on the residence of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister N.Karunanidhi’s daughter in the city.

Two persons were torched to death when a group of people stopped the bus near Garvehavi Palya on the Bangalore-Hosur road at 9.40 p.m. last night. According to the police, the passengers were asked to alight, following which kerosene was used to set it on fire. Passengers were quoted by the police as saying that one of the victims was drunk. It was not clear why the second person could not come out of the bus.

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N-deal: Rift in CPM to the fore
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, September 19
With Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee publicly advocating in favour of the nuclear deal, the rift in the CPM over the controversial deal has now come to the forefront.

Veteran Jyoti Basu , CPM party secretary in Bengal Biman Bose, politburo members and industries minister Nirupan Sen have already spoken in favour of the nuclear treaty. Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, a politburo leader and senior central committee member Benoy Konar and at least 10 other members in the state expressed their views against the withdrawal of support and the snap poll to the Lok Sabha.

The Bengal unit of the CPM will communicate its views to the party leadership at the forthcoming meetings of the politburo and the central committee, starting from September 28 in Kolkata.

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Termination of Cops
HC no to filling vacancies
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, September 19
The Allahabad High Court today refused to stay the termination of thousands of constables of civil police and PAC by the Mayawati government. It has however restrained the state government from filling the vacancy caused due to the cancellation of the appointments.

In a composite order on the petition of constable Sonu Rathi and others, Justice Rakesh Tiwari has given the state government three weeks time to file a counter affidavit in the case. The court has also requisitioned all documents that were the basis for the cancellation of the appointments. Clarifying its stand the order states that the ban on appointment would not be effective on other vacancies of the police constables in the state.

In perhaps the biggest police recruitment scam in the country the Mayawati government in two phases had laid off 10,468 - almost half of the 22,000 constables - recruited in the civil police and Provincial Armed Constabulary during the Mulayam Singh regime.

Following a 4-member probe led by ADG STF Shailjakant Mishra the Mayawati government on 11 September terminated the appointment of 6,504 constables appointed through 14 boards due to gross irregularities in their recruitment.

This was followed by the cancellation of appointment of another 3,964 policemen selected by 11 boards on Tuesday. With today’s court orders the government’s plan of filling the vacancies within six months may run into troubled weather.

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RJD leader shot dead
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 19
The opposition RJD today demanded Chief Minister Nitish Kumar`s resignation in the wake of the killing of its leader Pappu Khan.

Pappu was killed by some unidentified criminals in Phulwarisharif last night. Khan’s brother-in-law Teepu was critically injured in the attack.

The police said Khan (40) was going to his home in Harun Nagar in Phulwarisharif in an Indica car when four criminals on two motorcycles pulled next to their car and opened indiscriminate firing on them.

Pappu, who contested elections from Nathnagar in Bhagalpur on RJD tickets twice, was alleged to have a criminal background.

He was taken to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) where he was declared brought dead.

Claiming total collapse of law and order under NDA regime in Bihar, RJD MP Ramkripal Yadav and Lalu Prasad`s brother-in-law Subhash Yadav charged Nitish Kumar with losing the right to continue in power any more.

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Violence over of student

Lucknow, September 19
Following a truck knocking down a B Tech student in Faizabad, students went on a rampage burning down five trucks and one jeep. The police have arrested 50 students.

The large scale arson was triggered by the death of third year B Tech student Puja Pandey, a student of Ram Manohar Lohia University. She was travelling in a cycle rickshaw when a rashly driven truck crushed her killing her on the spot. The police resorted to lathi charge to control the irate mob of angry students of the university and later arrested them. — TNS

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