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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Misuse of official machinery for rallies
SC notice to Centre, UP
New Delhi, November 23
The Supreme Court today took note of the recent large scale “misuse” of government machinery by politicians like railway minister Lalu Prasad and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for their political rallies, putting public in great inconvenience, and issued notices to the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government seeking their replies.

HPSEB chief’s extension
SC declines to vacate stay
New Delhi, November 23
In a setback to the Himachal Pradesh Government, the Supreme Court today declined to vacate the stay of the state High Court on two years extension given by the Virbhadra Singh government to controversial power board chairman Kanwar Shamsher Singh.

Guru Gobind Singh Marg
Centre’s assurance to Badal
New Delhi, November 23
The Centre has cleared the decks for developing Guru Gobind Singh Marg from Anandpur Sahib to Nanded Sahib as “a key artery of national bonding and a spiritual lifeline to promote national integration.” The 2,480-km marg will be taken up as a project of national importance and will pass through Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pardesh, Madhya Pardesh and Maharashtra.






EARLIER STORIES




This picture released by Britain's Royal Air Force shows the RAF aerobatic team, comprising nine Hawk aircraft and known as the Red Arrows, performing the Exercise Eastern Arrow 2007 outside New Delhi on Friday.
This picture released by Britain's Royal Air Force shows the RAF aerobatic team, comprising nine Hawk aircraft and known as the Red Arrows, performing the Exercise Eastern Arrow 2007 outside New Delhi on Friday. — AFP

PM, President greet people on Gurpurb
New Delhi, November 23
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have greeted the people on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti tomorrow. They emphasised that Guru Nanak Dev’s teachings of equality, peaceful coexistence and universal love are an abiding source of inspiration for all.

Congress panel finalises HP list
New Delhi, November 23
The Congress is likely to declare its candidates for Himachal Pradesh assembly polls tomorrow.

Representation to SCs in HP Assembly
SC seeks EC response
New Delhi, November 23
As Himachal Pradesh prepares for the second phase of assembly polls, the Supreme Court today sought Election Commission (EC) response to a petition challenging the Delimitation Commission order fixing reserved seats for Scheduled Castes in the 68-member House short by one.

Centre rules out President’s rule in West Bengal
New Delhi, November 23
The Centre today rejected the opposition demand for imposition of President's rule in West Bengal in the wake of violence in Nandigram, saying Article 356 should be used very carefully .

Army withdrawn from Kolkata
Kolkata, November 23
The army was withdrawn from violence-hit central Kolkata this afternoon after the restoration of normal life in the area. “All the four columns of the army which had been deployed have been withdrawn this afternoon after the restoration of peace and normalcy in central Kolkata,” West Bengal Home Secretary P.R. Roy told reporters at the state secretariat today.

Govt ‘not involved in moving Taslima out’
Kolkata, November 23
The West Bengal government today said it was not involved in moving controversial Bangladesh writer Taslima Nasreen out of the state.

Lover kills model’s mother, commits suicide
Mumbai, November 23
The spurned lover of a 23-year-old aspiring model and actress allegedly shot her mother and uncle dead before committing suicide inside the apartment of his ex-girlfriend here.

PM to head council on land reforms
New Delhi, November 23
A national council headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is being set up along with a committee under the rural development minister to prepare a National Land Reforms Policy.

Violence in Darjeeling, Army alerted
Darjeeling, November 23
The Army was kept on standby as violence erupted in the Darjeeling hills after ruling GNLF leader K G Gurung was grievously injured in an alleged attack by rival GJMM activists early today.

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Misuse of official machinery for rallies
SC notice to Centre, UP
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 23
The Supreme Court today took note of the recent large scale “misuse” of government machinery by politicians like railway minister Lalu Prasad and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for their political rallies, putting public in great inconvenience, and issued notices to the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government seeking their replies.

A Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishanan, Justices R.V. Raveendran and J.M. Panchal, while admitting a PIL seeking to restrain politicians in power from misusing their position to further their “political cause”, said the petitioner could even make other states party to his case so that their responses could also be sought.

The PIL had raised the issue of Lalu Prasad allegedly rescheduling 57 trains to divert 28 of them to Patna for RJD’s “Jan Chetna” rally there on October 28 and Mayawati using the UP government transport buses and a cavalcade of nearly 50 cars for the BSP’s rally at Chandigarh the same day.

A common citizen, G.D. Goyal, arguing his PIL in person in chaste Hindi for not being conversant with English commonly used in the Supreme Court, said he had filed the petition after personally experiencing the difficulty in getting a train ticket due to the diversion of so many trains by the railway minister for ferrying people for his rally.

While seeking to lay down guidelines for checking such gross misuse of official machinery, including police by political leaders while in power, the PIL also said the norms to be laid down should make it mandatory for them to pay money to the state exchequer for utilising its resources purely for political purposes.

The court, however, ordered deletion of the names of Lalu Prasad, Mayawati and Lt-Governor of Delhi from the list of respondents mentioned in the PIL, saying it would not consider any individual case while hearing the petition.

The Bench initially showed some hitch in entertaining it, seemingly thinking that it might be sponsored by some political opponents of these leaders, but when Goyal said he had come before the court as an affected citizen due to such a “large scale” misuse of power, it took cognisance of the matter.

“If the Supreme Court will not take note of such misuse of official machinery then where will a common man go. Then who will enforce the rule of law against such blatant misuse of power by politicians, who consider themselves above law,” Goyal said.

“I am not able to articulate my arguments effectively as I am not well versed with English language, but I am raising a general problem faced by the common man,” he said.

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HPSEB chief’s extension
SC declines to vacate stay
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 23
In a setback to the Himachal Pradesh Government, the Supreme Court today declined to vacate the stay of the state High Court on two years extension given by the Virbhadra Singh government to controversial power board chairman Kanwar Shamsher Singh.

“We are not inclined to vacate the interim stay,” a Bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal ruled, while fixing two months’ deadline for the HP High Court to decide the case.

The state government, which had made the extension a prestige issue, went a step further to plead that the case be heard by some other Bench of the High Court, instead of the present Bench, which had granted the interim stay.

The apex court refused to entertain such a plea made by senior advocate Dushyant Dave, engaged by the Himachal Pradesh government to deal with the case, saying “It cannot be accepted. If the Bench is changed, it will set a bad precedent and open a flood gate for such pleas by parties which are not satisfied with the order of a particular Bench.”

The High Court had granted interim stay on the government’s last month notification granting two years extension up to 2009 to Kanwar, a former chief secretary of the state after his tenure was to come to an end on October 31 when challenged in a PIL by Praveen Kumar Sharma.

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Guru Gobind Singh Marg
Centre’s assurance to Badal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
The Centre has cleared the decks for developing Guru Gobind Singh Marg from Anandpur Sahib to Nanded Sahib as “a key artery of national bonding and a spiritual lifeline to promote national integration.” The 2,480-km marg will be taken up as a project of national importance and will pass through Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pardesh, Madhya Pardesh and Maharashtra.

The Centre also accepted Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s proposal that this historic route be treated as a national highway with a religious nomenclature. The states concerned have already been sounded on the union government’s thinking in this regard. Badal had a meeting today with home minister Shivraj Patil and minister for tourism and culture Ambika Soni in Parliament House here. The meeting was also attended by Punjab PWD(B&R) minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Haryana agriculture minister Harmohinder Singh Chatha, besides the ministers of transport from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.

Patil, who also heads the National Committee formed to commemorate the tercentenary celebrations of the Holy Granth Sahib’s installation as the Guru (Guruta Gaddi Diwas), assured the Punjab Chief minister that he would take the matter of expediting the marg project with the union cabinet.

He said that apart from its significance as a major infrastructure development project, the marg would have unprecedented emotional, spiritual and socio-psychological dimension.

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PM, President greet people on Gurpurb
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have greeted the people on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti tomorrow. They emphasised that Guru Nanak Dev’s teachings of equality, peaceful coexistence and universal love are an abiding source of inspiration for all.

Patil said “let us resolve to deeply understand Guru Nanak Dev’s noble teachings and rededicate ourselves to the cause of humanity, equality and harmony.”

Ansari said the founder of Sikhism “showed us the path of peace, harmony and righteousness. His divine message of devotion of thought, excellence of conduct and tolerance has timeless relevance.”

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Congress panel finalises HP list
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
The Congress is likely to declare its candidates for Himachal Pradesh assembly polls tomorrow.

The meeting of the party’s Central Election Committee today discussed all 65 seats going to the polls on December 19.

With the party having made up its mind to retain most of the sitting legislators, the discussions mainly centred around seats where there was more than one name in the panel. Sources said the committee finalised its recommendations on most of the seats and the names have been sent to Sonia Gandhi for her signatures.

Rampur, from where Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is apparently keen to replace the sitting MLA, is among the seats where a final decision is yet to be taken. Decision on names of some associate members has also been kept pending for consideration of the Congress president.

The central leadership is likely to accept request of some senior leaders to give ticket to their sons. While this will increase the number of youth in the final list, it will also enable these leaders to take up state-wide responsibilties during the polls.

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Representation to SCs in HP Assembly
SC seeks EC response
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 23
As Himachal Pradesh prepares for the second phase of assembly polls, the Supreme Court today sought Election Commission (EC) response to a petition challenging the Delimitation Commission order fixing reserved seats for Scheduled Castes in the 68-member House short by one.

EC counsel Minakshi Arora sought two weeks’ time to submit her reply as a Bench headed by Chief Justice K.G.Balakrishnan took up a PIL on the issue. But the court declined to issue notice to the EC before knowing its view.

The PIL, moved by Virender Kumar, claimed that the total number of the reserved constituencies for the Scheduled Castes in the state assembly should have been 17, but the Delimitation Commission had limited them to 16, thus giving less representation to them.

In an identical PIL, he had raised the issue of less representation to SCs in the state after the 2002 elections also but the same was dismissed by the court on May 5, 2003, on the grounds that since the election were over, there was no purpose of continuing with it.

But the court at that time had said that he was at liberty to agitate the issue before the next assembly election. Consequently, he filed a fresh PIL which was listed for hearing today.

The Delimitation Commission had issued its notification on November 18, 2002, fixing total number of seats for SCs at 16 in the 68-member state assembly, which has three reserved seats for tribals in Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Bharmaur, where polling had already taken place on November 14.

The remaining 65 constituencies are going to the polls on December 19 and the political parties are currently engaged in finalising the list of candidates.

The PIL said if the Delimitation Commission order was not implemented in the coming assembly elections, it would amount to depriving the SCs of their right to have adequate representation in the House, as envisaged in Article 332(3) of the Constitution about proportionate representation to them as per their population.

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Centre rules out President’s rule in West Bengal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
The Centre today rejected the opposition demand for imposition of President's rule in West Bengal in the wake of violence in Nandigram, saying Article 356 should be used very carefully .

Replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the proposal to set up SEZ in Nandigram and subsequent violence, Home Minister Shivraj Patil said that the government will be very careful in using Article 356. “We should not use it lightly or in a manner that is suspicious and will not be acceptable,” he said.

“When the framers of the Constitution made provisions for Articles 355 and 356, then they wanted them to be used. But very, very carefully,” he said.

Patil evaded direct reply to some points raised by the members. Asked if Maoists had laid seige to Nandigram, he said arms and literature seized from there does indicate that violence was created there. “They did not have anything written on their shirts whether they were Maoists or Naxalites,” he said.

In his reply, which was marked by frequent interruptions, Patil said the Centre could give directives to states or send advisories, but it did not mean that it would automatically lead to invoking Article 356. Though expressing regret over the violence in Nandigram, he defended the West Bengal government position that liberated zones could not be tolerated.

He said the state Chief Minister had assured him that all measures would be taken by the state government to bring back the people to their houses, provide compensation to the victims and punish the guilty.

The minister said the government wanted to adopt a holistic approach to deal with problem of Naxalism which included socio-economic development of the backward region, providing employment opportunities to the people.

Pointing out that the root-cause of violence in Nandigram was people's opposition to land acquisition for industrial purpose, Patil said the Centre was in the process of finalising a new policy for compensating villagers whose land was taken for special economic zones envisaging increase in solatium.

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Army withdrawn from Kolkata

Kolkata, November 23
The army was withdrawn from violence-hit central Kolkata this afternoon after the restoration of normal life in the area. “All the four columns of the army which had been deployed have been withdrawn this afternoon after the restoration of peace and normalcy in central Kolkata,” West Bengal Home Secretary P.R. Roy told reporters at the state secretariat today.

The Army had been called out to stage a flag march on the streets of central Kolkata covering five police station areas on Wednesday afternoon after large-scale violence during a three-hour shutdown called by the All-India Minority Forum demanding cancellation of the visa of the controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen and protest against the Nandigram violence.

The violence had led to the clamping of an eight-hour night curfew in the area on Wednesday night, which was lifted following an improvement in the situation. City Police Commissioner Goutam Mohan Chakraborty said the city remained peaceful for the second day today as the army conducted joint patrolling with police in area. — PTI

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Govt ‘not involved in moving Taslima out’

Kolkata, November 23
The West Bengal government today said it was not involved in moving controversial Bangladesh writer Taslima Nasreen out of the state.

Home Secretary P.R. Roy when asked whether the government had directed her to move out, said: “We don’t know about it. I came to know about it from the television last evening.”

When he was told that Taslima wanted to return to the metropolis, Roy said, “She’s a free person. She can come. She can go.”

Regarding her security in Kolkata, he said “There were security arrangements for her.”

On the demand by minority organisations that Taslima’s visa be cancelled, Roy said “We have informed the Centre.” — PTI

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Lover kills model’s mother, commits suicide

Mumbai, November 23
The spurned lover of a 23-year-old aspiring model and actress allegedly shot her mother and uncle dead before committing suicide inside the apartment of his ex-girlfriend here.

Avinash Bhupen Patnaik (22), a resident of Orissa, entered model Moon Das’s apartment in the New Link Garden building at Andheri's Yamunanagar.

Das and Patnaik had got acquainted when the former had gone to perform a new year's eve programme in Orissa on December 31, 2006.

The model had recently ended the relationship with him and an agitated Patnaik armed with a country-made revolver entered her home looking for her around 11 pm yesterday.

“He could not find her there and shot dead her mother Kannan Das and maternal uncle Vikas Chandra Sarkar inside the apartment from pointblank range. Das came home around 12.10 pm along with a friend and discovered the two bodies. She saw Patnaik standing there,” said a senior police official.

Patnaik allegedly shot himself in the head and was found dead there, the police said. — PTI

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PM to head council on land reforms
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
A national council headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is being set up along with a committee under the rural development minister to prepare a National Land Reforms Policy.

It has been decided by the government to constitute a committee on state agrarian relations and the unfinished task in land reforms under the stewardship of the minister of rural development as well as a national council for land reforms under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.

The rural development minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh announced this in the Lok Sabha today.

He said the composition and terms of reference of the committee and the council are being finalised.

The minister affirmed that the government plans to formulate a National Land Reforms Policy to facilitate land reforms.

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Violence in Darjeeling, Army alerted

Darjeeling, November 23
The Army was kept on standby as violence erupted in the Darjeeling hills after ruling GNLF leader K G Gurung was grievously injured in an alleged attack by rival GJMM activists early today.

The Gorkha National Liberation Front called for an indefinite Darjeeling bandh in protest against the attack as hundreds of tourists rushed for an early return.

Home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray in Kolkata said the troops were asked to standby as the situation in the hills was volatile after a murderous attack on a ruling party member.

The local administration clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 Cr PC and armed policemen intensifed patrolling in the town, which had worn almost a deserted look.

The administration was keeping a close watch on the situation, he said. — UNI

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