SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

Sonia files reply to EC notice
Cong keeps text under wraps
New Delhi, December 11
Congress president Sonia Gandhi today filed her reply to the Election Commission’s notice on her “merchants of death” remark but the party decided not to go public with the details for fear of fuelling another controversy.

Gujarat Votes
60 pc turnout in phase I
Ahmedabad, December 11
An estimated 59 or 60 per cent of nearly 1.78 crore voters today exercised their franchise in the crucial first phase of the Gujarat assembly elections covering 87 constituencies in South Gujarat, Kutch and Saurashtra where rebellion in the state’s ruling BJP against Chief Minister Narendra Modi was the strongest.

Modi fear led to choice of Advani: PM
Vadodara/Ahmedabad, December 11
Ridiculing BJP, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today that the saffron party’s decision to anoint L.K. Advani as the saffron party’s prime ministerial candidate was taken because of its leadership was “nervous” and feared “threat” from Gujarat Chief Minister.



Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greets the crowd during a Congress election rally in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. — AFP
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greets the crowd during a Congress election rally in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.






EARLIER STORIES




Sukhbir hails Advani’s elevation
New Delhi, December 11
A day after his choice as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, former Deputy Prime Minister L.K Advani was showered with some effusive praise by the party’s ally Shiromani Akali Dal which described him as a visionary and a person who has placed his beliefs and ideals above political compulsions.

Finger scan, digital photos for visa to UK
New Delhi, December 11
Finger scans will be mandatory for the UK visa applicants from tomorrow. The biometric data collection will be introduced as an integral part of the UK visa application process in India. This means applicants will need to attend a VFS Visa Application Centre where staff will take finger scans and a digital photograph.

Judicial activism
Experts divided
New Delhi, December 11
An unprecedented outburst by the Supreme Court against its own orders of the past in dealing with matters of public interest has sparked a fresh debate among the legal fraternity on the issue of judicial activism.

India to come up with indigenous AWAC system: Major
Bangalore, December 11
India will shortly come out with an Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWAC), besides, manufacturing as many as 11,500 indigenous radars within the next decade.

Rajnath attacks communists
New Delhi, December 10
Blaming Communist rulers for indulging in gross human rights violations around the world, BJP president Rajnath Singh today accused the Indian Communists of using the democratic instrument in West Bengal and Kerala states to stifle people’s voices.

UP gears up to protect women from domestic violence
Lucknow, December 11
Very soon every district in Uttar Pradesh will have full-time protection officers and adequate financial resources for the effective implementation of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Vajpayee silent on Gujarat, seeks votes in HP
New Delhi, December 11
In stark contrast to his silence over crucial Gujarat polls, BJP patriarch Atal Bihari Vajpayee has issued a message seeking popular mandate for his party in the December 19 Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.

Tejas clears listening pod test
Bangalore, December 11
India’s indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme received a major fillip today with the first successful flight test using the ‘Listening’ pod which can provide pilots with day and night pictures of terrain, laser ranging and laser spot seeking.

Relief for Big B in land case
Lucknow, December 11
In a major relief to Amitabh Bachchan in the Barabanki land case, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court today directed that no civil or criminal proceedings would be initiated against the actor in view of the fact that he had abandoned his claims over the land in Barabanki.

Rural ministry reduces time of funds flow
New Delhi, December 11
Funds from rural devleopment ministry for welfare programmes, including Indira Awas Yojana, Swaran Jayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana and Sampooran Gramin Rojgar Yojana, which took days to reach the districts, now go to them the same day.

SC orders HP govt to pay compensation
New Delhi, December 11
After a long drawn legal battle, the Supreme Court today made the Himachal Pradesh government liable to pay compensation to the kin of a boy crushed to death the by a private vehicle in which a sub-division magistrate (SDM) was travelling during 1993 polls after he had acquired the car for election duty.

Red carpet for Nepal Army chief
New Delhi, December 11
At a time when Nepal’s Maoists are looking to build bridges with its traditional rival — Nepal Army — the government of India has rolled out red carpet to Nepal Army Chief General Rukmangad Katuwal, who arrived here yesterday on a weeklong visit.

Indian workers accuse embassy of harassment
New Delhi, December 11
About a 100 Punjabi workers in Lebanon have written to former union minister B S Ramoowalia, who is presently a member of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions.

Desperate, man tries to tie knot in exam hall
Hyderabad, December 11
A desperate lover chose an examination hall to display his bravado and made a vain bid to tie the nuptial knot to a girl while she was writing a test.

5 killed in road accident
Guwahati, December 11
At least five persons, including two college students, were killed and 30 others injured, 12 of them seriously, when two passenger buses collided head-on on the National Highway 37 in Central Assam this afternoon.

Incentives for new hotels
New Delhi, December 11
With India facing a major crunch for accommodation in the tourism industry, the government today doled out sops to the hotel industry by announcing enhanced subsidies ranging from Rs two lakh to Rs one crore per room, for creating additional accommodation in different categories of hotels.

Videos
Tracking school drop-outs.
(56k)
King chilli cultivation.
(56k)

 

Top









 

Sonia files reply to EC notice
Cong keeps text under wraps
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 11
Congress president Sonia Gandhi today filed her reply to the Election Commission’s notice on her “merchants of death” remark but the party decided not to go public with the details for fear of fuelling another controversy.

Having been in the line of fire for its flip-flop response on her statement, the party today took a conscious decision against releasing the text of the reply to the press.

All that party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi was prepared to say was that the party had submitted a detailed reply to the Election Commission’s notice in which it demonstrated there was not even the slightest violation of the model code of conduct. “We gave all facts to show there was no violation,” Singhvi said.

Congress sources said Sonia Gandhi’s reply mentioned that she did not name Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the context of the “merchants of death” remark which was meant for the entire state government, including the CM. The Congress has also taken the plea that if the remark was meant for an individual, Sonia Gandhi would have spoken in the singular and said “maut ka saudagar” and not “maut ke saudagar” as was the case, in her speech.

The Congress has been deeply embarrassed over the past week as its senior leaders have trotted out different interpretations to Sonia Gandhi’s remark. Singhvi had not only justified the statement but had even gone on to say it was meant for Modi. Union minister Kapil Sibal, however, said the remark was aimed at state functionaries. Yesterday, party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed added a fresh twist to the ongoing controversy when he amalgamated the two stands to say Sonia Gandhi’s “maut ke sauduagar” description was meant for the entire state government but as Chief Minister, Modi could not escape his responsibility.

Aware that Sonia Gandhi’s reply would end up fuelling the controversy further, the party today decided to put a lid on it by not releasing the details to the press.

AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, who was also issued a show-cause notice by the Election Commission for his remark on the “prevalence of Hindu terrorism”, also filed his reply in which he denied having made any such statement. Stating that the remarks attributed to him in newspapers were incorrect, Singh asked the EC to seek more concrete material from the complainant. He also sought a week’s time to file a detailed reply on the plea that he is busy with the Gujarat polls and that he needed the time to collect all supporting materials like the video CDs of his press conference where he is reported to have made the offending remarks.

Top

 

Gujarat Votes
60 pc turnout in phase I

Ahmedabad, December 11
An estimated 59 or 60 per cent of nearly 1.78 crore voters today exercised their franchise in the crucial first phase of the Gujarat assembly elections covering 87 constituencies in South Gujarat, Kutch and Saurashtra where rebellion in the state’s ruling BJP against Chief Minister Narendra Modi was the strongest.

“The polling was peaceful and orderly and no major incident was reported,” deputy election commissioner Jaiprakash told reporters in New Delhi.

Voting picked up gradually after a slow start in the morning.

The first phase, being considered a decisive factor for BJP seeking to retain power, will decide the fate of 669 candidates, including state finance minister Vajubhai Vala, urban development minister I.K. Jadeja and leader of the opposition Arjun Modhvadiya and an array of BJP rebels who are up in arms against Modi.

Prominent among BJP rebels who are testing their electoral fortunes are Dhirubhai Gajera, Balubhai Tanti, Bechar Bhadani and Bavku Undhad. Some of them are contesting on Congress ticket. As many as 3,700 poll observers were posted at polling stations in key areas and the polling process was recorded by 5,400 digital and video cameras, he said.

While cases have been registered against 10 candidates for canvassing within 200 metres of polling stations, one person was arrested for carrying the EPIC cards of 16 voters who were being interrogated, the EC official said. — PTI

Top

 

Modi fear led to choice of Advani: PM

Vadodara/Ahmedabad, December 11
Ridiculing BJP, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today that the saffron party’s decision to anoint L.K. Advani as the saffron party’s prime ministerial candidate was taken because of its leadership was “nervous” and feared “threat” from Gujarat Chief Minister.

“The Central leadership of the BJP is nervous. They want to fill the post, which is not vacant, before the Gujarat election results are out,” he said in remarks at two press conferences.

Replying to questions on BJP’s decision yesterday, he said he did not have much knowledge about the internal affairs of that party, but he had read it in the newspapers that BJP has also some “threat” from Modiji.

“They want to crown someone with the throne of Delhi in advance before the Gujarat elections,” he said.

Asked who would be the Congress’ prime ministerial candidate in the next elections and whether he would be in the fray, he said: “It will be decided in due course of time by the Congress.”

To a question as to why the Congress had not declared the chief ministerial candidate in Gujarat, he said, “The Congress is a democratic party. People of Gujarat will elect their MLAs and they will decide who will be the Chief Minister.”

“Many things are published in newspapers and I cannot speak about how much truth is there in the reports. Our talks with IAEA are going on and the Left is aware of it. The process is under way and when it gets completed we will take the next step forward,” the Prime Minister said on the latest salvo from CPM leader Prakash Karat. — PTI

Top

 

Sukhbir hails Advani’s elevation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 11
A day after his choice as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, former Deputy Prime Minister L.K Advani was showered with some effusive praise by the party’s ally Shiromani Akali Dal which described him as a visionary and a person who has placed his beliefs and ideals above political compulsions.

In a statement, SAD working president Sukhbir Badal said Advani was the only leader at this juncture who can lead the country out of the “mess and confusion” created by the Congress-Left combination. Describing the choice of senior BJP leader for the top post as the beginning of the end of UPA government at the Centre, he said the selection had a historic significance as the NDA was “poised to replace” the UPA at the Centre in the Lok Sabha polls which look “imminent” in the next few months.

Punjabis, he said, will be particularly pleased about his elevation “as he had a strong religious and cultural bonding with our Gurus.” 

Top

 

Finger scan, digital photos for visa to UK
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 11
Finger scans will be mandatory for the UK visa applicants from tomorrow.

The biometric data collection will be introduced as an integral part of the UK visa application process in India. This means applicants will need to attend a VFS Visa Application Centre where staff will take finger scans and a digital photograph. The visa centres are in 12 locations across India, including Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, New Delhi, Jalandhar, Mumbai and Pune.

The British move has come in the wake of July 2005 London blasts and failed UK bombings earlier this year.

However, the introduction of biometrics system in India has not come about without a diplomatic tussle as Indian laws do not allow transfer of encrypted data. Because of this London has not been able to introduce its preferred biometrics system to India.

“We regret that we cannot introduce our preferred biometrics system to India because Indian legislation places restrictions on the transfer of encrypted data. This will result in processing times of around four days. The Indian government fully supports the biometrics process and we are working with them to reach a solution,” British deputy high commissioner Creon Butler said while explaining and demonstrating the new visa application process with the high commission’s commercial partner, VFS Global. As a result of this, visa applications will take longer to process than at present.

Butler said introducing biometrics in India was part of UK government’s long-standing policy.

“The UK’s visa operation in India is important and the largest in the world. Biometric data are unique and allow us to fix a person’s identity. It provides a number of advantages for customers and our visa operation. It makes it easier for UK visas to identify its valued customers. It better protects UK visas’ customers from identity fraud and it strengthens the UK’s borders,” said Chris Dix, regional director, UK visas.

Top

 

Judicial activism
Experts divided

New Delhi, December 11
An unprecedented outburst by the Supreme Court against its own orders of the past in dealing with matters of public interest has sparked a fresh debate among the legal fraternity on the issue of judicial activism.

While some said judiciary should not over-reach and maintain restrain while passing observations on the orders of other Bench, others were of the view there must be a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate judicial activism.

Senior advocate Harish Salve defended the observations given by a Bench of Justices A.K. Mathur and Markandey Katju that the apex court overstepped its jurisdiction in the matters of Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh Assemblies relating to floor test and said it would have been left to the House to decide its conduct.

He said except the Jharkhand Assembly matter in which the apex court orders recording of proceedings of floor test through CCTV, it has never overreached in any other matter.

Noted jurist Ram Jethmalani echoed similar sentiment saying there should be limits on judicial activism. “It has gone little bit too far” requiring a mechanism to control it. He said there was a need for laying down fresh parameters in handling of PILs as quite a few of them are publicity stunts.

However, he refrained from commenting on the December 6 order, the reference to which was given yesterday, saying he has not gone through the latest order.

Expressing his view, Constitutional expert Rajeev Dhavan said: “Justice Katju is incisive and friendly but impatient.”

“He (Katju) cannot reverse entire jurisprudence spread over 30 years,” Dhavan said, criticising the observation that in many cases courts are crossing their limits of power and encroaching upon the domains of executive and legislature. — PTI

Top

 

India to come up with indigenous AWAC system: Major
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, December 11
India will shortly come out with an Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWAC), besides, manufacturing as many as 11,500 indigenous radars within the next decade.

Stating this at the inaugural address of the sixth International Radar Symposium here today, Indian Air Force Chief of Air Staff F.H. Major said the country could also effectively market the technology developed by it in the field of surveillance equipments in worldwide markets.

The Air Chief said it was absolutely necessary to gain self-reliance in defence production and the production of indigenous radars was an important achievement in this regard. “These radars have increased the country’s air defence capabilities,” he added.

He said to achieve this there was need for more public-private partnerships in the defence field as well as making use to research facilities of private players. He said the country could also take advantage of research and development institutions like IIT’s.

He said the present situation under which various technological barriers were being opened was ripe for investing in technology related products. He said the private players could take advantage of the Union government’s offset policy, which was binding on all new defence deals. He said home grown firms stood to compete for off set sums of as much as Rs 30,000 crore.

Top

 

Rajnath attacks communists
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 10
Blaming Communist rulers for indulging in gross human rights violations around the world, BJP president Rajnath Singh today accused the Indian Communists of using the democratic instrument in West Bengal and Kerala states to stifle people’s voices.

Addressing party men after launching a photo exhibition titled “Violence in Kerala” to observe “Human Rights Day” at the party headquarters, the BJP chief said intolerance was deep-rooted among the Communist rulers be it Russia, China and Eastern Europe. While most of the human rights violations were hidden under the wraps, it required a Krushchev to unmask the violence of Stalinist era in which millions were oppressed by the rulers of China and Russia.

Same was the case of communists in Kerala and West Bengal where the Communists ascended to power through a democratic vote. The Left was in power in Bengal for the past three decades and was a virtual ruling party in Kerala on and off.

The Communists, true to their traditional image, did not tolerate any ideological deviations and put down any opposition with an iron hand and the BJP and the RSS men faced the brunt in its bastion and adjoining areas right from the 50s.

Honouring 14 maimed BJP men who allegedly faced the wrath of the Communists, the BJP president declared that the intention of organising the event was to unmask the real face of the Left parties and the trail left behind by a series of violence. After Nandigram violence, people and left sympathisers had realised the kind of forces they were supporting hitherto, he added.

In Delhi, these forces were posing themselves as saviours of oppressed sections but in West Bengal and Kerala it required deeper probe to understand the roots of their violent behaviour because the media in the capital was either ignorant of these parties or just overlooked it on purpose. He also paid Rs 25,000 to the party men who had been victim of violence and announced that the party would bear all medical expenses of their treatment.

Sadanandan Master, an RSS worker who lost both his limbs in the attack by the ruling party goons, said when the first attack took place against a poor tailor with RSS background many in the RSS did not believe that the Communists were doing it to send a signal to the non-Communists. Over the years there had been 150 RSS/BJP men killed and thousands injured or maimed. They beat up those who were once their party cadres, he said.

In charge of BJP affairs in Kerala Balbir Punj, editor of Pioneer Chandan Mitra, Kerala state BJP president P.K. Krishnadas and party vice-president V. Muraleedharan also spoke.

Asked for his reaction on CPM general secretary Prakash Karat’s statement, Rajnath Singh said it was not the first time that he had issued such threats to the UPA government.

Top

 

UP gears up to protect women from domestic violence
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, December 11
Very soon every district in Uttar Pradesh will have full-time protection officers and adequate financial resources for the effective implementation of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Speaking at the concluding event of a 16-day long 'Ab to Jaago' campaign to raise awareness about the DV Act, Yagyavir Singh Chauhan of the Department of Women and Child Development said it was important to clarify that it was not meant to punish men but to free households from domestic violence.

Approximately 600 participants representing 41 districts and 300 organisations assembled at the Ambedkar Mahasabha at Lucknow to mark the International Human Rights Day.

Chauhan said that his department had already sent recommendations to appoint full-time domestic protection officers and for allocation of adequate funds in each of the 70 districts for the effective implementation of the Act.

Special invitee commissioner department of social welfare R. K. Mittal said, “Social change is a sensitive issue, bringing a law is not enough. Such a far-reaching change requires a holistic approach encompassing education, social re-awakening and also taking stock of existing cultural norms and values.”

Appreciating the encouraging participation of men and youth in the campaign against domestic violence, Mittal hoped that more NGOs would come forward as this agenda of change was not possible by the efforts of the government alone.

Describing empowered women as potential ambassadors, he said any future strategy for the implementation of the DV Act had to be developed in close partnership with NGOs.

Speaking on behalf of the Department of Information which has significant responsibility under the Act, Information Officer Madhu Tambe claimed that for raising awareness regarding the Act her department had already released information press notes in the newspapers and also through brief advertisement on the radio.

The salient point that emerged though the district presentations was the glaring gap in awareness about the Act not only amongst the common people but even responsible officers, teachers, and members of the police force, health department and surprising, even amongst some members of the judiciary.

A demand letter was unanimously adopted asked for provision of proper training and facilities for the protection officers.

Top

 

Vajpayee silent on Gujarat, seeks votes in HP

New Delhi, December 11
In stark contrast to his silence over crucial Gujarat polls, BJP patriarch Atal Bihari Vajpayee has issued a message seeking popular mandate for his party in the December 19 Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.

The former Prime Minister, who has been unable to campaign because of ill health, asked the electorate of Himachal to vote for the BJP to take the state “again on the path of fast-paced development”.

In his message, Vajpayee said Himachal Pradesh has “suffered” under Congress rule, with “inflation, unemployment and lack of development” being prevalent.

Contending that an opportunity had come for making a “new beginning” in Himachal and shaping its future, he said “you have tested us earlier. We have come up to your expectations.”

Vajpayee said when the BJP was in power at the Centre as well as in Himachal, no stone had been left unturned in ensuring fast-paced development of the state.

“But, regretably, this development has come to a stop. Congress governments don’t have either concrete developmental programmes or a vision. Nor do they have the will to take Himachal forward,” he said.

This is significant as Vajpayee has so far issued no message seeking votes for BJP in Gujarat where the party under Narendra Modi’s leadership is trying hard to retain power.

The first phase in Gujarat polls was over today and the last phase will be held on December 16.

Vajpayee’s silence on Gujarat polls is apparently an attempt by him to distance from Modi whom he had once asked to follow the ‘Raj Dharam’ (principles of good governance) after post-Godhra riots. — PTI

Top

 

Tejas clears listening pod test
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, December 11
India’s indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme received a major fillip today with the first successful flight test using the ‘Listening’ pod which can provide pilots with day and night pictures of terrain, laser ranging and laser spot seeking.

A prototype vehicle with the Laser spot seeking capability completed all its test objectives during a flight here today. The flight was monitored at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Telemetry station here.

Project director (systems) R S Rao disclosed that the performance was as per design. He said the LCA team had been working for several months to make succeed in the first attempt. He said carriage of the Laser spot seeking capability would significantly enhance the strike capability of Tejas which had been configured to fire laser guided bombs or ‘smart bombs’ as they are called.

Under the ongoing weaponisation programme of the aircraft, it had successfully fired the Close Combat Missile R-73 a few months back.

Top

 

Relief for Big B in land case
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, December 11
In a major relief to Amitabh Bachchan in the Barabanki land case, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court today directed that no civil or criminal proceedings would be initiated against the actor in view of the fact that he had abandoned his claims over the land in Barabanki.

Amitabh Bachchan had filed a petition in the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on June 5 this year, challenging an order of the Faizabad additional commissioner on the plea that to it had gone beyond its jurisdiction by commenting on the merit of the land allotment case.

Big B’s counsel in the case Gaurav Bhatia had then said that the petition had categorically demanded a stay on the Faizabad AC Vidya Sagar Prasad’s order of the previous week cancelling the 0.25-hectare of land allotted to him Daulatpur village in Barabanki.

Later the actor, through a letter, had donated the land at Daulatpur to the gram sabha.

Top

 

Rural ministry reduces time of funds flow
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 11
Funds from rural devleopment ministry for welfare programmes, including Indira Awas Yojana, Swaran Jayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana and Sampooran Gramin Rojgar Yojana, which took days to reach the districts, now go to them the same day.

The ministry has successfully reduced time of funds flow by cutting down on red tape and persuading its bank to adopt a modern system of money transfer.

Ministry officials said following efforts made by the rural development minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh to cut the time taken for funds to reach the beneficiaries, the ministry has stopped receiving complaints about late arrival of development money.

“Earlier district officials would receive our letter about release of funds but would be sometimes told by the bank that the money has not reached them. There were instances where funds transfer had taken months,” a senior ministry official said.

He said now 96 per cent of funds were transferred the same day and there was a system of online monitoring. Besides SJGSY, IAY and SGRY, the ministry sends money through DRDA for the UPA government’s ambitious National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme.

The funds sent by the Ministry under the newly-launched Indira Gandhi National Old Age Scheme, which covers 1.59 crore poor people in the country, are also routed through the DRDA after being sent to the respective states.

The State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur (SBBJ), which is the official banker of the ministry, started remittances to District Rural Development Ageincies in 1986 through traditional ways of telegraphic transfers, mail transfers (MTs) and demand drafts.

The Bank developed a fund remittance software in 1996 and upgraded it ten years later but the difference came with the introduction of central banking system and real-time inter-bank transfer of funds.

The funds are now being remitted to the beneficiary on the same day of the requisition received from the ministry. Out of 598 branches where DRDAs have accounts, only 18 branches located in remote areas of North-east states are yet to be networked with CBS/RTGS.

The fund transfer through DDs has come down drastically in the last two years.

In the first seven months of the present finnacial year, 97 per cent of funds and 91.70 per cent of remitances were done through CBS\RTGS.

The bank has started updating the Ministry’s official website with the dates of remittances of funds.

Top

 

SC orders HP govt to pay compensation
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 11
After a long drawn legal battle, the Supreme Court today made the Himachal Pradesh government liable to pay compensation to the kin of a boy crushed to death the by a private vehicle in which a sub-division magistrate (SDM) was travelling during 1993 polls after he had acquired the car for election duty.

The government had refused to take the liability to pay the compensation, claiming that under the Motor Vehicle Act, it was for the insurance company to make the payment.

Rejecting the state’s stand, a Bench of Justices S.B Sinha and Lokeshwar Singh Panta said since the vehicle was under the total control of the officer of the state after the Shimla district Deputy Commissioner had requisitioned it for poll duty, using his powers under Representation of People Act, the government could not escape its liability to pay the compensation.

Though the compensation amount was not specified by the court in its judgement, it has to be as per the assessment of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal as per the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act, which the National Insurance Company was to pay.

The apex court said since the driver of the vehicle was not free to use his discretion to drive the car as he was under the total control of state’s officer, who were was using his authority over the driver and the owner, it was only the state government which has to pay the compensation and no one else.

The boy, Satish, was crushed to death in Rampur sub-division in November 1993 when the area SDM was travelling in the said car to oversee the election arrangements for assembly polls.

Boy’s legal heirs Deepa Devi and Joginder had claimed compensation from the government and National Insurance Company.

But insurance company and the government had entered into a long drawn legal battle.

Top

 

Red carpet for Nepal Army chief
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 11
At a time when Nepal’s Maoists are looking to build bridges with its traditional rival — Nepal Army — the government of India has rolled out red carpet to Nepal Army Chief General Rukmangad Katuwal, who arrived here yesterday on a weeklong visit.

The importance being given to General Katuwal is clear from the fact that he is going to have a string of one-to-one meetings with top Indian political leadership and officials over the next two days. He is holding separate meetings with the three service chiefs, defence secretary Vijay Singh and defence minister A.K. Antony on Thursday.

Later in the evening, Gen Katuwal will attend an investiture ceremony in which President Pratibha Patil will confer on him the honorary title of general of the Indian Army. As per tradition, the chief of the Nepal Army is an honorary General of the Indian Army and vice versa. Each newly appointed Army Chief visits the neighbouring country after assuming office, though in this case Katuwal’s visit comes more than a year after he assumed office in September 2006, succeeding General Pyar Jung Thapa.

Sources said Gen Katuwal would have more important and substantive meetings on December 13 when he holds back-to-back separate meetings with external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, national security advisor M.K. Narayanan and foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon.

Gen Katuwal’s visit signals revival of highest-level army-to-army ties between India and Nepal, a tradition that was broken by India in the wake of royal coup by King Gyanendra of Nepal four years ago.

Top

 

Indian workers accuse embassy of harassment
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 11
About a 100 Punjabi workers in Lebanon have written to former union minister B S Ramoowalia, who is presently a member of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions.

They have sought his immediate intervention in ending the hardship and hostility being heaped on them by officials of the Indian embassy in Beirut.

In a four-page distress letter to Ramoowalia, the workers alleged that they were being victimised in Lebanon after having left their families in India. Coupled with this they had to sell or mortgage their property to travel abroad and were facing the worst pecuniary conditions for the past 17 years.

The workers claimed that consular services were denied and they were being harassed by the Indian mission in Lebanon.

Ramoowalia said the workers SOS, a copy of which had also been sent to CPM MP Hanan Mollah, reportedly accusing the Indian embassy of working arbitrarily.

Top

 

Desperate, man tries to tie knot in exam hall
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, December 11
A desperate lover chose an examination hall to display his bravado and made a vain bid to tie the nuptial knot to a girl while she was writing a test.

The incident occurred at Tenakacherla town in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh yesterday, leaving the students and invigilators stunned.

The girl, a student of B.Ed, was writing the examination along with several other students when her lover Ramana Murthy barged into the hall, whipped out a “mangalsutram” from his pocket and tried to tie it on her.

Top

 

5 killed in road accident
Tribune News Ssrvice

Guwahati, December 11
At least five persons, including two college students, were killed and 30 others injured, 12 of them seriously, when two passenger buses collided head-on on the National Highway 37 in Central Assam this afternoon.

Nagaon district superintendent of police Nitul Gogoi informed that the accident took place around 3 p.m. near Kaliabor in the eastern part of the district, 170 km from Assam’s capital city here.

Top

 

Incentives for new hotels
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 11
With India facing a major crunch for accommodation in the tourism industry, the government today doled out sops to the hotel industry by announcing enhanced subsidies ranging from Rs two lakh to Rs one crore per room, for creating additional accommodation in different categories of hotels.

An official release here said under this, the incentive to one-star hotels would be Rs two lakh per new room subject to a maximum of Rs 30 lakh.

The incentive to two-star hotels will be Rs three lakh per room subject to a maximum of Rs 75 lakh.

The incentive to three-star hotels and basic heritage categories will be Rs three lakh per room with a maximum of Rs one crore.

Top

 

 

 

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |