SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI




THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

26/11: India rules out joint probe
New Delhi, February 23
India will respond to any information sought by Pakistan through official channels in connection with the probe into the Mumbai terror attacks, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said today, while firmly ruling out a joint probe by the two countries into the 26/11 strikes.

HC Ruckus
Swamy stirred up trouble: TN
Chennai, February 23
Tamil Nadu government today accused the Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy of instigating the Madras High Court violence with the support of AIADMK. Replying to a question by CPI member Sivapunniyam and MDMK legislator Cumbum Ramakrishnan regarding permission being denied to hold a rally to express solidarity with Lankan Tamils, state Law Minister K Durai Murugan said the police had refused to allow the rally in the wake of Thursday’s violence at the HC.

No SC stay on Capt’s expulsion from Assembly
New Delhi, February 23
Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, heading a five-member constitution bench, today questioned the logic behind the September 10, 2008, expulsion of Capt Amarinder Singh from the Punjab Assembly, but declined to stay it.





EARLIER STORIES

Non-inclusion In Screening Panel
No big issue: Amarinder
New Delhi, February 23
Reacting to his non-inclusion in the state-level screening committee constituted by the Congress for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has said there was no need to read too much into the issue as inclusion was on the basis of a formula devised by the party high command.

Prevention of communal violence
SC issues notice to Centre, CBI, Orissa
New Delhi, February 23
The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre, CBI and Orissa on a PIL seeking guidelines for prevention of communal violence and fixing responsibility for such incidents.

Scribe shot at in Jharkhand
Ranchi, February 23
A journalist in Jharkhand’s Lohardagga district was hospitalised in critical condition after being shot by unidentified criminals, the police said today. Rakesh Sinha, a reporter with a local daily, was on his way home when unidentified gunmen pumped bullets into his stomach from close range yesterday. — IANS

Modi insecure: Cong
New Delhi, February 23
Denouncing the statement of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi likening AICC general-secretary Rahul Gandhi to “aquarium fish”, the Congress today said Modi was rendered more insecure and frustrated by the impressive and sustained campaign of Gandhi. “Modi is rendered more insecure and frustrated by the campaign of Rahul, who has created nightmarish effect on him to evoke desperate reaction,” AICC spokesman Abishek Manu Singhvi said.

Rahul Gandhi shakes hands with Congress supporters in Ahmedabad on Monday. — Reuters
Rahul Gandhi shakes hands with Congress supporters in Ahmedabad on Monday.

BJP confident of Mamata’s rejoining
New Delhi, February 23
The BJP is confident of keeping its allies with it in the run up to the next general elections and even after that because of the dependence of their coalition governments in the states on the BJP.

PM clears child security scheme
New Delhi, February 23
Hanging fire for over three years, the much-awaited Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) of the UPA is finally on a roll. Hopes for the nearly-dead project were hurriedly revived past weekend, with none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stepping in to clear the project in his capacity as chairman of the Planning Commission.

Govt clears right to education bill
But unsure of its passage this session
New Delhi, February 23
The government today approved introduction of “The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2008” in the Parliament, but said it was not sure if the bill would be passed in the current session.

CPM leader’s wife, daughter set ablaze
Hooghly (WB), February 23
The wife of a local CPM leader and their minor daughter were set afire by unidentified assailants in the district here, leading to the death of the child, police said today.

Jaswant skips Advani’s meeting on foreign policy
New Delhi, February 23
The day BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani was forcefully advocating and promising a “muscular foreign policy” for India in the event of his victory, External Affairs Minister in the NDA regime Jaswant Singh publicly dissociated with the NDA regime’s earlier demonstration of muscle against Pakistan.

Now, limit on sugar stock traders can keep
New Delhi, February 23
To tame the rising sugar prices, the Centre today announced imposition of limits on stocks traders can keep, a move that will empower the states to initiate de-hoarding action.

Wedding dates led to rift between Bachchans, Gandhis
New Delhi, February 23
The generations’ old relations between the family of super star Amitabh Bachchan and the Nehru-Gandhis finally broke down completely over the one upmanship of the Bachchan family arranging their daughter Shewta’s wedding a day earlier than Sonia Gandhis’ daughter Priyanka on February 17, 1997.

Judicial Misconduct
In-house mechanism has failed: Bhardwaj
New Delhi, February 23
The in-house procedure for dealing with complaints against judges and the collegium system for judicial appointments have failed completely, Law Minister HR Bhardwaj said today, while advocating an alternative system after evolving consensus in the Parliament.

Assam to boost green industrial units
Guwahati, February 23
The Assam government is going to encourage setting up of green industrial units in tune with the provisions made in the state’s new industrial policy that comes into retrospective effect from October 2008.

Six poachers arrested
Kotdwar Garhwal, February 23
As many as six suspected poachers have been arrested from Lal Dhang range in Garhwal and a gun and some cartridges were recovered from them, officials said.

Dairy producers threaten stir
Mumbai, February 23
Dairy producers across the country are planning to stop milk procurement from farmers in a bid to garner more concessions from the government.





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26/11: India rules out joint probe
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 23
India will respond to any information sought by Pakistan through official channels in connection with the probe into the Mumbai terror attacks, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said today, while firmly ruling out a joint probe by the two countries into the 26/11 strikes.

Talking to reporters here, he underlined that the request for any additional information that Pakistan wanted for its own investigation into the attacks should come through official channels only.

His statement came amid indications that New Delhi has begun the process of consultations among various ministries on the 30 questions raised by Pakistan in response to the Indian dossier on the Mumbai attacks.

“Whatever information we get from Pakistan, we respond to it. But information must be made available through official channels and not through media,” said Mukherjee who is leaving later this week for Colombo to attend the SAARC Council of Ministers’ meeting.

Mukherjee was expected to meet his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmud Qureshi on the margins of the SAARC engagements. However, Qureshi has since backed out of the Colombo visit, since the dates of the SAARC meeting clashed with his visit to the US. Pakistan is now expected to be represented by its Minister of State for Foreign affairs Malik Ahmad Khan.

It is to be seen if there will be any substantive discussion between Mukherjee and the Pakistani minister of state on the margins of the SAARC meeting.

However, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon is likely to hold talks with his Pakistani opposite number Salman Bashir in Colombo during which the investigation into the Mumbai attacks may figure prominently. Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik today met Menon to discuss aspects related to the Mumbai attacks and the coming SAARC meeting.

Mukherjee said India was ready to cooperate with Pakistan as and when it was necessary in its investigation into the Mumbai attacks and in this direction referred to the material provided to Islamabad about linkages in that country.

“As far as joint investigation is concerned, I have told you we are having investigation,” he said.

Pakistan has been pressing for a joint probe into the attacks ever since the mayhem took place. However, India has ruled out a joint probe into it, wondering how such a step was possible in view of the fact that the crime was committed on the Indian soil while the conspiracy to mount it was hatched on the Pakistani territory.

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HC Ruckus
Swamy stirred up trouble: TN
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 23
Tamil Nadu government today accused the Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy of instigating the Madras High Court violence with the support of AIADMK. Replying to a question by CPI member Sivapunniyam and MDMK legislator Cumbum Ramakrishnan regarding permission being denied to hold a rally to express solidarity with Lankan Tamils, state Law Minister K Durai Murugan said the police had refused to allow the rally in the wake of Thursday’s violence at the HC.

Apparently referring to the recent remarks of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, he said, “Some people are saying that the DMK government will be toppled and they will come to power within 10 to 15 days. Hence, it is evident that they had purportedly created violence to bring disrepute to the regime. It is to be noted that the agitation by lawyers took a violent turn only after Subramanian Swamy came to the court. It seems they are using Swamy to create problems.”

Making an intervention, AIADMK members raised slogans against the remarks of the Law Minister. To this, Durai Murugan said, “ I have not mentioned anybody’s name. Then why are you responding to this. Only those who have committed crime should react like this.”

Reacting to this, opposition deputy leader O Panneerselvam said the Minister could not make such comments when the matter was sub-judice. However, Murugan retorted by saying that he has not spoken anything about the case.

The DMK lawyers’ wing too adopted a resolution at their meeting alleging that Subramanian Swamy fomented trouble by his two visits to the HC and demanded stern action against him. Earlier, VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan had also levelled a similar charge and demanded the arrest of Subramanian Swamy under the Goonda Act.

Karuna not in control of police: Jayalalithaa

Taking exception to Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s threat to go on a fast if the lawyers and the police did not come forward to function in a cohesive manner, AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa on Monday said the announcement showed that the Chief Minister was not in control of the police department and asked him to quit office instead of issuing such appeals.

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No SC stay on Capt’s expulsion from Assembly
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 23
Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, heading a five-member constitution bench, today questioned the logic behind the September 10, 2008, expulsion of Capt Amarinder Singh from the Punjab Assembly, but declined to stay it.

“We are not inclined to pass any interim order,” the CJI said at the end of 90 minutes of arguments by a battery of senior counsel for Amarinder and the Assembly before the bench, the other members of which are Justices RV Raveendran, P Sathasivam, JM Panchal and RM Lodha.

The bench posted the next hearing for April 28 after Atul Nanda, one of the counsels for Amarinder, said he would not press for interim relief if his client's petition could be disposed of early. It was agreed that both the sides would submit their written submissions before resuming their oral arguments, expected to last about three days.

During the course of the arguments, the CJI raised doubts over the powers of the house to punish an MLA for his wrongdoing before his election by observing that “any member could be suspended for anything” in that case.

Senior counsel K Parasaran and UU Lalit, both appearing for the Congress leader and former Chief Minister, said the present (13th) house of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha had assumed the powers of the investigating and prosecuting agencies and of the judiciary for expelling their client. Also, the house had no powers to take action against any member for alleged corruption during his previous tenure. Further, the charge related to his functioning in his executive capacity and nothing to do with the functioning of the house.

Justice Lodha asked the counsel how could they again pray for a stay, which had been declined by a three-Judge bench after detailed hearing. To this, they said they had the right to revive their request and the larger constitution bench had the discretion to grant it.

Senior counsel Ashok Desai, who appeared for the Assembly, said the house was competent to punish a member for any wrongdoing. Also, Amarinder was trying to convert his petition challenging his expulsion into an election petition under Section 116(a) and this was not possible. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Ajay Pal and others assisted him.

Desai further contended that staying the expulsion, when final disposal of the petition was pending, would set a bad precedent. The court, however, did not record its refusal to grant a stay.

The case, which has national importance, was first gone into by a two-Judge bench and then by a larger three-member bench, before coming up before the constitution bench. It relates to Amarinder's alleged involvement in the Amritsar Improvement Trust scam.

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Non-inclusion In Screening Panel
No big issue: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 23
Reacting to his non-inclusion in the state-level screening committee constituted by the Congress for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has said there was no need to read too much into the issue as inclusion was on the basis of a formula devised by the party high command.

“Several other former chief ministers have not been included in the list of their owns states. For, the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) has adopted a uniform formula and it could have been no different for Punjab. The formula was to have PCC presidents and the Congress legislative party chiefs on board along with three appointees of the AICC, including the general secretary in charge of the state,” Amarinder said.

In case of Punjab, he said, Mohinder Singh Kaypee made it being the PPCC chief while Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was included as she was the leader of the CLP.

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Prevention of communal violence
SC issues notice to Centre, CBI, Orissa
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 23
The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre, CBI and Orissa on a PIL seeking guidelines for prevention of communal violence and fixing responsibility for such incidents.

A bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan also tagged the petition by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India along with a similar plea by Cuttack archbishop who has sought compensation for the victims of the attacks on Christians in Kandhmal district of Orissa.

The SC notice would also go to the DGP, Orissa. According to the petition, the victims in Orissa were denied basic human rights and the state administration had failed to provide them the basic necessities of life.

The conference has also sought the setting up of an authority to consider and dispose of the victims' claims for compensation. Further, the students displaced from various schools due to the violence should be taken back and the CBI be asked to investigate the riots.

There was also need for special courts for speedy disposal of cases pertaining to the violence.

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Modi insecure: Cong

New Delhi, February 23
Denouncing the statement of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi likening AICC general-secretary Rahul Gandhi to “aquarium fish”, the Congress today said Modi was rendered more insecure and frustrated by the impressive and sustained campaign of Gandhi.

“Modi is rendered more insecure and frustrated by the campaign of Rahul, who has created nightmarish effect on him to evoke desperate reaction,” AICC spokesman Abishek Manu Singhvi said.

“It is Modi who deserves to be ignored,” he said, adding, “By drawing analogy of fish, he (Mr Modi) proved he believes in the principle of law of the jungle-- those who have to support and to guard swallow up the small.” Another AICC Spokesman Manish Tewari said: “If Rahul is a fish in the aquarium, then Modi is a piranha, who devours human beings.” Tewari said Modi had no right to speak about the poor for, unlike Rahul, he had never spent a day in a dalit’s hut.

Addressing a rally in Goa, Modi said BJP leaders like him and his counterparts in states ruled by the party are like “ocean fish” who weather big storms, unlike those “floating around in aquariums.” — UNI

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BJP confident of Mamata’s rejoining
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 23
The BJP is confident of keeping its allies with it in the run up to the next general elections and even after that because of the dependence of their coalition governments in the states on the BJP.

Senior party leaders were discussing here today latest political alliances and the possibility of the BJP-led NDA emerging as a serious contender after the polls in the background of its allies like Mamata Banerjee, the BJD and the JD-U playing truants. But the BJP is almost certain that after the elections Mamata Banerjee leading the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal will return to the BJP/NDA fold.

“Let her go with the Congress now,” said a party leader about her present flirtations with the Congress. The BJP plus Mamata will hardly yield any worthwhile results. But Mamata plus Congress will definitely dent the Left in West Bengal. After the elections, the Congress will have no option but to realign with the Left and then Mamata cannot stay with the UPA/Left alliance and willy-nilly return to us.”

In effect he claimed Mamata has drifted away from the BJP as part of a larger strategy to ensure reduction of numerical strength of the UPA/Left combine in the next Lok Sabha. He reminded how she had done a similar act during the NDA regime and then happily returned to the NDA after the West Bengal Assembly elections.

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PM clears child security scheme
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 23
Hanging fire for over three years, the much-awaited Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) of the UPA is finally on a roll. Hopes for the nearly-dead project were hurriedly revived past weekend, with none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stepping in to clear the project in his capacity as chairman of the Planning Commission.

Drafted way back on August 17, 2006, the scheme was stuck for want of approval from the Planning Commission. It was earlier returned by the cabinet, which wanted the Ministry of Women and Child Development to move the scheme for (Planning Commission’s) full approval.

That having come, the scheme is set to become a reality. It will be part of the agenda if the cabinet again meets later this week before the general elections are announced and the model code of conduct enforced. The ICPS happens to be one among the many pending schemes the UPA is rushing ahead of polls.

The Planning Commission approved the ICPS in principle at the start of the 11th Plan. Yet, the scheme, after two years of Plan period, failed to get cabinet approval for reasons best known to the government, which had promised to protect children in the National Common Minimum Programme.

With its budget of Rs 1,000 crore, the ICPS was expected to fulfill that commitment by consolidating the scattered child protection schemes and bringing them under one roof for maximum impact. Most importantly, it was to universalise Child Line -- the toll-free help line for children in distress, to create a national database and round-the-clock emergency service to link children in difficulty to emergency and long-term care and rehabilitation services.

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Govt clears right to education bill
But unsure of its passage this session
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 23
The government today approved introduction of “The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2008” in the Parliament, but said it was not sure if the bill would be passed in the current session.

Apprehensions to this effect were voiced by none other than Home Minister P Chidambaram, who said tonight that the government was not sure if the bill would be passed in the current session, though it would make all efforts to introduce it in the house.

With just three days left for the session, the government is facing real shortage of time to legislate important pending business.

Chidambaram today assured everyone that the government would take every possible step through the Parliament’s Business Advisory Committee to introduce the bill for consideration and passing in the Lok Sabha. “But I can’t say if it will be passed in this session,” the Home Minister added.

The right to education bill (which seeks to educate every child from six to 14 years) was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on December 15 last and referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD for examination and report. The committee, in its report, had proposed certain amendments, which were today approved by the Union cabinet.

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CPM leader’s wife, daughter set ablaze

Hooghly (WB), February 23
The wife of a local CPM leader and their minor daughter were set afire by unidentified assailants in the district here, leading to the death of the child, police said today.

One person has been detained for questioning in connection with the breaking into the house of CPM leader Loncho Mandi and setting his wife Jharna (23) and their daughter Sumana Mandi afire after pouring kerosene over them yesterday.

Neighbours rushed in to douse the fire, but the girl died within minutes while her mother was admitted to Chinsurah Imambara Hospital with severe burns, DSP Thatagata Basu said.

Mandi is a member of the Gobar Ara gram panchayat samiti under Dhaniakhali block. The local CPM unit alleged that the group of assailants belonged to Jharkhand Disom Party (JDP).

A local CPM leader alleged that the crime was the handiwork of the JDP men, but president of the JDP district unit, Lakshmi Murmu, denied the charges, saying the CPM local unit was "torturing" its party's supporters who refused to switch loyalty. — PTI

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Jaswant skips Advani’s meeting on foreign policy
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 23
The day BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani was forcefully advocating and promising a “muscular foreign policy” for India in the event of his victory, External Affairs Minister in the NDA regime Jaswant Singh publicly dissociated with the NDA regime’s earlier demonstration of muscle against Pakistan.

Jaswant Singh even skipped the meeting at Advani’s residence 30, Prithviraj Road, here today to discuss and formulate India’s future foreign policy under Advani.

In its latest issue the Outlook asked Singh about Operation Parakaram, when India deployed its troops for 13 months on the Indo-Pak border, immediately after terrorist attack on Pakistan.

He said, “Well, I would certainly not defend Operation Parakram. I was not in India when the decision was taken, but do not wish to say anything more.”

Advani on the other hand declared, “The NDA will pursue a muscular foreign policy aimed at securing our national interests in the neighbourhood.” He said, “India will fully protect its national interests and the neighbours should know that nobody can get away with any messing around with us and that we will pay back in kind.”

He was replying to a question whether the BJP leader was implying that India should draw inspiration from Israel and the USA in this respect.

Sinha also dismissed Jaswant Singh’s comments and his absence from the Advani meeting saying, “So what if Jaswant Singh is not defending it, I am defending the decision and I was party to the decision as the then Finance Minister.”

Apart from Sinha the BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad, former Lt Governor Vijay Kapoor and former ambassador to Sri Lanka NN Jha attended Advani’s session.

Sinha said, “The UPA government has been derelict in its duty by neglecting India’s vital internal security interests, as is evident in the manner in which it turned a blind eye to illegal immigration from Bangladesh and to the Maoist insurgency in Nepal.”

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Now, limit on sugar stock traders can keep
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 23
To tame the rising sugar prices, the Centre today announced imposition of limits on stocks traders can keep, a move that will empower the states to initiate de-hoarding action.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, while briefing about the move to impose restriction on sugar stocks, said, “In the current sugar season (October-September), there is a drop in the production after the two years of bumper output and there are indications that price of sugar is rising. Therefore, the government has decided to impose a limit on stock holding which will be in place for four months. Already similar restrictions are there for wheat, rise edible oils and pulses.”

On the industrial side, textiles - including handlooms, carpets and handicrafts - leather gems and jewellery, marine products and SME sector have been provided an interest subvention of 2 per cent upto March 31. Another Rs 450 crore will be pumped in and this will take the total financial support provided under scheme to Rs 1,250 crore. In another move, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the recast version of Industrial Infrastructure Upgradation Scheme. This will provide quality infrastructure in existing industrial clusters with high growth potential.

In what could change the face of research in India, the cabinet today permitted government researchers to have equity stake in private scientific based enterprises. This will allow researchers to have an enterprise while continuing in their jobs. The government also allowed repair, renovation and restoration of water bodies with state participation at an approximate cost of Rs 4,000 crore. The cabinet also revised the norms for a scheme for rehabilitation of the disabled. This would benefit nearly 2 lakh persons with disabilities across the country every year.

The New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) programme, with a budget outlay of Rs 700 crore, was also approved.

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Wedding dates led to rift between Bachchans, Gandhis
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 23
The generations’ old relations between the family of super star Amitabh Bachchan and the Nehru-Gandhis finally broke down completely over the one upmanship of the Bachchan family arranging their daughter Shewta’s wedding a day earlier than Sonia Gandhis’ daughter Priyanka on February 17, 1997.

Noted English journalist Rasheed Kidwai of the Kolkata English daily The Telegraph, states this in his revised and updated version of his book “Sonia, a biography, released earlier last week.

Kidwai has devoted an entire chapter to the relations between the two families, including Sonia Gandhi’s personal affection and proximity to Amitabh’s mother Teji Bachchan, who hosted her and chaperoned her when she arrived in India to get married to Rajiv Gandhi in January 1968, till the day of marriage to Rajiv, after which she moved into the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s official residence.

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Judicial Misconduct
In-house mechanism has failed: Bhardwaj

New Delhi, February 23
The in-house procedure for dealing with complaints against judges and the collegium system for judicial appointments have failed completely, Law Minister HR Bhardwaj said today, while advocating an alternative system after evolving consensus in the Parliament.

“There has to be an alternative system in place of the existing mechanism. The in-house procedure for dealing with complaints (against the judges) has failed completely…,” Bhardwaj said. "The collegium system for appointment of judges has also failed."

Asked what the government was thinking about the alternative mechanism, he said: "I would have changed the system if I could but there is need to evolve broader consensus on the issue in the Parliament."

Bhardwaj's remarks on alleged judicial misconduct come in the backdrop of recent matters, including the CJI's recommendation to impeach Calcutta High Court Judge Soumitra Sen, the UP PF scam and the cash-at-door case in which a Punjab and Haryana HC judge has come under the scanner.

His remark on the failure of the collegium system for appointment of judges seems to be linked to a recent controversy over posting of three Supreme Court judges on the recommendation of the collegium headed by CJI. The government had returned the recommendation for reconsideration on the ground that three Chief Justices of High Courts were being bypassed. But the collegium stuck to its earlier proposal and the judges named by them were appointed.

Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan, however, had recently said that the collegium system has worked well and the procedure laid down for it has been strictly followed.

"We are just following the Supreme Court order which is binding on us. We strictly follow the procedure prescribed in the order. Whether this should be changed is for the government and the Parliament to decide," the CJI had said.

The Minister's remarks on the in-house mechanism to handle judicial misconduct and the appointment of judges came on the sidelines of a conference on corporate governance organised by OP Jindal Global University. — PTI

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Assam to boost green industrial units
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 23
The Assam government is going to encourage setting up of green industrial units in tune with the provisions made in the state’s new industrial policy that comes into retrospective effect from October 2008.

“As per the new industrial policy, the focus is on non-polluting industries, and at building up of the states core competencies that include bamboo, forest products, minerals and water, while we are also looking at reviving our plywood sector in order to generate more employment opportunities,” Minister for Industry and Power Pradyut Bardoloi said, announcing the new industrial policy here today.

From now onwards the state government will accord the mega-project status to units that cost Rs 100 crore and above under the new industrial policy, to facilitate incentives to the investors, including land, at concessional rates.

To make the industrial policy deliver, special incentives will be provided for growing fast-growing trees in homestead gardens and private land for reviving the plywood industry that had been shut down following a Supreme Court order in December 1996, in the wake of large-scale felling of trees in reserve forest areas in the state for feeding the industry.

“Over 50,000 persons became jobless when the plywood mills had to be closed down. This time we are looking at reopening them with logs supplied from homestead trees,” the minister said.

The new policy also intends to encourage plantation of ‘agar’ trees on private land for production of agar-based perfumes that have good demand in off shore markets, especially in the Middle East. Five special industrial parks will be set up in the state under the provisions of the new industrial policy to lure outside investors.

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Six poachers arrested

Kotdwar Garhwal, February 23
As many as six suspected poachers have been arrested from Lal Dhang range in Garhwal and a gun and some cartridges were recovered from them, officials said.

Based on information regarding poaching activities in the Laldhang range forest, a search operation was jointly conducted by Rajaji park and Lansidown forest division in the area yesterday, DFO Lansidown forest division Nishant Varma said.

A team led by ranger Rajaji national park Mahendra Singh and ranger Laldhang range RS Arya noticed some poachers aiming at a Sambhar dear at Sigaddi compartment No 11 of the forest, following which six persons were arrested, he said. He added that they have been booked under the Wildlife Act and sent to Pauri jail. — PTI

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Dairy producers threaten stir
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 23
Dairy producers across the country are planning to stop milk procurement from farmers in a bid to garner more concessions from the government.

The Dairy Industry Export Organisation, an association of dairy product manufacturers and exporters from states like Maharashtra, south India and northern states, said all milk procurement would stop with effect from February 25 due to the non-supportive policies of the Union government.

Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are processing approximately 30 lakh litres of milk daily. The daily livelihood of three lakh farmers is dependent on this milk intake.

However, the government's decision to allow indiscriminate import of butter oil and skimmed milk powder by some of the dairy companies in our country was hurting the producers, the statement said.

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