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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Govt Promotions
Treat degree, diploma holders on par: SC
New Delhi, March 10
The government is free to treat degree and diploma holders on the same footing for the purpose of promotion and this would not violate Article 14 of the Constitution that prohibits treating equals as unequals or the other way round, the Supreme Court has ruled.

26/11: Reply to Pakistan queries likely this week
New Delhi, March 10
India is expected to send a reply to the questions raised by Pakistan in response to the dossier on Mumbai attacks by this week.

In search of roots from Assam to Punjab
Guwahati, March 10
A group of 165 Sikhs, all descendents of Sikh soldiers who had come to Assam in 1820 to help the then Ahom ruler in Assam in a war, has embarked on a pilgrimage to Golden Temple and other places of importance in Punjab in search of their roots.



EARLIER STORIES

Dr Deka is new AIIMS director
New Delhi, March 10
Dr Ramesh Chandra Deka today took over as the Director of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) ending nine months of uncertainty since its former head Dr P Venugopal retired in July last year. Sixty-year-old Dr Deka, who was heading the department of ENT, took over with immediate effect after the government cleared his name.

Drug Case
SC upholds acquittal of three Amritsar women
New Delhi, March 10
Observing that acquittal is the norm where two views are possible, the Supreme Court has refused to interfere with a Punjab and Haryana High Court order that had set aside the sentencing of a lady and her two daughters-in-law to 12 years in jail for possession of opium and heroin.

SA agency hired for IPL security
Mumbai, March 10
Organisers of the Indian Premier League (IPL) have signed up South African security agency Nicolas Steyn to provide round-the-clock protection to participants, IPL chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi told reporters here today.


IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi addresses a press conference in Mumbai on Tuesday. — PTI
IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi addresses a press conference in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Cong’s Chhattisgarh, Gujarat lists out
New Delhi, March 10
The Congress has announced the lists of candidates for the forthcoming elections to the Lok Sabha from Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. The party, however, continued to struggle to put together the list from Madhya Pradesh.

Alliance only after polls: BJD
Bhubaneswar, March 10
Keeping its options open for the post-election scenario, the ruling BJD in Orissa today said it was not part of any front or political formation at the moment despite its new-found bonhomie with the Left.

Kandhamal ‘soured’ BJP-BJD ties
New Delhi, March 10
The attacks on Christians in Kandhamal between August and October last year was a major sore point with Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who was repeatedly sending messages to his NDA and government partner BJP’s central leaders to rein in their sangh parivar brethren in the VHP/Bajrang Dal.

Pro-CM remarks land Andhra DGP in spot
Hyderabad, March 10
Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police SSP Yadav has come under the scanner of the Election Commission following his remarks eulogising Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy.

Aircraft develops snag, lands safely
Chennai, March 10
A Hyderabad-bound Paramount Airways flight with 32 passengers and six crew, which left here at 7.15 am today, developed a snag when the flight was air-borne.

Maoists kill four in Bihar
Arwal, March 10
Four women and children were slaughtered by suspected Maoist rebels in Bihar's Arwal district, the police said today.





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Govt Promotions
Treat degree, diploma holders on par: SC
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 10
The government is free to treat degree and diploma holders on the same footing for the purpose of promotion and this would not violate Article 14 of the Constitution that prohibits treating equals as unequals or the other way round, the Supreme Court has ruled.

"It is entirely for the authorities to decide whether the degree holders and diploma holders should be treated at par or not for the purpose of promotion from the post of junior engineer to the post of assistant engineer," a Bench of Justices RV Raveendran and Markandey Katju said.

Pointing out that such a move was a policy decision, the Bench said, "…it is well-settled that this court should not ordinarily interfere in policy decisions unless there is clear violation of some constitutional provision or the statute. We find no such violation in this case."

The ruling came last week while dismissing an application filed by degree-holding engineers of Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department (PWD).

"In our opinion, Article 14 should not be stretched too far, otherwise it will make the functioning of the administration impossible. The administrative authorities are in the best position to decide the requisite qualifications for promotion from JE to AE, and it is not for this court to sit over their decision like a court of appeal," the verdict, written by Justice Katju for the Bench, said.

Further, the administrative authorities had experience in administration, and the court "must respect" this, and should not interfere readily with administrative decisions.

Citing an earlier ruling of the apex court that there should be "judicial restraint" in administrative decisions, the Bench said, "This principle will apply all the more to a rule under Article 309 of the Constitution.”

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26/11: Reply to Pakistan queries likely this week

New Delhi, March 10
India is expected to send a reply to the questions raised by Pakistan in response to the dossier on Mumbai attacks by this week.

The reply would contain further information about the terror strikes with the hope that it would be used by Islamabad to bring the perpetrators to justice, sources said.

The replies to the 30 questions asked by Pakistan are ready and most probably handed over to Islamabad this week, the sources told PTI here today.

Pakistan, in response to the Indian dossier of evidence given on January 5, had posed 30 questions on February 12. In its questionnaire, Pakistan had sought fingerprints and DNA profiles of all the 10 terrorists who carried out the attacks.

Islamabad had also sought post-mortem reports of the nine killed terrorists and their detailed description and information as provided by Kasab.

Pakistan had requested for "authenticated copy" of the confessional statement of lone captured terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab as recorded by judicial authorities and "other documentation/diaries recovered from his possession".

It had also sought mobile numbers used by Kasab in the past, if he had disclosed these during interrogation. — PTI

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In search of roots from Assam to Punjab
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, March 10
A group of 165 Sikhs, all descendents of Sikh soldiers who had come to Assam in 1820 to help the then Ahom ruler in Assam in a war, has embarked on a pilgrimage to Golden Temple and other places of importance in Punjab in search of their roots.

Under the sponsorship of the Shiromoni Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) and with support from different Gurdwara committees in Assam and benevolent individuals, the group is being taken to Punjab by the Sikh Pratinidhi Board, Eastern India, by Dibruagrh-Amritsar Express tonight.

In 1820, some 500 Sikh soldiers came to Assam on the order of King Ranjit Singh to help the then Ahom king in Assam, Chandra Kanta Singha, in the war. Some of them died in the battle, some went back while about 50 of them decided to settle down in Borkula, Nagaon district, in Assam.

“Over a century and half, Borkula and some other neighbouring places in Nagaon district have become a miniscule Punjab,” senior adviser of the Sikh Pratinidhi Board, Eastern India, PP Singh said.

The team will also try to contact the chief minister and deputy chief minister of Punjab.

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Dr Deka is new AIIMS director
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 10
Dr Ramesh Chandra Deka today took over as the Director of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) ending nine months of uncertainty since its former head Dr P Venugopal retired in July last year. Sixty-year-old Dr Deka, who was heading the department of ENT, took over with immediate effect after the government cleared his name.

He would hold the post for five years.

Addressing the media soon after assuming the office, Dr Deka said patient care and stem cell research would be his top priority in the days to come. “It is a huge responsibility which the government has entrusted me with and I will try my best to discharge my duties as the head of AIIMS with utmost sincerity and honesty,” said Deka.

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Drug Case
SC upholds acquittal of three Amritsar women
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 10
Observing that acquittal is the norm where two views are possible, the Supreme Court has refused to interfere with a Punjab and Haryana High Court order that had set aside the sentencing of a lady and her two daughters-in-law to 12 years in jail for possession of opium and heroin.

"The jurisdiction of this court to interfere with a judgment of acquittal is limited. When two views are possible, a judgment of acquittal should not be interfered with," a Bench of three judges ruled while dismissing a Punjab government's appeal last Friday, just ahead of the International Women's Day on Sunday.

The trial court had also slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh on Gurnam Kaur and her daughters-in-law, Ranjit Kaur and Gurjit Kaur, under Sections 18 and 20 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

The police had registered a case against the trio after a large quantity of the contraband was recovered from a bed-box in their house in village Thatha, Amritsar. At the time of the raid in June 2000, they were allegedly sitting on the bed.

Virtually indicting the policemen who investigated the case, the SC Bench, comprising Justices SB Sinha, MK Sharma and HL Dattu, gave several reasons for upholding the acquittal of the accused by the HC.

The ladies were personally searched by the male officers in violation of sub-section 4 of Section 50 of the relevant Act. No independent witness was examined. Village Thatha is in Amritsar district, but the raid was conducted by the police officers of Kapurthala district without informing Amritsar district DSP Ashutosh, who was incidentally present in the village then.

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SA agency hired for IPL security
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 10
Organisers of the Indian Premier League (IPL) have signed up South African security agency Nicolas Steyn to provide round-the-clock protection to participants, IPL chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi told reporters here today.

Modi said Nicolas Steyn is an international security agency of repute and has been in charge of security at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and the 2007 Cricket World Cup. The agency has also been put in charge of the security at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

“The security at the IPL should not be compared with the security provided for the Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore,” Modi said referring to the terror attack in Pakistan last week.

Modi said foreign players coming to India would be provided with tight security from the moment they land in India till the time they leave the country. Modi said a security co-ordination team would be set up to oversee the security at all match venues and the security team would be coordinating with police forces of all states where the matches would be played.

“Security would be centrally monitored by the IPL. Last time players’ security was the responsibility of the respective franchises. This time, right from the day they land in India to the time they leave, their security will be IPL’s responsibility,” Modi said.

Following the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore, the IPL has increased the security budget 10 times in the interest of player safety, Modi said. He added that the security for the IPL would be similar to the one given for the English team touring India following the November 26 terror attacks in Mumbai.

In the wake of the terror attacks on the Sri Lankan cricketers, there is concern that team managers from other countries may not allow their players to participate in the IPL.

Meanwhile, Modi announced today that Ahmedabad and Visakhapatnam would be additional venues for the matches while Dharmasala and Nagpur as potential venues. At present the IPL matches are being organised in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Mohali.

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Cong’s Chhattisgarh, Gujarat lists out
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 10
The Congress has announced the lists of candidates for the forthcoming elections to the Lok Sabha from Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. The party, however, continued to struggle to put together the list from Madhya Pradesh.

Party sources said the clamour for Lok Sabha seats by sitting MLAs and the candidature of Arjun Singh’s daughter Veena Singh were turning out to be major points of contention as far as Madhya Pradesh was concerned.

Meanwhile, Union Ministers Dinshah Patel, Shankersinh Vaghela and Narain Bhai J Rathwa figure in the first list of 12 (of the total 26) candidates from Gujarat for the forthcoming Parliamentary polls.

Vaghela has been given the Panchmahal Parliamentary seat as his existing Kapadvanj seat had ceased to exist following the delimitation of the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies, while Patel and Rathwa have been fielded from Kheda and Chhota Udaipur, respectively.

The party is repeating five other sitting MPs, including Sabarkantha MP Madhusudan Mistry, who is also chief whip of the party in the Lok Sabha. PCC president Bharatbhai Solanki will contest from his home constituency Anand, Prabha Taviyad from Dahod (ST) and former Indian Youth Congress president Satyajit Gaekwad from Vadodara.

Former Gujarat Chief Minister Amarsinh Chaudhary's son Tushar Choudhary will contest from Bardoli (ST) and Kishanbhai V Patel from Valsad (ST).

The party has also declared the candidate for Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Veteran tribal leader and sitting MP Mohan Delkar, who has recently joined the party, will fight on the party ticket from the constituency bordering Gujarat.

The party also announced the list of six candidates in Chhattisgarh, which has thrown up a couple of surprises. Shankar Singh Sodi has been selected for the Bastar constituency. The list includes Bhanu Pratap Singh from Sarguja, Shiv Kumar Dehariya from Jangir-Champa, Charan Das Mahant from Korba , Devvrat Singh from Rajnandgaon, Shankar Singh Sodi from Bastar and Phulo Devi Netam from Kanker.

Meanwhile, the Congress has also announced the Lok Sabha candidates from Arunachal Pradesh. Takam Sanjoy and Ninong Ering would be the candidates for the Arunachal West and Arunachal East parliamentary seats, respectively, for the polls scheduled for April 16.

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Alliance only after polls: BJD

Floor test today

Ahead of the crucial trial of strength of the Naveen Patnaik government in Orissa on Wednesday, the ruling BJD was on Tuesday confident of sailing through. The ruling BJD, which has 61 members (including Speaker Kishore Mohanty) in the 147-member House, has received the support of JMM (4), NCP (2), CPI (1) and CPM (1). Besides, seven of the eight independent members have also extended support. The opposition Congress has 38 members while the BJP has 32, of whom three MLAs had already resigned from the party.

Bhubaneswar, March 10
Keeping its options open for the post-election scenario, the ruling BJD in Orissa today said it was not part of any front or political formation at the moment despite its new-found bonhomie with the Left.

“We are neither part of the NDA, UPA nor Third Front," BJD secretary general Damodar Rout told reporters here on the eve of the Naveen Patnaik-led government’s trial of strength in the Assembly tomorrow following the snapping of the party's 11-year-old alliance with the BJP.

“Neither the Congress nor BJP is our enemy. They are political opponents and we will campaign against them during elections,” he said. The BJD would take a stand on joining any front only after the elections, he said.

“We will support the group which promises to protect the interest of the state,” Rout said while not ruling out the possibility of backing NDA again or supporting UPA in forming a government at the Centre.

Denouncing BJP's withdrawal of support to the Patnaik government barely an hour after seat-sharing talks failed, the BJD leader alleged that the BJP "betrayed" the trust of the people who had chosen Naveen Patnaik as the Chief Minister.

"If they were unhappy over the talks, the BJP ministers could have submitted their resignation to the Chief Minister instead of rushing to Raj Bhavan to withdraw support to a popular government," he said, claiming the BJP was demanding 93 Assembly seats despite being aware about its “poor winning potential”.

Asked whether BJD would extend support to the NDA after the polls, he said "any decision regarding support to any front will be taken only after the elections".

Proving majority on the floor of the Assembly tomorrow and subsequently winning the maximum seats in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections were BJD's priority now, he said. The BJD leader denied allegations of horse-trading before the trust vote, saying "the party would sail through comfortably". — PTI

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Kandhamal ‘soured’ BJP-BJD ties
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 10
The attacks on Christians in Kandhamal between August and October last year was a major sore point with Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who was repeatedly sending messages to his NDA and government partner BJP’s central leaders to rein in their sangh parivar brethren in the VHP/Bajrang Dal.

The Pioneer editor-in-chief Chandan Mitra admitted this while speaking to newsmen here today about his discussions with Patnaik in Bhubhaneshwar. Mitra was the BJP’s negotiator with the BJD when Patnaik broke off the 11-year long association with the BJP last Saturday.

Mitra said, “Patnaik was certainly disturbed by Kandhamal developments. He spoke to LK Advani and Rajnath Singh and clearly asked them to restrain parivar members. He also promised to arrest the killers of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati as soon as possible.”

Claiming that the BJP did respond to his appeal, Mitra also disclosed that when Patnaik was apprehending some more anti-Christian trouble during Christmas, “I was asked to go,” he said. He added, “I held a series of meetings with them (VHP/Bajrang Dal) and they called off their bandh.”

Mitra of course claimed that “BJP was not a party in Kandhamal.”

The BJP may not be a formal party to the Kandhamal attacks on Christians but the party clearly sat enjoying the discomfiture of the Chief Minister even as its parivar members led murderous and arsonist mobs against Christian tribals.

Day after day the BJP continued supporting VHP/Bajrang Dal action through their statements. Even today BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad defended the past saying, “Yes of course a revered saint was murdered and it was a cause of concern for us.”

And yet the BJP is hoping that sooner or later and perhaps sooner than later the BJD will return to the NDA fold. Mentioning post-poll scenario Prasad said, “In politics you cannot say anything.”

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Pro-CM remarks land Andhra DGP in spot
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 10
Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police SSP Yadav has come under the scanner of the Election Commission following his remarks eulogising Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy.

State Chief Electoral Officer IV Subba Rao has sought an explanation from the police chief following reports that he had violated the poll code of conduct by praising the Chief Minister.

The CEO has called for the video clippings of the DGP’s speech at a police officers’ conference in Kurnool on March 7 during which he had reportedly showered encomiums on Chief Minister for his decision to fill a record 37,500 vacant posts in the police department.

A delegation of the four-party opposition alliance, comprising TDP, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), CPI and CPM, met the CEO here and submitted a memorandum seeking action against the DGP for alleged violation of election code.

“I have sought the video clippings from the police department and a private television channel. We will send these clippings along with the DGP’s explanation to the Election Commission for taking action in the event of poll code violation,” the CEO said. He said he had taken note of the media reports and the opposition memorandum and spoke to the DGP over the issue.

The top cop’s controversial remarks were made during a pre-poll review meeting of police officers. “The Chief Minister is bold enough to issue orders for filling up 37,000 vacant posts in the department. This is unprecedented in the country’s history,” Yadav was reported to have said at the meeting.

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Aircraft develops snag, lands safely

Chennai, March 10
A Hyderabad-bound Paramount Airways flight with 32 passengers and six crew, which left here at 7.15 am today, developed a snag when the flight was air-borne.

According to airport sources, the pilot of the aircraft flashed a message to Air Traffic Control (ATC), informing that there was a leakage in the fuel tank and sought permission for landing.

The ATC, while directing the pilot to land, made emergency safety arrangements at the airport. — UNI

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Maoists kill four in Bihar

Arwal, March 10
Four women and children were slaughtered by suspected Maoist rebels in Bihar's Arwal district, the police said today.

Pluleshwari Devi, her daughter-in-law Lakhmani Devi and granddaughters Ritu (3) and Mitu (5) were killed by alleged Maoists at Pachubigha village in the Naxalite-hit district late last night, Superintendent of Police G P Sinha said. The Naxalites slit the throats of their victims and left them to bleed to death.

Pluleshwari Devi’s son Nageshwar Mahto, the police said, had a dispute over a piece of land with his distant cousin Avadhesh Singh, who was suspected to have hired Naxalites to eliminate the former.

The Naxalites had come looking for Mahto, but on not not finding him home, killed the women and children. — PTI

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