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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Dying declaration has sanctity: SC
New Delhi, March 13
The dying declaration of a person should normally be relied upon by courts as rarely does a person on his deathbed speaks falsehood, the Supreme Court has held. “The situation in which a person is on the deathbed is so solemn and serene, when he is dying that the grave position in which he is placed, is the reason in law to accept the veracity of his statement.

Jaitley abstains from CEC meeting
Cracks in BJP?
New Delhi, March 13
Arun Jaitley BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani, who is already under pressure from NDA allies over distribution of tickets, was shaken a little more when his chief strategist and protege BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley abstained from the day-long central election committee (CEC) meeting held in two phases at the party headquarters here today.
HEADING TO FOREIGN SHORES: Indian Army soldiers gather at a farewell function ahead of their departure to Sudan on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in New Delhi
HEADING TO FOREIGN SHORES: Indian Army soldiers gather at a farewell function ahead of their departure to Sudan on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in New Delhi on Friday. — AFP







EARLIER STORIES



Shiv Sena, BJP finalise seats
Mumbai, March 13
The Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party today announced that both the parties would jointly contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections under the old seat-sharing formula followed by them. Of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, the BJP would contest 26 seats leaving the rest for the Shiv Sena.

Pawar sends mixed signals on PM ambitions
Mumbai, March 13
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has yet again confounded critics and allies alike with his statement on the prime ministership. For Congress leaders, who have been suspicious of the Maratha strongman for long, Pawar's statement to a television channel was yet another display of his “chameleon-like” qualities.

Railways may quench MP’s thirst
CM seeks Lalu’s help to supply water
Bhopal, March 13
Ujjain - the famous holy town of Madhya Pradesh and the abode of Lord Mahakaal - is reeling under a water crisis and might have to get its supply through trains. The state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has sought an urgent appointment with Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav to work out the logistics.

Gujarat Riots
‘Cops removed names of accused leaders’
Ahmedabad, March 13
Victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots had mentioned the names of minister Maya Kodnani and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Jaydeep Patel in connection with the sectarian clashes to the probe agencies, but the state police removed their names from the reports, the prosecution has told the state high court.

‘Super 30’ mentor wants to coach for Maths Olympiad
New Delhi, March 13
After tutoring underprivileged students into prestigious IITs, mathematician Anand Kumar, now wants to put India on top at one of the world’s toughest competitions, the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).

Defence service exam result out
New Delhi, March 13
A total of 311 candidates have qualified in the Combined Defence Service Examination 2008, the final results of which has been announced by UPSC. Of these candidates, 254 have qualified for admission to the Officers’ Training Academy, Chennai, for 89th Short Service Commission Course for men and third Short Service Commission Women (non-technical) course commencing in April, said a release.

AP techie killed in US
Hyderabad, March 13
A software professional from Hyderabad was killed when he was hit by a car in Atlanta, US, the victim’s family members said here today. Dheeraj Reddy (28), a software engineer working with a leading computer firm in Atlanta, was hit by the car on Sunday while he was jogging and sustained serious injuries, family members said.





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Dying declaration has sanctity: SC

New Delhi, March 13
The dying declaration of a person should normally be relied upon by courts as rarely does a person on his deathbed speaks falsehood, the Supreme Court has held.

“The situation in which a person is on the deathbed is so solemn and serene, when he is dying that the grave position in which he is placed, is the reason in law to accept the veracity of his statement. It is for this reason that the requirement of oath and cross-examination are dispensed with.

“Besides, should the dying declaration be excluded, it will result in the miscarriage of justice because the victim being generally the only eyewitness in a serious crime, the exclusion of the statement would leave the court without a scrap of evidence,” the apex court observed.

However, the court has to be on guard that the statement of the deceased was not as a result of either tutoring, or prompting or a product of imagination, a Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Asok Kumar Ganguly of the apex court said.

The Bench passed the observation while dismissing an appeal filed by Satish Ambanna Bansode who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for killing his wife Satyawwa by setting her ablaze on October 5, 1999 in Mahrashtra’s Sangli district.

Incidentally, Satyawwa was murdered at the age of 28 years and was married to the accused 15 years back indicating that their’s was a child marriage.

Relying on her dying declaration, the sessions court imposed life sentence on him and later the Bombay High Court upheld the punishment, upon which Bansode appealed in the apex court.

Bansode claimed that there was no murder and Satyawwa had died after a lantern accidentally fell on her. The apex court rejected the argument and said the trial court had rightly convicted the accused on the basis of the dying declaration which appeared to be credible.

“Once the court is satisfied that the declaration was true and voluntary, undoubtedly, it can base its conviction on the same without any further corroboration. It cannot be laid down as an absolute rule of law that the dying declaration cannot form the sole basis of conviction unless it is corroborated,” the Bench said.

According to the Bench, the rule requiring corroboration is merely a rule of prudence as it was earlier laid down by the apex court in the Munnu Raja Vs State of Madhya Pradesh (1976) that “There is neither rule of law nor of prudence that dying declaration cannot be acted upon without corroboration.”

In the present case, the apex court said it was clear that the accused had set his wife on fire and hence there was no question of giving any benefit of doubt to him. — PTI

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Jaitley abstains from CEC meeting
Cracks in BJP?
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 13
BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani, who is already under pressure from NDA allies over distribution of tickets, was shaken a little more when his chief strategist and protege BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley abstained from the day-long central election committee (CEC) meeting held in two phases at the party headquarters here today.

This is notwithstanding the fact that the BJP finalised the candidates for all the five seats of Haryana that the party is contesting. The party also decided on one candidate for Punjab and seven for Orissa, all under the charge of Jaitley, specifically for election purposes.

Formally, a Jaitley aide merely passed off his absence saying, “He had some urgent work in the court.” Jaitley is a leading Supreme Court counsel.

However, insiders said in the last meeting of the CEC, Jaitley had protested about a party activist Sudhanshu Mittal’s appointment as chief negotiator with the AGP. Jaitely felt this undermined the authority of senior party leader SS Alhuwalia, who is already appointed in charge of the entire north-east including Assam. The party announced Mittal’s name earlier this week. Sources say Jaitley is annoyed that while Advani has delegated him the responsibility of overseeing election campaign strategy and even negotiating with alliance partners in several states, the party is deciding on the candidates for many of these states, including UP, and ignoring his advice.

They point out that a similar situation developed in the earlier Delhi Assembly elections where Jaitley was made in charge but had little say in the selection of candidates and eventually when the party lost the elections he had to share the responsibility for the defeat of the BJP. Before Delhi Assembly elections Jaitley was considered as the man with the midas touch under whose charge each state came out victorious. Now, he fears that if the party faced any electoral reverses in any of these states, the blame for the party’s poor performance will be heaped at his doorstep.

But Jaitley’s boycott has brought into the open inner party clash and tussle in the BJP. There are two camps in the party one led by Advani to which Jaitley belongs and the other led by Rajnath Singh and there is a serious tussle in the BJP over who should have greater say in decision making.

Since BJP announced Advani’s prime ministerial candidature, his residence 31, Prithviraj Road has become a parallel centre of power in the BJP, with most election related decisions being made there, quietly resented by the Rajnath camp. On the other hand, the Advani camp is distrustful of the decisions taken by Rajnath unilaterally.

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Shiv Sena, BJP finalise seats
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 13
The Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party today announced that both the parties would jointly contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections under the old seat-sharing formula followed by them.

Of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, the BJP would contest 26 seats leaving the rest for the Shiv Sena. Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde told reporters that the two parties have sorted out their differences on the seats to be contested by them. “The BJP has leftKalyan, Yavatmal and South Mumbai for the Shiv Sena while the Sena has left Bhiwandi, Jalgaon and Mumbai North-West to BJP,” Munde said.

The BJP leader further told reporters that he was keen on contesting the Lok Sabha elections and was hoping to be fielded from the Beed constituency.

Confirming the seat sharing arrangement between the two parties, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut told reporters that both parties would soon begin a joint campaign for the Lok Sabha elections.

Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray would lead the party’s campaign in Maharashtra. According to party sources, supremo Bal Thackeray may address at least one rally if his health permits. The senior Thackeray may even address a rally via video-conferencing, according to party sources.

The announcement comes after several days of wrangling between the two parties. Sources say, senior leaders of both the parties intervened to get both outfits bury their differences and come up with a workable solution.

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Pawar sends mixed signals on PM ambitions
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 13
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has yet again confounded critics and allies alike with his statement on the prime ministership. For Congress leaders, who have been suspicious of the Maratha strongman for long, Pawar's statement to a television channel was yet another display of his “chameleon-like” qualities.

However, Pawar's own colleagues in the party sought to downplay his remarks, saying he was just turning down the public demand for throwing his hat in the ring for the top job. “There is a feeling in Maharashtra that nobody from here got the opportunity to become Prime Minister while people from Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka got it. People say a Maharashtrian should get this opportunity as well," Pawar told a television channel.

In the same breath, Pawar said no one could aspire for the top job without enough seats in the kitty. “If my party is contesting barely 30-35 seats in the entire country, how can anybody expect its leader to head the country with such a small number."

The NCP leader's statement comes at a time when the party is still negotiating with the Congress to tie up an alliance in Maharashtra for the Lok Sabha polls. The call for a Maharashtrian to occupy the post of Prime Minister first came from the Shiv Sena, sparking off speculation that the Pawar may have cracked a deal with the Thackerays. Since then the BJP and the Congress are suspicious of their allies, the Shiv Sena and the NCP, respectively.

Opponents of Pawar are putting out stories that the NCP has a secret deal with the Shiv Sena to sabotage the chances of the Congress in Maharashtra so that the Maratha leader head a coalition in case of a hung Parliament.

Pawar’s remarks today were similar to what he said shortly after the Congress emerged as the single largest party after the 2004 elections. Having flirted with the idea of joining the National Democratic Alliance, Pawar quietly chose to make a deal with the UPA.

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Railways may quench MP’s thirst
CM seeks Lalu’s help to supply water
Tribune News Service

Bhopal, March 13
Ujjain - the famous holy town of Madhya Pradesh and the abode of Lord Mahakaal - is reeling under a water crisis and might have to get its supply through trains. The state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has sought an urgent appointment with Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav to work out the logistics.

Water is being supplied once every six days in Ujjain. Yesterday was the scheduled day for water supply but when taps did not run, the patience of the people gave way. There were attempts at arson, violent protest marches and ‘chakka jams’ and the administration had to impose prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC to maintain peace. The Chief Minister says that transporting water to Ujjain was now the “only option left”.

Madhya Pradesh is reeling under a never-before water crisis due to insufficient rains in the state this year. The Meteorological Department of the Government of India has classified almost the entire state and neighbouring Chhattisgarh as an area of deficient rainfall (between -20 and 59. 5 per cent of the average).

Water is supplied on alternate days in the state capital Bhopal and Indore, once every six days in Ujjain and Dewas, once every five days in Jhabua and once in four days in Neemuch and Mandsaur.

The police have constituted special squads to check violence over water. The IGP of Bhopal zone has directed the district police chiefs to ensure that the water shortage does not lead to brawls and blood-letting. Last summers, there were cases of “hijacking” of municipal water tankers by mobs desperate for water.

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Gujarat Riots
‘Cops removed names of accused leaders’

Ahmedabad, March 13
Victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots had mentioned the names of minister Maya Kodnani and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Jaydeep Patel in connection with the sectarian clashes to the probe agencies, but the state police removed their names from the reports, the prosecution has told the state high court.

Minister of state for higher education Kodnani and Patel are accused of leading mobs in the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaam localities here in 2002 - 106 people were killed in the these incidents alone.

Special Public Prosecutor JM Panchal told the high court yesterday the riot victims had mentioned the name of Kodnani and Patel in the statements recorded by them with the investigative agencies.

Today, the high court will hear an appeal filed by Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) seeking cancellation of the anticipatory bail of the two in connection with the post-Godhra riot cases in Ahmedabad. According to witnesses’ accounts, Kodnani was part of a mob that attacked members of the minority community in 2002. — IANS

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‘Super 30’ mentor wants to coach for Maths Olympiad

New Delhi, March 13
After tutoring underprivileged students into prestigious IITs, mathematician Anand Kumar, now wants to put India on top at one of the world’s toughest competitions, the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).

Kumar, whose Ramanujan School of Mathematics in Patna, shot into limelight for sending all the 30 enrolled students to the IIT in 2008, is now mulling expanding his coaching expertise to train students from India to excel globally.

“It is sad that most students learn maths by mugging up solutions. Unless we realise the art of problem solving and teach students at the school and college level, the phobia of maths would continue to haunt children,” says Kumar.

The 37-year-old Kumar had found acclaim for his ‘Super 30’, an initiative that he started seven years ago where he picks 30 children from impoverished backgrounds and provides them with food and accommodation while coaching them to get a chance to study at the Indian Institute of Technologies(IITs).

“I think that lack of money should not restrict any child’s dream. I am planning to expand and take in more students from all over the country at our academy and also want to coach students to win all the 6 medals at the maths Olympiad,” he told PTI in an interview.

“Students from Russia and China fare extremely well at the Olympiad. China has been consistently been focusing on maths for the past 20 years and the results show. I believe that given the right training even our students would excel," Kumar said.

Kumar, who has an avid fascination for maths, has been feted by many universities in the US to conduct lectures and also regularly contributes to various mathematical journals and magazines. He is also being featured in an hour-long programme that would be aired on Discovery on March 14.

The documentary produced by Veronica Hall and directed by Christopher Mitchell portrays Kumar’s passion for mathematics since childhood, the loss of his father early in life and the lost opportunity to study in Cambridge University due to poverty.

During the past six years, 152 students have secured their IIT seats through Super-30. In 2003, 18 students made it to the IIT. In 2004, it reached 22, in 2005 to 26 and in 2006 and 2007 it sent 28 students each to the IIT. Last year, all its 30 students made it to the IIT. — PTI

Anand will feature in an hour-long programme that would be aired on Discovery channel on March 14

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Defence service exam result out

New Delhi, March 13
A total of 311 candidates have qualified in the Combined Defence Service Examination 2008, the final results of which has been announced by UPSC. Of these candidates, 254 have qualified for admission to the Officers’ Training Academy, Chennai, for 89th Short Service Commission Course for men and third Short Service Commission Women (non-technical) course commencing in April, said a release.

The list of the 89th Short Service Commission Course for men also includes the names of candidates recommended earlier on the basis of the result of the same examination for admission to the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, Naval Academy, Goa, course and Air Force Academy, Hyderabad, the release said.

However, it said result of medical examination of candidates has not been taken into account in preparing the merit list. — PTI

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AP techie killed in US

Hyderabad, March 13
A software professional from Hyderabad was killed when he was hit by a car in Atlanta, US, the victim’s family members said here today.

Dheeraj Reddy (28), a software engineer working with a leading computer firm in Atlanta, was hit by the car on Sunday while he was jogging and sustained serious injuries, family members said.

Reddy succumbed to his injuries while undergoing treatment yesterday, they said, adding they were informed about the incident yesterday.

Dheeraj was a resident of Habsiguda here and his father Govinda Reddy is a doctor who runs a private clinic.

The shocked family members, who came to know about the incident yesterday, said Dheeraj’s marriage was fixed and he was about to come to India soon. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

‘56 MPs asked no questions in LS’
NEW DELHI:
As many as 56 MPs — among them former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and actor-politicians Dharmendra and Govinda — did not ask a single question during their five-year term, statistics reveal. The study was conducted by PRS Legislative Research and included both starred and unstarred questions in parliament till December 2008. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and BJP veteran Atal Bihari Vajpayee also figure in this list of MPs - who make up over 10 per cent of the Lok Sabha’s total strength. — IANS

Meera Shankar is envoy to US
Meera ShankarNEW DELHI:
Meera Shankar, at present India’s envoy to Germany, was on Friday named as the next ambassador to the United States, to succeed Ronen Sen, whose term ends on March 31. She is expected to take up her assignment shortly, an official announcement here said, a day after Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon returned from the US. An IFS officer of the 1973 batch, Shankar was posted as minister, commerce, at the Indian embassy in Washington in the 1990s. — TNS

Ex-Nepal king in Gujarat
Raja Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah DevGANDHINAGAR: Nepal’s former monarch Raja Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev on Wednesday met Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi here. King Gyanendra was accompanied by his wife Queen Komal, an official release said here. The family is on a personal tour of Gujarat and will be visiting Somnath Temple and Gir Lion Sanctury in Junagadh district during their stay. After meeting Modi, the couple visited Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar and historical Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. — UNI

Helpline mooted
BANGALORE:
ICICI Lombard in partnership with Rotary Club of Bangalore plan to conduct a feasibility study for rolling out a statewide helpline for victims of domestic abuse. The study will explore the sustainability and feasibility of setting up the helpline, Rosa Paramel, Chairperson,Women Empowerment Committee of the club, told reporters here on Friday. — PTI

Silent zones in Mumbai
MUMBAI:
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has identified 1,113 locations as ‘silence zones’ across the city last month and will be putting up signages to demarcate them. “Honking, exploding crackers, and using loudspeakers in a silence zone are illegal,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner RA Rajeev. The local police and traffic police authorities would impose penalties on violators, he said. — PTI

Hooch deaths
BADAUN (UP):
About four persons died after consuming spurious liquor in Kuva Tanda village of the district on Friday. The police said the deceased, in the age group of 20-25 years, found a can of liquor and consumed the brew resulting in the tragedy. They were being rushed to Chandausi hospital but died midway, the police said, adding that the bodies were being taken to district hospital for postmortem examination. — PTI

Couples taking HIV test
PANAJI:
Many couples are volunteering for the pre-marriage HIV test, even as the state’s plan to make it mandatory is still on the backburner. “There is almost 20 per cent rise in people getting themselves tested at various integrated counselling and testing centres (ICTC),” Goa State Aids Control Society (GSACS) Project Director Dr Pradeep Padwal told here. — PTI

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