SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Fernandes aides provoking him: JD(U) chief
New Delhi, March 20
Former Defence Minister George Fernandes has refused to accept the Janata Dal (U)’s decision to deny him a Lok Sabha ticket on health grounds but party chief Sharad Yadav said efforts are on to dissuade him not to seek re-election from Muzaffarpur in Bihar.

‘Ratio of false cases against Army 50:50’
Chandigarh, March 20
There have been several instances in the past, like the Bomai killings, where troops from the Army as well as paramilitary forces, including officers, have been held guilty. Though there are no readily available statistics, sources place the number of uniformed personnel who have faced action under such circumstances since 1990 at about 100.

Protecting children from violence
CBSE develops draft syllabus on human rights
New Delhi, March 20
In the backdrop of brutalisation of children at the hands of care givers in Shimla and Mumbai, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today pitched for the inclusion of human rights education (HRE) at school level.



EARLIER STORIES



MUSCLE POWER: Kunwar Pranav Singh ‘Champion’, Congress MLA from Hardwar, strikes a pose while seeking ticket for a parliamentary seat at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi on Friday. — PTI

HC stays suspension of Meghalaya MLAs
Guwahati, March 20
The Gauhati High Court today stayed the order of Meghalaya Speaker Binod M Lanong suspending independent MLA Limison Sangma and Khun Hynnewtrap National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) legislator Paul Lyngdoh from the Assembly that is now under suspended animation.

Cong-NCP strike deal in M’rashtra
Mumbai, March 20
After weeks of bickering, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party have reached a seat-sharing agreement in Maharashtra. Of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the Congress would contest 26 while the NCP would field its candidates from 22 seats. The NCP had been demanding 24 seats as against the 21 it contested in the 2004 elections.

CIA chief’s visit makes CPM see red
New Delhi, March 20
The CPM today slammed the UPA for facilitating India’s proximity to the US investigating agency, saying “India, under the Manmohan Singh government” was fast becoming like Pakistan where the CIA and FBI chiefs met with the interior minister and the Prime Minister.

Army probe on to find ‘more’ Purohits
New Delhi, March 20
The Army is conducting an investigation to find out if controversial officer Lt Col Shrikant Purohit had any accomplices within the Army or, if he was, knowingly or unknowingly aided or abetted by some other Armed Forces personnel.

Congress against pro-LTTE leader’s entry into DMK
Chennai, March 20
The admission of pro-LTTE leader Thol Thirumavalavan into the alliance by the DMK is threatening to harm the cordial atmosphere in the Congress-DMK alliance, as the Congress cadres have come out in the open against the arrangement in many parts of Tamil Nadu.

Politics behind Congress-ruled states’ no to IPL?
New Delhi, March 20
Is security the primary reason for some states to say “no” to hosting the IPL championship or there is something more to it — perhaps political considerations?

RJD, LJP now want to patch up with Cong
New Delhi, March 20
After the Congress, it is now the turn of RJD and LJP to develop cold feet. The senior partner’s decision to contest at least 26 seats in Bihar, after the Lalu Yadav-Ramvilas Paswan combine left just three seats to them in the state, had the latter making desperate moves for damage control.

Contempt of Court
SC places 4 women under custody
New Delhi, March 20
In a shocking incident, four women litigants committed contempt in the Supreme Court today by throwing a chappal in the midst of hearing of their case.

Shearing of Sikh undertrial's hair
Ajmer court tells cops to probe case
Jaipur, March 20
An Ajmer court has come to the rescue of a Sikh undertrial, who was reportedly beaten up and his hair shorn off by the jailer at the Central Jail, Ajmer, a few days back.

JD-U Spat
Digvijay may follow George
New Delhi, March 20
The ouster of veteran socialist George Fernandes from Janata Dal-U has not ended the process of purging the party of all the “dead wood” in the perception of the ruling duo of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and party president Sharad Yadav.

Malegaon accused wants to contest polls
Mumbai, March 20
Move over film stars and sportsmen. The 15th Lok Sabha elections is slowly seeing a motley crowd ranging from incarcerated Malegaon blast accused and a top banker to a well-known dancer making a bid at the hustings.

Sohrabuddin Encounter Case
Hearing on suspended cop’s plea adjourned
New Delhi, March 20
The Supreme Court yesterday adjourned for an indefinite period hearing on a petition by suspended inspector Vijay Arjunbhai Rathod who has challenged the Gujarat High Court order making him an accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh-Kausarbi encounter case.

Tribune Impact
EC rap for staff
New Delhi, March 20
Taking suo moto cognizance of a report in The Tribune, the Election Commission today asked Punjab chief electoral officer Kusumjit Sidhu to immediately inform it about the district-level returning officers who were not following EC directions on registering new voters.

France introduces new visa rules for Indian students
Bangalore, March 20
France has introduced new rules for work and residence permits to facilitate professional mobility between India and France and Indian students keen on working  in France.

Maya alerts UP voters against Cong, BJP
Lucknow, March 20
BSP supremo Mayawati today alerted her Uttar Pradesh voters against the Congress, the BJP and their allies as well as the media who, according to her, had not been able to digest her success and were spreading malicious rumours to misguide them.

Vajpayee admitted to AIIMS
New Delhi, March 20
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was today evening admitted to AIIMS for a routine follow-up of his health, nearly three weeks after he was discharged from the hospital.

Cong launches poll campaign in AP
Hyderabad, March 20
In the next month’s electoral Olympics, the gold medal is reserved for ruling Congress while opposition parties can fight among themselves as to who should get the silver and the bronze medals, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy asserted today.

Sangma meets Advani, Karat
New Delhi, March 20
Unhappy over the imposition of Central rule in Meghalaya, senior NCP leader P A Sangma today held discussions on the issue with Opposition Leader in the Lok Sabha L K Advani and CPM general secretary Prakash Karat here. The senior NCP leader met Advani and held talks with him on the imposition of President’s rule in Meghalaya.


Nationalist Congress party leader PA Sangma shakes hands with BJP leader LK Advani in New Delhi on Friday. — PTI

Channels told not to telecast Kasab footage
New Delhi, March 20
Suspecting that a video clip of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab’s court hearing has been leaked to the media, the government has advised television channels not to broadcast it.

Now, Maneka gets EC notice
Badaun (UP), March 20
After Varun Gandhi, it was the turn of his mother Maneka Gandhi to come under the Election Commission's scanner for alleged violation of model code of conduct.

Naik next IAF chief
New Delhi, March 20
Air Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik, the vice-chief of the Air Staff, was today appointed as the next IAF chief. He would be succeeding Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, who retires on May 31.





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Fernandes aides provoking him: JD(U) chief
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, March 20
Former Defence Minister George Fernandes has refused to accept the Janata Dal (U)’s decision to deny him a Lok Sabha ticket on health grounds but party chief Sharad Yadav said efforts are on to dissuade him not to seek re-election from Muzaffarpur in Bihar.

According to Yadav, he had contacted a close friend of Fernandes to ask him to intercede on their behalf and persuade the 79-year-old leader to see reason and accept the party’s offer to accommodate him in the Rajya Sabha. The JD(U) chief, however, maintained that though Fernandes could be persuaded, he is “surrounded by people” who are provoking him to revolt against the party.

Though Yadav did not name anybody, he was clearly referring to Jaya Jaitley, a close associate of Fernandes who was an office- bearer in his erstwhile the Samata Party. According to JD (U) sources, it is Jaitley and party MP Digvijay Singh who are urging Fernandes not to accept the party decision and instead contest on his own.

Yadav had written to Fernandes yesterday informing him that he was being denied a ticket because of his failing health but promised to give him a berth in the Rajya Sabha whenever the first vacancy arises from Bihar. Fernandes promptly wrote back refusing Yadav’s offer saying he was “capable of undertaking the additional burden of campaigning”.

Faced with serious dissensions in the party ranks on election-eve, Yadav explained that Fernandes has serious health problems and it will not be possible for him to campaign for a Lok Sabha election which is a strenuous exercise. “We did not mean any disrespect to him....we hold him in high esteem. But he is unwell and cannot even move around properly,” Yadav maintained.

Yadav, who has been a key member of the previous non-Congress and non-BJP formations, admitted that he continues to have warm relations with leaders from the Left Front and regional parties like the Telugu Desam. CPM leader Sitaram Yechury and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu had called on him last Sunday, setting off speculation that the JD (U) was being persuaded to sever its ties with the BJP and join the Third Front. Yadav, however, denied such reports, saying: “It was a meeting of friends. We know and recognise each other’s positions,” he added.

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‘Ratio of false cases against Army 50:50’
Vijay Mohan/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
There have been several instances in the past, like the Bomai killings, where troops from the Army as well as paramilitary forces, including officers, have been held guilty. Though there are no readily available statistics, sources place the number of uniformed personnel who have faced action under such circumstances since 1990 at about 100.

“There are five to six cases in a year where complaints or allegations of civilians being killed by the Army or security forces come in,” an officer said. “Each instance is investigated and where called for, a court of inquiry and subsequent action is initiated,” he added.

Many cases turn out to be false. “In my experience, the ratio of false complaints with cases where action initiated would be about fifty-fifty,” an officer who has served in Jammu and Kashmir said.

Perhaps the most notable of cases where allegations of civilians killed by the Army was that in Pathribal in March 2000. Five officers, including a Brigadier, the highest-ranking officer to be involved in such a case, were chargesheeted by the CBI for allegedly killing five persons.

There are a number of instances where the state police has, over the past decade, registered murder cases against jawans on allegations of killing civilians. A few months ago, for example, the local police registered a murder case against the Army for allegedly killing a schoolteacher in Kupwara.

Army officers point out that at times the allegations against their troops are motivated. There are also instances of local elements donning military uniforms and indulging in killings to settle personal scores. Another issue that cropped up is that of Territorial Army jawans from the recently raised “home and hearth” and “iqwan” battalions. Iqwan battalions comprise militants who have surrendered. Authorities have not totally ruled out their involvement in local issues.

The Army has also convened several courts martial to try its personnel on such charges. A number of jawans have also been tried and convicted for killing officers and jawans, ostensibly under stress or differences.

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Protecting children from violence
CBSE develops draft syllabus on human rights
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 20
In the backdrop of brutalisation of children at the hands of care givers in Shimla and Mumbai, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today pitched for the inclusion of human rights education (HRE) at school level.

The government also took a serious view of the alarming human rights situation of children, with the Human Resource Development Ministry admitting that it had become important to look at ways of weaving human rights education into school, college and university system.

In a major development in this direction, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has prepared the draft syllabus for the proposed “Human rights and gender studies” subject, expected to be implemented from the next year as an elective course in classes XI and XII.

Debate is still on to figure out the system of evaluation of children in this respect. “We need to see how best to transact human rights knowledge to the children. But the draft syllabus is ready,” a senior CBSE official said today on the sidelines of a national conference in the capital today.

The proposed subjects seek to raise awareness among children on violence, identity, rights vis-à-vis parents, use of language, culture and religion, among other things. The CBSE proposes to transact human rights knowledge through case studies like the Gandhian perspective. The content will be a little advanced for the senior higher secondary-level students, said sources.

The conference was, however, divided on whether to have human rights education as a full subject in curricula or simply as a co-curricular activity, executed through role play, games and other exercises. Evidence suggests children learn better through role play than through content imparted as part of the course.

The conference, attended by education secretaries of all states, took a serious note of the shocking sexual exploitation of differently-abled children by NGO operators in Shimla, and of a girl by her father in Mumbai.

The NHRC will come out with detailed recommendations on incorporating HRE at school for further submission to the central and the state governments.

“The dissemination of knowledge of human rights and duties must aim at bringing about attitudinal changes in the human behaviour and such education is needed for everyone, whose decisions or policies affect the lives of other human beings,” NHRC chairperson Justice S Rajendra Babu said.

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HC stays suspension of Meghalaya MLAs
Bijay Sankar Bora

Tribune News Service

Guwahati, March 20
The Gauhati High Court today stayed the order of Meghalaya Speaker Binod M Lanong suspending independent MLA Limison Sangma and Khun Hynnewtrap National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) legislator Paul Lyngdoh from the Assembly that is now under suspended animation.

In an interim order, Justice T Vaiphei of Shillong Bench of the High Court said, “The impugned interim orders suspending both Paul Lyngdoh and Limison Sangma and the ongoing disqualification proceedings against each of them pending before the respondent are hereby stayed.”

The court order said, “As the order was passed ex-parte, liberty is given to them (respondents) to apply for modification or cancellation thereof.” The High Court would pass interim verdict in respect of the cases of three other MLAs, who had also been suspended by the Speaker on the eve of March 17 trust vote of Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) government, on Monday.

In case of Paul, the lone MLA from KHNAM who had quit the MPA cabinet, the court said, “Apparently, the MPA is not a political party. Each of the political parties forming the MPA appears to have contested the election separately as a separate political party. Therefore, the prime facie finding of the respondent that a prima facie case of disqualification of the petitioner under Tenth Schedule is made out is nothing but perversity.”

As for independent MLA, Limison, the court said, “The petitioner admittedly contested the election as an independent candidate and was not set up by any political party. Therefore, unless he joins a political party, the question of his disqualification does not arise.”

“Both the disqualification proceeding and the impugned suspension order are ex facie illegal, and are based on perverse findings. In both cases, the tests laid down by the apex court in Kihoto Hollohan case appear to have been satisfied for the interference of this court.”

The High Court verdict came two days after imposition of the Central rule that put the Assembly under suspended animation in Meghalaya, which witnessed a controversial trust vote where the Speaker had to cast his vote to save the MPA government. Earlier, the Speaker had suspended five MLAs for deserting the MPA camp before the trust vote.

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Cong-NCP strike deal in M’rashtra
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 20
After weeks of bickering, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party have reached a seat-sharing agreement in Maharashtra. Of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the Congress would contest 26 while the NCP would field its candidates from 22 seats. The NCP had been demanding 24 seats as against the 21 it contested in the 2004 elections.

Both the Congress and the NCP would now have to allocate some seats from their quota to the smaller parties like the Republican Party of India and the Peasants and Workers Party.

The negotiations between the two parties have been acrimonious with both groups trading charges. The NCP had further muddied the waters with its leaders putting forward the idea of Pawar staking a claim for the post of Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, the Congress here is likely to field all its senior leaders in the state in an all out effort to increase its tally in the next Lok Sabha. Sources say former CMs like Narayan Rane, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde are to be fielded from various seats. A section of the party is also keen on incumbent CM Ashok Chavan being fielded in the polls.

Rane will most likely take on former Union Power Minister Suresh Prabhu of the Shiv Sena from Konkan. Rane had earlier wanted the seat to be given to his son Nilesh.

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CIA chief’s visit makes CPM see red
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 20
The CPM today slammed the UPA for facilitating India’s proximity to the US investigating agency, saying “India, under the Manmohan Singh government” was fast becoming like Pakistan where the CIA and FBI chiefs met with the interior minister and the Prime Minister.

Seeing red over the yesterday’s meeting between Home Minister P Chidambaram and the CIA chief, a CPM Politburo statement said the meeting marked a new stage in the Indo-US collaboration.

“This is the first time that an American CIA chief has been accorded a meeting with the Union Home Minister of India. Apart from meeting his intelligence counterparts in India, the CIA chief has been received at the political level, signalling the new status of the CIA in India,” said the statement, adding that the CIA was notorious for its interventions in the political affairs of various countries including de-stabilising governments considered inimical to US interests.

“This is a pointer of how things have changed under the Manmohan Singh government. The manner in which the Congress-led government was promoting such ties should be a matter of serious concern for all those who wish to protect national sovereignty and the integrity of our democratic system,” said the CPM.

Meanwhile, the CPI manifesto will be released tomorrow. CPI general secretary AB Bardhan will release the manifesto in the capital. The CPM was the second among Left Front partners to release their manifesto earlier this week; the first was Revolutionary Socialist Party.

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Army probe on to find ‘more’ Purohits
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 20
The Army is conducting an investigation to find out if controversial officer Lt Col Shrikant Purohit had any accomplices within the Army or, if he was, knowingly or unknowingly aided or abetted by some other Armed Forces personnel.

It is being seen like an internal audit among the top brass here. Purohit is under arrest by Mumbai’s ATS for his alleged involvement in the Malegaon blasts. Sources in the Army said the investigation was prelude, or like the first step, in the process which could culminate in a general court martial. The investigation is just short of holding a court of inquiry that is normally followed by a summary of evidence.

The three-member investigating team led by a Brigadier-rank official will also find out what is the kind of punishment is listed under the Army Act. No time frame has been mentioned for the investigating team, however by Army standards it should be over a few weeks. Wendesday evening the Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function said that disciplinary action against Lt Col Shrikant Purohit would be initiated after an internal probe was completed.

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Congress against pro-LTTE leader’s entry into DMK
N Ravikumar

Tribune News Service

Chennai, March 20
The admission of pro-LTTE leader Thol Thirumavalavan into the alliance by the DMK is threatening to harm the cordial atmosphere in the Congress-DMK alliance, as the Congress cadres have come out in the open against the arrangement in many parts of Tamil Nadu.

Even while Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi maintained that Congress leaders were not opposing the entry of Thirumavalavan, Congress functionaries had openly expressed their anger with resolutions, protests and posters in many of the state, calling for the expulsion of Thirumavalavan from the alliance.

A formal resolution was passed at a meeting of district Congress committee at Vellore, asking the UPA leaders not to forge an alliance with Thirumavalavan, a powerful Dalit leader who had openly declared his support to the Tigers. Party MLA and state general secretary C Gnanasekaran, who chaired the meeting, said people and Congress cadres would not accept an alliance with a party, openly celebrating the birthday of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Functionaries of other districts are also gearing up to convene meetings and express their anger over the arrangement. Vociferous Congress MLAs, including Rajasekaran and Arul Anbarasu, cite the speeches of Thirumavalavan, who had vowed to root out the Congress from the state. They also said Congress cadres could not forgive the burning of the portraits of Sonia Gandhi during protest demonstrations of the VCK.

The message had already been conveyed to the voters with posters in the nook and corner of the city saying, “How can we accept a leader, who has openly justified the assassination of our leader Rajiv Gandhi”.

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Politics behind Congress-ruled states’ no to IPL?
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 20
Is security the primary reason for some states to say “no” to hosting the IPL championship or there is something more to it — perhaps political considerations?

With largely the Congress-ruled states expressing their inability to provide security to the IPL venues during election period, political observers believe it is not merely the security issue but politics of the matter that is the reason behind the continuing impasse over the season-II of the cricketing mega show.

As per revised schedule submitted by the IPL and responses of the state governments concerned, two states accounting for three venues - Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Delhi - expressed their inability to provide security during the election time. Andhra Pradesh and Delhi both have Congress governments.

Two states with three venues - Mumbai, Nagpur and Jaipur - have said they would be able to provide security only if additional companies of CPMFs are provided to them on match days. In Maharashtra, there is the Congress-NCP government and in Rajasthan the Congress is running the show.

Tamil Nadu, where the DMK-led coalition, has agreed to provide security because the match schedule is after the elections are over. Non-Congress states of Punjab and West Bengal have agreed to give security provided they are not required to release state police personnel for elections as already promised by them to the Election Commission and the Ministry of Home Affairs. Karnataka, where the BJP is in power, has agreed to provide security on four match days.

The Congress, of course, denies that the party is trying to scuttle the mega event. As per party spokesman Manish Tewari, the Congress is not opposed to cricket but there is a security threat - a reality that needs to be kept in mind. “There is a manpower constraint…Security reality in Congress-ruled states is not different from BJP-ruled states”.

The IPL has been asked to work around fresh dates in consultation with states.

Observers say it is a certain organiser’s “political affiliations” that is the main reason for the continuing deadlock. Besides politics, the fear that any untoward incident may cause irreparable damage to prospects of the Congress during the time of the elections, is another reason for the deadlock, they add.

“IPL organisers have said the security issue can be adequately addressed by private security. There have been reports that security will be handled by a private agency from South Africa, so the security is clearly not the issue. IPL is also fallout of excessive political control over cricket in India. Personal biases and political agendas are often furthered under the guise of cricket,” they explain.

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RJD, LJP now want to patch up with Cong
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 20
After the Congress, it is now the turn of RJD and LJP to develop cold feet. The senior partner’s decision to contest at least 26 seats in Bihar, after the Lalu Yadav-Ramvilas Paswan combine left just three seats to them in the state, had the latter making desperate moves for damage control.

First came a late night emergency meeting on Thursday between the two leaders, who discussed the issue of seats and defections leaders into the Congress camp. Of particular importance is the switching of sides by Lalu’s brother-in-law Sadhu Yadav, the sitting Gopalganj MP, whom the Congress might offer a ticket. RJD leader Ramai Ram also joined the Congress and is seeking a ticket from Hajipur.

Emerging from the meeting late last night, LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan appeared tense but sought to put the onus on the Congress, “I hope the Congress would not do anything to strengthen the NDA in Bihar. We are still with Soniaji.”

Even today, there was hectic activity at Paswan’s residence, with the Dalit leader indicating the possibility of a compromise till elections. “There is still some time to go for elections,” said Paswan, repeating that the division of UPA votes would damage the Congress, which has lost its base in Bihar.

In the RJD camp, on the other hand, sources said efforts were on to talk to Congress leaders, who were clearly snubbing Lalu. The Congress is obviously at cross with both Lalu and Paswan, whom it has helped all along with plum ministries. Lalu’s courts cases have also troubled him less, courtesy the Congress.

And yet, the two leaders humiliated the Congress by leaving just three seats in Bihar and pocketing 37. The Congress is keen to preserve the morale of Bihar Congressmen who are shocked and shattered. “Lalu has mocked at us. We never expected such humiliation. We should rethink the UPA alliance in Bihar,” former Assembly Speaker and former Bihar Congress president Sadanand Singh said earlier. Other leaders said RJD and LJP should field candidates from Sasaram, Madhubani and Aurangabad as well.

The RJD for its part is learnt to be eager to arrive at a compromise with the Congress in Bihar, but the latter is in no mood to oblige, and naturally. Sources in RJD said the division of UPA votes would benefit the enemies in Bihar, and should be prevented.

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Contempt of Court
SC places 4 women under custody
R Sedhuraman/Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 20
In a shocking incident, four women litigants committed contempt in the Supreme Court today by throwing a chappal in the midst of hearing of their case.

The Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and AK Ganguly that was hearing the case of the women from the controversial Boss School of Music, Mumbai, ordered their detention till Monday.

A larger Bench would decide “appropriate” punishment after going into the issue on March 23, officials said. The four involved in the alleged contempt are Leela David, Annette Kotian, Pavitra Murali and Savita Parikh. They were arguing their case personally. The Bench instantly pronounced a punishment of three-month jail term for the four, but revised the order at a meeting later in the evening. Officials in Mumbai had ordered the closure of the school following allegations pertaining to black magic and other offences. Members of the school then went to the Bombay High Court that also slapped contempt charges against them. Subsequently, the accused came to the Supreme Court. Court of Justice Pasayat then ordered a high-level inquiry into the allegations against the school and disposed off their petition recently after a clean chit was given to them.

However, during an earlier hearing some of the litigants committed contempt by casting aspersions on the apex court, upon which the Bench had issued notice. Supreme Court bar association president PH Parikh today strongly condemned the litigants’ behaviour and felt that such incidents should be dealt with a heavy hand.

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Shearing of Sikh undertrial's hair
Ajmer court tells cops to probe case
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, March 20
An Ajmer court has come to the rescue of a Sikh undertrial, who was reportedly beaten up and his hair shorn off by the jailer at the Central Jail, Ajmer, a few days back.

The court has directed the Civil Lines police to investigate the matter and frame charges on the basis of evidence against jailer Govind Singh, and others.

Meanwhile, the district administration too has initiated an inquiry after the Sikh community in Ajmer showed resentment against the act.

DM Rajesh Yadav has asked city magistrate Kali Charan Sharma to investigate the matter.

The Sikhs in Ajmer had taken out a protest march a couple of days back, seeking a judicial probe into the matter and also the suspension of the “accused jailer” till the completion of inquiry.

Earlier, DIG, Jails, Mukut Bihari Purohit, had probed into the matter and submitted his report to the DGP.

When contacted, Purohit said he could not comment on the findings of his report as the government had now ordered an IG-level probe into the matter. Now, the IG, Jails, will hold a fresh inquiry into the incident.

A resident of Patiala district in Punjab, Sukhvinder, had alleged that he was thrashed and his hair shorn off before being locked up in a toilet by the jailer because he did not pay the “facility fee” of Rs 20,000 to him.

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JD-U Spat
Digvijay may follow George
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 20
The ouster of veteran socialist George Fernandes from Janata Dal-U has not ended the process of purging the party of all the “dead wood” in the perception of the ruling duo of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and party president Sharad Yadav.

Party sources clearly indicated that the next in line is George’s lieutenant and former Minister of State for External Affairs in the NDA government Digvijay Singh.

Digvijay currently a member of the Rajya Sabha, who lost the Banka parliamentary constituency, suspected that the Sharad-Nitish duo may deny him the party ticket this time.

He told The Tribune, “I will fight from Banka. Naturally, then I will resign from the party and will also resign from my Rajya Sabha seat.”

In fact sources indicated that other known George loyalists might be next in line.

Interestingly, George loyalists do not blame Sharad so much. They consider this entirely the handiwork of Nitish. “Power has gone to his head,” commented a well-known George loyalist, adding that “Sharad is merely a rubber stamp in Delhi, all decisions are taken by Nitish and his sycophants. Sharad needs Nitish now to win the Madhepura seat, not the other way round,” commented the JD-U dissident.

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Malegaon accused wants to contest polls

Mumbai, March 20
Move over film stars and sportsmen. The 15th Lok Sabha elections is slowly seeing a motley crowd ranging from incarcerated Malegaon blast accused and a top banker to a well-known dancer making a bid at the hustings.

Today, Malegaon blast accused Dayanand Pandey expressed a desire to contest the elections, the second suspect in the case to do so.

The incarcerated self-styled religious leader approached the special MCOCA court here seeking permission to fight the elections.

Earlier a co-accused, retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay, had moved the court with a similar plea. The court is yet to give its ruling on his plea.

Although the application does not mention from which constituency he wants to contest, Pandey's lawyer Naveen Chomal said his client would like to fight from Jammu.

Pandey has sought the court's permission to sign and fill relevant documents to allow him to stand in the polls.

Pandey and Upadhyay are among the 11 persons arrested for the September 29 blast in Malegaon.

Another candidate, senior banker and currently country head, ABN Amro Bank, Meera Sanyal said she would be contesting from South Mumbai as an Independent candidate.

“I have decided to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha election from South Mumbai,” Sanyal said here. — PTI

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Sohrabuddin Encounter Case
Hearing on suspended cop’s plea adjourned
R Sedhuraman
Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 20
The Supreme Court yesterday adjourned for an indefinite period hearing on a petition by suspended inspector Vijay Arjunbhai Rathod who has challenged the Gujarat High Court order making him an accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh-Kausarbi encounter case.

A Bench comprising Justices Tarun Chatterjee and VS Sirpurkar, however, permitted Rathore’s counsel Rana Mukherjee to withdraw the application for bail, thus, giving him liberty to approach the trial court.

Rathod was part of the Gujarat police’s anti terrorists’ squad (ATS) at the time of the encounter killing of Sohrabuddin. Initially, he was named as an accused, but later allowed to turn an approver and become a prosecution witness. Subsequently, the High Court said this was not possible and made him an accused again. The question that at what stage of trial a suspect can be named as an accused is pending before a larger Bench of the apex court and Rathod’s appeal against the order now depends on the decision of the larger Bench. After Rathod was allowed to become an approver, DIG DS Vanjara and DSP NK Amin, both in custody, moved the Sessions Court seeking Rathod be named as an accused.

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Tribune Impact
EC rap for staff
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 20
Taking suo moto cognizance of a report in The Tribune, the Election Commission today asked Punjab chief electoral officer Kusumjit Sidhu to immediately inform it about the district-level returning officers who were not following EC directions on registering new voters.

In today’s edition, a report was carried on how people wanting to get their names added to the voting lists were being turn away by the electoral officials concerned. The EC has asked the CEO to reply by tomorrow.

If found guilty, said sources, stern action would be taken against the returning officers (ROs), a deputy commissioner-level officer, and their subordinates. The EC had issued directions to the chief electoral officers of various states for registering voters till the date of the filing of nominations. An EC spokesperson said that in case any returning officer refused to register an eligible voter, a compliant should be made to the CEO concerned.

The guidelines for the CEO mention that even after the final publication of electoral rolls, the process of their continuous updating should go on, as the citizens were free to file any application for the addition, deletion, modification or transposition of names with the electoral registration officer.

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France introduces new visa rules for Indian students

Bangalore, March 20
France has introduced new rules for work and residence permits to facilitate professional mobility between India and France and Indian students keen on working 
in France.

According to Jean-Yves Lavoir, Chef de La Mission for Professional Immigration, French Ministry of Immigration, who is here to create awareness about the rules, the ‘Skills and Expertise’ residence permit is a temporary permit, valid for up to three years at a time, on a renewable basis.

It is directly delivered by French consulates and enables the holder to engage in a salaried or business activity in France. It is designed for foreign nationals who have the potential to carry out a professional project, in areas spread across a vast canvas that encompasses scientific, industrial, commercial, cultural and humanitarian activities.

The ‘Intra-company transfer’ permit has been created to facilitate intra-group mobility within international company groups or establishments. This gives its holder permission to work and is valid up to three years at a time, on a renewable basis, for employees expatriated by their company to a French subsidiary or reassigned within the same group, Lavoir said. — PTI

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Maya alerts UP voters against Cong, BJP
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 20
BSP supremo Mayawati today alerted her Uttar Pradesh voters against the Congress, the BJP and their allies as well as the media who, according to her, had not been able to digest her success and were spreading malicious rumours to misguide them.

Releasing her party’s ‘appeal’ to the voters of UP, Mayawati explained that as her government was in power in UP she felt the need for a state-specific appeal, different from the general appeal to voters across the country released by her in New Delhi on the occasion of BSP founder Kanshi Ram’s birthday on March 15.

The 32-paged signed booklet is virtually the party’s manifesto in the garb of an appeal. Besides listing her 22-month old government’s achievements in various sectors, she frontally attacked the Congress, the BJP and its allies as well as the Fourth Estate for always looking for ways to spoil the ‘image’ of her government.

She singles out newspapers and news channels for being hand in glove with opposition parties to distort news regarding her government and party. “This attitude worsens in the time of elections”, she alleged.

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Vajpayee admitted to AIIMS

New Delhi, March 20
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was today evening admitted to AIIMS for a routine follow-up of his health, nearly three weeks after he was discharged from the hospital. As per the advice of doctors, 84-year-old Vajpayee is being admitted at AIIMS for routine follow up and investigations, a release issued by the former Prime Minister’s office said.

“He will stay in the hospital for two days during which these follow-up tests will be conducted for him,” Dr DK Sharma, Medical Superintendent, AIIMS, said.

Vajpayee was admitted to the AIIMS following complaints of chest infection on February 3 which was later diagnosed as pneumonia. He was kept on ventilator support as he was not able to breath on his own following the lung infection.

On March 1, doctors declared him fit to go home after about a month-long treatment during which doctors also conducted tracheostomy on him. — PTI

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Cong launches poll campaign in AP
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 20
In the next month’s electoral Olympics, the gold medal is reserved for ruling Congress while opposition parties can fight among themselves as to who should get the silver and the bronze medals, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy asserted today.

“The people have immense faith in the Congress as we have fulfilled all promises made in the previous election manifesto. Our sustained focus on welfare and development will stand us in good stead in the coming elections,” Reddy said while launching the party’s poll campaign here.

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Sangma meets Advani, Karat

New Delhi, March 20
Unhappy over the imposition of Central rule in Meghalaya, senior NCP leader P A Sangma today held discussions on the issue with Opposition Leader in the Lok Sabha L K Advani and CPM general secretary Prakash Karat here.

The senior NCP leader met Advani and held talks with him on the imposition of President’s rule in Meghalaya.

Sangma drove to AKG Bhavan, the CPM headquarters, where he apprised Karat about the situation in Meghalaya. The meeting lasted about 20 minutes.

Leaders of the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) led by Sangma rushed here yesterday and are meeting various party leaders to garner support against the imposition of President’s rule terming it unwarranted and unprecedented.

The MPA leaders are also exploring possibilities of moving the Supreme Court to challenge the UPA government’s decision. — PTI

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Channels told not to telecast Kasab footage

New Delhi, March 20
Suspecting that a video clip of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab’s court hearing has been leaked to the media, the government has advised television channels not to broadcast it.

Officials of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting have been calling up TV channels, telling them that they should not telecast the footage if they have obtained it, sources said. No reasons have been given by the ministry for its advice against the telecast of the footage of Kasab’s hearing which was conducted in Mumbai recently via video-conferencing.

In view of the ministry’s advice, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has sent out a circular to all member news channels and their editors, asking them to desist from running “any programme or news reports containing the text or details or any other similar material relating to Kasab”. — PTI

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Now, Maneka gets EC notice

Badaun (UP), March 20
After Varun Gandhi, it was the turn of his mother Maneka Gandhi to come under the Election Commission's scanner for alleged violation of model code of conduct.

Sadar Sub-divisional Magistrate Santosh Kumar Sharma issued notices to Maneka, 52, who is BJP candidate from Aonla, for allegedly using government buildings for campaigning, officials said.

Notices have been issued to three others - Samajwadi Party candidate from Aonla Dharmendra Kashyap, BSP candidate from Badaun DP Yadav and a local BJP leader DK Bharadwaj - on a similar charge.

“The SDM has given three days to all of them to remove the wall paintings failing which action will be taken against them as per the Model Code of Conduct,” they said.

The EC had ordered filing of two FIRs against Maneka’s 29-year-old son Varun, who is contesting form Pilibhit, for his anti-Muslim speeches. — PTI

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Naik next IAF chief



Air Marshal PV Naik who has been appointed as the new chief of the Indian
Air Force. — PTI

New Delhi, March 20
Air Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik, the vice-chief of the Air Staff, was today appointed as the next IAF chief. He would be succeeding Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, who retires on May 31.

Born on July 22, 1949, Naik was commissioned into the Air Force on June 21, 1969, as a fighter pilot. He took part in the 1971 war and has flown the MiG 21 and MiG 23.

In his career spanning nearly 40 years, Naik has served in a variety of command staff and instructional appointments. He has to his credit the distinction of 3,085 hours of flying.

Prior to his taking over as the IAF vice-chief last year, he was the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Allahabad-based Central Air Command. — TNS

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Pranab wishes Pak normalcy

Kolkata: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday ruled out any chance of resuming the peace process with Pakistan. He also denied that the Indian troops guarding the Indo-Pak border would be withdrawn. But he wished peace and normalcy be restored in Pakistan soon and the democratic institutions there to start functioning. — TNS

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BRIEFLY

PC: Bangalore to have 600 anti-terror force personnel
Bangalore:
The Army’s Special Forces to fight terror will be in place here by month-end with a six-fold increase in its strength to nearly 600 personnel, Home Minister P Chidambaram said on Friday. “The Special Forces will be strengthened in two phases. In the first phase, approximately 250 persons of all ranks and in the second phase another 250 persons will reach Bengaluru,” Chidambaram told reporters here. The concept of Special Forces was mooted after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai. — PTI

Metro goes green
NEW DELHI:
Delhi Metro is turning more eco-friendly with the installation of solar panels for electricity at its headquarters that will prevent 2.35 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. The 64-panel five-kilowatt (KW) solar power plant installed at the Metro Headquarters in Connaught Place can generate 15 kilowatt hour (KWh) electricity per day, Delhi Metro spokesperson Anuj Dayal said.

UN official to visit India
New Delhi:
The human rights situation in India is likely to come up for discussion and review when the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillai embarks upon her first official visit to the country. India and Nepal are the only countries that figure in the week-long itinerary of the top UN official, who is visiting Asia officially for the first time. Already in Nepal, which has the largest country operation of the UN Human Rights Office, Pillai will reach India on March 22. She is coming here on the invitation of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and will address a national conference of the state human rights commissions in the capital on March 23.

Timely intervention
PUDUCHERRY:
Timely intervention of the Women`s Commission here has helped a 15-year-old girl student avert a marriage to a man twice her age and appear for SSLC examination. The girl, hailing from a poor family, approached the commission on Wednesday complaining that her parents pressurised her to marry a 30-year-old man and were not permitting to appear for the examination, the commission chairperson Kamalini told.

‘Gandhi items belong to Trust’
NEW DELHI:
Dispelling doubts over the ownership rights of Mahatma Gandhi’s memorabilia that went under the hammer in New York, India has told the US government these articles belonged to the Navjivan Trust and their auction was illegal. A senior cultural affairs ministry official said, “There has been no change in our stand and we have reiterated that these Gandhi articles belong to the Navjivan Trust and the auction is illegal.”

Source: TNS & Agencies
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