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Rushdie not to attend Jaipur Literature Festival 

JAIPUR: Controversial author Salman Rushdie today cancelled his visit to India for the Jaipur Literature Festival citing threats to his life, ending days of speculation over his participation in the event.

In a statement read out to the press by festival producer Sanjoy K Roy, the Booker Prize-winning author stated that he had been told by intelligence sources in Maharashtra and Rajasthan that "paid assassins" from the Mumbai underworld may be on their way to Jaipur to "eliminate" him.

"While I have some doubts about the accuracy of this intelligence, it would be irresponsible of me to come to the festival in such circumstances; irresponsible to my family, to the festival audience, and to my fellow writers. I will, therefore, not travel to Jaipur as planned," he said as the five-day literary meet kicked off today.

The 65-year-old novelist later said on Twitter that he would participate at the event via video link.

While the festival organisers said such incidents were essentially unacceptable, the organisations protesting the visit said freedom of expression did not give anyone right to write anything objectionable.

Reacting to the announcement, festival director Namita Gokhale said she was "deeply disappointed" even so when the author had been a part of this gathering in 2007.

Co-director William Dalrymple said Rushdie’s case has been that of "Chinese whispers" as most people have not read what he has written.

"Salman is a writer of enormous breath and writes on huge variety of subjects. His passionate engagement with Indian Islamic history shows he is as far as can possibly be removed from Islamophobia.

"He is one of India’s greatest writers and in a more just world his arrival here would have been welcomed by people showering rose petals on the road," he said.

Rushdie's proposed visit was objected to by India's largest Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband besides raising the hackles of several right wing groups. — PTIBack



SC sets aside Bombay HC verdict on Vodafone-Hutchison deal

NEW DELHI: In a major victory to Vodafone International Holdings, the Supreme Court today set aside the Bombay High Court judgement asking the company to pay income tax of Rs 11,000 crore, holding that tax authorities do not have jurisdiction on an overseas transaction.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia held that the IT Department had "no jurisdiction" to levy tax on overseas transaction between companies incorporated outside India.

Justice K S Radhakrishnan, who wrote a separate judgement, concurred with the findings of the Chief Justice and Justice Swatanter Kumar, saying the companies (Vodafone and Hutchison) are incorporated outside and their transaction outside India has "no underlying nexus" with tax authority here.

"Vodafone has no obligation under section 163 clause 1 (c) of Income Tax Act," Justice Radhakrishnan said.

The court asked the IT department to return Rs 2,500 crore deposited by Vodafone, in compliance of its interim order, within two months along with 4 per cent interest from the date of withdrawal of the money by the tax department.

It also asked Supreme Court registry to return within four weeks, the bank guarantee of Rs 8,500 crore given by the telecom major.

Through the USD 11.2 billion deal in May 2007, Vodafone acquired 67 per cent stake in the Hutchison-Essar Ltd (HEL) from Hong Kong-based Hutchison Group through companies based in Netherlands and Cayman Island. — PTI





I am sorry and sad over Gen Singh's age issue: Antony

NEW DELHI: Breaking his silence on the age controversy surrounding Army Chief Gen. V K Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony today said he was "sorry and sad" over it and left it to the Supreme Court to decide the matter.

Noting that there are constitutional forums to question a government's decision, he said, "The Army headquarters and government take decisions many a time but now there are questions...there are constitutional forums to question the decisions of government." Antony said government was exercising "maximum restraint and patience" on the age row and contended that the matter could not be settled in a sensational manner.

"I have always been against public debate on this, but unfortunately some of you are celebrating it. This is not an issue for celebration.

"I feel sorry and sad about the controversy. That is why in spite of something being misunderstood, I was keeping silence because I believe this is not an issue that can be decided on public platform or (through) public debate," he told reporters when asked about the row surrounding Army Chief's age.

Replying to a question as to why the government allowed the issue to linger on for seven months, he said, "Our government is keeping maximum restraint and patience because these issues cannot be handled in a sensational manner through public debate." The Minister said government would wait for the final verdict of the Supreme Court on the matter.

"The decision (of the government) has now been questioned and matter is before the Supreme Court. Lets all wait for the verdict of the SC. Please avoid controversy and let us wait for the final verdict of the SC," he said.

Singh has challenged the decision of the government which has determined his date of birth as May 10, 1950, and not a year later. — PTIBack




SC dismisses PIL on Army Chief's age row

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today dismissed a PIL on Army Chief Gen. V K Singh's age issue saying it was not maintainable in law and noting that he had himself filed writ petition seeking relief.

"In our view, the writ petition filed at the behest of an association is not maintainable. The writ petition is dismissed as not maintainable," a Bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia said.

"This is purely a service matter," the court said, adding it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case.

The Bench was furious that the PIL filed by The Grenadiers Association (Rohtak Chapter) annexed the opinions of former chief justices of India in the petition on the age row of Army Chief when they themselves said it was not for being putting up before the court.

He directed the apex court registry not to accept any writ petitions in cases where opinions of former chief justices were annexed.

Gen Singh himself has filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the government that his date of birth be treated as May 10, 1951, and not May 10, 1950.

The Bench, also comprising justices A K Patnaik and Swatantra Kumar, said the affected person was not before it and entertaining a PIL based on newspaper headlines would set a "bad precedent" and lead to a "chaotic situation".

The apex court said it would also not be appropriate for it to express any opinion on the case as the "aggrieved person" was already before it by way of a writ petition. — PTI




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