L A T E S T      N E W S

Cabinet okays right to time-bound services Bill

NEW DELHI: The government on Thursday gave its nod to a Bill aimed at providing time-bound delivery of services like passports, pensions and birth and death certificates, among others, to citizens.

The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011, was approved by the Union Cabinet at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Bill envisages penalty of up to Rs 50,000 against a government official failing to provide his or her duties, official sources said.

It lays down an obligation upon every public authority to publish citizen’s charter, stating therein the time within which specified goods shall be supplied and services be rendered and provides for a grievance redressal mechanism for non-compliance of its provisions.

The sources said the issue of inclusion of NRIs in the ambit of the Bill to access time-bound delivery of services will be dealt with separately by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and the Law Ministry.

The proposed legislation, spearheaded by Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, also mandates a public authority to establish a call centre, customer care centre, help desk and people’s support system to ensure time-bound delivery of services.

It also seeks establishment of public grievance redressal commission at the Centre and every State.

According to its provisions, a person aggrieved by the decision of the commission may prefer an appeal before the Lokpal at the Centre (in case of decision by the Centre’s public grievances redressal commission) and the Lokayuktas in the States.

All services provided by both the Centre and the State governments will be extended to citizens in a time-bound manner under the Bill.

Addressing a joint sitting of Parliament last month, President Pranab Mukherjee had said that his government attaches priority to the enactment of the legislation proposed in this regard. — PTI






Centre hands over Pratapgarh DSP murder case to CBI

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Thursday handed over to CBI the probe into the killings of Kunda Deputy Superintendent of Police Zia-ul-Haq and two others following a request from the Uttar Pradesh government.

CBI sources said the agency is likely to register four cases on Thursday in connection with the incident and start the probe into the killings during Saturday's violence.

The name of 44-year-old former UP minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, who has a criminal record and has been jailed in the past, figures in the FIR lodged by the slain officer's wife Parveen Azad in which he has been accused of criminal conspiracy. Parveen had also demanded a CBI probe.

Haq, posted as circle officer in Kunda, was allegedly killed by a mob in Pratapgarh when he had rushed there after village head Nanhe Yadav was shot dead over a land dispute.

The village head's brother Suresh also died of gunshot wounds.

Raja Bhaiya, who resigned from the UP Cabinet after his name cropped up in the case, has refuted the charge. — PTI






Sehwag says he is not contemplating retirement

NEW DELHI: Vowing to fight back to regain his place in the Indian team, opener Virender Sehwag on Thursday said that he was not contemplating retirement from international cricket.

Out-of-form opener Sehwag vowed to make a comeback into the national side, saying "I trust my game".

Sehwag paid the price for a prolonged run drought as the selectors trimmed the squad to 14 and decided against picking a replacement for the right-hander, who has scored just 27 runs in his three innings during the ongoing series.

"Will continue to work hard for my place in the team. I trust my game and am confident that, "I'll be back"," he wrote on his twitter page.

He also wished good luck to the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side for the remainder of the series, which the hosts are leading 2-0 after crushing victories in the first two Tests in Chennai and Hyderabad.

"Best wishes to the team," Sehwag wrote. Sehwag had failed to fire in five consecutive Tests after getting a hundred in the opening game of the home series against England at Ahmedabad in November-December last year.

He was unable to score even a half-century in two home Tests against New Zealand. During India's last overseas tour, in Australia, Sehwag scored just 198 runs in eight innings.

Indian squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pragyan Ojha and Ishant Sharma. — PTI





Curfew continues in Kashmir Valley

SRINAGAR: Kashmir observed a shutdown for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday even as authorities continued curfew in several parts of the Valley to prevent deterioration of law and order in the wake of killing of a youth allegedly in Army firing in Baramulla.

“Curfew remains in force in eight police station areas of Srinagar city and Sopore (Baramulla district), Trehgam (Kupwara district) and Kulgam towns,” a police spokesman said.

He said the police station areas where curfew is in force in the city are Rainawari, Maharajgunj, Safakadal, Khanyar, Nowhatta, Zadibal, Kralkhud and Maisuma.

Curfew was clamped in these areas on Tuesday night following widespread protests over the killing of a youth reportedly in Army firing at Baramulla during protests against alleged highhandedness of soldiers.

Army has claimed that its personnel were surrounded by a mob of around 200 persons and the situation had turned life threatening for the soldiers.

It also claimed that the soldiers had fired warning shots in the air and could not have caused death.

The Army, while ordering an internal inquiry, also sought a detailed probe by police into the incident to find out the truth.

Police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in large numbers in vulnerable areas of the city and other parts of the Valley to maintain law and order.

Although there was no call for shutdown by the separatist groups, a spontaneous shutdown was observed in areas where curfew has not been imposed. Shops and business establishments remained closed while public transport remained off the roads.

Over 20 persons were injured in the clashes between protestors and law enforcing agencies in the city and other parts of the Valley since Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, Kashmir University has postponed all examinations scheduled for today and tomorrow in view of the prevailing situation in the Valley. A spokesman of the University said fresh dates for the examinations will be notified later. — PTI






Left, DMK demand India vote against Sri Lanka
at UN rights meeting

NEW DELHI: Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja on Thursday said India should demand an impartial and international inquiry on the war crimes committed by Sri Lankan military on Tamils as well as should vote against the island nation in the current meeting of UN Human Rights Council.

Raja said the assurances by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has no meaning unless India takes a pro-active role in the current session of the UN Human Rights Council meeting at Geneva.

"And India should see whatever resolution brought by the US or anybody else is strengthened and fixes accountability on the part of Sri Lanka. India cannot remain a spectator leaving everything to US and others to decide. And India keeping its stature and keeping its moral position in the international arena should play a pro-active role," said Raja.

"What we have been demanding that the Government of India acknowledges the horrendous war crimes and human rights violation, which took place in Sri Lanka should demand an impartial, international inquiry as well as should vote against Sri Lanka in the current meeting of UN Human Rights Council," he added.

The Prime Minister on Thursday said India is firmly of the view that issues of reconciliation and political devolution in Sri Lanka need to be addressed with a sense of urgency.

"Members have raised the issue of human rights violations during the conflict in Sri Lanka and the lack of progress on reconciliation, accountability and political devolution in Sri Lanka. The government takes the sentiments expressed by members very seriously. We are firmly of the view that issues of reconciliation and political devolution in Sri Lanka need to be addressed with a sense of urgency," said Singh, while winding up the discussion on the motion of thanks on the President's address in Lok Sabha.

The Prime Minister said "as regards the issue of a draft resolution expected to be tabled by the United States at the forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, our decision will depend on the substance of the final text tabled in the Council".

"We will, however, be guided by our consistent position that we support proposals that seek to advance the achievement of a future for the Tamil community in Sri Lanka that is marked by equality, dignity, justice and self respect," he added.

Singh assured Lok Sabha that New Delhi will remain engaged with Colombo to promote a durable settlement of the Tamil problem that enables the Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka to lead a life of dignity and self-respect with equal rights.

"I also assure the members that we will remain engaged with the Government of Sri Lanka with regard to the welfare, safety and security of our fishermen to ensure that fishermen on both sides can continue to pursue their livelihood in a safe, secure and sustainable manner," he added.

The External Affairs Minister has asked his Lankan counterpart GL Peiris to work with the US and report progress if any made on the issue to arrive at a draft, which is "acceptable to everybody".

"It is a humanitarian issue. It is not an issue on which anybody should stand on ceremony or ego. If it is possible, speak to them directly and find a suitable and acceptable draft," Khurshid told media outside Parliament here.

Khurshid's comments came against the backdrop of mounting demands by Tamil parties that India should take a tough stand against Sri Lanka and vote in favour of resolution to be moved against it.

Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) leader Vaiko earlier on March 2 pressed his demand for an independent international investigation on the war crimes committed by Sri Lankan military on Tamils. He said the Indian government should severe all economic ties with Sri Lanka.

The US is set to move a new resolution against Sri Lanka at the current session of the UN Human Rights Council for its alleged war crimes, asking the country to promote reconciliation and accountability. — PTI




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