L A T E S T      N E W S

SC stays execution of Bhullar 

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the execution of 1993 Delhi bomb blast death row convict Devender Pal Singh Bhullar.

The apex court has agreed to review its judgment on Bhullar's plea to commute his death sentence to life term.

The court has also issued notice to the Centre and the Delhi Government on Bhullar's wife's plea for commuting his death sentence and has directed the hospital, where Bhullar is being treated, to file a report on the condition of the convict within a week.

Bhullar was convicted of and awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast in New Delhi in September 1993, which killed nine persons and injured 25 others, including the then Youth Congress president M.S. Bitta.

The apex court on March 26, 2002 dismissed Bhullar’s appeal against the death sentence awarded by a trial court in August 2001 and endorsed by the Delhi High Court in 2002.

He filed a review petition which was dismissed on December 17, 2002. Bhullar then moved a curative petition which too was rejected by the apex court on March 12, 2003.

Bhullar, meanwhile, filed a mercy petition before the President on January 14, 2003.

The President dismissed his mercy plea eight years later on May 14, 2011. Citing the delay, he had again moved the apex court for commutation of the death sentence but his plea was rejected.

The apex court on January 21 had held that inordinate delay by government in deciding mercy plea of death row convicts can be a ground for commuting their sentence and had granted life to 15 condemned prisoners including four aides of forest brigand Veerappan.

In a landmark judgement, the court had held that prolonging execution of death sentence has a “dehumanising effect” on condemned prisoners who have to face the “agony” of waiting for years under the shadow of death during the pendency of their mercy plea. — PTIBack










Kejriwal lists 'corrupt' leaders

NEW DELHI: Targeting Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday accused him of being corrupt and said the party will field candidates against him, UPA ministers and leaders of other parties.

He also took a jibe at BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and the Congress vice-president for spending over "Rs 500 crore on branding" and image-building exercise.

Drawing up a list of "corrupt" politicians, Kejriwal said the party will field candidates against them.

The list included Gandhi, several UPA ministers, SP supremo Mulayam Singh, BSP chief Mayawati, Union Ministers P. Chidambaram and Sushilkumar Shinde and former BJP president Nitin Gadkari among others.

Addressing the National Council meeting attended by Aam Aadmi Party volunteers from across the country, Kejriwal said, "I have prepared a list of dishonest (politicians) of the country. If you come across any honest politician in the list then please tell me.

"I am asking for the country's approval on whether to defeat (these politicians) or send them to Parliament."

Kejriwal said the party will field candidates against Gandhi, Union Ministers Shinde, Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, G.K. Vasan, Salman Khurshid, Veerappa Moily, Prakash Jaiswal, Kamal Nath, Pawan Bansal, as well as MPs Naveen Jindal, Avtar Singh Bhadana, Anu Tandon, Suresh Kalmadi and Assam CM Tarun Gogoi.

"I have started the list. Till evening, you (AAP workers) prepare a list and submit it to the party," he told AAP workers.

The Chief Minister slammed Gandhi and Modi for engaging in expensive image branding campaigns.

"They spent Rs 500 crore for image make over...To prepare brand Modi and brand Rahul, they are spending Rs 500 crore. Can these people, who spend Rs 500 crore for branding, give an honest government? After they come to power, they will recover that money from us," he said.

Kejriwal said the party's motto was not to seize power, but to eradicate corruption.

"Our motto is not to seize power and do politics for power like BJP and Congress. Our motive should be no corrupt leader and no one from dynasty politics should enter Parliament," he said. — PTI Back












Jan Lokpal Bill: Delhi Assembly to hold special session
at Indira Gandhi stadium 

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Cabinet on Friday decided to call a special session of Assembly to take up the Jan Lokpal Bill that seeks to punish corrupt officials on February 16 at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium instead of the historic Ramlila Ground as announced by ruling AAP earlier.

Minister Manish Sisodia said a meeting of the Cabinet has decided to call the Assembly session from February 13 to 16 and the House will sit at Indira Gandhi stadium on the last day of the session, where public will also be invited to attend.

The Aam Aadmi Party Government had earlier announced that it will convene a special session at the Ramlila Ground, the venue of Anna Hazare’s anti-graft movement, to pass the much-talked about Bill which was one of the main poll planks of the party.

Officials said the Cabinet decision on convening the Assembly session will have to be cleared by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung.

The Delhi Police had opposed government’s proposal to convene the session at the Ramlila Ground, citing security issues.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Cabinet discussed the draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill and a final decision would be taken on Monday.

It has also been learnt that the government is mulling fixing six months as time limit to complete investigation in corruption cases.

The draft Bill, prepared by a committee headed by the Chief Secretary, has kept the Chief Minister’s office under the ambit of the Lokayukta. — PTIBack










Discoms trying to blackmail govt: Kejriwal

NEW DELHI: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday accused BSES discoms of trying to “blackmail” the government by threatening power cuts up to 10 hours a day, and warned them of strict action including possible cancellation of licenses.

The Chief Minister also said Tatas and Ambanis, who run three electricity distribution firms in Delhi, were not the only companies in the country and the government was willing to bring new players.

“There are no reasons for power cuts. I want to give them a warning that if they try to create panic in future, the government will take strict action against them,” Kejriwal said as Reliance Infra-backed BSES warned the government of 8-10 hours power cuts a day beginning tomorrow citing fund crunch.

Dismissing any valid reasons for such extreme steps, the Chief Minister said there were so many question marks over the discoms account.

“They are not cooperating in CAG audit, which raises further suspicion. The government will not keep quite. The government will not hesitate in cancelling their licences,” he said while assuring the people that there was no possibility of power cuts.

“Power companies are indulging in wrong doings to create panic they are trying to blackmail us,” he said.

Referring to a meeting called by the Chief Secretary with power companies, Kejriwal said, “We will bring other companies. There are not only two companies in the country. Companies run by Tata and Ambanis are not the only companies. There are other companies (who can distribute power in Delhi).”

Asking discoms to refrain from the “tactics” being used by the companies to put pressure on the government, Kejriwal assured citizens that no long outages will take place.

“I want to assure Delhi citizens that nothing of that sort will happen,” he said.

BSES Yamuna Power Ltd has informed the Delhi government that areas in Central and East Delhi may face eight to 10 hours of power cuts from Saturday as the company was facing serious fund crunch to buy electricity.

In a letter to Delhi’s Power Secretary Puneet Goel, BYPL sought immediate financial assistance from the government to deal with the “difficult” situation as it was not being able to make payments to various state-run power generators, including NTPC and NHPC.

“In view of non-availability of cost-reflective tariff for several years in the past, the revenue gap of BYPL has been mounting year on year. Up to financial year 2011-12, the same was recognised by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission at Rs 2,855 crore,” it said.

The company said it no longer has the financial ability or resources to pay the generating companies in full.

The discom said banks have “withdrawn new funding support” owing to accumulated revenue arrears of Rs 6,200 crore and it was finding it difficult to arrange power for the city.

BYPL has sought immediate intervention of Delhi government in helping it overcome the situation and urged it to take up the issue urgently with NTPC, NHPC, Ministry of Power and Ministry of Finance.

The company said banks are “alarmed” by Delhi government’s “subsidy-led” approach to tariffs, regardless of actual cost of power.

The BSES Yamuna Power Ltd. and BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd, which supply power in 70 per cent areas in Delhi, owe around Rs 4,000 crore to Delhi government-run power generation and transmission companies.

Both BRPL and BYPL have been maintaining that they are going through difficult financial condition. They have been demanding significant hike in tariff, citing rise in power purchase cost. — PTIBack










Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna resigns

Dehradun: Ending months of speculation about a change of guard, Vijay Bahuguna on Friday resigned as Uttarakhand Chief Minister amidst indications that Union Minister Harish Rawat has emerged as a strong contender to succeed him.

Shortly before going to the Raj Bhavan to submit his resignation to Governor Aziz Qureshi, the former high court judge-turned-politician said he was resigning on the directives of the party high command.

“I am resigning from the post of Chief Minister on the directives of the party high command. Tomorrow there will be a meeting of MLAs and I request them to pass a resolution with consensus authorising Congress president Sonia Gandhi to elect the new Chief Minister,” Bahuguna told reporters.

Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and AICC general secretaries Janardan Dwivedi and Ambika Soni, who is in charge of party affairs in the state, will be here on Saturday as Central observers for ensuring a smooth changeover.

Speculation was rife for months over Bahuguna’s ouster after his leadership skills come under scrutiny in the wake of a natural calamity of catastrophic proportions that had hit the state in June last year claiming thousands of lives.

Bahuguna’s alleged delayed response with rescue operations being launched about four to five days after the calamity struck on June 16-17 came in for bitter criticism, prompting the party high command to look for a substitute for him. — PTIBack











Mumbai Police Commissioner quits, to join politics

MUMBAI: Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh has resigned from service and is set to join politics amidst reports that he may contest the Lok Sabha polls either on a BJP or AAP ticket.

This is perhaps for the first time that the sitting Police Commissioner has resigned from service.

The 1980-batch IPS officer on Thursday submitted his resignation letter to the Maharashtra Home Ministry, which forwarded it to the Chief Minister’s Office for acceptance.

The top cop confirmed he has resigned from the Indian Police Service, but was yet to decide which political party to join.

“I have resigned and sent the papers to the State government,” Singh said on Friday.

“I will work for national unity, social harmony and world peace. I have not yet decided which party to join. You will come to know about it in two to three days,” Singh added.

Singh, who was due to retire next year, is reportedly considering contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha polls either from Mumbai or Uttar Pradesh, his native state.

According to media reports, he has offers from BJP as well as the Aam Aadmi Party.

The 59-year-old senior IPS officer, who has several books to his credit, was appointed Mumbai Police Commissioner, one of the most high profile posts in the Indian police establishment, in August 2012.

During a career spanning over three decades, Singh occupied several top positions in the Maharashtra Police.

He served as Police Commissioner of Pune and Nagpur and was Additional Director General when he was chosen for the present assignment nearly one-and-a-half years ago. — PTIBack












Justice Verma’s family refuses to accept Padma Bhushan

NEW DELHI: Family of late Justice J.S. Verma has refused to accept the Padma Bhushan Award conferred on him by the government posthumously, saying accepting it would be against his principles as he never “hankered” for any such honour.

In a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, Verma’s wife Pushpa said, “The greatest honour to him remains how he is held in the hearts and minds of his fellow countrymen: as a true friend not just to women or the youth, but to those most in need of one...”

“He never hankered or lobbied for any acclaim, reward or favour... we do not want to accept what we know justice Verma himself would not have accepted.

“He always and strictly put India first before any personal profit or gain. He will always be remembered as one of India’s most pre-eminent jurists and with a legacy of alleviating substantive injustice through the forging of globally acclaimed new legal tools,” the letter, dated January 29, said.

The family also indicated in the letter that they did not get any official communication about the award, claiming they only came to know about it through media reports.

Shubra Verma, daughter of Justice Verma, said early this month some officials from the Home Ministry had visited Verma’s hometown Satna and enquired about him.

“Some officials from the Home Ministry visited my father’s hometown in Satna in Madhya Pradesh early this month and had inquired about him. When I sought to know the reason for the inquiry, he said father’s name has been nominated for Padma Vibhushan. Even someone from the Home Ministry visited our house here and had said the same thing,” Shubra told PTI.

Verma, who had headed the government committee to frame stricter laws and suggested legal reforms to deal with sexual assault cases in the wake of the December 16, Delhi gangrape case, died on April 22, 2013, following multiple organ failure. — PTIBack










Didn't meet Modi, media report baseless: Pawar

NEW DELHI: The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Friday slammed as “completely mischievous” and “baseless” a media report about his meeting with BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

“News of my meeting with Narendra Modi in New Delhi on January 17 appeared in a newspaper. (It) is completely mischievous, baseless & false,” the Agriculture Minister said on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Pawar’s tweets followed a front-page report in a Marathi newspaper that the NCP chief is understood to have secretly met Modi in New Delhi on that day.

“During state visits or in Chief Ministers conferences in Delhi, I meet CMs and barring these occasions, never met Modi in the last one year,” Pawar, whose party is the second largest constituent of the Congress-led UPA, said in another tweet.

The report claimed that the meeting had lasted nearly 30 minutes and that even senior leaders of the NCP and the BJP were not aware of it.

The meeting signals that the hands of the “clock” (symbol of NCP) is turning towards the “lotus” (symbol of BJP), the report had said.

NCP chief spokesperson D.P. Tripathi said, “Pawar was not even in Delhi on the day when the meeting was supposed to have taken place.”

NCP is in alliance with Congress and sharing power in Maharashtra since 1999, months after Pawar parted ways with Congress on the issue of Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin.

NCP is part of the UPA at the Centre for the past 10 years. — PTIBack











No space for NCP in NDA: Shiv Sena

NEW DELHI: Sharad Pawar is not welcome in NDA, the Shiv Sena said on Friday, making it clear that there is no space for NCP in the BJP-led alliance at the Centre or in Maharashtra.

"We will not allow NCP to come to NDA. There is no space for Sharad Pawar's party in the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in Maharashtra," Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said.

Raut's remarks came close on the heels of a media report that Pawar had a meeting with BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi here, which has been slammed as "completely mischievous" and "baseless" by the NCP chief.

"Neither our doors nor our windows are open," Raut remarked when asked about NCP leaders like D. P. Tripathi saying that options are open for the party. NCP is the second largest constituent of the Congress-led UPA.

Asked about statements of some NCP leaders like Praful Patel which appeared soft on Modi, he said it was a good thing. "The UPA has become a sinking ship, and when the ship starts sinking, the rats are first to desert it," the Shiv Sena leader said.

Raut said that at a mega rally held in Kolhapur district in Maharashtra on Thursday by the leaders of Shiv Sena, BJP, RPI and Swabhimani Sanghtana, it was declared that their struggle was against the Congress-NCP government in the state.

NCP is in alliance with Congress and sharing power in Maharashtra since 1999 after Pawar parted ways with Congress on the issue of Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin.

NCP is part of the UPA at the Centre for the past 10 years. — PTI Back











SC refuses to stay order on nursery admission process

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay the interim order on the nursery admission process in the national Capital but asked the Delhi High Court to expeditiously hear the pleas against the guidelines by advancing the scheduled hearing.

A Bench headed by Justice H.L. Dattu said since the order of the high court was in the nature of an interim order, it was not interfering with it and asked the high court to hear the issues raised as expeditiously as possible in the interest of schools and welfare of children.

The apex court gave liberty to the petitioners, Action Committee of Unaided Recognised Private Schools, Forum for Promotion of Quality Education for All and some parents to make an application before the single judge of the high court for advancing the March 11 hearing.

"Since the interim order is in the nature of refusal to grant interim relief, we also do not intend to interfere with that order. Therefore, we reject the special leave petition.

"We request the single judge of the high court to consider and make all endeavour as expeditiously as possible the hear the petitions in the interest of the schools and welfare of the children," the Bench comprising S.A. Bobde said.

While giving liberty to the aggrieved parties to make an application before the single judge for advancement of March 11 hearing, the Bench said "if such application is made, the single judge is requested to consider the plea and expedite the hearing".

Disposing the appeals against the high court's order, the Bench made it clear that it is not expressing any opinion on the merits of the matter.

The apex court agreed with the pleas of — Action Committee of Unaided Recognised Private Schools and Forum for Promotion of Quality Education for All — raising objections to a paragraph in the division bench's verdict and expunged those lines from the judgement.

The Division Bench of the high court has confirmed the order passed by the single judge which had refused to stay the December 18, 2013 guidelines of the Lieutenant Governor. — PTI



New Zealand win fifth ODI, clinch series 4-0

WELLINGTON: A listless Indian cricket team slumped to its worst ODI series defeat in New Zealand, going down 0-4, after the Black Caps hammered them by 87 runs in the inconsequential fifth and final one-dayer in Wellington on Friday.

Going into the match trailing 0-3 in the five-match series, the famed India batting came a cropper once again, bundled out for 216 in 49.4 overs by New Zealand, while chasing 304 at Westpac stadium here.

Virat Kohli’s 82 was the only saving grace as the visitors failed to put up a fight against the Kiwi bowlers, led superbly by debutant Matt Henry (4/38).

Earlier, Ross Taylor slammed his second successive hundred to power the hosts to an imposing 303 for five.

Besides the tie in the third ODI in Auckland, India had suffered defeats in Napier and Hamilton (twice) and today’s defeat continued their disastrous overseas performance as they had lost the ODI series against South Africa before coming here.

India had lost 2-5 to New Zealand in a seven-match ODI series in 2002-03. The last time the Indians failed to win even a single match in New Zealand was in 1975-76 and 1980-81, losing 0-2 in both the two-match series.

Put into bat, Taylor (102) shared a 152-run partnership with Kane Williamson (88), who scored his fifth consecutive half-century, for the third wicket to rescue New Zealand from a precarious 41—2 at one stage.

Taylor’s 106-ball innings was studded with 10 hits to the fence and one six, while Williamson blasted eight fours and one six in his 91-ball innings here.

For India, Varun Aaron (2-60) was the most successful bowler, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-48) and Mohammad Shami (1-61) provided decent support. Virat Kohli took the only other wicket to fall, while the spinners, R. Ashwin (0-37) and Ravindra Jadeja (0-54) went wicket-less

Brief scores:

New Zealand: 303 for 5 in 50 overs (Ross Taylor 102; Varun Aaron 2/60).

India: 216 all out in 49.4 overs (Virat Kohli 82; Matt Henry 4/38) - PTI




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