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    National News - MAY

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    Abhishek

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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 17, 2011 7:27 pm

    Karnataka Governor sends special report to Centre

    The political crisis in Karnataka has taken a new turn despite 16 legislators, who have regained their membership of the Legislative Assembly following an order of the Supreme Court, expressing their support to the government headed by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa. Governor H.R. Bhardwaj has sent a special report to the Union government on the political developments in the State.

    The Governor despatched the report late on Sunday although the legislators conveyed to him in writing of their decision to extend unqualified support to Mr. Yeddyurappa. The report was sent across within hours after he arrived in Bangalore after a week-long stay in New Delhi during which he called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh among others.

    He sent the report after reportedly holding discussions with legal experts, followed by a visit of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwara and Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah during which the two are believed to have demanded that Mr. Yeddyurappa be dismissed.

    While the contents of the report have been kept a closely guarded secret, speculation is rife that the Governor has put across his views and a possible action thereon in relation to the prevailing situation. Mr. Bhardwaj has also put on hold the file relating to the recommendation of the State Cabinet to call for a Legislature session.

    Soon after the Governor sent his report to President Pratibha Patil, Dr. Singh and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Mr. Yeddyurappa too despatched a detailed letter addressed to the three categorically stating that his Government enjoyed an adequate majority and that no attempt should be made to create a constitutional crisis in the State.

    Interestingly, the Governor had called on the Prime Minister on Saturday.

    Earlier on Sunday, Mr. Yeddyurappa told The Hindu: “I enjoy adequate support of the party legislators, and hence where is the need for me to face any vote of confidence. However, if the Governor wants it I will oblige him.”

    With news trickling in that the 16 party legislators had accepted his leadership, the Chief Minister expressed happiness at the developments. But it was gloom and anger in the BJP camp as the night set in with reports that the Governor has recommended that the Assembly be kept in suspended animation.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 17, 2011 7:28 pm

    Petrol price hike a ‘cruel blow to people'

    Opposition parties have lambasted the government for the Rs.5 a litre hike in petrol price, terming it a “cruel blow” to people who were already reeling under soaring prices of all essential commodities. Demanding immediate roll back of the hike, all major Opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party and Left parties, have threatened to organise demonstrations across the country against the Centre's “anti-people” policies.

    In a joint statement issued on Sunday, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the All India Forward Bloc and the Revolutionary Socialist Party of India alleged that the steep hike in petrol price immediately after the Assembly polls was “politically motivated.”

    “Since January 2011 [when global crude prices went up], no increase in petrol price was announced by the oil companies. Obviously, the government directed them not to do so in view of the Assembly elections in five States,” the statement said. Signed by general secretaries of the CPI(M), CPI and AIFB Prakash Karat, A.B. Bardhan and Debabrata Biswas respectively and RSP secretary Abani Roy, it said the government has given another “cruel blow” to the people who were already suffering from all-round price rise.

    Demanding rationalisation of the tax structure on import of crude, the leaders said, “If the cess revenue earned by the government due to rise in international crude prices is returned to the oil companies, then there would be no need to hike prices and burden the aam admi.”

    The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has warned that the fuel price hike would further increase inflation.

    “This hike will further hit the people who are already suffering from price rise,” said BJP national vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

    BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the government that harped on being with the ‘aam admi' was continuously betraying the people. “This is a joke on people.” The BJP has decided to organise protests here and in other States on Monday.

    Regional parties like the Samajwadi Party on Sunday organised demonstrations in various cities of Uttar Pradesh.

    Atiq Khan reports from Lucknow:

    Describing the petrol price hike as an “anti-people” measure, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati said a daylong demonstration would be held by the BSP at all the 72 district headquarters on May 31.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 17, 2011 7:29 pm

    Tikait led many farmers' agitations

    In the death of Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Mahendra Singh Tikait an (eventful) era in the farmers' politics in the sugarcane-rich region of western Uttar Pradesh has come to an end. An apolitical person till the end, Mr. Tikait, who died at his residence in Sisauli village in Muzaffarnagar district on Sunday, was at the vanguard of many farmers agitations in Uttar Pradesh as well as in the national capital. Though he always fought for the farmers' rights, Mr. Tikait was often criticised by his opponents for propagating the cause of the “kulaks” (rich farmers). His decline in the late nineties and the beginning of the present century was marked by divisions in the BKU.

    Since Mr. Tikait and his struggle for the farmers' cause coincided with the period when the farmers' politics in the region was on the wane following the demise of the the former Prime Minister, Chaudhary Charan Singh, he was often described as the “real legatee” of the late farmers' leader. Such was the BKU leader's clout that he was wooed by almost all parties starting from the Janata Dal, the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and even the Bahujan Samaj Party prior to the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

    The BKU leader rose to prominence in 1986 when he led a long-drawn-out dharna by the farmers at Shamli power house in Muzaffarnagar against the hike in power rates by the Congress government headed by Bir Bahadur Singh. The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, who had mastered the technique of tiring out the agitationists and opponents, met his match in Mr. Tikait. The power rates were reviewed and it was only after they were lowered that the dharna was called off.

    A couple of years later, the BKU leader again led a dharna by farmers, this time in protest against the rape and murder of a Muslim girl in Bhopa tehsil of Muzaffarnagar district. Demanding justice for the slain girl's family members, the farmers' dharna beside a canal on the Muzaffarnagar-Bhopa road lasted for about 40 days, although the girl's killers were never arrested.

    However, Tikait's struggle for the farmers' cause suffered a setback in 1989 when six Dalits were allegedly killed by Jats belonging to the splinter group of BKU, led by his opponent Chaudhary Harpal Singh in Bhopa.

    But he re-emerged in the State Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in December 1989 that led to the formation of the Janata Dal governments headed by V.P. Singh government at the Centre and Mulayam Singh in the State. Mr. Mulayam Singh, who headed the Lok Dal (B), became the Chief Minister only after beating back a determined bid by the Lok Dal (A) president, Ajit Singh. The two Lok Dals merged to form the Janata Dal government, but since the majority of the MLAs in the Mulayam Singh-government were from Lok Dal (A) and elected from constituencies in western Uttar Pradesh their loyalties were with their region (read Mr. Tikait ) and Mr. Ajit Singh.

    So, when Mr. Mulayam Singh thwarted the BKU leader's attempt to stage a farmers' mahapanchayat in Lucknow on July 15, 1990 and had him arrested, about 70 ( Lok Dal-A ) MLAs threatened to resign. Mr. Tikait was later released. He remained a factor in western UP politics for the rest of the decade.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 17, 2011 8:08 pm

    Chandy to be Chief Minister, swearing-in on Wednesday

    The Congress Legislature Party on Sunday unanimously elected Oommen Chandy as its leader. This was followed by the United Democratic Front (UDF) formally re-electing him its chairman and nominating him as its candidate for Chief Minister.

    Mr. Chandy later called on Governor R S Gavai and staked him claim to form the government. The swearing-in ceremony will be held at Raj Bhavan on Wednesday. The UDF is yet to take a decision on others who would take the oath of office and secrecy along with Mr. Chandy. UDF convener P.P. Thankachan, who briefed mediapersons, indicated that berths would be given to all constituents thathad representation in the Assembly.

    At the Congress Legislature Party meeting, Mr. Chandy's name was proposed by Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala and seconded by Aryadan Mohammed. The election process was formally launched after Congress Working Committee (CWC) member Mohsina Kidwai and AICC general secretary Madhusoodan Mistry, who is in charge of Kerala, held a one-to-one meeting in their capacity as observers with the 38 elected MLAs. Congress president Sonia Gandhi was informed about the one-line resolution authorising her to nominate the CLP leader and this was promptly cleared, facilitating Mr. Chennithala to make the formal announcement.

    The stage for Mr. Chandy's unanimous election was set when Mr. Chennithala announced earlier in the day that he had no plans to contest for the post of CLP leader. Mr. Chennithala scoffed at speculations on television channels about a possible showdown at the CLP meeting, maintaining he had at no point of time considered contesting. His mission, he said, was to strengthen the party, something which had strived hard for the last seven years.

    Right from the beginning, it was clear that Mr. Chandy would emerge triumphant as the Chief Minister candidate. He had the first claim for a second innings after a brief term as Chief Minister from September 2005 to May 2006, and later as Leader of the Opposition for a full five-year term. The widespread speculation of a possible change in leadership owing to a change in the communal composition of the elected members has been out of place as the party high command appears to have chosen to leverage its lack of ruling numbers in the coalition by maintaining the status quo and ploughing for unity in the party.

    The significance of Mr. Chandy's unanimous election is that it gives him sufficient leeway to negotiate with coalition partners, who are demanding a change in the formula of ministry formation in tune with the changed circumstances.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 17, 2011 8:09 pm

    Manmohan, Sonia responsible for corruption

    Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari has blamed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi for the corruption in the country. Addressing the closing session of the one-day All-India Lawyers' Conference organised by the legal and legislative cell of the BJP here on Sunday, he accused the Congress-led UPA government of using the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as an instrument to frighten and browbeat alliance partners and political opponents.

    Stating that the Prime Minister owed moral responsibility for the 2G spectrum and Commonwealth Games scams as the files related to the two matters “were approved by Dr. Singh,” Mr. Gadkari said, “why did the Prime Minister remain silent and not know that something was wrong.”

    The “DMK alone was not responsible for the Rs.1.76 lakh-crore 2G spectrum scam,” he added.

    While supporting the inquiry against CWG committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi, Mr. Gadkari claimed that all the files were approved by the Prime Minister.

    He dubbed Ms. Gandhi's support to social activist Anna Hazare's campaign against corruption as a “political drama” ( natak).

    Referring to the CBI, he said the investigating agency's credibility was under a cloud and that it would not be inappropriate to describe it as the “Congress Bureau of Investigation.”

    The BJP chief alleged that the affidavits related to the cases against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and her predecessor, Mulayam Singh, were changed by the agency. He said the CBI was being used by the government to frighten its allies for “staying in power.” Mr. Gadkari said the U-turn by the agency had brought its credibility under the scanner.

    Describing terrorism and Naxalism as the biggest dangers before the country, Mr. Gadkari slammed the government for not carrying out the death sentence awarded to Afzal Guru by the Supreme Court.

    “The Supreme Court's order was the final word, it is yet to be carried out after six years of the verdict.” Mr. Gadkari said.

    He also criticised AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, albeit without naming him, for his visit to Azamgarh to meet the relatives of the accused in the Batla House encounter and his recent statement following the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

    “Appeasement of terror acts was governed by the vote bank politics,” Mr. Gadkari said.

    In an obvious reference to Binayak Sen, the BJP chief assailed the Centre for nominating a “Naxal sympathiser on a central panel.”

    Mr. Gadkari said poverty, price rise and the pathetic state of the farmers were the result of the wrong economic policies and bad governance of the Congress since 1947. “In contrast, the BJP-ruled states were synonymous with good governance and development.”
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 17, 2011 8:10 pm

    Government has no role in petrol price hike

    After the deregulation of petrol price, the government had no say in its pricing, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here on Sunday, justifying the latest hike in petrol prices on the basis of the increase in the international prices of crude oil.

    “Ever since June last year – when we took the decision to de-control and de-regulate petrol price – any decision to increase or reduce the petrol price is not taken by the government. This decision is taken by the oil marketing companies,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

    Mr. Mukherjee said that when the decision was taken last June, crude prices were $68 a barrel in the international market; presently the price was $110.

    Subsidy

    “We continue to provide a lot of subsidy. Last year itself, the Centre has given a subsidy nearly worth Rs. 1 lakh crore,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

    The Centre provided a subsidy of Rs. 16 for every litre of diesel, Rs. 26 for one litre of kerosene and Rs. 320 on every 14 kg cylinder of LPG, Mr. Mukherjee said.

    Mr. Mukherjee is the chairman of the Empowered Group of Ministers, which is scheduled to meet next week, to consider a proposal to raise the prices of the subsidised petroleum products.

    “I cannot say what the EGoM will decide. The decision will be take when the meeting is held,” he said.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 17, 2011 8:10 pm

    Order for C-17 Globemaster to be cleared soon

    The much-awaited order for the American C-17 Globemaster heavy-lift transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force will be cleared this month. The IAF's order for 10 aircraft is expected to cost some Rs. 18,000 crore (roughly $4 billion).

    The Ministry of Defence has given the go-ahead for the purchase of these aircraft from the U.S. through the Foreign Military Sales (government-to-government) route.

    Sources in the government told The Hindu that the Defence Ministry had forwarded the file to the Ministry of Finance before it was taken to the Cabinet Committee on Security for final approval. The deal was expected to be cleared “within this month.”

    The U.S was pushing for the deal — originally estimated to cost up to $5.8 billion — to be ready by the time President Barack Obama visited India in November last year. However, price and offset issues held it up. And, on his part, President Obama mentioned India's intention to buy these aircraft for some $4.1 billion.

    The Boeing C-17 Globemaster will augment the IAF's inventory, which recently went up with the induction of the C130J Super Hercules transport aircraft from another U.S. company Lockheed Martin. These aircraft would allow the IAF to swiftly move a greater number of troops and materials than its existing transport fleet of AN-32 and Il-76 ‘Gajraj,' inducted more than two decades ago.

    While the U.S. may have been “deeply disappointed” at having lost the race for the Rs. 45,000-crore 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft, the IAF and the Navy together have ordered or in the process of buying aircraft worth $9 billion from the two American defence aviation majors.

    Two years ago, India ordered eight long-range maritime patrol aircraft P8I at $2.1 billion, and there has already been talk of a follow-up order for four more aircraft. Boeing is developing the P8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the U.S. and has offered the Indian Navy a variant of it. These purchases are in addition to the CB105 Sensor Fused Weapons for the IAF ordered from Textron Defense Systems, valued at $380 million.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 17, 2011 8:11 pm

    “Private non-minority colleges cannot have 100% reservation”

    Private non-minority unaided professional educational institutions cannot have 100 per cent quota or the right to admit students of their choice from only a particular social group, excluding all other students from being considered for admission, the Supreme Court has held.

    A Bench of Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar was setting aside the policy of the Army College of Medical Sciences (ACMS), New Delhi, to allot all seats to wards of current and retired Army personnel and widows of Army personnel, provided they qualified in the Common Entrance Test conduct by appropriate authorities for admission to medical colleges in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

    The Bench held that the exemption granted by the Delhi government allowing the ACMS to fill 100 per cent seats with wards of Army personnel “violates the basic principles of democratic governance.”

    Justice Reddy, writing the judgment, said: “It is now a well-settled principle of our constitutional jurisprudence that Article 14 does not merely aspires to provide for our citizens mere formal equality, but also equality of status and of opportunity. The goals of the nation-state are the securing for all citizens a fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation. If a publicly offered service follows a particular rule that achieves the same or similar consequences as the proscribed discrimination, and tends to perpetuate the effects of such discrimination, then it would violate the principle of substantive equality.”

    The Bench said:

    “In the case of admissions to colleges, it is an acknowledged fact that the basis of so-called absolute abilities, we would end up selecting more students from better social and educational backgrounds, thereby foreclosing or substantially truncating the possibility of individuals in such disadvantaged groups from being able to gain access to a vital element of modern life that grants dignity to the individuals, and thereby to the group as a whole, both in this generation, and in future generations.

    “If a vast majority of our youngsters, especially those belonging to disadvantaged groups, is denied access in the higher educational institutions in the private sector, it would mean that a vast majority of youngsters, notwithstanding a naturally equal distribution of talent and ability, belonging to disadvantaged groups, would be left without access to higher education at all. That would constitute a state of social emergency with a potential for conflagration that would be on an unimaginable scale. The fact that non-minority unaided educational institutions insist on ‘social disadvantages blind' admission policies is proof that they are not recognising the true purpose of education as an occupation.”

    ‘Illegal, ultra vires'

    The Supreme Court said: “The admission procedures devised by the Army College of Medical Sciences, Delhi Cantonment, for admitting students to the first year MBBS course from a pre-defined source, carved out by itself and its parent society, are illegal and ultra vires the Delhi Act 80 of 2007.”

    It directed the authorities to admit the writ petitioners to the first year of MBBS course in ACMS “if the writ petitioners still so desire, for they have been deprived of their legitimate right of admission to the course for no fault of theirs, notwithstanding the rank secured by them in the CET by creating supernumerary seats. However, we make it clear that the admissions already made by the Army College of Medical Sciences are saved and shall not be affected in any manner whatsoever.”

    The Indian Medial Association and some students challenged the admission policy of the ACMS. After the Delhi High Court upheld the policy, appeals and writ petitions were filed in the Supreme Court questioning the policy.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Tue May 17, 2011 8:12 pm

    NCP on the warpath over bank issue

    The supersession of the Board of Directors of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank by the State government has put the Nationalist Congress Party on the warpath with its ally, the Congress.

    The NCP-controlled apex cooperative bank showed a negative net worth and has been on the radar of the Reserve Bank of India since a while. However, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, on the Board of Directors since over a decade, has taken this as a personal insult. There is resentment right from the NCP top leadership down to the ranks at the manner in which the government has acted on the RBI directive.

    NCP leaders maintain that this is a political move which comes ahead of the local bodies polls later this year. Some in the NCP feel the Congress is trying to weaken the NCP, which has a good following in rural areas, by discrediting the bank it controlled.

    However, official sources said the bank had high non-performing assets (NPAs) and did not comply with the RBI's modified directions. In addition, under Section 110 A of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Societies Act, there was no need to give a notice as Mr. Pawar had been maintaining.

    The Opposition has alleged that depositors have been withdrawing money from the bank since a few months and named six districts from where this was happening. Eknath Khadse (BJP) has alleged that between Rs. 4,000 crore to Rs. 6,000 crore was withdrawn by depositors.

    The NCP is demanding that the Board of Directors be reinstated to maintain status quo. At the State executive committee meeting last Thursday, NCP MLAs and members voiced strong protest against the Congress action and called for reasserting the party's identity and self-respect. Some of them even demanded a retaliation of sorts on the Congress. Though the meeting was called ostensibly to plan for the party's foundation day meeting on June 10, people openly voiced their anger. But senior leaders such as Home Minister R.R. Patil and Public Works Minister Chhagan Bhujbal called on party workers to go beyond the bank issue and concentrate on their work. For now, NCP president Sharad Pawar has tried to calm things down by saying on Saturday that there was no politics in the decision on the bank and the RBI had the right to take action.

    However, the junior Pawar is mustering support for some muscle flexing and the party cannot really ignore the popular sentiment against the Congress. With Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan vacating his Rajya Sabha seat, there is speculation that the NCP will field or back a candidate against the Congress as it did earlier to get industrialist Rahul Bajaj elected to the Rajya Sabha with the support of the Shiv Sena and the BJP in 2006. The Congress had fielded Avinash Pande, who lost the election.

    The Congress leadership is yet to take a decision on the candidate for this election, which has to be notified, but the names doing the rounds are Suresh Pachauri, Shivraj Patil, among others. Republican Party of India leader Ramdas Athavale, who has struck an alliance with the Shiv Sena and the BJP, could be another contender for this election.

    The Congress, meanwhile, has been at pains to state that the bank does not belong to anybody and the action was within legal limits. The Chief Minister did call a meeting of a few senior Ministers last week where the bank issue was among the things discussed. The Congress has 14 directors on the bank's Board and there were other party members too. Besides, senior Congress leaders owe the bank large sums of money. A senior Minister said the move to make the bank run on professional lines was imperative and it could not be allowed to continue in this fashion.

    Mr. Ajit Pawar feels this action is unjustified and has been sulking since the decision was taken. Last Tuesday he was scheduled to attend a function to inaugurate a high building for class IV employees of the Raj Bhavan, but he did not turn up. Official sources said the function was planned a good 20 days ago and on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Ajit Pawar's secretary called up the Raj Bhavan stating that the Deputy Chief Minister would be late and may not be able to make it for the function. The weekly Cabinet meeting did not take place.

    Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Manikrao Thakre has been reiterating that the Chief Minister and his deputy would sit together and clarify all doubts about the bank.

    He expressed the hope that things could be sorted out through discussion.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Wed May 18, 2011 5:47 pm

    Jayalalithaa sworn in, gives clearance to new proposals

    All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa was on Monday sworn in as the 17 {+t} {+h} Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

    Hours after she assumed office, Ms. Jayalalithaa went to Fort St. George, which has again become the seat of power, and gave her formal approval to seven proposals that included provision of 20 kg rice free of cost for those entitled to it under the Public Distribution System. Beneficiaries of the Antodaya Anna Yojana Scheme (for the poorest of the poor) will get 35 kg rice free of cost.

    Other approvals given by her included distribution of four gram gold for making thali ( mangalsutra) free, along with marriage assistance of Rs. 50,000 (which was earlier Rs. 25,000) to women with graduate degrees or diplomas; increase in the monthly assistance from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000 for senior citizens, persons with disabilities and destitute women; hike in the assistance from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 2,000 for fisherfolk during the 45-day ban on fishing; and a six-month-long maternity leave for government women employees. Under another marriage assistance scheme, four gram gold for making thali ( mangalsutra) would be given free coupled with Rs. 25,000 to educated poor women.

    A Special Programme Implementation Department was established. After affixing her signature on the files, the Chief Minister told journalists she had cleared the proposals as part of fulfilling the electoral promises of her party.

    Earlier, at a glittering function at a packed Madras University Centenary Auditorium here, Governor Surjit Singh Barnala administered the oath of office and allegiance and secrecy to Ms. Jayalalithaa and 33 Ministers. The entire Cabinet took the oath in the name of God.

    Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi; the former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu; Communist Party of India general secretary A.B. Bardhan; Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh; and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam founder Vijayakant were among those who attended the function.

    When Ms. Jayalalithaa resumed her seat after signing the copies of oaths and greeting the Governor, a section of the audience raised slogans such as Thanga Thalaivi Vaazhga, Puratchi Thalaivi Vaazhga.

    After all the Ministers were sworn in, Ms. Jayalalithaa saw the Governor off. She came down from the dais and greeted the invitees.

    Mr. Modi was the first to present her a shawl followed by Mr. Naidu and Mr. Vijayakant.

    Ms. Jayalalithaa later told journalists that she would meet the press once a week.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Wed May 18, 2011 5:48 pm

    Debendranath Sarangi, new Chief Secretary

    Debendranath Sarangi, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service of the 1977 batch, was on Monday appointed Chief Secretary following the change of government.

    He succeeded S. Malathi, who became the Chief Secretary on August 31 last year. Till now, Mr. Sarangi was Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO).

    A native of Cuttack (Orissa), Mr. Sarangi had held various positions in the government, including the Secretary of Revenue, Transport and Environment and Forests Departments.

    Ms. Malathi has been made Additional Chief Secretary and Director of Statistics and Economics, a post she held during 2001-2006.

    M. Sheela Priya, who was Ms Malathi's predecessor, P. Rama Mohan Rao, Principal Secretary (Agriculture), and K.N. Venkataramanan, Principal Secretary (Personnel and Adminstrative Reforms), have been appointed Secretaries to Chief Minister.

    A. Ramalingam, Managing Director of the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board, has been posted Additional Secretary to Chief Minister. Reeta Harish Thakkar, Joint Commissioner of Municipal Administration, is the Joint Secretary to Chief Minister.

    Sheela Rani Chunkath, Chairperson and Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation, has been transferred as Principal Secretary (Home, Prohibition and Excise) in the place of K. Gnanadesikan.

    K. Ashok Vardhan Shetty, Principal Secretary (Municipal Administration and Water Supply) has been posted as Special Commissioner of Archives and Historical Research.

    J.K. Tripathy, a 1985-batch officer of the Indian Police Service, took charge as the new Commissioner of Police, Chennai. He replaced T. Rajendran posted as Additional Director-General of Police (Prisons), Chennai.

    According to police sources, the transfer orders were issued hours after All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo Jayalalithaa was sworn in as the Chief Minister. A native of Orissa, Mr. Tripathy was the recipient of the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Public Administration in 2008. He received the award for introducing an innovative ‘community policing module' in Tiruchi where he served as the Police Commissioner.

    Mr. Tripathy had launched a ‘slum adoption programme' in which dropouts, mostly children of anti-social elements, were provided an opportunity to go back to school or take up vocational courses.

    He is the recipient of the International Community Policing Award conferred by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Toronto, Canada, in 2001 and also a gold medal for ‘Innovations in Governance' at Glasgow, U.K. in 2002 by the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management, the sources said.

    Asked on his priorities as the Police Commissioner, Mr. Tripathy said he would render top priority to Law and Order as desired by the Chief Minister. Police would take steps to erase the fear of crimes in the minds of public. “The safety of school-going children will also be an area of thrust. We will put down rowdyism with an iron fist,” he said.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Wed May 18, 2011 5:52 pm

    Rahul takes farmers to meet PM

    Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, who declared his solidarity with the villagers of western Uttar Pradesh, who are protesting at the manner in which the State government has been acquiring their land, took a delegation of farmers to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday, taking his battle against Mayawati one step further.

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    Apprising the Prime Minister of the situation in the villages of Greater Noida, where farmers have been agitating, he also showed Dr. Singh photographs of farmers and their families who were victims of violence.

    Emerging from the meeting, Mr. Gandhi told journalists that he was “very concerned” over the developments in these villages, where people had been “killed,” women “raped” and houses burnt: “There is a 70-foot ash-pit there with dead bodies in it. Everybody in the village knows.”

    He also stressed that the UPA government was committed to a new Land Acquisition Act and that hopefully, it would be passed in the next session of Parliament. “It is a complicated piece of legislation, but we are confident that the Land Acquisition Bill will be passed in the next session of Parliament.” Mr. Gandhi, who recently spent a day with the farmers but was arrested by the Mayawati government, said the farmers had expressed their desire to meet the Prime Minister. “I only facilitated their meeting with the Prime Minister.”
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Wed May 18, 2011 5:53 pm

    Supreme Court raps IT department for slow progress in 2G probe



    IT department says it's looking into aspect of tax evasion by these companies

    New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed its displeasure over the slow progress of the investigation by the Income Tax department against the companies involved in the 2G spectrum scam.

    A vacation Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly, hearing the petition relating to the 2G scam, said if the Supreme Court had not intervened the officials would have slept over it and the probe would not have proceeded.

    Justice Ganguly, after perusing the status report submitted by the IT department told Additional Solicitor-General Vivek Tanka that though the companies were put under surveillance from 2008, action was taken only after March this year after the department was directed to file action taken report. The Judge observed: “We are sure the department would have slept over it if the court had not intervened. There is no doubt about it.”

    When Mr. Tanka said that the delay was because big companies were involved, Justice Singhvi told the counsel, “how are they big. Don't have such a mind set. Prima facie they are all tax evaders.” Mr. Tanka clarified that what he meant was the companies were big in terms of financial transactions.

    The ASG said that those telecom companies which had sold their controlling stakes to foreign firms through the Mauritius route, after the allotment of the spectrum, had been asked to pay tax on the capital gain from such transactions and assessment proceedings were going on.

    Justice Singhvi asked the IT department to complete the assessment proceedings expeditiously.

    The Bench asked the CBI to take note of the comprehensive status report of the IT department and conduct its probe on those lines and incorporate it in its next status report.

    In its status report, the IT department said that it had issued orders for centralised assessment of group companies involved in 2G scam. It said it was looking into the sources of income, payments received, details of purchase of infrastructure and source of funds of Etisalat, Videocon telecom limited, Uninor and Loop telecom from 2008. It said the department was looking into the aspect of tax evasion by these companies.

    Prashant Bhushan, counsel appearing for Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), submitted that companies from the United States, Europe and the Gulf were taking the Mauritius route by opening “post-box companies” and taking tax benefits. However, the bench made it clear that it could not enlarge the scope of this petition.

    The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on July 6.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Wed May 18, 2011 5:54 pm

    Modi did not issue orders to quell riots: Bhatt

    The controversial Gujarat cadre IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, told the G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta judicial inquiry commission on Monday that Chief Minister Narendra Modi had not only “directed” top police officers “to allow Hindus to vent their anger,” but also did not issue any “specific instruction” to quell the riots when informed of the mob attack on the Gulberg Society on the “Gujarat bandh” day.

    Deposing before the commission probing the Godhra train carnage and post-Godhra communal riots in 2002, Mr. Bhatt, who filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court last month against Mr. Modi, said he was “personally” present at the controversial meeting at the Chief Minister's residence on the night of February 27, 2002. He claimed that he could name witnesses who could testify to his presence in addition to the few names he had already mentioned in his affidavit. However, he could give the names only when asked by the Supreme Court.

    Mr. Bhatt said that apart from the meeting on the night of February 27, the Godhra train carnage day, Mr. Modi had called two meetings the next day also, one in the forenoon and again in the late afternoon. He had attended both the meetings in the company of his superior, Additional Director-General of Police and chief of the State Intelligence Bureau G.C. Raigar. He claimed that by the time the second meeting was held, the intelligence department had all the information about the tense situation in Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad as he was receiving “real-time information” about the mob build-up there.

    The IPS officer claimed that at the meeting he had personally informed the Chief Minister of the build-up in Gulberg Society, the threat to residents there, including the former Congress MP, Ehsan Jafferey, and the “complete police inaction” across the city. But Mr. Modi did not give “any instruction for measures to protect the Gulberg Society,” he claimed. Mr. Bhatt said when he informed Mr. Modi of the situation in Gulberg, Director-General of Police K. Chakravarthi was present.

    Mr. Bhatt, however, told the commission that the intelligence wing, of which he was the deputy commissioner then, had no “substantial information” till late that evening about the situation in Naroda and the massacre in the Naroda-Patiya locality.

    He claimed that despite having information about the precarious situation in Gulberg Society, the police did not make any move to bring it under control and the violence “continued unabated” until the CRPF personnel arrived there.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Wed May 18, 2011 5:55 pm

    Court issues notice to inquiry panel on Dinakaran's plea

    The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the the three-member Enquiry Committee on a writ petition filed by Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court P.D. Dinakaran seeking to quash the Committee's April 24 order which rejected his plea that it had framed charges beyond the scope of the allegations in the motion admitted in the Rajya Sabha.

    Acting on Justice Dinakaran's petition, raising the question of bias against senior advocate and one of the panel members P.P. Rao, a Bench of Justices H.S. Bedi and C.K. Prasad, on April 29 stayed the proceedings before the panel, which is probing corruption and other charges against him. The panel is headed by Supreme Court judge Aftab Alam.

    During the resumed hearing on Monday, a vacation Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and C.K. Prasad issued notice on another writ petition filed by Justice Dinakaran, challenging the committee's scope of the inquiry. Senior counsel Amarendra Saran, senior counsel Basava Prabhu Patil and counsel Romy Chacko, appeared for Justice Dinakaran and senior counsel U.U. Lalit represented the committee.

    Apprehension of bias

    Mr. Saran argued that once apprehension of bias was raised against a member, an order compelling the said member to continue to serve was fraught with disastrous consequences impinging on his fundamental rights under Articles 21 and 14.

    He drew the court's attention to an admission by Mr. Rao that he participated in a seminar which demanded an inquiry against the petitioner and said Justice Dinakaran should not be elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court.

    Arguments will continue on May 18.

    In the second petition, Justice Dinakaran said: “It appears that charges are framed beyond the ground mentioned in the motion and based on alleged evidence other than the material forming basis of the admission of notice of motion. Any investigation before framing of charges was beyond the jurisdiction of the committee and all further proceedings pursuant to such charges should be dropped forthwith.”

    He pointed out that the documents produced along with the notice sent to him under Section 3 (4) of the Judges Inquiry Act would reveal that the Committee conducted a roving inquiry into the allegations made against him that too behind his back much before the charges were framed.

    Justice Dinakaran contended that the material which did not form part of the notice of motion, had been collected and relied on for framing of charges, instead of framing charges on the basis of material at the admission of the motion.

    “The entire proceedings based on such investigation and charges are vitiated. Allegations forming basis of the charges other than charge No. 6 and 11 do not pertain to the conduct of the petitioner in discharge of his duties, hence any enquiry into such charges is ultra vires and without jurisdiction,” he said.

    He prayed for quashing the April 24 order of the Committee and sought a declaration that the proceedings conducted by it on April 24 were null and void.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Wed May 18, 2011 5:55 pm

    IT exemption for interest on PF raised to 9.5%

    The Finance Ministry has agreed to carry out the recommendation made by the Labour and Employment Ministry for raising the Income Tax exemption limit on the annual interest rate for the Employees' Provident Fund from 8.5 per cent to 9.5 per cent for 2010-11.

    The Ministry issued a notification in this regard a few days ago, matching the interest rate on the PF with a commensurate income tax exemption limit. This means that the 4.71 crore subscribers of PF accounts need not pay any income tax for the interest earned for their savings for the year 2010-11 though the rate of interest payable to them had been increased in September last, after a gap of five years.

    The latest notification of the Ministry supersedes its August 2010 order wherein it had notified a tax exemption on income from PF interest of up to 8.5 per cent from September 1, 2010, onwards. The decision had cost an additional Rs.1,700 crore to the Employees Provident Fund Organisation, which managed PF accounts.

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    Re: National News - MAY

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