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    National News - MAY

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    Abhishek

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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Thu May 12, 2011 6:54 pm

    Thomas moves court for probe into ‘distorted telecast'

    The former Central Vigilance Commissioner, P.J. Thomas, on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court for a CBI inquiry into what he said were distorted reporting/telecasting of court proceedings in the case in which his appointment as CVC was struck down.

    Mr. Thomas said he was aggrieved by the wrong interpretation of the proceedings and the judgment, particularly the telecast of defamatory and cooked-up news.

    Some vested interests in the media had been making adverse publicity, referring to him as a tainted official. The proceedings were wrongly interpreted repeatedly, showing him as guilty before the public and that too without a trial which could not be allowed in a country governed by the rule of law, said the application filed through advocate Wills Mathews.

    Mr. Thomas said the Supreme Court judgment did not go into the merits of the Kerala palmolein case but the media created a hostile atmosphere, accusing and showing him as tainted and the entire country, except those who were close to him either personally or professionally, believed that he was so.

    His counsel had brought to the court's notice an “adverse and imbalanced campaign” by Times Now and he was asked to file an affidavit. He was aggrieved over a programme telecast by this channel on April 6, presenting him as one who shamed India.

    The former CWC said there were more than 7, 83,000 hits on the Internet, describing him as tainted based on media reports. He said he had questioned the legality and validity of the March 3 judgment and his application was pending before the President. He also sought a direction to Times Now to produce a CD of all news telecast by the channel connected with the court proceedings on his petition, to initiate contempt proceedings against those found guilty and to frame guidelines for reporting of court proceedings.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Thu May 12, 2011 6:56 pm

    Binayak Sen on Plan panel committee


    Within weeks of getting bail from the Supreme Court in connection with charges of sedition, human rights activist Binayak Sen has been made member of the Planning Commission's Steering Committee on Health, which will advise the panel on the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2012-2017).

    Binayak Sen, who was released on bail from the Raipur jail last month, will, based on his experience of having worked as a paediatrician in Chhattisgarh's tribal belt, provide his input on the health of tribal children. He will represent the Bilaspur-based healthcare organisation, Jan Swasthya Sahyog.

    The 40-member Committee on Health is chaired by Syeda Hameed and is expected to submit its draft report by September 30 and the final report by October 31. It is mandated to suggest effective initiatives for the monitoring and evaluation of health programmes and recommend measurable indicators for the 12th Plan.

    The steering committee will review the National Health Policy, 2002, and explore the possibility of adopting the Right to Health as an approach with special focus on women, children, life-cycle care and preventive and curative healthcare. It will assess the need to continue the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in the 12th Five Year Plan and review the situation of the healthcare provided in urban and rural areas, by the government as well as by the voluntary, private and joint sectors after the launching of the NRHM. It will study the prospects of an overarching National Health Mission that would subsume the NRHM and the yet-to-be-launched National Urban Health Mission.

    Recommendations under spotlight

    The steering committee will deliberate upon the given recommendations on an adverse sex ratio and child sex ratio, maternal health and nutrition, child health and nutrition, elderly persons, population stabilisation, occupational diseases, conflict and related diseases including mental health.

    Divided into six working groups, each of which will study health insurance, human resources in the health sector, public health services, and medical education, on the basis of the inputs of the High Level Expert Group. It will review the drug and food regulatory mechanism in the country to ensure access to quality and safe drugs and wholesome food in the country.

    Serving and former senior bureaucrats of the Centre, former and serving advisers to the Planning Commission, Principal Secretaries of States, representatives of the Indian Medical Association, the Confederation on Indian Industry, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, have been put on the Committee. Dileep Mavlankar of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, will advise the Committee on governance.

    The civil society representation, of which Dr. Sen forms a part, include Sanjoy Hazarika, managing trustee of the CNES, Assam; Abhijit Das, Centre for Health and Social Justice; Shiraz Prabhu, social activist; Shejo Bose, Janani; Lalitha George, Tribal health Initiative; Sangeetha Reddy; Devi Shetty; Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India; and K.S. Jacob, Christian Medical College, among others.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Thu May 12, 2011 6:57 pm

    Kamal Nath, K.V. Thomas in expanded CCEA

    The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has been expanded to include Union Minister for Urban Development Kamal Nath and Union Minister of State with independent charge of Ministry of Consumer Affairs Food and Public Administration K.V. Thomas.

    According to highly place sources, Mr. Nath will be a full-time member of the panel, while Mr. Thomas will be a special invitee.

    The sources said Mr. Nath was inducted into the panel in view of the increasing importance being given by the Centre for issues relating to urban development.

    Mr. Thomas has been included as a special invitee, particularly in the context of the ongoing effort for a Food Security Bill. The legislation has been hanging fire following differences between the National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and an expert committee headed by C. Rangarajan, chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council.

    The NAC has suggested providing legal entitlement of subsidised foodgrains to 75 per cent of the population, including both “priority” (Below Poverty Line) and “general” (Above Poverty Line) household categories, whereas the Rangarajan Committee favoured a legal entitlement to “priority” households only taking into account the current production and procurement figures.

    As a special invitee, Mr. Thomas would attend meetings of the CCEA as and when issues relating to his Ministry came up for discussion, the sources said.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Thu May 12, 2011 6:57 pm

    More grain for BPL families in two weeks, Centre informs court



    50 lakh tonnes of rice and wheat for all States/Union Territories at BPL prices

    Need to strike a balance between excess procurement and storage: Justice Bhandari

    ‘Whatever you procure, store it properly. The rest you can distribute to starving people'

    Responding to the concern expressed by the Supreme Court over malnutrition and starvation deaths, the Centre on Tuesday informed it of the decision to make an additional allocation of 50 lakh tonnes of rice and wheat to all States/Union Territories for distribution to Below the Poverty Line families at BPL prices in two weeks.

    Additional Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran made this submission before a Bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma, hearing a petition filed by the People's Union for Civil Liberties on the streamlining of the public distribution system (PDS).

    The Bench recorded the undertaking and asked the government to take immediate steps to prevent malnutrition deaths.

    Earlier, senior counsel Colin Gonzalves submitted that according to the National Family Health Survey 3 (2006) of the Government of India, the under-five mortality rate in the country “is 74 for every 1,000 livebirths. There are 2.4 crore livebirths in India each year.”

    Mr. Gonzalves said: “The total number of deaths of children under the age of five [with a mortality rate of 74 per 1,000] is 17.8 lakh. Since the child malnutrition rate, according to the NFHS 3, is 46 per cent, we can directly attribute this to malnutrition. Thus, 8.8 lakh children die every year in India due to malnutrition. This roughly translates to 75,000 children dying every month due to malnutrition and an astounding 2,500 child deaths every day. More than a hundred children are dying every hour across the country due to malnutrition.”

    Counsel also brought to the court's notice a report that foodgrains stored along the highways near Chandigarh were reduced to ashes after the rotten product caught fire. The Bench sought a report on this episode.

    Justice Bhandari once again told Mr. Parasaran about the need for striking a balance between excess procurement and the storage problem, as the cost of procurement had also gone up. Even if a small portion of the foodgrains that was going to waste in storage was distributed to the hungry poor, poverty and malnutrition could be reduced to a great extent.

    When Mr. Gonzalves said about 2,500-3,000 child deaths were taking place due to malnutrition, Justice Bhandari said: “Even three deaths a day are bad for this nation. You [the government] should take immediate steps to prevent malnutrition. You have an exceptionally good crop. You procure to the extent you can store. We are not against procurement. Whatever you procure, store it properly. The rest you can distribute to the starving people, instead of allowing it to go waste.”

    Planning Commission affidavit

    In response to the court notice, the Planning Commission filed an affidavit on BPL estimates, and Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam briefly explained the methodology adopted by various experts.

    The affidavit said the Tendulkar Committee recommendations, applied to the 2004-2005 National Sample Survey (NSS) data, yielded a higher estimate of poverty ratio of 37.2 per cent for the country as a whole, comprising 25.7 per cent in urban areas and 41.8 per cent in rural areas.

    “The Planning Commission will apply this methodology to the large sample NSS Consumption Expenditure Survey of 2009-2010, which is shortly going to become available,” it said.

    It said: “The poverty line emerging from the Tendulkar methodology is a consumption of Rs.579 per capital per month for urban areas and Rs.447 per capital per month for rural areas at the 2004-2005 prices. The poverty line would be significantly higher if updated to reflect the current prices.”

    Aware of complaints

    It said: “The Planning Commission is aware that many States' complaint is that people who are indisputably poor are left out of the BPL list because of the cap imposed by the Central government. It is not denied that this is indeed the case in many States. However, the cap is not the reason for this as non-entitled persons are given BPL cards, leaving those entitled to BPL cards uncovered.”
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Thu May 12, 2011 6:58 pm

    TTD not to go ahead with gold plating

    The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that it had decided not to undertake gold plating of the sanctum sanctorum of the Tirumala temple.

    Sridhar Potaraju, counsel for TTD Executive Officer I.Y.R. Krishna Rao, made the submission before a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly.

    Specified Authority

    Mr. Potaraju said that after the Supreme Court stayed the Andhra Pradesh High Court's November 29, 2010 judgment holding as illegal and unconstitutional the plan for gold plating of the sanctum sanctorum, the State government appointed a Specified Authority in place of the erstwhile Board.

    The Authority decided not to implement the resolution to coat the sanctum sanctorum with gold. It also decided to give those who donated cash or gold the option of either a refund of the full amount/quantity of the gold or using their donations for other purposes. It said a total of Rs. 12 crore in cash and 94.80 kg of gold were received. Acting on writ petitions filed by president of the Devalayaparirakshna Samiti G. Raghava Reddy, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and the Parameswara Seva Samithi, the High Court had said, “Any meddling with the ancient inscriptions on the walls of the sanctum sanctorum would amount to interfering with the religious aspects of the institution, and it can't form part of any secular activity, and as such the same is without any jurisdiction.”

    Threat to inscriptions

    The petitioners contended that gold plating would destroy the rare inscriptions having religious value. Furthermore, the main temple would be weakened by the drilling of more than 1,400 rivets into the walls required for gold plating.

    On an appeal from the former TTD Chairman, D.K. Audikesavalu Naidu, the Supreme Court stayed the High Court judgment on February 28, 2011.

    On Tuesday, Dr. Swamy filed an application for his being impleaded in the case and sought a direction to restrain the TTD from undertaking the gold plating during the next two months. The Bench allowed the impleadment of Dr. Swamy.

    The Bench said that in view of the TTD's undertaking, “we don't consider it necessary to pass any order or to modify our order dated February 28. We make it clear that if the TTD reviews its decision, it must take permission of this court.”
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Thu May 12, 2011 7:00 pm

    Supreme Court verdict on Bhopal gas tragedy today

    The Supreme Court will pronounce its order on Wednesday on CBI's plea for prosecuting Bhopal gas tragedy case accused, who had escaped with lighter punishment of a two-year jail term, under the stringent penal provision attracting maximum ten years of imprisonment.

    14-year-old judgment

    The Bench, headed by Chief Justice S. H. Kapadia, had reserved the order on April 27 on the petition seeking to recall the apex court's 14-year-old judgment which had diluted the charges against the accused who were prosecuted merely for the offence of negligence. In its plea, the CBI has sought restoration of stringent charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder instead of death caused due to negligence against the accused in the world's worst industrial disaster that left over 15,000 people dead and thousands maimed.

    The Bench also comprised Justices Altamas Kabir, R. V. Raveendran, B. Sudershan Reddy and Aftab Alam.

    The apex court has heard the case on a day-to-day basis and it will now hear the plea for enhancement of compensation from Rs.750 crore to Rs.7,700 crore to the victims.

    Former Union Carbide India Chairman Keshub MahindraKeshub Mahindra has opposed the CBI's plea arguing that the case should be decided on the basis of law and not facts.

    The Supreme Court had on August 31 last decided to re-examine its own judgment that led to the lighter punishment for all the seven convicts.

    Besides Mahindra, other UCIL officials of that time who were convicted include the then Managing Director Vijay Gokhale, UCIL vice-president Kishore Kamdar, Working Manager J. N. Mukund, Production Manager S. P. Choudhary, Plant Superintendent K. V. Shetty and Production Assistant S. I. Quereshi. The verdict had sparked a nationwide outrage, leading to the government setting up a group of ministers and filing of a curative petition against the lighter punishment for those responsible for the gas tragedy.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Thu May 12, 2011 7:01 pm

    AIDWA demands law on ‘honour' killing

    The All-India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) has welcomed the Supreme Court judgment underscoring the gravity, barbaric and feudal nature of killings in the name of ‘honour.'

    “The judgment exposes the failure of the government to take appropriate action and bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice. It has been a long-standing demand of AIDWA that such killings and crimes in the name of ‘honour' be dealt with by a comprehensive stand-alone legislation,” AIDWA said in a statement issued here on Tuesday.

    “This legislation should punish both the killings and other crimes like harassment of the couple and the economic and social boycott of the couple and the boy's familyIt should also provide protection to couples wishing to enter into a marriage of their choice and facilitate such marriages,” the statement said.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:02 am

    CBI curative plea in Bhopal case ‘fallacious,' rules Supreme Court

    In a major setback to the Centre, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed as “fallacious” the CBI's curative petitions for recalling its 1996 judgment, which dropped the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the former chairman of Union Carbide India, Keshub Mahindra, and other accused in the Bhopal gas leak case of 1984.

    As the Supreme Court had reduced the charges against the accused from Section 304 (II) of the Indian Penal Code — culpable homicide not amounting to murder — to Section 304 (A) — criminal negligence, a trial court in Bhopal in June 2010 awarded them a maximum sentence of two year-imprisonment.

    Following a public outcry, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed the curative petitions for a direction to frame charges against Mr. Mahindra and others for culpable homicide not amounting to murder that would attract a maximum imprisonment of 10 years.

    The other accused who got the lesser sentence and were granted bail are the then UCIL managing director, Vijay Gokhale; the former vice-president, Kishore Kamdar; the former works manager, J.N. Mukund; the former production manager, S.P. Choudhary; the former plant superintendent, K.V. Shetty; and the former production assistant, S.I. Quereshi.

    Now, rejecting the curative petitions, a five-judge Constitution Bench said: “No satisfactory explanation has been given to file such curative petitions after about 14 years from the 1996 judgment.”

    The Bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justices Altamas Kabir, R.V. Raveendran, B. Sudershan Reddy and AfItab Alam, however, made it clear that the September 1996 judgment and order never fettered the CBI or the Madhya Pradesh government from seeking enhancement of charges.

    Delivering the judgment for the Bench, Chief Justice Kapadia pointed out that the CBI/Madhya Pradesh government did not question the 1996 judgment or file any review petition and instead proceeded, in the next 14 years, to prosecute the accused under IPC Sections 304 A, 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 337 and 338 (causing hurt/grievous hurt) read with Section 35 (criminal knowledge or intention).

    The CBI filed an appeal before the sessions court for enhancement of the charges and the State also filed a revision against the magistrate's order awarding a two-year sentence.

    In these pending appeals “the legal position is correctly stated,” the CJI said. But the “curative petitions are based on a plea that is wrong and fallacious. One of the main planks of the curative petitions is that even though in the course of trial before the magistrate, additional evidence has come on record that fully warrants the framing of higher charges and the trial of the accused on those higher charges, as long as the 1996 judgment stands the sessions court would feel helpless in framing any higher charge.”

    The Bench said that if, according to the CBI, the magistrate had failed to appreciate the correct legal position and misread the September 13, 1996 decision as tying his hands from exercising the power under Section 323 or 216 of the Cr.PC it could certainly be corrected by the appellate/revisional court.

    On the night of December 2, 1984, there was a massive escape of lethal gas from the methyl isocyanate storage tank in Bhopal plant into the atmosphere, causing the death of 5,295 people and leaving 5,68,292 others with different kinds of injuries ranging from permanent total disablement to less serious problems. The accused, other than Warren Anderson (who was chairman and CEO of Union Carbide when the accident occurred), challenged in the Madhya Pradesh High Court the framing of charges by the sessions court. After their plea was dismissed, the Supreme Court in 1996 quashed the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:03 am

    Rajaratnam convicted of fraud

    Raj Rajaratnam, the billionaire investor who once ran one of the world's largest hedge funds, was found guilty on Wednesday of fraud and conspiracy by a federal jury in Manhattan.

    He is the most prominent figure convicted in the government's crackdown on insider trading on Wall Street.

    Mr. Rajaratnam, who was convicted on all 14 counts, could face as much as 19 and a half years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, prosecutors said on Wednesday. He is to be sentenced on July 29.

    Mr. Rajaratnam, dressed in a black suit and a khaki green tie, had no expression as the verdict was read in the overflowing courtroom.

    His lawyer, John Dowd, said he would appeal.

    Prosecutors had asked that Mr. Rajaratnam be placed in custody, arguing that he was a flight risk. They said he had the means to leave the country, noting that he owned property in Sri Lanka and Singapore.

    Judge Richard J. Holwell ordered home detention and electronic monitoring for Rajaratnam.

    Someone who answered the phone at Rajaratnam's home and would only describe himself as a family friend expressed surprise at the verdict. Rajaratnam “was confident that nothing would happen,” he said

    About a half-dozen jurors declined to comment as they left the courthouse.

    B.J. Kang, the FBI special agent who led the investigation of Rajaratnam, said he was “happy for justice” outside the courthouse.

    Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for Manhattan, whose prosecutors brought the case against Rajaratnam, said: “The message today is clear, there are rules and there are laws, and they apply to everyone, no matter who you are or how much money you have.”

    Mr. Bharara noted that over the last 18 months his office had charged 47 people with insider trading; Mr. Rajaratnam is the 35th to be convicted.

    The government built its case against Mr. Rajaratnam with powerful wiretap evidence. Over a nine-month stretch in 2008, federal agents secretly recorded his telephone conversations. They listened in as Mr. Rajaratnam brazenly and matter-of-factly swapped inside stock tips with corporate insiders and fellow traders.

    “I heard yesterday from somebody who's on the board of Goldman Sachs that they are going to lose $2 per share,” Mr. Rajaratnam said to one of his employees in advance of the bank's earnings announcement.

    “One thing we know, this is very confidential, someone is going to put in a term sheet for Spansion,” he told a colleague, referring to a proposed acquisition of the technology company.

    “So yesterday they agreed on, at least they've shaken hands,” a tipster told Mr. Rajaratnam about an upcoming deal involving another publicly traded business. “So I think, uh, you can now just buy.”

    For years, Mr. Rajaratnam was lionised as one of Wall Street's savviest investors. At its peak, his Galleon Group hedge fund managed more than $7 billion in assets. Investment banks, including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, counted Galleon, which paid out roughly $300 million in trading commissions annually to brokerage firms, as one of their largest trading clients.

    In the early morning hours of October 16, 2009, federal agents arrested Mr. Rajaratnam at his Sutton Place apartment on Manhattan's East Side. The government placed him at the centre of a vast insider trading conspiracy, accusing him of using a corrupt network of tipsters to earn tens of millions of dollars in illegal trading profits in stocks, including Google and Hilton Worldwide.

    The case has led to insider trading charges against 25 defendants 21 of whom have pleaded guilty, including former executives at IBM, Intel and Bear Stearns. Mr. Rajaratnam fought the charges against him, insisting that he had done nothing wrong. His lead lawyer, Dowd, said his client's success as a money manager came from “shoe-leather research, diligence and hard work.” — New York Times News Service

    Mr. Rajaratnam based his defence on the so-called mosaic theory of investing. Galleon was famous for its dogged digging for information about publicly traded companies that would form a “mosaic” a complete picture of a company's prospects that gave it an investment edge over other investors.

    Mr. Rajaratnam's lawyers argued that all of his supposed illegal trading was grounded in publicly available newspaper articles, analyst reports and company news releases.

    For instance, defence presented evidence showing that before Advanced Micro Devices acquired ATI Technologies, a deal that prosecutors said Mr. Rajaratnam had received an illegal tip about, 51 news articles and six analyst reports speculated on the likelihood of a merger between the two companies.

    Prosecutors dismantled Mr. Rajaratnam's defence by acknowledging that Galleon performed legitimate research. But at the same time, they argued, the firm routinely violated securities laws. In the words of a former Galleon portfolio manager who testified during the trial, the firm did its homework but also cheated on the test.

    “The defendant knew the rules, but he did not care,” said a prosecutor, Reed Brodsky, in his summation. “Cheating became part of his business model.”

    Mr. Rajaratnam's arrest halted a remarkable Wall Street success story. A native of Sri Lanka, Rajaratnam came to the United States in 1981 to study business at the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He joined Needham & Co., a small investment bank, and carved out a reputation as an expert in technology companies.

    His ascent coincided with both the tech boom of the 1990s and the emergence of hedge funds, a once obscure pocket of the investment world, into a powerful force on Wall Street. When he formed his own hedge fund, Galleon Group, in 1997, his services were in hot demand. Mr. Rajaratnam posted superior investment returns, attracting blue chip investors like New Jersey's state pension fund and UBS, the giant Swiss bank.

    Galleon brought Mr. Rajaratnam great wealth. Forbes magazine pegged his net worth at $1.3 billion. He owns a second home in the wealthy suburb of Greenwich, Conn., and a condominium at the Setai Hotel in Miami Beach. During the trial, Mr. Rajaratnam's former friends told the jury about lavish vacations including, for his 50th birthday, chartering a private jet to fly dozens of family and friends for a safari in Kenya.

    Fiercely competitive, Mr. Rajaratnam could be heard during the trial on wiretaps speaking in sports and military metaphors. He compared himself to fighting Muhammad Ali in the boxing ring and said during the financial crisis, “I'm feeling the pain, but they can't kill me. I'm a warrior.”

    It was that competitiveness that caused Mr. Rajaratnam, despite his facing a blizzard of incriminating evidence, to fight the charges against him, according to two former Galleon employees who requested anonymity.

    “Raj hated to lose and loved a good fight,” one former colleague said. “He's a big sports fan, and I think in some ways he viewed this trial as a contest.”

    Another said Mr. Rajaratnam took great pride in his accomplishments and refused to admit to any wrongdoing.

    “This way, Raj can say he was wrongfully accused,” he said.

    The origins of Mr. Rajaratnam's case stretch back more than a decade, but a turning point came in 2006 during an investigation of a hedge fund run by Rengan Rajaratnam, Mr. Rajaratnam's younger brother and a former Galleon employee. While reviewing e-mails and instant messages, Andrew Michaelson, now a member of the team that prosecuted Mr. Raj Rajaratnam, discovered incriminating communications between the brothers.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:04 am


    Rahul Gandhi arrested


    Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was arrested in a dramatic manner at Bhatta-Parsaul villages in Greater Noida late on Wednesday night after the Mayawati government decided to act against him. Mr. Gandhi, who had earlier staged an indefinite dharna in support of the farmers' demand, spent almost 20 hours at the villages. Mr. Gandhi said he would continue to wage a struggle for the common man. AICC general secretary in charge of U.P. Digvijay Singh, PCC president Bahuguna Joshi, Raj Babbar, MP, and other Congressmen were also arrested.

    PTI adds:

    GREATER NOIDA: AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi was arrested on Wednesday night by the Uttar Pradesh police after he joined the land war here, pledging full support to farmers fighting against acquisition while lambasting Chief Minister Mayawati.

    “Rahul Gandhi has been arrested under Section 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code and will be presented before a Sub-Divisional Magistrate tomorrow [Thursday],” Inspector General of Police (Meerut Range) Rajnikant Mishra said.

    Mr. Gandhi was taken away from the dharna site in Bhatta Parsaul village in a grey Tata Safari to an undisclosed location.

    The Amethi MP smiled to the large battery of media before getting into the vehicle along with AICC general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Digvijay Singh and Firozabad MP Raj Babbar.

    ‘We will back stir'

    “We will continue to support the farmers' agitation,” Mr. Singh said as he was pushed into the vehicle.

    The Congress promptly attacked Ms. Mayawati for Mr. Gandhi's arrest saying Uttar Pradesh has witnessed “the cruellest rule of several imperialistic regimes.”

    “Uttar Pradesh government's action in arresting Rahul Gandhi proves that Mayawati is digging her own grave,” Congress leader Janardhan Dwivedi said.

    “If any sense of justice is left in the government, judicial inquiry is the minimum that the State government should order immediately,” he said.

    War of words

    Even as Mr. Gandhi sat on a dharna, a war of words erupted, with Bharatiya Janata Party terming it as a “drama” and wanting to know why the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was still not acting on his earlier promise of bringing Land Acquisition Bill in Parliament.

    The Congress, on its part, said it was keen to get on early passage of the bill in Parliament.

    Mr. Gandhi said he associated with the farmers as they were demanding their “right” and there was “nothing wrong” in it.

    “I want to tell you that I am with you till your demands are met. Till your work is not done, the Congress party will not desert you,” he said to a thunderous applause from the gathering which shouted slogans hailing him.

    He said an official had told him that the agitation was like “Naxalism” but he had found that the farmers were peacefully making their demands.

    Earlier, after reaching the village at 4 a.m. along with Mr. Digvijay Singh, he heard the farmers and had tea with them. He also visited various hamlets.

    Mr. Gandhi's arrest was marked by high drama as a huge posse of U.P. police descended on the village as the Congress leader prepared to spend the night at farmer Rampal's home.

    Sporadic sloganeering continued throughout the late evening hours and reached a crescendo as police arrested Mr. Gandhi, a SPG protectee, and other Congress leaders.

    Sub-Divisional Magistrate Vishal Singh had met Mr. Gandhi in the evening and asked him to end the dharna in view of the potential security risk to him in view of the situation in the area. Mr. Vishal Singh also expressed inability to provide security as he had come without intimation.

    Villagers show injuries

    Some of the villagers showed to Mr. Gandhi injuries inflicted on them allegedly by the police. They claimed that all young males have either been detained by police or have left the village out of fear. The villagers claimed they were holding peaceful demonstration since January 17.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:04 am

    ED to decide on new date to quiz Kanimozhi

    The Enforcement Directorate will issue fresh summonses to DMK MP Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV managing director Sharad Kumar, who appeared before the agency on Wednesday to seek another date, instead of May 13, for being questioned in the probe in the 2G spectrum allocation scam. The Directorate will tentatively fix May 20 for questioning, sources said. Ms. Kanimozhi and Mr. Sharad Kumar met the ED officials earlier in the day to explain their inability to appear on May 13, as they were due to appear before Income Tax authorities in Chennai on Thursday.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:05 am

    India releases list of 50 ‘most wanted fugitives'

    India on Wednesday came out with a list of 50 “most wanted fugitives” hiding in Pakistan. They include underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, 26/11 mastermind and Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and dreaded terrorist Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi.

    The list, which was given to Pakistan at the Home Secretary-level talks in March, has Hafiz Saeed on top, followed by Major Iqbal, a suspected serving Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer, who also figures in the FBI indictment in a Chicago court in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attack.

    The release of the documents comes two days after the government made public the names of five Pakistanis, who figured in the second charge sheet in the Chicago case for having taken a leading part in the Mumbai attack conspiracy.

    It also comes in the midst of an acute discomfort for Pakistan over the charge of sheltering al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a U.S. Special Forces operation at Abbottabad.

    Interestingly, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Tuesday that Dawood Ibrahim was not in his country.

    The Wednesday list also includes Jaish-e- Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, principal accused in the 2001 Parliament attack case.

    He was released in exchange for the hostages in the 1999 Kandahar hijack of Indian Airlines plane.

    Another big name in the list is Illyas Kashmiri, accused of transnational crimes and conspiracy to commit various terror acts in India.

    Kashmiri figures in speculative reports as the one tipped to become the new al-Qaeda chief.

    The others in the list are Dawood's close associates, Memon Ibrahim alias Tiger Memon, Shaikh Shakeel alias Chhota Shakeel, Memon Ayub Abdul Razak, Anis Ibrahim Kaskar Shaikh, Anwar Ahmed Haji Jamal and Mohammed Ahmed Dosa, all involved in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.

    The names of the Mumbai terror attack case accused Sajid Majid, Major Sameer Ali, Sayed Abdul Rehman alias Pasha and Abu Hamza were included in the list.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:05 am

    Indo-Afghan ties to reach a new level: Manmohan



    On the eve of his first visit to Kabul in six years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday that he was looking forward to wide ranging discussions with the Afghan leadership to advance India's partnership to a “new level'' in the coming years. Dr. Singh leaves for Afghanistan on Thursday morning and will return the next day.

    The Prime Minister pointed out that India “cannot remain unaffected by developments in Afghanistan and it took a long-term view of our partnership with Afghanistan.” The government sources amplified Dr. Singh's observations by spelling out India's imperatives — security, economic and involvement of regional countries — in Afghanistan.

    “India cannot be immune to instability in Afghanistan as it will affect our progress, development and security. We want Afghanistan to be the trade, transportation and energy hub connecting South Asia with Central Asia through unfettered and free transport links,” said the sources. “It is only through economic inter-dependence that the region can prosper,” they added.

    But for that to be achieved, peace and stability would have to return to Afghanistan. India will reiterate to the Afghan leadership that the issue of reintegration of Taliban and the red lines mentioned by the international community in effecting that have not gone away.

    India hopes that Osama bin Laden's death would fundamentally affect al-Quaeda's operations in Afghanistan, the region and globally. But the activities of terrorist groups with sanctuaries in Pakistan — the Haqqani network and Peshawar and Quetta shuras — don't stand diminish automatically. The threat to Afghan security continues. Attacks are taking place on a daily basis by these groups which seem to be as strong as virulent as ever, pointed out the sources.

    On whether India's proximity to Kabul would be affected by Pakistan reaching out to the Afghan leadership and its holding of a trilateral dialogue involving the U.S., India disapproved the “transposing the architecture of zero sum game to interactions.”

    “We exchange information, discuss activities of groups, share concerns about Taliban and how we need to eliminate that threat. There is much common ground regardless of the kind of ties Pakistan and Afghanistan share. Afghanistan and India are on the same page in terms of the goals both want to share. There is a lot of harmonisation of positions.

    ``Regional countries can work together. We don't think India is proposing an exclusivist approach. We have to work together to help Afghanistan retain stability. Every country has a role like China is in the mining sector. It is a calculation the Afghan government makes.

    Regional cooperation

    “Regional cooperation is the pillar for Afghanistan's security and foreign policy. We do subscribe to that. Stability cannot return by military means alone but also with engagement with forces alienated from Afghan society,” added the sources.

    While India is steering clear of training the Afghan National Army, it was amenable to training its police with numbers unlikely to be a restriction. “India has the capacity to provide [training to Afghan police] but it would be dictated by Afghan needs. We have the capacity and the desire to assist in whatever capacity building they want. They as a sovereign government will decide who they will ask for and how much,'' explained the sources.

    The Prime Minister's visit is expected to lead to a slight increase in Indian assistance. India is already implementing projects of various dimensions in two thirds of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. The Government sources said this aid focuses on capacity building and human resource development and is not contingent on presence or absence of foreign troops.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:06 am

    Get Land Acquisition Bill ready, Manmohan tells Deshmukh

    Supplementing political offensive with a dose of administrative endeavour, in the build-up to the next round of Assembly elections, focussed on Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minster Manmohan Singh has asked Union Minister for Rural Development Vilasrao Deshmukh to finalise at the earliest the two amended Bills on land acquisition and rehabilitation and resettlement.

    Confirming Dr. Singh's directive, Mr. Deshmukh told The Hindu that he had conveyed his readiness with the Bills and would approach the Cabinet at the earliest, possibly at its next meeting, to complete all formalities for their introduction in the next session of Parliament commencing on July 12.

    Dr. Singh issued the directive in the wake of the turmoil in Greater Noida, even as Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi visited anguished farmers on Wednesday.

    The Rural Development Ministry has decided to amend the Land Acquisition Bill and the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, both of which, despite their introduction in Parliament, have remained stalled in the face of opposition, also from within the United Progressive Alliance.

    The Ministry has decided to redefine “public purpose” following a controversy raised in several quarters and allow the States to exercise their discretion on the mode and quantum of acquisition of land, which, in any case, is a State subject.

    Mr. Deshmukh said his Ministry redefined “public purpose” to include concerns expressed by a cross-section of society. As for the opposition to the provision that the State governments would be required to acquire 30 per cent of the land needed by a private player after he acquires 70 per cent of it himself, Mr. Deshmukh said the States would be allowed to decide on this issue.

    While the government will acquire land for itself when required, where the private sector intends acquiring land for its own project or setting up a special economic zone, the State governments are allowed to set the conditions.

    The Centre intends putting in place just a general guideline and the minimum amount payable to farmers for the land. The States are free to raise the base levels and see if they should play a role in land acquisition.

    Mr. Deshmukh stressed that the option was being kept open because no one particular model would suit two States alike; much would depend on the development quotient of the State. While some States might feel comfortable with acquiring even 50 per cent of the land for private players, others might want to avoid the exercise altogether. Some might keep their involvement to the bare minimum.

    Mr. Deshmukh expressed the hope that Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee would agree to the new proposals. Similarly, he said, he was in close touch with the National Advisory Council, headed by Sonia Gandhi. Mr. Deshmukh said he had, however, overruled the objections raised by the Panchayati Raj Ministry, which portfolio also he holds. The Panchayati Raj Department maintained that the provisions of the Land Acquisition Bill violated the Constitution as it negated the role of Gram Sabhas.

    Mr. Deshmukh said it was not possible to accommodate all views and the only way out was to accept common suggestions.

    Ruling out the possibility of providing land in return for land, he said the government would ensure that private players provided employment to the displaced in case industrial units were set up, or, if land was commercially developed, 12.5 per cent of the developed site was given to the farmer to pursue a business of his liking.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:08 am

    Court to consider passing interim order banning endosulfan



    New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday indicated that it would consider passing an interim order on Friday imposing a ban on the production of endosulfan, considering the harmful effects of this pesticide on the people of this country.

    A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar posted the matter for further hearing on May 13 after impleading the pesticide manufacturers. The Bench was hearing a petition filed by the Democratic Youth Federation of India.

    Senior counsel Krishnan Venugopal, appearing for the petitioner insisted on the court to impose a ban. However, Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam informed the court that the government had constituted two committees to go into the harmful effects of endosulfan on the people.

    He said the two committees would be made into one and two experts, one epidemiologist and one immunologist would be inducted into the committee and a report would be submitted in three months. The court could consider passing an interim order thereafter, he said.

    The SG said the Centre issued a notification banning endosulfan in Kerala in 2006 itself but its use had to be phased out after a cost effective alternate pesticide was found out.

    Senior counsel Soli Sorabjee, appearing for the manufacturers said the manufacturers should be heard before any order was passed. The CJI told the counsel “if we allow manufacture of a pesticide which is found to be harmful, we can't put the clock back. If the report is in your favour, we can always reconsider our order.”

    However, after Mr. Sorabjee insisted on further hearing the Bench posted the matter for Friday. The DYFI in its petition said the valuable life of a large section of people was directly affected because of the use of endosulfan a pesticide which was already banned in 81 countries all over the world and its use of was not permitted in another 12 countries. The petitioner said several studies had documented that endosulfan could also affect human development.

    It said endosulfan was the only pesticide applied to cashew plantations in the hills for 20 years and had contaminated the village environment.

    The excessive use of chemicals and pesticides for optimising agricultural production created alarming danger to health and safety of living beings in general and agricultural workers in particular.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:09 am

    New IT rules may make cyber cafés out of bounds for users



    Owners have to keep logs of customers' ID, photo

    Log records should include ‘history of websites accessed'

    Rules even specify type of furniture for a cyber café

    NEW DELHI: If the new rules framed by the Department of Information Technology for using cyber cafés are implemented in letter and spirit, they could well force people without their own computers to stay away from accessing the Internet, besides compelling the owners of these small businesses to store minute details about their customers' surfing habits in the face of penal action.

    Notified last month, the IT (Guidelines for Cyber Café) Rules, 2011, require cyber café customers to furnish proper identification proof, a copy of which must be stored for a year.

    Acceptable identity cards include those issued by any school or college, or photo credit cards, passports, voter identity cards, PAN cards, driving licences or any cards issued by a government agency, including the UID number.

    Schoolchildren who do not have a photo ID will not be allowed entry unless accompanied by an adult possessing identity proof.

    Additionally, cyber café owners must photograph their customers and maintain a detailed time-log of each of their visits. A soft and hard copy of these usage logs, which will include the customer's photograph and ID proof, must be submitted to a government-designated “person or agency” every month.

    In addition, the cyber café owner “shall be responsible for storing and maintaining backups of [the] following log records for each access or login by any user of its computer resource for at least one year,” including the “history of websites accessed.”

    Incredibly, the new rules, framed under the Information Technology Act, 2008, even specify the kind of furniture a cyber café must have. Cubicles with partitions higher than four-and-a-half feet will be illegal, and cafés are obligated to place terminals in such a way that computer screens face “outward” (towards common open space of the café) and can be easily monitored.

    The new guidelines say that computers in cyber cafés should be equipped with “commercially available safety or filtering software so as to avoid, as far as possible, access to the websites relating to pornography including child pornography or obscene information.”

    Further, cyber café owners need to put a display board, clearly visible to users, prohibiting them from viewing pornographic sites as well as copying or downloading information that is prohibited under the law.

    “Cyber cafés shall take sufficient precautions to ensure that their computer resources are not utilised for any illegal activity,” the rules add.

    Alleging that the new guidelines could cause further harassment of cyber café owners as well as users, Nikhil Pahwa, editor and publisher of the website MediaNama, says the provisions in the law need to be more liberal in order to prevent its misuse by lawmakers.

    Pointing out that the new regulations are impractical and cannot be applied, Mr. Pahwa says: “As with most other rules, these rules would probably not be enforced… but the problem is in the exceptional cases, when they are used in order to harass establishments.”

    However, there is one silver lining. “In the earlier rules, an officer not below the rank of police officer was authorised to inspect the cyber café and network. But in the changed rules, an officer of the registration agency will be authorised. This means that the harassment of cyber café owners/managers would probably not be done by a police officer,” Mr. Pahwa says.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:10 am

    38 more ‘ideal' villages to come up in Maharashtra by June


    Hiware Bazaar (Ahmednagar district): Jhamrun Mahali in Washim district is set to become a model village in Maharashtra's drought-prone, poverty-stricken Vidarbha region. By June, this village, along with 37 others modelled along the lines of the ‘ideal village' Hiware Bazaar, will be completely self-sustainable and thus ready to be called ‘Adarsh gaon' under the State government's Adarsh Gaon Yojana (AGY).

    “How long are we going to be talk about Ralegan Siddhi and Hiware Bazaar? Why should we be satisfied with just two ‘ideal villages'? The success of our villages will be when a better village is created,” Mr. Popatrao Pawar, Sarpanch of Hiware Bazaar since 1989, told The Hindu. Mr. Pawar is now the executive director of the AGY, and selected other villages under this scheme. Social crusader Anna Hazare, whose efforts for his village Ralegan Siddhi were an inspiration for Hiware Bazaar, is the adviser for this programme.

    A sum of Rs.8 crore has been given to these villages, 13 of which are from the Vidarbha region, known for its high number of farmer suicides. Kohlitola, a village from the Naxal-hit Gondia district has also made it to the list. The funding continues for three years for development works in the village.

    Complete revival

    A drought-prone village with only about 400mm of rainfall every year, Hiware Bazaar has seen a complete revival in the last two decades. Watershed development was adopted to fight the acute water crisis that the village was reeling under. The increased water levels resulted in a better yield, and more grass for animals to graze. This helped the village to make its way out of poverty by adopting cash crops and marketing its dairy products. This accomplishment has come from utilising the government schemes to suit the village requirements. The village came under the State's AGY in 1994, and since then, has been scripting its own success story.

    The story of Hiware Bazaar that began in 1989 will repeat itself in these 38 villages in the years to come.

    But being named an ‘Adarsh Gaon' is far from easy.Villages had to give a proposal after which a committee headed by Mr. Pawar inspected the villages. “The villages had to show dedication in the struggle to fight mediocrity. They had to follow all the conditions of becoming an ‘Adarsh gaon'. We chose villages with a revolutionary spark,” Mr. Pawar says.

    Villages need to follow strict rules. The process begins with effective water management through the watershed technique and water auditing, taking responsibility of the village's natural resources- planting trees and stopping grazing, contributing labour for the village work, and then expanding to bring about behavioural changes in the people for harbouring social change. Hiware Bazaar is free of any kind of addiction and there are no liquor or tobacco shops in the village. Vasectomy has been made compulsory, as is the pre-marital HIV test.

    The ‘Adarsh Gaon' model prides itself of being based on the joint decisions made by the Gram Sabha, where all the villagers are present. Even while selecting the new villages under the scheme, Mr. Pawar made sure that the decision to become an ideal village was taken by the entire village together.

    The greatest victory for Hiware Bazaar so far has been the reverse migration that the village has witnessed since 1989. As many as 93 families have come back to the village, “from the slums in Mumbai and Pune” Mr. Pawar says. The village of 216 families was completely below poverty line (BPL) in 1989; now it has only three BPL families.

    Speaking to The Hindu, Gulab Gaikwad, from one of the three BPL families, said: “We used to beg for a living and now I am working at the gram panchayats, whereas the other two families work as labour. It is because of our hard work that we will get out of the situation, like the rest of this village.” Speaking about the ‘rebirth of the 38 villages', Mr. Pawar says: “Vidarbha was our priority as the people are reeling under the pressure of land for agriculture. Farmers' suicides have become a norm, and people are becoming complacent because of all the ‘Vidarbha packages' which are obviously not helping. It is time for the villages to wake up and do something themselves.” One of the conditions of the AGY is also that a village cannot accept any government funding without adding some of their own funds to it. After the success of the projects that the villages take up, the funds have to be returned.

    Among the other villages selected is Yavatmal's Pandhar Kavda. Yavatmal was the worst affected district with the highest number of farmer suicides. “The women of this village have decided that they will undertake the challenge of not accepting the Vidarbha package and rebuild the village on their own. They have promised that the funds that we have given to initiate the process will be returned to us,” Mr. Pawar said.

    Sukru Naik Tanda, an adivasi village in Nanded district, is also part of the scheme. “The idea is to go beyond just water management, and create villages that are worth living,” Mr. Pawar says.

    Financial empowerment is also a part of the plan. Hiware Bazaar is a model in this sense too. According to Mr. Avinash Bhatamreka, the branch manager of the Bank of Maharashtra in the village, there are about 80 loan accounts in the village, amounting to Rs.1 crore. “There are no defaulters and so far all the instalments have been paid on time,” he said. In a village economy where ‘sahukars' (traditional money-lenders) are the cause of much distress, banking is one of the many perks of being an ‘Adarsh Gaon'.

    Mr. Pawar is hopeful that the process will not stop with just these villages. Twelve more villages have also been selected in the second phase of the scheme. “The aim is to make 50 villages ‘Adarsh' every year,” he states.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:10 am

    First Arunachal woman to scale Everest

    Twenty-five-year-old Tine Mena has become the first Indian woman to successfully scale Mount Everest this season.

    Ms. Mena scaled the Everest on May 9, becoming the first woman from Arunachal Pradesh to reach the peak.

    She reached the summit along with her guide, Tsering Dorje Sherpa (32), according to Nabin Trital, Manager of ‘Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure,' which arranged the expedition.

    Return safely

    Both had returned to the base camp safely, said Mr. Trital.

    Anshu Jamsenpa, 32, another woman climber from the same expedition group is on her way to the topof the world.

    Raising awareness

    The seven-member team aims to raise awareness about mountaineering and adventure sports among the youths in India, she said.

    This season, a number of Indian mountaineers have attempted to reach the top of the 8,848m Mt. Everest.

    All-women expedition

    A 14-member all-women expedition from the Indian Air Force is also headed towards the Everest.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:11 am

    Supreme Court frowns upon Amar Singh for filing frivolous petition, vacates stay

    The Supreme Court on Wednesday frowned upon Amar Singh, former general secretary of Samajwadi Party, for filing a frivolous petition in 2006 seeking to restrain the media from publishing/telecasting the tapped telephone conversations with various persons.

    Dismissing the petition and thereby vacating the interim stay against publication/telecast, a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A. K. Ganguly said: “It is clear the writ petition is frivolous and is speculative in character. This Court is of the opinion that the so-called legal questions on tapping of telephone cannot be gone into on the basis of a petition which is so weak in its foundation.” The Bench said: “It is very disturbing to find that on the basis of such improper and slipshod affidavit, notice was issued on the petition.”

    Writing the judgment, Justice Ganguly said: “Courts have, over the centuries, frowned upon litigants who, with intent to deceive and mislead the courts, initiated proceedings without full disclosure of facts. Courts held that such litigants, who have come with “unclean hands” are not entitled to be heard on the merits of their case. The instant writ petition is an attempt by the petitioner to mislead the Court on the basis of frivolous allegations and by suppression of material facts.”

    The Bench pointed out that in view of such incorrect presentation of facts, this court had issued notice and also passed the injunction order “which is still continuing. No case of tapping of telephone has been made out against the statutory authorities in view of the criminal case which is going on and especially in view of the petitioner's stand that he is satisfied with the investigation in that case.”

    Allegations withdrawn

    On Mr. Singh withdrawing his allegations against Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the Bench said: “When the matter has come up for contested hearing, he suddenly withdraws his allegations against the respondent no. 7 and feels satisfied with the investigation of the police in connection with the case of forgery. This court wants to make it clear that an action at law is not a game of chess. A litigant who comes to court and invokes its writ jurisdiction must come with clean hands. He cannot prevaricate and take inconsistent positions.”

    On the service provider Reliance Infocomm tapping his telephone, the Bench said: “It is no doubt true that the service provider has to act on an urgent basis and has to act in public interest. But in a given case, like the present one, where the impugned communication [from Delhi Police] dated November 9, 2005, is full of gross mistakes, the service provider while immediately acting upon the same, should simultaneously verify the authenticity of the same from the author of the document.”

    The Bench said: “The service provider has to act as a responsible agency and cannot act on any communication. Sanctity and regularity in official communication in such matters must be maintained especially when the service provider is taking the serious step of intercepting the telephone conversation of a person and, by doing so, is invading the right of the person concerned - which is a fundamental right protected under the Constitution, as has been held by this court.” The Bench said, the petitioner, if so advised, might proceed against the service provider before the appropriate forum in accordance with law.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:12 am

    President gives assent to MCI ordinance


    New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil has given her assent to the Ordinance that seeks to extend the tenure of the Board of Governors of the Medical Council of India (MCI) by another year.

    A gazette notification in this regard was issued on Wednesday. The tenure of the Board was to expire on May 14. The extension was earlier approved at a meeting of the Union Cabinet last month.

    The Ordinance would have to be approved by Parliament in the monsoon session.

    The six-member body had replaced the erstwhile MCI last year following the arrest of its president Ketan Desai on April 22 last by the CBI on charges of corruption.

    The MCI, a statutory body tasked with overseeing the standards of medical education in India, grants recognition to degrees, gives accreditation to colleges, registers practitioners and monitors practice.

    The government had amended the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, to insert an Article 3 (a) through an ordinance that authorised the government to intervene in matters of “national policy.”

    The new gazette notification for the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2011 says that the Council will be reconstituted within two years from the date of supersession of the Council, instead of one year.

    The term of the Board of Governors had been fixed for one year as the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare proposed to set up the National Commission for Human Resource in Health as an overarching regulatory body within this time.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:14 am

    Raman Singh: Why appoint Binayak Sen to Planning Commission panel?

    Even as the Planning Commission stood by its decision to nominate Binayak Sen to its steering committee on health, there is a loud note of disapproval from Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who has questioned the rationale behind the appointment, saying the rights activist is still facing trial.

    “The people of Chhattisgarh do not approve of the appointment,” he said. “He has not been absolved of the charges by the court but just given bail,” Dr. Singh told journalists here.

    (The Supreme Court recently granted bail to Dr. Sen, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Chhattisgarh trial court on charges of sedition.)

    Pointing out that for such appointments a proper procedure was followed including scrutiny of antecedents, Dr Singh said: “Is there such a dearth of experts in the country that the Centre had to take the advice of a person accused of sedition?”

    On the other hand, Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed, who also chairs the steering committee on health, told The Hindu here on Wednesday: “The issues that we would tackle in the 12th Five-Year Plan are extremely important — including children's health in tribal areas. Since Dr. Sen has worked with the poorest of the poor, his contribution would be useful.”

    Montek confirms

    Confirming Dr. Sen's appointment, Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told journalists that it was the Planning Commission's proposal. However, it is yet to get formal acceptance from Dr. Sen, though informally it has been confirmed that he will accept the appointment and that it is a matter of time before he does that.

    “We are bringing the best brains together from across the country to formulate policies to tackle issues like malnutrition, infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate, and our feeling is Dr. Sen would help us in this,” said Dr. Hameed. The first meeting of the steering committee is scheduled for May 26.

    The 61-year old paediatrician has worked in Chhattisgarh's tribal belt.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Fri May 13, 2011 12:14 am

    Summons to Deshmukh, Chavan



    The Adarsh Commission of Enquiry has issued summons to former Maharashtra Chief Ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan asking them to appear as witnesses in the matter. Earlier, it issued summons to Union Power Minister and former Chief Minister, Sushilkumar Shinde and State Water Resources Minister Sunil Tatkare.

    The summons to Mr. Deshmukh and Mr. Chavan were sent following a notice directing them to file their affidavits by May 23. The notice dated May 9 states: “If affidavits are not filed, witnesses will have to be examined in chief by the advocates…” A similar notice has been sent to Simpreet Singh, activist with the National Alliance of People's Movements. Mr. Singh, who petitioned against the housing society, has been asked to file his affidavit by May 16.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Sat May 14, 2011 8:14 pm

    CBI will move Bhopal sessions court for early hearing

    A day after the Supreme Court rejected its curative petitions, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government said it would ask the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to move the sessions court in Bhopal for an early hearing of its revision application and appeal filed by the Madhya Pradesh government to seek graver punishment for the accused in the Bhopal gas tragedy case.

    “This is not the end of the road,” stressed Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram as he addressed the first briefing organised by the new Group of Ministers (GoM) on the media here on Thursday.

    Clearly not discouraged by the court's rejection of the curative petitions, filed last year after the Group of Ministers (GoM) on the Bhopal case decided that legal steps be taken to punish the accused for graver charges under the law, Mr. Chidambaram said the CBI's revision application and the appeal filed by the Madhya Pradesh government in the sessions court in Bhopal to try the accused for graver charges under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) should be pursued vigorously.

    In support of this line of action, he underscored the fact that the Supreme Court had, in its judgment of Wednesday, observed that “the criminal revisions filed by the CBI and Madhya Pradesh the legal position are correctly stated.”

    Referring to the GoM on the Bhopal case, the Minister said the curative petitions had been filed in the Supreme Court on the basis of Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati's advice that there was “sufficient ground” to do so.

    Asked why the government had taken so long to file the curative petitions, he said that when a review petition was filed on behalf of certain affected parties against the Supreme Court's judgment of 1996, it was dismissed. At that time there was no scope for filing a curative petition because the law relating to curative petitions was laid down much later in 2002.

    UPA alone not responsible

    However, while acknowledging that the public outcry last year against the paltry punishment given to the accused pushed the government to file the curative petitions against the 1996 judgment, Mr. Chidambaram said the UPA government could not be singled out as responsible for the delay. He said that since 1996, several governments, representing virtually all major political parties, had ruled at the Centre. “In a sense, therefore, “all governments since 1996 are responsible for the delay in moving the Supreme Court.”
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    Abhishek

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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Sat May 14, 2011 8:15 pm

    All five BJP Ministers resign in Punjab

    With elections to the State Assembly just eight months away, the ruling alliance reached a typical situation when all the five Bharatiya Janata Party Ministers, two Chief Parliamentary Secretaries and the Deputy Speaker resigned from their respective positions late on Thursday evening.

    While no official announcement was made till the filing of the report, sources said that following directions from the party's central leadership which has ostensibly launched an ‘operation clean-up' in the State, the resignations were handed over to senior leader Shanta Kumar, who is in charge of the BJP affairs in Punjab. Accompanied by senior leaders of the party State unit, Mr Kumar handed over the resignations to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who in turn forwarded the letters to Governor Shivraj Patil for acceptance.

    Those who put in their papers include the Minister for Local government, Industries and Commerce Manoranjan Kalia, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Medical Education and Research, Forests and Wildlife and Labour Tikshan Sud, Minister for Health and Family Welfare Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Minister for Transport Master Mohan Lal and Minister for Technical Education, Industrial Training and Social Security Chaudhary Swarna Ram. While Satpal Gosain has resigned as Deputy Speaker, Arunesh Shakir and Sukhpal Singh Nannu have put in their papers as Chief Parliamentary Secretaries.

    Sources said that Mr. Badal appreciated the “high moral” ground adopted by the BJP leadership in the aftermath of the recent bribery scandal over a controversial land deal in which one CPS, Raj Kumar Khurana, was arrested and two Ministers including Mr. Kalia and Ch. Swarna Ram were questioned by the CBI.

    The sources said that there was no immediate threat to the stability of the State government as the BJP was not terminating its alliance with the Akali Dal.
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    Re: National News - MAY

    Post  Abhishek on Sat May 14, 2011 8:16 pm

    Kanimozhi, Sharad Kumar appear before income tax authorities

    Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam Member of Parliament Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV Managing Director Sharad Kumar on Thursday appeared before the income tax authorities here in response to summons issued to them for interrogation on the transactions pertaining to Kalaignar TV and donations to Tamil Maiyam, an NGO that organises cultural events.

    Informed sources said Ms. Kanimozhi and Mr. Kumar, accompanied by a battery of advocates, appeared before Deputy Director of Income Tax Ramakrishna Bandi for over an hour and gave their statements.

    The statement of Dayalu Ammal, wife of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, was given by her authorised representatives.

    On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court allowed Ms. Kanimozhi and Mr. Kumar to make a personal appearance before the IT authorities here for two days with regard to the flow of Rs.200 crore from DB Realty to Kalaignar TV.

    Ms. Kanimozhi holds 20 per cent stake in Kalaignar TV, while Dayalu Ammal has 60 per cent.

    “The inquiry pertained to the Rs.200 crore transaction to Kalaignar TV from DB Realty, whose proprietor is Shahid Balwa, a co-accused in 2G spectrum allocation scam and about the donations made to Tamil Maiyam. We have recorded the statements of Ms. Kanimozhi and Mr. Kumar. The inquiry is over for today and they co-operated with us fully. They are not required for the time being. We may call them again, if necessary,” an IT official told The Hindu on Thursday.

    “The report prepared by us will be consolidated with that of other centres of income tax. It will later be submitted to a nodal agency or the Supreme Court as the case may be,” he said.

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