LEGAL NEWS 27.12.2011

TNPSC fails to provide info on recruitment

Express News Service , The New Indian Express

CHENNAI: Even after two High Court orders and a direction from the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission, the state Public Service Commission (TNPSC) is till denying information relating to the recruitment to post of assistant director of Town and Country Planning.

R Shivakumar, who filed the right to information (RTI) petition in 2008 seeking information to find out whether the 41 candidates found eligible by TNPSC satisfied the requisite norms, has been made to run from pillar to post and denied information despite two High Court orders and a State Information Commission directive. “I filed the petition after I smelt something fishy as TNPSC has been denying the information continuously,” Shivakumar told Express while providing the two court orders and a Tamil Nadu Information Commission directive.

Interestingly, the state information commission in 2009 had directed the Public Information Officer to supply the information within two days of the receipt of the orders and report compliance to the Commission besides levying a fine of Rs 25,000. But TNPSC failed to provide the details and moved the High Court. Justice V Ramasubramanian in 2010 dismissed the petition of TNPSC and set a four-week deadline to furnish the information as per the directive of Tamil Nadu Information Commission.

The judge had observed that even a person who participated in the selection but who did not get selected was entitled to know if only persons who got selected fulfilled all the essential qualifications. “Though the respondent may not be a candidate who took participated in the selection, it does not mean he is not entitled to the information,” the judge had observed. Similarly, a two-judge bench of Madras HC on July 22, 2011 again dismissed the petition of TNPSC when it went on appeal against single judge order.

“Why is the TNPSC trying to hide the facts and not providing the information despite two high court orders and a State Information Commission directive?” asked Shivakumar, adding that there was something fishy in the recruitment to the post.“Now, denial by TNPSC is contempt of court and it is now up to the court to take action against the erring officials,” he said.









Quraishi rules out change in Uttarakhand poll date

J. Balaji


PTI Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday to announce the dates for the Assembly elections Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.

Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi on Sunday expressed the Commission’s inability to consider changing the poll schedule in Uttarakhand from the already announced January 30 as the date had been decided considering various factors including weather condition.

He claimed that the poll dates announced by the Commission was widely welcomed by the people and political parties in different States.

He was reacting to The Hindu on the concern expressed by State Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri and Congress president Yashpal Arya who claimed that there could be snow falls in some regions of Uttarakhad during January end and hence poll should be postponed to middle of February 2012.

“The Commission fixed the date after consulting experts in the Indian Metrological Department too and it was informed by them that the snowfall could be more only in the second week of February. Moreover, if the polling gets affected due to snowfall in one or two places there is always possibility of adjustment,” Mr. Quraishi said.

The term of the present Assembly of Uttarakhand ends on March 13 and Punjab on March 14 and before that the elections had to be completed, results declared and the new House needs to be constituted in both the States. There should be some time gap between the declaration of the results and constitution of the new Assembly after the new government took over.

Moreover considering the huge geographical area, electoral strength, movement of security forces and sensitive nature of Uttar Pradesh, the poll there should be held in multi phases and the polls in that State could not be held separately later as the polling/results pattern in one State might affect the election results in other States.

“So the polling and the counting of votes in all the States have to be completed by first week of March to enable the constitution of the new Assembly in Uttarakhand and Punjab by second week of March and hence the polling date was fixed as January 30 considering various aspects including examinations,” Mr. Quraishi added.

Mr. Khanduri had on Saturday claimed that it would be snowing in the mountain regions of the State throughout January and sought postponement of the poll. Given the inclement weather, elections in January could have an adverse impact on voting, he had said.

Mr. Arya had said election in January was not only inconvenient for the parties and the voters but would also be a challenge for the Commission.









Ban campus placements by PSUs: PIL

TNN | Dec 26, 2011, 05.43AM IST

CHENNAI: A public interest litigation in the Madras high court slammed public sector undertakings (PSUs ) for holding campus recruitments in private institutions saying the practicewasopposed to public employment policy , as PSUs cannot disregard job notifications and reservation policy . The PIL has sought cancellation of campus recruitments , if they have already been completed .

Thefirstbenchcomprising Chief Justice M Y Eqbal and JusticeT S Sivagnanam hasissued notices to state and central governments , besides various PSUs such as Indian Oil Corporation ,ISRO ,Hindustan Aeronautics Limited ,etc.

Filedby advocateMP alanimuthu ,thePILcontendedthat PSUs could not disregard recruitment rules governing them and without affording equal opportunity to all eligiblecandidates , no recruitment couldbedone .

Palanimuthu said that as per rules , recruitmentfor positions in PUS s should be done either through employment exchanges or through public advertisements inviting applications from eligible candidates throughout the country . Instead of following these rules ,PSUsof latehavestarted to recruit employees through placements .

Besides violating job rules , these PSUs unwittingly contribute to the demand for private educational institutions which organize such placement drives , Palanimuthu said , adding that equal opportunity in mattersof publicemployment could not be denied tocandidatesentitledto participate in selection process . Such process cannot be confined only to educational institution organizing campus placements ,hesaid .

Besides seeking a stay on campus recruitments by PSUs , the petitioner wanted the court to cancel appointments already made through campus recruitments and in violation of public employmentof publicsector units .He said his representation to the authorities did not evoke any response , leaving him with no choice except approaching the high court for remedy . He wanted all publicsector undertakings functioning under state andcentral governments to be banned from participating or organizing campus recruitments in educational institutions .









Plea to introduce CNG-run vehicles in Patna

TNN | Dec 26, 2011, 03.59AM IST

PATNA: On the basis of an order of the Patna high court passed on a PIL for making representation before the secretary, Union ministry of environment, state chief secretary and Bihar State Pollution Control Board for putting a stop to plying diesel commercial vehicles on Patna road, the petitioner’s counsel, Arvind Kumar, sent them the representations with court order and PIL copies. He has not received any reply in this regard, though.

Kumar had argued before a division bench comprising Justice T Meena Kumari and Justice Vikash Jain on the PIL of Sanjay Singh, a resident of Patna, that highly increased numbers of diesel vehicles, particularly three wheelers, were severely polluting the city.

The PIL referred to study conducted by the IIT Delhi about the ill effect to nitrogen oxides and toxic particulate matter emitted from diesel vehicles severely affecting people’s health. The PIL also sought supply and distribution of CNG to ply vehicle — an important step to check environment pollution.

In its order disposing of the PIL, the bench had recorded the plea made in the PIL for direction to the Union ministry of environment, Bihar State Pollution Control Board and state government to implement the provisions of Environment Protection Act, 1986, provisions of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, and to stop plying of diesel-run three wheelers that caused the worst form of pollution in the city.

The PIL also sought direction to the respondents to fix ambient noise standards for all vehicles plying on Patna roads.

Kumar told TOI that in case no action was taken by next month by the authorities concerned in the Union and state governments, the PIL would have to be revived or a fresh PIL would be filed before the Patna high court seeking directive to the Union minister of environment, Bihar State Pollution Control Board and the state government to implement provisions of Environment Protection Acts.








Anna Hazare, a victim of his own rhetoric?

When the Bombay High Court on Friday slammed Team Anna Hazare’s petition asking for the state to give land for their agitation at cheaper rates, not many shed tears or were disappointed with the court’s reaction.

For many in the state, Hazare and his team had it coming for a long time. “I am really happy with the court’s order. I am fed up of this attitude that whatever they do is right and whatever others say is wrong. The court’s verdict was needed because they needed to be shown that they are not always right,” said Rita Almeida, a resident of Bandra.

Anna Hazare and his team may want to ignore Rita’s comment. If they don’t, it would be at their own peril for, till recently, Rita was a supporter of Hazare and his Jan Lokpal Bill.

“My disillusionment came after Anna’s second fast in Delhi. I believe instead of the issue of Jan Lokpal being the centrestage it is Anna Hazare who is in the limelight and is being projected as the new Gandhi. There can be only one Gandhi, you can follow him, but you can’t proclaim to be him,” Rita said.

Rita is not wrong. Hazare and his team, in not so subtle a way, is trying to portray that he is the next Gandhi. For instance, three months ago, elders from Hazare’s village Ralegan Siddhi gave him the title of ‘Mahatma’. Seeing eyebrows being raised, Hazare promptly said he won’t take the title.

People in Mumbai sign up in support of Hazare.

However, the incident had already set the cat among the pigeons. For, it is common knowledge that Hazare is in the know of anything significant that happens in Ralegan Siddhi and it is likely that the villagers bestowed the title after taking Hazare’s consent.

The incident has not dampened Hazare and his supporters’ enthusiasm.

Handbills and pamphlets being distributed in Mumbai have a picture of Mahatma Gandhi on one side and Anna on the other. “I was in the gym when the India Against Corruption (IAC) volunteers came and gave me a handbill and asked me to join the three-day fast and jail bharo agitation. What riled me was how strategically they had placed Gandhi and Anna Hazare’s photos next to each other in the handbill,” said Shashank Purohit, a chartered accountant from Andheri.

He added that the brazen way with which Team Anna was ridiculing those opposed to them was matter of concern. “I think everyone agrees that corruption is very serious issue in our country. However, the way these people are going about their protest is simply like ‘if you don’t agree with us then you are anti-national or corrupt’. The court order was like a rude awakening that not everything you say is right,” said Purohit.

Team Anna has also not been helped by its continuing flip-flops and the leadership speaking in different voices. For instance, five days ago, when the Mumbai police denied permission for the fast in Azad Maidan, Anna and his supporters said it would be held at Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) grounds in Bandra (East).

In fact, at the time IAC volunteers asserted that the high price being charged by MMRDA for the ground was not going to be a factor at all. But within a span of 24 hours, the IAC changed its stance at Hazare’s behest.

The IAC claimed that Hazare had disapproved of the high cost and was not ready to accept the ground even though there were volunteers willing to arrange money for it.

Since Hazare did not accept the ground, the IAC volunteers decided to file a PIL. Unfortunately for the IAC, the high court came down heavily on the organisation and its demand to be allowed to use the ground for free.

Hours after the IAC verdict, Hazare made a volte face and criticised his own team for rushing to the court.

Hazare claimed that was not consulted before the PIL was filed and said the decision to go to the court was wrong. This, when himself had said the cost for the MMRDA ground was too high!

“For a man who is projecting himself as the second Gandhi, he should be taking responsibility for the actions of his people and not disown them, which Hazare did after the court’s order,” said Anil Galgali, an RTI activist from Mumbai.

“The present issue has shown that there is no difference between Hazare and the politicians, Hazare and his team wanted the MMRDA ground for cheap as it ‘was in public interest’ while our politicians also avail of facilities for free as they ‘represent the people’. In fact, the past two months’ events and the high court’s order have clearly shown that it’s not the government that is behaving in a dictatorial manner but Anna and his team,” Galgali added.

The court’s verdict has come as a boost for the Congressmen who had been demoralised and have been the favourite whipping boys of Team Anna for a while. Congress leaders in the city have naturally been sporting a big grin after the verdict.

“The verdict has punctured Team Anna’s claims that they are above Parliament. The agitation has now lost its credibility after the high court’s order,” said a Congress leader.

He added that though Anna will fast they are not going to be unduly worried as it’s going to be for three days only.

Although the IAC activists have put up a brave face in public, in private they acknowledge that the high court’s stinging observations have dampened their morale.

“With hindsight it was definitely a wrong approach to go to the court because, however exorbitant the rate, we should have paid the money for the MMRDA ground the first time itself. Now, though the fast will go on, the momentum has shifted,” said an IAC functionary.





R R Patil in the dark on goings-on in hometown

TNN | Dec 26, 2011, 02.37AM IST

The politically-sensitive Sangli district, hometown of not only rural development minister Jayant Patil and forest minister Patangrao Kadam, but even home minister R R Patil, has emerged as a major trading and manufacturing centre for party drugs.

Neither the Sangli police nor the food and drug administration took cognizance of the illegal manufacture of drugs even though it was brought to the notice of the home department and FDA by senior BJP leader Vinod Tawde in March. The crisis-ridden FDA woke up from its slumber only after the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) seized a huge stock of drugs from Pune in June and later from Ahmedabad in November. The drugs were manufactured by a Sangli-based firm.

The DRI found a blatant violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and the firm owner had manufactured the drugs in excess of the permitted quantity. It was found that after the DRI seized the drugs in June, that the then FDA commissioner Seema Vyas and FDA vigilance officer Dilip Srirao directed the Sangli FDA to register a criminal case against the firm, suspend the manufacturing licence and seize the stock of drugs. There are no records to confirm that the order passed by Vyas, particularly on lodging an FIR, seizure of the stock of drugs and sealing of the factory premises, was implemented. Sensing the case’s gravity, FDA’s new commissioner, Mahesh Zagde, ensured that the licence was cancelled permanently and a criminal case was filed against the owners. A glance of the manner in which the police and the FDA dealt with the case shows that R R Patil is in the dark on the state of affairs in his own backyard.

Though not even remotely associated either with the allotment of land or granting of an occupancy certificate to the controversial Patliputra cooperative housing society, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan is at the receiving end for protecting the illegal structure.

In 1999, a prime plot of land was allotted to the society promoted by bureaucrat Sunil Porwal. Former chief secretaries Johny Joseph, J P Dange and V Rangnathan, home secretary Umeshchandra Sarangi, Thane municipal commissioner R A Rajiv and urban development secretary Manukumar Srivastava are among the 50-odd high-profile society members.

Former IPS officer Y P Singh has filed a PIL against the society for violation of development control rules. Subsequently, it was found that as per the terms and conditions of allotment, the society was permitted to use 15% of the built-up area for construction of small shops to meet daily requirements of society members. Much to the shock of right to information (RTI) activists, the society or builder constructed a huge mall, in excess of the permissible limits. In addition, it was revealed that most members submitted false affidavits on their income status to secure flats. When the issue of illegal construction was raised in both houses of the state legislature, Chavan faced a piquant situation. Had it been any other society, Chavan would have ordered demolition of the mall, but owing to the high-profile nature of the members, he appears to be undecided on the course of action. A trusted aide said it was a real test for Chavan.

A week ago, JJ hospital dean T P Lahane was on an unexpected mission. Soon after he took over reins of the hospital, he was told that many full-time teachers were unavailable for patient care, as they were practicing in private nursing homes. An administrator par excellence, Lahane reviewed each department to find out the number of patients examined by doctors and the number of surgeries and procedures performed in the last one year.

On the receipt of a comprehensive report, Lahane identified medical teachers who were unavailable on hospital premises and were minting money with private practice. Lahane visited the departments at least once a week and after it was confirmed that some doctors were absent for prolonged periods, he launched a search operation.

On a tip-off, Lahane called up a leading hospital to seek an appointment with a doctor, a full-time teacher with JJ. When the appointment with the doctor was confirmed, he disclosed his identity and made it clear that it was unethical and he was terminating his (doctor’s) services.

But the doctor quit before the termination order was served. Lahane said he was determined to convert JJ into a world-class teaching and research centre.








Intel bodies can’t snub graft RTI

Monday, 26 December 2011 00:12

The Central Information Commission has ordered that intelligence agencies like National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) cannot withhold information under the RTI Act on corruption-related matters and related in-house investigation details.

The landmark decision is a serious blow to intelligence and security agencies, which often reject applications under RTI on corruption- related issues.

In this case, CIC has directed NTRO to provide information on the in-house probe details on irregularities and corrupt practices in the agency on complaints filed by whistleblower VK Mittal, a former Joint Secretary of the technical intelligence agency. Mittal was crusading against corrupt practices in the organisation and complained to the CAG to conduct an audit on NTRO’s murky affairs.

“The chief public information officer (CPIO) of NTRO is directed to inform the appellant the outcome of in-home enquiries,” said an order of Information Commissioner Sushma Singh.

The whistleblower has approached NTRO under the RTI Act, demanding information on investigation details of corrupt practices and irregularities in the organisation.

A series of probes was initiated on the working of NTRO upon the direction of Prime Minister for the past two years. But the agency declined to provide details of the findings, learned to have indicted top officials of NTRO on manipulation of secret services fund and nepotism in appointments even in top posts.

The CAG’s performance audit on NTRO, submitted to the President on February, has not yet been tabled in Parliament. According to sources, the CAG report exposed the gross corruption and manipulation of Cabinet Committee on Security’s approval in the purchase of more than `350 crore worth unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The UAVs purchased from Israeli vendors were defunct and are still grounded.

The CAG report also exposed NTRO — which directly works under the National Security Advisor, who, in turn, reports to the Prime Minister — for misusing public fund and gross nepotism in appointments.

A public interest litigation is already pending before the Supreme Court on the alleged corrupt practices in NTRO. The PIL has sought the court’s directive to the Government to place the controversial CAG report. This is the first report of the CAG on an intelligence agency.

According to the Constitution, the CAG report should be placed before the Parliament, as soon as it is submitted to the President.








Reprieve from regulator gives Adani Power some breathing space

Pratim Ranjan Bose

Virendra Pandit

Kolkata/Ahmedabad, Dec. 25:

Adani Power Ltd (APL) is expected to maintain its profit margins in October-January quarter on the back of a recent reprieve by the State-level regulator from effecting supplies of 1,000 MW at a “non-remunerative” tariff of Rs 2.35 a unit, from Mundra to the Gujarat State utility. The profits will largely be contributed by merchant sales of the available power.

APL posted a profit before depreciation and tax of Rs 331 crore on a turnover of Rs 1,073 crore in July-September 2011 quarter.

Supplies from Feb

According to a company official, contrary to the expectations of State-run Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL), the supplies will now be effected from February 2012, consequent upon commissioning of the entire 4,620-MW thermal power station. “The State regulator has allowed us to effect the supplies from February 2012,” a company official told Business Line.

The development has brought a major relief to the Adani camp, as the company is already facing a squeeze of margins following imposition of index (HBA Index)-based coal export by Indonesia beginning September this year and the sharp devaluation of rupee against dollar.

Earlier APL’s plea to State electricity regulator for a tariff revision was turned down. An appeal before the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity challenging the State regulator’s order was also rejected in September 2011, giving rise to apprehension that the company may have to give effect to the loss-making PPA in the current quarter.

Non-remunerative PPA

In 2007, APL signed two power supply agreements of 1,000 MW each with GUVNL at fixed tariffs of Rs 2.89 and Rs 2.35 a unit, for 25-years. While the first agreement was linked to units to be run on imported coal the second one was linked to domestic coal-based generation.

Based on the agreement, GUVNL argued that APL should start supplying 1,000 MW at Rs 2.35 a unit as soon as the fifth and sixth units of 660 MW each were commissioned early this year. APL, however, felt that the contract is effective as soon as the entire 4,620 MW project is commissioned.

“We were hurt on both the PPAs, due to unexpected change in Indonesian law. However, the one based on domestic coal-based generation hurts us the most,” an APL source says.

No domestic coal

According to company officials, overall 40 per cent of the capacity was linked to domestic coal to be supplied by Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation from Morga block in Chhatishgarh.

However, an embargo by the Ministry of Environment and Forests came in the way of GMDC to carry out mining in the block. Though the State-controlled miner was later compensated by another block (Naini) in Orissa; the loss of time forced APL to bank on import options to feed the generation capacities implemented ahead of schedule.

According to Mr V.S. Gadhvi, Managing Director of GMDC, the Naini block is currently under exploration. The company expects to approach the Environment Ministry for environmental clearance in mid-2012. Considering the procedural uncertainties, he is not ready to give a timeline for beginning production.










Known by the company we keep



Corporate legislation in India has, by and large, favoured companies, but even then businessmen in this country rarely pass up an opportunity to slip through a loophole. Industrialists are getting away by selling big chunks of their businesses without the small shareholder getting so much as a look-in. Slump sales, as these transactions are called, have allowed promoters to control large amounts of cash leaving minority shareholders without any immediate gains. Also, promoters can buy back up to 5 per cent of a company’s equity capital, in a year, through what’s called a creeping acquisition; that’s clearly unfair because they’re insiders and are privy to what’s happening in the company, whereas other shareholders are not. But where promoters have really benefited is from the absence of strong bankruptcy laws. Whether it was the Essar Group or the Arvind Group, few companies have ever been told to shut shop and it has always been banks who have taken the haircuts, continuing to lend to inefficient businesses. Promoters may make a killing on other businesses in the group, but the banks don’t see any of this. Indeed, in the absence of a recompense clause, banks are not entitled to any upsides when a business is turned around.

That’s why the new companies bill is a bit of a disappointment. While there’s been an attempt to tighten the rules and plug some gaps, it could perhaps have done more to facilitate bankruptcies. There is, of course, the proposed National Company Law Tribunal and a National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, which are going to be taking up corporate debt restructuring cases, but one wonders whether the banks will get justice. Hopefully the tribunals will sort out the cases quickly — a time frame of three months has been suggested but what we need is a Chapter 11 or a Chapter 7 kind of legislation so that when a firm’s net worth has been completely eroded and the debt is too huge to service, the restructuring results in the company’s owners being left with nothing. Instead, the creditors simply take over.

Today, banks are not able to recover too much by auctioning properties through SARFAESI (Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest) Act. And once they have lent large sums it’s the banks who are in bigger trouble than the promoter who simply throws up his hands. The corporate debt restructuring (CDR) packages are turning out to be exercises in which banks are throwing good money after bad. In fact, banks should put their foot down when it comes to restructuring, insisting the business be sold.The point is that in India promoters have never had to give up control of their businesses and we need the legislation and mechanism to help change this.

In the meanwhile, class action suits have been introduced so that a set of shareholders or depositors can now approach the tribunal, to bring to its attention, any malpractices they may have spotted. How quickly or effectively the tribunals will deal with such grievances is another matter altogether, but this should help increase investor activism — very little of which has been seen so far in this country. Indian promoters are a thick-skinned lot but perhaps the tribunals will make life difficult for them if they have erred. And with electronic voting being ushered in, perhaps fewer small shareholders and institutional shareholders will vote with their feet. What’s also new in the companies bill is the concept of independent directors, about whom much has been said in the aftermath of the Satyam scam. While it would be wrong to say that they have not contributed to better corporate governance practices, the general perception is that they don’t seem to be doing enough and are not really “independent”. At least a third of the directors on a board now needs to be independent, a meaningful presence that should help improve boardroom culture. But making their jobs too onerous might result in a shortage of competent directors. Also, one would have thought the authorities want the best out of directors; so allowing people to be on as many as 20 boards rather than 15 at present, is somewhat surprising.

Meanwhile, companies will be happier with the simpler norms for mergers and amalgamations; Indian companies can merge with foreign companies and vice versa, two or small companies can be more easily merged as can a subsidiary with a holding company and its subsidiary. But the fact that a shareholder, with less than a 10 per cent stake in a firm or someone who has lent less than 5 per cent of the debt, can no longer raise objections to a transaction goes against the interests of minority shareholders. It’s true that people do make a nuisance of themselves but the tribunals should be able to take care of that. Again, the window allowing minority shareholders to be squeezed out, a Western concept, seems a tad unfair because no matter how fair the value offered for the stock, shareholders have the right to hold on to their investments. The bill also says companies can no longer do more than one buyback of shares in a year. Since buybacks do support the share price and boost earnings, and since no one can really force a shareholder to sell shares, the move is somewhat hard to understand. Perhaps the idea is to encourage companies to leave enough of a floating stock in the market so that stocks don’t become too illiquid.

The bill seeks to improve corporate governance and transparency; so auditors need to be changed every five years and companies need to provide separate audited accounts of each subsidiary. At the end of the day though, companies must want to do things the right way for their creditors, employees and shareholders. It should be a way of life.









Fraud firm spent 100cr on realty, cars

Mateen Hafeez, TNN | Dec 26, 2011, 02.31AM IST

MUMBAI: Office bearers of alleged fraud firm SpeakAsia had invested around Rs 100 crore in commercial galas at prominent shopping malls in the city, flats in posh buildings and cars. This was revealed during the probe on the firm across across several nations.

An officer from the economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police said that the properties were bought over the past one year. “We have identified the properties in over a dozen buildings and shopping malls. In some buildings, the flats cost over Rs 12-13 crore. The accused also used the money to buy costly vehicles. Two Mercedes cars have been seized and we are planning to seize more,” the officer said.

The police say that they don’t want to disclose the properties at this stage. “We are securing these properties. Once the process is completed, we will request the court to attach them,” the officer added. The officer was reluctant to talk about the locations and names of the buildings and malls where Speak Asia office bearers own properties.

The EOW, which is probing the alleged multi-crore fraud case, said that a red corner notice had been issued against Manoj Kumar Sharma, the Indian chief of the firm. “We received information that Sharma had transferred huge sums of money from India to the United Bank of Singapore, and from there to Latin America,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, additional police commissioner, EOW.

While nine persons were taken into custody by the police of various districts and states in the country, the company’s chief operating officer (COO), Tarak Bajpai, managed to jump bail and has disappeared. “Bajpai is still at large,” said Sinha.

Bajpai told police he was a flight lieutenant before joining the multi-level marketing business in 2004. Police sources said that some of the accused still pretend to be victims and had even filed writ petitions in the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court stating that their business was completely legal.

“However, we have informed the court that a case has been registered against the company and that they have duped lakhs of people,” said Shelke. The police said that the alleged fraud took place between March 2010 and May 2011.

A police officer said that in such cases, the investors can also be booked under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 since they are essentially gambling.










Plea to freeze elephant as BSP symbol dismissed

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Dec 26, 2011, 01.47AM IST

NAGPUR: The Delhi high court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by representatives of International Organisation for Animal Protection (OIPA) seeking direction to ban use of national heritage animal ‘elephant’ as party symbol by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Naresh Kadyan, the petitioner and India representative of OIPA, affiliated to the United Nations, duly recognized by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), wanted the court to issue directions to chief election commissioner (CEC) to freeze or replace the symbol of the BSP from elephant to other.

The petitioner also wanted respondent – ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) – to make guidelines and rules for the national heritage animal to protect them from any kind of abuse, unnecessary pain and suffering.

“The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) although imposed a ban on display of elephants, it failed to rescue them. The BSP was abusing national heritage animal elephant during elections by using it live in the party rallies and hence it should be withdrawn as party symbol,” said Kadyan.

But, dismissing the writ petition for a ban on elephant as BSP’s election symbol, the Delhi high court said, “Elephant does not come under the National Emblems Act (NEA) and hence the writ petition is dismissed.” The NEA prevents improper use of certain emblems of government, said Rajender Yadav, counsel for the petitioner.

Kadyan said that under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, elephants are protected under Schedule I, and hence use of any protected wild animals and their trophies is an offence.

He alleged that BSP candidates use live elephants for parade and campaign and also in victory rallies. Recently, a BSP MP had booked elephants for pride during marriage celebration in Meerut. Due to abuse, the animals went out of control and damaged public property. Same elephants were later rescued and rehabilitated by the authorities.

Similarly, Kadyan said, in 2008, a BSP candidate booked two elephants for campaigning. Besides, elephant is being displayed symbolically on statues in parks along with statues of late Kanshiram and Mayawati. This is being done to gain popularity.

“We will appeal in the Supreme Court against the high court order,” Kadyan stated.












Team Anna’s opponents to start parallel fast at Azad Maidan

Bharatiya Vikas Parishad might go on an indefinite fast at Azad Maidan – the venue of Hazare’s movement in August – to protest against the latter’s agitation.

The activists will file a writ petition in the Bombay high court on Monday, demanding the court to issue directions to stop the protest.

“Hazare’s agitation is misguiding the nation. Even the court has said that if the bill is discussed in the Parliament, there isn’t a need for an agitation. Congregating people here disrupts civil life,” said Mangleshwar Tripathi, president, Uttar Bharatiya Vikas Parishad.  “I have applied for permission to start a hunger strike at the Azad Maidan at the local police station. If the court does not stop Hazare’s agitation on Monday, I will go on a  fast.”  

Meanwhile, the National Campaign for Equal Opportunity (NCEO), a forum that is also protesting against Hazare’s agitation, will organise awareness campaigns across the city to educate people about existing laws and why neither the Jan Lokpal Bill nor the Lokpal Bill are warranted.  “Our Constitution is strong enough to investigate and punish the corrupt. We will educate people about the Prevention of Corruption Act, which should be implemented strictly instead of passing a new law,” said Chandrakant Jagtap, NCEO conveyor. 

The Congress came down heavily on Hazare too. State spokesperson Sachin Sawant questioned Hazare’s decision to shift the fast from Delhi to Mumbai citing harsh weather in the capital. “Mahatma Gandhi travelled to and stayed in England, where the cold is much harsher than in Delhi,” he said.















RTI reply reveals MCD ‘ignored’ police advice


Wonder how and why unauthorised construction proliferates across Delhi, especially in plush areas such as Sainik Farms in south Delhi? Replies to an RTI application reveal that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) hardly takes cognisance of information about unauthorised construction sent by Delhi Police. Acting on a complaint, the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) has now directed the MCD to inquire into unauthorised constructions in Sainik Farms area.

Delhi resident RH Bansal had asked MCD several questions under the RTI Act related to construction in Sainik Farms. It included a list of ongoing constructions and action taken by the MCD. Despite admitting that the Delhi High Court has banned construction in Sainik Farms, the MCD, however, maintained there is no construction going on.

Not satisfied, Bansal approached the CIC. At a recent hearing, he pointed out the possible “collusion of MCD officials with those indulging in illegal and unauthorised construction” and produced a list of 120 such properties about which Delhi police had communicated to the MCD.

MCD director (press and information) YS Mann said, “We are conducting an inquiry as directed by the CIC.”











Bombay HC upholds removal of officer who allowed arms in 1993 blasts

Published: Sunday, Dec 25, 2011, 11:39 IST
Place: Mumbai | Agency: PTI

The Bombay High Court has set aside an order of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) which had reinstated Customs Inspector SM Padwal after giving a finding that his removal from service was not proper.

Padwal was removed after a departmental probe, which held that he was guilty of accepting a bribe of Rs4.5 lakh from 1993 bomb blast accused Mohammed Dossa and Uttam Potdar for giving safe passage to arms which landed in Dighy coast in nearby Raigad district prior to serial explosions in Mumbai.

The CAT had ruled that Padwal’s removal from service was not proper. Being aggrieved, the Union Government filed an appeal in the high court, which last week quashed the CAT’s order. Justice DG Deshmukh and Justice Anoop Mohata found the officer’s removal from service “fit and proper”.

After the 1993 serial blasts in which several persons were killed, the role of the officer was unearthed following confessions given by Dossa and Potdar during the trial.

Padwal contended that the confessions of the two accused, recorded under TADA (P) Act, were used against him in the departmental inquiry and this was not proper. He said the confessions could only be used in that case under TADA(P) Act and not against him in the departmental inquiry.

Padwal contended that Dossa and Potdar, both 1993 accused, were not called by inquiry officer for examination and hence he did not get an opportunity to cross-examine them.

The Union government, however, contended that Dossa and Potdar were in police custody and hence they could not be produced before the inquiry officer.

Moreover, it argued, the existing laws do not provide that the Indian Evidence Act should be strictly enforced in a departmental inquiry. Hence they could use the confessions recorded under TADA (P) Act against Padwal for the purpose of departmental inquiry, the Centre argued.

After hearing the arguments, the high court stayed CAT’s order and admitted Centre’s appeal.









Was whistle-blower victimised for doing her job?

Rahi Gaikwad

PMO probe on as officials deny their own records

It could have been just another day at work. For IAS officer Smita Bharadwaj, it turned out to be anything but. The day she blew the whistle on financial irregularities and sought an inquiry, little did Ms. Bharadwaj know she had stirred up a hornet’s nest.

Ms. Bharadwaj, a Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer, “joined on deputation” as Executive Director of the Synthetic and Rayon Textiles Export Promotion Council in 2009. In the course of her job, she found that the assistant director (Finance) “had taken higher grade pay for himself without taking due approvals which would have financial implications for the SRTEPC,” as stated in the Bombay High Court order.

The move ensured her swift and summary ouster. It provoked a welter of allegations and counter-allegations, an attempt to sully her service record and above all a string of peculiar denials from the government in courts of law. Everything but an official probe into the irregularities she had brought to notice.

“This is a case of a whistle-blower being victimised,” Nitish Bharadwaj, the officer’s husband and former MP, told The Hindu.

CAT’s opinion

Ms. Bharadwaj was prematurely repatriated; her deputation cancelled on grounds of poor performance. Noting that no explanation was sought before repatriating her, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), where she challenged her repatriation, observed: “It was as if the applicant was seen as a stumbling block against smooth functioning of the SRTEPC and her summary removal from the scene was seen as the solution. That was done.”

The October 8, 2010, order concludes: “ … we find that the impugned repatriation order is not sustainable in the eyes of law for being illegal.”

The High Court and the Supreme Court upheld the CAT order for reinstating Ms. Bharadwaj. However, till date she has not been reinstated in her position, compelling her to initiate contempt proceedings.

In line with the CAT order, the High Court observed that the Council found Ms. Bharadwaj to be “an inconvenient officer” and sought her “ouster.”

“There is no material on record even to reach a prima facie conclusion that the applicant was proved to be dishonest, high-handed or whimsical in her approach or that while discharging her duties she acted against the interests of the Council.”

Deputation denied, Ms. Bharadwaj’s case stood legal scrutiny, but the government went to astonishing lengths to put its foot in its mouth.

Consider this. The Council and the Ministry of Textiles, on whose request Ms. Bharadwaj was deputed, told the courts she was never deputed in the first place. Charging her with “suppressing” facts before the CAT, the Council contended Ms. Bharadwaj was a “direct entrant.”

However, records of the Government of India’s (GoI) Ministry of Textiles (MoT) and Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) obtained under the Right to Information Act by Mr. Bharadwaj prove otherwise.

The “Department has ‘no objection’ to the proposed deputation … for a period of five years,” wrote the DoPT in a letter dated January 23, 2009. An earlier office memorandum of the MoT stated that her “selection procedure” was to be “in conformity with the provision of para 1.2.1 of the Consolidated Deputation Guidelines.”

What’s more, Ms. Bharadwaj’s salary slip even shows a “deputation allowance,” paid by the SRTEPC every month. And the Council’s request letters to the MoT asked for “cancellation of deputation.”

Upholding the appointment as deputation, the CAT noted, “… the sheer fact of her appointment in SRTEPC having been considered and treated as a case of deputation and cadre clearance … her limited rights as a deputationist cannot be whittled down by the respondents by turning back and saying that hers was not a case of deputation.”

Private company

In another surprising twist, the Council contended that it was a private company. It countered nearly six decades of claims that it was set up by the Union government in 1954.

The nature of the Council is now a matter pending before courts. However, there lies a bizarre prelude of flip-flops whereby the Council is seen to owe allegiance to the GoI and deny it at will.

For instance, a year ago, when Council Chairman Ganesh Kumar Gupta’s car was stopped from entering the office premises he shot off a letter to the director of DB Realty (which has the building’s ownership rights).

“The Council,” Mr. Gupta said in the letter, “is an all-India apex organisation of around 4,000 exporters set up by the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.” A copy of the letter dated November 9, 2010, obtained under the RTI, was furnished to the Tribunal.

The phrase ‘Set up by the Government of India, Ministry of Textiles’ also finds a proud mention on Mr. Gupta’s visiting card. Plus, a list of public authorities downloaded from the MoT’s website by Mr. Bharadwaj and submitted to the court includes SRTEPC. Currently, SRTEPC is absent from this list.

In the Supreme Court, however, the Council did a stunning U-turn.

“It may be clarified at this stage that, on account of some oversight in the past, inadvertently, on some of the official documents, including letter-head … it came to be historically written that it is ‘Set up by the Government of India, Ministry of Textiles’,” says the Special Leave Petition filed by the Council on April 4, 2011.

When The Hindu spoke to Vinod Kumar Ladia, current Chairman of the Council, he said: “We are a private company, never set up by the GoI. We are only promoted by the GoI. We were set up under Section 25 of the Companies Act. The GoI does not hold a single share in the company … She [Ms. Bharadwaj] was sent by the MoT. The matter is sub judice. There are legal points to be decided.”

Annual reports of the Council are tabled in Parliament. Its primary objectives of export promotion are akin to performing a government function for which the Council receives grants. As the courts have observed, it has “multiple trappings of a ‘State’.”


Contempt proceedings are under way, in the absence of compliance with the CAT order. In addition, Mr. Bharadwaj has written to the Prime Minister’s Office seeking an inquiry against Textile Secretary Rita Menon and the Council, for “an unnecessary legal battle … [and] wasting of public money and precious time of the judiciary as well as gross misconduct of senior IAS officers.”

Subsequently, in May, the Cabinet Secretariat sought “comments” from Ms. Menon, “on all the allegations levelled in the complaint.”

When contacted over the phone, Ms. Menon refused to comment saying the matter was sub judice. “I can’t say anything. I have not heard of the Supreme Court order. I don’t wish to say anything about the case,” she said.

It is apparent from the mountain of litigation in the case that the Ministry and the Council, which receives government funds, have spent a colossal amount of time and, expectedly, money in simply undoing their own records.

Refusal to comply

On condition of anonymity, an official from the Ministry said in an emailed response, “[The] government’s position on the matter is that the case is sub judice and we have no comments to offer on the subject at this stage.”

“Any publication citing government officials other than the above would be rebutted by the government in the light of the above clarification.”

Mr. Bharadwaj refuted the stand that the matter is sub judice. “It is not. The Supreme Court has dismissed SRTEPC’s SLP and its order was served to the MoT. A contempt notice has also been sent,” he said.


Smelling a rat in the whole affair, the DoPT, which acted on the MoT’s requests for deputation and repatriation, asked the MoT to present the correct facts.

“The contention of the Respondents No. 3 [the MoT], 4 and 5 [SRTEPC] that the appointment of Ms. Smita Bharadwaj is not a deputation does not appear to be fully correct … The Ministry of Textiles is, therefore, requested to discuss the matter with the government standing counsel in Mumbai and apprise the Hon’ble CAT of the factual position,” as per the DoPT’s letter obtained under the RTI.

Its internal note sheet dated November 15, 2010, clearly states, “…it appears that Ministry of Textiles has suppressed these documents [obtained under RTI] from the Hon’ble Tribunal and completely misrepresented DoPT.”

The CAT too pulled up the MoT for producing only “part of” the official records. “It does not give us any pleasure,” the CAT observed, “to mention that complete official records have not been produced before us.”

In the wake of the ongoing PMO inquiry, the MoT’s position and its vain attempt at suppressing its records have been put under the scanner.

But at the heart of the matter is the question: Was Ms. Bharadwaj victimised for being a whistle-blower?









Now, driving licence in delivery service law

TNN | Dec 26, 2011, 02.04AM IST


NEW DELHI: The Delhi government has decided to bring around 60 more public services under the Delhi Right of Citizen to Time Bound Delivery of Services Act that makes babus liable to pay penalty to people for delay in delivering desired services within the prescribed time limit. The new law came into effect on September 15. As many as 25 new services will be brought under the ambit of the Act within the next one week and the remaining 35 will follow in February.

Once the list of 25 services is added to the current list of 44, the transport department will be required to issue a second copy of driving licence as well as an international driving licence to an applicant within two days. Similarly, the excise department will have to grant licence for serving liquor at home within 15 days of application and online registration of shops and establishments by MCD will have to be completed within a day of the submission of application.

Similarly, registration of group housing societies will have to be done within 60 days of filing application, new domestic water connection will have to be given within 35 days. Permission for serving liquor at a place other than the licensed premises will have to be granted within four days and temporary registration of vehicles will have to be issued within 15 days.

Deciding to expand the purview of the law to more services by next week, chief minister Sheila Dikshit pulled up the transport department for failing to deliver certain services to the people within stipulated time-frame. The department’s defense at the meeting was that the delay has been caused as the private entity which was given contract to install certain electronic appliances did not complete the work on time.

“Transport department is the only department where pendency has been reported as the contractor has not been able to install appliances to generate required documents,” said an official.










Law Ministry’s advice sought on amending rule for airport fee

PTI Dec 25, 2011, 02.23pm IST

NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha Secretariat is understood to have sought the Law Ministry’s views on whether it could take up amendments to a rule relating to charging of airport development fee after the mandatory 30-day period for carrying out these changes is over.

The matter relates to amending the Airports Authority of India (Major Airports) Development Fee Rules, 2011, which authorise private-led airport operators to charge DF after an order passed by the regulator, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA).


The issue came up after a scheduled discussion on a Statutory Motion was not allowed to be held in Rajya Sabha on Friday with Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan saying it cannot be taken up as any amendment of rules should be debated and decided within 30 days and that deadline had elapsed by a day.

But CPI(M) MP K N Balagopal, who had moved the motion along with BJP’s S S Ahluwalia, blamed the government for the delay in listing the matter on the agenda saying the motion was moved first during the Monsoon Session and then again in this Session, way before the 30-day deadline.

He also shot off a letter to Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari blaming the government for delaying the motion and crossing the laid-down time limit and urging him to protect the legislative powers of Parliament.

Following this, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat has sought the opinion of the Law Ministry on the matter, sources said.

“I doubt there is a conspiracy behind this attitude of the government to protect the interests of those who collected Rs 1,481 crore (worth of DF) illegally and further, it intends to give illegal benefits to companies which are part of the PPP model of development of airports,” he said.








We blocked website in compliance with law: RCom

TNN | Dec 26, 2011, 05.47AM IST

NEW DELHI: A day after TOI published its report on blocking of several file-hosting websites by Reliance Communications, the company said that it acted in accordance with the law.

“Under Section 79 of the IT Act, an ISP has to adhere to any copyright infringement notice and court orders. Given that Reliance Entertainment has obtained a specific order from Delhi high court to protect Don 2 from online piracy, we are in full compliance of law,” said a Reliance Communications spokesperson.

Experts to whom TOI spoke said that authority to block websites in India rests only with Department of Information and Technology (DIT) and even if a court has ordered blocking of a website, the procedure has to be initiated by DIT officials.

Section 79 of the Informatoin Technology Act 2000, which was amended in 2008, deals with the liability of intermediaries like internet service providers but doesn’t explicitly talks about blocking of websites.

A senior official from Reliance Entertainment said that measures like blocking website are the only way for them to counter piracy.

“All websites like Megaupload and Filesonic are located out of India. They rampantly promote online piracy. In fact, steps such as the John Doe Order from a court are the only step we copyright owners have,” said Sanjay Tandon, VP (music & anti-piracy) at Reliance Entertainment.








On fast-eve, call to House for ‘real’ law
– Hazare team writes to PM, MPs

Dec. 25: Anna Hazare’s team today sent an open letter to the Prime Minister and members of Parliament urging them to enact a “real” and “best possible” anti-corruption law as the curtains went up on another round of fast by the activist.

The letter came two days ahead of Hazare’s protest in Mumbai, where volunteers oversaw preparations for the stage on the MMRDA grounds in the commercial capital.

The day also saw Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh fire a fresh salvo at the 74-year-old’s alleged RSS links, a charge Team Anna said was aimed at diverting attention from the bill.

In the letter to Manmohan Singh and MPs, Hazare’s team repeated several of their earlier demands and noted that the year-long campaign against corruption had brought people to the edge of a law that could tackle the scourge.

The Lokpal bill is set to be taken up when Parliament reconvenes for an extended three-day session on Tuesday to debate the draft legislation.

“Sensing the national mood, Parliament has also taken it upon itself to foster a significant debate on the issues within the bill, and for this we thank our elected representatives,” the letter said.

On Thursday, after the UPA government had tabled its Lokpal draft in the Lok Sabha, Team Anna had trashed it as “weak” and “useless” and dared coalition chief Sonia Gandhi to an open debate.

Today’s open letter reflected the team’s “displeasure” with the current draft, but said “we are also keen that the best possible law should now emerge from the debate in the people’s Houses”.

“We urge Parliament’s consideration and adoption of these points, to give the country a real anti-corruption law. Our opposition to various other provisions of the draft bill remains, and we will take up the fight for improvements to the legislation in the months and years ahead.”

The activists urged the MPs to incorporate their suggestions, including an independent investigative wing for the proposed ombudsman, saying without these provisions the Lokpal bill would be “just another law, one among the many that have proven ineffective so far”.

Minister of state for parliamentary affairs V. Narayanaswamy voiced confidence that the House would come out with a strong Lokpal law. “…we will work in that direction and bring in a strong Lokpal bill,” he said.

“They (Team Anna) should have patience, because they cannot go for cheap publicity by all these things,” he added, alluding to the protest plans in Mumbai.

Hazare tonight asked his supporters to refrain from violence, saying some people were “waiting” for his agitation to take such a turn so that they could malign his movement but did not elaborate. “Some people are waiting for violence during the agitation. If there is violence, the agitation will be maligned,” he said in Ralegan Siddhi, his village in Maharashtra.

The activist said he would reach Mumbai tomorrow in preparation for his fast. “After the fast, I will go to Delhi and stage a dharna outside the house of Sonia and Rahul. After Mumbai, we will hold a fast in Delhi. Our agitation has been going on for over a year but to no avail. We will need to speak in the language they (government) understand,” Hazare said.

“During the agitation in Delhi, we have prepared ourselves to receive lathi blows if the government resorts to cane charge,” he said.

Digvijaya’s fresh salvo at Hazare came in a tweet. “Anna Hazare worked as secretary with RSS leader Nanaji Deshmukh and (got himself) trained in (Sangh activities) in 1983 in Gonda. See Nai Duniya front page today,” he wrote on the micro-blogging site, referring to a picture published in the Hindi daily purportedly showing the activist with Deshmukh.

“And he denied any association with RSS! Now whom do we believe Facts with Picture and the claim of RSS or Anna ? I am again proved right,” Digvijaya, a strident Hazare critic, tweeted.

Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal, who reached Mumbai this evening, said the reports on Hazare’s alleged links with the late RSS leader was a ploy to divert attention from the bill. “The government is provoking us by saying Anna is an RSS agent. What is the mistake of Anna Hazare? That he is raising his voice against corruption? He has got medals from the army,” Kejriwal said.

In Mumbai, one of the volunteers for Hazare’s movement said the stage was being constructed for the three-day protest from Tuesday.

“Behind the stage will be a room for Anna and other facilities for medical aid, VIPs, media, police control room and fire control. There have been registrations of around 89,000 from the entire country for the jail bharo andolan at the end of the three-day fast,” Preeti Menon said.

Volunteers dressed in Santa Claus costumes spread out across the city to explain the reasons for the agitation.








For a career in mathematics

S. Kesavan


In India a mathematical career has been regarded as being synonymous with a teaching career, but a trained mathematician can be very well employed outside academia. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan

It is indeed possible to build a perfectly satisfying career in mathematics if one is deeply interested in the subject

India has a long and ancient mathematical tradition. The Sulvasutras, Vedic texts for the construction of ritual altars, contain a lot of geometrical results and constructions. These include a statement of the Pythagoras Theorem, an approximation to the value of ‘pi’, and the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. India gave the world the decimal place value system, the modern way of writing numbers, and above all, the number ‘zero.’ It boasts of mathematical schools like those of Aryabhata and Bhaskara. Much later, in the 15th century, came the flourishing School of Madhava in Kerala, which anticipated, by more than 200 years, several results of the Calculus invented by Newton and Liebniz.

There was a complete break in this tradition during the years of colonial rule. In the 20th century, perhaps inspired by Ramanujan’s life, there was a revival, especially in the south, of mathematical research. In the post-Independence era, the Government of India established some schools of excellence, where several individuals distinguished themselves, and continue to distinguish themselves, by doing excellent work.

Nevertheless, for a country of India’s size, despite having a large scientific workforce, we have failed to make the kind of international impact that countries like, say, China, have made. India’s own scientific leaders have often bemoaned the ‘ocean of mediocrity’ that has been created.

The main problem is that a mathematical career has been regarded as being synonymous with a teaching career. We religiously teach our children slokas like Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwarah. However, equally cruelly and callously we say things like vakkillathavanukku vathiyar velai (a teacher’s vocation is for those who have no other option). This has become a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. Barring a minuscule number of exceptions, India’s brightest minds are not engaged in scientific research. The situation in general is that those who fail to join professional courses leading to gainful employment come to research as a last resort. These are the ones who will become the (uninspiring) teachers of the future — and we are caught in a vicious cycle.

The situation should, in reality, be the opposite. Those taking to a research career should be those who are passionately involved in the subject. As the experience of the information technology industry shows, anybody with a reasonable degree can be trained on the job and be well-employed, whereas that is not the case in academia.

It is indeed possible to build a perfectly satisfying career in mathematics (and much of this applies to other pure sciences as well) if one is deeply interested in the subject.

Job scene

Look at the job scene. A trained mathematician can be very well employed outside academia. Government departments engaged in space research (the Indian Space Research Organisation, or ISRO), defence research (Defence Research and Development Organisation, or DRDO), aeronautical research (National Aeronautics Limited, or NAL), all employ mathematicians to solve their special problems. Today, cryptology is in vogue (the systems ensuring the safety of your credit card transactions are based on some very sophisticated mathematics). Organisations such as the DRDO and the Society for Electronic Transactions and Security (SETS) are interested in mathematicians with training in this area. Financial mathematics is another area that leads to well-paid jobs. Computer giants such as IBM and Microsoft have research departments which have highly paid scientists who are either mathematicians or theoretical computer scientists. (They can, for all practical purposes, be considered as mathematicians). Thus, there is plenty of scope, outside academia, for well-paid jobs for mathematicians.

Having said this, it must be emphasised that the majority of mathematicians will end up in academic jobs, namely, in research and teaching.

What are the plus points of such a vocation?

•In India, all these jobs are in universities or in public-funded research institutions. With the implementation of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, the salary is nothing to be sniffed at. The entry point (roughly between the ages of 28 and 32) is that of an Assistant Professor, who can expect to start at a monthly basic salary of Rs.30,000. To this, add the dearness allowance (which has well crossed 502 per cent of the basic), transport allowance, and (if accommodation is not provided by the employer) a house rent allowance (which touches 30 per cent of the basic in the metros). Thus, before tax, we arrive at something like Rs.50,000 or more a month. This, unlike in industry, is not the ‘cost to company’ but what the employee actually gets. Added to this are perquisites such as comprehensive health care, leave travel concession, aid to children’s education and employer’s contribution to the provident fund or the pension fund. All in all, the remuneration today does guarantee a very good standard of living with all the creature comforts.

In order to attract young Ph.D.s who have done rather well by way of research, especially but not limited to those from abroad who seek employment in India, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) offers the Ramanujan Fellowship for three years. It carries a high salary and a generous contingency grant that allows purchase of research equipment, travels abroad for conferences, and so on. Institutions like the IITs and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore also offer generous start-up grants to freshly-recruited faculty members to facilitate their research.

•Job security.

•Job satisfaction: you get to choose your research problems.

•A good quality of life: the timings are regular with vacation periods that are well-defined.

•Plenty of opportunities to set up research collaborations with fellow-researchers in India and abroad, providing possibilities of interesting domestic and international travel.

•Being in contact with young minds all the time has a rejuvenating effect on one’s outlook to life.

On the other hand, one should ensure that one is really interested in the subject. To rise in the profession one needs to have a reasonably steady research output for nearly three to four decades. The real downside is that the gestation and apprenticeship period is quite long. It takes about five years to get a master’s degree and between three to five years more for the doctoral degree. Even after that, it is expected that a person does at least two years of post-doctoral work, which is the time when one emerges from the shadows of the thesis supervisor and chalks out one’s own path of research. Thus, as mentioned earlier, one can expect to get one’s first job when in the 28-32 age group. But this period is not financially barren, and the remuneration keeps increasing.

Job opportunities

What about job opportunities in India? There are three kinds of institutions of higher learning.

Purely research-oriented institutions like the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) in Chennai, and the Harish Chandra Research Institute (HRI) in Allahabad. Interestingly, all these are autonomous aided institutions that are fully supported by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) of the Government of India. TIFR is now a deemed university, while the IMSc and the HRI are affiliated to the deemed university called the Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI) that covers all other aided institutions of the DAE.

Institutions of teaching and research which can offer degrees but do not come under the purview of the University Grants Commission (UGC). These are set up by Acts of Parliament, and some come under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). These are the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), the IITs, the IISc, and the newly set up Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) in Bhopal, Kolkata, Mohali, Pune and Thiruvananthapuram, and the National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER) in Bhubaneswar (set up by the DAE). Then there is the precursor to these latter new institutes, the unique Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI), which is an example of public-private partnership. ISRO has also established its own such institution in Thiruvananthapuram.

The State and Central universities. While the State universities have plenty of vacancies, these being filled is often tied to the policies and politics of the State governments.

All the other institutions of research and teaching mentioned above have well-established and transparent methods of selection, and all of them have a crying need for fresh faculty. In fact, the need is so great and the supply so meagre that the age of retirement has been increased to 65 for these institutions. And in many cases they are allowed to re-employ superannuated faculty members till they are 70. The government has suddenly started NISER, the five IISERs and about eight new IITs, all of which need faculty members. These are currently functioning with a bare minimum of recruits, augmented by adjunct faculty members, who are retired mathematicians. This is not sustainable in the long run.

Thus, for those who hold a reasonably good doctoral degree, there are plenty of job opportunities in such institutions. This will be so for a long time to come.

Even the existing institutions like the IITs face continuous attrition due to retirement of faculty members who were engaged from the 1960s onwards.


Now for the training process of a mathematician in India. The regular route for a student is a three-year B.Sc. course followed by a two-year M.Sc. programme in mathematics, after which she or he could join a doctoral programme in a recognised university or research institution. There are the following variants to this theme.

The IIT-Kanpur pioneered the five-year M.Sc. programme (admission is through the joint entrance examination) which combined the B.Sc. and M.Sc. programmes. IIT-Bombay followed suit. Now, this pattern is followed by all the IISERs and NISER. The Central University of Hyderabad and that of Pondicherry have also started such programmes.

Recently, the three science academies in India have been advocating educational reform that involves the introduction of a four-year B.S. programme followed by a year of research and training leading to an M.S. The IISc will launch the first such programme in August 2012.

Institutions of pure research (the TIFR, the IMSc and the HRI), the IISc and the CMI also have integrated Ph.D. programmes. Promising students are selected after a bachelor’s degree in any science discipline or engineering directly for their Ph.D. programmes, provided they clear the (very rigorous) entrance tests and interviews on a par with M.Sc. candidates. They pick up an M.Sc. degree after two initial years of course work and research.

All the IITs and universities also have independent M.Sc. and Ph.D. programmes. Admission is based on entrance tests and/or interview. The CMI has an M.Sc. programme in applications of mathematics with specialisation in financial mathematics and computational applications of mathematics. It is contemplating a stream specialising in cryptology. The ISI has an M. Math. Programme, held alternatively at its Kolkata and Bangalore campuses.

A special word on the undergraduate programmes of the CMI, which is B.Sc.(Hons.) in Mathematics and Computer Science in Chennai, and the ISI — B.Math at its Bangalore campus. These are not for the faint-hearted. But if a student has a strong taste and talent for mathematics from an early age, these are the places to go for mathematics education. Both these programmes are very intense. At the end of three years, the students can compete with any master’s level student anywhere on equal terms — and often they fare better.

As a measure of the success of these programmes, it must be said that their graduates have managed to breach the U.S. firewall that requires a four-year collegiate-level education to enter graduate school, by being directly admitted, with full aid, to graduate schools such as Caltech, Chicago, Princeton, MIT (and so on in the U.S.), the Max Planck institutes in Germany, and the elite Ecole Normale Sup´erieure in France, after finishing the three-year degree programme. Students from the early batches have started completing their doctorate work and are already making a mark. It is gratifying that some have come back to take up positions in India.

Finally, about scholarships. First of all, there is the Kishore Vaigyanik Pratsohan Yojana which conducts a test for high school students. The successful ones opting for a career in science get a handsome scholarship all through their higher education, up to completion of the doctoral programme. The CMI and the ISI provide modest stipends to their undergraduates and postgraduates, together with tuition waiver, as long as the students maintain a healthy academic performance.

For the doctoral programmes, university students need to take an examination conducted by bodies like the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research or the DST for a research fellowship. The current rates are Rs.16,000 for the first two years and, subject to satisfactory performance, Rs.18,000 a month thereafter. There is an annual contingency grant as well.

All research institutions and institutions of teaching and research mentioned here have their own funding for Ph.D. scholarships at the same rates. In case the institution cannot provide subsidised accommodation on campus, house rent allowance at the same rates as applicable to faculty members is allowed.

Post-doctoral fellowships provide for a consolidated pay ranging from Rs.21,000 to Rs. 25,000 a month (with the provision for HRA), along with a contingency grant, depending on the candidate’s post-doctoral experience.

The National Board for Higher Mathematics (NBHM), set up by the DAE to promote mathematics, conducts an examination every year for the award of a scholarship for M.Sc. programmes in mathematics in any recognised university or institution, and pays a monthly stipend of Rs.6,000. The advertisement appears in newspapers by the end of June; the written test is usually held towards the end of September. It also awards Ph.D. scholarships, at the same rates as other research fellowships, by conducting another examination which is advertised in November; the test is usually by the end of January or early February. The NBHM also offers post-doctoral fellowships.

To sum up, if a student has the taste and the talent for mathematics, it is possible to make a satisfying, interesting, respectable and remunerative career out of it. If you think you have it in you, just go for it. Study abroad if you really want to; it can broaden your horizons. But do come back to inspire future generations so that India will become a mathematical superpower in the coming decades.

Parents ought to let children do whatever they are best suited for — literature, dramatics, mathematics, painting and so on. They should not try to live out their ambitions through them. While it may be a status symbol to count a non-resident Indian in the family, as one grows older there is a pleasure and sense of security in having one’s children living and working close by.








PTI | 12:12 PM,Dec 25,2011

With corruption remaining the major concern of the apex With corruption remaining the major concern of the apex court, the Centre found itself cornered for not making public the names of persons with black money stashed in foreign banks and goofing up on the issue of Hasan Ali Khan, the Pune stud farm owner accused in the massive money laundering case. The issue of black money and the policy of the Centre and state governments arming tribals as special police officers (SPOs) and creating anti-vigilante groups like Salwa Judum and Koya Commandos in Chhattisgarh to counter the Maoists and Naxalites also reflected the turf war between the judiciary and the executive. Ruling out government’s contention that judiciary was encroaching into the domain of the executive, the apex court castigated the authorities for their inaction and appointed a Special Investigation Team to probe the issue of black money. However, the victory of the civil society was short- lived as within a fortnight, the government moved the apex court for recalling or modifying the judgement on the black money which resulted in a split verdict. The verdict will once again be re-examined by the third bench. So was the case on the issue of SPOs in which the apex court rejected the contentions of the Centre and Chhattisgarh government and came down heavily on the practice of deploying vigilante groups like Salwa Judum in the fight against Maoists by declaring the policy as unconstitutional. However, later the apex court modified its order to allow the use of services of SPOs in fighting outlaws in the country, except in Chhattisgarh which came out with an ordinance to absorb around 5,000 SPOs in its auxiliary force by relaxing the educational criteria.





SC committee inspects Vaigai dam

TNN Dec 26, 2011, 02.01AM IST

MADURAI: The Supreme court-appointed empowered committee visited Vaigai reservoir on Sunday.

The members, C D Thatte and D K Mehta, who conducted tests to gauge the safety and strength of Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala’s Idukki district on Saturday visited Vaigai dam on the Tamil Nadu side on Sunday and made inspections.

Accompanied by R Subramani, chairman of the Cauvery Technical Committee and senior engineers from the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department, they visited the power generation house at Lower camp as well.

The committee landed first at Lower camp around 10 am the four bay dam – from where the mammoth hydel pipes arise to take water downstream. eraichal palam” – an outlet for surplus water located on Lower camp and Kumily and the Periyar Power station.

The two experts also collected samples of lime at lower camp, from where lime was apparently used for construction of the dam.

Later, the team went to Vaigai dam where they inspected the shutters. They also inspected the spillway and measured the spillage level. After spending about an hour at the reservoir collecting data on the inflow, outflow, channels and irrigated area, they left for Muthulakkampatti, a village about two km from the reservoir where Madurai-Sedapatti drinking water project is on. The team then visited Nilakottai in Dindigul district where they inspected “peranai”, a check dam that helps irrigate several hundred acres. The officials are likely to visit Kallandhiri and Melur in Madurai district as part of their inspection.

PWD sources said their visits to these places have been mentioned in the programme chart of the committee itself. The EC, though constituted to study the safety aspects of Mullaperiyar dam, is leaving no stones unturned to get a comprehensive report on the entire dam project. The committee would collect data like other water storage structures in the Periyar Vaigai command area, water level in these structures, water usage pattern and area of cultivation. The team would also collect drinking water usage of the water from the dam.







Police to act against overcrowding

Published: Sunday, Dec 25, 2011, 14:23 IST
By Sandip Dighe | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA

The Pune police have decided to conduct surprise checks on hotels and restaurants in the city for overcrowding on the eve of the New Year.

A senior police officer attached with the city police told DNA, “The hotel and bars have a limited seating capacity. But on New Year’s eve, some of them increase the capacity as they are going to use other areas on their premises such as terraces and lawns to accommodate the people. If someone has not taken permission from us, then appropriate action will be taken against them,’’ he said.

Moreover, the police will take action by carrying out checks at these places and see if more patrons are allowed by the establishments than the permitted number.
The city crime branch police will coordinate along with the local police to check if hotels and bars allow more guests than the permissible capacity.

The officer said, “If the establishments are found violating the rules and allowing overcrowding of patrons, then action would be taken. They would have to flush out customers from the place,’’ he said.

If the authority has taken permission from the police, then they should provide enough parking space for the vehicles, otherwise, the police would take action against them.






RTI hurdles aplenty

Manju V,


TNN | Dec 26, 2011, 06.20AM IST


From 1,865 in 2006, the backlog of applications at the Central Information Commission has swelled to above 22,700. Activists say the RTI Act will lose its bite in a few years if the present state of affairs continues.

In September 2006, an RTI applicant sought a simple list of schemes approved under the Urban Land Ceiling Act. The government department concerned demanded Rs 16 lakh from him. He appealed against the hefty charge to the then state information commissioner Suresh Joshi. He is yet to receive a response to his query. Information commissioner Sushma Singh was to question the appellate authority of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on December 15 for not replying to an RTI query filed in April. The query was about the government’s character verification of candidates for top DGCA posts. Even before the hearing, Singh adjourned it to February after DGCA officials told her they were busy with Republic Day celebrations.

The proponents of Lokpal and Lokayukta could learn a lesson or two from the RTI Act and brace themselves for a long-drawn battle. Each year, bureaucrats devise new ways to deny or delay information to RTI applicants, who need to cross an ever-increasing number of hurdles to get it.

Hurdles can be as small as the public information officer (PIO) not listing the name of the appellate authority in an RTI reply. “It is binding on the PIO to state the name of the appellate authority in a reply so that the applicant knows who to appeal if he or she is not satisfied with the PIO’s reply . But many government bodies like the municipal corporation and the slum rehabilitation authority, and development agencies hardly follow this norm,” said RTI activist Simpreet Singh.

Common ways of dodging RTI queries are giving incomplete replies, sending delayed responses with a back date (made evident by the post office’s stamp, which reveals the actual date of reply) and not forwarding a query to the department concerned. “It is common to find an appellate authority asking the applicant why a PIO should give him the sought information . But the RTI Act states that it is the PIO who should be asked to explain why information is being withheld,” Singh said.

Even information that is generally put in the public domain , like the fixed assets of directors of government organizations , is routinely denied . And when an order is passed in violation of the act, enough care is taken by the officials concerned to cover their tracks. “When Ramanand Tiwari was information commissioner , he gave the Juhu police another chance to reply to my query. This was against the RTI Act’s provisions and so Tiwari did not put it down in writing. Till date, it is not on record,” said RTI activist Yogacharya Anandji referring to an application he filed in 2006.

In the DGCA case (mentioned above), “the officials didn’t even turn up for the hearing” , said Supreme Court advocate Prashant Shukla, who was representing the applicant . Shukla said the adjournment order was oral. Information commissioner Sushma Singh was not available for comment.

Predictably, the pendency of RTI appeals is rising steadily . The Central Information Commission (CIC), headquartered in Delhi, had a pendency of 22,725 appeals as of November 2011 (see box). The number represents only those cases that went to the CIC directly . It does not include appeals pending before the state information commissions.









Real estate bill is against consumer interest

Jehangir B Gai ,


TNN | Dec 26, 2011, 02.55AM IST

It is common knowledge that most builders blatantly engage in various malpractices-be it delay in construction, use of substandard materials, deviation from sanctioned plans, failure to obtain the occupation certificate, avoiding the formation of a co-operative society, illegal sale of parking and other open areas, misappropriation of advance monies taken for maintenance etc. Flat purchasers are always at the receiving end, with builders flouting the provisions of the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act. The only viable, time-tested and effective remedy available to a flat purchaser to fight the might of the builder was through the redressal mechanism provided under the Consumer Protection Act.

Will consumers get better protection with the introduction of the real estate (regulation & development) bill by the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation? Though this new legislation appears to project a rosy picture, an analysis of the various provisions will show that in reality it will be beneficial to builders at the cost of the flat purchasers.

The negative aspects

Under Section 2 (c) of the new law, by a legal fiction, opens spaces are included under the definition of “apartment”. Once the bill is passed, builders will be legally entitled to sell the open spaces (like parking space, terrace and private garden) for independent and private use. At present, as per the interpretation of law by the Supreme Court, sale of open spaces by a builder is illegal, as the land and other open spaces would belong to the society. The new law will help builders overcome this well reasoned judgment and profiteer by selling the open spaces.

Section 3 of the bill provides that a builder must compulsorily be registered with the real estate regulatory authority for plots measuring 4000 sq. metres or more. Most of the buildings are constructed on smaller plots. Hence this provision will not be applicable to most builders.

Section 18 of the bill provides for establishment of the real estate regulatory authority comprising of one chairperson and two members. There law does not mandate the appointment of any judicial officer on the authority. So, given the way our country functions, the appointments may be made to favour persons with the “right connections”. The composition of the authority and its strength of three members will be inadequate to cope with the construction and development projects being carried out throughout the country. Also, it would be difficult for the common man to approach a remote centralized authority.

Similarly, the real estate appellate tribunal comprising nine members, to be constituted under section 35, will be unable to set up Benches throughout the country to deal with disputes. Accessibility to the redressal mechanism will become more difficult and costly.

Section 46 provides that the order of the tribunal can be enforced like the decree of a civil court. This proceeding is lengthy, cumbersome and costly. Unlike the consumer fora, the authority or tribunal under the new bill does not have power to adopt penal proceedings/criminal prosecution for non- compliance. Such proceedings would have to be initiated by the authority or tribunal by filing a complaint before a criminal court, and the flat purchaser would not have any idea about what is happening in such pro-ceedings.

Section 47 provides that the decision of the appellate authority would have to be challenged before the Supreme Court. The quality of adjudication by the authority with no judicial member would be questionable. The rates of appeal would be high. The cost involved would also be high. The tribunal would not be easily accessible to the common man. The three-tier redressal system under the Consumer Protection Act would be much more effective and economical.

The most anti-consumer provision of the new law is Section 60, which states that no injunction shall be granted by any court or other authority in respect of any action taken or to be taken in pursuance of any power conferred by or under this Act. The new law, thus, takes away the alternative, efficacious remedy which was hitherto available to a flat purchaser under the Consumer Protection Act.








Court frames charges against Rakesh Juneja

Sanjay Yadav,


TNN Dec 26, 2011, 02.14AM IST

GURGAON: An additional sessions judge court framed charges against Rakesh Juneja for conspiring to kill his wife Nargis Juneja. Recently, the state crime branch had submitted a closure report in the case claiming that they did not find any evidence against the accused.

On Saturday, additional sessions judge Vimal Kumar found that there is a prima facie case against the accused, who has been behind bars, considering the earlier chargesheet filed by the city police in October. “The court has framed charges under 202 /120B of the IPC against Rakesh Juneja and the next hearing for witnesses has been fixed for January 28. The closure report by the crime branch has also become a part of the court proceedings,” said advocate Sanjeev Vats, Rakesh Juneja’s counsel.


A senior police officer also said that since the court has found a merit to carry out trial of Rakesh based on their chargesheet, the case will go on.

Over a year after the murder of 42-year-old Nargis Juneja in her DLF-III residence, the investigating agency had hit a dead end and the matter had taken an interesting turn when the DGP (CID) office wrote to the city police to close the case as “unsolved”. The letter also gave a clean chit to the co-accused, Rosy Bhasin, whom the city police had declared a “proclaimed offender” during investigation.

Subsequently, the FIR (No. 312) was declared as untraced on December 8 by the DLF-II police where the case was lodged. “We have submitted the information to the court but the court did not agree with the finding and wants to continue the trial,” said Navdeep Singh Virk, deputy inspector general of the state crime branch.

Nargis Juneja, director of Kidzee playschool, was murdered by unknown assailants inside her residence on December 1 last year. The assailants had entered the house and slit her throat, leaving her bleeding to death while her domestic help was tied and gagged.











Supreme Court-appointed panel inspects Vaigai dam

Staff Reporter

Kerala Irrigation Department engineers accompanied it

The Supreme Court-appointed Empowered Committee on Sunday inspected Tamil Nadu Hydel Power generation station at Lower camp and Vaigai dam as part of its inspection of Mullaperiyar dam here.

Kerala Irrigation Department engineers accompanied the panel during inspection.

The panel’s main objective was to assess utilisation of water, including drinking water and irrigation purposes, and to inspect the ayacut areas.

The panel comprising C.D. Thatte and D.K. Mehta, first inspected the Four Bay dam and power station at Lower Camp near Goodalur and enquired with officials representing Tamil Nadu. Later, it inspected a limestone quarry, situated on the way to the Sri Mangaladevi Kannagi Amman Temple near Lower camp. (Limestones present at this site were used for construction of the Periyar dam 120 years ago).

The panel then checked the condition of the Vaigai dam. The members asked the officials to lift one of the main shutters to check the functioning of the electric-powered shutters. When they saw the flow chart of Vaigai dam, they enquired about distribution of water for irrigation and drinking water supply at various points.

The Tamil Nadu Public Works engineers, who accompanied the team, explained the flow chart and utilisation pattern of Vaigai dam water in five southern districts.

The officials said the water was used for irrigation of several lakh acres of land under its ayacut in Madurai, Theni and Dindigul districts and to fill tanks in Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts for irrigating several acres. The team also inspected the dam’s tunnel to check seepage levels.

The team also visited Mudalakkampatti village and inspected the pick-up weir to study distribution of drinking water to Madurai city and for the Sedapatti drinking water scheme.

Mr. Mehta and Mr. Datte came to Dindigul district in the evening and inspected Peranai, one of the main drinking water supply sources to Dindigul, and many wayside villages.

The team will inspect Vaigai ayacut areas in Melur and Kallandhiri areas tomorrow.






Judiciary, army should work within limits: Gilani

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Sunday said all state institutions, including the judiciary and army, should work within their constitutional limits as tensions continued between the civilian government

and the powerful military over the Memogate scandal.

“Parliament, judiciary and the army – we respect all three and we want these three institutions to work while remaining within their constitutional limits,” Gilani said in televised concluding remarks at a special meeting of his

cabinet in the southern port city of Karachi.


“We are with them, we fully support them and we have no intention to see the fall of any institution,” he said.

Gilani further said his government was committed to working with all state institutions.

“We are the elected people of Pakistan. We should respect the judiciary, we should respect the military, we should respect parliament and we should also respect the media. There is a thin line but we will take all of them along. This is our commitment,” he said.

“Sometimes governments are formed and sometimes they fall. We have fallen and risen several times. It is not a new struggle for us to be in power,” Gilani added.

Gilani’s remarks came against the backdrop of continuing tensions between his government and the powerful army over an alleged memo that sought US help to stave off a possible coup after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May.

There has been widespread speculation that President Asif Ali Zardari, who spent almost a fortnight in Dubai earlier this month for medical treatment, would be forced out by the military over the scandal.



Woman judicial officer lights mother’s pyre

Pardeep Rai,


TNN | Dec 26, 2011, 06.24AM IST

KURUKSHETRAurukshetra: A woman judicial officer presented the feminist perspective on an age-old ritual when she lit the funeral pyre of her 76-year-old mother at Mohannagar area cremation ground on Saturday evening. Neelima Sangla is posted as an additional judicial officer of a fast track court. Rituals require that a pyre should only be lit by a son or a male member of the family of the deceased. Neelima is the eldest among three children of Rani Sangla. Her mother was on ventilator for three days and died on Saturday morning.

Representatives of various religious organizations of the holy city, who also took part in last rites, appreciated the initative by this judicial officer. Swami Mukta of Geeta Kunj Ashram, Kurukshetra, said, “This is a great message to society that girls should be given equal rights when it comes to performing last rites of their parents. The trend set by Neelima would definitely bring a change in the mindset of the society.”

Jyotisha Acharya Rishab Vats of Kurukshetra said, “This is an era of daughters. When we are seeking so many rights for them, it should also apply to their carrying out the last rites of their parents.”

Hailing from Ambala, Neelima has been associated with various programmes intended to save the girl child. She has also been invited by various religious organizations to perform pooja at inaugural sessions.

Box: Twice in 9 months

This is the second occasion in nine months when a senior woman official performed last rites of her parents at Kurukshetra. In April 2011, Kurukshetra ADC Sumedha Kataria performed last rites of her mother Shanta Kataria








Ex-armyman among five sentenced to 14 years for spying

A local court in Faridkot has convicted and sentenced five persons, including an ex-army personnel, to 14 years jail term each for spying.

Naib Singh, Randhir Singh, Baldev Singh, Sukhdev Singh and ex-army man Manjinder Singh were handed down the sentence by the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Ramesh Kumari on Saturday.

The trial of the case started in March 2000 and the convicts were charged with supplying secret and strategic information of the Indian army to Pakistani agencies.

Manjinder Singh was dismissed from the service in January 2010.









Delhi court absolves youth of sodomy charges

PTI | 12:12 PM,Dec 25,2011

New Delhi, Dec 25 (PTI) A man charged with sodomising a teenaged boy has been let off by a Delhi court on the suspicion that he might have been falsely implicated in the case by the victim’s uncle who allegedly wanted to take over the accused’s job. Additional Sessions Jugde Sanjay Sharma absolved Birju Patel, 23, of the charge of sodomising a 14-year-old boy, saying, “The possibility of the accused having been falsely implicated by them for removing him from his job cannot be ruled out.” “False implication in rape cases is not uncommon and in some cases parents do persuade gullible or obedient daughter to make false charge of rape either to take revenge or extort money or to get rid of financial liability,” the judge said, citing an earlier judgement of a higher court. According to the prosecution, Patel had sodomised the boy on April 18, 2010 in a canteen at the Anand Vihar Railway Station, where his uncle Rai Singh was also employed. Patel had in his defence contended that he was being implicated in the matter by Singh who wanted to “take over his job in a Railway canteen since the canteen in which Singh was working had been closed down for unauthorised operation”. (More) AKI RAX RBT ZMN











Plaint filed in ‘Miyan Modi’ poster case

TNN Dec 25, 2011, 10.59PM IST

RAJKOT: Amid speculation over who was behind the ‘Miyan Modi’ posters, the police filed a complaint against unidentified people in connection with the posters.

The police itself became the complainant in this case and it was filed with Pradhyumanagar police station on Sunday.

“We have filed the complaint under section 153A of the Indian Penal code, which deals with promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony,” said inspector V B Jadeja.

A day after former mayor and present BJP councillor Uday Kangad abused and assaulted city Congress president Jaswantsinh Bhatti for removing Sadbhavana posters at Race Course Ring Road, ‘Miyan Modi’ posters appeared in the city, sparking another ‘poster war’ ahead of chief minister Narendra Modi’s Sadbhavana fast on December 26.

Pasted near the mayor’s bungalow and the Mahila College on Kalavad Road, the posters depicted Modi in a green kurta, wearing a skull cap.

The caption reads, “Na Hindutva ka, na sadbhavna ka, ye khel hai kursi ka’. Juxtaposing a picture of ‘saffron’ Modi and ‘miyan’ Modi, the poster says he used Hindutva to reach Gandhinagar and is now using Muslims to become prime minister. Police presence has been increased in the city as the situation is already tense after Friday’s clash between BJP and Congress leaders.

On Friday night, Congress workers banded together and roamed the city pulling down Sadbhavana mission posters. Although the Congress has denied any role in ‘Miyan Modi’ posters, BJP leaders alleged it is their handiwork.

“We have information that Congress workers have done it out of frustration as Modi’s Sadbhavana mission is getting overwhelming response from all quarters, including Muslims,” city BJP president Dhansukh Bhanderi alleged.

“The Congress fears that it will lose whatever little they have in their kitty and is hence doing this,” said Raju Dhruv, BJP spokesperson for Saurashtra-Kutch.

“We are nowhere in the picture so far as these posters are concerned. If we do it, we do it openly. We never do anything surreptitiously,” countered Bhatti. There was speculation that the Mahagujarat Janata Party may have been behind these posters but MJP workers denied any involvement and said they have kept away from any programme against the Sadbhavana mission.




Lokpal Bill only offers free legal help to the corrupt, says Kejriwal

Staff Reporter


PTI Team Anna members Arvind Kejrewal (right) and Mayank Gandhi speak to the media on the MMRDA grounds, Mumbai, where they are looking after arrangements for Anna Hazare’s fast. Photo: PTI

Alleging that the proposed Lokpal Bill would do nothing but provide legal help to persons accused of corruption, Arvind Kejriwal, key aide of Anna Hazare, on Sunday said the present draft was a tool to ensure that “nothing ever changes.” Mr. Kejriwal was speaking at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority ground at suburban Bandra-Kurla Complex.

“The government has only labelled the bill as anti-graft, in reality the bill provides free legal help to the person accused of corruption.

Instead of being strict on each act of corruption, the Bill covers only five per cent of government servants and 10 per cent politicians and the strictness is only on NGOs, temples, clubs, schools,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Sachin Sawant said Team Anna was “misdirecting public sentiment and encouraging people to participate in a badly conceived plan which has no clear aim”.







Timely rap for Team Anna

The Bombay High Court is right in refusing to direct the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to let Anna Hazare and his supporters use the Bandra Kurla Complex grounds for free or at concessional rates – the anti-corruption crusaders have scheduled a three-day fast at the venue coinciding with the debate on the Lokpal Bill in Parliament from December 27.

First, the organisation through which Mr Hazare’s supporters approached the MMRDA was not a registered social organisation, eligible for special treatment from it. Team Anna has all along claimed to be backed by Indians from all corners of the country. Given such a support base, the court is right in assuming that they will be able to pool together a sum of a few lakhs needed as rent for the venue.

But more important than this technical consideration is the high court’s observation that it could not allow parallel canvassing when Parliament was discussing the Lokpal Bill, as that would amount to interfering with the democratic process. We wish the court’s sagacious remarks make Team Anna rethink their strategy of exerting pressure on the supreme legislature in this way.

Also relevant is its observation on Anna supporters, citing public interest, that what was satyagraha for the anti- corruption crusaders could be nuisance for other people.















PTI | 12:12 PM,Dec 25,2011

The apex court’s zero tolerance against corruption which The apex court’s zero tolerance against corruption which was manifested on the issue of CVC case, was also reflected when it dealt with the cases of corruption in judiciary with iron hand. The high-point came when it dismissed pleas of Chief Justice P D Dinakaran of the Sikkim High Court and Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court. Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia also resorted to large scale transfer of High Court judges as fingers were raised on the credential of many working judges. With former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan’s family members facing allegations of amassing disproportionate assets during his tenure, the apex court also agreed to hear a petition against him and allowed an advocate to file documents related to the property acquired by them. During the year, the apex court also rebuked Delhi Police for its inaction for over three years on probe into the 2008 cash-for-vote scam, involving the alleged payment of bribes to some opposition MPs for their votes in favour of the July 2008 trust motion by the UPA-I government. This resulted in arrests of former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh and BJP leader L K Advani’s former close aide Sudheendra Kulkarni, besides two former and one sitting BJP MPs among others. Virtually reflecting the public ire against corruption and price rise, the apex court, while continuing to tighten the screw on corruption, expressed deep anguish over the widening gulf between the rich and the poor in the country and said, in one of its orders, that there cannot be “two Indias”. Observing that no one in the country should die of hunger and malnutrition, the apex court directed the Centre to provide 50 lakh tonnes of additional food grains for distribution among people below poverty level and asked them to build sufficient night shelters to ensure that no homeless person is forced to sleep in the open in the harsh winter.













Kidnapping accused granted bail

TNN Dec 26, 2011, 05.02AM IST

GUWAHATI: Fulber Ali, father of Farzan Ali, the 12-year-old boy who went missing on July 30 from the city’s Gopinath Nagar, can now only pray he gets justice from Gauhati high court after a lower court on Monday accepted the bail bond of Mahesh Kalita, the prime suspect in the case. “I lost my son and now the weak stand of police has freed the culprits. Now, my only hope is the high court,” said Fulber Ali.

Farzan Ali, alias Raja, a student of Little Flower School at Birubari, went missing while he was playing in front of the Alis’ home on the morning of July 30. He was suspected to be kidnapped and killed later, as the abductor demanded a ransom of Rs 15 lakh for his release. Farzan is still traceless.

Fulber Ali filed a habeas corpus petition on November 29 after police failed to trace his deceased son’s body. Ali filed the writ petition (WP (C) 42/11) in the high court alleging that the police showed negligence in the investigation.

“We are suspecting the role of police in the case. Though Mahesh Kalita in his 161 CrPc statement to police confessed to killing Farzan and throwing his body in Deepor Beel, the police could not collect any evidence against him. Kalita later did an about turn and denied the charges in his 164 CrPc statement before the chief judicial magistrate, a move that helped him get bail,” said the counsel of the petitioner, Siddharth Bhattacharjee.

“We argued before the court that if the six persons arrested confessed to killing Farzan, why they were not booked under Section 302 and their statements not recorded under 164 CrPc,” added the counsel.






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