Saturday, March 31, 2007

Beware of dogs in Bangalore

Beware of dogs

RAVI SHARMA
in Bangalore

Stray dogs kill two children in Bangalore. But the methods used to control the menace anger animal lovers.

M.A.SRIRAM

Stray dogs in Kodihalli in Bangalore.

THE death of a four-year-old boy in Bangalore in early March, after a pack of stray dogs attacked him, has changed the fortune of many a dog in the city. The boy was the second child in the city to meet such a fate in recent months - an eight-year-old girl was attacked fatally by a pack of dogs in January. Both these incidents happened in garbage-strewn areas.

Bangalore has an animal birth control (ABC) programme that is aimed at keeping the stray dog population in check but this has been ineffective for a variety of reasons ranging from lack of resources and mismanagement of funds to lack of clear thinking. The Municipal Corporation, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), has not been able to keep pace with the city's rapid urbanisation and a galloping population, which tops 80 lakh now, up from 65 lakh in 2001. The newly created Greater Bangalore will cover 741 square kilometres as compared with the 225 sq. km. area of erstwhile Bangalore.

There is hardly a road in the city where garbage is cleared in time. Unauthorised eateries and shops, including those selling meat, have sprung up everywhere. The waste they generate is dumped on the streets and officials turn a blind eye to this practice. In the circumstances, the stray dog menace was just waiting to happen.

India accounts for 70 per cent (or roughly 20,000) of the world's rabies-related deaths. However, for the past one year or so, Bangalore has not contributed to this piece of statistic. According to the figures received from the BBMP, between April and December 2006 there were 13,419 cases of dog bites, with pet dogs accounting for 41 per cent, or 5,544 of them. Also, Bangalore's share of all dog bites cases in the country is only 0.11 per cent; the average in the rest of India is 1.75 per cent.

Now the bitter part about Bangalore's dogs. The number of stray dogs at present is close to 100,000 as against 55,000 in 2003. Following the death of the boy in March, the Municipal Corporation, on the orders of Karnataka Health Minister R. Ashok, set out to catch a thousand dogs a day. But there was a catch: it did not have trained dog catchers or adequate dog pounds to keep the dogs. Nevertheless, spurred into action by an angry citizenry, the BBMP began picking up strays. It enlisted dog catchers from the Malabar region of Kerala and a neutering expert from Ahmedabad. Dogs identified as diseased or aggressive were culled.

Soon, animal rights activists began crying foul, complaining of "inhumane methods" being used to contain the stray dog population. They alleged that the municipality was dumping the dogs on the city's outskirts, thus transferring the problem to another area instead of eliminating it. The activists demanded that all canines, including strays, should have a licence and that a stray dog management advisory committee should be constituted.

Minister's faux pas

K. GOPINATHAN

Mass culling of stray dogs in Mysore.

The Health Minister, on his part, announced that all stray dogs would be euthanised in a month. He also questioned the usefulness of the government-funded ABC programme, which has been implemented for the last six years by the Animal Husbandry Department with the help of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), Krupa, Animal Rights Foundation and Karuna. Incidentally, the areas where the two children died are not a part of the ABC programme.

Said R. Ashok: "We'll intensify the culling operations without any mercy. I'm not happy with the NGOs' work. A committee formed under Dr. M.K. Sudarshan [Principal, Kempe Gowda Institute of Medical Sciences] will submit a report on whether the NGOs have served their purpose. On the basis of the report, I'll decide if we need the services of animal rights activists or not."

Ashok later admitted that he was not aware that under the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, which were added to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, no street dog, unless incurably ill, mortally wounded, ferocious or rabid and diagnosed as such by a qualified veterinarian, could be euthanised. Meanwhile, animal lovers, including Governor T.N. Chaturvedi, raised voices against the BBMP's methods to contain the population of stray dogs.

According to Dr. Prakash Reddy, Deputy Director of the Animal Husbandry Department, nearly 200,000 dogs have been sterilised in the past six years at a cost of Rs.6.25 crore. The stray dog population has gone down by 30 per cent, he says; but no one is buying this figure. The popular perception is that the management of the programme has been shoddy.

The NGOs complained that the ABC monitoring committee did not often meet and even when it did the issues they raised - such as shortage of ambulances, dog pounds and steps to make the programme effective - were not addressed. They also said they were not to blame for the BBMP's inefficient monitoring methods.

Said Suparna Ganguly of CUPA: "There is a need to extend the programme to all areas. There is also a strong co-relation between the human population, garbage and stray dogs. You can't control stray dogs without effectively tackling the other two."

Public audit

V. SREENIVASA MURTHY

Animal lovers protest against the dog killings in Bangalore.

The Sudarshan Committee, which consists of experts from community medicine and veterinary science, has been asked to undertake a public audit of the effectiveness of the ABC programme. It will study whether the programme has been successful in reducing the canine population and controlling rabies and will also suggest improvements to the programme that costs the State Rs.1.6 crore annually. The committee will present its report in the first week of April.

However, most people believe that the programme is a waste of money. Had it been effective, the stray-dog population would have come down drastically in six years, they say.

Critics say no pre-programme dog survey had been conducted to determine how many dogs there were in each area. There was allegedly no proper planning, monitoring or accountability in the way the programme was carried out. The NGOs are accused of not maintaining proper records of the programme. One allegation is that the municipality fixed targets that the NGOs were incapable of achieving.

One opinion is that culling will have to be resorted to if the stray dog population is to be brought within manageable limits.

To make the annual rabies vaccination process more effective, there have been demands for a way to identify vaccinated dogs so that they are not picked up. Embedded microchips or a tattoo in the inner ear canal could help identify vaccinated dogs, but both are expensive methods. A way out could be to implement the ABC programme as a time-bound, measurable and accountable project.

Veterinary experts point out that for the ABC programme to be effective at least 80 per cent of the dogs in an area must be neutered before the programme moves to the next area. For this, the support of resident welfare associations is essential. Or else, man's best friend could turn out to be his worst enemy.

Courtesy_
Frontline

Pakistan Chief Justice in battle

Justice in battle

NIRUPAMA SUBRAMANIAN
in Karachi

By refusing to resign, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary triggers an unprecedented crisis for the Musharraf regime.

MIAN KHURSHEED/REUTERS

Chief Justice Chaudhary outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad on March 13.

IN 2004, when Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf sacked Prime Minister Mir Zafrullah Jamali and asked the country's top nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan to resign, they accepted their fate and went quietly. For Musharraf, it would have been ideal if Iftikhar Chaudhary had done the same. However, Pakistan's Chief Justice proved to be made of stronger stuff. His decision to stay on and fight his ouster triggered an unprecedented crisis for the Musharraf regime. Lawyers came out on the streets and political parties joined his protest. The intensity of the country-wide agitation took the Musharraf regime by surprise. But its response to the crisis only aggravated matters. In crises, leaders, especially authoritarian ones, tend to smell conspiracies, and Musharraf declared that "certain elements" were trying to "lower my image" in the eyes of the world. But with the protests refusing to die down even after 10 days, Musharraf pressed conciliatory buttons and admitted that the government had "mishandled" the crisis.

It all began on March 9 when Musharraf summoned Chaudhary to his "camp office" at Army House in Rawalpindi. There, according to reports, efforts were made for over five hours - some newspapers described it as "detention" - to persuade the Chief Justice to resign. When he refused to oblige, the President filed a reference against the country's senior-most judge in the Supreme Judicial Council and a presidential notification informed the nation that for this reason he would be "unable to perform his functions as Chief Justice".

Justice Javed Iqbal, the second senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, was immediately sworn in as Acting Chief Justice. The government said the senior-most judge, Justice Rana Bhagwandas, the only Hindu in the higher judiciary, could not be sworn in as he was out of the country on holiday. He was reported to be on a pilgrimage in India. As speculation grew about why he could not have been recalled considering that crucial issues of state were at stake, the government finally issued a statement that Justice Bhagwandas would be sworn in as Chief Justice the moment he returned to the country.

The charges against Chaudhary are not in the public domain. But the government said Musharraf had received "numerous complaints and serious allegations of misconduct, misuse of authority and actions prejudicial to the dignity of office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan". The President asked him for an explanation during their meeting at Army House, but Chaudhary was not able to give "satisfactory" replies. Photographs and footage circulated by the government showed Musharraf in his military khakis talking to Chaudhary.

The anger the whole episode provoked was as unexpected as it was intense. Pakistan's judiciary has at best had a "chequered" history. Senior judges have acted as handmaidens of the country's strong-armed rulers. Those who did not toe the line were forced to quit. During Nawaz Sharif's tenure, ruling party activists attacked the Supreme Court and forced Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah to flee the premises and hand in his resignation. Other methods of removal have also been used. Months after Musharraf seized power from Sharif, all judges were required to take a fresh oath swearing loyalty to the "provisional constitutional order" introduced after the coup. Those who refused, including the Chief Justice, had to resign. In doing this, Musharraf was only following the steps adopted by his military predecessor, Zia-ul-Haq, to purge the judiciary of opposition.Chaudhary, not yet the Chief Justice, was among the judges who took the fresh oath. The "cleansed" Supreme Court then endorsed the Musharraf coup, invoking the infamous "doctrine of necessity". Despite these low standards, Musharraf's summary treatment of the Chief Justice shocked Pakistan.

This is the first time that a chief justice of Pakistan has had a reference against him in the Supreme Judicial Council. There is no provision in the Constitution for the summary removal of a judge or for the "suspension" of a judge before an inquiry by the Supreme Judicial Council, a five-judge panel that oversees the work of the judiciary. A judge can be removed only on the recommendation of this panel. Declaring the Chief Justice "non-functional" was clearly a violation of the Constitution. Later, Law Minister Wasi Zafar said he had been sent on "compulsory leave", which was provided for under a 1970 order.

MOHSIN RAZA/REUTERS

In Lahore, lawyers protesting against the Chief Justice's removal clash with the police on March 16.

It was not simply the constitutional gymnastics that fuelled the agitation. Pakistan has suffered quietly several transgressions of the country's basic law since 2002. However, since his appointment to the highest office in June 2005, Chaudhary was seen to be making some efforts to restore the "independence" of the judiciary. One of his main achievements was clearing the backlog of cases with the Supreme Court. Never particularly known for any outstanding judgments in his career, he took everyone by surprise when in 2006 he ruled against the government's sale of the public sector Pakistan Steel Mills, quoting irregularities.

But by far the most important role he played was in taking up the case of Pakistan's "disappeared" people - those who were picked up by intelligence agencies from the beginning of the "war on terror" for their suspected links with Al Qaeda. Through orders delivered in an open court, he forced the security agencies to produce several people whose families had appealed in vain to the government before. Many of the "disappeared" people, who were reunited with their families in December 2006 thanks to Chaudhary, spoke of being held without charge by intelligence agencies in secret locations. The case, originally based on a petition by 40 families, is still before the Supreme Court. With about 400 people said to be missing, more and more distraught families had begun knocking at the Chief Justice's door.

Against this background, the charges against Chaudhary became irrelevant to the drama being played out on the streets of Pakistan. Commentators said that even if the accusations against him were correct, there were others occupying high office who were guilty of far worse and that in any case, corruption did not appear to be among his alleged misdemeanours. Speculation was rife that Chaudhary was felled for an entirely different reason.

This is election year in Pakistan and political uncertainty prevails over Musharraf's plans. Many ruling party leaders have said that the President will seek another term from the existing National and Provincial Assemblies. In such an eventuality, the Opposition would certainly mount legal challenges. The Supreme Court was also to decide on the constitutional question of whether Musharraf should retain his uniform while occupying the office of President. With these scenarios in mind, the regime was concerned that Chaudhary, who had gained a reputation for judicial activism and "independence", could no longer be trusted to guard its interests.

Had Chaudhary decided to resign the day after his meeting with the President, or even hours prior to his first appearance before the Supreme Judicial Council, the situation might have turned out differently. But his decision to stay on and challenge his removal was the necessary condition for the agitation to take the turn that it did.

Before his first appearance in front of the Council, Chaudhary made it clear that he was not going to it for "relief", but wanted to ensure there was no ex parte order against him. To the panel, he submitted a list of objections challenging the composition of the Supreme Judicial Council. One of these was that of the five judges sitting, he knew at least three had references pending against them. Moreover, Acting Chief Justice Javed Iqbal, only the second senior-most judge, could not head the Supreme Judicial Council.

The rousing reception given to Chaudhary outside the Supreme Court each time he appeared before the Council was fit for a hero. As the first constitutional functionary to resist Musharraf, he became an iconic figure around whom lawyers, Opposition political parties and Pakistan's larger civil society rallied. Opposition parties, including Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (N), and the rightwing Islamist Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, have taken up the cause of the Chief Justice. Opposition politicians turned up in strength at various protests to express solidarity with the striking lawyers. Bhutto and Sharif gave as much support as they possibly could from their exile to the agitation.

The government's ham-handed response to the growing agitation only worsened matters. After his meeting with the President, Chaudhary went home a virtual prisoner, escorted by security personnel and barred from going to the Supreme Court. He was placed under de facto house arrest; visitors were barred from going to see him; his children were not allowed to go to school; his telephones were cut; he was denied newspapers; and a forklift truck hauled his official cars out of his home and took them away. Chaudhary was probably aware of the stir he would create when he decided to walk to court, accompanied by his wife and children, for his first appearance before the Special Judicial Council, rather than go in a car the government sent him. But he could not have predicted that by manhandling him and his wife in an effort to prevent them from walking to the court, the police would hand a grand victory to those who were agitating for his cause and embarrass the government.The protests grew after that. A nervous government used teargas, rubber bullets and batons to disperse protesters in Islamabad and protesting lawyers in Lahore. The blood on the streets fed the agitation and painted the government in even worse colours.

Nor did the government cover itself in glory when the police - seen by millions on live television - entered the offices of Geo TV, used rifle butts and batons to break up glass doors and attempted to enter its newsroom on the day that street protests in Islamabad peaked and were being covered live by almost all television stations. The most telling part of this shoddy episode was when Minister of Information Mohammed Ali Durrani rushed to the television station's office as it was happening, but policemen ignored his pleas to stop and went about with what they had set out to do. An abject apology from Musharraf and the assertion that the attack was "sabotage" against "everything my government stands for" have failed to answer questions about who ordered it in the first place.

PAKISTAN PRESS INFORMATION DEPARTMENT HANDOUT/AP

President Pervez Musharraf addresses a rally in Pakpatan near Lahore on March 17.

It is acknowledged by many that Musharraf has done more to open up the media scene in Pakistan than any of his predecessors, including encouraging a boom in private television. So in a sense, it is all thanks to Musharraf that the press has played an important role in the current protests, dropping its inhibitions to go all out against the government and side with Chaudhary . Even a directive from the Supreme Judicial Council that there should be no discussion of the reference has not prevented any television channel or newspaper from saying what it wants.

Opposition parties believe that this is the beginning of the end for Musharraf and that the issues at stake are not only about the judiciary but also about establishing a full-fledged democracy in Pakistan. "Every movement has its own dynamics. One event leads to another and it starts to gain momentum and becomes a snowball," said PPP parliamentarian Raza Rabbani.

Whether the protest against the removal of Chaudhary from the office of Chief Justice can snowball into a demand for the restoration of a full-fledged democracy, in which the resignation of President Musharraf and the creation of an interim government to oversee parliamentary elections are first steps, will depend entirely on the Opposition parties powers and inclination to transform it into something bigger than it is now.

Musharraf may overcome the crisis but the episode will have no sweet endings. He can reinstate Chaudhary only at the risk of the further erosion of his authority. On the other hand, Chaudhary's removal by the Supreme Judicial Council will erode his credentials, and that of the judiciary, further.

Courtesy_
Frontline

Friday, March 30, 2007

Reservation Policy: For and Against

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10-point plan for revival of cricket

10-point plan for revival of cricket
Thursday March 29 2007 08:06 IST

G V Ramakrishna

The recent reactions among cricket fans and in some sections of the media are irrational in many respects. First, this is not the first time we have lost to Sri Lanka and there are man occasions when we have beaten SL. In fact, we have lost more matches to SL than won, so there is no need to fall victims of the media hype. Second, the loss to Bangladesh was less defensible and yet there was no hue and cry when we lost to them. If we had beaten BD the loss to SL would be of no consequence. Third, there are several teams that lose at earlier stages, apart from the so-called minnows. The Indian media and fans should learn to take cricket as a game and not as a national victory or disgrace. To talk of changing the coach or the captain shows a knee-jerk reaction which is as irrational as it is counter-productive. What is necessary now is not to pillory the Indian team but to plan for the future. As a person who has watched international cricket for sixty years, I have the following suggestions for the revival of Indian cricket. These suggestions are made not particularly in the context of the recent defeat to Sri Lanka but generally for the longer term benefit of the game in India.

Talent search and Training: 1. In each State there should be a Selection Board of experienced cricketers with expertise in batting, slow and fast bowling and wicket keeping. This board should tour the districts to watch inter school matches and spot talent (latent and potential). Selected boys should be given a two-week intensive coaching in the different aspects of the game with special diet allowance of Rs 200. From this group of about 20 boys up to five boys should be selected for training at the State Training Institutes. 2. In each State there should be Training Institutes for training in batting, slow and fast bowling with competent Indian coaches. During this training the boys should be given a stipend of Rs 300 per week of training for about 2 to 3 weeks. During the training board and lodging should be free. 3. There should be a National Trainers Institute where the instructors can be trained by senior coaches, national and foreign. Indian coaches should get remuneration according to their seniority and experience. Foreign coaches should be paid at international rates to get the best talent. 4. The BCCI should have more experienced players than politicians and industrialists.

Players contracts: 1. The BCCI should lay down the remuneration for Ranji, Duleep and National players. 2. For National players there should be a base level of remuneration at three levels Rs 20, 15 and 10 lakhs per year. Incentives should be offered for performance in international matches with higher incentives for performance in matches outside the country. For Ranji and Duleep players lower levels of remuneration should e fixed. 3. Players under contract should be prohibited from promotional advertisement for commercial products. They can participate, with nominal compensation, for promotion of AIDS awareness, family planning, etc. 4. While annual scheduling of matches, half the time should be set apart for matches in India and abroad. a quarter of the time for playing in local matches and training and a quarter set aside for rest and recuperation. Overseas assignments of individual players should come within this period. 5. National Selectors should meet regularly with State selectors to exchange notes. 6. BCCI should publish action reports and accounts regularly for the information of the public. These suggestions should be thrown open for discussion in the media and decisions taken in consultation with senior players of proven merit.

Courtesy_
THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS

RTI Act should apply to all sections of society: HC

Right to Information Act should apply to all sections of society: judge

Staff Reporter

NGOs, charitable trusts, trade unions should be as accountable as Government

CHENNAI: The Right to Information Act should be the first step towards spreading a "culture of transparency" across Indian society, Madras High Court Judge Prabha Sridevan said here on Thursday.

"Ideally, the new [Right to Information] Act should apply to all sections of society. NGOs, charitable trusts and trade unions should be just as accountable as the Government," she told students and teachers at an UGC orientation programme on the Act at Madras University.

Ms. Justice Sridevan urged the Government to make available technology citizens could use to search for information. "Advanced information technology tools will help in providing access, but for that the Government should have the will to make the shift from being niggardly in providing access to a climate of transparency... But for this all the stakeholders should make a concerted effort."

Students were the key stakeholders who could use the Act to transform society, according to Ms. Sridevan. Reminding the audience that every right had an accompanying responsibility, she encouraged students to make use of their "right to information" and take up their "responsibility to democracy."

She hoped that the Act would reduce the apathy to and public scepticism about governance.

At the same time, Ms. Sridevan cautioned that the Act should not be abused to defeat and slow down development activities.

Chief Commissioner of the State Information Commission S. Ramakrishnan said the Act was not a magic pill to rid society of all its ills.

"It does not guarantee there will be no corruption. It does not give you remedy or redress." Yet, it provided the citizens with the tools to prevent corruption and armed them with the knowledge to seek redress.

Describing the scope of the Act, he said it even covered courts and the President. He favoured widening the scope to include trade unions.

© Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu

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THE HINDU

SC: Stays quota law for OBCs

Supreme Court stays quota law for OBCs

J. Venkatesan

1931 census may have some relevance but it cannot be the determining factor, say judges


  • Quota for SCs, STs can be implemented
  • Final hearing in third week of August
  • Judges reject Government's argument that reservation is not anti-merit


    Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh leaves the Prime Minister's Office after a Cabinet meeting in New Delhi on Thursday. — Photo: V.V. Krishnan

    New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the law providing for 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in higher education institutions such as the IITs and IIMs for 2007-08.

    However, a Bench consisting of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Lokeshwar Singh Panta said the quota for the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes could be implemented.

    The court passed the interim order on petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006.

    The court rejected the government argument that reservation was not anti-merit; and in the absence of caste data after 1931, there was no alternative to projecting the population proportion of socially and educationally backward classes and OBCs from the next best source — the latest available census of 1931.

    Need for survey

    Writing the order, Mr. Justice Pasayat said, "There is no dispute and, in fact, it was fairly accepted by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Gopal Subramaniam that there is need for periodical identification of the backward citizens and for this purpose the need for a survey of the entire population on the basis of an acceptable mechanism. What may have been relevant in 1931 census may have some relevance, but it cannot be the determinative factor. Backwardness has to be based on objective factors whereas inadequacy has to factually exist."

    The Bench said, "Though it is submitted that the number of seats available for the general category is not affected, that is really no answer to the broader issue. If there is possibility of increase in seats in the absence of reservation, it could have gone to the general category."

    It said: "If the stand of the ASG is accepted that the exercise was not intended to be undertaken immediately and the increase would be staggered over a period of three years, it could not be explained as to why a firm data base could not be evolved first, so that the exercise could be undertaken thereafter. By increasing the number of seats for the purpose of reservation, unequals are treated as equals."

    The concept of creamy layer could not prima facie be considered irrelevant, the Bench said: "It has also to be noted that nowhere else in the world do castes, classes or communities queue up for the sake of gaining backward status.

    Stark reality

    "Nowhere else in the world is there competition to assert backwardness and then to claim we are more backward than you. This truth was recognised as an unhappy and disturbing situation and such situation was noted by this court as a stark reality in Indra Sawhney's case [Mandal case]."

    The court said it needed no reiteration that the creamy layer rule was a necessary bargain between the competing ends of caste-based reservation and the principle of secularism. It was part of the constitutional scheme.

    On the Government's contention that creamy layer rule would be applicable only to Article 16 (4) (providing reservation in appointment) and not to Article 15 (5) (making special provisions for advancement of educationally and socially backward classes), the Bench said this issue would have to be examined in detail to ascertain whether such a stand was based on any sound foundation.

    "It would be desirable to keep in hold the operation of the Act in so far as it relates to Section 6 thereof for the OBCs category only."

    "It would be permissible for the Union of India to initiate or continue the process, if any, for determining on a broad-based foundation `OBCs' notwithstanding the pendency of the cases before this court and without prejudice to the issues involved."

    The Bench directed listing of the petitions for final hearing in August third week .

    Related Stories:
    Court: reservation policy should not perpetuate backwardness
    Jubilation at AIIMS, Delhi IIT
    OBC quota should continue: V.P. Singh
    Karunanidhi terms order shocking

    © Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu

  • Courtesy_
    THE HINDU


  • Wednesday, March 28, 2007

    Students riding motorcycles breaking law?

    Students riding motorcycles breaking law?

    Meera Srinivasan

    Those in 16-18 age group can only ride vehicles with engine capacity of 50 cc Major two-wheeler manufacturers such as TVS Motors and Bajaj have terminated production of 50 cc mopeds.



    A VIOLATION?: A school student driving a two-wheeler at Anna Nagar. — File photo

    CHENNAI: Does your school-going child ride a motorcycle? Then he or she is probably breaking a law.

    Even with a licence, motorists in the age group 16-18 violate the Motor Vehicles Act, unless they are riding a two-wheeler with an engine capacity of 50 cc or less.

    According to Provision 1 in Section 4 of the Motor Vehicles Act, "No person under the age of 18 years shall drive a motor vehicle in any public place. Provided that a motorcycle with engine capacity not exceeding 50 cc may be driven in a public place by a person after attaining the age of 16 years."

    In essence, the two-wheeler licence issued to those in the age group 16 to 18 years only authorises them to ride gearless vehicles with an engine capacity not exceeding 50 cc.

    However, major two-wheeler manufacturers such as TVS Motors and Bajaj have terminated production of 50 cc mopeds.

    Engine capacity

    K. Ramakrishnan, General Manager, Marketing, TVS Motors, said a drastic reduction in commuter usage and increase in usage for carrying load, compelled the company to go in for vehicles with more engine power.

    Hence, two-wheelers with an engine capacity of 60 or 70 cc displaced the sub-50 cc ones.

    Dealers said most manufacturers were graduating from production of vehicles with two-stroke engines to those with four-stroke. This made them opt for a higher engine capacity. Consequently, motorists under 18 years of age end up using motorbikes that their licence prohibits them from using.

    Secretary of the Automobile Association of South India (AASI) M.K.Subramanian said, "This gap needs to be addressed soon. The Act could be amended to permit students to ride vehicles with higher engine capacity. A 17-year-old can easily ride a bike with 70 cc engine capacity."

    However, he cautioned parents and school authorities to ensure motorists in the age group wore helmets and refrained from speeding.

    He also said some motorists showed a below-50 cc vehicle of a relative or friend while obtaining their licence and later used a vehicle of their choice. "This should also be checked."

    When contacted, authorities said they would address the issue very soon.

    State Transport Commissioner C.P. Singh said, "We will strictly go by law. We will soon stop issuing licences to those under 18 years unless applicants produced proof of owning a vehicle with an engine capacity of 50 cc or less that they may have purchased earlier." Mr. Singh suggested that school students use cycles. "It makes for good exercise."

    According to Joint Commissioner (Traffic) Sunil Kumar, between January and March this year, 15 persons below 18 years were victims of fatal road accidents. Official sources said about 95 per cent of these involved two-wheelers.

    Lack of awareness

    However, schools authorities, parents and students seemed to be unaware of this clause in the licence.

    Schools heads and parents said they insisted that students wore helmets and checked their licence but were not aware of the clause.

    "I can ride a Scooty easily. I've been using one for the past couple of months to go for my tuition classes and school. I can't wait till I'm 18," said a Class XII student.

    © Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu

    Courtesy_
    THE HINDU

    Acquired land becomes state property: SC

    Acquired land becomes state property: Supreme Court

    Legal Correspondent

    No obligation to return land even if it is not needed for stated purpose


  • State can convey land to anyone at market rate
  • Bench allows Housing Board appeal

    New Delhi : Once a piece of land has been duly acquired under the Land Acquisition Act, it becomes state property. There is no obligation to return it to the owner, even if the land is not needed for the purpose for which it was acquired.

    In that event, the state can dispose of the land or convey it to anyone at the market rate, said a Supreme Court Bench consisting of Justices C.K. Thakker and P.K. Balsubramanyan. Writing the judgment, Justice Balasubramanyan cited an earlier judgment and said: "It is settled law that if the land is acquired for a public purpose, after the public purpose is achieved, the rest of the land could be used for any other public purpose. In case there is no other public purpose for which the land is needed, then instead of disposal by way of sale to the erstwhile owner, the land should be put to public auction and the amount fetched can be better utilised for public purpose."

    In the instant case, a batch of 43 petitions was filed in the Madras High Court by owners for a direction to the Tamil Nadu Housing Board to re-convey their land acquired in Ambattur taluk as it was not used for building houses.

    They argued that Section 48B of the Land Acquisition Act, as inserted by Tamil Nadu, provided for return of land if it was not needed for the purpose for which it was acquired.

    A Division Bench directed re-conveyance of the land to the petitioners.

    Judgment quashed

    Allowing the board's appeals against this judgment, the apex court Bench said, "If the request of the writ petitioners for re-conveyance in terms of Section 48B of the Act stood rejected," it was not open to the single judge to issue the direction to consider an identical representation all over again.

    "The Division Bench [of the High Court] apparently, even without giving the TNHB an opportunity of being heard, proceeded at the stage of admission itself to direct re-conveyance of the land to the writ petitioners," Justice Balasubramanyan said and quashed the judgment.

    © Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu

  • Courtesy_
    THE HINDU



  • Sunday, March 25, 2007

    PMK MLAs staged Demo in TN Assembly

    Courtesy_
    THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS

    Money and Murder - Cricket

    Money and Murder: The Making of a Bloodsport

    Byline By M.J. Akbar

    India’s defeat was evident during the victory against Bermuda.You could see the smugness return into the eyes of our spoilt, overpaid, pampered, immature dead duck cricketers as they hammered Bermuda’s jokers

    Cricket, tea and murder in the vicarage were the three archetypal metaphors for the British empire: Dennis Compton (Brylcreem and straight drives), Rupert Brook (tea at four at Grantchester) and Agatha Christie are the architecture on the cultural landscape of an empire sleepwalking its way towards new nations that would throw out Britain but keep cricket and tea. Who would have thought that Hercule Poirot would be needed as the third umpire at the West Indies World Cup? Cricket is dead, murder is alive, and the game is no longer my cup of tea.

    The ironies would leave Christie breathless. Bob Woolmer is an Englishman who served the progeny of empire, and was killed by the new culture spawned by independent nations, a mindset controlled by crime and greed. Crime has maimed Pakistan, and greed is crippling India. Cricket is only one symptom of an all-pervasive cancer. India and Pakistan can take comfort in the fact that the only difference between them is that India defeated a joke called Bermuda, and Pakistan couldn’t.

    Gentility began to ebb out of the gentleman’s game a long while ago, being shoved aside in rough stages by intensity. The British began to mix metaphors first, when the masters of the world were defeated by the minions of the world. Their first defeat by Australia created such heartburn that they declared cricket dead and preserved its ashes in an urn. It was intensity that led to bodyline, in which an English bowler, with the full approval of his captain and a typically weasel-MCC, turned a ball of leather into a lethal weapon aimed at the head of Australia’s immaculate batsmen. The two nations still go to war over the Ashes, as evident in the triumphs accorded to victors. When England last won the Ashes, even the Queen lost her reserve and handed out gongs. The star, Andrew Flintoff, arrived, so it was said, drunk to the gong ceremony and relieved himself on the regal lawns. What a jolly good lark, cheered everyone, for stupidity is the homage worshippers pay to idols. But of course, idols are perched on oily pedestals, as Flintoff found out when he drank after defeat and ended up in the ocean. He was pilloried by the most dangerous jury in the world, a press conference.

    Cricket is a family game, hence the intensity. Would Cain have killed Abel were he not his brother? Unlikely. There is no ‘world’ in this World Cup. There cannot be, when you need seven joke teams to make up a tournament of 16. Bermuda was led by a sumo wrestler who defied the laws of gravity just once to take a magnificent catch against India, but confirmed that science cannot be dismissed lightly on a hundred occasions. India’s defeat was evident during the victory against Bermuda.

    You could see the smugness return into the eyes of our spoilt, overpaid, pampered, immature dead duck cricketers as they hammered Bermuda’s jokers. Sachin Tendulkar, who cannot be allowed to retire because so much advertising rides on the memory of what he used to be, had the look of a man who had won the World Cup after he made a few runs. Rahul Dravid, who now believes that cricket should not be front page news, should retire from press conferences. I could go on, but what is the point: how many synonyms can you find for pathetic? But why blame an Uthappa alone, when we all conspire to convert him from unknown extra to divinity on the basis of just one innings in Chennai? Everyone is to blame, not least being the politicians, from Bengal to Jharkhand to Maharashtra to Kerala, who have muscled into cricket space in the hope that it will get them votes, and of course because they want a stake in the huge monies that have destroyed the game.

    Pakistan looked a team in distress even before they had played a match. Their captain, Inzamamul Haq, could triple his personal endorsement revenues if someone eased that look of permanent pain on his visage. He also has the slightly irritating habit of confusing the Almighty with a cricket coach (irritating, I am sure, to the Almighty as well, which might explain the results). Apparently, he thought that massive quantities of ghee-strewn parathas and meat followed by a long sermon on religion from a cleric were adequate preparation for a World Cup match. It was entirely appropriate that a ‘joke’ team, Ireland, ended the fun.

    Crime and corporations are the godfathers of Indian cricket. The two keep their distance from each other, but both know that they are linked by the cricketer. Crime got its opportunity because governments imbued with false morality have refused to permit licensed and regulated betting on cricket. For some obscure, fundamentalist reason, it is perfectly moral in India to bet on the performance of horses, but not on the performance of men. There is no point arguing that men can be corrupted and horses can’t, because the shenanigans of the race course would put any decent mafia to shame. Cricketers might even fetch a higher price from illegal bookmakers. Bribes are also race- and colour-neutral, as South Africa has shown.

    Everyone knows that a cricket team on tour lives two lives. One is on the playing field that you see on television, and the other is in hotels with groupies who cajole and bribe their way to the penumbra of cricket celebrities. That is where the stench of corruption begins. It is in the interest of cricket’s administrators to pretend that they cannot smell the stink, since cricket has given them budgets that are beyond their wildest fantasies. But it has always been understood that this malicious odour would not waft into the public domain. Criminals have broken this implicit rule with the murder of Bob Woolmer. The culprits have surely left enough clues. Woolmer recognised his murderers, or he would not have allowed them into his room. That tightens the circle of suspicion. It is very likely that the murderers were seen by others when they knocked on Woolmer’s room or after they left. Woolmer was living in the team hotel, not in a monastery. If the murder is linked to betting syndicates, then either the game finds the will to change its structure or it will die an ignoble death.

    Corporations may be guilty of no worse a crime than hysteria, but it is time to check what price their artificially injected mania has begun to demand. It is always a trifle risky to place nationalism in the custody of multinationals. Multinationals never get the balance of nationalism right, since their functioning ideology is non-patriotic. You do not have to scream like a banshee in order to sound like an Indian. That Jharkhand fan who broke a wall or two of Dhoni’s new home, being built on land gifted by a stupid government, was absolutely right when he alleged that Dhoni was much more interested in modelling than in cricket. Even if this is not completely true, since that modelling contract will not come without performance, it is fair to suggest that the Indian cricketer has acquired a split personality. A new, young and semi-tried fast bowler whose name I prefer to forget makes millions out of a war dance on the field, and is honoured by his state government after his idiocy: on which rational axis would you expect his brain to function? And it might be a good moment to ban all those ho-ho-ho cricket commentators who glamorise absurdity in order to keep on the right side of their paymasters.

    The purge of Indian cricket can start with a simple decision. Sack the whole team and select a completely new eleven. After all, they would still defeat Bermuda. Naturally, this will not happen. The leaders of Indian cricket will not dare risk accountability, since they would also have to resign on that principle. The world’s administrators will try and dismiss Woolmer’s murder as a one-off crime, rather than a malign disease on the body of the game. Greed will screen the truth.

    How do you convert a sport into a bloodsport? Mix greed, megalomania, nationalism, God, politicians, advertising and murder.

    Courtesy_

    Deccan Chronicle

    Drop Satellite Town proposal in Pondy: Jayalalithaa

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    Courtesy_

    Maalaimalar

    Facing any Font Problem, download here:

    http://www.maalaimalar.com/asp/news/Eltpan-n.ttf

    Friday, March 23, 2007

    HC quashes TN Entry Tax Act

    HC quashes TN Entry Tax Act

    Express News Service

    Chennai, March 22: The Madras High Court on Thursday struck down the Tamil Nadu Tax on Entry of Goods into Local Areas Act, 2001.

    ‘‘We have no hesitation in holding that levy of entry tax under the Act is violative of clause (a) of Article 304 of the Constitution. We hold that the demand and collection of entry tax is illegal, unauthorised and violative of Article 301 of the Constitution,’’ the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice K Chandru, observed while allowing a batch of writ petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of the Act.

    Around 1,000 petitioners, including ITC Limited, have filed petitions seeking to quash the enactment.

    The petitioners said, the Act which was brought into force in December 2001 had empowered the State Government to levy and collect tax on entry of scheduled goods into any local area for consumption, use and sale without exceeding 30 percent of interest specified by the government.

    It was a direct and immediate impediment to the freedom of the trade guaranteed under Article 301 of the Constitution, the petitioners argued and contended that the assent of President was not obtained under Article 304 (B) for the levy of entry tax under the Act.

    On a careful perusal of the case, the Bench held, ‘‘We hold that the levy of entry tax on goods imported from other states and abroad to Tamil Nadu is not compensatory in nature. The State Government cannot discharge its burden by placing materials before the court that the payment of entry tax is reimbursement for the benefit provided or to be provided to tax payers. The levy imposing entry tax being discriminatory is also violative of Article 304 (A) of the Constitution.’’

    Courtesy_
    THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS

    People are supreme, not the judiciary

    People are supreme, not the judiciary

    Judicial independence does not mean exemption from account- ability to the people; it only means independence from the legislature and the executive

    BY DR P.C. ALEXANDER

    Most people will agree that among the three organs of government — the legislature, the executive and the judiciary — the one which has undergone the least degree of erosion in public esteem in India is the judiciary. During the last few years people have been watching with disgust how some unscrupulous politicians anxious to come to power or cling to power in certain states, have been indulging in shameless practices like horse trading of MLAs, misuse of the office of governor, improper resort to Article 356 of the Constitution, etc. The intervention of the judiciary to correct such distortions and to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution has served to enhance its credibility and peoples’ faith in its objectivity. However, of late, there has been a growing feeling among the people that the judiciary is averse to accepting that it is also accountable to the people, and that accountability, far from being incompatible with independence. will only strengthen it.

    Judicial independence does not mean exemption from accountability to the people; it only means independence from the legislature and the executive. The fundamental principle of democracy or “government by the people” is that the people are supreme and every organ of the government is accountable to them. When people see proper systems and procedures in position, which can ensure judicial accountability their faith in the judiciary will only get deepened and stronger.

    There are many factors causing concern among the people regarding the concept of judicial accountability. The long delays in the disposal of cases and the very heavy pendency of cases in the courts are important causes for the present trend of erosion of faith about judicial accountability. As of 2005, the pendency of cases in the high courts was 33.79 lakhs and in the subordinate courts, 2.35 crores. The low ratio of the number of judges to population (13 per a million as against a desirable rate of 50 per a million) is often given as one of the reasons for the heavy pendency of cases. While this may be true, many other important issues have to be addressed by the judiciary itself in order to ensure greater expediency and efficiency in the administration of justice. The practice of granting liberal adjournments, lengthy arguments by lawyers and lengthy judgments by the judges, long delays in delivering judgments after hearing is completed, multiplicity of levels of appeal, indiscriminate admission of public interest litigations, etc., are some of them. The judiciary alone can rectify these deficiencies and people cannot be blamed if they believe that the main reason for the heavy pendency and delays is the weakness in the acceptance of included in the Constitution. But here a major problem arises because the judiciary seems to believe that the power of punishment of judges should remain solely with it and not be shared with any other authority.

    According to the Judges Inquiry Bill 2006 introduced in the Parliament, all complaints against the judges are to be handled only by a committee of judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court with himself as the chairman. The existing procedures for investigation into complaints, which may lead to impeachment provide for appointment of a committee by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha or the Speaker of the Lok Sabha (depending on where the impeachment process is initiated), but the proposed legislation vests this power with the committee of judges. This is presumably based on the theory that judges should be judged only by judges and involvement of anyone else will be an encroachment on the independence of the judiciary.

    Already the Supreme Court, by its judgment of 1993, has assumed to itself the responsibility for proposing the names of persons to be appointed as judges. Article 124 (on appointments to the Supreme Court) and Article 217 (on appointments to the high court) state in unambiguous language that appointments are to be made by the executive after consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

    For 43 years after the Constitution came into force, successive Prime Ministers and accountability on its part.

    The perception about lack of judicial accountability has arisen also because of what people see as soft treatment to judges accused of misbehaviour. There is no provision in the Constitution for any punishment other than removal through impeachment, and therefore, the only penalty — if it can be called so — meted out to erring judges is transfer from one high court to another. The impracticability of the impeachment procedure has been amply proved by the manner in which Justice V. Ramaswamy of the Supreme Court escaped punishment in 1993 for established charges of misbehaviour. If accountability of the judiciary is to be enforced, appropriate provisions for punishment other than impeachment have to be their Cabinets have been recommending to the President the names of persons considered eligible for appointment after consultation with the Chief Justice, and no one had disputed the legitimacy of this role for the elected executive which is accountable to the people through the legislature. Perhaps, after 1993, India has become the only democracy in the world where the head of the government has no decisive say in the appointment of judges of the high court and the Supreme Court. Of course the Prime Minister is still the authority to send proposals for appointment of judges to the President, but his role has now been practically reduced to one of endorsing the names proposed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who does so after consultation with his senior colleagues.

    The governor and chief minister of the state have to be consulted by the Central executive under Article 217 before recommending the names of persons to be appointed as judges of the state high court. Now consultation is made by the judiciary, but this has become a mere formality as the actual selection of the persons to be appointed is with the judiciary after 1993. The judiciary obviously is keen to have the de facto power to appoint or to punish judges as it is of the view that such a power is indispensable for preserving its independence. This claim lies at the root of the people’s perception about lack of judicial accountability.

    T he main argument in support of giving this responsibility to the judiciary is that in the present situation of weak coalitions and caste and region based politics at the Central level, appointments to the high office of judges may be influenced by party and regional considerations and the quality of the higher judiciary may be seriously impaired. But the remedy for this is not divesting this important responsibility from the executive and vesting it with the judiciary. A practical solution to this problem is to have a high level judicial commission consisting of the Chief Justice of India, one of the judges of the Supreme Court, one chief justice from the state high courts, one reputed jurist, one eminent person of high national standing and the Union law minister, which will be responsible for preparing the panel of names for appointment as judges and also for dealing with all complaints about misbehaviour or incapacity on the part of judges. Such a judicial commission can ensure both independence and accountability of the judiciary without violating the spirit of the doctrine of Separation of Powers.

    DR P.C. ALEXANDER was the governor ¦ of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and is at present a Member of Parliament (RS)

    Courtesy_

    DECCAN CHRONICLE

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