Monday, October 29, 2007

Ensure protection for unregistered marriages

Marriage tie

Monday October 29 2007 09:03 IST

Ensure protection for unregistered marriages

THIS is the second time within a space of 20 months that the Supreme Court has directed states to ensure that all marriages in the country are registered. This is in conformity with international law. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) stipulates the compulsory registration of marriage in Article 16 (2). So far India has dragged its feet on this. Although it signed CEDAW in 1980 and ratified it in 1993, India was also careful to put on record its inability to ensure registration of all marriages because “it is not practical in a vast country like India with its variety of customs, religions and level of literacy” to do this.

This is an argument whose time has gone. If a vast country like India can vote, if a vast country like India can have a decadal census, if a vast country like India can conform to the Indian Penal Code and legislate against child marriage, there is no reason why a vast country like this cannot register all marriages. In any case even the plea that lack of literacy is a major hurdle cuts no ice, seeing that literacy levels are rising everywhere, including in extremely marginalised regions, with some states well on the way towards achieving universal literacy. Also, to regard this essentially clerical requirement as an interference in personal law would be wholly misplaced.

The advantages of such a step are too obvious to require reiteration here. Suffice it to say that this could be the foundational step for conceiving the architecture of matrimonial rights, which has remained an unlegislated area. The one aspect which does, however, deserve the attention of the administration, civil society and courts is this: what happens to those already in unregistered marriages? It would be tragic if, for instance, women in unregistered marriages were to lose their rights, say, of inheritance; or if their husbands were now to desert them. In other words, we must ensure that registration, per se, does not become the sole determining factor for the validity of a marriage.


Contempt of court and the truth

Contempt of court and the truth

Anil Divan

The contest is between truth and its suppression. The choice then is between the plea of truth to expose judicial misconduct and the attempt to stifle such publication by the use of the contempt power.

In 2002, there were adverse comments widely reported in the print media in Karnataka regarding the private behaviour of some sitting judges of the High Court. The High Court suo motu commenced contempt proceedings against several publications for scandalising the Court and lowering its authority. The matter reached the Supreme Court and an agonised Chief Justice Khare while criticising the media for not disclosing their sources stated that “I will reward the media if they come out with the truth”… “I personally believe that truth should be a defence in a contempt case.”

Broadly, criminal contempt means either scandalising the Court or prejudicing a fair trial or interference with the administration of justice.

In the “Mid-day” case, a bench of the Delhi High Court without considering the defence of truth has imposed a severe sentence of four months imprisonment on the media for scandalising the Court. The case is now pending in the Supreme Court and raises far-reaching questions of public law.

The law as laid down by the Supreme Court following earlier cases was that justification or truth was no defence against summary proceedings for contempt when words were used which scandalised the Court or lowered its authority.

Parliament has now intervened and radically changed the law by Act 6 of 2006 by amending Section 13 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 which states — “Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force ... (b) the court may permit, in any proceedings for contempt of court, justification by truth as a valid defence if it is satisfied that it is in public interest and the request for invoking the said defence is bonafide.”

The Statement of Objects and Reasons to the Bill states that the amendment “would introduce fairness in procedure and meet the requirements of Art. 21 of the Constitution.”

When the provisions of the Bill were discussed in the Lok Sabha, Law Minister H.R. Bharadwaj said “Suppose, there is a corrupt judge and he is doing corruption within your sight, are you not entitled to say that what you are saying is true? Truth should prevail. That is also in public interest.”

The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) headed by the distinguished former Chief Justice of India, M.N. Venkatachaliah, in its report stated “Judicial decisions have been interpreted to mean that the law as it now stands, even truth cannot be pleaded as a defence to a charge of contempt of court. This is not a satisfactory state of law. … A total embargo on truth as justification may be termed as an unreasonable restriction. It would, indeed, be ironical if, in spite of the emblems hanging prominently in the court halls, manifesting the motto ‘Satyameva Jayate’ in the High Courts and ‘Yatho dharmas tatho jaya’ in the Supreme Court, the courts could rule out the defence of justification by truth. The Commission is of the view that the law in this area requires an appropriate change.”

Chief Justice E.S. Venkataramiah, whose judgments on press freedom are liberal and well known — gave an interview to journalist Kuldip Nayar on the eve of his retirement. He stated “the judiciary in India has deteriorated in its standards because such judges appointed as are willing to be ‘influenced’ by lavish parties and whisky bottles.” … “in every High Court, there are at least 4 to 5 judges who are practically out every evening, wining and dining either at a lawyers’ house or a foreign embassy.” The columnist further reported that “Chief Justice Venkataramiah reiterated that close relations of judges be debarred from practicing in the same High Court.”

At the instance of a leading advocate, a petition was filed against Justice Venkataramiah bringing this interview to the notice of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court for instituting contempt proceedings against him for scandalising the entire judiciary. The Division Bench observed that the entire interview appeared to have been given with an idea to improve the judiciary and it was not a fit case where suo motu action was called for and dismissed the petition on merit.

International standards and laws of other democracies would be informative and enable us to arrive at the right standards. Professor Michael Addo of the University of Exeter has collected the views of many European experts in “Freedom of Expression and the Criticism of Judges.”

In European democracies such as Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, Italy, there is no power to commit for contempt for scandalising the court. The judge has to file a criminal complaint or institute an action for libel. Summary sanctions can be imposed only for misbehaviour during court proceedings.

In Belgium, the media have been very critical of the functioning of the administration of justice and have strongly criticised individual judges. This tension between the press and the judiciary led to a seminal pronouncement of the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights). Leo De Haes and Hugo Gijsels were editor and journalist of a weekly magazine Humo. They published five articles in which they criticised judges of the Antwerp Court of Appeal in virulent terms for having awarded custody of children to their father although there were serious allegations against him of incest and abuse of children. The three judges and the Advocate-General instituted proceedings against Haes and Gijsels seeking compensation for damage caused by the defamatory articles. The Tribunal of first instance held against the journalists and the same was affirmed by the Brussels Court of Appeal and on further appeal by the Court of Cassation. The journalists applied to the ECHR and succeeded. It was held that though courts had to enjoy public confidence and judges had to be protected against destructive attacks that were unfounded, the articles contained detailed information based on thorough research, and the press had a duty to impart information and ideas of public interest and the public had a right to receive them It was held that there was a breach of Article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention which guaranteed freedom of speech and expression and there was also a breach of Article 6(1) (fairness of trial) because the Tribunal refused to study the reports of professors relied upon by the journalists. The journalists were awarded damages and costs of over Francs 964000 against the State. The case shows that there is no summary right of committal for contempt and the judges adopted proceedings for libel which ultimately failed.

Professor Addo concludes in relation to Art. 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights that although all countries in Europe had an offence relating to the criticism of judges on their books only a few continue to punish for this offence and there is an emerging common European standard.

In the U.K., the offence of scandalising the court has become obsolete. The judiciary was vigorously criticised by the English press in the Spy Catcher case. Peter Wright a former intelligence officer wrote his memoirs but the Court of Appeal injuncted the publication of the book in England. The House of Lords, by a majority of three against two confirmed the interim injunction and enlarged it. The Times of London came out with a blistering editorial which said: “Yesterday morning the law looked simply to be an ass. Those who regretted this fact were waiting with quiet confidence for the Law Lords to do something about it . . . But yesterday afternoon the law was still an ass ... In the hands [of] Lords Templeman, Ackner and Brandon (the majority who ruled for the gag order) it had become unpredictable and wild seemingly responsive only to autocratic whims.”

The Daily Mirror came out with a front page caption “You Fools” and published the photographs of Lords Templeman, Ackner, and Brandon upside down.

In the United States, contempt power is used against the press and publication only if there is a clear imminent and present danger to the disposal of a pending case. Criticism however virulent or scandalous after final disposal of the proceedings will not be considered as contempt. The U.S. Supreme Court observed — “the assumption that respect for the judiciary can be won by shielding judges from published criticism wrongly appraises the character of American public opinion. For it is a prized American privilege to speak one’s mind, although not always with perfect good taste on all public institutions ... And an enforced silence, however, limited, solely in the name of preserving the dignity of the Bench, would probably engender resentment, suspicion and contempt much more than it would enhance respect.”

Our Parliament, by the recent amendment where justification or truth can be bona fide pleaded in the public interest has attempted clearly to bring our law in line with European and American standards.

Truth was treated as an ‘untouchable’ while exercising contempt jurisdiction for scandalising the Court. Parliament has now opened the doors of the temple of justice for the erstwhile untouchable.

In the case of Veeraswami, a former Chief Justice of Madras High Court, the Supreme Court observed: “A single dishonest judge not only dishonours himself and disgraces his office but jeopardises the integrity of the entire judicial system.”

The contest is between truth and its suppression. The choice then is between the plea of truth to expose judicial misconduct and the attempt to stifle such publication by the use of the contempt power. The Delhi High Court through its “Mid-day” judgment has catapulted the issue nationally and internationally.

(The writer is a Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court. Email:

© Copyright 2000 - 2007 The Hindu


Karnataka crisis: Governor's Options

Two constitutional options before Rameshwar Thakur

Parvathi Menon

House session cannot be called before President’s rule is revoked

‘The Governor has to be guided by constitutional morality’

Bangalore: “Until Parliament decides on the Presidential proclamation of October 9 imposing President’s Rule in the State, or the President revokes the proclamation, the state of ‘Trishanku’ created by Article 356 of the Constitution, will continue,” according to B.K. Chandrashekar, Legislative Council Chairman and a former professor of law. Clause 3 of Article 356 makes it mandatory that both Houses of Parliament approve (or disprove) the Presidential proclamation before two months of it having been made.

Speaking to The Hindu on the constitutional reasoning that could inform the Governor’s decisions at this politically volatile juncture, Prof. Chandrashekar said that there were two possible constitutional options. In the first, the Governor assesses the claim of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal (Secular), is satisfied that they have the figures and decides to recommend verification. He must make a report to this effect to the Union Government. Clause 2 of Article 356 allows the President to revoke President’s Rule by a subsequent proclamation that does not have to be approved by Parliament. Only then can the Governor convene a session of the legislature and ask the claimants to prove their majority.

The second option, according to Prof. Chandrashekar, is for the Governor to recommend dissolution of the Assembly, based on the circumstances under which the claim has been made.

“The two parties that have come together are the two parties that dismantled the government in the first place. Both parties gave letters to the Governor — the BJP to say that it was withdrawing support to the government, and the former Chief Minister to say that he was resigning. Until 24 hours before they went to the Governor on October 27, they were accusing each other of immorality and treachery. The Janata Dal (Secular) even put out a full-page advertisement against the BJP.” There is, therefore, no clear-cut case before the Governor for the claim that they will form a stable government, he says.

“In the working of any Constitution, however, there is the question of morality. The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution in the Bommai Case is an example of a moral interpretation of the Constitution” said Prof. Chandrashekar, adding that the present situation in Karnataka called for the Governor to be guided by “constitutional morality.”

R.N. Narasimha Murthy, former Advocate-General, and Prof. Chandrashekar both point to the differences between the Rameshwar Dayal case in which the Bihar government was dismissed in 2004 and the present situation in Karnataka.

“The question of mala fide on the part of the Governor does not arise here as the parties themselves ignited the crisis in which the Governor had no role,” said Prof Chandrashekar. The JD(S) asked for the dissolution of the Assembly and the party’s president, H.D. Deve Gowda, even wrote to the President on October 24 seeking the dissolution of the Assembly fearing “horse-trading.”

Given this situation Mr. Murthy and Prof. Chandrashekar have suggested that the President refer this matter to the Supreme Court under Article 143(1) of the Constitution which empowers the President to seek the Supreme Court’s opinion on any question of law or fact of public importance. “The Supreme Court would do well to interpret and develop the law on such a matter, one that is likely to recur, in the interests of the real beneficiaries of the Constitution of India, the people,” said Prof. Chandrashekar.

Convening session

The Governor, therefore, cannot call a session of the Assembly to allow the present claimants to prove their majority before President’s Rule is revoked. This also means that the time frame for either the installation of a JD(S)-BJP government, or dissolution of the Assembly, is unlikely to be decided before the first or second week of November.

© Copyright 2000 - 2007 The Hindu


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Truth as defence in Contempt of Courts Act

Truth as defence

in New Delhi

The amendment to the Contempt of Courts Act providing for truth as a defence is on test in the case against “Mid-Day” of Delhi.


A protest by journalists in New Delhi on September 28 against the High Court verdict.

IN 2006, Parliament amended the Contempt of Courts Act (CCA) to introduce Section 13(b), which states: “The courts may permit, in any proceedings for contempt of court, justification by truth as a valid defence if it is satisfied that it is in public interest and the request for invoking the said defence is bona fide.” The object of this amendment was to introduce fairness in procedure and meet the requirements of Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

The amendment failed to achieve its object when the Delhi High Court Bench comprising Justices R.S. Sodhi and B.N. Chaturvedi found three journalists and the publisher of Mid-Day, Delhi’s afternoon daily, guilty of contempt of court, and sentenced them to four months’ imprisonment on September 21.

The Bench found journalists M.K. Tayal and Vitusha Oberoi, cartoonist Md. Irfaan Khan, and publisher S.K. Akhtar guilty of contempt. In its view, they, in the garb of “scandalising” a retired Chief Justice of India through their publications, have, in fact, attacked the very institution of judiciary. The Bench arrived at this conclusion through convoluted reasoning and a procedure that is glaringly flawed.

Mid-Day published on May 18 a story hinting that the sons of the former Chief Justice of India, Y.K. Sabharwal, benefited by the Judge’s orders directing the sealing of commercial properties in the residential areas of Delhi, and that the sons were operating their businesses from the Judge’s official residence. Irfaan Khan’s cartoon, which was carried in the daily on May 19, depicted Justice Sabharwal in his robes holding a bag bursting with currency. It also depicted a man sitting on the sidewalk saying, “Help! The mall is in your court.”

In response to the notices issued to them by the Bench, the accused journalists claimed in their affidavits that whatever was published in Mid-Day about Justice Sabharwal was the truth, which is a permissible defence. They also contended that the stories carried in the daily focussed on the life of the former Chief Justice of India after he had left office and, therefore, could not be termed as denigrating the authority of the Supreme Court. They also argued, through their counsel Shanti Bhushan, that the Chief Justice ought not to have been on the Bench that passed orders concerning the sealing of properties in Delhi where non-conforming activities were going on and further that it was the duty of a journalist to expose corruption in the judiciary at the highest level. Shanti Bhushan also told the Bench that the material on record was ample proof that the sons of the former Chief Justice were beneficiaries of the sealings.

Shanti Bhushan clarified to the Bench that he was not challenging the correctness of the order of the Supreme Court but the order of the former Chief Justice, who was the presiding member of the Bench and who, by his impropriety, passed orders sealing premises in which commercial activities were being conducted, in order to benefit his sons’ business.

But these arguments failed to convince the High Court Bench. It appeared to the Bench, from the manner in which the entire incident has been projected, that the Supreme Court was portrayed by Mid-Day as having permitted itself to be led into fulfilling an ulterior motive of one of its members. “The nature of the revelations and the context in which they appear, though purporting to single out a former Chief Justice of India, tarnishes the image of the Supreme Court. It tends to erode the confidence of the general public in the institution itself. The Supreme Court sits in divisions and every order is that of a Bench. Imputing motive to its presiding member automatically sends a signal that the other members were dummies or were party to fulfil the ulterior design. This we find most disturbing,” the Bench said. Observers note that by no stretch of imagination can it be held that the Mid-Day stories on Justice Sabharwal suggested that other members of the Bench had connived at his “impropriety”.

The Bench, as is clear from this order, did not find it necessary to consider truth as a defence while holding the journalists guilty of contempt. It may be of interest to point out that the amendment to the CCA providing for truth as a defence is by way of addition to Section 13, which says that contempt is not punishable in certain cases. In other words, the CCA envisages two types of offences of contempt of court: those which are punishable and those which are not. Section 13(a) says that no court shall impose a sentence under this Act for contempt of court unless it is satisfied that contempt is of such a nature that it substantially interferes or tends substantially to interfere with the due course of justice.

During the arguments over the sentencing of the contemners on September 21, the counsel for the journalists again raised the plea of truth as a defence under Section 13(b) of the Act. The Bench, however, brushed aside the plea, asking “truth of what?” It is clear, therefore, that the Bench considered the case as one of punishable contempt. The Bench, however, failed to ensure that the requirements of the Act were met in letter and spirit.


Hauled up for contempt of court. (From left) "Mid-Day" cartoonist Irfaan Khan, journalist M.K. Tayal, editor Vitusha Oberoi and publisher A.K. Akhtar outside the Delhi High Court before their sentencing on September 21.

The Bench obviously found the journalists guilty of contempt under Section 2c (i) of the Act. Under this section, “criminal contempt” is defined as the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which scandalises or tends to scandalise or lowers or tends to lower the authority of any court. Observers have pointed out that law has implicitly provided for truth as a defence under this section as it is only falsehood that can scandalise or lower the authority of any court.

The procedural flaws in the case were substantial. One is about the High Court’s jurisdiction to entertain the case suo motu. It has exercised its jurisdiction under Article 215 of the Constitution. This Article says that every High Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court, including the power to punish for contempt of itself.

Section 11 of the CCA says: “A High Court shall have jurisdiction to inquire into or try a contempt of itself or of any court subordinate to it, whether the contempt is alleged to have been committed within or outside the local limits of its jurisdiction, and whether the person alleged to be guilty of contempt is within or outside such limits.” Going by this provision, it is not clear how the High Court Bench considered the matter as falling within its jurisdiction, even though the contempt alleged is of the Supreme Court, which is not subordinate to it. Under Article 129, only the Supreme Court has the power to punish for contempt of itself.

On September 28, the Supreme Court Bench comprising Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice P. Sathasivam admitted the appeals of the journalists concerned and stayed their sentence until the disposal of the case. On the directions of the Supreme Court, the High Court granted them bail on September 21. The Bench appointed senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina amicus curiae and directed that the appeals be listed for hearing on January 16, 2008.

The case has brought to the fore the effectiveness of the amendment incorporated in the CCA. The Bill on this amendment was cleared by a Parliamentary Standing Committee (12th Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice) in August 2005.

In its report, the Committee hoped that the higher judiciary would give due regard to this statutory provision (guaranteeing truth as defence), maintaining the principles of fairness and reasonableness it was known for. The Committee also believed that such procedure would give the contemner full opportunity to make his defence and ensure that the principle of natural justice was not violated.


Y.K. Sabharwal, former Chief Justice of India

More important, the Committee had recommended that the defence of truth be inserted as one of the exemptions or defences under Section 8 of CCA rather than under Section 13 because it felt it would give the contemner additional help in that he could defend himself on the grounds of truth. But the government did not accept this recommendation while enacting the Bill.

The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) recommended in 2002 an amendment of Article 19(2) of the Constitution to provide for defence of truth in contempt proceedings. The Commission took this view, considering the inherent powers derived by the Supreme Court and High Courts from Articles 129 and 215. The Commission had reasoned that a total embargo on truth as justification would be an unreasonable restriction on the freedom of speech and expression, which is guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a). The government, however, felt that a constitutional amendment for this purpose would be a time-consuming process, and thus opted to amend the Act.

The question raised in legal circles is whether the journalists held guilty of contempt would have succeeded in establishing the truth of their allegations against Justice Sabharwal, even if the Delhi High Court had allowed truth as a defence during the proceedings against them.

As Prashant Bhushan of the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) told the Standing Committee: “If anybody does a story and even if he says it is bona fide, he may not be able to prove the truth of what he is saying. He may legitimately believe as true what he is saying. But he may not be able to prove in a court of law unless statutory investigation is made by the police agency and documents are seized.”

The pressure mounting on the Chief Justice of India, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, to constitute an inquiry into Mid-Day’s allegations against Justice Sabharwal – later authenticated by the CJAR’s painstaking documentation available on its website – thus makes sense.


Related stories: Contempt power and some questions

We proved T20 victory was no fluke: Dhoni

We proved T20 victory was no fluke: Dhoni

Mumbai, (PTI): Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the Indian team had proved that their Twenty20 World Cup victory was not a fluke as they mauled Australia by seven wickets in the one-off Twenty20 international here on Saturday.

"It (victory) means a lot. We wanted to prove that World Cup victory (in South Africa) was not a fluke," he said after the match.

Dhoni said that team wanted to enjoy and play with intensity.

"We wanted to enjoy. The benchmark was to play with intensity and to put up a good fielding and bowling performance," he said.

The Indian captain also hailed opener, Gautam Gambhir, for his splendid show with the bat.

"Gautan played excellently. The way he batted was amazing. He was out of the team beacuse of injury and made a good comeback. I hope he bats the same in the Pakistan series," he said.

'Man of the match', Gambhir, said he was keen to carry on his good form in the one-day format.

"I think it (Twenty20) is working for me. I am playing well, and I want to continue (with this form) in 50-50," said the Delhi batsman.

Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, said India deserved the victory.

"I think their spinners bowled well in the middle and we did not get enough runs.

While bowling, we gave away no balls and they scored off those free-hits. They deserved the victory today. I guess they are not world champions in this format for nothing," Ponting said.

However, he said his team can go back home with heads held high after sealing the one-day series.

"We played well overall and won the one-day series, which is not easy in India. We can go back happy."


Related stories in The New Indian Express:

India thrash Australia to underline Twenty 20 dominance

Sunday October 21 2007 10:50 IST


MUMBAI: India reaffirmed their status as world champions by spanking Australia by seven wickets in a one-off Twenty20 international here on Saturday night, riding on Gautam Gambhir's blistering strokeplay.

The Indians first restricted Australia to 166 for five and then rattled up the required runs with 11 balls to spare in a thrilling flood-lit contest at the Brabourne Stadium.

The left-handed Gambhir (63 off 52 balls) was the star performer as he not only notched up his fourth Twenty20 half-century but laid the foundation with a 82-run second wicket partnership with Robin Uthappa (35 off 26 balls).

The capacity crowd at the stadium, already in a festive mood on the eve of Dusshera, burst into celebration as captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's hit the winning runs by clobbering Brett Lee for a mighty six.

It was an awesome batting display by the hosts in their first ever Twenty20 international on home soil as they completely tore apart the Australian bowling attack with their lusty hitting.

The skies lit up with dazzling fireworks providing the perfect finish to the absorbing contest which also saw useful contributions by Yuvraj Singh (31 in 25 balls) and Harbhajan Singh, who conceded only 17 runs in his four overs.

Ricky Ponting's men did not help their own cause as they helped the Indians with front foot no-balls giving the batsmen free hits.

Also, overthrows and inaccurate bowling added to the Indian score.

Earlier, Ricky Ponting played a splendid captain's knock of 76 in 53 balls to power Australia to 166 for five.

Ponting, after winning the toss, showed terrific touch with flowing drives and struck 13 fours even as the other batsmen looked less than fluent.

The Tasmanian also raised two important stands for the second and third wickets with Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds, and was instrumental in his team setting the hosts an asking rate of 8.85.

Australia made a flying start when Adam Gilchrist slammed Rudra Pratap Singh for three boundaries in the opening over before the left-arm pacer got his revenge by having the opener bowled middle stump with a superb yorker.

Ponting stepped into the breach and dominated the second wicket stand with Hayden who returned to the team after missing the last two ODIs but was not his fluent self.

Hayden still managed to heave S Sreesanth over mid-wicket for a huge six and then lofted R P Singh over long off for another during his 17-ball stay before dragging Harbhajan Singh on to the stumps in the off-spinner's opening over.

The burly left-hander, having recovered from a hip injury, added 48 runs in 6.1 overs for the second wicket with Ponting who started by crashing first-change Irfan Pathan for four boundaries in his first over.

The visitors' run-rate climbed in the fifth over to over eight at the half-way stage despite the loss of Hayden.

Ponting reached his 50 with a lucky edge past captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in 33 balls.


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Thursday, October 11, 2007

S.R. Bommai passes away

S.R. Bommai passes away

Bangalore Bureau

Judgment in Bommai case a landmark

BANGALORE: S.R. Bommai, former Karnataka Chief Minister and Union Minister for Human Resource Development in the National Front governments headed by H.D. Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral, passed away in Bangalore on Wednesday after keeping indifferent health for several years. He was 84.

Mr. Bommai leaves behind two sons and two daughters. One of his sons, Basavaraj Bommai, is a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council.

Ironically, his death has come about at a time when the famous judgment of the Supreme Court in the S.R. Bommai vs. Union of India case relating to imposition of President’s Rule has formed the basis for the proclamation of President’s Rule and keeping the Legislative Assembly in Karnataka. The judgment has come into play following the resignation of H.D. Kumaraswamy as Chief Minister.

Mr. Bommai took charge as Chief Minister of the State on August 13, 1988 and his government was dismissed by the then Governor, P. Venkatasubbaiah, on April 21, 1989. The dismissal was on grounds that the Bommai government had lost majority following large-scale defections engineered by several Janata Party leaders of the day. Mr. Bommai had sought some time from the Governor to prove his majority on the floor of the Legislature and he was denied this.

A four-member team of Janata Party leaders — S.R. Bommai, Ramakrishna Hegde, J.H. Patel and the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda — was instrumental in the Janata Party forming a government in the State for the first time in the State in 1983. Mr. Bommai was given the weighty portfolio of Industries in the Ramakrishna Hegde government. After Ramakrishna Hegde quit on moral grounds, Mr. Bommai took charge and could not face the challenge posed by Mr. Gowda.

Alienation, realignment

Mr. Bommai, who fell out with Mr. Gowda, thereafter aligned with him again. During the 1999 Janata Dal split, Mr. Bommai and Mr. Gowda together floated the Janata Dal (Secular). They again broke up resulting in Mr. Bommai floating the All-India Progressive Janata Dal .

The funeral is scheduled to take place in his native village, family sources said.

© Copyright 2000 - 2007 The Hindu


Saturday, October 6, 2007

160 years old 4 Stone Idols found in Kallakurichi

Dinamalar ePaper

How to avoid unavoidable calls, SMS?

Dinamalar ePaper

Preventive measures from spreading Dengue etc.,

Indian Express ePaper

Railways to install ATMs on Trains

Dinamalar epaper
Deccan Chronicle ePaper

Councillors dump waste in Pondicherry municipal office

Councillors dump waste in municipal office complex

Staff Reporter

In protest against delay in clearing garbage in their wards

Photo: T. Singaravelou

‘Stinking’ stir: Garbage dumped in the Pondicherry Municipal Office complex

PUDUCHERRY: The Pondicherry Municipal Office complex on Friday was converted into a dumping yard by irate councillors belonging to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the Congress and the Puducherry Munnetra Congress (PMC). They were protesting against the “delay in clearing the garbage.”

Councillors belonging to the three parties representing all the eight wards in Muthialpet Assembly segment expressed their indignation by dumping waste collected from their areas on the municipal office premises.

Flaying the municipal authorities for the delay in introducing solid waste management system covering their wards, the councillors transported three truck-loads of garbage collected to the office and unloaded them in the portico.

As the trucks started plying towards the building, the municipal authorities informed the police. However, the policemen could not convince the representatives from dumping the garbage on the premises. The councillors said setting up of the solid waste management system was delayed, though the municipal council adopted a resolution on July 6 to hand over the garbage clearing work to self-help groups.

In places, including Vaidikkuppam, Debassanpet, Muthialpet 1 and 2, T.V Nagar, Ramakrishna Nagar and Sholai Nagar, garbage was not cleared for several days, they alleged. Most of the streets were filled with waste, attracting stray dogs and rodents, they added.

According to S. Kavitha, councillor of Debassanpet, the authorities had done nothing to expedite the project despite repeated pleas . The resolution was adopted to hand over the job to SHGs, owing to shortage of conservancy workers. Citing an example, she said in Sholai Nagar, which has 32 streets, only two conservancy workers had to clear the garbage.

The councillors withdrew the protest only after an assurance from municipality chairperson Sridevi that remedial measures would be taken in a week. The garbage, which was dumped on the premises in the morning, was cleared at about 3 p.m., municipal officials said.

© Copyright 2000 - 2007 The Hindu


Dinamalar ePaper

Musharraf signs amnesty deal for Bhutto

Musharraf signs amnesty deal for Bhutto

Saturday October 6 2007 00:00 IST


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Friday signed a "national reconciliation" ordinance, paving the way for a power-sharing deal with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf signed the ordinance giving amnesty to Bhutto and other political leaders - except exiled former premier Nawaz Sharif - in all court cases against them a day before he faces the crucial presidential poll in which he is seeking a second five-year term in uniform.

Earlier in the day, a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz approved the draft national reconciliation deal with Bhutto, who lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai and London.

The cabinet approval came after several amendments suggested by both the opposition Pakistan People's Party of Bhutto and the ruling PML-Q were incorporated in the draft ordinance, described by the government as the "best" option in the current circumstances.

The cabinet also expressed full confidence in Musharraf with regard to the national reconciliation policy and gave him the authority to make decisions on this issue, a release issued by the prime minister's house said.

Musharraf has stated that political reconciliation and harmony alone could help the government tackle key issues like terrorism and extremism.

The national reconciliation ordinance states that all court cases and investigations against persons who have held public office till October 1999 will be terminated. This will apply to members of the National Assembly and Senate, the two house of Parliament, and also covers Bhutto.

The provisions of the ordinance, however, will not apply to Sharif, who briefly returned to Pakistan on September 10 after his seven-year exile only to be deported to Saudi Arabia. Sharif was convicted in several cases in 2000.

Under the ordinance, special committees on ethics will be set up in the national and provincial assemblies and these panels will have to clear any move by police to arrest lawmakers.

Musharraf apparently hastened the signing of the ordinance as it could not have been promulgated once the National Assembly is in session.

A joint sitting of Parliament is scheduled for Saturday in view of the presidential election in which Musharraf is expected to easily sail through.

The Supreme Court on Friday gave a go head for the presidential poll on Saturday, but said the result should not be announced till it decides on petitions filed by Musharraf's rival candidates challenging his candidature.

Musharraf had earlier given an undertaking before the Supreme Court that he would quit as Army Chief if re-elected.


Dengue case in Pondicherry

Dinamalar ePaper

Dengue case in Pondicherry

Saturday October 6 2007 13:41 IST


PUDUCHERRY: A two-andhalf- year-old child M Arun was diagnosed with dengue at the Arupadai Veedu Medical College Hospital.

Arun, the son of a mason Manikandan from Manavely in Ariyankuppam, was admitted to the hospital with high fever a couple of days ago. Thereafter, he was diagnosed with dengue.

The Department of Health and Family Welfare also confirmed it as a case of dengue.


MK's explanation on Bandh is attracts criticism: Editorial

Heard this good one on the bandh?

Friday October 5 2007 07:54 IST

Karunanidhi’s explanation is food for a lot of thought

AFTER being roundly criticised for foisting on Tamil Nadu and Puducherry a situation best described as a bandh, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has put out an explanation as to how that situation came to be. While we wonder what the Chief Minister gained from making the state undergo the rigours of a shuttered down situation, what he now offers for our consideration is that the Chief Secretary received the copy of the Supreme Court order only around 10.30 pm on September 30; and there was “just a few hours between the time the order copy was received and the ‘bandh’ to begin”.

It is unclear if there is a hint of a suggestion that if the orders had come earlier, things would have turned out otherwise. But since he has given us this background, we would have liked to find out what time the government counsel in New Delhi got a copy of the order. Further how much time would it have taken for the Government counsel to have transmitted the relevant portions of the order? There are such things as telephones and faxes these days. That the court had ruled out a bandh was news far earlier than the time the Chief Secretary apparently seems to have got the order. In fact, we would like to point out that the Kalaignar Television began to run news crawler that the DPA leadership was going to go on a fast, clearly as a measure to trim their sails to the Supreme Court wind, as early as around one thirty in the afternoon.

By a quarter to three the DMK office had begun to fax various newspaper offices the news of the fast. Shortly thereafter it was common knowledge that it could be taken for granted that buses would remain off the roads. It is therefore strange that the Chief Minister should bring up the time the Chief Secretary obtained the orders as being germane to the argument he tries to make.

The Chief Minister further says that the various ministers of the ruling combine, including himself, attended to work at their offices and that “all” government offices throughout the state functioned; some schools and colleges functioned; all trains ran that day and there was no disruption of flights. We will examine each point on merit but the icing on the cake of his arguments is that so far as the bus transport was concerned, “ a significant number of buses were plied and the situation improved as time went by.” The Chief Minister further maintains that “public and the workers did not have enough time to know that the Supreme Court had heard the case on Sunday and had granted a stay against the bandh. Hence, if only those who raise questions had given some time to ponder over this, there would not have been any scope for condemnation (against me).”

It is obviously a moot point as to how quickly the development in the Supreme Court could have been disseminated, especially robust steps that could have been taken to roll back the bandh, considering the various enviable media options that the Chief Minister no doubt and self-evidently has at his disposal, including Kalaignar Television and Murasoli, not to mention options in the English language press. But here, briefly, are the salient highlights of that day, as we saw it and reported it: Public mobility was crippled because most of the government Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses stayed off the roads for most part of the day.

Trains ran, certainly, but not many could make it in public transport. Those who used three wheelers paid more than the fair price for it; 26 domestic flights were cancelled from Chennai alone. Could this be considered a disruption? Oh yes, government offices did function. And how! When our reporters visited the government offices to take a litmus test of reality, including at all ten floors of Namakkal Kavignar Maaligai, only 15 per cent of the staff were present.

The Tamil Nadu Government Officials’ Union President G Suriyamurthi is on record in one of our reports claiming most government employees were unable to get to work because of suspension of public transport. Given this development, how does the government propose to view the mass absence: as unauthorised leave, casual leave? If this is the way government offices nowadays “function” in Tamil Nadu as the Chief Minister so delightfully asserts, it would certainly explain a lot of things.

So far as the part where the Chief Minister claims some schools and colleges functioned, we would like to bring to your attention a remark made by his Education Minister, which we reported that day, when he was asked to give a status report on the functioning of schools on October 1. Thangam Thennarasu declared: “I went to take part in the fast and hence I do not have any details on the functioning of schools.” Without putting too fine a point to it, it is pertinent to note that in government hospitals outpatient inflow fell by about fifty per cent on October 1. Could this have caused any misery and suffering? Imagine, too, amount of business that was lost that day. We continue to wonder how is it our version of reality is consistently at variance with the Chief Minister’s?


Thursday, October 4, 2007

SC dares DMK on fast, bandh: Editorial in Dinamani

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SC dares DMK on fast bandh: Editorial in Dinamani

Wednesday October 3 2007 00:00 IST

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DMK's fast ended before lunch: Editorial

Faith in Rama Vs. faith in Sonia

Wednesday October 3 2007 07:51 IST

S Gurumurthy

NOT everything seems to be going well- in fact everything seems to be going wrong - for the rationalist protagonists of Rama Sethu - Sethusamudram project. How is it that the canal project, which was doing so well last month, is now struggling for survival?

Those who are familiar with the case narrate this story: When all was going well for the protagonists of the canal project, with the Supreme Court about to dismiss the writ petition against the project, the Central Government filed that infamous affidavit on September 12, 2007, in which it had denied that Rama of Ramayana ever existed. It triggered a tsunami of public anger that compelled the government to withdraw the affidavit and to put on the withdrawal memo the government's respect for the religious sentiments of the Hindus particularly in this case. Moving further to ease the popular anger the Central Government also gave an undertaking to the Court that it would consider realigning of the canal so as not to disturb the Rama Sethu. This virtually put a brake on all further work on the project.

But Dr Karunanidhi's lectures on Rama and Ramayana that commenced on September 15 at Erode and continued in Chennai on September 18 and 19 ensured that anger aroused by the affidavit did not die down. He questioned the existence of Rama and the truth of Ramayana; trivialised Rama by asking where did that Rama learn his engineering to build the Rama Sethu; characterised the revered deity of millions of Hindus as a drunkard. This was the last straw. If there was one reason that turned the project so controversial perhaps to the extent that it will be impossible to proceed with, it was the anxiety of the secular protagonists of the Sethusamudram project to set up the saviours of Rama Sethu against the Court as they had successfully done in the case of the Ayodhya issue earlier by setting the Ram Temple movement against the judiciary.

The September 12 affidavit was motivated to this end. Had the state forced the Court to consider the affidavit and rule that Rama was a myth, the Court, not the state, would be the target of those who revered Rama. This was the diabolical intent of the authors of the affidavit. What they failed to understand was that in Ayodhya, the fault lines were clear: Ram temple versus Babri Masjid, Hindus versus Muslims and pseudo-secularism versus secularism. Such clear faultlines were absent in the Sethusamudram project.

Actually those who wanted the Rama Sethu saved were struggling to get their views across to those who believed in Rama till the secular government stepped in to help them by filing the affidavit and Dr Karunanidhi supplemented that by his campaign against Rama himself. The DMK leader perhaps rightly staked his entire political reputation to push the project. But, he could well have done this without positioning himself as if he were a Ravana of today against the Rama of yesteryears. It was his tactless targeting of Rama himself that has landed the project in distress as in Poseidon adventure.

If the affidavit was the first goof-up, and Karunanidhi's tirade against Rama and Ramayana was the second debacle, the UPA effort to mobilise the people through the bandh effort on October 1, turned out to be the third, and the worst fiasco. All have helped sink the controversial project even deeper in the trisea waters.

The latest DMK-led UPA action to urge the Centre to expedite the Sethusamudram canal project proudly started off as a bandh, turned into a strike after the Madras High Court order on Saturday and slipped into just a fast on the Supreme Court banning any stoppage of work and finally ended with the Chief Minister and his colleagues, who had asked millions not to go to work and prevented many more from attending work, being forced by an angry Supreme Court to suspend their fast and rush to work at Fort St George.

What an anti-climax and perverse outcome for the protagonists of the Sethu project! The entire Tamil Nadu government, industry, business, shops, schools, hospitals and trade was prevented from working, but the Chief Minister and his colleagues who had prevented them from working were forced to work! “Court sends DMK to work - Nervous Karunanidhi Breaks Fast”. This was the front-page lead news on the fast observed by the UPA and DMK leaders in a leading daily with a large circulation in Delhi.

Not particularly known for distance from the ruling UPA regime and the Congress Party, the daily went on to report thus: “This dawn-to-dusk hunger strike did not even make it to noon. Chief Minister M Karunanidhi ended his fast and went back to work as soon as the word came of the Supreme Court saying President's rule should be imposed on Tamil Nadu.” This is precisely what the and and had all reported. Many other newspapers had reported that the Chief Minister inaugurated the fast and went to the secretariat.

But they did not say why did that person who had asked the entire state to duck work, go to the secretariat and work. It however does not need a seer to say why did the fast - which started obviously after breakfast and ended before lunch - ended so abruptly. The CM and his colleagues were terrified by the threat held out by the Supreme Court that Constitutional machinery had broken down in the state and that the Court would not mind asking the Central Government to dismiss the DMK government and impose Central rule. It did not take much time for the judges of the highest court to see through the game of those who were doing Gandhigiri in the name of the fast, to enforce, in effect, a bandh on the poor people of the state. This was precisely what the Court had specifically banned in its order on Sunday.

Thus the UPA fast, which had started off in a festive mood, sank into a funeral atmosphere by noon after the Supreme Court began to speak. With the judiciary declaring the bandh – cum- strike- cum- fast as illegal, the entire effort to expedite the Sethu canal has now turned into an issue between the judiciary and the protagonists of the Sethu canal (read the UPA government in the state and at the Centre). It must be said that Dr Karunanidhi behaved exemplarily, saying that he respected the judiciary and actually obeyed the court and went to work. But not his minions. T R Baalu, a Central minister, launched a tirade against the judiciary more than against those who dissented against the project, even saying the judiciary was corrupt! Reacting to the judicial threat to order the dismissal of the DMK government, Arcot Veerasamy, a minister in the state, expressed his faith that so long as two women, Sonia Gandhi and Pratibha Patil, held their positions, no one could dismiss the DMK government! So, even as those who want the Ramasethu protected repose faith in Rama and Court, the rationalist DMK seems to repose faith in Sonia (read Rome?) and Patil. The left groups have also attacked the judiciary. Result, the Rama Sethu- Sethusamudram which was an issue between those who wanted to protect the Rama Sethu and those who wanted the Sethu canal to cut through it, is now turning into an issue between the protagonists of the project and the judiciary.

QED: the saviours of the Ramasethu movement, who are believers, would turn stronger in their belief that the goof-ups of the protagonists of the canal project are the doings of Rama himself. But how would they - protagonists of the canal, who are non-believers -explain everything suddenly going wrong with the project that was doing so well just a fortnight ago?


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