Friday, May 30, 2008

Jaya condems FM on "economic terrorism"

Dinamalar ePaper

Read in details about the P-notes:

What are P-notes

Also read the related stories in THE HINDU as follows:

Jayalalithaa slams Chidambaram

Special Correspondent

For “unchecked flow of foreign funds” into the country


CHENNAI: All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa on Thursday came down heavily on Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram for not taking steps to curb “unchecked flow” of foreign funds into the country in the name of globalisation.

“The unchecked entry of funds from abroad is being used by foreign-based terrorists not only to fund terrorism but also to cripple the country economically,” she said in a statement.

Terming this “economic terrorism,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said foreign investors now had a convenient way of making investments through participatory notes (P-notes) without revealing their identity. P-notes are instruments used by registered Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) for overseas investors who wished to invest in the Indian stock market without registering themselves with the market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

Investments through the P-notes routes are believed to be largely responsible for the sudden and unexplained fluctuations in the stock market indices. Though SEBI has asked FIIs to disclose the identities of holders of these notes, there has been no compliance, she alleged. The AIADMK leader said as per the Indo-Mauritius double taxation avoidance treaty signed in 1983, investments through Mauritius FIIs would not come under tax bracket. After the UPA came to power, Mauritius had emerged as the largest foreign investor in India. Tax losses to India as a result of the treaty were estimated at Rs.4,000 crore.

The RBI had stated that Indian “slush funds,” were going out of the country and being ploughed back as legitimate funds via Mauritius. Despite all this, the Finance Minister had not taken any step. What prevented Mr. Chidambaram from making sure that no Indian was re-routing investments through P-notes? What steps had he taken to ensure that slush funds from India and terrorist funds from abroad were not entering the Indian market through P-notes or the Mauritius route, she asked.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Also read the Finance Ministry’s rejoinder as follows:

Finance Ministry refutes Jayalalithaa’s allegations

Special Correspondent

“They betray her lack of understanding of the FII regime in force”

NEW DELHI: The Finance Ministry on Monday refuted the allegations made by AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa on the functioning of foreign institutional investors as “totally baseless besides betraying a complete lack of understanding on the FII regime that is in force.”

Referring to a news report captioned ‘Jayalalithaa slams Chidambaram’ (appearing in The Hindu dated May 30, 2008), the Ministry’s rejoinder said:

“FIIs are regulated entities, SEBI being the regulator. In terms of the SEBI (FII) Regulations, 1995, an FII may issue Participatory Notes (PNs) with Indian Instruments as the underlying securities, subject to the subscriber being a regulated entity. Further downstream issue of PNs, if any, may also be done only to regulated entities. Besides, FIIs are required to report at the end of every month, in a prescribed format, all information relating to PNs issued by them including the names of subscribers to the said PNs. FIIs are also required to give an undertaking that the FII or its associates have not issued, subscribed or purchased any PNs to/From Indian residents or NRIs or PIOs or OCBs during the reporting period.

“We may also point out that PNs are market instruments that are created and traded overseas. Hence, the Government of India cannot ban or control the issue of PNs; they can only be regulated, and they are indeed being regulated by SEBI. When a PN is traded on an overseas exchange, the regulator in that jurisdiction would be the authority to regulate that trade. Your readers will also recall that, in October, 2007, SEBI took certain measures to further regulate the issue of PNs.

“Ms. Jayalalithaa’s allegation that investments through PNs are ‘believed to be largely responsible for the sudden and unexplained fluctuations in the stock market indices,’ betrays a total lack of understanding of both PNs and the movement in the stock market.

“The movement in stock market indices is a function of the investor’s perception of the economy or of a sector or of index stocks. The movement is also influenced by domestic and international events, market sentiments, level of floating stocks available, corporate performance and prospects of future economic growth.

“On the issue of terrorist funds finding their way into the stock markets, the matter has been clarified in Parliament. Information available with the government and the regulators does not indicate any surreptitious entry of terrorist outfits into the stock market. Besides, there are adequate provisions in the laws such as FEMA and PMLA to deal with unauthorised or suspicious transactions involving currency or foreign exchange.

“This clarification issued with the approval of the Finance Minister, who wishes to add that the statement of the general secretary of the AIADMK appears to have been made not after gathering information or a careful study of the subject but purely out of a malicious design to spread misinformation.”

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Also read the Clarification made by Press Information Bureau:

Clarification on Regulation of Fiis and PNs

16:14 IST

Attention of the Government has been drawn to a news item appearing in a section of press on the allegations made by Ms. Jayalalithaa, General Secretary, AIADMK regarding FII regime, movement of stock market indices, Participatory Notes etc.

The allegations made by Ms. Jayalalithaa, General Secretary of the AIADMK, are totally baseless besides betraying a complete lack of understanding of the FII regime that is in force.

FIIs are regulated entities, SEBI being the regulator. In terms of the SEBI (FII) Regulations, 1995, an FII may issue Participatory Notes (PNs) with Indian instruments as the underlying securities, subject to the subscriber being a regulated entity. Further downstream issue of PNs, if any, may also be done only to regulated entities. Besides, FIIs are required to report at the end of every month, in a prescribed format, all information relating to PNs issued by them including the names of subscribers to the said PNs. FIIs are also required to give an undertaking that the FII or its associates have not issued, subscribed or purchased any PNs to/from Indian residents or NRIs or PIOs or OCBs during the reporting period.

It is also pointed out that PNs are market instruments that are created and traded overseas. Hence, the Government of India cannot ban or control the issue of PNs; they can only be regulated, and they are indeed being regulated by SEBI. When a PN is traded on an overseas exchange, the regulator in that jurisdiction would be the authority to regulate that trade.

It may be recalled that, in October, 2007, SEBI took certain measures to further regulate the issue of PNs.

Ms. Jayalalithaa’s allegation that investments through PNs are “believed to be largely responsible for the sudden and unexplained fluctuations in the stock market indices” betrays a total lack of understanding of both PNs and the movements in the stock market. The movement in stock market indices is a function of the investor’s perception of the economy or of a sector or of index stocks. The movement is also influenced by domestic and international events, market sentiments, level of floating stock available, corporate performance and prospects of future economic growth.

On the issue of terrorist funds finding their way into the stock markets, the matter has been clarified in Parliament. Information available with the Government and the regulators does not indicate any surreptitious entry of terrorist outfits into the stock market. Besides, there are adequate provisions in the laws such as FEMA and PMLA to deal with unauthorised or suspicious transactions involving currency or foreign exchange.

This clarification issues with the approval of the Finance Minister who wishes to add that the statement of the General Secretary of the AIADMK appears to have been made not after gathering information or a careful study of the subject but purely out of a malicious design to spread misinformation.



Also read the reply by Jayalalithaa for the rejoinder of FM:

FM should demit office for "misleading" the nation: Jaya

Chennai (PTI): Lashing out at the Union Finance Ministry, AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa on Thursday said the ministry, at the behest of Finance Minister Chidambaram, had launched a personsal 'diatribe' against her instead of replying to her charges that investments through participatory notes were responsible for the fluctuations in the stock market indices.

Reacting to the Finance Ministry describing her charges as baseless, she said "the rebuttal is an exercise in obfuscation. It simply seeks to beat around the bush without answering the core of the issues raised by me', she said in a statement.

She said if Chidambaram was unable to answer her charges on the issue, particularly on revealing the names of participatory note holders within the next 24 hours, he should demit office for "misleading" the nation. "Will the union finance ministry publish the complete list of P-note holders along with their details and the amount of investment on its website or on the website of SEBI? What prevented the ministry from doing so?," she asked.

Jayalalithaa had earlier accused Finance Minister P Chidambaram of having jeopardised India's security by turning a "blind eye" towards the inflow of terror funds through participatory notes.


Also read the related developments on this issues as follows:

Jayalalitha again blasts Chidambaram over foreign funding

June 12th, 2008 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS

Chennai, June 12 (IANS): AIADMK general secretary J. Jayalalitha Thursday renewed her criticism of Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s economic policies and demanded his resignation for "falsely" claiming that foreign investments into India were being monitored by the market watchdog. Jayalalitha in a statement here Thursday pointed out that the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had slapped a fine of Rs.10 million on Goldman Sachs Investment (Mauritius) for its failure to report the issuance of participatory notes (P-notes) to the Mauritius-based Magnus Capital Corporation Ltd.

"However, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has set aside SEBI’s order and asked the market regulator to pay Rs.100,000 to Goldman Sachs instead," Jayalalitha noted.

"The case is not only a loss of face for SEBI, it is also a clear indication that the finance minister’s claim that investments from abroad are being adequately monitored is a lie," said Jayalalitha, Tamil Nadu’s leader of opposition.

"Are we to infer that he has certain vested interests in doing so? Now that his lie has been publicly nailed, will he quit office?"

"If he refuses to do so on his own, will the prime minister (Manmohan Singh), an economist himself, throw him out and ask the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to investigate what is happening?" she asked.

After Jayalalitha’s criticism earlier, the finance ministry had clarified that P-notes were market instruments created and traded overseas and the government of India could not ban or control the issue of P-notes, only "regulate" them.

On May 29, she had criticised Chidambaram, saying: "A spectre called ‘economic terrorism’ was being encouraged by the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government which let foreign investors hide their identity under a sub-account by making use of p-notes to route their investments, often running into hundreds of crores."


Read the related stories in Dinamalar ePaper

Dinamalar ePaper

Continuing quest for life on Mars

Dinamalar ePaper

Continuing quest for life on Mars

For well over a century, the prospect of life on Mars has been the subject of feverish speculation among scientists. In 1877, Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli reported seeing “canali” on Mars through his telescope and thought that the dark areas he noticed on the planet were the result of vegetation. By 1894, Percival Lowell, a wealthy American astronomer, who established the observatory that now bears his name, was asserting that in the Martian canals “we are looking upon the result of the work of some sort of intelligent beings.”

What those Martian beings might look like and how they would behave towards neighbours on planet Earth have been the subject of much science fiction writing and films. It is no wonder that humans began sending probes to study the Red Planet almost as soon as the space age began. Just three years after Sputnik went into space in 1957, the Soviet Union attempted to send the Korabl-4 but the probe did not even reach the orbit around the earth.

Since then, close to 40 spacecraft have been despatched to Mars, but over 60 per cent of those missions also ended in failure. It was Mariner-4 launched by the United States that sent back the first close-up images of another planet as it flew past Mars in July 1965. Finally, the Viking-1 lander, again from the U.S., touched down safely on its surface in July 1976, and it was followed by the Viking-2 lander a few months later. Both Viking landers were sent to look for signs of life. When the planet appeared to be barren, so great was the disappointment that it eroded political support in the U.S. for further Mars missions.

But interest in Martian life has revived. If such life exists — or existed in the past — it is likely to take the form of tiny microbes, not little green men travelling in flying saucers. There was an uproar in 1996 when a team of U.S. scientists reported in the journal Science that a Martian meteorite found in Antarctica carried telltale traces of primitive microbial life. Although that interpretation of the traces found on the rock is now not generally accepted, the possibility of life on Mars is not discounted.

Space probes have discovered signs that liquid water was present on the planet in the past and that water in the form of ice is still plentiful below the surface. Where there is water, there may well be microscopic life. The Phoenix Mars Lander, which has landed safely in the far north of the planet, joins three other spacecraft and two robotic rovers that are currently examining Mars in unprecedented detail. The objective is not to look for life, but to determine if the Martian arctic soil could support life. Let us wait and see what it finds.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Also read the Article in Wikipedia at:

The Republic of Nepal

The Republic of Nepal

The coup de grace was delivered by the Constituent Assembly in minutes but the end of Nepal’s monarchy was long years in the making. Decrepit, authoritarian and ineffective, the realm of Gyanendra, the last monarch of Nepal, was a far cry from the kingdom established by Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1768. Nepal at the time was a frontrunner in the nation-building process in South Asia. The country was unified but eventually lost its way in the intrigue and corruption that seems the lot of all monarchies.

The 1846 Kot Parwa — a massacre that anticipated the royal parricide enacted by Dipendra more than a century and a half later — led to the rise of the tyrannical Ranas. The Shahs wrested power back in 1951 but now had to contend with a new claimant to power: the people. This was something King Tribhuvan and his successors, Mahendra and Birendra, could never fully reconcile themselves to. By the time Gyanendra inherited the throne in 2001, the country was at war with itself.

Had he been wise, he would have realised that the Maoist insurgency was the product of Nepal’s feudal economy and social structure and that only an inclusive, democratic revolution could save the country from bloodshed. Wisdom, alas, was not his strong point. The monarchy’s fate was already settled but his February 2005 putsch hastened its demise by opening a path for the Maoists to join hands with the NC and the UML.

By getting rid of its monarchy in a transparent, democratic and dignified manner, Nepal has shown that revolutions, no matter how historic or momentous, need not always be bloody. But the people of Nepal voted for much more than an end to the monarchy and this is where the real challenge for the Maoists and their allies lies.

The popular mandate is for a coalition government that can oversee the writing of a constitution that enshrines the desires and aspirations of the country’s peoples for an inclusive republic in which the economic, political, and social rights of all are guaranteed. While the parties are entitled to bargain hard over the conditions under which they agree to join the new Maoist-led government, this fundamental truth must not be lost sight of. Secondly, the end of the monarchy does not by itself bring the country’s peace process to an end.

The integration of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army with the Nepal Army and the creation of a democratic and accountable military culture are equally important tasks that need to be fulfilled. The parties did well to sink their differences in order to consummate the establishment of the republic. Civilised cohabitation now is what Nepal needs.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Read the Article in Wikipedia at:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sree Nivas Tower: Foundation Stone laid down

Dinamalar ePaper

Frozen judicial salaries: a crisis

Frozen judicial salaries: a crisis


The great standing which our higher judiciary with its enormous power commands in India and the rest of the world is in serious danger of being undermined if prompt steps are not taken to raise judicial salaries to draw talent to the judiciary.

The salaries of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts have become so low that it would not be an exaggeration to say that they threaten to undermine the standing, competency and independence of the higher judiciary.

The inadequacy of salaries has been a grave problem for many years, but the immediate provocation for a discussion at the Judicial Conference of Chief Justices on April 18 and 19 was the recent recommendation of the Sixth Pay Commission for revision of salaries in other services. The Commission recommended that chairpersons of regulatory bodies such as SEBI, TRAI, CERC, CCI & IRDA, who are retired Supreme Court and High Court judges be paid Rs. 3,00,000 a month i.e. 10 times that of the sitting judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. It also recommended a salary of Rs. 80,000 for Secretaries in government and Rs. 90,000 for the Cabinet Secretary.

Compare these with the salaries in the higher courts. The Chief Justice of India gets a salary of Rs. 33,000 and other judges of the Supreme Court get Rs. 30,000. The Chief Justices of the High Courts are paid Rs. 40,000 and other judges Rs. 26,000. These salaries were last increased in 1996 and there is no prospect of any revision to take care of the fall in the value of rupee and the rising cost of living.

Two days after the judicial conference decisions became public, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, referring to the Pay Commission recommendations, said, “I would like our civil and defence services to be properly rewarded.” Significantly, no mention was made of the judiciary being “properly paid”.

Judicial salaries in India have been niggardly. When the Constitution was being enacted in 1950, the Constituent Assembly consulted judges of the Federal Court and the High Courts on their salaries. A memorandum drawn up by the judges stressed the need for sufficiently high salaries as “the paramount importance of the securing a fearless functioning of an independent, incorruptible and efficient judiciary.” Strangely, judicial salaries were in fact reduced from those in the pre-independence days because at one stage the President’s salary as proposed was lower than that of the judges. In 1950, the Constitution fixed the salaries of the Chief Justice of India and other judges of the Supreme Court at Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 4,000 and the salaries of the Chief Justices of the High Court and other judges at Rs. 4,000 and Rs. 3,500.

In 1950, with the then standard of living these salaries were attractive enough for lawyers in good practice who sought a judicial career with the prestige of a judge of a High Court and the Supreme Court. For 36 years the salaries remained unrevised though the value of the rupee had fallen and the cost of living had risen. In 1986, the salaries were increased by a Constitution amendment. The Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court were to be paid Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 9,000 and the Chief Justices of the High Courts and other judges Rs. 9,000 and Rs. 8,000. In 1998, they were raised to the present salaries.

Even taking into consideration the perquisites attached to the office of judge, judicial salaries have become unrewarding and unattractive to lawyers in good practice, leaving aside lawyers in top practice. In the past, lawyers in India as in the United Kingdom in good practice took judgeship as a career and as a matter of honour even though rewards at the Bar were higher. Today, judicial salaries, apart from becoming unreal with the passage of time, do not stand comparison with the average earnings at the Bar, resulting in fewer and fewer competent lawyers from the Bar taking judgeship.

It is ironical that today fledgling graduates passing out of the national law schools are offered salaries between Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 1,00,000 by law firms and corporate houses, whilst the salaries of judges remain in the vicinity of Rs. 30,000. Some retired judges, as arbitrators, earn fees which far exceed their previous judicial salaries. Such a disparity between judicial salaries and rewards at the Bar and elsewhere in the legal profession not only tends to detract talent from coming to the Bench but also creates in sitting judges a feeling that their work is not properly appreciated and rewarded. After all, judges are as much, if not more, contributors as are lawyers to the whole legal system.

Comparison between the salaries of civil servants and judges is inapt. It must be remembered that judges by their office are required to maintain a life style of aloofness and dignity which is not required of civil servants. The 14th Law Commission Report, quoted the speech of Sir Winston Churchill in moving a bill for raising salaries of judges in U.K. He said :

“The service rendered by judges demands the highest qualities of learning, training and character. These qualities are not to be measured in terms of pounds, shillings, and pence according to the quantity of work done. A form of life and conduct far more severe and restricted than that of ordinary people is required from judges and, though unwritten, has been most strictly observed. They are at once privileged and restricted. They have to present a continuous aspect of dignity and conduct. The Bench must be the dominant attraction to the legal profession, yet it rather hangs in the balance now, and heavily will our society pay if it cannot command the finest characters and the best legal brains which we can produce.”

Of course, we shall still have competent judges as indeed some of our judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts are and have been. However, increasingly lawyers from the Bar who have been traditionally recognised as the mainstay of the higher judiciary in India and the U.K. are not likely to be attracted to a judicial career and the judiciary itself will cease to be a service which must attract the best brains.

Impact on efficiency

Low salaries have a direct impact on the efficiency of the higher judiciary, including the disposal of cases. That great jurist the late H.M. Seervai trenchantly observed:

“It may be said that we are a poor country and cannot afford to pay high salaries to judges . I would like to record my opinion that only an extremely wealthy country can afford the luxury of an ill-paid judiciary, and that the greatest sufferers of an ill-paid judiciary would be the Union and the State Governments, because to-day the biggest litigant in India is the State. In my opinion arrears of work cannot be diminished by diluting the quality of the judiciary; the correct remedy is to make a judicial career sufficiently attractive for lawyers of the highest standing.”

In U.K., the problem of judicial salaries becoming unremunerative and not keeping pace with the cost of living is taken care of by revision by the Senior Salaries Review Board which recommends increase in from time to time. For example, in 2007 the board recommended an increase averaging 2.4 per cent for judicial salaries. With this, the salary of the Lord Chief Justice will be £ 230,400, of the Appeal Court judges £ 188,700 and of the High Court Judge £ 165,900 per year. Even small countries like Singapore have more attractive judicial salaries than India.

The great standing which our higher judiciary with its enormous power commands in India and the rest of the world is in serious danger of being undermined if prompt steps are not taken to raise judicial salaries to draw talent to the judiciary. It is little realised by even the legal profession that what is at stake is the functioning of an independent, incorruptible and efficient judiciary. As it would be inappropriate for judges to agitate the issue, the Bar associations, lawyers and the Law Commission should take up the matter urgently. In 2007, Chief Justice Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court described the current levels of judicial salaries in the U.S. a “constitutional crisis.” Judicial salaries in India are considerably lower than in the U.S. With greater reason we have a constitutional crisis in India on hand.

(The writer is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court and former Solicitor-General of India.)

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Facelift for Pondicherry Railway Station

Facelift for railway station

Rajesh B. Nair

More amenities at Puducherry soon

Photo: T. Singaravelou

Neat and tidy: The spruced up platform at the Pondicherry Railway Station. —

PUDUCHERRY: Pondicherry Railway Station is going in for a major overhaul with an aim of providing better passenger amenities and infrastructure.

The Southern Railway has commenced works at the cost of Rs. 1 crore to improve passenger amenities. The first phase is expected to be completed in a couple of months, according to the officials.

The 440-meter long platform No. 1 would be provided with kota stones, they said, adding that a reverse osmosis plant would be installed to supply purified drinking water. The work of putting coloured galvanised roofing sheets on platform 1,2 and 3 had commenced. Granite benches would be provided on the platforms.

The reservation section of the station had been spruced up and the portico had gone for a major facelift, the officials said adding that the construction of a small bus shelter and parking facility for vehicles had been completed. Passenger amenities such as ATMs, a book stall and a passenger care centre would also be provided. “Already the State Bank of India has opened its ATM and two more banks have evinced interest to provide such facilities at the station,” a senior official said.

The Railways also planned to take up work at the cost of Rs. 45 lakh to improve facilities for the passengers. In the second phase of the modernisation, the Railways planned to construct waiting halls for the passengers, the officials said, adding that an air conditioned waiting hall and a cloak room would also come up at the station.

Besides augmenting passenger facilities, the Railways had allocated Rs. 6 crore for setting up two pit lines for coach maintenance facility at the station, the officials said.

Statistics showed that the station had handled 2.6 lakh people for booking reserved tickets and earned more than Rs. 9 core during 2007-08.

During 2006-07, it handled 2.59 lakh people for booking reserved tickets and earned around Rs. 9 crore.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Also read the related stories:

Dinamani: Renovated Railway Station opening shortly

FDI: a Red Carpet Welcome for second colonial rule

FDI: a Red Carpet Welcome for second colonial rule

Tuesday May 27 2008 00:00 IST

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

AIADMK Vs. DMK: Demolition of Heritage buildings

Cornered Stones Chennai's past is braided with the Admiralty House.

It doesn't deserve to go.

Pushpa Iyengar
One of Chennai's oldest colonial buildings, whose original owners probably gave this city its erstwhile name, Madras, is currently being flattened with sledgehammers and drills.

Though structurally sound, the 250-year-old former Government H
ouse, commonly known as Admiralty House, is being pulled down to make way for a new Rs 200-crore legislative assembly complex being designed by a German architectural firm.

Five years ago, wh
en the Jayalalitha government announced Queen Mary's College (QMC) would be demolished to make way for a new secretariat complex, M.K. Stalin, heir apparent to DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi, stormed police barricades in solidarity with women students in an agitation that saved the 110-year-old QMC for the time being.

Now it is the turn of the DMK government, which projects itself as a champion of culture, to sign the death warrant for a historic building, which will be reduced to a pile of debris by the month's end. Significantly, Stalin is silent this time.
Tucked away in the Omandur Ramaswami Reddiar Estate—a complex of 21 government buildings spread over 25 acres—the fact that this regal building was not visible, and therefore evoked no groundswell of public support, may have helped hasten its demise.

In contrast, both the QMC and another heritage landmark which faced demolition, the 1839 police headquarters building, located prominently on the Marina, were saved after conservationists went to court.
Fort St George—which currently houses the assembly—was the seat of the British East India Company after the first governor, George Foxcroft, arrived in 1666. But with its buildings damaged in a battle in 1749 with the French, the then Governor Thomas Saunders rented a house belonging to Antonia de Madeiros in 1752.

The de Madeiros family of San Thome were prosperous Portuguese traders, from whom the name Madras is said to have originated. S. Muthiah, director, Chennai Heritage, recounts Admiralty House's history: "On August 28, 1753, the government of Madras bought the house for 3,500 pagodas (Rs 75,000 today) to serve as the governor's garden house. For nearly 200 years, governors used that house, first as a part-time residence and, later, as a permanent one."
After Independence, the governor's residence moved to its present location in Guindy. The old Government House—named Admiralty House as it was used by the admiralty courts—became the mlas' hostel.

It later housed the police when the police headquarters building was being renovated in 1993. In fact, the CID continued to function from there till demolition began on April 22 this year.
The splendid lime-and-mortar Admiralty House has wood and marble floors, carved wooden staircases and high ceilings. Muthiah, who edits Madras Musings, a fortnightly devoted to the city's heritage and environment, describes it thus: "The flooring boasted some of the highest quality marble. The central hall had fine plasterwork on the ceiling and the hall fronting the verandah had a beautiful false ceiling held with a framework of rosewood.

The ornamental pillars that rose to the ceiling were made of rosewood and carried monograms of officials of the past. At least 10 doorways were in the finest Dravidian style, each one of them 12 ft in height—apparently valued at Rs 8 lakh each." In bringing it down, laments Muthiah, "the government has not only demolished a symbol of the Raj, but also the work of Indian masons, woodcarvers and other artisans."

While the AIADMK government was stopped from demolishing the police headquarters and the QMC because the then CM Jayalalitha announced her plans, the DMK government crept in on Admiralty House stealthily, leaving conservationists little time to act.


Sand quarry issue: TN opposition to skip all-party meet

TN opposition to skip all-party meet

Fri, 23 May, 2008,04:39 PM

In a predictable response to the DMK government’s call for an all- party meeting to discuss on the policy to be followed over sand quarrying, the AIADMK, the MDMK and the DMDK today announced that they would boycott it.

A hard-hitting statement from AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa said she did not believe that Chief Minister M Karunanidhi would follow the recommendations of the Legislature Party leaders meeting to be held on 26 May.
‘It is not new for Karunanidhi to act on his own and to betray the interests of the people.

Right from the Cauvery issue in 1971 to the recent Hogennakkal row, he had been changing his stand due to various reasons. He had retracted from his earlier statement over Hogennakkal issue by stating that the project would be put on hold. And he did this without convening the Cabinet or consulting all parties. Hence, we are not ready to believe that he would pay heed to the voice of leaders in the all-party meeting.’

She also said the government’s decision to again lease sand quarries to private parties would pave the way for the ruling DMK men to take complete control of sand quarrying in the State, besides taking toll on water resources.
The former Chief Minister said the decision in her tenure to scrap all existing sand quarrying leases was taken on the recommendations of an expert committee constituted on the directive of the Madras High Court, to prevent unscientific sand quarrying and to provide sand at an affordable cost to public.

In a similar statement, MDMK general secretary Vaiko said Karunanidhi did not have any right to convene an all-party meeting to discuss the issue.
He questioned the rationale behind the government’s decision to revert to the old practice of allowing private parties in sand quarrying. If it was handed over to the private parties again, it would only pave way for indiscriminate quarrying, he said. In a letter to the Chief Minister, DMDK president Vijayakanth said it was not right to convene an all-party meeting after taking an unilateral decision.

‘The meeting is being organised following a tussle over the issue among the alliance partners of the ruling party,’ he said. The State government announced yesterday a meeting of Legislature Party leaders would be held on 26 May to discuss the policy to be followed over the sand quarry issue.

A terse official release said Chief Minister M Karunanidhi would chair the meeting scheduled at 10 am in the Cabinet Hall at the Secretariat.


Govt recalls 46,000 Z-series passports

Govt recalls 46,000 Z-series passports

4 May 2008, 0202 hrs IST, Daniel P George,TNN

CHENNAI: Nearly 46,000 people across the country will have to surrender their passports and get them exchanged for new ones, as the government has recalled passports with serial numbers Z-000001 to Z-045925, most of them issued in Dubai.

"The government has issued instructions that all Indian passports with serial numbers Z-000001 to Z-045925 are to be recalled and new passports issued in their place," a release said.

Though the official announcement did not specify the reason for the recall, sources here say there could be chances of some of the passports issued in Dubai, falling into "wrong hands". Holders of the ‘Z’ series of passports will now have to submit fresh applications. While those in Dubai can approach the Indian Consulate there, those in India can approach the regional passport office concerned.

Sources in the MEA’s passport and visa division in New Delhi, however, said that passports were being recalled not just from Dubai but from all over the world. They added that this was because of a technical error in these travel documents.

Sources in the Chennai International Airport said immigration officials have been asked to look out for the passport, especially with passengers from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) sources in Mumbai police said:

"We and the immigration authorities at the Chatrapathi Shivaji International Airport have special instructions to keep a watch for passports of the ‘Z’ series."

Dubai’s population increased from 1.130 million in 2005 to 1.422 million in 2006, with Indians adding to the growth. People from TN, who constitute about 20% of UAE population, are a worried lot as they could face problems while travelling.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Rule of law Vs. Police and Public Prosecutors

Rule of law Vs. Police and Public Prosecutors

Friday May 23 2008 00:00 IST


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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pak.: Govt. differs with PML (N) on Judges' restoration issue

Alliance in trouble


Nawaz Sharif’s party is on a collision course with its alliance partner, the PPP, on the issue of reinstating dismissed judges.


Nawaz Sharif (Left) with Asif Ali Zardari on April 22, after talks on the restoration of the judges. The alliance partners signed a pact in March to restore the judges within 30 days of the new government.

WHEN Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif joined hands after their parties emerged as the biggest winners in the historic February 18 elections, even toughened Pakistanis who thought they had seen everything got carried away by the euphoria of the moment.

But within three short months, that has been replaced by despondency. The romance is all but over, punctured by the one issue that was a bone of contention between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), or the PML(N), even back then, notwithstanding the assertions of the two leaders that they would not allow it to wreck their partnership.

The issue of the dismissed judges of Pakistan’s higher courts, including deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary, was the proverbial poisoned gift from President Pervez Musharraf that jinxed the PPP-PML(N) marriage from the start, leading to its unravelling in early May.

After the elections, Sharif readily joined hands with Zardari’s PPP but made plain his reluctance to participate in the coalition government. Several political calculations may have gone into this, including the belief that the PML(N) would be able to force its agenda better by offering outside support to the government rather than by being in it.

But the one reason that the PML(N) publicly gave out was that Ministers had to be sworn in by the President, and as the party did not recognise Musharraf as the legal or constitutional holder of this office, it did not wish to take up Cabinet positions. In the event, the PML(N) joined the Cabinet, with its members taking the oath of office from Musharraf wearing black armbands in protest against him.

Since then, Sharif has never lost an opportunity to point out that the PML(N) agreed to join the government on “one and only one” condition: that their coalition government would reinstate the judges dismissed by Musharraf in his November 3, 2007 emergency.

Unconditional restoration of the judiciary was Sharif’s pledge in the campaign for the February elections. It is said to have contributed to his party’s spectacular performance in Punjab Province, even beyond Sharif’s own expectations, and he has reiterated many times that he will not be party to any compromise on this issue.

The March 8 Murree Declaration between Sharif and PPP co-chairperson Zardari stated that the judges would be reinstated by means of a resolution in the National Assembly and that this would happen within 30 days of government formation.

This was easier said than done. The “reinstatement by resolution” proved to be a tricky affair from the beginning. While the PML(N) and the legal community agitating for the reinstatement of the dismissed judges argued that all that it required to reverse Musharraf’s action was an executive notification following the parliamentary resolution, the PPP as well as independent legal experts warned against going down this road.

They argued that an executive notification would be simply struck down by the sitting judges of the Supreme Court and could bring on a confrontation between the presidency and the court on the one side and the government and the parliament on the other, with unforeseen consequences.

Instead, they advocated that the reinstatement be carried out through constitutional amendments. But the PML(N) and the legal community led by the Supreme Court Bar Association took the position that amending the Constitution to reinstate the judges would amount to accepting and validating the changes made to the Constitution by Musharraf.

At the heart of the disagreement was the difference in the ways in which the PML(N) and the PPP view Musharraf. While Sharif has vowed to get rid of the retired general who usurped power from him in 1999, the PPP has signalled a willingness to accommodate him now, perhaps with the possibility of giving him a dignified exit at a later stage.

For the PML(N), the restoration of the judges is one step in the bigger game to unseat Musharraf as the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary could well lead to the reopening of the legal challenges to the validity of the last presidential election.


Lawyers march during a protest in Lahore on April 24 demanding that the judges sacked by President Pervez Musharraf be reinstated.

Several reasons are cited for the PPP’s unwillingness to cooperate in this plan, including the “deal” reached between the party’s assassinated leader Benazir Bhutto and Musharraf, by which he allowed her to re-enter Pakistan in return for her party’s support and also erased a host of corruption cases against her and her husband, Zardari, through the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

For Zardari, who has seen a number of corruption and criminal cases against him dropped in the past few weeks, the restoration of the judges carries the risk that they will revisit the NRO, which they did not view kindly when they were in office.

In interviews, Zardari has also demonstrated personal rancour against the judges and at the treatment he received at their hands during his long incarceration, visibly bristling at the suggestion that he should bring them back because they were the harbingers of democratic change in 2007.

Conspiracy theorists and Zardari-sympathisers also point to the pressure on Zardari from the U.S. and “the establishment” – shorthand for Pakistan’s entrenched intelligence agencies that play a major role in domestic politics – not to stray from the terms of the Benazir-Musharraf deal.

Whatever the reason, Zardari tied the resolution for reinstatement to a “constitutional package”. Details about this package that emerged in the Pakistani media spoke of several provisions to clip the wings of the restored judiciary, including fixing a tenure for the post of Chief Justice. This would require Iftikhar Chaudhary to step down by 2009 or 2010 instead of at retirement in 2013. The PML(N) made it plain that the resolution could not be tied to a constitutional package.

For sure, frantic efforts were made to resolve the differences. Sharif rushed to Dubai, where Zardari had retreated to spend time with his children, to break the deadlock in negotiations between the two sides. The April 30 deadline passed, with Sharif returning on that day with the assurance that he and Zardari had now agreed on May 12 as the date on which a resolution demanding the reinstatement would be brought before the National Assembly.

“The judges will be reinstated to their pre-November 3 positions on the same day through a government notification,” Sharif declared on his arrival back in Pakistan. It was not to be. More frantic negotiations followed, this time in London, but despite both sides repeatedly reiterating their commitment to restoring the judges, agreement eluded them on how exactly to go about this.

On May 12, declaring that he had tried his best, Sharif announced the withdrawal of his Ministers from the Cabinet. Notwithstanding his decision to stay on in the coalition and support the government on an “issue-to-issue” basis from the treasury benches, analysts have already pronounced this as the “beginning of the end” for the coalition. The PPP has also promised not to pull out of the PML(N)-led government in Punjab.

The PML(N) says it will stay on in the coalition so that the “forces of dictatorship” do not destabilise the democratic government. But Sharif’s pledge that he will fight “shana-bashana”, shoulder-to-shoulder, with the lawyers and will not rest until the judges are brought back puts him on a collision course with the PPP federal government, and a break-up of the coalition now seems only a matter of time.

The fallout has, of course, brought Musharraf and the parties allied to him, back into the reckoning, much to the disappointment and anger of those who celebrated the February 18 vote as a verdict against the military ruler. A British newspaper predicted in the immediate aftermath of the elections that the retired general was planning to call it quits in “days if not weeks”. The weeks have since turned to months, and far from looking up golf courses and bridge partners in anticipation of an early departure from the presidency, Musharraf is reported to be busy planning for the Sharif-Zardari honeymoon to end.

The retired general held meetings with the routed Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-i-Azam), or the PML(Q), in an effort to change its leadership so that the party could become more acceptable as an alliance partner to the PPP in the eventuality of a breakdown in the coalition.

But with party president Chaudhary Shujat Hussain refusing to make way for a more PPP-friendly face, Musharraf is said to be encouraging a “forward bloc” in the party. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s meetings with the leadership of this bloc during a visit to Lahore set off speculation that the PPP and the PML(Q), or at least some sections of it, may ultimately join hands.

Zardari has already made peace with Musharraf’s other ally, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), by making it a partner in the Sindh government even though the PPP had enough numbers for a government of its own. While this was seen as necessary for running the province – the MQM has the street power to paralyse Karachi in a few hours if not minutes – analysts saw this as a not-too-subtle move by the presidency and Zardari to keep channels open to each other.

In all this, Zardari and the PPP have suffered a severe political setback. If the PPP co-chairperson’s moves to mend fences with the MQM, a historic and bitter political rival, have caused resentment within the Sindh chapter of the party, his reported dalliance with the PML(Q) will cost him further. Analysts predict that if he ties up with the PML(Q), especially after calling it the “Quatil (killer) League”, the implication being that its leadership engineered his wife’s assassination, a split in the PPP itself is a possibility. Even the intelligentsia, which supported the PPP through the decades despite all its shortcomings and defended the actions of its leadership, is now finding it difficult to keep up the effort.

By contrast, Sharif, despite his dodgy political beginnings as a Zia-ul-Haq worshipper, his right-wing leanings and his own treatment of the Supreme Court during his second term in power, has begun to emerge as the new messiah of the country’s democratic forces. The PML(N) leader, who was in the political wilderness just under a year ago, has benefited the most politically from the complex three-man chess game in progress in Pakistan.

Predictions are that if the PPP government at the centre makes it difficult for his party’s government in Punjab, the PML(N) may opt for the dissolution of the Provincial Assembly and call fresh elections because it would sweep the polls effortlessly. There is still no end to the uncertainty in Pakistan.


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