The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nation at a Glance

Tehelka tape plea turned down

New Delhi (PTI): The Tehelka news portal has demanded that its Operation Westend original tapes be returned since it did not trust the government to “play fair”, but the Venkataswami Commission has turned down the plea.

“This is to request you to hand back to us the custody of the Operation Westend original tapes which were submitted by us to the commission,” Tehelka managing editor Tarun Tejpal said in a letter to the registrar of the Venkataswami Commission that was probing the charges of corruption in defence deals exposed by the portal. “As we do not trust the government to play fair by us, we request the tapes be returned to us with immediate effect,” Tejpal said.

However, the request was turned down by the commission. “The original Operation Westend tapes form part of the records of the commission. At present they are being kept in safe custody in the commission’s premises and have been sealed.

“In view of the circumstances mentioned above, the question of returning the above-mentioned tapes to does not arise at this stage,” the secretary of the commission said in a letter to Tejpal.

The commission has been in limbo for nearly a month since the resignation of Justice K. Venkataswami on November 23 following a controversy over his acceptance of a job in a finance ministry body during his tenure as the probe panel head.

A-I gifts second plane to Ariana

Mumbai (PTI): Air-India has delivered its second airbus A300-B4 to Ariana Afghan Airlines. A third aircraft is being readied for delivery in January.

The aircraft, which took off on Saturday via Dubai, was handed over after the necessary “C” check to enable Ariana to use the aircraft uninterrupted for the next 4,000 flying hours, an A-I release said. The checks were being done at A-I’s maintenance base in view of the limited technical manpower available with Ariana, the release said, adding that several spare parts were also sent along with the aircraft.

The airbus has been reconfigured for 260 all economy seating as Ariana proposes to deploy the airbus for Haj operations.

A-I’s first A300-B4 aircraft was handed over to Ariana on September 17 and since then has been deployed for flights to Sharjah, Turkey and Germany with the assistance of A-I operating crew and maintenance engineers. The gift of the three aircraft by the Indian government was to help resurrect Afghanistan’s civil aviation sector as part of a package announced by India to rebuild the war ravaged nation.

Judicial sex scandal

Jodhpur (PTI): A chargesheet has been served upon a Rajasthan High Court official involved in a sex scandal for “tarnishing the image and credibility of judiciary and character assassination of judges”.

Deputy registrar (record) Govind Kalwani, who has already been suspended from his job, was served the chargesheet on Sunday under Section 16 of the Rajasthan Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1958 that lays down severe penalty, including dismissal, for such offences, high court sources said here today.

Kalwani is accused of seeking sexual favours for himself and a sitting judge, Arun Madan, from doctor Sunita Malviya in return for judicial favour in a case pending against her. Malviya runs a health clinic here.

Penalty review

New Delhi (PTI): The Supreme Court has rejected a petition filed by Devender Pal Singh seeking review of the death penalty awarded to him for attempting to eliminate Congress leader Maninder Singh Bitta by exploding a bomb that killed six security personnel in 1992 in Delhi. The ground for review was that a member on the three-judge bench, which upheld imposition of capital punishment, had opined that life sentence be given.

Coimbatore blasts

Coimbatore (PTI): A fast track court has sentenced four persons to death and four to life imprisonment for their involvement in the November 1997 murder of a traffic police constable. The murder led to communal clashes and police firing which claimed 24 lives and culminated in the February 1998 serial blasts.

Payasam dispute

Kochi (PTI): Five persons were hurt following a dispute over distribution of “payasam” in Chingamveli Devi temple at south Thuravoor. All five were brought to the Ernakulam special hospital.

Postal staff killed

Sonipat (PTI): A postal department employee was killed while trying to get down from a moving train. The victim, identified as Jagdish Chander, was returning home after work.

The Rudraksh tree, whose nuts are used as beads in Rudraksh malas, is in need of measures to prevent it from extinction, scientists have cautioned. Out of 120 known species, 25 are found in the foothills of the Himalayas.

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