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SC puts smoking ban onus on govt

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to give interim directions on the rules to be framed by the government to ban smoking in public places and use and regulation of tobacco and tobacco products, reports our legal correspondent.

A division bench of Justice Ruma Pal and Justice P. Venkatarama Reddi said it was for the government to frame the rules under the anti-smoking law, which has been passed by Parliament.

The judges, however, added that the petitioner, Congress leader Murli Deora, could approach the court if the rules framed by the government were inadequate or needed changes.

The government, through a law on regulation of tobacco and tobacco products, had banned smoking in public places. But rules to effectively implement the law are yet to be framed under the act.

The court dismissed Deora’s petition, saying the act passed by Parliament serves the purpose of the petition and that it need not be heard anymore.

Court picks holes in Taj corridor

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday observed that there appeared to be “something wrong somewhere” in the construction of the Taj heritage corridor, reports our legal correspondent.

The Uttar Pradesh government, however, said it has not violated the apex court orders directing status quo in the mega project. The government has also promised to respond in two days to court commissioner Krishan Mahajan’s application accusing the state of blatantly violating the Supreme Court’s order and spending over Rs 17 crore in a project that had not got any kind of sanction from the authorities.

A bench of Justice M.B. Shah and Justice A.R. Lakshmanan expressed unhappiness over media reports questioning the construction despite the Supreme Court ordering maintenance of status quo on May 1 while permitting only erection of sand embankments.

“Something is wrong somewhere. Some action is required to be taken in this matter — against whom we do not know,” the bench said, while considering entrusting the inquiry into the controversy to the CBI.

Mahajan, in his application before the court, requested the court to set up a nodal authority headed by the Union ministry of tourism and culture to prepare an action plan for ecological restoration of the Yamuna river bed at Agra.

He also requested the court to examine the records of the state government regarding the corridor project.

Date for Pak girl surgery

Bangalore (PTI): The open heart surgery on Noor Fathima, the two-and-a-half-year-old girl who has come from Lahore for treatment, would “in all probability” be performed on July 16, sources at the hospital where she is admitted said.

Fathima came to India with her parents on the first trip of the Lahore-Delhi bus.

A three-member team headed by Dr Rajesh Sharma, paediatric cardiac surgeon, will perform the operation on Fathima who is suffering from multiple verticular septal disease, the sources said.

“Since the surgery involved is very complicated... the child has been isolated from general patients,” a source said. “She is in stable health.”

KBC comeback

New Delhi (PTI): Amitabh Bachchan may be back on the small screen soon, anchoring Kaun Banega Crorepati on STAR Plus, with his initial contract with the channel yet to expire. Sources said Bachchan had signed a contract with STAR for a certain number of episodes of which 280 were aired between July 2000 and January 2002. His “contract requires him to do 70-80 more episodes”, a source said.

Defence secretary

New Delhi: Ajay Prasad, an IAS officer of the 1969 batch (Himachal Pradesh cadre), took over as the secretary in the ministry of defence on Monday, reports our special correspondent. Prasad succeeds Subir Datta, who took premature retirement. Prasad was officer on special duty to deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani before his current assignment.

Scanner on courts

New Delhi (PTI): Fast track courts, set up to lessen the burden of nearly two crore cases pending in trial courts, have come under scanner with the Supreme Court asking all high courts to submit status reports on their case-disposal rate within a month.

Fire scare in train

Mumbai (PTI): Three women were injured when they jumped out of a local train near Goregaon station after spotting smoke coming out of a tiffin box. The tiffin box was later found to contain steaming gulab jamuns.

The Punjab government has given Rs 5 lakh to shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan, who is in financial distress, and moves are afoot to set up a trust to help other artistes and also historians, chief minister Amarinder Singh announced in New Delhi on Monday.

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