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NATION BRIEFS

Probity panel? Taint no bar

Bhopal, Jan. 29: If a political party’s probity monitors need to be above suspicion, nobody seems to have told the Madhya Pradesh Congress.

Of the 12 members appointed to the state party unit’s disciplinary committee yesterday, several have themselves been accused of improper conduct, involvement in scandals or deliberately harming the party’s interests.

el chief and former minister Chandra Prakash Shekhar is accused in a case with the police’s economic offences wing. It relates to how a mall was illegally built in Indore when Shekhar headed the state housing board.

other inductee, former National Commission for the Scheduled Castes member Mahendra Bodh, had triggered controversy when he and Buta Singh, the then commission chairman, visited Mumbai in February 2010.

Their mandate was to look into Air India’s treatment of Dalit employees. According to media reports, the airline ended up spending Rs 5 lakh of the taxpayer’s money on their hospitality. Some reports said Bodh ran up a Rs 15,000 bill at a spa.

The disciplinary committee is meant to ensure ethical behaviour, loyalty and commitment to Congress ideology among party members. So, panel members are expected to have a track record of probity and loyalty.

But Pankaj Singhvi, appointed to the panel yesterday, had been expelled for a while for rebelling against the official Congress nominee in the 2008 Assembly polls.

other member, Deepchand Yadav, was a Congress nominee from Bhopal in 2008 but lost tamely to the BJP amid allegations that he didn’t even try to win. Yadav also faces charges of factionalism.

Bhudhsen Patel has been a party-hopper. He was in the Bahujan Samaj Party in 1998 when he contested against Arjun Singh and caused his defeat by splitting the anti-BJP votes. Patel later defected to the Apna Dal before joining the Congress.

Gujjar quota

Jaipur, Jan. 29: Rajasthan High Court has stayed the five per cent quota for special backward classes, including Gujjars, terming it as unconstitutional as it would exceed the regulated 50 per cent mark.

November 2012, the state government had accepted an OBC panel’s report recommending five per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutes to five communities, including Gujjars, under Specially Backward Category.

Bribe doctor

Hyderabad (PTI): The head of the cardiology department at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences was arrested on Monday for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 1.6 lakh for an official favour. Seshagiri Rao was caught red-handed, officials said.

Car deaths

Kasargod (PTI): The bodies of a BHEL employee, his wife and two children were found in their locked car at Kerala’s Mayippadi district on Tuesday. The man’s wife was a nurse at a government hospital here. The children, a boy and a girl, were aged 12 and 10 years. Police found gas had leaked from the tank but were ascertaining the exact cause of the deaths.

Himachal tourism

Shimla, Jan. 29: The Himachal Pradesh government has announced a concessional holiday package to promote heritage tourism as there were a few takers for this segment in the state because of higher costs.

Himachal Pradesh Tourism development Corporation is offering fifty per cent discount on the normal tariff to woo the tourists during an off season.The package, launched today, will allow families to stay in any of the heritage properties at Rs 10,000 per day.

Kodnani case

Ahmedabad (PTI): Gujarat High Court has rejected applications by former state minister Maya Kodnani and two others against the decision of a trial court judge who had refused to recuse herself from Naroda Gaam riot case. The judge said there were no grounds to consider the trial judge’s removal.

Souvik body

London (PTI): The father of Souvik Pal, an Indian student found dead in Manchester after going missing on the New Year eve, will be leaving for Bangalore with his son’s body on Wednesday. The body of Souvik, 19, was found in a canal last week.

Student suicide

Dehra Dun, Jan. 29 (PTI): A Class XI student of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district allegedly committed suicide in his hostel yesterday, apparently because of study pressure.

Sachin Butola was found by a classmate hanging in the bathroom, police said. A purported suicide note recovered from the spot said that the 16-year-old took the step as he could not cope with his studies. This is the second such incident in the state in three days.

Prasar panel

New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday constituted a Sam Pitroda-led seven-member committee to review the Prasar Bharati’s functioning, taking what was seen as the first step towards a full revamp of the public broadcaster.

Bunty chor

Thiruvananthapuram (PTI) Super thief Devinder Singh alias Bunty chor was brought to Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday after his arrest in Pune and remanded to judicial custody till February 12 . Devinder allegedly committed a burglary at an NRI’s house in Kerala last week.

Horse carts

Mumbai (PTI): Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the city police to impound horse carriages plying without licence and fitness certificate. The order came on a PIL by the Animals and Birds Charitable Trust alleging cruel treatment of the horses who pull these carriages.

Rights bill

New Delhi (PTI): The social justice and empowerment ministry is seeking the views of various interest groups on a new law to protect the rights of differently abled people. The proposed bill also plans to stiffen the punishment for crimes committed against such individuals.

Somali piracy

New Delhi (PTI): The Centre has sought Nigeria’s help to secure the release of 17 Indian sailors being held hostage by Somali pirates, Manmohan Singh has told Rajya Sabha MP K.N. Balagopal in a letter after the CPM leader sought the Prime Minister’s intervention. The ship, MT Royal Grace, is owned by a Nigerian.