Ram fuel to Justice age flare-up
Buddha flood date with Atal
Sonia seeks shield for parents
Missing file delays charges in Harin case
Delhi joins bandit hunt
Fined in temple for caste
Civil rights activist hacked
30 years of sasural not enough for summit hostess
Marandi wins trust vote in Jharkhand
Laloo test to pick and polish backbenchers

New Delhi, Nov. 23: 
Former Union law minister Ram Jethmalani today demanded a CBI inquiry into the Chief Justice�s age controversy, producing a certificate from the London Bar Examination Records to contend that the year of birth of A.S. Anand was 1934 and not 1936.

Jethmalani said the certificate said that �the above (Adarsh Sein Anand) was enrolled as a student member of Inner Temple on January 4, 1962, and at that time, gave his year of birth as 1934�. The London Bar Examination Records certificate was signed by S. Behr, addressed Allied Sanis House, 412, Greenford Road, Middlesex.

Jethmalani�s renewed thrust came after the chief executive of the Inner Temple general council, Niall Morison, issued a clarification that Behr�s certificate was �incorrect�.

Jethmalani said �an attempt is being made to question the authenticity of the document� he had produced, according to which the year of birth of the Chief Justice was 1934. Jethmalani said Morison�s statement was wrong, and a probe was needed to bring out the truth.

The government has iterated that it would take into account the year of birth mentioned in the secondary school leaving certificate of the Chief Justice for deciding his tenure.

The controversy erupted after a Chennai-based lawyer, Sundaram, sent a telegram to the Chief Justice, asking him to step down for furnishing false date of birth. The apex court framed contempt charges against the lawyer.

Jethmalani, also a senior counsel of the apex court, said Justice Anand had declared his date of birth as �November 1, 1936�, when he joined the Inner Temple, London, as a student of law in 1961.

This certificate by the Inner Temple has been signed by Morison. Morison�s certificate said: �We now acknowledge that the certificate of September 4 (quoted in Jethmalani�s book as saying that the Chief Justice�s year of birth was 1936), which was produced by us, was incorrect. Mr. Behr, at the time of writing it, had not seen the original records held by the Inner Temple, wherein Chief Justice Anand, at the time of seeking admission to the Inner Temple on 21 November, 1961, had made a declaration of his date of birth being 1 November, 1936, which we accept as being accurate.�

But Jethmalani said Jonathan Hirst, chairman of the general council of the bar of England, had written to the Chief Justice in response to Justice Anand�s letter.

�This letter contained the following statements: �the general council of bar of England had received records from information provided by the Inns of Court on forms completed by those applying for student membership of the Inns; these records had been scanned onto an electronic database at the general council; having examined the scanned image relating to the CJI�s records closely, it appears that the year of birth was recorded as 1934�.�

The Madras High Court Advocates� Association today asked the President to intervene and called for a boycott of courts in Tamil Nadu tomorrow, adds PTI.    

Calcutta, Nov. 23: 
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will meet Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee on November 29 with his demand for funds for flood relief.

It will be Bhattacharjee�s first meeting with Vajpayee since taking over as chief minister. He will also meet the President the same day.

According to sources at the secretariat, Bhattacharjee will take up allocation of Central funds for development works, including the Megacity project and repair of national highways.

Bhattacharjee today met finance minister Asim Dasgupta to assess funds for flood relief.

�The Centre has expressed its inability to provide additional funds to carry out relief and restoration work in the flood-affected districts. We shall not tolerate it. The Centre must give us funds from its Natural Calamity Relief Fund,�� Bhattacharjee said at Writers� Buildings.

Dasgupta called the Centre�s statement illogical and baseless and said it had insulted the people of Bengal. �We are not begging from the Centre. We have claimed Rs 1,487 crore as per the guidelines of the Eleventh Finance Commission and the Centre is bound to give it to us,�� Dasgupta said.

He said Vajpayee had called the recent floods in the state a national calamity but did not provide financial help.

The budget allocation for relief was Rs 101 crore but Rs 583 crore has already been spent by the state towards relief, said Dasgupta. �They must provide us funds and we are ready to go as far as possible for that. We shall not tolerate such behaviour from the Centre,�� he said.

Former chief minister Jyoti Basu today came down heavily on the Centre for its refusal to set up the National Calamity Contingency Fund and sanction money for helping about 2.18 crore people who have lost their property in the floods.

Basu urged the people of Bengal to launch a massive protest demonstration against the Centre�s decision.

In a statement, Basu said Union agriculture minister Nitish Kumar had met him right after the floods and admitted it was a national level calamity.

Kumar told him the Centre had not yet set up the National Calamity Contingency Fund.

�After that I talked to the Prime Minister over phone on November 3 and sought clarification on why the fund was not set up,� the former chief minister said.

Saifuddin meet

Expelled CPM leader Saifuddin Chowdhury will hold a meeting at Nazrul Manch in the city tomorrow. Several CPM members are expected to join him in the meet. Eleven CPI activists today said in a joint resolution that they will join Chowdhury�s political outfit.    

New Delhi, Nov. 23: 
Congress president Sonia Gandhi is opposed to the idea of penalising parents for their failure to provide education to children.

In a letter to Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee today, Sonia suggested amendments in the proposed Constitution (83rd Amendment) Bill, 2000, that aims to make education a fundamental right.

She said though parents have the fundamental duty to provide opportunities for education, penal provisions should be avoided. �Compulsion should be on state governments to provide essential facilities for universal elementary education than on parents, majority of whom struggle for their survival,� she said.

Her other suggestions are:

Care should be taken that the quality of education is not ignored in the enthusiasm to provide a fundamental right.

The word �Compulsory� in the amended Article 21 does not go with the spirit of a fundamental right as it denotes enforcement. It should be changed to corresponding obligation of the state to provide education.    

Ahmedabad, Nov. 23: 
The framing of charges against former Union minister Harin Pathak and state health minister Ashok Bhatt, accused of murder and rioting during the 1985 anti-reservation agitation, has been deferred because a document crucial to the case was not available.

The Gujarat High Court has directed the state government to furnish the report of a two-member commission, which contains details about alleged police excesses in Khadia during the stir, to all the accused.

The court today extended by four weeks the deadline for the state to place before the sessions court the report of the commission, appointed by the high court to look into alleged police brutalities during the anti-reservation agitation.

Last week, the high court quashed the murder and other charges framed by the sessions court against Pathak, Bhatt and others and directed it to frame fresh charges after hearing the accused and considering the commission report.

The lower court chargesheet, filed in the 15-year-old riot case involving the murder of a head constable, had sparked a political uproar, forcing Pathak and Bhatt to resign.

But the charges were quashed after two of the accused challenged the trial court order on the ground that they were not given a copy of the commission report as directed by the high court in an earlier order.

The accused should have been given the report by November 21. But, the government yesterday informed the court that it was difficult to trace the report which was misplaced during relocation of the high court to its new premises.    

New Delhi, Nov. 23: 
The Centre today promised all assistance, including logistic support, to the Special Task Force (STF) as it prepared to relaunch operations against poacher-turned-sandalwood smuggler Veerappan.

Echoes of the Veerappan issue rang out in the Lok Sabha today with ADMK members alleging that Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi had links with the forest brigand. They demanded his dismissal not only for his nexus with Veerappan, but also with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This sparked verbal duels with the DMK members. Parliamentary affairs minister Pramod Mahajan pacified both groups, saying he would convey their sentiments to the home minister.

At a meeting with L.K. Advani, senior Tamil Nadu officials, including the chief secretary and home secretary, agreed to restart operations in the forests along with Karnataka. They made a brief presentation to the home minister and assured that the Karunanidhi government will take all steps to nab Veerappan at the earliest. Later, the team met senior home ministry officials and discussed operational matters.

Advani was happy that the Tamil Nadu government, which had earlier dithered on taking action against Veerappan, had realised the sensitivity of the matter and turned round to begin operations. The home minister is learnt to have promised all help and assistance, including intelligence inputs on the whereabouts of Veerappan, but sent across the firm message that the operation will have to be carried out by the joint Tamil Nadu-Karnataka STF.

Even as the Karunanidhi government agreed to take action against Veerappan, Karnataka was raring to go after the forest brigand. In fact, chief minister S.M. Krishna announced in the Assembly on Tuesday that his government had appointed H.T. Sangliana, a daring police additional director-general, to head the STF. At the Tamil Nadu end, V. Balachandran, an officer of the inspector-general rank, heads the force. He is also assisted by a superintendent of police.

Bowing to public pressure, Karunanidhi had said a couple of days ago that his government would resume operations in Erode, Salem, Dharmapuri and the Nilgiris, areas in the state where Veerappan operates and wields influence. His gang is active in 204 villages, covering about 5,600 square km. In Karnataka, the sandalwood smuggler is active in Mysore and Chamrajnagar.    

Calcutta, Nov. 23: 
Brahmin priests of a kali temple today fined a �low caste� woman for touching the idol at Pursurah village in Hooghly district.

The temple authorities asked the woman�s family to pay a fine of Rs 8,000 which they said was needed for rituals �to purify the idol�.

N. Rameshbabu, superintendent of police, said the police was aware about the incident. Caste discrimination being a punishable offence, the local police station has been asked to begin a formal inquiry into the incident.

Savama Seeth, who is mentally challenged and belongs to a poor family, visited the temple yesterday. After entering the temple, she took some vermilion from the idol�s head.

The temple authorities today summoned Savama�s husband and ordered him to pay Rs 8,000 .    

Hyderabad, Nov. 23: 
Civil rights activist P. Purushottam was hacked to death in public this morning by unknown assailants.

Purushottam was the joint secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee.

The 40-year-old advocate, a resident of neighbouring Mahboobnagar district, was attacked by four assailants with axes and knives as he stepped out of a general store at Madhurapuri in Ranga Reddy district.

Fifteen people stood mute witnesses as the assailants sped away in a Tata Sumo that did not have number plates, after killing the activist.

Purushottam had been threatened by opponents of Naxalites a number of times.

The activist�s wife blamed the police for her husband�s death, but superintendent of police N.V. Surendra Babu denied this.

This is the third killing of civil rights activists in the state in the last two decades. In the early Eighties, J.L. Reddy, vice-president of the same civil liberties committee, was killed by police.

Another committee activist, Ramanatham, was killed in Warangal few years later.

Activist K.G. Kannabiran and former committee secretary K. Balgopal were often threatened by both police and anti-Naxalites in the city.

Government documents term the committee a frontal organisation of the Naxalites. In most districts, local advocates and lecturers are threatened against taking up committee activities.    

New Delhi, Nov. 23: 
This morning as Colette Mathur tied up the loose ends in preparation for the India Economic Summit hosted by the World Economic Forum, someone asked her how long has she been travelling to India.

�For thirty years,� she said.

�Thirty years,� the man said, aghast. �And, you are still coming?�

Mathur burst out laughing.

�Some people play golf, some like the arts, I come to India,� she explains.

For the director of the World Economic Forum � probably the most elite institution of its kind � her sasural is also her playground. Married to late M.G. Mathur, former deputy director general of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), Colette, the Frenchwoman born in Belgium, is, in the words of Arun Bharat Ram, president of the Confederation of Indian Industry, the face of India Inc overseas.

It is also the face that is the most outspoken in the charge of the reform brigade. Since 1986, she has been the chief organiser of the India Economic Summit which the World Economic Forum (WEF) hosts in partnership with CII. When the 16th summit takes off this weekend, Mathur will be on the job again.

Maybe she should have been bored with it. �It�s easy to tire,� she says, then grits her teeth and whispers in dramatic fashion: �I just want this country to make it.�

So Colette has lined up for the economic summit starting Sunday a series of meets where Anil Ambani and Rahul Bajaj and the rest of industry will speak its mind and bureaucrats and ministers will listen.

�I still have plenty of memorabilia to remind me how �Third World� Delhi looked 20 years ago � old tin cans on the streets that passed as cars and fridges that were full of defects but still people queued up to buy them � and realise how different it is now. The point is, it isn�t enough,� she says.

Indian Airlines and Air-India are up for sale, so is Maruti; insurance has been opened up; the power sector is up for grabs, the states are bending over backwards to attract investors but all of this is still not enough for Colette Mathur?

�I think there is a lack of determination and political courage.�

If Colette were speaking only of politicians it would still be cliched. In the discussions of the World Economic Forum � and Colette says that India figures frequently enough in them � there potential investors are almost as critical of bureaucrats � �they are not facilitators� � as of sections of Indian industry who still abhor competition.

The World Economic Forum itself is reaching out to India. Among the criteria fixed for its membership is that it will allow within its folds only companies that have annual turnovers of $ 1 billion or more.

The Forum currently has 1,000 members and its membership is now closed because the annual meet in Davos and Switzerland cannot accommodate anymore. Forty Indian companies are WEF members. But, says Colette, the criteria applicable to most members have been relaxed to some extent for Indian firms and other companies in emerging markets.    

Ranchi, Nov. 23: 
The NDA government of Babulal Marandi today won the crucial trust vote in the Jharkhand Assembly.

Forty-four members voted in favour of the motion and and 34 against. One legislator abstained. The Speaker did not vote. Though a voice vote was taken, Opposition members insisted on a division resulting in the Speaker ruling a physical counting of members both for and against the motion.

Today�s result was a foregone conclusion after the government yesterday succeeded in getting its nominee Inder Singh Namdhari unanimously elected to the post of Speaker after a divided Opposition withdrew both its candidates from the JMM and Congress who had filed their nominations for the Speaker�s election.

The NDA victory today came after protests both inside and outside the Assembly. The entire Opposition, comprising the JMM, Congress, RJD and Left parties staged a walkout of the Governor�s address in the Assembly.    

Patna, Nov. 23: 
Almost a decade after his Charwaha Vidyalaya programme flopped, Laloo Prasad Yadav plans to launch yet another reform in education to woo backwards.

Laloo�s new scheme envisages examinations at the end of Class VIII in all government schools, in addition to the two existing school-leaving examinations.

The middle-school examination will not have any �fail system�, said Ramchandra Purve, minister for parliamentary affairs and education. Students will be categorised under five grades depending on the marks obtained out of a total of 550 in the test.

The lowest grade � fifth � will be awarded to those who get less than 30 per cent. The most advanced � those getting 75 per cent or more � will be given awards to encourage others to do better. The weaker students will be given special attention which will equip them to handle the school-leaving examination at the end of Class X . The first such examination will be held from December 20 to 22.

The scheme is expected to benefit backwards who form the bulk of the student population in government schools.

Ministry experts said non-cognitive tests would also be conducted to judge the students� behaviour, attendance and orientation.

Purve, a teacher and a member of the RJD thinktank, feels this assessment will help Dalit students who cannot afford expensive private tutorials or English-medium schools unlike their upper-caste counterparts .

The state education ministry feels the decline in the education standard can be checked by emphasising the curriculum-end examination and by injecting a spirit of competitiveness among students. Besides, the Central Board of Secondary Education was considering putting an end to the system of declaring a student promoted or failed.

The proposal has drawn flak from Laloo�s own partymen. Bihar state council member Noel Kishore Rai said the middle-school assessment system would be a �psychological bottleneck� for those without a respectable grade. �We just run after ideas but never see the applicability of the system,� Rai said.

Educationists maintain that an over-important examination system had bred high levels of corruption. �It is time we bid goodbye to it to revamp the education system,� said A.N. Chowdhary, former principal of a college in Patna.

Educationists also point out the existing system does not work and one more examination will only increase the burden. With a paucity of funds, they wonder how the system will function.

�The charwaha scheme perished due to lack of adequate motivation. Now the schools don�t exist any longer and the teachers engaged in the scheme are left high and dry. Some have committed suicide,� a senior officer of the education department said.    


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