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Since 1st March, 1999
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Nation at a Glance

Japan damages for skin colour query

Tokyo (afp): A Japanese court has ordered a real estate agency and one of its employees to pay damages for asking an Indian if his skin colour was “normal” when he phoned the firm to find an apartment.

“Asking a foreigner his or her skin colour is a clear violation of individual rights,” Judge Sota Tanaka told Saitama district court, north of Tokyo, awarding Srirama Chandra B. Murthy damages totalling 500,000 yen ($4,240).

Murthy, who works for a software firm, had demanded the real estate company, its employee and Saitama Prefecture pay a total of 1.2 million yen for the distress he suffered. The judge rejected the argument that the prefecture should also be held liable as it is obliged to supervise the agency.

urthy phoned the agency, Nikken Juhan, in April 2001 to locate an apartment in Toda city in Saitama Prefecture. According to the Tokyo Shimbun — which reported the ruling handed down on Tuesday — the employee who received the call asked him: “What is your skin colour' Is it the normal colour'”

When Murthy asked what colour was normal, she replied “like Japanese”, prompting an infuriated Murthy to hang up. Saitama court officials confirmed the amount of the award, but declined to give other details of the ruling.

SC order on lip salve for troops

New Delhi (pti): Rejecting the claim that the Lip Salve cream used exclusively by military personnel in high altitude and in extremely cold regions to prevent lips from chapping was a “medicament”, the Supreme Court has held that it is a product and hence liable to excise duty.

Dismissing an appeal by Alpine Products against a decision of the Customs, Excise & Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal, a bench of Justices m.b. shah and d.m. dharmadhikari ruled that “the product Lip Salve is essentially a preparation for protection of lips and skin and is not a medicament”.

onfirming the earlier decision of the tribunal that the company should pay excise duty on the product Lip Salve, the bench said: “We find ourselves in agreement with the majority opinion of the tribunal that the product is a kind of ‘barrier cream’ or protective cream against skin irritants.”

The company had claimed that the cream was a medicine to treat sore, inflamed, roughened and cracked lips and that it was manufactured in accordance with the defence services specifications.

It had also emphasised that Lip Salve was supplied exclusively to the defence department for personnel posted in high altitude areas and should be classified as a “medicament” and not merely a “skin care preparation”.

Mumbai halls to play anthem

Mumbai (pti): Twenty years after the national anthem was banned from playing in the theatres in Maharashtra, the government has now decided to introduce it in 150 cinema halls in the metropolis from January 26.

Deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal has approved the demand made by the National Youth Congress to play the national anthem in theatres after screening of movies, the organisation’s president, Narendra Verma, said.

Crop failure death

Nagapattinam (pti): Devastated by the destruction of her ‘samba’ paddy crops due to severe drought, a widow, who cultivated paddy in about two acres in Tirukkuvalai Taluk, died of shock, police said. For the last one week the woman was depressed as her paddy fields had withered. On Tuesday, she was so shocked on seeing that the crops had entirely dried up that she died on the spot.

Couple suicide

ghaziabad (pti): A couple in their twenties committed suicide by consuming poison after being caught by the bride’s parents while trying to run away after getting married in Saharanpur district, a senior police official said.

NRI in murder case

Mumbai (pti): The Maharashtra government has filed an appeal in Bombay High Court urging for cancellation of bail granted to Jagdish Joshi, Dubai-based nri and accused in a murder case. Justice s.k. shah on Tuesday issued notice to Joshi and directed the trial court in Satara not to return his passport until the appeal was decided.

Liquor deaths

bolpur: Two persons died after drinking liquid mosquito repellent mistaking it for foreign liquor here on Wednesday, reports our correspondent. Police said Rajesh Singh, 20, and Ananda Hajra, 22, took a bottle of foreign liquor in which somebody from Singh’s family had kept the mosquito spray.

Heroin arrest

Mumbai (pti): A Nigerian was arrested after heroin worth Rs 8.89 lakh was seized from him at Chhatrapati International Airport. Sources said Aneadum Christian Odiwaka was bound for Duala Cameroon.

Two white cubs — a male and a female — born to white tigress Sunita were put out for public viewing in the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad on Wednesday. This is the second litter of Sunita and Rudra, a male white tiger from Nandan Kannan Zoo.

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