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Since 1st March, 1999
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Nation at a Glance

Shivani case charges

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Thursday ordered framing of charges against R.K. Sharma, the suspended Haryana cadre IPS officer, and five others accused of conspiring to murder journalist Shivani Bhatnagar, reports our special correspondent.

Additional sessions judge J.M. Malik has fixed March 3 for formally framing charges against R.K. Sharma, Sri Bhagwan, Satya Prakash, Pradeep, Ved Prakash Sharma and Ved Prakash, alias Kalu. The accused will have the option of either pleading guilty that day or facing trial.

All six will face the common charges of conspiring to murder Bhatnagar at her East Delhi house on January 23, 1999, misappropriating property under Indian Penal Code Section 403 and associating with a gang of thieves under Section 401. Pradeep, Satya Prakash, Ved Prakash Sharma and Kalu will also be charged separately under various other sections of the IPC.

The prosecution has fixed alternative charges against the accused, so that if the common charges fail at the end of the trial, the alternative charges will still hold up, police said.

Bhatnagar was murdered after she allegedly threatened to expose R.K. Sharma by making public classified documents which he had “leaked” to her while he was posted in the Prime Minister’s Office during I.K. Gujral’s tenure.

Hindujas allowed to go abroad

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has allowed the three Hinduja brothers, accused in the Bofors kickback case, to leave the country together after months of legal battles in various courts, reports our legal correspondent.

But a division bench of Justices M.B. Shah and Arun Kumar made it clear that the reprieve would be valid till May 2, modifying an earlier order in which the apex court had allowed only two of the Hinduja brothers to go abroad simultaneously.

The bench on Thursday allowed the Hinduja brothers — Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand — to leave the country together after their counsel and former law minister Ram Jethmalani gave an undertaking that they would not refuse to face trial in the Howitzer gun deal case.

The Hinduja brothers have been pleading that their business interests demanded the presence of all the three abroad.

The apex court allowed them to travel abroad together but said they would have to report to the trial court on May 2.

The court had earlier stayed trial against the Hindujas and their appeal to quash charges is pending before Delhi High Court. Jethmalani said the three brothers would appear before the trial court once the Supreme Court disposed of their appeal.

Judicial custody for Ejaz Pathan

Mumbai: Ejaz Pathan, who was deported by Dubai authorities, was remanded in judicial custody on Thursady, reports our correspondent.

Pathan, who was in CBI custody, has been accused under Tada for having links with the 1993 Bombay blasts.

He told a magistrate on Wednesday that he made a voluntary confession to the CBI on February 22. But his lawyer said on Thursday that his client told him that he had not made any such confession. The court ordered that the confession be placed in a sealed envelope and opened at an appropriate time.

Pathan told the court that the authorities did not stop him from sleeping, but he was not up to being interrogated because he suffered from headaches. The court asked the CBI to send him to JJ Hospital as he had complained of nerve-related problems.

Pathan arrived in Mumbai along with Iqbal Sheikh, Dawood Ibrahim’s brother, on February 18.

Custody suicide

Hyderabad (PTI): A person picked up in connection with a theft allegedly committed suicide in the Maldakal police station in Mahabubnagar district. Police said B. Venkatanna was taken into custody for interrogation on Wednesday.

Jaya plans US tour

Chennai: Jayalalithaa has planned to visit the US in June to attract foreign direct investments to Tamil Nadu, reports our special correspondent. The United States India-Business Council has invited the chief minister to address its annual meeting in New York in June.

Jaswant medal

New Delhi (PTI): The army headquarters has recommended a military medal for Union minister Jaswant Singh for his role in diplomacy during the Kargil conflict, George Fernandes informed the Lok Sabha on Thursday. Singh was the foreign minister during the conflict.

Beur suspensions

Patna (PTI): Nineteen policemen, including four assistant sub-inspectors, were suspended in connection with the escape of 11 inmates of Beur jail, police said. City police superintendent O.N. Bhaskar said carelessness on the part of the policemen had led to the escape.

The Nishagandhi dance and music festival, an annual affair in Thiruvananthapuram, will be redesigned as a leading art, culture, craft and food fair from 2003. The festival, to be held between April 5 and 12, will have a partnership with Rajasthan.

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