|Seized palatial house of suspended IAS a
PATNA, Sept 8: A confiscated palatial house of an IAS officer, suspended for taking graft, became a full-fledged primary school today.....more
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: A day after a bomb blast ripped through its reception complex, the Delhi High Court today resumed full fledged proceedings amid tight security with lawyers and litigants being put through a stricter security check....more
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: BJP today went on the offensive on the cash-for-vote scam with L K Advani hailing as "whistle- blowers" the two former party MPs jailed in the scam and declaring that if they are guilty then he too should be sent behind bars.....more
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: The first ever air conditioned double-decker train is likely to be launched shortly on the Howrah-Dhanbad route as it has obtained all necessary clearances from the Chief Commissioner Railway Safety (CCRS) after...more
|Sonia returns to Delhi after undergoing
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: Congress President Sonia Gandhi returned here this morning from London after undergoing surgery for an undisclosed ailment a little more than a month ago....more
BANGALORE, Sept 8: The Karnataka High Court today granted anticipatory bail to former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and his wife Anita Kumaraswamy.....more
NEW DELHI, Sept 7: Congress President Sonia Gandhi is likely to return tomorrow night after her surgery for an undisclosed ailment in an undisclosed country.She is returning to India after more than a month and is being accompanied by her daughter Priyanka, sources in the know ......more
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: The Central Information Commission has sought explanation from the Intelligence Bureau for denying information on cases of corruption and sexual harassment against its officials under the Right to Information Act....more
PATNA, Sept 8: A confiscated palatial house of an IAS officer, suspended for taking graft, became a full-fledged primary school today.
Shiv Shankar Vermas property at upscale Bailey Road here was confiscated by Bihar Government on September 4 and the cabinet had on September 6 decided to hand over the building to the State Human Resources Department as part of inter-department transfer.
Verma, a former Minor Irrigation Secretary, is the first official to feel the heat of Bihar Special Courts Act, 2009 and faces a Rs 1.44 crore disproportionate assets case along with eight other relatives.
Sleuths of Special Vigilance Unit had raided Vermas houses on July 6, 2007 and found movable and immovable properties estimated at Rs 1.43 crore, which were disproportionate to his known sources in income.
The three-storey house was confiscated following orders of Patna High Court which had on August 19 upheld the directive of Special Vigilance Court in a case charging Verma with amassing wealth beyond his known sources of income.
Bihar Special Courts Act came into force last year after presidential assent and allows the Government to confiscate property of an accused in a corruption case during trial.
The primary school of Rukanpura Mushari which was earlier running in slums was shifted to the confiscated property, Patna district education officer Medho Das said.
Most of the schools students are dalits, he added.
During the raid on Vermas house the Vigilance sleuths also seized 9 kg gold bar with Swiss hallmark, 800 guineas, Rs 16.50 lakh in cash, USD 1600, jewellery valued at over Rs 81 lakh, investments in share market amounting to Rs 20 lakh and papers pertaining to investments in immovable properties at four places, official sources said.
The Special Vigilance court has also ordered confiscation of properties of an employee of Patna Collectorate and a former Motor Vehicles Inspector posted at Aurangabad.
Sixteen more cases on confiscation of property are before Vigilance courts, the sources said.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had during his electioneering for the assembly polls last year had promised that the properties of corrupt officials would be confiscated for opening much-needed schools in Bihar. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: A day after a bomb blast ripped through its reception complex, the Delhi High Court today resumed full fledged proceedings amid tight security with lawyers and litigants being put through a stricter security check.
"We are requesting even lawyers to show their identity cards and submit themselves to a thorough security check in wake of the terror strike," a security personnel, manning one of the gates at the High Court, said.
Every litigant could be seen going through the security check. However, very few litigants visited the High Court.
The litigants today assembled at a make-shift reception counter in an NDMC-run school near the Delhi High Court building to get entry passes for witnessing court proceedings, an office bearer of the Delhi High Court Bar Association said.
"Five counters have been opened today and they have been functional since 9 am. Some computers have been installed and we are in the process of providing proper infrastructure for the staff so that litigants do not face difficulty in getting entry passes," said an official.
The terrorist had targeted the reception counter at Gate no. 5 of the High Court where a bomb kept in a briefcase exploded killing 12 people.
"It was easier to find the new counter today as people are cooperative and showed us the way," Juhi, a litigant said.
80-year-old litigant, Ram Prasad, said the route diversion made the task difficult for him.
"Because of the diversion of routes, I had to walk around a lot," said he.
Two other litigants K P Diwedi and Yogesh Kumar, said, "We did not find any difficulty in getting passes from the new counters."
The Delhi High Court, along with several benches of the Supreme Court, had yesterday suspended proceedings for some time. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: BJP today went on the offensive on the cash-for-vote scam with L K Advani hailing as "whistle- blowers" the two former party MPs jailed in the scam and declaring that if they are guilty then he too should be sent behind bars.
Amid repeated disruptions from the Congress members in the Lok Sabha, the BJP Parliamentary Party chief made a strong defence of the actions of Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora during the July 22, 2008 Confidence Vote.
"Whatever was done was done as per Constitutional norms. If anything was wrong I would have stopped them," said Advani, who is also Working Chairman of NDA.
Raising the issue on the last day of the tumultuous Monsoon session of Parliament, Advani insisted that it was evident during the Confidence Vote that the government was "trying to purchase votes".
"They were whistle-blowers who honestly reported the matter in the House. They presented the money. That time I was the Leader of the Opposition and I know the facts...
"I believe that these two members have done a great service to democracy by bringing in Parliament the Rs one crore given to them," he said during Zero Hour.
He lamented that those who voted for the government "through dishonesty" by taking money are sitting here comfortably, "but my two friends who honestly served the country are in jail."
There were disruptions from the Congress members from the time Advani rose to speak who at one point threatened that he would be forced to raise the issue outside if he was not allowed to have his say in the House.
As the disruptions continued, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House till 12.55, the second adjournment of the day on the cash-for-vote issue. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: The first ever air conditioned double-decker train is likely to be launched shortly on the Howrah-Dhanbad route as it has obtained all necessary clearances from the Chief Commissioner Railway Safety (CCRS) after successful trial runs.
"The problems encountered during trial runs like coaches touching the edge of the platform have been sorted out and the Howrah-Dhanbad AC double-decker train with eight coaches would be flagged off soon," said a senior Railway Ministry official.
The train will have complete sitting accommodation with each coach having a capacity of 128 passengers as compared to 78 passengers in Shatabdi chair cars, thus increasing the sitting space by almost 70 per cent.
Though the AC double-decker coaches are designed to run between 130 km and 160 km per hour, CCRS clearance has been given to run the train between 100 km and 110 km per hour.
While the width of normal coach is 3,245 MM, AC double- decker coach has 3,135 MM width.
"The kinetic profile of double-decker coaches were infringing upon certain platforms during the initial trial runs. That is why those platforms were being modified on Howrah-Dhanbad route," he said.
The official added that railways conducted successful trial runs after the modification of platforms and space for the two decks has been generated by optimally using the well space between the two bogies.
The fare structure and timings of the first AC double-decker train are being worked out, he said.
After the train is launched on the Howrah-Dhanbad route, the next AC double-decker train will run on the Delhi-Jaipur line as an inter-city service.
However, the width of the double-decker coaches for the Delhi-Jaipur route has been reduced to 3,050 MM as against the 3,135 MM width of the coaches running from Howrah to Dhanbad.
The coaches, being manufactured at the Kapurthala factory, boast of many superior features like aesthetically pleasing stainless steel body, high-speed design bogies with air springs for superior ride quality and many other safety-related features.
The coaches are fitted with control discharge toilet system. End-On-Generation configuration where power for train lighting and air-conditioning is supplied by two power cars, will be attached at both ends of the train.
An AC double-decker coach is estimated to cost about Rs 2.5 crore, the official said.
"There is also a mini-pantry car equipped with water cooler and other facilities to provide tea, coffee, cold drinks, soup and ice-creams to passengers," the official said. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: Congress President Sonia Gandhi returned here this morning from London after undergoing surgery for an undisclosed ailment a little more than a month ago.
"Congress President returned early today and she is fine," party general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said without disclosing details of the nature of ailment, surgery or the place where it was done.
64-year-old Gandhi arrived here at 6.20 AM from London in a British Airways Flight BA-0257 and Congress sources said she is unlikely to meet anyone for sometime. She left the country on August two and had thereafter undergone a surgery.
Immediately after her departure, Congress had made a brief announcement saying Gandhi had been recently diagnosed with a medical condition and was advised surgery.
The Congress President had handed over reins of the party to a group of four comprising Rahul Gandhi and senior leaders A K Antony, Ahmed Patel and Dwivedi.
Rahul had recently returned to India after attending to his ailing mother. (PTI)
BANGALORE, Sept 8: The Karnataka High Court today granted anticipatory bail to former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and his wife Anita Kumaraswamy.
The duo had filed anticipatory bail application in connection with summons issued by Lokayukta Special Court on a petition alleging Kumaraswamy involved in renewing mining licence to Jantakal Enterprises during his tenure as Chief Minister and his wife involved in receiving graft in connection with allotting site to Vishwabharathi Housing Society which granted a site to her.
With todays grant of anticipatory bail, Kumaraswamy and his wife hope to get regular bail when they appear in the Lokayukta Court tomorrow as summoned.
Advocate Vinod Kumar had filed a private complaint before the Special Lokayukta Court against Kumaraswamy alleging that he had favoured a mining company Janthakal Enterprises when he was the Chief Minister in 2006-07, allowing the company to lift the iron ore and bulk allotment of sites to the above society.
Kumaraswamy and his wife had abstained from appearing before the Lokayukta Court on August 30 and September 5 on health grounds and yesterday on getting a temporary exemption from appearing on the anticipatory bail petition by the High Court.
The Lokayukta Judge, who had viewed their absence on health ground strongly, ordered to appear on September 9 without fail otherwise face the consequences.
NEW DELHI, Sept 7: Congress President Sonia Gandhi is likely to return tomorrow night after her surgery for an undisclosed ailment in an undisclosed country.
She is returning to India after more than a month and is being accompanied by her daughter Priyanka, sources in the know said.
The 64-year-old Gandhi had left the country on August two and underwent a surgery around August four and five.
Immediately after her departure, Congress had made a brief announcement saying Gandhi had been recently diagnosed with a medical condition and was advised surgery.
The Congress President had handed over reins of the party to a group of four comprising Rahul Gandhi and senior leaders A K Antony, Ahmed Patel and Dwivedi to look after party affairs.
Rahul returned recently to India after attending to her ailing mother. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: The Central Information Commission has sought explanation from the Intelligence Bureau for denying information on cases of corruption and sexual harassment against its officials under the Right to Information Act.
The transparency watchdog has directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to send its justification within ten days.
In reply to an RTI query, countrys internal security intelligence agency has refused to make public the information on cases of sexual harassment, corruption and human rights violation against its officials in the last 10 years.
The agency had cited provisions of the RTI Act which exempt it from disclosure of information. However, this clause does not stand when the information sought is related to allegations of human rights violation and corruption.
"As per (certain) provisions of the RTI Act 2005, the Intelligence Bureau has been exempted from providing such information or detail. Hence it is regretted that the information sought cannot be provided," Public Information Officer, IB had said in response to an RTI query filed.
The PIOs decision was upheld by the the first appellate authority also.
Following the denial of information from both the PIO and FAA, the applicant had appealed before the CIC.
"The Commission hereby directs you to offer your comments on this appeal/complaint within ten working days from the date of the receipt of this letter, clearly giving justification for denial of information," the CIC directed the Central Public Information Officer of the IB.
Besides National Investigation Agency, Natgrid and CBI, 18 others intelligence and security organisations established by the Central Government including Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Directorate of Enforcement, Narcotics Control Bureau, Aviation Research Centre, Special Frontier Force and seven central para-military forces are kept out of the ambit of RTI Act.
The Crime Branch-CID-CB, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Special Branch, Lakshadweep Police, Special Service Bureau and Special Branch (CID), Andaman and Nicobar are also exempted under the Act except for information on allegations of corruption and human rights violations.
The Central Information Commission has also held in one of its decision that sexual harassment amounts to human rights violation.
While hearing one such matter related to RAW officer Nisha Bhatia, the CIC has said "... This entire application centres on allegations of sexual harassment which is a material basis for allegations of human rights violation. We have on earlier occasion also held that overt gender discrimination amounts to violation of human rights." (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: More than 29.9 million people fell victim to cybercrime in India during last year, suffering 4 billion dollars in direct financial losses and an additional 3.6 billion dollars in time spent in resolving the crime, according to a study by computer security firm Norton.
The Norton Cybercrime report further revealed that four in five online adults (80 per cent) have been victims of cybercrime in the country.
It highlighted that 17 per cent of adults online in India have experienced cybercrime on their mobile phone.
Globally, the study pegged the financial losses, including time lost, to the tune of 388 billion dollars with 431 million adult victims in the past yearmore than the global black market in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined of 288 billion dollars.
More than two thirds of online adults (69 per cent) have been victims of cybercrime in their lifetime.
Every second 14 adults become a victim of cybercrime, resulting in more than one million cybercrime victims every day.
Globally, the most common and most preventable type of cybercrime is computer viruses and malware with 54 per cent of respondents saying they have experienced it in their lifetime.
Viruses are followed by online scams (11 per cent) and phishing messages (10 per cent).
"Cybercrime is much more prevalent than people realise. Over the past 12 months, three times as many adults surveyed have suffered from online crime versus offline crime, yet less than a third of respondents think they are more likely to become a victim of cybercrime than physical world crime in the next year," said Gaurav Kanwal, Country Sales Manager for India and SAARC, Consumer Business Unit, Symantec.
"While 89 per cent of respondents agree that more needs to be done to bring cybercriminals to justice, fighting cybercrime is a shared responsibility. It requires us all to be more alert and to invest in our online smarts and safety," he added.
The disconnect between awareness and action is further illustrated by the fact that while 74 per cent of respondents say they are always aware of cybercrime, many are not taking the necessary precautions.
Forty-one per cent of adults indicated they dont have an up to date security software suite to protect their personal information online.
In addition, less than half review credit card statements regularly for fraud (47 per cent), and 61 per cent dont use complex passwords or change them regularly, the study said.
Among those who access the Internet via their mobile phone, only 16 per cent install the most update mobile security, it added.
Between February 6 and
March 14, 2011, StrategyOne conducted interviews with
19,636 people and included 12,704 adults, aged 18 and
over 4,553 children aged 8-17 years and 2,379 grade 1-11
teachers from 24 countrieAustralia, Brazil, Canada,
China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand,
Spain, Sweden, the UK, the US, Belgium, Denmark, Holland,
Hong Kong, Mexico, South Africa, Singapore, Poland,
Switzerland and United Arab Emirates. (UNI)
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: With food inflation falling to a single-digit for the week ended August 27, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today expressed hope that it would moderate further after the end of the festive season, though high prices of non-food items continue to be an area of concern.
"During the festive season, there will be some fluctuation (in food prices). But after that, moderating influence will continue," Mukherjee told reporters here.
His comments came after food inflation slipped to 9.55 per cent for the week ended August 27 from 10.05 per cent in the previous week, data released by the government said.
"In agricultural prices, commodity prices and food items, there could be fluctuations and up and down during the festive season. Tomorrow is Onam. Therafter is Dusshera and Diwali," Mukherjee said.
He said, however, the price situation in the non-food and fuel segments is still not encouraging.
"Though food inflation has come down... (inflation of) other items has increased substantially, particularly the non-food primary articles, which is not at all encouraging," the Finance Minister said.
Inflation in non-food articles, which include fibres, oilseeds and minerals, stood at 19.88 per cent during the week ended August 27, up from 17.19 per cent in the previous week.
Meanwhile, fuel and power inflation stood at 12.55 per cent for the week under review, the same as in the previous week.
"Fuel prices are still a cause of concern, hovering around USD 115 per barrel. I do hope it will be possible for us to have some moderation with the international economys trend. But it is difficult to predict that right at this juncture," Mukherjee said.
Overall, inflation in primary articles was recorded at 13.34 per cent for the week ended August 27, up from 12.93 per cent in the previous week.
Mukherjee also said the government expects headline inflation to moderate by March, 2012.
"I hope before the end of the fiscal year, it would be possible to have a moderate rate of inflation," Mukherjee said, without giving any numbers.
Headline inflation, which factors in manufactured items, fuels and non-food primary items, besides food articles, stood at 9.22 per cent in June. It has been above the 9 per cent-mark since December last year.
The government had earlier said headline inflation is likely to remain high till the third quarter and then moderate to around 6.5 per cent by March, 2012. The RBI has projected fiscal-end inflation at 7 per cent. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: The decision to acquire 111 planes by Air India through debt was "a recipe for disaster" and should have raised alarm in the government, the Comptroller and Auditor General has said.
Terming the move for getting of a "large number" of planes as "risky", the CAG said the aircraft acquisition had "contributed predominantly" to the airlines massive debt liability of Rs 38,423 crore as on March 31 last year.
In its latest report tabled in Parliament today, the public audit body also called the merger of two erstwhile state-run carriersAir India and Indian Airlines"ill-timed" and said that "the financial case for the merger was not adequately validated prior to the merger".
"The entire acquisition (for both Air India and Indian Airlines) was to be funded through debt (to be repaid through revenue generation), except for a relatively small equity infusion of Rs 325 crore for Indian Airlines.
"This was a recipe for disaster ab initio and should have raised alarm signals in Ministry of Civil Aviation, Public Investment Board and the Planning Commission", the report said.
Significantly, the CAG recommended, among other measures, "a total hands-off approach (by the government) with regard to the management of the airline".
The report dealt with several aspects of the ailing national carriers losses, fleet acquisition, merger, huge debt burden, delay in joining the global airline grouping Star Alliance and its financial and operational performance.
Noting that the fleet acquisition process took an "unduly long time", the CAG said the initial proposal was made in December 1996 and its examination continued "in fits and starts" till January 2004 when a plan was made to buy 28 planes, which was revisited and later a decision taken to acquire 68 aircraft.
It said the revised plan saw "a dramatic increase" in the number of planes to be purchased and maintained that the sequence of events up to November 2004 clearly demonstrated that the pre-merger AI "hastily reworked" its earlier plan.
"This increase in numbers does not withstand audit scrutiny, considering the market requirements obtaining then or forecast for the future, as also the commercial viability projected to justify the acquisition. The acquisition appears to be supply-driven", the report said.
Commenting on the "speed" at which the acquisition process for 68 aircraft proceeded, it said while the first plan took eight years to decide on 28 planes, "between August 2004 and December 2005, the proposals were formulated by AI, approved by the Board, examined and approved by the MoCA, the Planning Commission, the Department of Expenditure, Public Investment Board, empowered Group of Ministers and also the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs".
Observing that many assumptions for the revised plan were "flawed", the CAG said the negotiation process was "irregular and adversely affected the transparency of the process".
Maintaining that "no benchmarks" relating to comparable prices and commercial intelligence were set, it said, "Consequently, in the absence of such benchmarks, the effectiveness and efficacy of negotiations and the reasonableness of the price arrived at is difficult to ascertain".
The public audit body also took the Civil Aviation Ministry to task for liberalising the bilateral air traffic entitlements with other countries in a manner which "did not provide a level playing field to AI (and to a lesser extent other Indian private airlines)".
"These (bilateral) agreements, besides not affording adequate time to AI/IA (Indian Airlines) to set their houses in order and gear up for a highly competitive environment, very evidently worked to the detriment of the national and Indian private carriers", the CAG said.
"At this stage, Indian carriers (including AI) will have to tackle renewed and serious challenges to compete effectively with established international mega carriers".
Terming the merger as "ill-timed", the report said this exercise was undertaken "strangely from the top (rather than by the perceived needs of both these airlines), with inadequate validation of the financial benefits".
The merger was also carried out "without adequate consideration of the difficulties involved in integration (notably in terms of HR and IT, among other areas)".
Other factors responsible for the "critical" state of affairs in AI were "chronic operational deficiencies, a weak financial position, grossly inadequate equity capital and undue dependence on debt funding providing little or no cushion for the financial shock when it came". Besides, high fuel prices and global recession also hit the airline hard.
"The airline is in a crisis situation. Salary payments and ATF obligations are becoming difficult. If the airline has to survive, the management and employees will have to set personal interests aside and undertake some harsh decisions, till the health of the airline improves", the CAG emphasised.
The CAG, in its strong critique of the merger process, said there were "huge delays in actualisation of the merger/ operational integration" and added that the single code passenger reservation system was activated only this February.
Had the possibility of the merger, including various aspects like route rationalisation, network integration and common maintenance and overhaul facilities, been considered even at a late stage in the process of fleet acquisition, "the underlying economics could have been significantly altered".
Observing that a common fleet acquisition plan for the two earlier carriers could have been considered, it said the potential benefits would have been far higher had all these steps been undertaken before finalising "the massive and separate fleet acquisition undertaken" by the two airlines.
Regarding human resources integration, the CAG said while apprehensions regarding HR problems were expressed in 2006, the integration of 98 per cent of staff below the level of Deputy General Manager "has still not taken place".
Though Air India had "inherent strengths", it said, "There was no evidence of Civil Aviation Ministry having provided it with positive support in the last few years".
It said if the airline has to be "nursed to commercial viability", the government must lay down a road map for liquidating the liability within a short span after making a realistic assessment of revenue generation capacity. Piecemeal infusion of small amounts is merely going to at best delay the certain closure of the airline".
Recommending provision of a level-playing field to AI "which has not been given", the CAG said accountability of the airline, its Board and Directors and the Ministry have to be "clearly established and transparently dealt with". (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: With India and Bangladesh settling the vexed boundary issues, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna today hoped it would "greatly reduce" the scope for incidents on the border.
"With the settlement of boundary related issues and improvement in border management, past difficulties such as illegal border crossings and related difficulties will be suitably addressed by both the sides," he said.
Krishna was making a statement in the Lok Sabha on Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs two-day visit to Bangladesh.
He said the Prime Ministers visit to Dhaka "marked a watershed" in the bilateral relations.
Krishna said India and Bangladesh have put in place mechanisms which "we hope will greatly reduce the scope for incidents on the border and strengthen mutual trust and goodwill among the border guarding forces and people living in the border areas."
He said India also agreed to a long standing request by Bangladesh for 24-hour access to Dahagram and Angarpota across the Tin Bigha.
The Prime Minister also stressed the need for an extradition treaty during his discussions with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina.
On the failure in signing the Teesta water-sharing deal, Krishna said government would act in full consultation with the state government concerned in finalising the agreement.
He said the two leaders emphasised the need for expeditious action to complete agreements on sharing of common rivers.
Krishna termed as "historic" the agreement on exchange of enclaves and noted that in implementing the agreement, people living in the border areas will not be dislocated. (PTI)