Defamation complaint against Rahul Gandhi for RSS remark

A defamation complaint was Monday lodged in a court in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi against Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi for equating the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) with the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

Asish Kumar Singh, a resident of Ranchi, lodged the complaint in a chief judicial magistrate (CJM) court.

Gandhi early this month in Bhopal had reportedly compared the RSS with the banned SIMI. The complainant has sought action against the Congress general secretary for passing such remarks.

The complaint has been lodged under penal provisions related to defamation and promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion.

Satyam scam: Court dismisses discharge plea of nine accused

A local court on Monday dismissed discharge petitions of nine accused in the multi-crore rupee accounting scam in Satyam Computer Services.

The discharge petitions filed by all the accused, barring prime accused former company chairman B. Ramalinga Raju, were dismissed by an additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACCM) court after hearing the arguments of both sides.

The accused, including Ramalinga Raju’s brothers Rama Raju and Suryanarayana Raju and former chief financial officer of Satyam Vadlamani Srinivas, had sought to be discharged from the case claiming that they were not involved in any scam.

The accused urged the court not to take up framing of charges against them.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), however, opposed the petitions of the accused on the ground that there was evidence of their involvement in the scam.

The court adjourned the hearing on framing of charges to Nov 3. All the accused who are on bail appeared before the court.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court Aug 18 granted bail to Ramalinga Raju. The CBI has challenged the decision in the Supreme Court.

Mahesh Bhupathi’s plea on tax relief dismissed

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition by Indian tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi seeking tax relief on Rs.28,50,000 which he said his father spent on his training from 1989-90 to 1993-94.

Mahesh said that, as per the memorandum of understanding between him and his father C.G.K. Bhupathi, he has to pay annual installments of Rs.285,000 to return the money.

Jaya Prada, Amar Singh’s plea on anti-defection law adjourned

The Supreme Court Monday adjourned hearing on a petition by senior star-cum-politician Jaya Prada and Amar Singh challenging the provisions of the anti-defection law that binds even a person expelled from a political party to follow its whip in the legislature.

The court asked senior counsel Hari Salve appearing for Jaya Prada to serve the copy of the petition on Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati.

Supreme Court adjourns Vodafone plea on income tax order

The Supreme Court Monday adjourned the hearing on a petition by Vodafone challenging an income tax department order asking the telecom giant to pay Rs.11,218 crore ($2.5 billion) tax.

The matter will come up for hearing Nov 15. The apex court bench headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia said they needed to read the income tax order. It also asked Vodafone to file its reply to the order asking it to pay Rs.11,218 crore.

‘Rural women help Himachal fight open defecation’

Rural women in Himachal Pradesh have emerged as the driving force behind wiping out the menace of open defecation, a global expert said here Sunday.

‘The women have proved themselves as instrumental towards bringing about behavioural changes in the orthodox Indian society about sanitation and hygiene,’ said Christopher Juan Costain, regional team leader of Water Sanitation Programme of South Asia.

Addressing the concluding session of a three-day workshop here on ‘Sustainability and Rural Sanitation Initiatives in India’, he said the state has become a role model for other states in India to imbibe the spirit of women empowerment.

He said Himachal Pradesh has also set an example for others in areas like leadership of both government and non-government functionaries and motivation coupled with effective role of the panchayati raj institutions for making the total sanitation campaign a grand success.

Kamal Kar, head of Community Led Total Sanitation foundation of Kolkata, said the awareness level of people of Himachal Pradesh to keep their surroundings clean was extremely high.

The state’s gram panchayats (village councils) have been playing a pivotal role in achieving the targets under the central government’s total sanitation campaign for villages, he said.

Himachal Pradesh is poised to become totally free of open defecation by this year-end.

Focus on scavengers’ rehabilitation, government urged

Hailing the National Advisory Commission’s (NAC) recommendation to ‘fully abolish’ manual scavenging in the country by 2012, social activist Bindeshwar Pathak Sunday said the government should also focus on rehabilitating the scavengers.

‘It’s an encouraging news and a great step towards the betterment of human scavenger’s future. We’ll have to bring them into society’s mainstream for their development,’ Pathak said.

Founder of the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, Pathak cited the examples of Rajasthan’s Alwar and Tonk towns, which were declared ‘manual scavenging free’ last year because of his efforts.

‘We provided vocational training to the scavengers like food processing, tailoring, embroidery and beauty treatments. If we successfully manage to abolish manual scavenging completely in the country, Gandhiji’s dream would be realised,’ Pathak added.

The NAC, headed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Saturday asked the government to abolish human scavenging in the country by 2012.

Parliament passed the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act in 1993, declaring the employment of scavengers or the construction of dry (non-flush) latrines to be an offence punishable with imprisonment and a fine. But no one has been punished so far.

There are 1.3 million people employed in the practice in India.

Delhi airport told to cut noise pollution

The Delhi High Court has granted more time to the central government to find out what more can be done to reduce the noise level near the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here.

After hearing a plea of the residents near the airport, Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan said Oct 20 that the central government had failed to take any steps to curb the noise pollution.

The central government had informed the court that no aircraft with noisy engines would be allowed to take off or land at the airport at night from Nov 1.

‘With this new rule coming into effect to reduce noise pollution from aircraft for the first time anywhere in the country, we are confident that the residents living in the vicinity of the airport will not have to face much problem,’ said Additional Solicitor General A.S. Chandiok.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has also issued a circular to this effect, following directions from the Delhi High Court.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), also informed the bench that directions were issued to the airline operators to curb the noise pollution.

‘We have fixed the limits in airport zones at 105 decibels during day and 95 decibels during night,’ Chandiok said.

The new DGCA rule also says that no aircraft operator should indulge in any activity related to aircraft operation that exceeds or intends to exceed the maximum permissible noise limits at the airport during the day.

The limits have been fixed at levels lower than most major international airports including New York’s JFK (99 decibels as limit), Rio de Janeiro (118.4 db), Paris (104.5 db) and Osaka (107 db).

Three airports in London have 94 db as the limit.

The DGCA has already been monitoring noise levels at the IGIA for months, besides taking several measures to check noise pollution, after the court directed it to fix the noise pollution levels.

‘We have also been implementing continuous descent approach procedure, for which pilots have been asked to follow fresh guidelines for the new landing techniques,’ Singhvi said.

The court after hearing the submissions asked the government to file its response by Jan 12.

Over a million Indians engaged in manual scavenging (To go with Abolish manual scavenging by 2012-end, urges NAC)

The National Advisory Council, headed by Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Saturday expressed its distress over manual scavenging in the country and urged the government to abolish it by 2012.

Here are some details –

# About 1.3 million people are employed in the practice in the country.

# In 1993, parliament passed the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, which declared the employment of scavengers or the construction of dry (non-flush) latrines to be an offence punishable with imprisonment and a fine. But no one has been punished so far.

# NAC says the practice is viewed as an issue of sanitation rather than issue of human dignity, and wants to ensure the final end of this most degrading practice of caste discrimination.

# Asks central government to coordinate with all state, local governments and also central government departments including the Railways, to ensure that this practice is fully abolished.

# Asks for demolition of all dry latrines

# It asks government to conduct a psycho-social and livelihood rehabilitation in modern marketable skills of all manual scavengers and their families.

# Asks for special programme for education, including higher education and computer education of all children of manual scavengers.

# Asks Ministry of Social Justice to formulate 100 percent centrally sponsored scheme to support the rehabilitation initiatives.

# Recommends that the implementation of this law should be monitored at the highest levels of the central and state governments.

# Promises to monitor on a quarterly basis the progress in abolition of manual scavenging.

Graft case: Shimla court summons Virbhadra Singh, wife

A special court on Saturday issued summons to Union Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh over filing of chargesheet against them by the State Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau here today.

The special court (forest) lead by BL Soni issued notice to Singh and his wife to be present in the court on November 27, taking cognizance of a challen filed by the VB. Before announcing order in the court, the judge heard the plea of defense counsel Sharawan Dogra, who urged the court that he wanted to place some material record before the court. He cited the observation on Himachal Pradesh High Court judgment in which it had ruled that the trial court was entitled to hear the accused before initiating trail. Public persecutor Jaiwan Lal Sharma opposed the move by citing the Supreme Court judgment which did not permit accused to be heard before taking cognizance.

Accepting contention of the defense, the court ordered summon to Union Steel Minister and his wife and asking him to be present in persons on the next date of hearig on November 27, 2010. Soni held that the court would hear the accused before framing of charge during the trail. Taking to media persons outside the court, the public persecutor said both the accused have been ordered to be present before the court where they would have to apply for bail.