14th August 1997 - Telegraph
Or here for 15 August 1997
 
 
 
 
 
Patna High Court ruling stirs a hornet’s nest
Court extends Laloo remand
Chance for India to cash in on Independence-Day bias
Prime Minister’s remark on Women’s Bill sparks protests
Uttar Pradesh leaves Azad in the cold
Music mogul cremated amid chaos

 
 
PATNA HIGH COURT RULING STIRS A HORNET’S NEST 
 
 
FROM OUR LEGAL CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Aug. 13 

The Patna High Court observation that even the judiciary’s view could be taken into consideration while imposing President’s rule in a state has triggered a debate among lawyers on what the Constituent 42nd Assembly had really meant by inserting the words “or otherwise” at the beginning of Article 356.

Article 356 says: “If the President on receipt of a report from the Governor of a state or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution, the President may by proclamation assume to himself all or any of the functions of the government of the state...”

The contentious clause “or otherwise” has been put into use by the Centre whenever a Governor has not sent a report recommending President’s rule.

When Mr Surjeet Singh Barnala was the Governor of Tamil Nadu in 1990, he refused to send an adverse report against the Karunanidhi led then DMK government.

Mr Barnala informed the Centre that any such move would tantamount to misuse of the constitutional provision.

The Centre (at the time Mr R.Venkataraman was the President) put to use the “or otherwise” clause and the DMK government had to go.

This implies that the contentious clause has long been appropriated by political parties in power at the Centre and it has been the Prime Minister’s prerogative to take recourse to the clause when the Centre has found the Governor not malleable enough.

There have been precedents to suggest that the clause allows the President to seek information on affairs of a state before ordering President’s rule from sources other than the Governor.

It is in this context, that the oral observation of the Patna High Court is viewed. The conflict starts here.

“If judges could be sources other than the Governor, then, are they acting as ordinary citizens while hearing a case”, asks the former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice Rajinder Sachar.

He added the “oral observation” of the court is “totally misplaced”.

He said judges cannot distinguish themselves as ordinary citizens when it suits them.

“I can, as a retired judge, write to the President or you can, as a journalist, write to inform the breaking down of the constitutional machinery in a state recommending President’s rule.

“But as a judge when I sit to hear a case .... I wonder... it is just not possible”.

On the other hand, the former Union law minister during the Janata Party rule in 1977 and a leading lawyer on constitutional matters Mr Shanti Bhushan thinks there was nothing wrong in a judge observing orally during a hearing something on the state of affairs in a state.

“What is wrong in that?”, he asks, adding: “as long as it is not a written order for the imposition of President’s rule”.

“Recommending something to the President is not wrong. In fact judges in every judgment recommend one thing or the other to the Centre.

“Recommending is one thing and consideration of such a recommendation by the President and implementing is quite another”, he said. However, he is opposed to a written order to the effect.

Mr Ram Jethmalani, a parliamentarian and a lawyer holds that the “oral observation” of judges during hearings should not be taken seriously.

“It would be ultra vires of the Constitution if the judges passed any order recommending President’s rule.

This is even going by the simple doctrine of curses curiae,” he said.

He added: “If I were a judge, I would not have even observed. But that does not mean it is beyond the limits of judicial decorum.”    


 
 
COURT EXTENDS LALOO REMAND 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Patna, Aug. 13 

The special CBI court today extended till August 27 the judicial remand of the former Bihar chief minister, Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, in the multi-crore fodder scam after he completed 14 days in custody.

The order is significant in that the CBI will henceforth have to seek the court’s permission to go to jail and interrogate Mr Laloo Yadav. The CBI can no longer seek the leader’s remand since the first 14 days of custody is over.

Mr Laloo Yadav was not able to appear before the court of Mr S.K. Lal today due to heart ailment. The judge extended his remand after medical documents were submitted before court.

Earlier, Mr Laloo Yadav’s counsel, Mr Shakil Ahmed Khan, urged the court not to permit the CBI to take custody of Mr Laloo Yadav. He aired fears that the agency might “liquidate” his client. The CBI, on the other hand, did not even seek custody of Mr Laloo Yadav.

The court today also extended till August 27 the judicial remand of the two former state ministers, Mr Bhola Ram Toofani, and Mr Vidya Sagar Nishad, in the fodder scam. At one point, the judge remarked that the ailing Mr Laloo Yadav was freely meeting ministers and party leaders though he had been advised bed rest.

In a related development, about 20 Laloo supporters today slashed fingers near Martyr’s Memorial and wrote letters in blood to the President and Prime Minister, pleading innocence of the former chief minister.

“Laloo nirdosh hain, unko riha karo, CBI ko saza do,” they wrote. (Laloo is innocent, release him, punish the CBI.) Three persons, Ramchander Yadav and Yasin Khan of Madhubani, and Muslim Ali Ansari of Sitamarhi, also threatened to immolate themselves on Independence day if Mr Laloo Yadav is not released. In a letter to the Madhubani collector, Ramchan-der Yadav and Yasin Khan hit out against the alleged “double standards of the judiciary” and the “conspiracy of the CBI”.

Threatening to set themselves on fire at the entrance of the collectorate, they warned that the CBI, court, communal and fascist forces would be held responsible for their deaths.

In a separate letter, Muslim Ali Ansari threatened to jump from the top floor of Biscomaun building, facing Gandhi Maidan here, if Mr Laloo Yadav was not freed by August 15.

About 250 burqa-clad women offered prayers at a mosque near High Court, seeking the recovery and release of Mr Laloo Yadav. The state Rashtriya Janata Dal president, Mr Uday Narain Chou-dhury, said this proved Mr Yadav was a “real minority leader.” Meanwhile, former Union minister C. P. Verma, who was remanded in judicial custody yesterday, sought permission to visit Delhi to participate in the Vice-Presidential elections. The court is likely to pass on order tomorrow.    


 
 
CHANCE FOR INDIA TO CASH IN ON INDEPENDENCE-DAY BIAS 
 
 
FROM PRANAY SHARMA
 
New Delhi, Aug.13 

The international attention on India on the 50th anniversary of its Independence has provided South Block the opportunity to emerge as a key player in Asia, breaking away from being just a developing country, engaged in petty skirmishes with Pakistan.

“...After all, it’s also Pakistan’s 50th year...” remarked Salman Rushdie in his article for the Time magazine’s special issue on the golden jubilee celebration. It sums up the general mood in the western media about Pakistan.

Be it the Time, Newsweek, Asia Week or other journals like the Economist or the Far Eastern Economic Review, the cover story is on India’s 50 years of Independence. Even National Geographic has come out with a special issue on the occasion.

Pakistan, in the rare occasions when it does come up, is almost as an afterthought.

India with its rich heritage continues to lure the international media. Be it the assertion of the Dalits, Hindu fanaticism, or the emergence of India as a potential market for investment, it captures the imagination of the West and its ever-enthusiastic media.

Few would argue Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif does not come anywhere near to his predecessor Benazir Bhutto, when its comes to charming the Western audience. The bottomline, however, appears to be that while India is “hot” in the media market, Pakistan is cold and boring, where nothing much seems to have happened in the last five decades.

“It has always been Pakistan’s grouse that while most international media has major bureaux in New Delhi, they choose to keep only a correspondent in Islamabad,” a journalist working for the western media remarked. But Indian officials argue the sheer size and population of India makes it a natural choice over others in the subcontinent. “Trouble in Karachi may make occassional good copies, but you can not spend reams on it while highlighting a country’s 50 years of Independence,” an official in the Indian foreign office pointed out.

He argued while the Indian bureacracy might come up for criticism, foreign commentators at least find something to write about, which definitely is not the case with Pakistan, whose economy is in “shambles”.

In UK, the bias towards India has drawn protests from the Pakistanis. However, Britain’s obsession with India, considered to be a jewel in its colonial crown, is understandable. The democratic tradition, the cultural ties coupled with nostalgia about India among the British, helped foster an enduring relationship between the two countries.

Officials here argued Delhi has long shed its South Asia tag. “The days when you had to mention Pakistan everytime India came up, are gone,” claimed South Block mandarins. They argued India had left Pakistan “far behind”, and, the Kashmir dispute notwithstanding, Paki-bashing did not dominate the country’s policies. “We are playing a greater role today in the region and in Asia as a whole,” claim foreign officials while pointing out Delhi’s involvement in the Asean, its initiative in the Indian Ocean Rim and its participation in the West Asian peace process. This may be true to a certain extent, but many opinion-makers are of the view that on its 50th year of Independence, India can capitalise on the international community’s new-found interest towards it and strike a decisive blow to any attempt made by Islamabad to tag along Delhi in the South Asian context. “India should take this opportunity and end this business of being lumped together with Pakistan once and for all,” said a retired diplomat. However, the western world’s new found interest has also raised curiosity in many quarters. Though India’s potential as an emerging market for investors may be one of the more obvious reasons for the sudden spurt of articles, other aspects of the country is also being highlighted by the media. Japan and Germany have interests of their own, both seeking an entry in the prestigious permanent group of countries in the UN Security Council, perhaps want to revive their activist role in world affairs. While for the Scandinavians, who have also sent a large troupe of journalists, the fascination is over how India manages to cope with its coplexities. “We respect your ancient wisdom,” a visiting Scandanavian journalist told an Indian diplomat. But South Block officials admit India should not allow this opportnuity to go by. “India should not just be a flavour, it should be an experience,” is how a senior official in the Indian foreign office puts it. New Delhi has chalked out an elaborate plan of holding film festivals and art exhibitions in major cities of the world in the next year. A number of seminars and discusions are also part of this plan. “We do not want this euphoria to end after August 15, we want it continue at least for a few more years,” the official added.    


 
 
PRIME MINISTER’S REMARK ON WOMEN’S BILL SPARKS PROTESTS 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Aug. 13 
The Prime Minister, Mr I.K. Gujral, today made it clear in the Lok Sabha that his government was not in a position to push through the Women’s Reservation Bill till a consensus could be worked out.

Mr Gujral, who is facing opposition from the Janata Dal and other parties like the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Party, described the Bill as a major social legislation requiring “persuasion and accommodation”.

He emphatically stated social change could not be forced and required unanimity of participants.The Prime Minister intervened during Zero Hour, when the BJP, Congress and Left members were on their feet, demanding the Bill be passed immediately.

Mr Gujral appealed to the House for a concerted approach on the issue and pleaded: “Let’s move in this direction and reach a consensus with the Speaker’s help”.

This was the third consecutive day when the House witnessed pandemonium over the issue.

Mr Gujral denied Dal MPs were against the Bill. He contended every party was split on the issue. The remark triggered off protests, particularly from the Left and also from the Congress, who said there were no differences of opinion in their respective camps. Mr Gujral yielded ground, saying he agreed there was no division in the Left on the issue.

The Congress leader, Mr Sharad Pawar, said Mr Gujral was wrong about a split in the Congress over the Women’s Bill, which was “unfortunate.”

Mr Pawar reminded the Prime Minister that his party supported the Bill in its present form and would vote en bloc if necessary by issuing a whip. He felt Mr Gujral should withdraw his remarks.

Mr Gujral faced further embar-assment when Mrs Girija Vyas, also of the Congress, pointed out that th Prime Minister was trying to shift the blame onto other parties when, in reality, it was the Front constituents who were proving to be the stumbling block. .

Infuriated by Mr Gujral’s remarks, the Samata Party leader, Mr. George Fernandes, said his party would extend unqualified support to the Bill. Mr Gujral beat a hasty retreat, saying there were certain respectable exceptions among parties in which there were no two opinions.    


 
 
UTTAR PRADESH LEAVES AZAD IN THE COLD 
 
 
FROM SUJAY GUPTA
 
Kakori, Aug. 13 

While the general hue and cry over celebrating 50 years of Independence goes on, the Uttar Pradesh government is mer-ely paying lip service and banking on hype rather than substance.

Take for instance the anniversary of the famous “Kakori train dacoity” on August 9. The department of information and public relations issued advertisements in major dailies that a yatra would be taken out from Kakori, 20 km from Lucknow, to Allahabad. It asked citizens to participate in the yatra to commemorate the event billed as the “first spark of Indepen-dence.” Seeing the historical significance of the event, one expected the state government and the political leaders to at least go to Kakori to flag off the yatra. However, barring the song and dance unit of the broadcasting ministry, a few school children, and the director of the Uttar Pradesh cultural affairs department, not a soul was present.

A group of revolutionaries, led by Chandrashekar Azad, Pandit Ram Prasad Bismal, Ashfaq Ullah Khan, Thakur Rosnan Singh and Rajendranath Lahiri, had stopped the Eight Down Saharanpur passenger train from Hardoi to Lucknow at the Bajnagar village on August 9, 1925. They removed the safe containing government money and looted Rs 8,000 to finance weapons for their struggle.

On the golden anniversary of Independence, Kakori is still nondescript with not a slab or stone mentioning the train dacoity. The shahid smarak (memorial for martyrs), inaugurated by Indira Gandhi, does not have any light, and what is even more unfortunate, the locals of Kakori were not informed of any function to celebrate the Kakori incident of 1925.

The function at the Babu Triloki Singh Intercollege was also below par. School children from Lucknow were not provided with water or snacks and to dampen their enthusiasm further, there was no audience. The chief minister, Ms Mayavati, and her 40 Cabinet colleagues were too busy to attend to such trivialities.

Locals are upset over the lack of respect for the rebels. Last month, Ms Mayavati referred to Azad as a “terrorist”. Mohammad Kanil Khan, who has been the town area chairman here for 20 years, said, “I am disturbed. What can be a greater insult than calling Chan-drashekar Azad a terrorist?”

Mr Dildar Ali and Babu Suleman, witnesses to the Kakori incident, recount “how bravely the heroes battled the British”.    


 
 
MUSIC MOGUL CREMATED AMID CHAOS 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Aug. 13 
It took nearly an hour for the body of the slain music mogul, Gulshan Kumar, to traverse about 100 metres from the entrance of the Nigambodh Ghat to the funeral pyre. The crowd, which had been waiting since morning, came from all over the city. However, most were from Daryagunj, where Gulshan Kumar was a juiceseller. The police had to resort to a lathicharge to disperse the crowd. The presence of stars Sonu Nigam and Anuradha Paudwal added to the confusion. The chief minister, Mr Sahib Singh Verma, came to pay his tributes along with Mr Maninder Singh Bitta, former Youth Congress chief, Mr Kedar Nath Sahni of the BJP and filmstar Shatrughan Sinha. The BJP spokesperson, Ms Sushma Swaraj went to Gulshan Kumar’s residence earlier. After the body was flown in from Mumbai early this morning, it was taken to the Greater Kailash residence of the deceased. The Delhi police bandobust was inadequate and constables were unable to control the surge of admirers. In Daryaganj, several shops downed their shutters in memory of the music mogul.    
 

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