Maria won’t quit, but confusion clouds Sheena murder probe

Former Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria, who was abruptly promoted as director general of police (Home Guards), on Wednesday categorically assured that he will not quit, as uncertainty hit the investigation into the high-profile Sheena Bora murder case.

Late on Tuesday evening, the Maharashtra government decided that Maria, who handled the case since the beginning, would continue to supervise and monitor the probe.

However, till Wednesday evening, no written order to this effect was received by Maria’s office — and the probe suddenly seemed pushed to the backburner.

According to official sources, the investigations have reached a critical stage with the forensic matching of the DNA samples of the victim with her mother and prime accused Indrani Mukerjea, brother Mikhail Bora and biological father Siddhartha Das.

Besides, the probe has widened to investigating the money and property transactions with the possibility of some big names tumbling out when the police force was jolted by the shake-up on Tuesday.

An officer explained that new police commissioner Ahmad Javed has already taken office and as per norms, all officers and men must report to him.

With Maria supervising the investigation in the Sheena murder case, it was still unclear in what capacity he would be doing it, especially since the two departments — DGP Home Guards and DGP Mumbai Police Commissionerate — were vested with different powers and jurisdiction, he added.

Indrani, her ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna and her former driver Shyamvar Rai have been arrested in connection with the murder of her daughter Sheena on April 24, 2012, and for dumping her body near a forested area in Gagode village in Raigad district.

The trio have been sent to judicial custody till September 21.

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Birth anniversary of Bhupenda celebrated

Over 180 open stages & parks inaugurated across State

The 89th birth anniversary of music maestro, the bard of Brahmaputra Dr Bhupen Hazarika was observed throughout the State in a splendid way on Tuesday. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi inaugurated 187 open stages and parks named after the balladeer’s Bhupen Hazarika in a programme centrally organized at Boko.

The open stages and parks are in 187 development blocks across the state, where people can stage cultural shows and other programmes free of cost round the year.

Inaugurating the open stages, Gogoi said, “Bhupen da was an international artiste and personality and at the same time a person of simplicity. Unity and integrity were his strength and he believed in his ideology of simplicity. He won the heart of every layman. He lives in the heart of every Assamese and will continue to live for ages to come.”

On the other hand, Cultural Minister Bismita Gogoi said that the ‘Samadhi Khetra’ will be completed soon. “As promised, the Samadhi Khetra of Dr Bhupen Hazarika will be completed by November,” she said.

The programme was also attended by Minister Rockybul Hussain and parliamentary secretary Rekibuddin Ahmed.

The Chief Minister earlier visited the music maestro’s final resting place at Jalukbari and paid tribute to the legend along with thousand others who thronged the ‘Samadhi Khetra to pay their tributes.

It may be mentioned that, apart from the government, various organizations such as Bishwaratna Bhupen Hazarika Samannay Satra (BBHSS), All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) also organized various programmes in Jalukbari as well as other parts of the State to mark the day.

The AASU organized a programme at Dighalipukhuri where hundreds of singers from different colleges and universities of the performed the numbers of the bard of Brahmaputra. The tributary programme was inaugurated by AASU advisor Dr Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya.

“Dr Bhupen Hazarika was an institution himself. We believe that his ‘Samadhi Khetra’ should be an extra ordinary one. Since the Gauhati University is already willing to donate more land for the memorial, we appeal the government to take up the issue and do the needful,” Dr Bhattacharya said.

The district administration also organized a tributary programme at Rabindra Bhawan of the city this evening and paid tribute to the maestro.

For more news, visit: http://www.sentinelassam.com/

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HC poser to Dispur: What have you done to curb bandhs?

The Gauhati High Court has asked the Assam government to submit an affidavit on the steps taken to curb bandh culture in the State.

Hearing a PIL, a division bench of Chief Justice (acting) K Shreedhar Rao and Justice PK Saikia asked the State government to submit the affidavit to the court on or before Friday, senior advocate Bhaskar Dev Konwar said.

Several PILs have been filed in the court against the prevailing bandh culture which has infringed on the fundamental rights of citizens.

Taking up two such PILs in January, 2010, the Guwahati High Court had declared as illegal all bandhs in Assam and Meghalaya, saying it is violation of the fundamental rights of citizens.

A division bench of Chief Justices J Chelameswar and A C Upadhyay had passed the judgment on two PILs filed in Guwahati and in Shillong.

The bench had directed the Assam Government to take steps for preventing infringement of fundamental rights of citizens on account of bandhs.

Assam has witnessed a never-ending succession of bandhs for the last two decades. Almost every other day, some or the other part of the State has been under the purview of a bandh.

In 2012, the High Court had asked the state government to set up a consistent policy to deal with the prevailing bandh culture in the State.

The High Court order came on a PIL filed by a businessman. The petitioner had pleaded for the State government to set up a compensation fund for people who had suffered loss and injury to person or property due to bandhs.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had often pledged to enforce the guidelines of the Supreme Court on bandhs and to take effective steps to compensate for the damages incurred by bandhs, but in reality nothing of such sort has happened.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

Dispur finds work culture ‘unworkable’

Jatin Hazarika Commission’s report gathering dust for a decade

The lahe lahe work culture in Assam has often raised the hackles of many in the State. But the Tarun Gogoi-led government seems to be least bothered in changing the attitude of government  employees in improving public services.

Ten years after the Jatin Hazarika Commission of administrative reforms submitted its report, several recommendations continue to remain in the file, even as poor work culture in the State continues to hold back and negate government work in different sectors.

The intent of the State government, while constituting the Jatin Hazarika Commission in 2002, had appeared good. But when it came to implementing the recommendations, which were made in 2005, the government developed cold feet.

Nearly a dozen recommendations made by the commission have not been implemented in the ten years that have passed, including some pathbreaking suggestions that could have had a far reaching impact on the functioning of State government offices.

Some of the key suggestions that remain on papers till date are:

*     Giving of awards and certificates to proficient employees

*    Provision for Annual Confidential Reports in sync with ISO 9000

*    Display of list of employees in the offices along with names of their seniors to whom they are answerable. And every day, the employee must interact with his senior (the person he is answerable to ) at least once directly

*    A job chart of all employees to be displayed in the office

*    The total number of second and fourth Saturday holidays should not exceed 90 days in a year (currently it is 104 days)

*    Introduction of the desk-office system which will stipulate the maximum time a file can be in a particular table.

*    All processed files can be made available to the service-seeker at the Gana Sewa Bhavan in front of the State secretariat.

*    Decentralization of power till the block level

*    Incentives for employees posted in border areas.

*    Upgradation of the border areas development directorate to the level of a commissionerate.

It is clear the Tarun Gogoi government has neither the will nor the sincerity in imposing discipline and work culture in the State government workforce. Government employees therefore continue with their merry old ways, most of them shirking work and being accountable to no one. This is making a mockery of public services which people of the State are entitled to by right.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

Include the poor, ensure speedier trials: Gogoi

“Our Constitution has guaranteed every citizen the right to Justice – Social, Economic and Political. Here lies the importance of an efficient justice delivery system. Unless we ensure proper justice delivery to our citizens, we will not be able to harvest the fruits of democracy,” said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi at the Joint Conference of Chief Ministers of the States and Chief Justices of the High Courts, organized by the Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Judiciary at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on Sunday.

Welcoming the initiative to bring in synergy between the Executive and the Judiciary, Chief Minister Gogoi underscored the need to create an atmosphere where the two pillars of the Government work in tandem ‘to ensure justice delivery to our citizens and fulfill the basic aim of our Constitution to secure justice to all’.

Gogoi stressed on the need to ensure the marginalized sections of the society get access to justice. “Any attempt to improve the justice delivery system without giving emphasis to accessibility by the marginalized sections of society is itself an injustice. We must ensure that the poorest of the poor can access the doors of justice even at the highest level,” he added.

Expressing concern over the alarming rate of pendency of cases owing to delay in delivery of justice, he said, “Our synergy must be directed towards innovation of new ways that will enable clearing of backlog of pending cases and ensure speedy justice to our citizens.”

The Chief Minister, while emphasizing on quality judgment, called for proper training of judicial officers. In this context, he laid stress on time-bound implementation of e-court project to ‘bring about sea-changes in the justice delivery system.’

Gogoi underscored the need to bring in innovative legislations, both operational as well as structural in the Judiciary, to cater to the needs and aspirations of the society in tune with changing surroundings. In this context, he welcomed the recent initiative to bring in the Commercial Divisions and Commercial Appellate Divisions in the High Courts and Commercial Courts Bill, 2015.

Dwelling at length on the slew of initiatives taken by the State government to strengthen judicial infrastructure and manpower that include sanctioning of 36 new courts, converting 20 ad-hoc fast track courts to regular courts, sanctioning of 54 new fast track courts for trial of offences against women, and doubling the number of courts at subordinate levels, Gogoi said the new infrastructure in place has resulted in steady decline in the pendency of cases over the years. “Pendency of cases is steadily declining even though there is increase in the institution of fresh cases. This is definitely an encouraging sign. However, there is no scope for complacency, as we have a long road ahead to deliver justice to the litigants by disposing of cases in a time-bound manner,” he added.

Chief Minister Gogoi urged the Central government to grant a special package to Northeastern States, including Assam, for overall development of justice delivery system in the region.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

Key primary education posts remain vacant

Directorate of Elementary Education running headless

At a time when the Tarun Gogoi government trumpets that Assam has made significant progress in the educational sector, primary education in the State is in shambles.

Many posts in the Directorate of Elementary Education, Assam office at Kahilipara here are currently lying vacant. “49 posts of officers and general staff are now lying vacant in the office of the Directorate of Elementary Education,” sources said.

Interestingly, there is no permanent director in the Directorate of Elementary Education and an official in-charge is discharging the director’s onerous responsibilities.

In different districts of the State, excluding the BTAD, 128 posts of sub-inspectors out of total 274 posts in the Education department are currently lying vacant. These sub-inspectors are responsible for inspecting the academic condition and infrastructure of schools.

Sources said that 50 posts of block elementary education officers and one post of district elementary education officer are lying vacant.

Sources also said that the State government has repeatedly turned a deaf ear to proposals submitted on many occasions in the past by the Education department to fill the vacant posts.

At a time when the Right to Education (RTE) Act is being implemented in earnest by other states with education being a fundamental right, the Tarun Gogoi government’s utter lack of seriousness in properly manning its primary education apparatus — speaks volumes about its overall commitment to education.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

Give perfect justice, PM to judiciary

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called upon the judiciary to evolve a dynamic inbuilt mechanism to address its deficiencies and problems.

Calling for a “dynamic inbuilt mechanism to address the deficiencies in the judicial system”, Modi said: “If we make a mistake, though we have no right, there is remedy in judiciary.”

“But if you make a mistake, then there is no remedy as there is nothing above you. We have to repeatedly make self appraisal,” he said at the inaugural session of a conference of chief ministers and chief justices of high courts.

The conference is aimed at addressing issues relating to the administration of justice in India. The last such conference was held on April 7, 2013.

Calling for “qualitative changes” in the judiciary, which he said could be achieved by taking recourse to digital technology, Modi said: “Judiciary should be powerful but perfect as well at the same time.

“We are becoming powerful, there is nothing wrong in being powerful, but we should be perfect as well,” Modi said.

Emphasizing the importance of inbuilt mechanism for self-correction, he pointed to criticism that people in the government face for their mistakes and added that judges were lucky not to be exposed to such situations as they enjoy a lot of credibility among the people.

Cautioning the judges vis-a-vis the absence of inbuilt mechanism, Modi said: “Howsoever good a person (occupying a position) may be, but in the absence of institutional mechanism there are always dangers of slide.”

He said the Right to Information Act and the Lokpal were self imposed statutory restricts on the people running the government.

Modi said every care has to be taken so that people’s confidence in the judiciary was not dented as that would cause great damage.

“People have a lot of faith in the judicial system of India. We need to look at the manpower that is coming in this field in the coming years. We have to think how can we create good law institutions, keeping in mind the needs of the future.”

The prime minister said: “There is a great responsibility on the judiciary. In fact, we all are the same kind of individuals carrying out responsibilities as per our potential and capabilities.”

“But this is not the case with people in the judicial system, what they do is divine. God has sent you to carry out this divine responsibility.”

Modi called upon the judges of the Supreme Court to review the working of tribunals whose performance he said was dismal.

He said a lot of budgetary allocations were being spent on tribunals but their rate of disposal was a matter of concern.

“They (apex court judges) should think whether the tribunals are really effective or just another hindrance (in the justice delivery system). Their working is also a matter of concern,” Modi said.

Calling for the simplification of laws, Modi said the statute book had to be cleared of web of laws which were redundant.

He said the central government had decided to erase 700 antiquated laws and another 1,700 laws were being reviewed. He said his wish was to erase one law a day in his five-year term.

Calling for the training of judicial officials in forensic sciences, Modi said there was need for trained legal people to draft law to ensure bare minimum gray areas.

Talking about pending cases, he said: “We all talk about pendency of cases in courts but have we ever thought the number of hours the judiciary has to spent on them and problems they go through?”

Chief Justice HL Dattu said the administration of justice can’t be achieved by the judiciary alone without the government extending its full co-operation and support.

“The ultimate goal of all of us is to serve the people of India upholding the letter and spirit of the constitution. Our forefathers have defined and declared our common goal within this sacred constitution,” he said.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

WITCH-HUNTING: Court seeks Action Taken Report from State government

Not satisfied with an affidavit given by the Assam government, the Gauhati High Court has asked the State Home secretary to appear before it and brief the court on the steps taken to curb witch-hunting in the State.

This is the second time that the court has summoned a top government official on the issue.

A division bench of Chief Justice (acting) K Shreedhar Rao and Justice PK Saikia asked the State Home secretary to appear before it on Monday and brief the court on the steps taken to check the social malaise.

The court sought an action taken report from the State government on the directions given by it on December last, which included framing of an anti-witch hunt law within three months.

The State Home commissioner had appeared before the court on November last following a directive.

The State government had informed the court that it was enacting a law to prevent organized crime, which would include witch-hunting. The public interest litigation had been filed by a High Court lawyer, Rajeeb Kalita, in December 2013, seeking government action to end the illegal practice of witch-hunting in the State. It said the actual cause of witch-hunting was superstition among people, particularly in interior places devoid of proper health care and education.

At least 77 people have been killed and 60 others injured in witch-hunting incidents in Assam since 2010. The 77 persons include 35 women. Of the injured 60 people, 46 were women.

The Additional Director General of CID has prepared a draft anti-witch hunting bill as per the direction of the Gauhati High Court.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

Would Congress accept ‘black’ Sonia?

Union Minister Giriraj Singh’s racist comment sparks huge row

Causing yet another embarrassment to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), union minister Giriraj Singh raked up a controversy with his “white skin” remark on Congress president Sonia Gandhi but “regretted” it a day later on Wednesday.

The statement, however, prompted the Congress party to seek an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demand the errant minister’s sacking.

At an event in Bihar on Tuesday, Singh, the Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) said: “If Rajiv Gandhi had married a Nigerian and if she wasn’t white skinned, would Congress accept her (Sonia Gandhi) as a leader?”

Just a day ahead of the BJP’s national executive meet, the remark triggered a volley of reactions from across the political spectrum as well as the Nigerian envoy in Delhi.

Left fuming over the “racist” remarks, the Congress lashed out at the union minister, saying: “The Congress strongly deprecates and condemns the intemperate and distasteful remarks of the union minister, bordering on insanity.

“It appears that continuous quest to appease Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made him lose his balance. Such remarks are reflective of lack of moral fiber in BJP and its cadre,” it added.

Singh, however, said: “It was an off the record remark.”

“People do talk off the record with each other and it’s a different thing how it is presented. If I have hurt anyone’s sentiments, including Sonia and Rahul, I regret what I said,” he said.

The BJP later distanced itself from the controversy.

“The BJP doesn’t do politics over colour or caste. We believe in ‘Sabka saath sabka vikas’ (Cooperation of all, development of all),” BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said.

Baffled at the minister’s choice of words, Acting Nigerian High Commissioner to India OB Okongor remarked, “The minister should have been much more circumspect…”

“We have good bilateral relations with India…but the union minister’s remarks are uncalled for, unacceptable,” he added.

Meanwhile, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat also condemned Singh’s remarks saying: “This is a very derogatory remark and in full contempt for working women, this is racist.”

Seeking explanation from Modi, she said: “He (Giriraj Singh) is a serial offender. The PM has a duty to publicly correct this situation. What is the PM’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ on this? His silence reflects connivance and encouragement.”

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh called for an “action” against the Barahiya MP as it was not the first time he had made such a derogatory remark.

Earlier during 2014 general elections, Singh had asked those opposing his party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to “leave India and go to Pakistan”.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

Speaker hits Congress, AIUDF roadblock

ASSAMESE DEFINITION: Indigenous Assamese have to be defined on 1951 NRC basis, notes Speaker’s report: AGP, BJP, BPF welcome initiative

The ruling Congress and the AIUDF on Tuesday stymied Speaker Pranab Kumar Gogoi’s initiative to facilitate the State government in defining the term ‘Assamese’ as they blocked tabling of the report prepared after consulting 53 cultural, student and ethnic organizations, describing it as the Speaker’s “personal views”.

The legislators of the Congress and AIUDF took umbrage that the Speaker did not consult the MLAs while preparing the report and that “under no rule, can such a report be tabled in the House.”

However, the AGP, BJP and BPF welcomed the Speaker’s initiative and insisted that the report cannot be termed as a “personal view.”

The Speaker today tabled his two-page report compiled after a three-week exercise during which 53 organizations, including Xahitya Xabhas, students organizations and ethnic groups were consulted.

The report noted that in the 1951 Census, the indigenous Assamese were defined as – “Indigenous person of Assam means a person belonging to the State of Assam and speaking the Assamese language or any tribal dialect of Assam, or in the case of Assam, the language of the region.”

“After considering all aspects, I am of the opinion that to implement the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord (constitutional safeguard), we need a definition for indigenous Assamese.  That is why we have to take 1951 as the base year and the 1951 NRC as the basis,” the Speaker noted, asking the State government to look into the report for taking necessary steps.

The Speaker then handed over the report to the deputy leader of the House Dr Bhumidhar Barman as the Chief Minister was not present. However, Congress MLA Ardhendu Kumar Dey then got up from his seat, took the report from Dr Barman’s table and returned it to the Speaker’s desk.

“The Speaker did not discuss the matter with the MLAs. Our views should have been taken before preparing such a report,” Dey said.

AIUDF MLA Abdur Rahim Khan took an indirect jibe at the Speaker and said “Like all MLAs even he should follow the House rules… Under what rule was the table laid in the House? We do not support it. It will complicate the ongoing process of updating the NRC,” Khan said.

AGP’s Phani Bhusan Choudhury interrupted and supporting the Speaker’s initiative, said his party welcomes the move. “Nothing had moved in the last thirty years. The Speaker has our full support,” Choudhury said.

AGP’s PK Mahanta said the initiative was in the greater interest of the Assamese people and the House should support it.

While AGP MLA Padma Hazarika felt that “the hands and feet of the Speaker were tied”, his party colleague Keshav Mahanta insisted that the report be sent to the Chief Minister not as a “personal opinion” but as “a report from the Speaker.”

BJP’s Manoranjan Das also described the Speaker’s move as a “good initiative” and claimed that “certain quarters are intentionally opposing it.” BPF’s Kamal Singh Narzary also supported the Speaker’s move.

However, Congress MLA Siddique Ahmed demanded that the report be withdrawn and it did not have the consent of the legislators.

“It (the report) is the Speaker’s personal opinion,” said Congress MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purukayastha.

Purukayastha and Goutam Roy suggested that the report be tabled in the House in the next session through a “proper device”.

According to senior Congress legislator Abdul Muhim Mazumdar, to accept a report in the House, there has to be a debate on it.

Parliamentary Affairs minister Rockybul Hussain also said it was a “personal opinion” of the Speaker and not that of the government. “The State government has the responsibility to define ‘Assamese’ and will act accordingly, taking all people along,” the minister said

Dubbing the report as a “personal initiative”, Congress legislator and APCC president Anjan Dutta said his party does not know about it and as such cannot accept it. “We won’t accept any personal views,” he added.

Despite having lost support from his own party MLAs, Speaker Pranab Kumar Gogoi remained unfazed and said he will send the report to the Chief Minister. “My duty is to send it. I will send it. It is up to the Chief Minister how to take it. I do not have the authority to give a definition. I just made a proposal to facilitate the State government to frame a definition. It is up to the government what it wants to do with the report,” he said. “It was an honest attempt on my part. I do not hanker for any position,” the Speaker added.

When asked about the opposition from Congress legislators, the Speaker said, “It is now clear who wants a definition of Assamese to be framed and who does not. The water has been separated from the milk. The people of Assam have seen it and they will now decide.”

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/