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Chidambaram Upset At BJP’s ‘Ridiculous’ Charges

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 New Delhi: Expressing deep hurt, India’s home minister P Chidambaram strongly rejected BJP’s allegation that he had favoured a Delhi-based hotelier, his former client, in withdrawing three FIRs filed against him and dismissed suggestions there was any conflict of interest involved in it.

Meanwhile, according to a Timesnow report, hotelier SP Gupta said he never met Chidambaram or sought his favour. He said that he doesn’t know P Chidambaram. “I am being made a scapegoat by someone in this whole episode,” Gupta said.

 

Chidambaram said since 2004, hotelier S P Gupta had made more than 40 representations to the home ministry requesting to withdraw the three FIRs filed against him, which were also backed by three MPs.

“I feel deeply hurt. I strongly reject completely unfounded allegations of BJP,” the Home Minister, flanked by Home secretary R K Singh and his predecessor G K Pillai, told reporters.

Chidambaram’s remarks came against the backdrop of a raging controversy over the withdrawal of three FIRs against S P Gupta, who runs M/s Sunair Hotels Pvt Ltd.

The three FIRs relate to Gupta allegedly misusing the names of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and defrauding a firm – VLS Finance – to the tune of several crores of rupees.

Reports also suggested there was a conflict of interest as Gupta was a client of Chidambaram who fought his cases in the court as a lawyer. The reports also claimed that Chidambaram as a home minister recommended to the Delhi government to withdraw the FIRs.

However, the Delhi government  had revoked its earlier decision not to press for prosecution of cases against a hotelier.

 

Dismissing the opposition charge of conflict of interest, Chidambaram said he can’t have life long interest in over 25,000 cases he represented as lawyer in last four decades.

“This is a most ridiculous charge. I don’t have any current subsisting interest with any case,” he said. “What conflict of interests? A lawyer in his career appears in scores of cases. Does he carry interests in all the cases throughout his life? I may have appeared in one or two cases (during the said time)…. But I don’t have any current subsisting interest with any case,” Chidambaram said.

 

He said the file related to Gupta’s representations came to him only once on May 4, 2011 when he recommended that the Home Ministry should not give any directions and Home Ministry may only convey the advice of the Ministry of Law.

 

“I have written that MHA should not give direction. We may only convey the advice of ministry of law,” he said.

The home minister said Gupta first approached the home ministry on July 12, 2004, when Punjab governor Shivraj Patil was the home minister, requesting it to withdraw the FIRs against him.

Subsequently, the hotelier made six representations in 2005, 24 representations in 2006, six representations in 2007, two representations in 2008, 10 representations in 2009, four representations in 2010 and a few more representations in 2011.

Fully backing the home minister, former home secretary Pillai, during whose tenure the file was processed, said he favoured taking the opinion of the ministry of law which was endorsed by Chidambaram.

 

“The ministry of law gave its view and it was conveyed to the Delhi government,” he said.

 

Home secretary Singh said the home minister had seen the file only once (May 4, 2011) and the file had not been submitted to him for orders at any point of time before or after that date.

 

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.

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