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Raja’s Ex-secretary Chandolia Gets bail

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New Delhi: A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court Thursday granted bail to former telecom minister A. Raja’s ex-private secretary R.K. Chandolia, one of the 14 accused in the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation case.
Now only two of the 14 people, including former telecom minister A. Raja, who were arrested by the CBI in the corruption scandal that rocked the nation, remain in jail pending trial. The other is former telecom secretary Sidharth Behura. 
Granting bail to Chandolia, CBI Special Judge O.P. Saini directed him to furnish a personal bond in the sum of Rs.3 lakh with two sureties in the like amount. “(Five have) been released on bail by the Supreme Court, five by the (Delhi) High Court and one by this court. I am of the humble opinion that further incarceration of accused would not serve any purpose,” said Judge Saini, adding, “Accordingly, I am inclined to admit the accused to bail and he is, accordingly, admitted to bail on his furnishing personal bond in the sum of Rs.3 lakh with two sureties in the like amount.”
However, the judge laid down some conditions. “If the accused directly or indirectly makes any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him to disclose such facts as may be necessary to the court or to any other authority, the CBI would have the liberty to make an appropriate application for recalling of the order passed by this court,” the court said in its five-page order.
”He shall remain present before this court on all dates fixed for hearing of the case,” it said, directing him to surrender his passport.
Judge Saini also said that he (Chandolia) shall not visit Department of Telecommunication (DOT) without prior permission of this court. As the order was read out, Chandolia’s family members jumped up in joy and greet each other, with broad smiles on their faces. 
The same court Tuesday granted bail to Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, citing the “principle of parity”. The apex court Nov 23 granted bail to Unitech’s Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom’s director Vinod Goenka and Reliance Group’s executives Hari Nair, Gautam Doshi and Surendra Pipara.
The Delhi High Court Monday granted bail to DMK MP Kanimozhi, Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar, Cineyug Films’ Karim Morani and Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt. Ltd. directors Rajiv B. Aggarwal and Asif Balwa. 
Giving its reasons for granting Chandolia bail, the court said: “There are no allegations that the applicant himself accepted any bribe. Charges have already been framed and the evidence of the prosecution is being recorded. Moreover, he is only charged for conspiracy and criminal misconduct.” 
It further stated that he was only private secretary to then minister and was not having any independent powers of his own. “Co-accused A. Raja was political head of DOT, whereas co-accused Sidharath Behura was its administrative head. As such, with due respect, his case cannot be equated with theses two accused,” Judge Saini said.
Meanwhile, the high court Thursday reserved order on the bail plea of Behura, whose plea was opposed by the CBI. Aman Lekhi, counsel for Behura, told Justice V.K. Shali that the persons concerning alleged beneficiaries of scam are out on bail. “The bribe givers and takers are also out on bail. I also deserve to be released on the ground of principle of parity and parity alone.”
Lekhi said that unlike other politically connected accused, the retired public servant lacked political muscle and financial clout to tamper with evidence. Raja, along with Chandolia and Behura, were arrested Feb 2 for allegedly abusing their official position and manipulating the tendering process to benefit certain telecom companies in getting licences for scarce radiowaves. 
The three face charges of criminal breach of trust by public servants under the Indian Penal Code which carries a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term which may extend up to 10 years with penalty. 
They are the only two accused, out of the 14 individuals arrested by the CBI initially, left in jail. Raja is still to seek bail.
-IANS

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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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