Many proposals of team Anna missing from govt draft of Lokpal Bill

Powers to tap phones, issuance of letters rogatory and recommendations for changes in work practices to reduce scope for corruption are among the proposals made by the Anna Hazare team in their Jan Lokpal Bill which do not find a mention in the government draft

New Delhi: Powers to tap phones, issuance of letters rogatory and recommendations for changes in work practices to reduce scope for corruption are among the proposals made by the Anna Hazare team in their Jan Lokpal Bill which do not find a mention in the government draft, reports PTI.

The draft submitted to the joint committee on the Lokpal Bill by the Hazare team also seeks power to the proposed ombudsman to acquire modern equipment necessary for proper investigation and inquire into the assets declaration statements filed by all MPs.

According to the Jan Lokpal Bill, an appropriate bench of Lokpal shall be deemed to be “designated authority under Section V of the Indian Telegraph Act empowered to approve interception and monitoring of messages of data or voice transmitted through telephones, Internet or any other medium...”

In the powers and functions of the Lokpal and its officers section of the civil society’s draft, the ombudsman can authorise a bench of the Lokpal to issue letters rogatory in relation to any case pending investigation.

This provision is in contrast to the stand taken by the Hazare team in the fourth meeting of the joint drafting committee held on 23rd May when lawyer Shanti Bhushan clarified that the intent was to allow Lokpal to directly approach the court for letters rogatory and not to route such requests through the government.

Mr Bhushan’s comment came after the home minister, P Chidambaram, pointed out that the powers of issuance of letters rogatory was within the domain of the courts. A letter rogatory is a formal request from a court to a foreign court for some type of judicial assistance.

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FM allays fears over ‘below normal’ monsoon forecast

Reacting to the IMD’s forecast on Tuesday that monsoon rains are expected to be below normal at 95% of the Long Period Average, with margin for error of plus or minus 4%, finance minister said: “Let us wait for some more time”

New Delhi: Allaying concerns over the forecast of ‘below normal’ monsoon rains during the current season, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today said the projections are only a shade below the annual average, reports PTI.

“Let us wait for some more time,” Mr Mukherjee told reporters here on a query related to the monsoon rains.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) yesterday said monsoon rains are expected to be below normal at 95% of the Long Period Average (LPA), with margin for error of plus or minus 4%.

A below normal monsoon can have a serious fallout on agricultural input.

“They (IMD) are saying it would be around 95% and normal average is 98%,” the finance minister said.

In April, during the first monsoon forecast, the government had said the monsoon would be normal, with the rainfall likely to be 98% of the LPA, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5%.

Monsoon rains from June to September are a key factor for global commodities markets, as they influence output of various crops in India, which is among the world’s leading producers and consumers of wheat, rice, sugar and edible oils.

The monsoon rains are crucial for summer-sown crops, as about 60% of the country’s agriculture is dependent on rains. Due to a widespread drought in 2009-10 and a dearth of rainfall in some parts of the country in 2010-11, paddy production had suffered.

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HC directs Tata Motors to serve notice on Bengal government

The newly-elected West Bengal last week scrapped the Singur land deal with Tata Motors and provided for return of land to unwilling farmers

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court today refused to hear ex-parte Tata Motors' petition challenging the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011.

Justice Saumitra Pal, while taking up the petition filed by Tata Motors, directed its counsel Samaraditya Pal to serve notice to the state government and said the matter would be taken up at 12 noon.

Samaraditya Pal submitted that he wanted to move the petition ex-parte, but the court refused to entertain his plea.

The Act scrapped the previous Left Front government's deal with Tata Motors and provided for return of land to unwilling farmers.

The Bill was passed in the state Assembly on 14th June, amid a walkout by the Opposition Left parties, by voice vote along with some amendments brought by the government. It had also received governor MK Narayanan's assent on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Hooghly district administration on Tuesday pasted a notice on the walls of the Tata Motors abandoned project site at Singur with a copy of the gazette notification of the scrapping of the land deal with the government.

The company's stock was trading 0.94% lower at Rs929 in late morning trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange today.

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