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Saturday, 6 September 2014

From Today's Papers - 06 Sep 2014

Lt Gen Tejinder gets bail
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 5
The Delhi High Court today granted bail to Lt Gen Tejinder Singh (retd) in the case over the truck purchase scam. Justice Pratibha Rani ordered his release on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and on the condition that he would not leave the country without the trial court’s permission.

The trial court had ordered his arrest for allegedly offering a bribe of Rs 14 crore in 2010 to the then army chief Gen VK Singh for clearing the purchase of 1,676 sub-standard trucks.

The HC noted that the CBI had not opposed the bail plea apprehending that he would influence the witnesses. CBI had cited the number two position held by Lt Gen T Singh in the army and the magnitude of the alleged offence. The reasons given by the trial court for denial of bail on September 1 “are against the settled legal principles” laid down the HC and the Supreme court, the judge held.
Need to stop firing along the LoC

The understanding, to avoid firing at civilians, arrived at a brigade commander-level flag meeting of Indian and Pakistani forces in Poonch district is a basic step towards ensuring peace along the border with Pakistan. The intensity of firing between troops deployed along the Line of Control (LoC) had dramatically increased recently, and there was a marked increase in death and destruction along the border. When Brigadier Sanjay Thakran and Brigadier Atiq Dar met at Chakan-Da-Bagh post, both sides traded charges over the firing incidents. However, at the end of a three-hour meeting, both officers agreed that such violations must stop. India has been particularly perturbed by the intensive firing and shelling by Pakistani troops in Jammu, Samba, Rajouri and Poonch districts. There has been retaliatory fire from the Indian side too, as the Pakistanis pointed out.

The life and property of civilians is particularly endangered during such incidents. Indeed, there have been numerous reports of how people were killed in the shelling, and of how property was destroyed. Now that this step has been taken to de-escalate the situation, people whose houses and fields are near the border will heave a sigh of relief, even as they will dread the next time shells come across the border or the guns start firing. The issue of civilians and their livestock crossing the Line of Control inadvertently was also discussed. When such incidents occur, a humanitarian approach is needed. On the other hand, care would have to be taken and vigilance exercised over the infiltration of militants through the border, a continuing issue that Indian security forces face.

The venue of the recent meeting at Chakan-Da-Bagh is also where the Trade Facilitation Centre is located. Trucks from India and Pakistan carry goods worth crores so that these can be traded across the border. Now that the two armies have worked out a settlement, the peace that should follow would provide the impetus for more trade and better economic ties. It is, surely, a much more desirable prospect than the destructive cycle of mutual shelling.
Australia to supply uranium to India, Defence ties set to get boost
TNS & Agencies

New Delhi, September 5
India and Australia on Friday inked the long-awaited civil nuclear agreement that will allow Australia to export uranium to India. Both the countries signed three more pacts on sports, water resource management and technical and vocational educational training.

The nuclear pact, under discussion since 2012, was signed after conclusion of delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott, who is the first dignitary to visit India on a bilateral engagement after the new government took over.

A change of policy by Australia, which holds one-third of the world's recoverable uranium, facilitated the pact as Canberra did not supply the fuel to countries not signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Addressing a joint press conference, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said: “India has an impeccable non-proliferation record and has been a model international citizen. Australia trusts India to do the right thing in this area.”

Prime Minister Modi said: “The signing of the civil nuclear cooperation agreement is a historic milestone in our relationship. It is a reflection of a new level of mutual trust and confidence and will open a new chapter in our bilateral cooperation. It will support India's efforts to fuel its growth with clean energy and minimize the carbon footprint of its growth. Through this agreement, India hopes to generate over 4,500 MW of nuclear power.”

The MoU on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy will promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and recognise India's commitment and use of nuclear energy with a view to achieving sustainable development and strengthening energy security, an official statement said.

Australia can play the role of a long-term reliable supplier of uranium to India, the statement said, adding the agreement provides for supply of uranium, production of radio isotopes, nuclear safety and other areas of cooperation.

The second MoU is on cooperation in sport which is aimed to promote exchange of programmes, experience, skills, techniques and knowledge in the field of sports.

It will facilitate exchanges of sports personnel, coaches and officials as well as of training and technologies. It will develop preparation for competitions and broad cooperation in sports, the statement said.

The third MOU is on cooperation in the field of water resources management and will promote sharing of policy and technical experiences in water resources, particularly river basin management. It will encourage familiarisation of best practices and technologies developed by each side and for exchange of information and training. A Joint Working Group will coordinate the activities.

The two sides also inked an MoU on Cooperation in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), which is aimed to promote exchange of information and policy ideas in TVET systems, joint implementation of collaborative projects and facilitating links between governments, industry organisations and TVET bodies.

The focus will be to share experience and policy to build work force that is skilled and globally productive. The skills will promote broader cooperation including greater access to skilled labour across the region, the statement from the ministry of external affairs said.

Earlier, Abbott, who arrived here from Mumbai last night, said he was touched by the warmth and welcome not just accorded to him officially but personally by the Indian Prime Minister.

India and Australia also decided to hold their first-ever bilateral naval exercise next year. India has held trilateral naval exercises with Australia and Japan in 2007 and earlier this year.

On the economic front, both PMs welcomed the progress towards a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, with Abbott stating that Australia hopes to conclude negotiations and have it ready by the end of next year. “There is a bright future for both countries, a bright future for the world, Abbott said.

Four MoU signed

n The MoU on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy will promote cooperation and recognise India's commitment and use of nuclear energy

n The second MoU is on cooperation in sport, and the agreement is aimed to promote exchange of programmes, experience, skills, techniques and knowledge in the field of sports

n Another MOU is on cooperation in the field of water resources management and will promote sharing of policy and technical experiences in water resources

n The two sides also inked an MoU on Cooperation in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
AFT quashes court martial of Rath in Sukna land scam case

New Delhi, September 5
A military tribunal today quashed the court martial of former 33 Corps Commander Lt Gen PK Rath in the Sukna land scam and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on Army for "loss of honour" in the case in which he became the first serving three-star rank officer to face disciplinary action.

In 2011, a court martial found Lt Gen Rath guilty in the alleged scam for issuing a 'no-objection certificate' to a private builder for building an educational institution on a 70-acre plot adjacent to the military cantonment in Sukna in West Bengal.

Rath and Lt Gen Avdesh Prakash had faced court martials in the case but Rath was the first to have been punished.

"The petitioner is acquitted of all charges. He is entitled to restoration of all benefits with 12 per cent interest," an Armed Forces Tribunal bench headed by Justice Sunil Hali said in its judgement.

The bench said the petitioner suffered undue harassment and loss of reputation by the act of the respondents which if not compensated would be a travesty of justice.

"Therefore, as a notional compensation for the harassment and loss of honour and name caused to the petitioner, a cost of Rs 1,00,000 is to be paid by respondents," it said.

After being court martialled by an Army court comprising seven Lt Gen-rank officers, Rath had filed a petition in the AFT demanding the quashing of his General Court Martial and granting him exemplary compensation for the loss of reputation and honour. In January 2011, the GCM had punished him by awarding the sentence of loss of seniority of rank of 18 months; forfeiture of 15 years past service for the purpose of pension and severe reprimand.

Quoting the Bhagavad Gita, Justice Hali said, "People will always speak of your infamy, and for a respectable person, dishonor is worse than death."

The land scam came into the open in mid-2008 when former Army Chief Gen VK Singh was the Eastern Army Commander and had initiated the court of inquiry in the alleged land scam.

In his petition, Rath alleged that Gen VK Singh had given "undue importance" to the case as he had a "serious grudge" against the then Military Secretary Lt Gen Prakash whom he held responsible for obtaining a commitment from him on the issue of his date of birth which stood in the way of his extension of tenure as the Chief of the Army Staff. — PTI
 Brigadier, Lt Col cashiered, get jail for selling off salvage
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
A Brigadier has been cashiered from service and awarded two-year rigorous imprisonment by a general court martial for alleged misappropriation and illegal disposal of thousands of tonnes of salvage (items no longer in use) during his tenure as Commandant of the Central Ordnance Depot (COD), Agra.

Besides, a Lieutenant Colonel, who was in charge of the salvage section, has also been cashiered and awarded one-year rigorous imprisonment, while two others, a Colonel who was the deputy commandant of COD and the depot's security officer, a Captain, have been awarded loss of seniority for their role in the matter.

The GCM presided by Major General Suresh Gupta, General Officer Commanding, Lucknow sub-area, concluded today. The GCM's findings and sentence are subject to confirmation by the convening authority.

Six charges under Sections 52 (f), 63 and 69 of the Army Act pertaining to conspiracy, fraud and violation of good order and discipline had been leveled against the accused. The charges included allowing private contractors to lift thousands of tonnes of salvage from the COD, creating fake vouchers and fabricating documents and board proceedings to cover up their deeds, and intimidating witnesses to give false statements before the court of inquiry. The Brigadier also faced two additional charges under Section 57 for making false declarations before high-ups in official reports.

While the GCM held the Brigadier, the Lieutenant Colonel and Captain guilty of all charges on which they were tried, the Colonel was acquitted of the four charges of conspiracy and fraud and held guilty of two charges for violation of good order and military discipline.

All four officers had pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and had contended that a motivated case was made out against them.

A ourt of inquiry to investigate into allegations of impropriety had held the commandant of the COD, along with the other officers blameworthy of misappropriation.
Global strategic move: India increases defence trainings in Asia, Africa and Latin America
 NEW DELHI: India is subtly increasing defence training programmes in friendly countries in southeast Asia Africa and Latin America, with a global strategic objective.

Besides training military officers and personnel of Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Asean, African and Latin American nations in domestic training facilities, Indian trainers are also visiting countries like Laos and Vietnam and Namibia and Ethiopia to impart military training, official sources told ET.

These are friendly countries with which India has extensive diplomatic contacts, sources pointed out. The training is not just about combat readiness but also involves basic modules like rock climbing and assisting in building infrastructure in these countries.

While in Southeast Asia, India is eyeing to play a larger strategic role, military cooperation with the African countries is in the context of maritime security cooperation and anti-piracy operations. "The defence cooperation with Africa has also to be viewed in the context of South-South cooperation," explained an official who did not wish to be named.

Apart from Namibia and Ethiopia, Indian defence trainers are extending cooperation to other countries of Africa that are not facing civil war. Ethiopia has been a key political and economic partner in East Africa. Namibia in South West Africa has political relations with India since the days of its anti-colonial movement and has also signed a uranium supply deal with India.
Deba Mohanty, a Delhi-based defence expert told ET that the Narendra Modi government has the political will to expand defence cooperation globally in the coming days. The officers and personnel from the Afghan National Army is being trained in India since the fall of Taliban in 2001 and the number of trainees has increased significantly in recent times, sources said. Military of ficers from Myanmar also receive training in India following closer defence links between the two countries.

Bangladesh, which did not send many military officers earlier to India is now deputing several personnel for training in India. India-Bangladesh relations have seen a marked improvement since 2009 and service chiefs and high-ranking officials from both countries have been visiting each other's country in the last few years. Besides training programs for these developing countries, India also trains military personnel from Singapore and Oman under self-financing scheme.

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