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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

From Today's Papers - 14 Apr 2015

Islamabad HC sets two-month deadline to complete 26/11 trial
Delay may result in cancellation of Lakhvi's bail, tells lower court
Islamabad, April 13
The Islamabad High Court today set a two-month deadline for the trial court to conclude the 2008 Mumbai attack case, warning that it would accede to Pakistan Government's plea to cancel the bail granted to LeT operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi if it failed to do so.

A two-member Bench of IHC headed by Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi gave the "two-month deadline" to the Islamabad anti-terrorism court to conclude the case against Mumbai attack mastermind Lakhvi and six others going on since 2009.

The Bench was hearing the government's plea for cancellation of 55-year-old Lakhvi's bail. After the arguments from the prosecution and defence lawyers, the Bench said: "This court gives two months to the trial court to conclude the Mumbai case and adjourns this case (a plea to cancellation of bail to Lakhvi) till then."

Prosecution chief Chaudhry Azhar told PTI after the hearing here that the judge also said in his order that the court would cancel Lakhvi's bail if there was a delay on the part of his lawyers.

"The court is pending this case for a period of two months till the conclusion of the Mumbai case. If it is reported that the Mumbai case could not be concluded (in two months) because of delaying tactics of the defence lawyers this court will cancel Lakhvi's bail," the judge remarked.

He was responding to the arguments of the prosecution that the Mumbai case had been inordinately delayed because of the delaying tactics of the defence lawyers.

Justice Muhammad Anwarul Haq of Lahore High Court on April 9 suspended the detention of Lakhvi under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) as the government failed to present "sensitive evidence" against him in the court.

The government managed to keep Lakhvi behind the bars under the MPO for nearly four months since the trial court granted him bail on December 19 last year. On April 10, Lakhvi was released from the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi after the Lahore HC  suspended his detention. — PTI
RTI reply points to bungling in sale of Army vehicles
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Replies received under the Right to Information Act (RTI) to queries pertaining to certain financial transactions by the Directorate General of Resettlement (DGR) have kicked up a row as a large sum of money has not been accounted for.

Information released by the DGR reveals that in 2009-11 about Rs 2.59 crore was collected by the DGR as security deposit for release of Army surplus vehicles. Out of this, Rs 2.76 lakh was refunded to the buyers for vehicles registered with the civilian transport authorities.

The balance amount remaining in the account concerned of the DGR, held with a nationalised bank, as of March 2015 was about Rs 17.60 lakh, according to the RTI reply. This implies that over Rs 2.38 crore remains unaccounted for. This prompted a retired officer to write to the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Defence Secretary and Chief fo the Army Staff to investigate the matter.

Ex-Servicemen, widows of defence personnel, who died while in service, and ex-servicemen co-operative societies can apply for allotment of Army surplus (class-5B) vehicles, subject to certain conditions. There are 42 types of vehicles that can be allotted and these are released from 12 Central Ordnance Depots across the country. These vehicles are available at highly concessional rates, with a jeep going for Rs 70,000 and a 3-ton truck for less than Rs 3 lakh.

A security deposit of Rs 1,000 for motor cycle, Rs 3,000 for light four-wheeled vehicle and Rs 8,000 for heavy vehicles has to be deposited with the DGR. This amount is refunded after the surplus vehicle purchased by ex-servicemen is registered with the civilian transport department concerned, which is required to be done within six months of release.

DGR officials, it transpires, were aware of financial misappropriation in the scheme. Some time ago, a Colonel posted as a Director in the DGR had lodged a complaint with the Delhi Police seeking registration of an FIR against a civilian clerk employed in the establishment for alleged embezzlement of public funds while performing duties of clerk-in-charge of allotment of surplus vehicles. The complaint said a preliminary inquiry for fact finding conducted by DGR officials had established a prima facie case against the clerk, though the amount mentioned in the complaint was only Rs 88,000.

Apart from financial embezzlement, the issue has also raised security concerns. Since the amount refunded indicates that only a small number of vehicles may have been registered with civilian authorities, the whereabouts of a large number of ex-military vehicles, the type of which are not available in the civilian market, remains unestablished, with the danger of them falling into the hands of subversive elements.
Rules changed? Rafael not the only choice
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 13
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today hinted that the 36 Rafale fighter jets to be bought in a fly-away condition from Dassault aviation of France would be an important step towards meeting the critical shortage of the Indian Air Force fighter jets, but would not be the only choice.

The purchase of the jets was announced during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris on April 10.

Buying more of the Rafale or ‘making in India’ will depend upon negotiations of the two governments. New Delhi and Paris have announced a government-to-government deal for the purchase of the twin-engined Rafale.

Parrikar clarified the way the deal will progress. The global tender to buy a medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) floated in 2007 to buy 126 planes had been shelved. “If this route (government-to- government) is followed, then it’s obvious, a car cannot be travelling on two different routes. In the tender, there were lot of issues and troubles. The tender has gone into a vortex. The direct deal is working out to be less costly,” he said.

Rafale was selected as lowest bidder in the tender but issues had cropped up as it did not want to stand guarantee for the 108 planes to be made by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and HAL’s high production costs.

On being asked if the government would be looking to get the previous target of 126 planes, Parrikar said: “Not necessarily that will depend on the government-to-government discussion. We may not go for full 126. We may decide a different number also.”

This was the clear signal that India would be hedging its bets rather than look at Rafale alone. “I will not speculate or reveal any further,” Parrikar said when asked if New Delhi would be looking at other planes of the same kind and capability.

“Even the target of 126 was financially a steep climb,” Parrikar said in note of realism. Each Rafale costs about Rs 760-775 crore. On being asked if Rafale will be made in India, the Defence Minister said: “I have not excluded the make in India, but that will depend on how we negotiate.” Under the tender, 18 planes were to be in a fly-away condition, the next 18 were to be in the form of completely knocked down kits.

The future plan
Parrikar was clear that future shortage of fighter jets that will occur due to phasing out of the MiG 21 and MiG 27 will be met by a mix and match of the Rafale, the Russian built Sukhoi-30 MKI and indigenous Light Combat Aircraft, the Tejas and hinge upon life extension to the MiG-21. The IAF needs 42 combat squadrons (18 planes in each) to tackle a simultaneous two-front war with Pakistan and China.

“The LCA will fill in the gaps in six months. Another 72 Sukhoi-30 MKI are on order (in addition to the existing fleet of 198)”, he said. In two to three years, some eight new squadrons will join.
Dispute over promotion policy within Army reaches social media

NEW DELHI: A simmering dispute within the Indian Army over its promotion policy has started to boil over into social media and mobile messaging groups, prompting calls for urgent intervention to prevent fissures in its officer ranks from becoming crevasses that will be hard to bridge. Several officers have reported the springing up of WhatsApp groups and discussion forums in which messages, most of them critical of the infantry and artillery wings that stand to gain the most from the promotion ..

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