Minister for Water Resources Pawan Bansal is planning to amend the Act concerning the setting up of tribunals for adjudicating on inter-state river disputes. Bansal wants to prescribe an age limit for the judges who head these tribunals. At present,there is no retirement age for the more than a dozen judges serving on various river water tribunals. Many judges simply assume that the post is a permanent sinecure. For example,Justice V Balakrishnan Eradi who headed the Ravi Beas water tribunal between the states of Punjab,Haryana and Rajasthan,joined the commission shortly before his retirement from the Supreme Court in 1987 and continued till his death in 2010 when he was 88. At present,the Act merely stipulates that the tribunal should be headed by a judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court. Most judges opt for a tribunal position just before they are about to retire.
Report on report
In a bid to reclaim the Karnataka chief ministership before his 70th birthday,BS Yeddyurappa left no stone unturned. He even persuaded a key member of the RSS brains trust to analyse Lokayukta Santosh Hegdes report indicting him. Predictably,the report on the Hegde report gave Yeddyurappa a clean chit. But BJP President Nitin Gadkari was not impressed. He maintained that the former CM could not be reinstated unless the cases against him were first quashed. Yeddyurappa,who threatened to break away from the BJP and form a regional party of Lingayats,had to retreat since he realised his support base was dwindling. One reason for this is that there are some 20 ministerial berths vacant in the government of Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda and most MLAS have an eye on them. The MLAs are conscious that prospects of the BJP or Yeddyurappa returning to power in June 2013 are dim.
In his newly released collection of poems,Javed Akhtar has dedicated a poem to his wife Shabana Azmi where he speaks of the hectic pace of life which resembles the hurly-burly of a railway station platform. Last Sunday,the couple had a packed programme in Delhi. In the morning,Vice President Hamid Ansari released Akhtars collection of poems,Lava. In the evening,Azmi celebrated 20 years of reading the play,Tumhari Amrita.
Perks and privileges
The Prime Ministers principal secretary Pulok Chatterji has undoubtedly more clout than Cabinet secretary Ajit Kumar Seth,though technically Seth is head of the civil service. In fact,many of the duties of the Cabinet secretary have been appropriated by Chatterji. Chatterji had a far bigger say in the empanelment of officers to secretary rank than Seth. Still,Seth has seen to it that Chatterji is denied one perk enjoyed by his predecessor,TKA Nair. Chatterji has not yet been granted the status of a minister of state. Seth feels that since he is senior to Chatterji,it would upset the hierarchy if the principal secretary was given the MoS status.
New generation wives
The wives of the heads of IB and RAW have undertaken major renovations in their government bungalows,including breaking down drawing room walls to make one large reception space,landscaping gardens and laying down wooden flooring. There also seems some degree of one upmanship in hosting garden parties. The best quality caterers were hired,presumably at government expense. The IPS Womens Welfare Association is feeling the effect of the rivalries between various police organisations in the Capital. The IB chiefs wife is automatically nominated as president of the body. A proposal to make the CBI chiefs wife the vice-president fizzled out and the CBI contingent of wives has kept out of the Association. The wife of the head of the National Investigation Agency has stepped down as secretary. With the IB wives insisting on a dominant role,the membership of the Association has dwindled in recent times.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sets an example for punctuality by turning up on the dot for Cabinet meetings. Even before he arrives,some of the ministers are already in the Cabinet room. Veerappa Moily,S M Krishna and Mallikarjun Kharge are early birds. Although all three are from Karnataka,they do not seem to have much conversation with one another. A K Antony and P Chidambaram are also invariably present on time.