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Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor

Bachchan in the red

Miss World '96 Contrary to the widespread impression that Amitabh Bachchan made huge profits from hosting the Miss World show in Bangalore, people close to him swear that when all the sums are added up, ABCL will incur a huge loss.

Not because Amitabh had not done his sums right when he decided to bring the beauty pageant to these shores. His calculations went awry thanks to the shrill protests of assorted feminist groups and the determined legal battle they fought to stall the event till the very last moment.

Bachchan had also not reckoned that he would be called upon to pay Rs 20 million for the security arrangements alone. He had assumed, not without reason, that with Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and Karnataka Chief Minister J H Patel blessing his project to showcase Bangalore under the aegis of the Miss World extravaganza, he would get security and other facilities gratis.

But the protracted protests and the courts's directives in public interest litigation forced the Karnataka government on the back foot. Bangalore Police Commissioner S C Burman forced Bachchan to pay Rs 20.5 million hours before the show began at the threat of withdrawal of all police and paramilitary forces and the closure of the Chinnaswamy stadium.

Amitabh Bachchan Bachchan's repeated pleas to the police chief that he stood 'personal guarantee' and the payment would be made after the show, had no effect. Also, contrary to media reports, there were not many takers for the Rs 25,000 tickets in the diamond enclosure. Most were invitees, including some well- known businessmen who had flown in their company aircraft to witness the event.

Bachchan has the option to host the show for the next two years. Even if he does so, it will be in the Seychelles and not in India.

Caught in the act!

A Kashmiri militant leader on a visit to the federal capital was recently caught in an embarrassing situation by the Delhi police while in the company of a woman television reporter.

Seeing the two making it out openly behind the trees on the lawns of Rajpath off India Gate, a hawker peddling peanuts summoned cops from the police post in the vicinity.

The cops unaware of the Kashmiri separatist's identity did what comes best to them -- try to extract money at the pain of registering a case of indecent behaviour in public. But little did they know that the militant leader was being watched by their cousins from the Intelligence Bureau. The sleuths scrapped openly. The local police wanted to book the couple, the gumshoes in mufti wanted them let off.

By the time the cops took the couple to the police station, the IB chaps had spoken to their superiors who managed to have the revolutionary fighting for Kashmir's independence let off with an oral warning.

Shaking off hawala charges

Balram Jakhar A move is afoot to bury the hawala cases against politicians a million fathoms deep. The government is seriously examining a proposal to amend the Anti-Corruption Act with retrospective effect in order to take members of Parliament out of its ambit.

A former Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh, who is charged in the case, is exerting his considerable energies to help evolve an all-party consensus on the issue. There is a good chance that even Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and the Communists may support the move.

His lawyers have convinced the MP leader that equity and fair play demanded that MPs should not be made to suffer from double jeopardy. MPs were brought under the purview of the Anti-Corruption Act in the late eighties. Before that it was believed an errant MP could be punished by the presiding officer of the House of which he was a member.

L K Advani The hawala victims club has another reason to plead for its rescue by Parliament. It is pointed out that whereas for the prosecution of all public servants, including lowly peons, under the Anti- Corruption Act, advance sanction from the relevant government authority is necessary, in the case of MPs, the police requires no such permission from the presiding officers of either House of Parliament. These arguments were marshalled by a leading Supreme Court lawyer at the express desire of a hawala victim.

Surprisingly, a few days later almost an identical case was made by a couple of former Madhya Pradesh high court judges under their names in an article in a Delhi newspaper. Should the move succeed, the hawala accused who were mere MPs when they allegedly took money from the Jain brothers might get off the hook.

Those who were ministers at the time when they allegedly received hawala funds might not be as lucky because in their case the provision for seeking prior permission for their prosecution is already in place.

A divided CBI

Joginder Singh In spite of periodic rebukes by the courts, the Central Bureau of Investigation shows no inclination to change its ways. CBI Director Joginder Singh changes at will investigating officers in politically sensitive cases.

The officers in the Bihar fodder scam and the Assam letter of credit scam were changed mid- way recently because they would not abandon the trail which led to the doorsteps of the chief ministers of these states.

Krishna Kumar According to insiders the CBI is divided down the line between those loyal to Singh and those opposed to him. In the recent raids on the homes of former federal minister, Krishna Kumar, the CBI team went all the way to Kerala to pry into his various investments, but did not take into account the plush farm Krishna Kumar has acquired in the millionaire's row in Bijwasan in south Delhi, a stone's throw away from the international airport. This when half the CBI knew about the former minister's farm for a long time!

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