Non-pensioner retirees deserve better

In the Interim Budget, Union Finance Minister Jaswant Singh announced that the elderly persons will have no liability of income-tax up to an yearly income of Rs 1,83,000. But there is another category of elderly retirees who are not entitled to pension. Tax exemption in their case would be up to an annual income of Rs 1,53,000. This is unfair. Most non-pensionary retirees are on the brink of collapse.

Those who retired before the two Pay Commissions of 1986 and 1996 are the hardest hit. They had the benefit of the Contributory Provident Fund (CPF) which was relevant at that time, not now. Before 1986, the salaries were very low and those drawing reasonably good salaries after 30-35 years of service could hardly get a few thousand rupees of CPF, including the employers’ share and the interest on it. Owing to the price rise, their real income has gone down considerably and their hardship is increasing day by day.

In my letter (The Tribune, Jan 12, 1999), I had suggested some ad hoc pension to such retirees. But no notice has been taken of it. I offer another suggestion. As the prices of commodities and services cannot be kept at a particular level, let us not apply a cut on the income of such retirees as has been proposed in the Budget. 

The non-pensionary retirees should be entitled to the same rates of interest in the banks and post offices and the same concessions on small savings so that their income does not fall.

GURBACHAN SINGH, Former Registrar,
Punjabi University, Patiala




Jails are in a mess

“Is it not wonderful how little chicks break out of the eggs?”

“I think it is more wonderful how they get in!”

This is exactly the state of prisons where escaping from behind bars seems almost as common as getting into them. There is involvement of officials in every incident of jailbreak. Jails should instil the desired fear in the minds of the public. Political interference is also one of the main reasons for the prevailing lawlessness in the country.

Your concluding argument is pertinent in the editorial “Escape from Tihar” (Feb 19): till corruption in jails is not rooted out, the Ranas and the Hawaras will escape, making a mockery of the law and the functioning of the government.

But stamping out corruption is still a distant dream like daydreaming. Only drastic surgery is needed to weed out the canker of corruption from the system.

D.V. JOSHI, Bartana (Zirakpur)

Try Jaya afresh

I am in full agreement with the editorial “Jaya’s wealth case” (Feb 18). The Supreme Court has done well by dismissing Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s petition to transfer trial in the disproportionate assets case from Karnataka’s Special Court in Bangalore to Andhra Pradash, Kerala or Pondicherry. But it should have ordered a fresh trial, especially in the wake of its observation that the public prosecutor seemed to be hand in glove with Ms Jayalalithaa, indicating that the process of justice was being subverted.

In this case, neither the witnesses were proceeded against for committing perjury nor they were sought to be declared hostile for facilitating their cross-examination to elicit the truth. The Supreme Court also observed that there is reasonable apprehension of the failure of justice. For restoring people’s faith in the judicial system, the start of trial in the Special Court from the point the trial started going off the rails, is a must.


Abu’s extradition

I have learnt from a news-item (The Tribune, Feb 19) that underworld don Abu Salem has moved the Supreme Court of Portugal against a decision of the High Court of that country which ordered his extradition to India.

Poor Abu! He does not seem to have proper knowledge of the facilities available in the Indian jails. If he comes to know about the tales concerning the alleged killers of Beant Singh and Phoolan Devi, he will definitely withdraw his appeal. The “facilities” available in the Indian jails, after all, are among the best anywhere in the world.


Traffic discipline

We are yet to observe traffic discipline. Rash-driving, ignoring red lights at crossings, three or more persons on two wheelers and without a helmet, overtaking from the wrong side, etc, have all become routine violations.

Vehicular traffic has increased considerably, but the road condition is extremely bad. Hence I would appeal to young and commercial drivers to observe traffic rules honestly. The administration should be given a free hand to enforce traffic discipline to help check the loss of human lives and property in accidents.

The traffic week observed by the state governments is laudable. But social organisations and students need to play an active role in mobilising public opinion on the issue by conducting workshops in educational institutions, offices, commercial and residential complexes, etc. Municipal corporations/ committees should also check the encroachment on the roads in towns and cities.

ER O.P. GARG, Patiala


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