P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Promotion to chargesheeted cop: SC quashes HC order
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 14
Holding that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had erred in concluding that criminal proceedings against an officer could only be held to be pending if charge had been framed by a trial court, the Supreme Court has set aside the notification issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs through which it had promoted PPS officer Sukhmohinder Singh to the IPS.

As reported by The Tribune on October 23 last, Mr Sukhmohinder, who is facing trial in a criminal case, retired on September 30, 2004 on attaining the age of superannuation. However, in a highly questionable move, about 25 days later, the then Principal Secretary, Home, Punjab, Mr A.K. Dubey, issued an order, allowing Mr Sukhmohinder to “continue” in service for one more year.

Incidentally, he is one of the three police officers against whom charge-sheet has been filed in the Special CBI court at Ambala in the case of mysterious disappearance of three Ludhiana-based brothers. Punjab IGP Sumedh Singh Saini is also an accused in the same case, which was investigated by the CBI. Mr Saini, Mr Sukhmohinder and another cop are alleged to have had a hand in the sudden disappearance of the brothers, owners of Saini Motors, Ludhiana, with whom Mr Saini allegedly had a family dispute. Neither the brothers nor their bodies have been found so far.

On September 27 last, just three days before the officer’s extended term of one year was to end, the Punjab Government wrote to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), informing it about the decision to induct Mr Sukhmohinder into the IPS. Through the same order, the government said that the recommendation in this regard must be treated as unconditional.

On September 30, 2005, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued a formal notification appointing Mr Sukhmohinder to the IPS on probation.

This move came after the Chandigarh Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which he had moved to seek direction to the respondents to induct him into the IPS without awaiting the clearance in the criminal case pending against him, ruled in his favour.

In its order dated September 15, 2004, the CAT directed that Mr Sukhmohinder’s induction to the IPS be considered for the year 1999-2000 without taking into consideration the criminal case.

An appeal filed by direct recruit DSPs Gurpreet Singh Bhullar and another, both of whom are vying for promotion to IPS, against the CAT order was dismissed by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court headed by Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar.

It held that even though chargesheet had been filed by the CBI, no charge had been framed against the officer and hence criminal proceedings could not be said to be pending against him.

However, allowing the appeal filed by Mr Bhullar and another, a Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Mr Justice H.K. Sema and Mr Justice A.R. Lakshmanan has noted that the interpretation of the statute relating to appointment by promotion to the IPS from state police service in the manner in which it was done by the High Court Bench would negate the intendment of the Legislature and frustrate the statute itself.

Following the arguments of senior advocates Soli J. Sorabjee and advocate Gurminder Singh, the Bench held that there was no ambiguity in the statute, which would require the interpretation from the High Court.

“Filing of charge-sheet is preceded by an indepth investigation. Charges are filed in court when a prima facie case is established. …. The dangerous interpretation assigned to the statute by the High Court would negate the intendment of the Legislature. In our view, the High Court has committed grave fundamental error of law and the same is unsustainable in law,” the Bench held.

The SC order would also clear the air regarding promotion of officers like Mr Sukhmohinder as the Union Government is reported to have received at least 10 requests from various state governments for grant of relief in terms of the Punjab and Haryana High Court order to officers who were charged with serious crimes.

Meanwhile, sources say that following the SC order, the Union Government is planning to rescind the order relating to promotion of Mr Sukhmohinder Singh to the IPS.


Copying unabated in class XII maths exam
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur March 14
The use of unfair means carried on unabated in centres across the district today during the mathematics examination of Plus II class. The questions in the paper were ‘‘leaked out’’ of centres ‘‘courtesy’’ the supervising staff.

A Tribune team also managed to procure a copy of 10 questions that were there in the mathematics paper, just at the start of the paper at 2 pm, from an examination centre in Sujanpur.

Teachers from private schools flocked the exam centres and the policemen deputed there remained mute spectators to the ‘‘copying’’ activity going on there. The teachers and other supporters of the students appearing in the exam solved the questions outside the examination centre and passed on the solved sums to the students taking the exam. It seemed to be a free for all, especially at the centres in Sujanpur and rural areas around Gurdaspur.

The supervising staff was also found to be missing at these places.

The Deputy District Education Officer, Gurdaspur, Mr Narinder Singh, said he had received complaints from parents of certain students about the incidents of use of unfair means at examination centres in Sujanpur. A flying squad of the board has been sent to area to verify the facts, he added.

When asked how did the question papers ‘‘come out’’ of the examination centres, he expressed shock and said ‘‘ What can be done regarding this? These people do not pay heed to warnings.’’

The sources here, however, said the lax attitude of the authorities had actually ‘‘emboldened’’ the examination supervisors to allow cheating.

Abohar: The flying squad headed by Mr Baldev Singh Sidhu, Deputy Director, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, Chandigarh, allegedly caught an impersonator red-handed on the first day of the matriculation examination conducted by the Punjab State Education Board here. Mr Satya Prakash, Superintendent, Mr Pawan Kumar, Deputy Superintendent, and Ms Madhubala, Mr Sushil Kumar and Mr Des Raj, supervisors, at the examination centre number 8 in Guru Nanak Khalsa Senior Secondary School, here, were immediately relieved of their duty.

The flying squad reportedly nabbed Binderpal Singh impersonating as Gurinderpal Singh for the English paper at the centre, sources said.


Who’ll extract Bt cotton oil? dealers ask taxman
Seed costs Rs 3,500 per kg
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 14
What has surprised farmers is the charging of 4 per cent VAT on Bt cotton seed in Punjab. This is the only seed which has been taxed by the state government, which, otherwise, often claims that it has done a lot to promote the sowing of Bt cotton.

Farmers pay through their nose to buy Bt cotton seed as its price is very high in the market. The charging of VAT adds to the woes of the farmers, say licensed seed dealers.

Dealers in the Malwa cotton belt say that they have to pay Rs 63 as VAT on Bt cotton seed weighing 450 gm. The company charges Rs 1,575 per packet from the dealer. And by paying Rs 63 as VAT on a packet, it costs Rs 1,638 to the dealer. Obviously, dealers recover the amount from the farmers who buy Bt cotton seed from them. However, dealers sell it to farmers at Rs 1,600 per packet because the company pays them (dealers) Rs 100 per packet as incentive.

“Tax officials treat Bt cotton seed as oilseed to charge VAT on it,” say dealers. “What the Taxation Department officials do not try to understand is that even the most foolish person will not extract oil from Bt cotton seed that costs Rs 3,500 per kg. Ordinary cotton seed, from which oil is extracted, is available at a price ranging between Rs 12 and Rs 14 per kg,” add the dealers. “Who will buy the oil extracted from cotton seed costing Rs 3,500 per kg?” they ask.

The dealers say that while the Punjab Government is charging Rs 63 as VAT on a packet, there are state governments (such as that of Andhra Pradesh) which have built pressure on the companies which supply Bt seed to reduce its rate. In fact, the Andhra Pradesh Government has succeeded in making the company agree to cut the price of the seed by Rs 300 per packet. However, it is not clear when the company will start selling Bt seed at the reduced rate in Andhra Pradesh.

Instead of charging VAT, the Punjab Government should offer subsidy to farmers on Bt cotton seed, add the dealers. “We were expecting that the state government would exempt Bt cotton seed in the Budget. But it did not do so,” says a dealer. “We have not started yet stocking fresh Bt seed,” he adds.

As Bt seed proves costly to farmers, most of them buy either spurious or second-generation Bt cotton seed from the illegal market. There are certain agents who bring such second-generation seed from Gujarat at Rs 300 to Rs 500 per packet and sell it to farmers in the Malwa cotton belt at Rs 900 per packet.


100 lakh tonnes of wheat to be procured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 14
The Punjab Government is making arrangements to procure 100 lakh tonnes of wheat in the coming months. A total of 80 lakh tonnes of wheat will be procured by the state agencies and the rest by the Food Corporation of India.

The Punjab Council of Ministers reviewed the procurement of wheat at its meeting here this evening. The expected output was 146.98 lakh tonnes. The concerned agencies — Pungrain, Markfed, Punsup, the Punjab Warehousing Corporation, the Punjab Agro Foodgrain Corporation and the FCI — will procure at the minimum support price. The state agencies had been asked to send a proposal for cash credit for the procurement of wheat.

The council approved the Punjab Private Health Sciences Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission, Fixation of Fee and Making of Reservation) Bill, 2006. This deals with the fee structure of private medical colleges.

The council also sanctioned the revenue staff for the new district (Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar) as per the norms.

The council also approved the draft of the Punjab State Rural Employment Scheme prepared by the state government on the lines of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005.


No medico-legal work for doctors in rural areas
550 doctors to be posted in health centres
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 14
The Health Department has decided that the doctors working in the dispensaries, to be brought under the control of Zila Parishads would not do medico legal work. The department has also sanctioned 550 posts for medical and dental officer for hospitals community health centres and subsidiary health centres & the state to provide medicare round the clock.

Dr M.S. Randhwa and Dr Manjit Singh patron and general secretary of the PCMS association, Punjab, respectively, said that this was stated by Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, D.S. Guru to association representatives at a meeting last evening.

They said that the state government had made it clear that status of PCMS doctors would not be down-graded.

They added there were 550 sanctioned posts. The dispensaries, which would be run by the Zila Parishads would be used as support system in providing basic medicare to people. PCMS doctors will supervise and guide the doctors working in rural dispensaries controlled by Zila Parishads under the National Health Programmes (NHPs).

The government has sanctioned 60 more posts of medical professionals in Amritsar district, 34 in Bathinda, 26 in Faridkot, 27 in Fatehgarh Sahib, 19 in Ferozepore, 44 in Gurdaspur and 56 in Hoshiarpur district. Jalandhar district got 36 additional posts, Kapurthala 14, Ludhiana 28, Mansa 18, Moga five, Nawanshahr 14, Patiala 42, Rupnagar 45 and Sangrur 43.

They said Mr Guru also assured the association that efforts were being made to clear all pending cases which were to be placed in the promotional scale after four, nine and 14 years of service. The association claimed that Guru also assured that the post of administrative SMO would be re-designated as Deputy Civil Surgeon.


Employees burn Singla’s effigy
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 14
Thousands of employees belonging to various unions today blocked traffic on the Jail road and burnt the effigy of Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla in protest against the "maltreatment" meted out to them in the Budget passed in the state Vidhan Sabha.

Braving the downpour, the employees, including a large number of women, also burnt copies of the Budget presented by Mr Singla.

Addressing the rally held by the Punjab and UT Employees Joint Action Committee, its leaders alleged that the government had been treating the employees as its enemies and it had not given any relief to the salaried class.

The government had also ignored a number of issues connected with them. Instead of giving them relief, the government had halved the amount of pension, abolished thousands of regular posts and Class IV employees were not given their dues for the past 10 years, they said.

They alleged that promotional scales after four, nine and 14 years of services had been given to high officials of the government while the same were denied to the other employees. They added that the government was running away from its responsibilities by bring a number of departments under the administration of panchayats.

The leaders said on the one hand the government had abolished regular posts and on the other it had been "looting" people by employing them on a contract basis and giving them minimum wages of Rs 2,000 only.


Poultry farmers block traffic
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Madhopur (Gurdaspur), March 14
Poultry farmers of the district today blocked traffic at Madhopur for two hours to protest against the ban by Jammu and Kashmir government on poultry products from other states.

Farmers staged a dharna on the national highway leading to J&K at 12 pm. The dharna disrupted traffic on the road for two hours. Farmers alleged that the bird flu scare had started harming poultry farmers of the state.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has banned the import of chickens, broilers and eggs in the state. Since February 18 evening, supplies of chickens and eggs have not been allowed in Jammu and Kashmir from the Lakhanpur barrier.

The Lakhanpur barrier is the gateway to Jammu and Kashmir. Every day five lakhs eggs and 10 truckloads of chicken used to go to J&K through the said barrier.

Initially the ban by J&K Government was on the supply of eggs from other states for 10 days. However, it was extended further causing loss to the farmers.

Most of the poultry supplies to J&K are from Punjab. Supplies are for the civil and Army consumption. Most of the poultry supplies for the Northern Command stationed in J&K are routed through the Lakhanpur barrier.

Suppliers of poultry items tried to convince the authorities of J&K to let their supplies pass but to no avail. Poultry farmers and suppliers to the Army allege they would suffer huge loss in case the supplies were not allowed to enter the state by the government.

It would lead to loss of birds and eggs and their sale would be affected. The cost of feeding a broiler in poultry farm is Re 1 per day. Farmers, especially of Gurdaspur district would suffer loss of lakhs in case the supplies to J&K were not restored.

Sources here said poultry supplies to other Army cantonments in the area have also come down considerably. The authorities are skeptic of procuring poultry products after the news of bird flu was highlighted in the media.


District status to Mohali decried

Anandpur Sahib, March 14
The recent decision of the state government of granting district status to Mohali created hue and cry among the local leaders and general public on the second day of Hola Mohalla during a political conference here. The president of the PPCC, Mr Shamsher Dullo, said he would take up the issue with Chief Minister. He said the government would make effort to develop Ropar as a separate industrial zone. The Akali Dal (Amritsar) president, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, said the Congress government had taken the decision without taking into confidence the local MLAs. The government took the decision for its own benefit, he alleged. TNS


288 dogs vaccinated

Kharar, March 14
In a series of anti-rabies immunisation camps organised by the Animal Husbandry Department with the assistance of Punjab Veterinary Council, a camp was held at Mullanpur Garibdass village, near here. As many as 288 stray and pet dogs were vaccinated.

Dr Vinod Kumar Gupta, Registrar of Punjab Veterinary Council, said that this was the fourth camp organised by the Council. Till date 1300 dogs had been immunised. The council had set a target of inoculating 5000 dogs against rabies. OC


British punter remanded

Kharar, March 14
The British punter, who was arrested by the police for allegedly indulging in betting during the India-England Test match, has been remanded in police custody for two days by a local court.

Tajiv Mulchandani, a British man of Indian origin, was arrested by the police yesterday. It is alleged that he was indulging in online betting during the match while seated in the media box at the PCA stadium in Mohali. OC


Diversification must to sustain farming: minister
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 14
The 12th state-level flower and vegetable exhibition-cum-seminar was organised by the Horticulture Department at Aam Khas Bagh here today.

Though rain spoilt the arrangements, it could not dampen the spirit of thousands of farmers who had come from all over the state to attend the function.

Mr Jasjeet Singh Randhawa, Minister for Co-operation and Horticulture, appreciated the role of local farmers and said they contributed 60 per cent of paddy and 40 per cent wheat to the national pool.

He said to promote diversification of crops, organic farming as well as horticulture and floriculture, the Union Government had set up the National Horticulture Research and Development Board, which would provide good quality seeds of flowers and vegetables, besides giving 75 per cent subsidy to farmers.

The board in the first round had decided to set up eight ultra-modern terminal marketing collection centers all over the country and one of these would be set up in Chandigarh, he added.

Dr Kulbir Singh, Director Horticulture, gave information about the steps being taken by the government to improve the economic condition of the farmers.

He said since farming sector was losing profitability, it was necessary to go in for diversification to sustain farming. He exhorted farmers to acquire latest technology.

Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, appreciated the government for undertaking smooth procurement, providing eight-hour regular power supply and encouraging diversification. Experts from Punjab Agricultural University delivered lectures on various topics and interacted with farmers.

A baby show was also organised. Patiala won the trophy in the flower show and Ludhiana in the vegetables competition.


Harassed woman commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 14
Regular torturing of the wife by her husband has compelled her to commit suicide at village Bassi Maroof Saila village last evening.

According to police sources, Guljinder Singh, a son of Gian Singh of Daroli village of Jalandhar district, stated in his complaint that his sister, Rajwinder Kaur, was married to Balbir Singh of Bassi Maroof Saila. Balbir Singh used to torture his sister even on petty matters. He said that last evening he received information on the telephone about the death of his sister.

When he went to her residence and inquired, he was told that due to torturing, Rajwinder Kaur sprinkled kerosene on her body and set herself on fire.

The Hariana police has registered a case under Section 306 of the IPC and arrested Balbir Singh.


Two arrested for Hisar youth’s murder
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 14
Two persons have been arrested in the murder case of a youth hailing from Hisar. The victim’s mobile phone and cash were recovered from their possession.

Police sources said the deceased, Manoj Kumar, had come to the town along with Ratan Lal and Anoop. The sources said Ratan Lal’s cousin, Deepak Kumar, alias Deepu, who is a resident of Awa Basti, had called them promising to buy them 25 mobile handsets in Rs 25,000.

Deepak and his tenant, Jalbir Singh, had soft drink at Sirki Bazar along with the deceased and his friends.

They then took along Manoj, who had Rs 25,000 and two mobile phones, with them on a bike, stating that they would drop him after getting him mobile phones. When they didn’t come back for long, Ratan and Anoop returned to Hisar by train.

Manoj’s father then came to the town and lodged a complaint with the police which registered a case of abduction on March 11.

A couple of days later SPO Mandar Singh with the aid of a diver fished out Manoj’s body from the Sirhind canal.


Man kills brother for money

Amritsar, March 14
Ajit Singh, a resident of Jabbowal village in Jandiala Guru, was killed by his younger brother Surjan Singh when he refused to give him money to buy liquor.

The accused, on Saturday asked Ajit Singh to give him money to buy liquor which he refused. Angered at this Surjan Singh hit him on the head with a wooden stick. Ajit Singh died on the spot. A case has been registered. — OC


2 held for selling spurious Bt cotton seeds
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 14
Two persons were arrested by a police party headed by Inspector Baljit Singh on Friday for smuggling and selling illicit sub-standard Bt. Cotton seeds at high rates to farmers in Pandher village in Barnala region, about 25 km from here.

Giving this information Dr Dalip Chand Malhi, Agriculture Officer, Barnala, said following strict instructions from Dr Bakhshish Singh Chahal, Chief Agriculture Officer, District Sangrur, agriculture department had been keeping a strict vigil on persons involved in deceiving farmers of the region by smuggling sub-standard Bt. Cotton seeds at low rates from Gujarat and then selling those here at high prices.

Following a tip-off, Dhanaula police, aided by Agriculture Department officials, succeeded in nabbing two persons, Darshan Singh and Hardeep Singh, both residents of Cheema village in Dhuri area, for selling sub-standard seeds to farmers in Pandher village on Friday.

Following the raid the police seized 44 packets (each packet weighing 450 gms) of Shubh Lakshmi Hybrid Cotton Seed brand from the scooter of those arrested.

The two persons were booked under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, and Seeds Control Order 1983 at Dhanaula police station.

Dr Malhi revealed that two samples had been prepared and sealed by Mr Balwant Singh, Seed Inspector, and added that one of the samples would be sent to some Punjab Government laboratory for germination tests whereas the other sample would be dispatched to Nagpur to ascertain whether those were genuine Bt. Cotton seeds or not. As many as 41 seed packets recovered from the accused had been handed over to Dhanaula police.


3 arrested for refilling gas cylinders
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 14
The Civil Lines police has arrested three persons red-handed for stealing gas from LPG cylinders and then selling the cylinders.

The accused are Manjit Singh and Balbir Singh of Pandori Varaich and Amrik Singh of Jandiala Guru while their fourth accomplice escaped. A case has been registered against them.

Mr R.P.S. Brar, SSP, in a press note issued here yesterday said that the accused used to purchase LPG cylinders from an agency and then take out about 2.5 kg of gas from each cylinder with the help of an instrument called “Murli”.


SD College holds convocation
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 14
Despite continuous rain fall and chilly weather conditions, the annual convocation and prize distribution function of S.D. College here was held on the college premises today.

Degrees were conferred on as many as 150 graduates by Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Minister PWD (B&R) Punjab. Mr Sarabjit Singh, former Director-General, Punjab Police, delivered the convocation address.

Addressing on this occasion, Mr Bajwa emphasised on compulsory education for girls which was need of the hour. The educated girls could play an important role in stopping female foeticide rampant in society. He appreciated the services of Arya Samaj and Singh Sabhas for playing significant role in spreading education. Mr Bajwa gave away prizes to 250 students who achieved distinction in the field of education and sports.


From Colleges
Celebrating Holi with senior citizens
Tribune News Service

Banur, March 14
Students and staff of the Swami Vivekanand Group of Institutes, Banur, celebrated Holi with members of the Chandigarh Senior Citizens Welfare Association (Greater) here today.

Around 60 senior citizens played Holi with the students besides enjoying many games such as tambola and antakshri.

Fun and frolic marked the celebrations, which were also attended by Mr Manmohan Garg, CEO, Mr Ashwani Garg, chairman, Dr C.S. Rao, Principal, and Prof I.K. Kataria, Dean Academics.

Placement at GGSCMT

Kharar: Dell officials visited the GGS College of Modern Technology (GGSCMT), Kharar, for campus placements. They shortlisted 15 students for the purpose.

IT giant NIIT and Punj Lloyd Limited had also recently selected 14 and two students, respectively.

Mr S.P. Sachdeva, chairman of Shri GGS Foundation, congratulated the selected students and wished them success in their career.

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