|Wednesday, March 15, 2000,
skirts key issues
Ministers told to come prepared
Officers ready for attendance
Faulty equipment and
No objection to
"jantri", says Jathedar
DSGMC in touch with Pak govt
Takht-SGPC row: CM
"hopeful" of solution
Bibi should have quit: SHSAD
Akal Takht, SGPC "equal"
HC rejects Punjab move on
PCMSA deputation meets minister
CEC Gill gets warm welcome in Pak
Old man and his claim
Angry truckers lathi-charged
SDMs to inspect polluting units
Punjab history conference
Naik cremated with honours
Supplementary demands presented
200 huts demolished
Rape victim reverses
Contract killers gang busted
Burns victim dies
Four held for theft
Three held on murder charge
VC: Farid University recognition
Traders hold dharna outside PSEB
Badal skirts key issues
CHANDIGARH, March 14 The Punjab Vidhan Sabha today adopted motion of thanks to the Governor for his Address on March 6. The resolution to express the gratitude of the House was moved by Akali member Manpreet Singh Badal, on March 10.
The discussion on the Governors Address concluded today with the Leader of the House and Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, summing up to enable him complete his speech the sitting of the House was extended beyond 2.30 p.m.
Mr Badals speech was repeatedly interrupted by the Opposition, mainly the Congress, and some of the breakaway Akalis loyal to Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra. Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal did not permit any of the members point of order. His repeated appeals, to the members not to interrupt the leader, went unheeded.
Mr Badal confined his speech to drawing parallels between the performance of the Congress during its five-year period, 1992-97, and that of the three years of the SAD-BJP rule: 1997-2000. He gave statistics facts and figures to show how his government had achieved much on the economic front and how farm and industrial growth had registered impressive gains. Though it was devoid of political punches aimed at the opposition, there were, however, political puns and an occasional dig at the Congress and the "annoyed" Akalis, who apparently have formed a separate group within the Vidhan Sabha.
Despite pointed attacks on the government and its alliance partner, the BJP, and touching upon sensitive and controversial issues by the members of the House during the discussion on the Governors Address, Mr Parkash Singh was not wholly coherent in rebutting the same. He devoted major part of his speech to defending the government performance, how it had managed successfully states economy, finances and how the God gave him and the coalition partners a golden opportunity to celebrate the tercentenary of the birth of the Khalsa.
Mr Badal nevertheless, did not forget to mention the parting of ways between him and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra without naming him. He said it was the outcome of "jealousy" as if the tercentenary would have sidelines "them" and catapulted him to some dizzy heights. "It were misplaced apprehensions". He in the same vein, made it clear that those who had ties with the Congress for them doors of the SAD were shut, a covert invitation to others to return home.
The anchor of the SAD-BJP rule (and support extended by the Bahujan Samaj Morcha) was in cementing peace, tranquillity and Punjabiat (Punjabi brotherhood)". He assured the House and the people that his government would defend these three at all costs even if it meant sacrificing life for these. Peace, he reminded the Congress members, was of two kinds; one maintaining law and order and the peace of mind with respect for each other. "We have achieved both".
Mr Badal reiterated that he did not believe in the policy of "confrontation". Irrespective of political parties or alliances, the need of the hour was "cooperation" and "collective" effort to serve Punjab with a "firm commitment" and to ensure "Sarbat da bhala" (welfare of all). He appealed to all sections of the House to lend a helping hand to build a strong Punjab with vibrant economy, peace and prosperity for all.
He remanded the House that when it came to "civil liberties, human rights protection and freedom of the Press" it was the SAD which always was on the forefront. He chided the Congress by reminding it of the manner emergency was imposed and the country converted into a jail. "What do Congress men know of freedom for humanity"?
Mr Badal skirted the issues which had generated heat in the House since the opening of the Budget session on March 6. These issues pertained to government plan on building Anandgarh, Punjabs stand on river waters sharing, future of Chandigarh and territorial disputes. He did not even refer to the Haryana Chief Ministers comments on the SYL Canal. The Chief Minister, however, did mention that he would seek Haryanas cooperation in tackling water-logging in Mansa district.
Referring to the problems, difficulties, shortcomings, debt burden of the state Mr Badal pointed an accusing finger at the Congress. "We have inherited all this. Yet we have managed to improve the situation and put the state on the right track, be it agriculture or industry".
The Leader of the House also put up a proposal before the House at the very outset of his speech: Punjab Vidhan Sabha must set a new democratic tradition and enhance the dignity and stature of the House by ensuring that in Future no one would walk-out, boycott or interrupt the Governors Address by reading a parallel speech (the reference was to one made by Mr Inderjit Singh Zira) in future. Due respect will be shown to the Governor and dignity of the House upheld.
Mr Badal referred to terms of trade which were unfavourable to farmers, strongly defended the decision on "free" power and water to agriculture and abolition of recovery of land revenue and went on to list achievements in some of the departments.
He was stone silent on the issue of corruption, nepotism and other allegations which the opposition members had levelled while speaking on the Governors Address.
He defended the Nawanshahr election as "fair and free" and refuted the charge that questionable means were used to win it. "My party always accepts the verdict and decision of the people. We did so even when we lost Adampur or Parliament elections, including Faridkot seat". Let us not denigrate the voters by alleging they voted for a consideration: money or, liquor or other allurements.
"Criticism for the sake of criticism does not help. The members must adopt constructive approach and make useful suggestions to improve economy and performance of the government. All make mistakes. All have weaknesses and shortcomings. Wisdom lies in learning lessons from these and improving rather than ignoring these with impunity", he stressed.
Mr Parkash Singh
concluded with an appeal: we are entering new millennium.
Let us do so with new vigour, confidence, hope
determination and aspirations. It is a decisive moment
which should not be lost. Accept the new challenges ahead
with collective cooperation".
Boycott pro-Anandgarh MLAs
CHANDIGARH, March 14 Boycott of the MLAs supporting the Anandgarh project and not to allow the Punjab Chief Minister to address people on Hola Mohalla at Anandpur Sahib, were two resolutions moved amid applause by Mr Ravi Inder Singh, MLA and a former Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, at a rally of the members of the Anandgarh Hatao Joint Action Committee in Sector 17 here today.
Hundreds of protesters, from various parts of Ropar district, opposing the project, assembled at the Parade Ground and marched towards the museum roundabout raising slogans against the government which would cause untold sufferings to the villagers whose land would be acquired for the town. A large number of women agitators could also be seen opposing the move.
Mr Ravi Inder Singh said the governments statement that the project would not dislocate villages was a propaganda and they should not be swayed by it. Recalling the example of Chandigarh, he said the city had benefited the migrants the most and there were instances where the villagers, whose land was acquired for the purpose, were still running from pillar to post for rehabilitation and justice, he added.
Others who addressed the rally included Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, a former CM of Punjab, Prof Baldev Singh, CPM, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Joginder Dayal of the CPI, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal of the Bharatiya Kisan Union besides Mr Prem Singh Bhangu of the Marxist Communist Party.
The protestors said in view of stiff opposition the government should not go ahead with the project as the decision to do so was anti people. The government cannot give the people a living in the areas any better facilities than the ones they were enjoying today. On the other hand it would uproot many families and force them to move to other areas and search for other means of livelihood.
The agitators said the new city would be Santapgarh for them as it would bring untold suffering and problems for the residents of this area. The decision was a misguided step since what was stopping the government to provide them the facilities, promised in the new project, at present, they questioned.
They said the villages like Mullanpur, Landran, Naya Gaon, Balongi, and Sohana on the periphery of Chandigarh, which were coming up as small towns should be declared as notified areas. Similarly, the government should ensure planned growth of neighbouring towns like Dera Bassi, Kurali, Banur and Kharar.
This would also ensure that the people who could not afford to live in Chandigarh could have an alternative place to reside in the vicinity of the City Beautiful. This way the government could ease pressure on Chandigarh, they stressed.
They said the government
had legalised the constructions carried out in the
periphery of Chandigarh before December, 1998 and as such
the notices issued to such people should be withdrawn
forthwith. In case the government went ahead with the
project, the farmers whose land would be acquired should
be given adequate compensation as per the prevailing
market value of land.
Opposition takes CM to task on
CHANDIGARH, March 14 The proceedings of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha were dominated today by the issue of the proposed new city Anandgarh with the breakaway Akali Dal members and the Opposition demanding a discussion on the issue of vital public interest.
In fact the breakaway Akali members, Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, caused much embarrassment to the Chief Minister by reminding him of his earlier stand on "new Chandigarh" during the time of late Beant Singh and on the same project now, named "Anandgarh".
Despite attempt by the Speaker, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, to stall raising of the issue, the members insisted and succeeded in putting across their point of view. Mr Grewal, implored that the Speaker might "disallow" what he wanted to say, but he must be allowed to speak. The same sentiment was expressed by Mr Ravi Inder Singh, who even quoted from the parliamentary literature and texts. Having done his home work, Mr Ravi Inder Singh needled Mr Parkash Singh Badal for misleading the House by giving incorrect statement in the House. This was a signal for Mr Grewal, who waived a signed statement of Mr Badal, of June 29, 1995, wherein, the reason for opposing the "new Chandigarh" was quite different from the argument he had given while defending the setting up of Anandgarh two days ago. Mr Grewal read out excerpts from the statement to inform the House that the issue of farmers compensation as stated earlier by Mr Badal figured nowhere in the 1995 signed statement.
The statement only referred to his concern that by supporting "new Chandigarh" the SAD would only tend to weaken its claim over Chandigarh. Mr Badal is one who never goes back on his written word. I, therefore, wonder why he has changed his stance now on the same issue when he himself had said in the statement that setting up of new Chandigarh would mean uprooting four lakh people", Mr Grewal added.
Mr Ravi Inder Singh drew
the Speakers attention to the issue and the
adjournment motion he had moved earlier. He said he would
now move a privilege motion as well. The Speaker should
"revive" the earlier adjournment motion
submitted to him.
Questions in House
CHANDIGARH, March 14 The Punjab Vidhan Sabha today witnessed the Treasury Benches on the defensive for most part of the day. Besides the Opposition and the breakaway Akali members criticising the ministers even Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, today pulled up the government.
Making a statement in the House, he said often the questions to which extension was granted were tended to be ignored. The replies did not reach the Vidhan Sabha for long time thereby, defeating the very purpose for which a member had submitted a question.
Mr Atwal ruled that the ministers should come prepared with all answers and give specific replies. Moreover, whenever an extension is granted the same means that replies must be filed within 15 days. This is mandatory. At times the questions came when the session had been adjourned sine die.
The Speaker made this telling statement perhaps, following the way in which the Minister of Social Security Mr Gobind Singh Kanjla, was grilled on Monday.
Today it was the turn of the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayats, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, who was caught on the wrong foot. At one stage Mr Atwal seemed to bail him out. But the manner in which he (Mr Kahlon) was needled by Mr Hardev Arshi and Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, caused embarrassment to the Treasury Benches. It was then Mr Atwal Spoke:
It all started with a question by Mr Hardev Arshi on the suspension of block development and panchyat officers. The minister gave a list of 10 BDPOs who were suspended and later reinstated. Almost all of them were found guilty of corruption. In one particular case of a BDPO, wrong answer was given. While the BDPO concerned had been "reinstated" as per the "oral" reply the written reply said "not reinstated". This irked Mr Arshi, who wondered which was the correct answer.
Another issue was of another BDPO, who had embezzled Rs 85,000 meant for a school building in Malout. The building was never built while utilisation certificate was given. Mr Arshi said despite known background how come he was reinstated.
At this Mr Grewal intervened to ask if a criminal case had been registered or not. The reply was in the negative. This led to opposition making an attack on the government polices. The Minister Mr Kahlon said reinstatement was due to shortage of BDPOs. He could not explain why inquiries lingered on and no criminal cases were registered even when corruption was proved.
Mr Tota Singh, Minister
of Education told Mr Ajit Inder Singh Mofar that the
scheme of "sikhia karmi" had been launched and
against 1,700 recruitments 796 have been done. All will
be completed soon. This scheme is for 10 plus two
students, who work as teachers since regular teachers
often did not go to assigned schools. The sikhia karmis
are paid Rs 2,000 per month.
Officers ready for attendance
LUDHIANA, March 14 Officers and employees of various government departments located in the mini-secretariat here have offered to face checking of their attendance in their offices by panchayats at any time during the duty hours.
The offer was made at a meeting of the district heads of different departments held here yesterday under the chairmanship of Mr Arun Goel, Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana.
Addressing the meeting, Mr Goel said the monitoring of the working in all public-dealing offices in the mini-secretariat by a closed circuit camera system had been welcomed by the whole staff. The whole system was now fully transparent. The officers said the staff in their offices were working honestly and diligently and had no hesitation in facing checking by any body.
The Deputy Commissioner said the district had achieved a distinction in the country with the cooperation of the employees in various projects, including computerisation of all offices, land sale deeds, driving licences and issuance of RCs, providing artificial limbs to the handicapped, launching of an ambulance scheme and initiating e-governance.
He said the district was planning to achieve another distinction by providing electric fans and jute mats to students in all government primary schools by March 31 and to construct toilets in all middle and high schools (without this facility) by March 30.
The Deputy Commissioner
said, 6000 electric fans and jute mats would be provided
by the District Red Cross Society in collaboration with
the local industrialists at a cost of Rs 60 lakh and 91
toilet blocks would be constructed at a cost of Rs 55
Faulty equipment and empty
PATIALA, March 14 Is the past years fee hike responsible for decline in the number of patients visiting Rajindra Hospital here or is the faulty condition of a number of medical equipment, the real villain.
Vacant wards, empty corridors, reduced number of patients at the OPDs in a government hospital after a hike in the hospitalisation and treatment charges is a common knowledge now. Often the official version is that the situation is due to the hike. However, enquires revealed that patients do not mind paying a few bucks more, provided they get commensurating treatment and care like that offered by private clinics.
The treatment and care at the hospital stands bugged due to the omnipresent problem of non-functioning of several machines due to one fault or another. The faulty machines cause harassment to the patients, as while the treatment continues in the hospital, check-ups have to be done outside.
The list of such non-working machines is long. It is headed by the CT-scan equipment. Ever since its purchase, it has remained in news due to some irregularity in its purchase or non-working. Then, there is the dialysis machine which is out of order for years now. Due to its non-working, patients with the kidney disorders have avoided the hospital.
The Ultrasound machine in Orthopaedics Department, ventilators in the emergency unit, X-Ray machines, EEG machine in the Neurology Wing, cobalt plant used for cancer therapy. The fluorescence Angiography Unit, lasic laser, exima laser, ultrasound and retinascope in the Eye Department are all out of order. Little wonder that the wards present an empty look.
Sources in the hospital said when the government had hiked the fee charges, it had said the generated revenue would be reinvested in the hospital. However, now, almost a year after the hike, only some part of the revenue has been reinvested. This share, sources say, has been spent on paying the electricity and other bills and not on the repair of the machines.
According to Dr Ravinder Singh Secretary of the Punjab State Medical Teachers Association, the lack of latest facilities of treatment is the reason for the decline in the number of patients. He said at one time, the Eye Department of the hospital was among the top ones, but, due to the faulty machines, its image had suffered a setback. Similar was the condition of other wings. He demanded that the government should honour its own promise which it had made while ordering fee-hike and provide funds for improving the services.
We have no money, said Dr Vijay Sharma, Medical Superintendent of the hospital. He said the hospital had generated considerable funds, but, only a small amount had been returned to it. He said the reinvesting of funds was also complicated and time-consuming procedure which had led to the delay in the repair of machines. He said, now, a little more funds had started trickling in and hoped that things would improve.
He said all machines
were not faulty and some needed only replacements of
worn-out parts. He said the CT-scan equipment needed only
replacement of tubes. The cost incurred on it was about
Rs 18 lakh which could not be arranged. He said money was
also unavailable for servicing ventilators in the
No objection to
"jantri", says Jathedar
AMRITSAR, March 14 The issue of the controversial Nanakshahi calendar, the cause of the ongoing Panthic crisis, today took a new turn with Giani Puran Singh, Jathedar, Akal Takht, saying he was not against this "jantri" (calendar).
"I had imposed a ban on its implementation as I did not want the Sikh masses to get divided over the sensitive issue.
Talking to TNS at his residence here today, Giani Puran Singh said the Takht Patna Sahib, Takht Hazoor Sahib and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee had already implemented the traditional "Bikrami" calendar. Hence it was clear the Sikh masses were polarised over its implementation. He said he had imposed a ban on the Nanakshahi calendar on November 4 last year so that the issue neither caused divisions among Hindus and Sikhs, nor divided the Sikhs.
"I had suggested that the Nanakshahi calendar should not be implemented till a consensus was reached. The Nanakshahi calendar had glaring "discrepancies" which needed to be removed, he explained.
"I tried to save the community from any possible rift with the ban on the implementation of the Nanakshahi calendar", he said, adding that Hindus and Sikhs had been together celebrating festivals like Divali for the past so many years.
Baba Mangal Singh, acting President, Gurbani Sidhant Sant Samaj, said with the ban Giani Puran Singh had saved the age-old Hindu-Sikh unity.
Giani Puran Singh had formed a sub-committee to resolve the calendar issue on December 23 last year. However, the General house of the SGPC headed by Bibi Jagir Kaur implemented the Nanakshahi jantri, despite the Akal Takht ban.
Takht-SGPC row: CM
"hopeful" of solution
CHANDIGARH, March 14 The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has quietly embarked upon breaking the impasse arising out of the "directive" issued to him by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Puran Singh.
Talking to reporters after the sitting of the budget session today, Mr Badal said he had received the letter from the Jathedar and was "hopeful" that a solution would be found, "I have great respect for Akal Takht and whosoever is its Jathedar", he added.
To a volley of questions on the issue put in different ways, his reply was the same: "We are working out ways to solve the issue following the receipt of the directive from the Singh Sahib. It will not be my intervention it will be the Gods intervention, which I am hopeful will enable us to find a way out of the present situation."
Asked if he had established contacts with Giani Puran Singh, he became guarded. "Several ways are being found. Please do not ask many questions. It will complicate the issue." Asked if he will obey or not the directive, Mr Badal said the answer is not simple. "It will complicate the issue."
Mr Badal said he was
willing to meet Giani Puran Singh. The Budget session has
kept him busy, otherwise he has reportedly been holding
meetings with some of his confidants. He did not comment
if the March 16 meeting of the SGPC executive would be
held or not and if Bibi Jagir Kaur will be replaced or
not or allowed to preside over that. Even on the issue of
head priests he did not reply.
DSGMC in touch with Pak govt
AMRITSAR, March 14 The government of Pakistan is keen an discussing the issue of Pakistan Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee with Indian Sikhs. It has invited office-bearers of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee so that the issue can be resolved.
This was disclosed by Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, President, DSGMC, at Wagah yesterday. He and 22 more were stopped at the border. Mr Sarna said the "jatha" was to take up the PGPC issue with the Government of Pakistan on the demand of Sikh masses who were perturbed over the SGPC decision not to sent "jathas" to Sikh shrines in Pakistan till Pakistan disbanded the PGPC.
The delegates sessions of the SAD held under the chairmanship of Mr Parkash Singh Badal had also unanimously passed not to sent any "jatha" to Pakistan.
Challenging the "monopoly" of the SGPC on the matter, Mr Sarna said the body did not represent Sikhs all over the world. He said the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee represented the whole of Delhi state and had all rights to take up the sensitive issues pertaining to the country.
Mr Sarna threatened the DSGMC would move the Delhi High Court to sue officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who had stopped the "jatha" of 23 Sikhs at the Wagah joint checkpost today. He said the "jatha" was not allowed to cross over to Pakistan though the members had valid visas and passports, he said. This had been done at the instance of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Mr Sarna said the DSGMC was in touch "directly and indirectly" with the government of Pakistan for the past six months on the PGPC issue. He said the Sikh masses wanted to pay obeisance at Sikh shrines in Pakistan. They were worried at the dilapidated condition of the gurdwaras there.
He said the DSGMC wanted to submit a memorandum to the government of Pakistan pleading that the word "Sikh" be included in the PGPC and a Sikh personality replaced Mr Jawed Nasir as its head.
Demanding the resignation of Mr Badal, Mr Sarna said the letter had failed on all fronts. Lashing out at Mr Badal over the ongoing Panthic crisis, Mr Sarna alleged it was all due to "mismanagement" by Mr Badal.
He, however, said Bibi Jagir Kaur and other Sikh high priests should immediately accept the "hukamnama" issued by Giani Puran Singh. He also demanded resignation of Bibi Jagir Kaur as President, SGPC.
To a question, Mr Sarna
said the DSGMC would participate in the sarbat
Khalsa convened by Bhai Ranjit Singh on Baisakhi at
Anandpur Sahib. He said the Sikhs would accept the
verdict of the congregation on the "real"
Jathedar of Akal Takht.
Bibi should have quit: SHSAD
JALANDHAR, March 14 Terming the institution of Akal Takht Jathedar as supreme, Mr Sukhjinder Singh, a former Punjab minister and a senior leader of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, today said bowing before the January 25 edict like a humble Sikh, Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC chief, should have gracefully resigned from the post.
Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Sukhjinder Singh said Bibi Jagir Kaur should have stepped down on her own as she had ceased to be a Sikh in the light of the hukamnama, excommunicating her from the Panth.
"Can a person who is not a Sikh function as the SGPC President", he asked.
Alleging that the Sikh clergy was not independent and had virtually been hijacked by those at the helm of affairs, Mr Sukhjinder Singh said the only solution in the present scenario was that, "Mr Parkash Singh Badal should take over as the Jathedar of Akal Takht".
Akal Takht, SGPC
TALWANDI SABO, March 14 Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib accused Giani Puran Singh, Jathedar, Akal Takht, of using Akal Takht for terrorising common Sikhs and their leaders and said the time had come to define the role of all five Jathedars.
Giani Kewal Singh, who was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth on March 12, alleged that Giani Puran Singh, had played a big joke on the Sikh community and lowered its dignity.
Giani Kewal Singh, who held a formal press conference with select mediapersons at his official residence here, claimed that Giani Puran Singh had insulted the sacred "hukamnama" by taking decisions out of personal vengeance or fear. He added that there were proper rules for issuing a "hukamnama" which were not taken into consideration by Giani Puran Singh in issuing the "Hukamnama" from Guna (MP) on January 25.
In the situation the role of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) was crucial as it represented the entire Sikh community.
He claimed that both the SGPC and Akal Takht were equal in status and it was the proper time to find a permanent solution to repeated crises in the Sikh Panth so that closing ceremonies of the Khalsa tercentenary could be celebrated unitedly.
When asked whether the appointment of Giani Puran Singh as Akal Takht Jathedar from a rest house at Amritsar was itself valid he said this was an old issue and he would not like to comment on it.
Asked when the seeds of the present crisis in the Sikh Panth were sown, he said he was concerned with only the present crisis.
Asked how Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal should react to the directive issued by Giani Puran Singh for appointing an acting president of the SGPC and acting Jathedars of Takht Damdama Sahib and Takht Kesgarh Sahib, he said Mr Badal would take a decision in line with traditions and sanctity of the SGPC.
He also issued a two-page press note under his official letter head to mediapersons.
He claimed that on March 12, Giani Puran Singh had not discussed any issue with him though he had spoken to him on the phone. He said Giani Puran Singh, by pronouncing the decision on his own, had insulted the institution of Akal Takht.
HC rejects Punjab move on
CHANDIGARH, March 14 The Punjab and Haryana High Court has rebuffed the move of the Punjab Government not to retire superannuated Sessions and Additional Sessions Judges belonging to its cadre.
A Full House meeting of the High Court Judges presided over by the Chief Justice reportedly described the decision of the Punjab Government as legally incorrect.
If the High Court had accepted the proposal of the Punjab Government, it was likely to benefit three officers posted in Chandigarh. They are Mr K.K. Garg, Registrar of the High Court, Mr G.S. Sandhu, Additional Sessions Judge, and Mr B.S. Bedi Sessions Judge. While Mr Garg and Mr Sandhu were due to retire on February 29, Mr Bedi is slated to attain superannuation on March 31.
Since the Punjab Government had shot off its letter to the High Court on February 23 convening its decision not to retire its officers, the High Court permitted Mr Garg and Mr Sandhu to continue to hold the post. However, the High Court had withdrawn work from them.
In its letter of February 23 the Punjab Government had stated that "no judicial officers working in the state of Punjab will retire form service on attaining the age of superannuation in the coming four months or till the decision of the writ petition (No 1022 of 1999) preferred by the All-India Judges Association and others versus Union of India and others in the Supreme Court and its implementation whichever is earlier."
Knowledgeable sources reveal that what weighed with the Punjab Government was that judicial officers up to the rank of Sessions Judges were on its cadre. Since it was the appointing authority, though on the recommendations of the High Court, it had the power to grant them extension in service on attaining superannuation.
What the Punjab Government did not realise was that it had issued the notification without amending the rules governing the service conditions of superior judicial officers. Moreover, the government may have formal appointing authority, but the superintending powers on these officers vest with the High Court.
It was for this reason that the High Court retired both Mr Garg and Mr Sandhu after its Full House meeting. The meeting also decided to appoint Mrs Nirmal Yadav, Sessions Judge, at Sirsa, as Registrar (She has since taken over).
In its writ the petitioner-association had pleaded before the Supreme Court that the National Judicial Pay Commission had recommended that the retirement age of judicial officers all over the country should be enhanced from the existing age of 60 to 62. Therefore, all those officers who were due to retire on attaining the age of 60 should be allowed to continue. The apex court had, however, turned down the prayer of the association for interim relief.
Knowledgeable sources reveal that the Supreme Court took the view that recommendations are only recommendations until accepted and implemented. Moreover, the recommendations about the enhancement of the retirement age was to be uniformally applicable to judicial officers all over the country.
PCMSA deputation meets
AMRITSAR, March 14 A deputation of the PCMS Association, Punjab, led by Dr D.C. Sharma General Secretary, yesterday met Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Health and Family Welfare Minister, to discuss long pending demands of more than 5000 PCMS doctors at the circuit house.
The deputation apprised the minister that the PCMS cadre was the only section of the state government employees in whose respect the recommendation of the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission have not been implemented. The deputation appealed to the minister to expedite the implementation of these recommendations at the earliest.
Dr Rabinder Singh Sethi, Senior Vice-President of the PCMS association, said the deputation informed the minister that the time-scale in which PCMS doctors were provided with higher pay-scales in their fourth, ninth and fourteenth year of service have been put in abeyance.
It has fuelled the resentment in doctors. The minister promised that this incongruity would be addressed to soon.
During the meeting the minister sought the cooperation of the PCMSA in improving the health care services. The deputation while appreciating the resolve of the minister to eradicate corruption from the department offered full cooperation from the department offered full sprucing up health services.
The other major demands
of the PCMS doctors include, NPA be made part of pay,
including the calculation of HRA, revision of higher
qualification allowance, academic allowance, conveyance
allowance, ESI allowance as per the rates recommended by
the pay commission and approved by the Punjab Government.
The PCMSA has demanded review of the Punjab Health
Systems Corporation and high-level probe into its
CEC Gill gets warm welcome
CHANDIGARH, March 14 The visit of Dr M.S. Gill, Chief Election Commissioner, to Pakistan has evoked considerable interest in social and intellectual circles in Pakistan over the successful completion of Parliamentary and State Assembly elections.
According to a communiqué received here, a special lunch was organised in honour of Dr Gill yesterday by the Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan, Justice Abdul Chaudhary, at Islamabad. The lunch was attended by a galaxy of senior judiciary and other functionaries of the Federal Government.
Mr Justice Ershad Khan, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and his all colleagues, Mr Justice Fazal Khan, Chief Justice of the Federal Shariat Court, Federal Law Secretary, former Chief Election Commissioners, and the Deputy High Commissioner of India, Mr Sudhir Dips, were present at the lunch.
The Chief Justice of Pakistan complimented Dr Gill and his colleagues in the Election Commission of India for remarkable performance in the recently held national and state elections in India.
Dr Gill, who thanked the hosts, briefly explained the working of the Election Commission of India. Dr Gill has been invited to the Supreme Court.
Old man and his claim
LUDHIANA, March 14 For a 77-year-old retired guard of the Indian Railways, it is still an uphill climb to get his pension dues almost 20 years after his retirement, allegedly because of his refusal to meet the demand for bribe by certain officials in the office of the Divisional Railway Manager at Ambala.
Mr Baldev Singh Garrewal, retired as a special A grade guard from Kalka in October 1980. After having put in 35 years of service. Since he was appointed in service during the British, the rules then said that pensions of employees would be fixed on the basis of basic pay and 75 per cent of running allowance.
However, after Independence, the rules stipulated that pension of employees be fixed on the basis of basic pay and 55 per cent of running allowance. The pensioners who were thus affected, moved court. The Supreme Court in its ruling of S/C No 4174 of September 25, 1997, and the Railway Board No PC III/92 CTC-12 of October 14, 1997, revised the rules for fixing of pension on the basis of basic pay and 75 per cent of running allowance.
"Ever since the apex courts ruling regarding our pensions more than two years ago, I have been running from pillar to post in order to get my dues, but in vain. I have made numerous visits to the officers of Divisional Railway Manager, Ambala, Divisional Regional Manager, New Delhi and General Manager, Grievances, but nothing has been achieved."
He informs that while many of the pensioners like him have already got their dues, there are still many others like him, who have not got their due. He also informs that those whose dues have been cleared have received between Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh. Mr Garrewal is presently receiving a monthly pension of around Rs 5200 only.
He alleged that whenever he approached the office of DRM, Ambala, to know the progress of the case, a certain official harassed him by demanding bribe. When Baldev complained against him, the official was rebuked by his seniors. Then he made an excuse that the file was missing. The General Manager (Grievances), Northern Railway, had directed that the case should be settled at the earliest.
Mr Garrewal says he has also sent a written complaint to the General Manager (Grievances), Northern Railway, about this official. "In spite of my old age, meagre resources and failing health (chronic epilepsy), I am made to run about for my rights," he rues.
"Those at the helm
of affairs in government offices have a disdainful
attitude towards pensioners like us," says Mr
Garrewal. During the pension adalat held in New Delhi on
December 15, 1999 his application was found missing,
alleges Mr Garrewal. "My case was specially
concealed for not complying with the demands of certain
officials. It is ironical that elder citizens like me
continue to be harassed for graft."
Angry truckers lathi-charged
SAMANA, March 14 The police lathi-charged members of the Truck Operators Union, Samana, who had blocked the Samana-Patiala bypass, Samana-Patran bypass, Samana-Bhawanigarh bypass and Samana-Kaithal bypass to protest against the arrest of three persons yesterday.
Our Correspondent at Patiala adds: Nearly 40 persons were injured in the clash.
The police ordered the lathicharge to remove hundreds of activists and trucks which had blocked traffic around and into town.
The truck union was protesting against the arrest of three of its members by the police a few days ago on charges of manhandling a driver and damaging a truck owned by industrialists of the town.
SSP Harpreet Singh Sidhu, talking to The Tribune, blamed the protesting truck drivers for the clash. He said the protesters had held the town to ransom for well over four hours demanding the release of a few drivers arrested for damaging the property of some industrialists.
He claimed police tried to negotiate with the protesters but they refused to budge and when he visited the site they began to throw stones at the police without provocation.
A representative of the
Samana Truck Union, however, told The Tribune over the
phone that the police was favouring the chamber of
industries and had resorted to a lathicharge without any
provocation and smashed the window panes of the trucks.
SDMs to inspect polluting
PATIALA, March 14 In a Save Environment drive, the district administration has directed all Subdivisional Magistrates (SDMs) to conduct a survey of the pollution-spreading agencies in the district.
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, has ordered the SDMs to report within 15 days about small or big industries responsible for contaminating rivers and underground water apart from polluting the air.
In an official press note issued here, the Deputy Commissioner said reports reaching him revealed that industries were discharging effluents into seasonal rivers and rivulets, which had become a threat to the environment. He said rivers like the Ghaggar and rivulets like the Dhakansu, Sukhna and others in the district had borne the brunt of the pollution. He said even the crops near the water bodies had also been effected.
The SDMs have been directed to check the water-treatment plants in industrial units and verify if these commensurate with the conditions laid down by the State Pollution Control Board.
Punjab history conference
PATIALA, March 14 The Department of Punjab Historical Studies of Punjabi University will organise the 32nd session of the Punjab History Conference on the university campus from March 17 to 19.
In a press release here today, Dr Param Bakshish Singh, convenor of the conference, said the theme of the conference this year would be Challenges and opportunities of the 21st century in writing the history of Punjab.
Over 150 delegates from different parts of the state, universities and colleges would participate, whereas 35 scholars would present their papers on various issues, subjects and problems.
Dr S.K. Gupta,
Vice-Chancellor, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla,
will be the general president of the conference. The
conference will be divided into ancient, modern and
Punjabi sections. Dr Mohinder Singh, Department of
Ancient History, Culture and Archaeology, Kurukshetra
University, will preside over the ancient section,
whereas Dr N.K. Singh of Jammu University will preside
over the modern section and Dr Bhagat Singh of Patiala
will preside over the Punjabi section.
Naik cremated with honours
LUDHIANA, March 14 Naik Harinder Singh of 51 Field Regiment, who died fighting militants in Assam on March 11, was cremated with military honours at his native village, Bassian near here, today.
Wreaths were laid on the body of the deceased by Col H.P. Singh of 103 A.D. Brigade, Col Manmohan Singh, Station Commander, Wg Cdr M.S. Randhawa, Director, Sainik Welfare, Mr Jaskaran Singh, SSP, Jagraon and Mr Tejbir Singh, ADC (D).
Jawans of the 103 AD Regiment gave a three-gun salute. Elder brother of the martyr, Subedar Major Darshan Singh, lit the funeral pyre.
Supplementary demands presented
CHANDIGARH, March 14 Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today presented the second instalment of supplementary demands for grants for expenditure (1999-2000) in the Vidhan Sabha.
These grants cover 24 heads and involve a gross additional expenditure of Rs 3311.15 crore, which comprises of Rs 1047.53 crore in the Revenue Account and Rs 2263.62 crore on the capital account.
After taking into account the related receipts and recoveries, these demands will involve a net additional outgo of Rs 1056.21 crore from the consolidated fund of the government.
Governor visits border villages
HUSSAINIWALA, March 14 On his first visit to the border villages, after assuming the office of Governor of Punjab, Lt-Gen (retd) J.F.R. Jacob donated money for the schoolchildren of three villages here last evening.
According to an official statement, General Jacob took a keen interest in the welfare of children in Madhre, Bare Ke and Gatti Rajoke villages. On being told that the children loved to play cricket, but could not afford the equipment he handed over a cheque of Rs 10,000 each to the sarpanches of the three villages.
SGPC member intimidated
AMRITSAR, March 14 Mr Jaswinder Singh Advocate, SGPC member who was "excommunicated" from the Sikh Panth along with three Sikh high priests and an executive member of the SGPC, has alleged that he had received threatening calls from some unidentified persons after controversial hukamnama issued by Giani Puran Singh on March 12.
Talking to TNS here
today, Mr Jaswinder Singh said that his brother, Mr
Balwinder Singh Advocate had lodged a report with the
C division police station in this regard. He
alleged that the unidentified caller had threatened to
liquidate him. The SGPC member, who has been attending
his routine work and holding meetings with his supporters
claimed that the "hukamnama" wherein he was
excommunicated had no impact as he was getting respect
and honour from the "sangat".
Citizens delegation meets
FEROZEPORE, March 14 A delegation of the local Citizens Council met the Punjab Governor, Lt Gen (retd) J.F.R. Jacob at PWD Rest House here, on Monday evening, and presented him a memorandum about grievances of residents of the town.
Stating this here today, the councils Patron, Mr Hari Ram Khindri, said that the deputationists apprised the Governor that due to close proximity to the Indo-Pak border, the towns economic growth was very slow. In order to boost-up economy, a big industrial unit in the public sector should be established here.
The deputationists also
urged that the Punjab Government must review its decision
on earmaking 20 marks in the interview for the Elementary
Teachers Training (ETT) entrance test. "The decision
would lead to corruption and nepotism", apprehended
No sharing of SYL waters:
FEROZEPORE, March 14 The state unit (Lakhowal faction) of the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) said in a statement here today that the Punjabis alone had the right on the waters of the Sutlej, the Ravi and the Beas as per the riparian law.
It said there was shortage of water in Punjab. As such, the union would not allow anyone to allocate SYL canal waters to other states, rendering the land barren in Punjab. If needed, the BKU would launch an agitation it warned.
Dangs appeal to Governor
AMRITSAR, March 14 Mr Satya Pal Dang, veteran CPI leader, in a letter to Punjab Governor J.F.R. Jacob has urged his intervention in the Naresh Mahajan murder case.
Naresh Mahajan, a senior
branch manager, was murdered on October 22, 1998. The
murder was believed to be the result of parallel banking
at a nationalised bank. Smugglers, besides influential
businessmen, VIPs and a section of the police were
allegedly involved in the same, Mr Dang said, alleging
investigations into the case had been hampered.
Punjab directive to bus crew
CHANDIGARH, March 14 The Punjab Government has not taken a serious view of the "irresponsible" and callous attitude of conductors of the Punjab Roadways and PRTC for allegedly misbehaving with old women passengers (60 or above) authorised by the Government to travel in these buses on 50 per cent concession.
A Punjab Government spokesman said that the State Transport Department had clarified that identity cards issued by the Director Social Security and Woman and Child Development Department, Punjab, would not be countersigned by any officer of the Transport Department.
Lahore bus route changed
PHAGWARA, March 14 In view of the Hindu Shiv Senas ultimatum against plying of Indo-Pak buses, the authorities today changed the route of both buses.
The buses skipped Phagwara and the GT roads stretch between Phillaur and Jalandhar. Instead the buses were routed through the Nurmahal-Nakodar route requiring a long detour. Hindu Shiv Sena activists had stoned and damaged a PTDC luxury coach bound for Lahore on the outskirts of Phagwara on March 4.
200 huts demolished
LUDHIANA, March 14 Around 200 huts of Mandi labourers raised on the Mullanpur Dakha Market Committee land were demolished yesterday.
There were 300 huts in which 2000 persons stayed. These persons, most of them of Dhanak caste, had been living here for around 15 years now and had also been provided with regular power supply.
Ram Pal, a resident of the area, "we had not been served with any prior notice about the demolition". Around 945 residents of this area were registered as voters on the address of this locality.
LUDHIANA, March 14 In a dramatic turn, a woman who had accused three local businessmen of raping her, has back-tracked on her FIR through an affidavit to the executive magistrate on March 6.
In a statement to the press here today, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Kuldip Singh, said police investigations into the case has revealed that the three alleged rapists were in fact victims of business rivalry.
The middle-aged woman, Sunita Rani alias Jugni had registered an FIR against Vijay Jain, 65, Niranjan Singh, 62, and Rajesh Kumar, alias Raju, on January 2. Claiming that they had raped her at gun point at a secluded spot near Jalandhar bypass when she was on her way back with them from Phillaur after a business trip.
Interestingly, the medical examination report of Sunita Rani, prepared by doctors of the L.M. Civil Hospital here, too, confirmed her rape claim.
Inspector Maninder Bedi, who played an important role in exposing the conspiracy said during investigations Sunita Rani confessed that she had fabricated the story on payment of Rs 5000 by one Kamal Pushpinder, alias Rosy, who is allegedly active in the flesh trade.
The press note issued by the SSP, says a local industrialist, R.K. Handa who nursed a grudge against one of the alleged rapists Vijay Jain and discussed this with a friend, Vijay Dhanda.
Dhanda hired Rosy, who he had known for a long time. One of Rosys friends, Shashi Sood, also had a score to settle with a second alleged rapist, Niranjan Singh and Rosy herself had a personal dispute with the third alleged rapist, Rajesh alias Raju.
All of them then widened the scope of the conspiracy to rope in all the three accused in a single case. Interestingly, the three coaccused did not even known each other.
Realising that Sunita Rani was in need of money for treatment of her ailing father, Rosy approached her and a deal was struck. Rosy herself was paid Rs 1.3 lakh by Handa for framing Vijay Jain in the case.
In her confession, Sunita said the resistance marks on her body had been fabricated by Rosy by rubbing a stone, who forced her to get her statement recorded before a magistrate then packed off to Orissa to avoid further inquiries.
Contract killers gang
JALANDHAR, March 14 With the arrest of five persons in police uniforms, the district police claims to have busted a gang of contract killers.
Police uniforms, one .32 bore country-made revolver, three cartridges, two knives, one sword, one iron rod and a pick-up van used in crimes committed by them, has also been seized from them, said SSP Gaurav Yadav.
Mr Yadav said, a police party, on a tip-off that a group of robbers in police uniforms had gathered near Canal Bridge between Jamsher and Chachowal villages and was planning to commit a robbery, conducted a raid and nabbed them from a pick-up wagon. The arrested have been identified as Jaswinder Singh, alias Rana of Jamsher village, Makhan Singh of Kangniwal village, Surinder Kumar, alias Sony of Kangniwal, Narinder, alias Ninder of Khaira and Amrik Singh, alias Raju of Rurka Kalan village.
The SSP said the gang
had committed a robbery in the house of Gurdip Singh of
Nangal Shama village on the night of February 25. They
had also shot at the son of the landlord with a revolver,
but the weapon had misfired. Two of the five robbers,
Rajinder Singh, alias Bawa and Joga Singh of Sadana
village had been arrested at the spot, while others
Burns victim dies
ABOHAR, March 14 A dowry victim Suman Bala (20) succumbed to her burn injuries at the Civil Hospital here today.
She had been admitted in a serious condition. She had reportedly alleged in her statement recorded by an Executive Magistrate that her in-laws had sprinkled kerosene on her and set her on fire as she had failed to persuade her father who was a cobbler by profession to give more dowry to her in-laws. She belonged to the Prem Nagar locality here and was married to Ram Partap of Bahawalbasi village near here 18 months back.
Four held for theft
JALANDHAR, March 14 The police has arrested four members of a seven-member gang of thieves, involved in theft of high power transmission wires and has seized a truckload of aluminium cable worth Rs 2.5 lakh from them.
SSP Gaurav Yadav said the arrested Ashok Kumar, Puran Singh, Mast Inayat, all residents of Riasi in Jammu and Kashmir and Shiv Ram of Satial village in Puri district of Assam were arrested at a naka near Kishangarh Chowk last evening. A truck, a gold chain, a pair of gold earrings and a wristwatch were also recovered from them besides the aluminium cable. Raids were being conducted to nab the other members of the gang identified as Piara Singh, Abdul Karim and Muneer, all residents of Riasi.
Mr Yadav said a large
quantity of high power transmission wire bundles were
stolen by the gang from a Punjab State Electricity Board
godown in Naugaja village under Kartarpur police station.
During the course of investigation they also confessed to
have committed more robberies at different places,
including the one at the Dera of Ajit Singh on the
outskirts of Kartarpur on the intervening night of March
7 and 8.
Three held on murder charge
LUDHIANA, March 14 The Raikot police has arrested three person Kulbir Singh, his wife Jaswinder Kaur and Mandeep Singh in connection with murder of Jaswinder Kaur. A case under Section 302,201,120-B,364 and 34 of the IPC has been registered.
According to the information available, the body of Jaswinder Kaur was recovered from the Daddopur canal, near Raikot, 35km from here, on Sunday.
GURDASPUR, March 14 The police naka party yesterday arrested Ajay, a resident of Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, for allegedly indulging in anti-national activities. According to Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, one .303 pistol and 3 cartridges were recovered from him. A case under Section 25, Arms Act, has been registered against the accused.
In another case a police naka party near Behrian Pattan village arrested Ram Dyal of Khanke village in Jalandhar district and recovered 10 kg of poppy husk from him. A case under Sections 15, 61 and 85, NDPS Act, has been registered against the accused.
VC: Farid University
AMRITSAR, March 14 The Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid Medical University, Dr J.S. Gujral, yesterday said the university would soon be recognised by the Medical Council of India.
Talking to TNS here Dr Gujral clarified that Medical Council of India has only to substitute the name of Guru Nanak Dev University with that of Baba Farid Medical University. It was only a technical hitch which would be rectified within next few days, he added.
The Medical Council of India is meeting in New Delhi on March 31 to take up the question of recognition of the university, Mr Gujral said.
Dr Gujral was talking to newsmen after he met a deputation of the medical students who expressed concern over delay in recognition by the MCI jeopardising their future as neither the degrees awarded to them would be recognised by any university for higher studies nor they would be able to get jobs.
Meanwhile the Junior Doctors Association has decided to defer its proposed agitation till March 31 on the assurance of the Vice-Chancellor.
He said that the university would award degrees to the students not before 2001 as these were given only after completion of internship by students.
The university has already acquired 157 acres compensation for half of the land has been released by the government. The construction work on Rs 500 crore-university project will commence within next few months, Dr Gujral claimed.
Traders hold dharna outside PSEB
LUDHIANA, March 14 The stand-off between traders and industrialists of Dasmesh Nagar and the officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board continued for the third consecutive day yesterday with hundreds of traders staging a dharna outside the office of the Chief Engineer, PSEB.
It may be noted that traders of the area had staged a dharna near Campa Cola Chowk on March 11 against their alleged harassment by four PSEB employees. Traders of the area have alleged that these employees had been extorting money from them.
The traders had staged a dharna when the officials had allegedly been released by the police after they were rounded up. Subsequently, the PSEB had registered an FIR against a few of these businessmen on March 11, alleging that they had obstructed government employees in discharging their duty, beaten them up and destroyed government records.
At todays rally, the traders led by Mr Harish Khanna, president of the Ludhiana Small Scale Manufacturers Association, submitted a memorandum to the Chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board through the Chief Engineer, Mr A.S. Randhawa.
The FIR registered against the trader should be withdrawn, an inquiry ordered into the incident and suitable disciplinary action taken against the erring board officials, the memorandum demanded.
Meanwhile, a meeting
between the traders and Mr Randhawa was held later in the
evening. It is learnt that Mr Randhawa has agreed to
institute an inquiry into the incident. However, he has
declined to withdrawn the FIR.
Traders leader arrested
LUDHIANA, March 14 Mr Harish Khanna, president of the Ludhiana Small Scale Manufacturers Association, was today arrested by the police, when he led a deputation of traders to the SSPs camp office this morning.
Mr Khanna had led the deputation of traders to meet the SSP and urged him to quash the FIR registered against him and a few other traders by the Punjab State Electricity Board on March 11 under Sections 353, 186, 342, 506, 435, 148 and 149 of the IPC.
It may be recalled that a large number of traders had gheraoed four PSEB officials on March 11, when they were conducting checking of electric meters and claimed the officials were demanding bribes from businessmen of Dashmesh Nagar. The PSEB, on its part registered an FIR against a few traders for hampering them in conduct of their official duty, beating government officials and destroying government records.
Yesterday, thousands of traders led by Mr Harish Khanna had staged a dharna in front of the office of the chief engineer and demanded that the FIR be withdrawn and an inquiry be made into the entire incident.
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