Thursday, November 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Division among traders over today’s bandh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
On the eve of the proposed Chandigarh bandh tomorrow there is a division of sorts between traders, who are owners of property, and the tenants.

Joining the issue of the recent amendment to the East Punjab Rent Restriction Act, 1949, the UT Villages Property Owners Association today asked the traders' associations that they should not join the Chandigarh bandh called by the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal.

The president of the association, Mr Amit Tayal, said tenants as well as owners were part of the traders' associations and they would support the bandh call. Mr Tayal appealed to the traders' associations not to indulge in the controversy. The purpose of the traders' associations was to protect the rights of the traders and their prosperity and it should go with its own goal, he added.

Meanwhile, the Sabzi Mandi Shop Owners Welfare Society held a meeting today and decided that they would not join the bandh proposed by the Beopar Mandal. A statement signed by about 25 members of the society said they would open their shops during the bandh.

Mrs Bhajan Kaur and Mrs Nirmal Kaur, two women leaders of the Chandigarh Tenants Federation, ended their indefinite fast when the Mayor, Mrs Lalit Joshi, offered them a glass of juice. A list of demands was submitted to the Mayor.

The main demands were to make the necessary amendments in the notification to protect the tenants from eviction. The federation had said that the commercial and industrial property be kept out of the purview of the rent Act and also to raise the slab from Rs 1,500 to Rs 5,000. The new notification be implemented from the date it came into being and not be imposed on previously rented out property. Besides this, the federation said let fair rent be assessed by the rent controller.

The Chandigarh Beopar Mandal claimed that the bandh would be total and it had the support of the Chandigarh Chemists Association; the Sector 22-B Traders Welfare Association; the Chandigarh Paint Association; the traders of the Mani Majra market; and all rehri and booth markets of Chandigarh. A delegation of the mandal also met the SSP, Mr Parag Jain, and apprised him of the situation.

Meanwhile, several traders in Sectors 17, 22 and on Madhya Marg, who are owners of the property, have alleged that they were being pressurised by the traders who are tenants to support the bandh call. Mr Ajay Grover, who owns a shop in Sector 7, said he had posted private security outside his shop due to this pressure.


Landlords versus tenants in Chandigarh
M.L. Sarin

“Our businesses will be ruined”, “We will be rendered homeless” are some of the fears expressed by tenants on the issuance of the notification by the Chandigarh Administration directing that the provisions of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction (Extension to Chandigarh) Act “shall not apply to buildings and rented lands whose monthly rent exceeds Rs 1,500 w.e.f November 7, 2002. The ensuing debate — at social gatherings or in the Press — reveals the general lack of understanding of the reasons for the enactment of rent laws and the true impact of granting an exemption. While landlords and tenants threaten to take their battle to the streets hoping to pressure the government by adopting an agitational approach, I would make an endeavour to explain the legal ramifications of the notification.

The rent laws

The East Punjab Rent Restriction Act, 1949, (the Punjab Rent Act) was a copy of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent) Control Act, 1946, framed to achieve the objective of “...restricting the increase of rent of certain premises situated within the limits of the urban areas and the protection of tenants against the malafide attempts by their landlords to procure their eviction....” The legislatures had hoped that with the improvement in the housing sector, the law would be reviewed after a decade or two.

The immediate effect of the enforcement of the Punjab Rent Act was to put an embargo on the arbitrary increase of rent by the landlords. The concept of fair rent was introduced. To fix such fair rent, the Rent Controller was required to first assess the “basic rent” which was the rent for a similar building or rented premises in 1939. Fair rent was calculated by allowing a 37.5 per cent to 100 per cent increase in the same. It would be an under statement to say the fair rent thus fixed was highly unrealistic and did not by any means reflect the market rent of the building. Most readers will be surprised to learn that no change in the provision has been made in the last more than half a century.

Section 13 of the Act prescribed a few grounds, one of which had to be established, before any tenant could be evicted by a landlord from the rented premises. The grounds included non-payment of rent, subletting, change of user, material impairment, the tenant being a nuisance to the neighbour or the tenant having ceased to occupy the building for a continuous period of more than four months.

In each of the grounds some act of commission or omission on the part of the tenant had to be pleaded and proved before the landlord could recover possession of his property. Only two grounds i.e personal necessity and the building become unsafe and unfit for human habitation gave the landlord right to repossession without attributing a fault to the tenant.

The procedure to be followed by the Rent Controller was supposed to be a summary. As time passed, tenants realised that the grounds for eviction were extremely difficult, almost impossible, to prove; proceedings consumed considerable time and evictions were heard to get. Thus, tenants felt that they had a right to continue eternally by paying rent at the old rate. After all, they had the sanction of law.

Inflation and the spiralling prices of immovable property were not adequately attended to by the State Legislature by making necessary amendments in the Punjab Rent Act so as to make it realistic.

Rent Act in city

The city beautiful did not have any rent legislation till the early seventies. Prior to the extension of the Rent Act to Chandigarh, a tenant did not feel threatened by arbitrary eviction and landlords did not feel uncomfortable in leasing out their properties. Even after the extension of the Punjab Act to Chandigarh, all new buildings were exempted from its operation for 5 years from the date of completion.

The constitutional vires of Section 3 of the Rent Act empowering the government to grant exemption as well as the exemption notification were upheld by the Supreme Court in the case of Punjab Tin Supply Company versus the Central Government (1984 HRR 228). The experience of the last 30 years shows that there have been no arbitrary evictions during the five years exemption period. On the contrary, the landlord and tenants co-existed peacefully during this period.

The tenancies in Chandigarh had to face other problems peculiar to the city. No fair rent could be fixed as Chandigarh was not in existence in 1939; thus no basic rent could be assessed. Thus, one of the two objectives sought to be achieved by the enforcement of the Rent Act had failed. It is a matter of fact that thousands of petitions for fixation of fair rent were filed in the seventies but all were adjourned sinedie to await the suitable amendment of the Rent Act providing suitable criteria for the fixation of fair rent in Chandigarh. None has come in the last three decades.

Similar laws have been updated in England and even other states in India to make the provisions of fixation of fair or standard rent linkable to the price index. Perhaps Chandigarh is not important enough for the Parliament to attend to.

National housing policy

The archaic rent control legislation in many states in the country had resulted in a freeze on rents, very low return on investment and difficulty in resuming possession leading to adversely affecting investment in the housing sector. At the same time, the government was opening the economy to the world. A number of expert bodies had suggested reform in rent legislation so as to evenly balance the interests of landlords and tenants.

Ultimately a policy paper was considered in the Chief Ministers Conference held in New Delhi on March 7, 1992 which lead to what can be termed as a “National Housing Policy” and the framing of a Model Rent Control law by the Central Government. This exercise was done by the government even though rent control is a state subject in an endeavour to bring about uniformity in rent restriction in the country.

One of the clauses in the National Housing Policy had recommended grant of exemption to residential and non-residential premises carrying more than a specified rental value ranging from Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000 per month. The exemption limit was to be linked with the population of the urban area. It was further suggested that the exemption limit should be revised every 3 years. Scores of other recommendations were made. While doing so the Delhi experience was heavily relied upon where buildings fetching a rent above Rs 3,500 per month had been exempted from the operation of the Delhi Rent Act in 1988.

Similar notifications, granting exemptions, have been issued in the past. Andhra Pradesh exempted all buildings commanding a rent above Rs 100 per month in 1983, while Delhi introduced the change in 1988. Cases from both states have been decided upon the Supreme Court which opined that the tenant of such a premises loses protection immediately on the issuance of the notification of exemption. (See JT 1995 (4) SC 187)

However, that does not imply that tenants of exempted tenancies will be ousted instantaneously. We are governed by the Rule of Law which insures that even a trespasser cannot be dispossessed except in due course of law. A tenant, not protected by the Rent Act, can be evicted by filing a suit for possession in a court of competent jurisdiction which will be tried like any other civil suit and subject to the same rights of appeal and second appeal.

Is the notification not just?

Every citizen expects all laws to be just and fair. Justice B.N. Kirpal speaking for the court in Malpe Vishwanath Acharaya versus the state of Maharashtra JT 1997(1) SC 311 observed that: “In so far as social legislation, like the Rent Control Act is concerned, the law must strike a balance between rival interests and it should try to be just at all. The law ought not to be unjust to one and give a disproportionate benefit or protection to another section of the society. When there is shortage of accommodation it is desirable, nay, necessary that some protection should be given to tenants to ensure that they are not exploited.

At the same time such a law has to be revised periodically so as to ensure that a disproportionately larger benefit than the one which was intended is not given to tenants.”

He further went on to opine that “When enacting socially progressive legislation the need is greater to approach the problem from a holistic perspective and not to have a narrow or short-sighted parochial approach. Giving greater than due emphasis to a vocal section of society results not merely in the miscarriage of justice but in the abdication of responsibility of the legislative authority.”

The issuance of the notification on November 7, 2002 in Chandigarh has subtly achieved that. The administration seems to have followed the guidelines laid down 10 years ago in the National Housing Policy and appears to have been guided by the dictum of the Supreme Court. While both parties may shout from the roof tops and bring pressure to bear on the administration to expand or reduce the exemption limit, we must all bear in mind that a tenant is always a tenant — he does not become the owner of the tenanted premises. The periodical review of rent legislation in larger national interest is a must. In the case of Chandigarh the administration has done just that — struck a wonderful balance between landlords and tenants.

One can only says: “Bravo Lt Gen Jacob”, “Bravo — Chandigarh Administration”.

The writer, a senior advocate, is a co-author of Rent Restrictions in Punjab, Haryana, HP and Chandigarh.


Tenancy laws: a judicious view

It would be prudent to take a judicious view of the arbitrary unpopular changes brought about in the tenancy laws. Initially when the change was announced, it was stated that the intention was to boost urban land development which meant housing.

Whereas the withdrawal of the Rent Control Act is applicable equally to both residential and commercial properties, it is easy to change a house; just shift from one place to another. But for commercial properties, it is altogether a different ball game. To set up a business, you require large-scale investment. A landlord provides you only four walls and a roof, but you have to do the rest, though business does not pick up from day one.

Initially, it is ‘chati’, then ‘hati’ and if luck works it could turn into ‘khatti’. It takes years for one to promote a product, build goodwill and establish a business. In many cases, a tenant invests many times more than the landlord. Every business has a number of employees whose livelihood rests on it. The business community in Chandigarh had it tough over the years. Initially it was a new market, hardly any buyers, then the days of the terrorism and now the recession.

To add to our woes, the Chandigarh Administration acted very secretively on November 7, 2002, by bringing about this draconian change in the rent law. To the business community, it meant explosion of a nuclear bomb with wide ramifications. Not only it meant closure of their business but complete ruin, their investment, rendering thousands jobless and depriving of their personal livelihood. Under the existing laws, you cannot even sack a chaprasi but here in one go, the Administration threw thousands of people on the streets.

The whole exercise has been done in a very surreptitious manner. Even the 20 days’ period of inviting objections has been circumvented. We function in a democracy where decisions are to be taken by consensus and in the larger interest of the people. The Administration does not care for its people. Even when the move has drawn large-scale resentment, no corrective action appears to be in sight. There are statements in newspapers that courts will be sympathetic towards the tenants. But the courts only interpret the law; they do not act on compassion or mercy.

Some possible solutions to end the ongoing impasse are: Apply the changed rules to new hirings; separate the law for residential and commercial properties; since the intention was to boost housing, set a future date (say 5 to 7 years hence) to come out of the Rent Control Act; and as for the commercial properties, the Rent Control Act should continue to apply to the existing tenancies. The change, if at all brought about, should be made applicable after 20 years period and, that too, in a gradual manner.

The registration fee for long-term leases is too high. It starts with 1.5 per cent and goes up to 12 per cent for leases from 16 to 99 years. Who has huge funds to give in one go? If one had, he may well have owned the building. For the smooth conduct of business, the Administration should encourage long-duration agreements for a nominal charge. In any case, it should not be more than 0.5 per cent.

The Administration could draw up a fair rent on the basis of the value of land, the cost of construction and the vintage of the tenancy. After ascertaining this rent, if the tenant is paying equal or prepared to pay such amount, his tenancy should be allowed to continue.

President, Sector 17-D,
Traders’ Association


Traders’ organisations in Chandigarh have mounted pressure on the authorities to withdraw the proposed amendment in the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949. They may have a point if some of the tenants are paying rents higher than the current market rate. The fact, however, is that in a majority of cases these rents have been abnormally low for decades. If ever there was an increase, it was marginal. The result: rented properties, on an average, are fetching no more than an equivalent of 1-1/2 per cent annually, while even the reduced bank rates on deposits are three to four times higher than this.

The expenses, incurred by landlords on the maintenance of premises, are an additional burden. Consider the plight of those owners who have invested their lifetime savings in such properties so that they can have some income after retirement. They are entirely at the mercy of their tenants. The proposed amendment has come as a great relief to them. It may also be worthwhile to consider a further amendment to the Act, stipulating purchase of such rented properties by the tenants on payment of a suitable compensation as has been the case with the tenancies of the agricultural land. Alternatively, there should be a provision for renegotiation of the rent deeds annually on the basis of the current market rate. The proposed amendment shall contribute a great deal in promoting expansion of the business activity.

SAS Nagar


Those opposing changes in the Rent Act are the ones who have been thriving under the protection of imbalanced, tenant-friendly Act during the past five decades. The Act, which is enforced for protection of poor tenants, is being exploited by affluent traders and tenants.

Even though incomes rose by leaps and bounds both for salaried class and traders, they refuse to enhance the rents once fixed. While the rupee value has declined progressively, the property value has increased manifold. When unethical tenants, paying frozen rents, could not use the rented property for themselves, passed it on to others by charging ‘pagree’. The tenants signed agreements and lease deeds prescribing annual and periodical increase in rent and handing over vacant possession after the agreed period only to grab the property. They refuse either to increase the rent or vacate the premises under the protection of the Rent Act.

The poor, so-called landlords, curse themselves for having rented out their properties. They could not get their properties vacated even for their genuine needs.

Those opposing changes to the category of tenants who want to deprive the owners of their legitimate right to survive are adopting unethical and devious methods under the garb of democracy. They should realise that weaker sections of society remain fully protected even now.



In 1976, I had opted to do business from a dwelling for a monthly rent of Rs 2000. My father, a government employee, invested all his earnings, including a triple storeyed house, two plots, GP funds, retiral benefits and other savings, and we started living in the rented house for the sake of family business. As it was not possible to earn even Rs 100 a day, I could not employ any employee. As a result, my brothers could not study beyond matriculation and my father was forced to encash a portion of his pension to save the business from failure and defamation. My marriage was delayed.

With investment and reinvestment of my father’s benefits, we, three brothers, tried to improve our financial position in mid-90s. But even today, our four families, along with those of our workers, continue to depend upon this shop.

If we knew that we would be evicted on some ground in future, we would not have invested all our resources. We would have devised ways and means to make a fast buck to become landlords ourselves. The reputation and value of the market would not have been the same as leading to this situation. But without any legal binding, we have been increasing the rent regularly. We treated our customer as our God and acted as true and faithful traders.



Kiran cinema manager shot at
Struggling for life in GMCH
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 20
Harjinder Singh In a daring shootout, two unidentified youths shot at the manager of Kiran Cinema and Jagat Cinema, Mr Harjinder Singh, outside his house in Sector 21-D here tonight as he returned home from work. A seriously wounded, Harjinder Singh (52), is battling for his life at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32.

The identity of the youths or their mode of escape is yet to be ascertained. As per the statement, Mr Harjinder Singh gave to the police he had parked his car and was walking to open the iron gate of his house when two youths called out to him saying ‘‘ uncle eek minute gall sunoo.’’ ( Uncle please listen to us for a minute).


  • Two unidentified youths shot at Harjinder Singh outside his house at 9 pm and escape.
  • How they managed to escape is yet not clear.
  • Harjinder Singh is battling for his life in GMCH, Sector 32.
  • Harjinder Singh was managing the two cinema halls, Kiran and Jagat, owned by Patiala-based millionaire, Lala Charan Dass.

As Harjinder Singh turned around to look at the youths, they took out a gun and shot at him. The bullet hit him on the right side of his chest .

The SSP, Mr Parag Jain, who reached the GMCH said prima facie it was a case in which the youth had come for a specific target. The youth had not come with the motive of robbery as they did not take away anything.

The wife of the cinema manager, told the police that she heard her husband cry out : ‘‘ maar ditta ’’ and ran out to see him lying in pool of blood. Initially the family thought the noise was due to some crackers. The police so far had no eye witnesses who could tell about the description of the youths. The entire case would rest upon Harjinder Singh’s recollection of events.

The neighbours also rushed out and brought the injured Harjinder to the GMCH. Initially doctors wanted him to shift to the PGI but later changed their opinion. A surgery to remove the bullet would be carried out after midnight. Senior doctors of the GMCH’s Surgery Department were called to see the situation for themselves.

Relatives of Harjinder said he had no enmity with anyone. Well placed sources in the police department told the Tribune that Harjinder may have come in contact with several kind of persons during his course of work, especially in the film industry.

Both the cinemas are owned by Patiala-based millionaire, Lala Charan Dass, but the cinemas have been managed entirely by Harjinder Singh in the past decade or so. He has been working in various companies of the Lala Charan Dass since his youth. He was at one time working in Kanpur also.


RBI to take action against Amway, 5 others
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
The Chandigarh Administration and the Reserve Bank of India, today warned members of the public from investing in private non-banking finance companies which do not have permits to operate. The Joint Secretary, Finance, Chandigarh Administration, Mr Dalip Kumar, said action would also be initiated against six companies which are direct-selling companies.


  • Only nine companies under Category A ( which can accept deposits and also give loans) are legal.
  • 79 companies under category B ( which can disburse loans but cannot accept deposits) are legal.
  • Action to be taken against six direct-marketing companies within one week.
  • Chandigarh Administration warns — do not invest in illegal companies.
  • There are 76 companies under category A and 111 companies under category B which are illegal.
  • Complaints can be lodged with the RBI at fax number 0172-722087 or phone number 0172-713817 or email address:

These six companies are : Golden Trust Finance Services;; Amway India Enterprises; Japan Life India; Best Internet Services and Cosecs.

Issuing a awareness notice to members of the public the Chandigarh Administration said it had been informed by Reserve Bank of India that 76 NBFCs in category ‘A’, 111 NBFCs in category ‘B’ and 2 NBFCs in category ‘C’ could not transact business of non-banking financial institution. The registration of these companies had been rejected by the RBI.

Their applications for issue of certificate of registration had been rejected by the RBI under the provisions of the Act

These rejected companies had also been prohibited from acceptance/renewal of public deposits. The RBI was keeping a close watch on the activities of the companies, assured Mr S.P. Negi, Deputy General Manager, RBI.

The companies had been asked to close shop within three years from the date of rejection. When asked three years was long time for these companies to keep on fleecing innocents, the RBI official said ‘‘ We are keeping a watch on their deposits and it will be ensured that depositors get their money back’’.

The Administration today said in this connection, public was informed that no non-banking financial company shall commence and carry on the business on non-banking financial institution without interalia obtaining a certificate of registration from by the Reserve Bank of India. Carrying on such unauthorised business of non-banking financial institution in contravention of the provisions of the RBI Act was punishable with imprisonment which shall not be less than one year but may extend to five years and with a fine which shall not be less than Rs 1 lakh but may extend to Rs 5 lakh.

Some of these companies were engaged in fraudulent activities by alluring people by offering them high rate of interest and other incentives both in cash and kind in violation of the RBI Act, 1934. Anybody depositing money with such unauthorised companies, would do so at their own risk.

The public should also verify whether the company in question has obtained a certificate of registration from Reserve Bank of India and whether it is entitled to carry on the business of non-banking financial institution, the Joint Secretary Finance said.


Resident docs adamant on their stand
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, november 20
With the resident doctors being firm on their stand of not shouldering the responsibility of running the evening OPDs at the PGI, there is uncertainty over the start of the facility from December 2.

Even as a delegation of the resident doctors is camping in Delhi to discuss the issue with the Union Health Minister, Ms Shatrughan Sinha, an urgent governing body meeting of the Association of Resident Doctors held late last night decided not to join the evening OPDs, which are scheduled to start from December 2. “Over 400 members of the association who attended the meeting resolved that even if the minister refused to oblige them, they would not attend the evening OPDs,” said one of the senior resident doctors. Since Mr Sinha, was unable to return to Delhi, their representatives were likely to meet him tomorrow, he said.

The resident doctors are likely to meet the Union Health Secretary, Mr S.K. Naik , who will be visiting the city on November 22 , to apprise him of their problems regarding the issue.

Meanwhile, the resident doctors from the six disciplines of medicine, surgery, eye, ENT, gynaecology and paediatrics have been delegated evening OPD duties by the respective heads of departments. Out of a total of 780 resident doctors working at the PGI, almost 350 from these six clinical disciplines have been given their duty timings for the evening OPDs. Representatives of the resident doctors today handed over a copy of the decisions taken by them to the PGI Director, Prof S.K. Sharma.

“In view of the current strength of resident doctors and the work load on us, it would not be possible for us to provide quality services to the patients, though we will continue to perform other duties assigned to us,” said one of the resident doctors while conveying the decisions taken at the last night meeting.

Being apprehensive that the evening OPDs, instead of running for two hours would continue till 10 pm they said they were not averse to medical officers and house surgeons being recruited for running evening OPDs. They said with no screening of patients, the PGI which was supposed to provide tertiary care to patients would be reduced to a primary health centre.

The doctors said it was impossible for them to join evening OPDs as they were already under stress.” A study conducted four months ago had indicated that as compared to 13 per cent prevalence of tuberculosis, it was 26 per cent amongst the residents doctors, who were stressed and overburdened with work,” they said. Apart from this during the past four years, four resident doctors had attempted suicides, resulting in the death of two, they said.

They claimed that as a result of the heavy workload, almost 40 per cent of them were suffering from one or the other health hazard like depression, adjustment disorders, suicidal tendencies and tuberculosis.

Under such circumstances it was simply not possible for us to take any further workload, even if it was the wish of the Union Health Minister, they remarked.


B.Ed through correspondence for city, Punjab students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
Panjab University has opened admission to the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) course through correspondence to all students from Punjab and Chandigarh.

Prof Ujjagar Singh Sehgal, chairman, today said the university had made “ partial modification” to the earlier press releases and even the university advertisements that mentioned that admissions were open to students from areas falling under the jurisdiction of Panjab University, including Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Moga, Muktsar and Ferozepore districts besides Chandigarh.

“Applications have been invited from the candidates who are currently working as regular teachers in recognised schools located in Punjab and Chandigarh who are eligible as per the National Council for Technical Education(NCTE) norms.

The last date for submitting applications is December 2,” he said.

Professor Sehgal said, “Since the area of Department of Correspondence Studies suited students from far-off places as well, it was found to be a fit case to allow students from other parts of Punjab to apply for the courses.

It is, however, clarified that the teaching experience being shown by applicants should be from recognised schools only.

The university has till date received about 470 applications and about 400 students have been allowed admissions. There is a provision to allow admission to 500 students, he added.

The issue of allowing students from all over the state has been cleared by the university syndicate. Professor Sehgal said when other universities, including Kurukshetra and Annamalai Universities, had opened their centres in the city itself, why Panjab University could not deliberate upon extending its area of influence.

A research scholar said, “As a degree from PU has a great value than a degree from any other institutions, the students will be better placed in employment arena.”


Paper leak: Director Health quizzed 
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, November 20
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has questioned the Director, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, who is also the President of the Punjab Nurses Registration Council, in the alleged question paper leak case of the council here.


The Punjab Nurses Registration Council, SAS Nagar, was involved in leakage of question papers last year also. Some of the heads of private nursing training Institutes were apparently had the knowledge of the question papers days before the examinations were to take place. A departmental inquiry was also conducted in the case.

Sources in the Vigilance Bureau said that Dr Sandhu had been questioned for more than eight hours in the past one week and the bureau was looking into the possibility of his involvement. When contacted Mr Surinder Singh, SP Vigilance, confirmed that Dr Sandhu had been questioned in the case since he was said to have had close links with one of the main accused. Dr Sandhu, when contacted, however, stated that his questioning was a part of the routine followed by the Vigilance Department in such cases.

According to information provided by Vigilance Bureau officials, the papers were sold for Rs 20,000 each, a day before the examination was scheduled to be held on October 24 at 11 centers across North India, including centers at Srinagar and New Delhi. A vernacular daily had published the question paper the day the examination was to be held.

Sources also said that the council Registrar, Ms Aruna Chabbra, had also given her statement to the Vigilance Bureau but it varied considerably from the one filed by her immediately after the incident to the departmental inquiry officer, Dr Sukhdev Singh, Deputy Director Health Services. Meanwhile, the departmental inquiry report too had been handed over to Vigilance Bureau officials.

The Registrar, according to sources, had now put the blame squarely on the two employees, Mr Gurpal Singh Kang, Examination Superintendent and Mr Charanjit Singh, the two main accused in the case. Sources pointed out that Kang had accompanied the Registrar to the printing press from where the papers were published and allegedly retrieved the question paper from the computer’s recycle bin after the Registrar had got them deleted. However, in the statement recorded earlier, the Registrar had stated that following information that the October 24 question paper had been leaked, she had ordered the cancellation of all three papers scheduled to be held on October 24, 25, and 26. But since these examinations had been conducted despite her telephonic orders to cancel these, she suspected that the Srinagar examiner was responsible for leaking the papers. Ms Chabbra had also in that statement given a clean chit to the seven of the council employees involved directly in the process of getting the question papers typed, printed and stored. These included Mr Gurpal Singh Kang. When contacted Ms Chabbra confirmed that she had recorded her statements with Vigilance Bureau officials.

The other accused in the case, Mr Charanjit Singh, had in a press conference held last week, alleged involvement of Mr Charanjit Singh Walia, president of the Punjab Nursing Training Institutes Association and a former minister of Health, Mr Inderjit Singh Zira, in the case. The case comes up for hearing tomorrow at a Ropar court.


Pilgrim’s progress to Nada Sahib
Raja Jaikrishan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
Tuesday, Gurpurb noon, time to hog and catch up with sleep. Instead, I am on way to Nada Sahib, near here, with the sardarni next door on the bridge over the Ghaggar.

The awesome sight of multiple, long-winding streams of devotees in various vehicles and rivulets of pedestrian pilgrims was forbidding for a car journey.

I counted the virtues of pilgrimage on foot to the charming sardarni. She spiked each with words: “Just move on.” We made some progress in the first gear. I pointed to cars parked along the roadside. The sardarni would have none of it. She kept on chanting “move on”.

And here we were moving by inches. The sight of a constable signalling stop, slow and go to pilgrims restored my sagging faith in the rule of law. At the first quarter of the gurdwara road the car was sandwiched by vehicles and devotees. The signs of exasperation brought creases on the sardarni’s forehead.

I looked at the watch, then at the milling crowd, then at the entrapment of the car. My rumbling stomach entreated me to go ahead. We slammed the car doors.

A push from behind brought us amid the devotees raising clouds of dust. We made it to the gurdwara named after Nada, who gave shelter to Guru Gobind Singh. She touched the kikar tree outside the sanctum sanatorium. She offered the Rs 31-prasad to the bhaiji standing near the holy tree. I copied her all along. Both of us bent together before the holy book.

Both wind and a push from devotees blew away the kerchief from my head. As I began to fold it, the sardarni admonished: “Keep the head covered.” Reluctantly, I obeyed.

It was time for langar. Devotees, most of them better clad than us, sat crosslegged on a serpentine dust-laden mat. Sevadars brought thalis for us. A devotee served laddoos and jalebis. As we waited for dal, roti and achar — the prasad, kavishars and dhadhis sang in the praise of Guru Nanak who dropped rituals and went for the spirit.

Keeping my head covered, I tried to understand the verses. But didn’t go far as devotees compelled my attention for they oozed prosperity from under their fineries.

The head covered with red chunni, a milky faced svelte girl served prasad (chapatis). We received the prasad in our cupped hands.

As we neared the car, a Punjab minister drove in. I smirked at the satire narrated by the kavishar 10 minutes ago.

It went like this. Once a minister returned home with a child who got separated from his parents at a function presided over by him. He boasted his good deed to his wife. She began to wail: “Wahe Guru! Help me. My husband doesn’t recognise even our own Pappu.”

Power blinds, demigods! Are you listening?


UT secretariat, DC office get OFC link
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
A hi-tech optic fibre cable (OFC) link between the UT Secretariat, Sector 9, and the DC Office, Sector 17 was inaugurated this morning by the UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen. J.F.R. Jacob, (retd.), by talking to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr. M. Ramsekhar through video conferencing via the OFC link. This is yet another step towards making the project of ‘‘ e-governance’’ work in the right direction.


As part of its e-governance initiatives, the Chandigarh Administration would soon connect various electricity and water collection centres through the network provided by private companies. The Municipal Corporation building is also to be connected shortly.

With the setting up of the OFC link, data voice and video exchange would be possible between the two buildings. The OFC link is a part of the wired city network which has been set up as part of the IT Policy and e-governance initiatives of the Chandigarh Administration. The technical expertise for the link-up has been provided by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) led by the State Informatics Officer (SIO), Mr Ajay Rampal. The routers and other end-user equipment at both the buildings have also been provided by the NIC.

Practically, this facility means that the Deputy Commissioner, who is also the estate officer besides holding several other public dealing portfolios, will be able to convey to the secretaries his decisions or take quick action. As of now, if some thing important has to be discussed the DC has to go all the way to Sector 9. With this link the senior officers can interact with the DC any time. The DC is also the nodal officer for implementing various schemes and thus the link is even more crucial .

The OFC link has been provided by the HFCL Limited as part of the agreement signed with the Chandigarh Administration. The HFCL has provided a broadband cable set up which offers two MBPS on its network. The network provides flexibility to meet upscale requirements. Other buildings of the Chandigarh Administration will also be connected through the OFC. These would include the SDMs’ offices, Director Transport’s office and the Treasury.

The Adviser to the Administrator, Ms Neeru Nanda; the Finance Secretary and Secretary, Information Technology; Mr. Karan A. Singh; the Chief Engineer, Mr Puranjit Singh; the Chief Architect, Ms Renu Saigal, the Joint Secretary Finance, Mr Dilip Kumar and the Director, Information Technology, Mr Vivek Atray were also present on the occasion.


Panel to ‘activate’ BSNL connections
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
Overwhelming response to the cellular service of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has created a piquant situation for the officials. Though they are trying to activate the connections of the subscribers within the stipulated time period of 72 hours, but the connections of about 300 applicants have so far not been activated due to the non-verification of their addresses, out of about 4,000 connections released so far.

Now, the BSNL has decided to form a high-level committee to deal with such cases, where the subscribers had not properly filled their application forms, and their connections could not be activated in time, said Mr Sanjay Aggarwal, DGM, BSNL, here today.

However, a section of the subscribers alleged that the BSNL had splashed big time advertisements in the newspapers: ‘Greet your near and dear on Gurpurb, by using the cellular services of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) — the country-wide cellular service’ — but the children are laughing at them for booking the connections as they were yet to here the ring of their new connections.

They are cursing their luck for depositing the security with the BSNL for the much advertised CellOne and the Excel cellular service. Mr R.N. Aggarwal, an aggrieved subscriber, said the officials had failed to release the connections, despite making tall promises during the press conferences that connections would be released within 24-72 hours. But most of the customers are now running from pillar to post to get their connections activated.

Ms S.R. Verma, who had applied for the CellOne Connection on November 11, the first day of booking, is still awaiting the activation of her connection. She says, “Though my name has not appeared in the ‘Objection List,’ notified by the department, but my connection has not been activated yet.” Her husband lamented that he had even met Mr R.C.Vaish, Principal General Manager, BSNL, in this regard, but without any result.

BSNL officials admitted that they were facing problems in the verification of addresses of the applicants, but due to the non-cooperative attitude of some of the employees the process had been delayed, resulting in inconvenience to the subscribers.

Mr S.S. Sibia, another subscriber, however, alleged that his name had been included in the objection list on the ground that he had not deposited a bill in time. The insiders in the BSNL disclosed that in the first stage the BSNL officials had activated the connections of their own mobiles, in the second phase connections of mediapersons and other near and dear ones were activated. The common person was the last preference for them.

However, Mr Aggarwal, DGM, BSNL, claimed that the high-powered committee would look into the complaints and the matter would soon be resolved.


Police to enforce use of carriage way
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, November 20
Encouraged by the “success” of their strategy to carve out separate lanes for cycles and rickshaws on a busy sector-dividing road, the Chandigarh Police, besides other authorities, has now decided to enforce the use of carriage way by cycles and rickshaws on other roads also.

Earlier, the police had adopted several measures in an attempt to cut down traffic congestion and other related problems on the road dividing Sector 22 and 23. The road was widened but the problem had persisted. “Finally, decision to carve separate lanes for the slow moving traffic was taken,” says a senior Chandigarh Police officer. “The strategy worked. The commuters, all of a sudden, found themselves free to move about”.

He adds: “Now, another decision to forcefully ask the slow moving traffic to use the carriage way, besides the cycle tracks, on other roads also has been taken. This, we believe, will go a long way in reducing the number of accidents involving slow traffic”.

Giving details, he asserts: “Policemen on duty had been asking cyclists and rickshaw-pullers to use the slow carriage way on the Madhya Marg and other such roads. Still they managed to sneak past and cross the median in several cases. Now we will come down heavily on them”.

The decision to “forcefully” ask cyclists and rickshaw-pullers to use the slow carriage way is significant as, according to sources in the police department, they were the ones sustaining injuries in a large number of accident cases.

Sources in the police department confirm that rickshaw-pullers were, otherwise, also directly or indirectly involved in a substantial number of road accidents taking place everyday in the city, particularly on the Madhya Marg. Though exact data is not available, unofficial studies conducted by the Chandigarh Police reveal that out of 546 accidents in 1999, a handsome number was caused due to negligence of rickshaw-pullers.

In 2000, as many as 550 accidents, including about 115 fatal, took place. Sources believe that the “involvement of rickshaw-pullers in at least some of them could not be ruled out”.

Giving details, another senior police officer asserts: “Migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, having poor road sense, hire rickshaws at cheap rates and cut across roads without giving indication causing freak accidents.”


Bank’s silver jubilee function
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
Bank of Rajasthan Ltd., which had suffered accumulated losses of Rs 157 crore during 1995-99, has achieved a profit of Rs 40.31 crore during 2001-02. It has decided to increase the number of branches in this region, apart from Rajasthan, Mr P.K. Tayal, chairman of bank, said here today.

He was speaking at the inauguration function of the silver jubilee celebrations of the bank. He said the bank would sponsor all the development activities in Rajasthan and one in Punjab. Rajasthan Governor Anshuman Singh, who was the chief guest on this occasion, urged the banking sector to shift its focus from cities and urban areas to rural areas. He felt that apart from the profit motive, the private sector banks had also a social responsibility to serve the cause of the rural sector.

Among others, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Minister of Tourism, Cultural Affairs and Industry, was also available on this occasion.


IT employees resent contract work
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
The local branch of the Income Tax Employees Federation has condemned the authorities for hiring outsiders and private agencies for computer work related to receipt and processing of returns.

Mr Asha Nand Sharma, branch secretary of the Chandigarh branch, in a press note issued here yesterday lamented that though group ‘C’ employees had not refused to work on computers, the work was given to outside agencies. The federation urged the authorities to review the decision.

The members have resolved to oppose the move through all legal means. Mr Sharma said no member of the association would issue any refund till the authenticity of the certificate was certified in writing by the Range Additional or Joint Commissioner, Income Tax, because some of the employees had been implicated in bogus refund cases.


Cooperative week celebrations conclude
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 20
The All-India Cooperative Week celebrations, organised by the Regional Institute of Cooperative Management, concluded here today.

In his keynote address, Mr Vikramjit Sharma, Regional Director of the NCDC, stressed upon the need for a professional approach in the cooperatives and said that only a competent management system would be able to lead the cooperatives towards its goals.

Transparency in accounts and other such decisions would associate more and more people with the Cooperative Sector.

Later, Mr B.S. Rohila, spokesman for the Regional Institute of Cooperative Management expressed his gratitude to the guest for gracing the occasion.


Water connection camp
Our Correspondent

Mullanpur-Garibdas, November 20
An ‘on-the-spot water connection camp’ will be held on the Government Tubewell premises, Mullanpur Garibdas village from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm tomorrow. The camp is being organised by the Punjab Public Health Department in collaboration with Puri Trust (UK), Mullanpur and the Youth Welfare, Sports and Health Club, Mullanpur.

Water connections will be given to all needy people of Mullanpur, Ferozepur, Bhorngian, Slamatpur, Rasulpur, Ranimajra, Ratwara, Painpur and Sainimajra villages. They will have to pay the security charges. Yellow card holders shall be required to pay only 50 per cent of the security amount.


Sec 47 resident wins Esteem
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
M.K. Sohan of Sector 47-C, Harpreet Kaur of Sector 47 D and Gaurav Chopra of Sector 15 won Esteem, Alto and Wagon-R cars, respectively, tonight in draw of lots in the 20-day Sector 17 shopping festival that concluded this evening.

As many as 86 prizes including cars, fridges, TVs, washing machines, music systems and VCDs were offered by the council on coupons given in lieu of purchases made by the buyers.

Around 121 shopkeepers participating in the festival are estimated to have done business in crores during the period with around 1.5 lakh coupons being issued during the period.


Two held for outraging modesty of women
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 20
The police has arrested two persons in different cases allegedly for attempting to outrage modesty of women. Both the accused trespassed in the respective houses of the women and also threatened them.

Rakesh Kumar of Dadu Majra Colony allegedly trespassed into the house of a woman in the colony yesterday and tried to outrage her modesty. In the second incident, Rajinder Singh of Buterla village committed the same crime in the house of a fellow woman resident last evening.

Theft cases

During the past 24 hours, the police has registered at least four cases of thefts including three vehicle thefts from different parts of the city.

A Bajaj Chetak scooter (PB65B 1948) of Mr Ashok Kumar, a resident of SAS Nagar, was allegedly stolen from Sector 24 yesterday. Mr Gurbachan Singh, a resident of Sector 41, also reported with the police that his Bajaj Chetak scooter was stolen from his residence on November 12. Someone has reportedly stolen Maruti Zen car (CH03 5091) of Ms Kiran Bala, a resident of Sector 47. The car was said to be stolen from her residence on the night intervening November 18 and 19.

In another case, Mr Abrar Ahmed, a resident of SBS Colony, Sector 49, reported with the police that a gold locket, a gold ear top, silver jewellery and Rs 15000 were stolen from his house on November 14.

Two held for assault

The police has arrested Ravinder Singh and Harwinder Singh, both residents of Faidan village, allegedly for assaulting an ASI Davinder Singh near Sector 46 Gurdwara here yesterday. The accused have been booked under Sections 186, 332, 323, 353 and 34 of the IPC.


Crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, November 20
Hindraj, a resident of Ambala cantonment, was crushed to death by a car on the Zirakpur-Patiala highway here yesterday.

According to the police, Mr Hindraj was on foot when the car (PB-65-1280) hit and sped away leaving him motionless. A case of negligent driving has been registered against the car driver at Lohgarh police post.

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