Thursday, April 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Traders’ syndicate exploits farmers
Buys potato at ‘own price’
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 2
Farmers of this region foresee bad days in the absence of minimum support price (MSP) for potatoes and buyers from other states. Local traders have been offering very low price as they have monopoly of the potato trade.

Forced to grow potato in the past few years under crop diversification agriculture programme, the farmers have been finding it difficult to earn enough by selling the produce to meet the cost of inputs.

After incurring heavy losses for growing potato, hundreds of farmers have decided to sell their holding to meet liabilities of loans of banks and commission agents.

Mr Chotta Singh (Name changed) of Gill Kalan village of this district said, “I grew potato in 20 acres, 10 acres owned by me and 10 acres taken on lease. I spent Rs 12000 a acre on potato cultivation and today if I sell my entire produce at the prevailing price of Rs 100 a quintal, I will incur loss of Rs 1 lakh.” He added that to meet part of his loan liability of Rs 11 lakh, he had disposed of one acre.

Mr Shawinder Singh, another farmer pointed out that he took to potato farming hoping that he would repay his entire loan of Rs 3 lakh in two to three years as potato was considered a “paying crop”. But now he found that his debt had crossed Rs 5 lakh because he failed to fetch remunerative price and he had to sell it a throw-away price to get cash to meet routine liabilities.

A few potato farmers, having holding capacity, have been waiting to store the produce in cold stores. The farmers, who had booked space in cold stores have not been getting it.

These farmers became doubly cursed when owners of cold stores refused to store the produce when the farmers went there hoping to sell the produce at remunerative prices in the months to come when the demand for potatoes would grow. The owners of cold stores offering space to store potatoes have hiked storage charges and have been making money by exploiting the compulsion of potato farmers.

Farmers alleged that they had been forced to sell the produce at a very low price as local traders had monopolised the trade and had been offering the price of the produce which suited them (traders). They added that buyers from outside Punjab did not come this season as Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, two major potato states, had a bumper crop this year.

They added that as repeated visits of the Department of Horticulture for help did not yield any result, they would be compelled to throw the produce on the roadside or plough the crop in fields after a few days as the rising mercury would set it rotting.

The Horticulture Department officials pointed out that due to little demand of potato in the market, the farmers were worried and started harvesting of the crop in one go and it had created a glut-like situation. They said that they were trying to help the farmers find enough space in cold stores in the region for storing the produce. The state Horticulture Authorities were also seized of the matter, they added.

Meanwhile, Mr Amritpal Singh Brar, President, Punjab Young Farmers Federation, urged the state government to take necessary steps and ensure remunerative prices to potato farmers and enough space at reasonable rent for storing the produce. He demanded that the potato farmers, who had suffered loss by selling the produce at throw-away prices, should be compensated suitably.


SAD-BJP members stage walkout
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
SAD-BJP members walked out twice from the Punjab Assembly today. The first walkout was staged when the Speaker rejected Capt Kanwaljit Singh's demand for a reply from the government on the police excesses on certain members of the Rajpura Block Samiti by the Banur police. Rejecting the demand the Speaker said a reply from the government was not necessary.

Raising the issue Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the Banur police had let loose a reign of terror on families of certain members of the block samiti. Efforts had been made to kidnap members by Mr Ajay Pal, SHO. The police conducted raids after midnight yesterday to pick up members, the SAD leader said.

The second walkout was staged when Education Minister Khushal Behal did not give a straight reply whether he would initiate action on the basis of the report of the Vidhan Sabha committee about the recruitment of teachers from 1992 to 1997. The issue was raised by Mr Manpreet Singh Badal through a resolution.

He asked the government whether it would take action on the report presented in the House last year. When Mr Behal prolonged his reply, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder stood up and asked Mr Behal through the Speaker that the SAD members only wanted to know whether action would be taken on the basis of the report or not. They walked out when Mr Behal did not come out with a straight reply and continued to explain other details of the case.

Winding up the discussion on the issue in the absence of opposition members, Mr Behal said the resolution brought up by Mr Badal should be dropped as action could not be taken because of conflict between the law and the report. Mr Badal said the government had been prompt in taking action against opposition leaders but it was taking no action where its own people were involved. He said his party was prepared for an inquiry either by the CBI or honest officers of the Punjab police in all cases of corruption. However, he raised serious doubts about the handling of cases by the present set-up of the Vigilance Bureau. Even the judiciary had questioned the handling of the Ravi Sidhu case by certain officers of the Vigilance Bureau.

Mr Badal said he fully supported the Chief Minister's campaign against corruption but it should not be directed only against leaders of the SAD. Leaders of the ruling party should be treated in the same manner. Violating all rules and academic qualifications, hundreds of teachers were recruited during the Beant Singh rule but no action had been taken against those found guilty by the House committee. Mr Tota Singh said that a House committee should be set up to probe the recruitment of teachers made during the SAD-BJP rule. "I am prepared to face the committee", he announced.

Responding to a call-attention motion moved by Capt Balbir Singh Bath, Mr Khushal Behal said the government would not dilute the quota of direct recruitment of Headmasters through the PPSC. A request had already been sent to the PPSC for the recruitment of over 200 Headmasters.


Rs 8.5-cr bonanza for MLAs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha today unanimously passed all six Bills on enhancing their own salaries, allowances and perquisites that will cost the state exchequer over Rs 8.50 crore annually. Though listed as the last item in the business for the day, not a single member stood up to comment on the Bills.

There were separate Bills on salaries and allowances, pension and medical facilities etc for ministers, the Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, Deputy ministers, MLAs.

In the Bill on MLAs’ pension and medical facilities, the monthly sum has been enhanced from Rs 1,500 to Rs 5,000. Another allowance is up from Rs 100 to Rs 500. It also has a new proviso: ‘’When a person, who has served as a member attains the age of 65 years, 75 years and 80 years, he/she shall be entitled to an increase of 5 per cent, 10 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, in the basic pension’’.

The monthly salary of the Cabinet ministers, the Leader of the Opposition and the Speaker would now be Rs 15,000, of the Deputy Speaker Rs 11,000 and of the Deputy Ministers, Rs 10,000.

The House today voted for itself a substantial hike in several allowances as well, besides raising the limit of telephone and petrol expenses and loans etc. Interestingly, the income tax due from the ministers on salaries and allowances is also paid by the government.


Priority to border districts in computerisation
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
Getting an FIR registered through computers will soon be a reality in Punjab. The state police’s initiative of providing people-friendly, knowledge based proactive, transparent and accessible service to the public may soon become practical with the linking of all police stations in Amritsar, Taran Tarn, Moga and Faridkot with their respective headquarters through the local area network (LAN). The district headquarters are already connected with the state headquarters.

The project, which is being taken up as a part of the “Vision for IT enabled Indian police” may help the State police improve its public service delivery system in the areas of public order, control of crime, including cyber crime; traffic management , besides making the law and order machinery accessible, accountable and transparent.

Computerisation will also help in efficient management of resources, including manpower, finances, materials and inventory and information besides enhancing performance in the areas of management of processes and process re-engineering.

Talking to The Tribune here this afternoon, ADGP (Computerisation), D.R. Bhatti said that orders for the purchase of both hardware and software had already been placed .

“Initially 50 police stations, district community centres, CIA staff, offices of the district police chiefs and public complaint offices will be interlinked by computers. We have chosen CCIS — Crime, Criminals Information Systems — software in preference to e-cops which is cost prohibitive,” says Mr Bhatti.

Computerisation will need reorganisation of the force. To meet the initial demand for computer savvy personnel to manage the system, police personnel are being given training. After the piloted project in Faridkot, Moga, Amritsar and Taran Tarn is successful, other districts in Punjab would be covered.

The need for common integrated software development was discussed when the police chiefs of all states and union territories met in the union Capital for their annual conference. Last month it was at this conference that a recommendation for the appointment of a project management consultant was made to take care of varying practices and arrive at a maximum common factor without undue delays. It was also suggested the National Crime Records Bureau be authorised to hire such a consultant.

(To be concluded)


Low-key discussions marked Budget session
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha Budget session (2003-04) will be remembered as much for the speed at which it transacted legislative business (passing over a 12-odd Bills) on the last day today, as for the consistent low-key performance, poor standard of discussions, high-decibel vacuous political diatribe, blame-game and name-calling.

The two arch political rivals — the Congress and the Akali Dal — for once joined hands, albeit after trading allegations, to unanimously adopt a resolution on the SYL canal, as also to demand a special economic package for Punjab like Himachal and Uttaranchal. The second time the two were one was when the Bills on enhancement of their own salaries, allowances and perquisites were presented. These were passed without discussion and, of course, unanimously.

If the Opposition failed miserably to raise important issues or frame questions that could embarrass the government, the Treasury Benches were shrewd, clever, evasive and vague, ducked inconvenient questions. The Speaker rescued the government from awkward situations occasionally he also often pulled up certain ministers.

In fact, the 43-member (41 SAD and 3 BJP) Opposition cannot be absolved of lackluster performance. Outside the House, leaders of both parties often expressed themselves over several issues by rushing to the electronic and print media. But not so inside the House. Of course, the Opposition did often walk out and shouted slogans. On the other hand, the nine-member Independent group usually left it to Mr Sucha Singh Chottepur to speak on its behalf.

The proceedings of the House showed there was potential in some of the new entrants, like Mr Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal or Mr Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon or Razia Sultana or Harbans Kaur, Rana K.P. Singh or Jasbir Singh Dimpa. There were good orators like Mr Sunil Jakhar, who was well versed with his subject.

Among the old hats, apart from Mr Manpreet Singh Badal and Capt Kanwaljit Singh, most Akali MLAs remained tightlipped (Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura) or glued to their seats. Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon spoke only once. Even the restraint and responsibility shown by Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder did not cut much ice with the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, who remained firm and strict with the Opposition, making it squirm or protest or rue his rulings. Of the three BJP members, Mr Tikshan Sud and Mr Avinash Rai Khanna almost dominated question hour or were apparently allowed to take advantage of the squabbles in the Congress.

The performance of some ministers was dismal. Dr Kewal Krishan took cognizance of this. He had to postpone several questions or ask the ministers to come prepared the following day or even pulled them up. From the Treasury Benches, most of the questions came from Mr Tarlochan Singh, who had seemingly targeted the new Minister of Social Security, Mr Joginder Singh Mann. All his questions pertained to allocation of funds and utilisation thereof in respect of various schemes for the Scheduled Castes/backward classes, who constitute 31 per cent of the state’s population. From the replies given by Mr Mann, it was apparent that despite allocations, money was not released by the treasuries either because schemes had no formal approval or there were no funds. Often, there was no Budget provision for the schemes.

The stereotyped replies framed by bureaucrats not only showed chinks in the armour of the ministers but also reflected non-seriousness of the government. The replies exposed the ignorance of ministers or showed their lack of interest in their own departments as was evident the way they often got stuck while replying to supplementaries.

If there was an eyeball-to-eyeball political wordy dual between the Leader of the House, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, there were also whiffs of poetic and literary entertainment whenever the new Deputy Speaker, Mr Birdevinder Singh, or Mr Manpreet Singh Badal spoke.

Interestingly, one moment the members would talk of upholding and respecting the established “traditions, conventions and maryada (propriety of conduct) of the House”, the very next moment they would violate the same with impunity. Each side tried to justify its acts of omission and commission, saying that the other was equally guilty of such acts.


PSEB employees protest against power Bill
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 2
Rallies were held today by various employees’ unions of the Punjab State Electricity Board in support of a call for a statewide protest against the introduction of the Punjab State Electricity Bill 2003 in the Vidhan Sabha yesterday.

The Council of Junior Engineers of the PSEB and the Punjab State Electricity Board Employees Federation, besides various other employees’ bodies, struck work for two hours and wore black badges in protest against the Bill based on recommendations of the Haldea Committee.

In a statement issued here, the Council of Junior Engineers general secretary, Mr Davinder Singh, said the Bill had been introduced to secure loan from World Bank at the earliest. The restructuring proposed in the Bill had failed in other states. The council had called an emergency meeting of its central working committee on April 5 at Ludhiana to chalk out the further course of action.

At various protest rallies, union leaders said the imposition of the VRS and retrenchment of employees would lead to deterioration of services in the power sector.

The local unit of the PSEB Engineering Association held a rally against the introduction of the power Bill and the recommendations of the Haldea Commission.

BATHINDA: Against the introduction of the Punjab State Electricity Bill, engineers and other employees of the PSEB staged rallies and dharnas in different parts of the district today. Rallies were held near the local thermal plant and the thermal plant at Lehra Mohabbat. Members of the Employees Federation of the PSEB held a rally for two hours near the Divisional Office of the PSEB here.

The TL Subdivision unit of the federation also held a rally in the city.

GURDASPUR: The employees of various unions of the Gurdaspur circle of the PSEB held rallies from 9 am to 11 am in front of the offices of the Subdivisional Officers today in protest against the implementation of the recommendations of the Haldea Commission. The rallies were held at Gurdaspur, Purana Shall, Dorangla, Bherampur, Dhariwal, Dinanagar, Batala, Pathankot, Kahnuwan, Naushehra, Dehriwal, Joura Chhattran, Kalanaur, Pandori, Aminpur and Alipur. The prominent unions that participated in the rally included the Technical Services Union.

JALANDHAR: Hundreds of PSEB employees today participated in a rally here against the power Bill. They raised anti-government slogans and said privatisation of the board would result in a steep hike in the electricity rates.

MOGA: In response to the call given by the Engineers Association of the Punjab State Electricity Board, engineers of the PSEB Faridkot Circle comprising Moga, Faridkot, Kotkapura and Baghapura staged a two-hour dharna here.

The dharna was staged from 9 am to 11 am in protest against the introduction of the Punjab State Electricity Bill-2003 in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha yesterday.

NAWANSHAHR: The introduction of the power Bill in the Punjab Assembly has received sharp criticism from the PSEB employees here. Various PSEB employees organisations jointly ceased work for two hours, organised gate rallies and waved black banners at the PSEB offices here and at nearby towns like Aur, Jadla and Rahon on Wednesday.

ROPAR: The PSEB engineers in the Ropar thermal plant today struck work from 9 am to 11 am and held a gate rally to protest against the government move to introduce the power Bill.

In a press note issued here today, Mr R.S. Sohal, vice-president of the PSEB Engineers Association, said the government had introduced the Bill in a haste, without holding any discussion at any level.

TARN TARAN: A two-hour strike was observed here today against the power Bill and the striking employees staged a rally.

Peak load restrictions

Patiala, April 2
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has changed the timings of the evening peak load hour restrictions for large supply consumers with effect from April 1. The revised schedule for such consumers falling under all operation zones (except central zone) shall be from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and for consumers in central zone shall be from 7.30 pm to 10.30 pm and shall remain in force till May 31.

The PSEB has also decided to increase the permissible voltage regulation to 9 per cent on the lower side of 11 kv feeders in rural areas as per provision of electricity rules. OC


PSEB tenders: 2 charge-sheeted
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 2
Spending money in excess of budget allocations and splitting of work tenders to avoid going in for press tenders has landed certain senior officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) in trouble with the Board accepting the recommendations of its internal Vigilance Department to charge-sheet them.

The decision was taken sometime ago after a request by the Board, Vigilance, head Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) Lalit Bhatia. The Vigilance Head had recommended the registration of a criminal case against recently retired Gurdaspur Superintending Engineer (Operations) T.S. Randhawa and Assistant Engineer J .S. Pathania in August, 2002 claiming that they should be dealt with according to service rules.

The Board, Vigilance, had appealed to PSEB Chairman Sudhir Mittal to reconsider the case as earlier Board Chairman G.S. Sohal had let off both Mr Randhawa and Mr Pathania by issuing them a letter of warning even as Senior Executive Engineer (Suburban) Pathankot K.C. Khullar who was also inducted in the same case was charge-sheeted.

According to sources, the PSEB, Vigilance, while reopening the case which had been adjudged by then PSEB Chairman G.S. Sohal in May, 2001, had claimed that action should be taken against Mr T.S. Randhawa as work orders had been split under his supervision. It was also claimed that Mr Randhawa had wrongly transferred the power of the Assistant Engineer to Junior Engineer (Civil). Board Vigilance ADGP Lalit Bhatia, when contacted, refused to comment on the issue.

According to the vigilance report the Gurdaspur circle had incurred an expenditure of Rs 70 lakh in excess of the budget allocation in 1997-1998. Besides this it was also revealed that work orders of nearly Rs 1 crore were split in such a manner to avoid inviting tenders for the media. Sources said according to the present system in the board, while the official concerned can get work of Rs 50,000 done by calling for tender himself, any work above this amount has to be given media tender through. The report said while 87 work orders of Rs 32 lakh were split in 1997 - 98 , 172 work orders of Rs 62 lakh were split in 1998 - 99.

The work orders pertained mainly to civil works done in various grid stations in Gurdaspur.


UK cops impress with latest in crime detection
Tribune News Service.

Phillaur, April 2
The two-day interaction between a team of South Yorkshire Police (UK) and Punjab Police concluded at Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy here today. The two forces exchanged information about crime detection and latest and different technologies being used.

The difference between a developing and a developed force was all too visible during the exchange but the Punjab Police officials at the academy and some forensic scientists both from the state and the Centre did impress the visitors with the techniques devised by them.

The local officials were impressed with the ultra-modern DNA sample collection from crime sites used extensively by the British police these days. The British police has set up a unique National DNA Database unit. DNA samples of thousands of criminals and prisoners are kept in this unit. Whenever a crime takes place, the DNA sample is collected from the crime site and is matched with that of the criminals.

On the other hand, the British police was briefed about the high-tech shooting skill training being imparted by the academy officials. An indoor firearms training unit, which used graphics and video films to test the firearm ability, came for special praise.

The DGP, Punjab, Mr M.S. Bhullar, attended the valedictory function in the evening. He said the exchange programme would go a long way in improving the crime detection system of both the countries.

The UK police team left for Amritsar for a visit to the Golden Temple.


Woman held for ‘supari’ killing
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 2
Ms Paramjit Kaur was arrested today by the Chheharta police for the murder of Satnam Singh (25) alias Satta. Mr Narinder Pal Singh, SSP, Amritsar said that initially the killing of Satnam appears to be as a blind murder. Investigation revealed it to be the result of illicit relations of the deceased. Paramjit Kaur allegedly chopped the head and legs of the deceased and the dumped the body after putting it into gunny bag in a nallah near Naraingarh locality in Chheharta. The murder took place on March 18, the SSP added.

Paramjit Kaur was produced before the newsmen and she admitted that she killed Satnam because she was offered supari of Rs 40,000 by Puran Singh to get rid of Satnam who allegedly had illicit relations with his daughter-in-law and sister-in-law. She said that only Rs 100 was paid to her later by Puran Singh. The SSP said that this murder case seems to be an uncommon for which a woman killed a young man for money.

The SSP said police was informed on March 28 about a body floating in the nallah by nearby residents since there was no clue on the identity of the body, SHO Chheharta Gurdev Singh was told to probe the murder.

The SSP added that Paramjit Kaur was trailed by the police and arrested. According to the police Paramjit Kaur wife of Buta Singh, a Nihang working as caretaker of a Aaratsar Gurdwara in the Naraingarh area on the Bypass, was hired by Puran Singh of Ranike. He offered to pay her Rs 40,000. Both invited Satnam Singh to the Gurdwara and killed him with a knife first chopping off the head later legs and packed the body in a gunny bag.

The SSP said that the body was loaded on to the tricycle of her handicapped son and both of them threw it into the nallah nearby.

The SSP added Satnam, a mason eloped with a married woman from here.

The SSP said that Puran Singh father of Baldev Singh was upset over the relations Satnam had with his daughter-in-law and sister-in-law which led him to conspire with Paramjit Kaur to teach Satnam a lesson.


Hold SGPC poll or face stir: Mann
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 2
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) will launch a major campaign if the Union Government does not announce the holding of elections to the SGPC till April 5.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the SAD(A), said the Union Government was “delaying SGPC elections to keep Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra in power.”

He said though the SGPC had passed a resolution for holding the SGPC elections at the earliest, it had done nothing concrete so far.

Mr Mann said the SAD(A) would write to the UNO and embassies of foreign countries to put pressure on the Indian Government on the issue.

Mr Mann also opposed the VAT on traders and service tax on photographers. He said these taxes be withdrawn immediately.


Badal: CM misleading people on water issue
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 2
Former state Chief Minister and President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today while accusing the successive Congress governments at the Centre and at the state of meting out step-motherly treatment to Punjab alleged that now the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was misleading the people on the sharing of the river water issue.

Talking to mediapersons here this evening, Mr Badal said the Congress government was now shedding crocodile tears over the river water issue by claiming the fact that it had filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court on the SYL canal issue despite the fact that in reality, it was Congress Prime Minister, late Indira Gandhi and then Congress Chief Minister of Punjab, late Darbara Singh, who initiated the digging up of the SYL canal.

Mr Badal pointed out that the Akalis always opposed the discriminatory attitude of the successive Congress governments at the Centre and the party also launched morchas against this injustice. He said a morcha was also launched against the SYL canal. He said the Akalis were still committed to secure the rightful share in the river water for the state by making all types of sacrifice while the Congress was befooling the people on this issue.

He said the SAD would oppose the trifurcation of the PSEB as it would cause considerable damage to the transmission and distribution system. 


NGO seeks justice for victims’ kin
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 2
Mr Balwant Singh Khera, Chairman of the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission, in a letter to Mr Justice V. N. Khare, Chief Justice of India asked him to set up a special court to hear the case against international human traffickers involved in the Malta boat tragedy. As many as 300 South Asians, including 170 Indians, had drowned in the Sicity Channel on December 25, 1996. He stated that nationals of about 14 countries were involved in the case and cases were going on in their respective countries according to local laws as there was no international agency to look after such disasters.

The Matla Boat Tragedy Probe Mission an NGO, is coordinating and pursuing the cases in Punjab. The mission is also trying to get justice by petitioning in the Punjab and Haryana Court for having a high-level probe in the case, claims for relief to the families of the victims and other related matters.

It has also urged the court to provide the evidence to governments of other countries in order to enable them to nab the culprits. It has also requested to court to direct the Union Government to become a party in these cases because 170 Indians had lost their lives in the tragedy.

The CBI had registered a case (FIR No. RC 1 (5) 97.ACU (IV) on January 17, 1997, for the offences punishable under Section 120 B read with Sections 420, 467, 566, 471, IPC, Section 12 read with Section 3 of the Passport Act and Section 24 read with Section 10 of the Emigration Act against 30 accused in the court of Ms Sangeeta Dhingra Sehgal, Metropolitan Magistrate in Tis Hazari Courts, New Delhi. But the case has been pending for the past several years causing much concern to the victims’ families. Cases are also pending in District Courts and the families are not getting any relief from the government and the judiciary, he said.


Bhattal case: orders of Special Judge quashed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
Punjab’s former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today suffered a setback after the Punjab and Haryana High Court today quashed the orders passed by Special Judge for vigilance cases ruling that the complainant in a corruption case against her had no right to argue at the time of framing charges.

Pronouncing the orders in the open Court, Mr Justice K.S. Garewal ruled: “One wonders why in the present case, the accused is apprehending that she may not be discharged and has been stoutly opposing even the grant of hearing to the complainant”.

The Judge added: “If the accused was confident that she had a good case, she would not have really bothered about what the complainant had to submit and would certainly not have opposed his right to hearing”.

Accepting the petition filed by complainant Balwant Singh Dhillon, Mr Justice Garewal concluded: “The petitioner shall be heard personally or through counsel at the time of considering Ms Bhattal’s application for discharge”. The case is scheduled to be taken up by Special Judge Balbir Singh on April 16.

Bhattal was earlier accused of misappropriating Rs 20 lakhs after withdrawing it from the Chief Minister’s relief fund following which a case under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act was registered.

During the proceedings before the trial court, Bhattal had moved an application for dropping the proceedings and for being discharged. Soon after a reply was filed by counsel for the complainant, the defence counsel opposed it on the ground that he could neither file reply, nor argue at the time of framing charges.

After hearing the arguments in the matter, the Special Judge had ruled that the complainant and his counsel could only assist the public prosecutor and could act under his directions as per the provisions of law.

Poll petition

Continuing with the arguments on the issue of maintainability of a petition challenging the elections of the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, from Patiala assembly constituency, counsel for the petitioner on Wednesday claimed that the written statement filed on the CM’s behalf did not inspire confidence.

Arguing before Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, counsel contended that the CM’s claim regarding his not noticing class-I gazetted officer Bharat Inder Singh Chahal during the press conference was strange as people could not simply walk into his residence. He added that Chahal was the first person to be appointed after the CM took over. The case will now come up for further hearing on April 9.


The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday discharged the rule against Punjab MLA Adarsh Partap Singh Kairon in the traffic regulation and pollution control case after he stated that black films had been removed from the windows of his car.

A Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice Mr B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar, also reserved orders in the matter involving Ranjit Bajaj — the son of two IAS officers. He was earlier accused of driving a car without valid registration number and black films. Bajaj was directed to be present in the court on April 9 — the next date of hearing in the case.

The High Court, it may be recalled, had made helmets compulsory for both men and women riders and those on the pillion. Persons wearing turbans had, however, been granted exemption. The use of black films had also been banned. Exemption was provided only for security reasons.

The High Court Bench, comprising Justice Sat Pal and Mr Justice Kumar, had also directed the punching of licence for each traffic offence. Licences were also made compulsory for conductors. The Administration was also told to demarcate parking areas in each sector for vehicles within a month.

Pre-arrest bail

The Punjab and Haryana High Court, in a significant judgement, on Wednesday ruled that Section 438 of the CrPC, regarding power to grant anticipatory bail, was not introduced for “stalling legitimate questioning”.

In a ruling, Mr Justice Amar Dutt held: “The section was primarily introduced by the Legislature into the Code of Criminal Procedure with a view to provide protection against mala fide attempts to harass and humiliate persons on account of investigation initiated for motives other than bringing to book the errant individuals”.

The Judge further held: “It was never the intention of the legislature that it should be used for stalling legitimate questioning with a view to get at the truth of the matter involving a person who had allegedly committed the crime”.

PPSC scam

Taking up a petition filed by former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission challenging the holding of two trials out of the same first information report, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday fixed May 7 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Arguing before the Bench, his counsel had earlier contended that the holding of two trials, when there was just one FIR, was impermissible, besides being in violation of Article 20 of the Constitution of India. He had also handed over a number of Supreme Court judgements to substantiate his contentions.


Booked jail official still not shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
It is confirmed. Even though a corruption case was registered by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau against the Superintendent of Jalandhar’s district jail in February, he has not been shifted.

If you find it hard to believe, go through the orders passed by Mr Justice Amar Dutt of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Dismissing his anticipatory bail plea, Mr Justice Dutt today ruled: “The fact that the petitioner is still continuing as Superintendent of jail, investigation regarding the functioning of which has been initiated, warrants an inference that the government has definitely not launched a witch-hunt to pin down the responsibility about misutilisation of funds on the petitioner”.

Mr Justice Dutt added that the Superintendent was continuing even though “it may have been more advisable in the interest of the jail functioning and the morale of the staff that appropriate steps should have been taken to avoid his unnecessary humiliation in the eyes of the inmates, whose interests he had been watching for the past four years, by posting him at some other place”.

The Judge concluded: “No doubt, the Vigilance Bureau has already taken into possession majority of records maintained in the district jail, this by itself would not render unnecessary the custodial interrogation in which the investigating agency would like to associate him.... It would not be appropriate to grant the concession of anticipatory bail to the petitioner.... If he surrenders before the trial court by April 10, the court would decide his application for regular bail, if any, together with any request for remand that may be made by the investigating agency”.

Superintendent Jagjit Singh and others were earlier booked by Jalandhar’s Vigilance Bureau for cheating and forgery under Sections 409, 420 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to the prosecution, the petitioners, along with other accused in the case, had accepted tenders at higher rates in violation of rules, besides the jail manual regulations. The accused had also forged and fabricated documents.


Two nursing homes sealed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 2
Two nursing homes in Nabha, near here, were sealed and their registrations cancelled temporarily for failing to observe provisions of the PNDT Act following raids conducted on them today. The premises of the ultrasound centre in the Civil Hospital at Nabha were also sealed as no radiologist is available in the hospital.

The Civil Surgeon, Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, disclosed that Sharda Nursing Home and Geetu Nursing Home at Nabha were sealed after major deficiences were found in their running during a surpise check. She said the Senior Medical Officer, Nabha, had sealed the ultrasound machines in both the nursing homes besides cancelling the registrations temporarily.

Dr Walia said minor deficiencies had been pointed out in the functioning of Jeewan Nursing Home and that a show-cause notice had been issued to its owners. She said the surprise checks had been conducted along with Nabha, SMO, Dr I.D. Goyal, an IMA associate and two NGOs.

The Civil Surgeon warned all ultrasound centres in the district to implement the PNDT Act in toto. She said there should not be any deficiency in implementing the PNDT Act, 1994, as well as the amended PNDT Act, 2002. She also appealed to the people to come forward against ultrasound centres carrying out sex determination tests.


Club in the soup ‘for inviting Badal’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 2
The Nahianwala police has registered a case against the sports club of Bhokhra village for alleged demolition of the boundary wall of government senior secondary school and preparing stage the sports mela.

Police sources said that case was registered against Baba Budhgir Sports Club, Bhokra village under Sections 427 and 447 of the IPC on the complaint of District Education Officer (Secondary). Chander Hanspuri, who had alleged that the club had demolished the school wall and erected stage without permission from the authorities.

However, villagers alleged that the case was registered against the club today as former Punjab Chief Minister and president, SAD (Badal), Parkash Singh Badal was the chief guest of the prize distribution function in the school today. The Congress leadership of the area was annoyed over the fact that the club had invited the former Chief Minister, Mr Badal and not any leader of the ruling party.

Sources said though the DEO (secondary) had moved an application to the district administration for legal action against the club for demolishing the school wall and setting up stage, the case was registered today when Mr Badal attended the function as the chief guest.

A few weeks ago, the district administration faced embarrassment when former Union Minister and general secretary of the SAD (Badal), Sukhbir Badal inaugurated a block of government high school of Malooka village of this district. Mr Badal also attacked the Congress government in his address on the occasion.

After a news item in this connection appeared in The Tribune, the authorities recommended action against the school authorities.


387 jawans pass out
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 2
As many as 387 jawans of the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) and the PAP Battalion participated in the passing-out parade at the PAP complex near here today. Mr R.L. Bhagat, DIG (Training), took the salute from the jawans of the 133rd batch of the Police Training Centre.

Mr Bhagat, later in his address to the jawans, said the jawans were being specially trained to carry out counter-insurgency operations. More emphasis was being laid on training jawans for night-dominance operations.

Mr Pawan Uppal, Superintendent of Police, (Training), reading from the annual report, said that as many as 20,606 jawans had been trained at the Police Training Centre here since its inception in 1947.

Later, Mr Bhagat gave away prizes to jawans for outstanding performances during training. While Narinder Singh of the IRB won the overall first position, Balvir Singh of the 27th battalion was declared overall second. Bikramjit Singh of the IRB won the prize for the best turnout.


Women's rights panel
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 2
The Punjab State Commission for Women has constituted a committee on the women rights awareness campaign to educate women about their constitutional and legal rights.

The commission has appointed Dr Kulwant Kaur, Ms Manjeet Kaur Joi, Mr M.S. Chahal and Mr Charanjit Singh Bakshi as members of the committee, according to a press note issued by Ms Surinder Kaur Grewal, chairperson of the commission.


Left parties hold anti-US rally

Jalandhar, April 2
The state units of Left parties including the CPI, the CPM and the CPI (ML) organised a rally here today in protest against the US-led aggression on Iraq.

Addressing the rally, the Secretary of the state unit of the CPI Joginder Dyal charged the Bush administration for violating international law and the UN charter by attacking Iraq. He criticised the NDA government for adopting a “middle path” and not condemning the brutal aggression on Iraqi people.

The protestors burnt the effigy of US President George Bush amidst shouting slogans like “no war for oil”. PTI


Assembly prorogued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
The Punjab Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, today adjourned the state assembly sine die. The Budget session started on March 14. 

The motion that the assembly shall stand adjourned sine die was moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jagjit Singh.


PUDA budget raised
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 2
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has proposed to spend Rs 661.70 crore during the financial year 2003-2004. This amount is almost double the amount spent by the authority in 2002-2003.

According to a press communication issued by PUDA today, PUDA's budget was passed following recommendations of its Finance and Accounts Committee. A provision of Rs. 210 crore has been made for purchase of land for setting up of new urban estates at Zirakpur, Derabassi, Kharar, Nabha, Barnala, Khanna, Moga, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Phillaur, Beas, Pathankot and Nawanshahr.


Judicial remand for Chahal

Kharar, April 2
A local court today remanded the Punjab Animal Husbandry Director, Punjab Poultry Development Corporation Managing Director and Punjab Livestock Development Board Chief Executive Officer, Gurcharan Singh Chahal, in judicial custody till April 10 in a case of corruption registered against him by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

Meanwhile, Harnam Singh Rana, an alleged mole in the Vigilance Bureau who gave some confidential official documents to Chahal, has been sent for custodial interrogation till tomorrow by another local court. Rana, Reader of the Vigilance Bureau Inspector-General S.M. Sharma, was arrested on Monday. UNI 


Octroi on chapatti machine waived
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 2
Municipal Corporation Commissioner here Jasbir Singh Bir has been directed by Capt Amarinder Singh not to charge octroi on the automatic “chapatti machine” for the Golden Temple.

In a communication to the Corporation Commissioner here today, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab has said that no octroi be charged on the machine. The automatic machine priced at Rs 32 lakh had already been exempted from Custom Duty of Rs 16 lakh.


Documentaries on Punjab folk games
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 2
The Department of Journalism and the Department of Television and Theatre of Punjabi University have teamed up to produce a number of documentaries covering various aspects of Punjabi life and culture. The first two such documentaries “Shtapoo” and “Geete” based on folk games of the state are ready for screening.

The documentaries have been directed by Dr Gurmeet Maan, trained in TV production techniques at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, and Dr Yogesh Gambhir, a passout from the National School of Drama(NSD), Delhi. Two more films on the same lines are to be completed soon. One is about “Hola Mohalla” and the other features the life of unsung Punjabi folk instrumentalist, Baba Kanshi Nath, an accomplished player of ‘vanjhli’ and ‘been’.

Giving this information, Dr Maan said these films were laced with many concepts and configurations hitherto unused in the format of such films. 


Godowns of FCI raided
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 2
Mr P.C. Gupta, Senior Regional Manager, Food Corporation of India (FCI), yesterday conducted raids and took samples of rice from local godowns of the FCI, following complaints of storage of sub-standards rice.

The deadline for receipt of rice against paddy ended on March 31, but about 26 per cent paddy purchased by foodgrain agencies is lying un-milled with rice millers of the district.

The state had formed committees under the chairmanship of respective SDMs with district heads of state procurement agencies its members. The function of these committees was to conduct periodic verification of foodgrain stocks so that the paddy was not misappropriated.

But during the past about seven months, no such exercise was conducted in the district. Sources revealed that similar was the situation in other parts of the state.


8-yr-old feared drowned in Ravi

Gurdaspur, April 2
Pankaj Thakur (8) was feared drowned in the Ravi river in the border village of Makura in the Gurdaspur sector today.

According to a police report Pankaj along with his friend Subam, and several other elderly persons had gone to take a dip in the Ravi on the occasion of “Navratras”. Pankaj and Subam were swept away by the waters of the river and the others who were taking a dip raised an alarm.

Army jawans manning the forward posts rushed to the spot on hearing the cries for help rescued Subam but could not save Pankaj. His body was yet to be recovered and Army divers were still searching for the body, the police added.

Meanwhile, the Border Security Force (BSF) has informed the Pakistan Rangers about the incident as the Ravi cris-crosses the border in the area where the incident took place. UNI


PDS wheat seized, 4 held
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 2
The police authorities of Division No 2 here have seized 200 bags of wheat meant for public distribution system (PDS) and arrested four persons in this connection. The arrested have been identified as gram sevak Amrit Pal, Raj Pal, Tarsem Lal and Chaman Lal. A case has been registered against them.

In another case, an Inspector of the Food and Supply Department was arrested by the police near Ghuman. Fifty bags of wheat meant for public distribution system were recovered from his possession. It is learnt that certain politicians are reportedly shielding the officials concerned.

However, officials of the District Food and Supply Controller, have denied the charge and claimed that the public distribution scheme was being implemented properly in the district.


Exhibitions for farmers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 2
Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), said here today that 14 exhibitions would be organised on the occasion by various departments.

In a statement issued here, Mr Kharbanda said lakhs of pilgrims would visit Talwandi Sabo on Baisakhi. A special exhibition on diversification would also be held. The exhibitions would continue till April 14.

The Deputy Commissioner said, with an eye on the coming crop season, farmers would be educated at seven training camps. The first such camp was held at Rampura Phul today. Another camp will be held in the Phul block on April 7, in the Nathana block on April 8, the Maur block on April 9, the Bathinda block on April 10 and the Talwandi Sabo block on April 17.


All set for wheat procurement
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 2
Expecting an arrival of about 6.44 lakhs metric tonnes of wheat at various purchase centres in the district (more than one lakh metric tonnes than last year), the district administration in association with the Food and Civil Supplies Department has made elaborate arrangements for the same.

As many as 113 purchase centres have been set up for hassle-free procurement. 


MC demolishes six structures
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 2
The Municipal Council today demolished six buildings and structures that had encroached upon government land or not been constructed according to rules.

A part of a residential-cum-commercial building in the Minocha Colony was demolished, as the owner, Mr Sanjiv Kumar, had allegedly constructed a hall in front of the building, on a space meant for a parking lot. Only this part of the building had been demolished, authorities said.

Two shops constructed on a part of the 80-foot road in Aawa Basti were also demolished. The shops belonged to one Kailash Rani.

Four boundary walls in Namdev Nagar were also demolished as the land enclosed belonged to government. No building had been raised on these plots, but the Municipal Council said the walls had been demolished to discourage any such attempt.

Mr Hardev Singh Brar, who said he owned one of the plots, also said he had not encroached upon any government land.

The persons whose buildings were demolished alleged that they had received no notice before the action, but the authorities concerned said the notices had been served two months ago and the owners had been given enough time to demolish the illegal buildings. The owners alleged that the action was partial.

Mr B.D. Singla, ME of the Municipal Council, who supervised the operations, said the MC would continue with the drive. He refuted the allegations that some of the defaulters had been spared.


Truant staff face music
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 2
In a surprise visit of the Sub-Tehsil, Mamdot, by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, the Naib Tehsildar, Registry Clerk, Reader and the peon were found absent from duty.

According to Mr Raminder Singh, at around 11 a.m., when he reached the sub-tehsil, he found that almost that entire staff was absent from duty. The Deputy Commissioner has charge sheeted the Naib Tehsildar, Mr Bachittar Singh, where as Mr Vikrant Gupta, Registry Clerk, Mr Deepak Kumar, Reader and the peon have been placed under suspension.

Later, Mr Raminder Singh went on a surprise visit to the Community Health centre where he found only two doctors present. The three pharmacists, Alis F. Masih, LHV, Gurdev Singh, Raj Kumar and Ashok Kumar, and caretaker Surinder Kaur, were found absent from duty. The DC has sent a complaint to Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, in this regard.


Wife, in-laws booked for commando’s death
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 2
Jagtar Singh, a commando of the Punjab Police died when he was allegedly forced to consume poison by his wife, two brother-in-law and father-in-law last night at his in-law’s house here.

Police sources said Jagtar Singh, who was having some differences with his wife Rajbir Kaur, yesterday came to his in-law’s house here from his village Bahini Bagha in Mansa district. First, he was served with liquor and subsequently, he was administered poison forcibly.

After Jagtar Singh died, the accused fled from their house. The dead body was shifted to the local hospital by a neighbour.

A case in this connection has been registered against Rajbir Kaur, here two brothers Chinder Singh and Jaskaran Singh and her father Nachhattar Singh under sections 306, IPC, in the local police station. The body of Jagtar Singh was sent to the civil hospital, where the post-mortem examination was conducted by a panel of doctors.

Mr Ashutosh, DSP, Talwandi Sabo, while confirming the incident, said raids were being conducted at different places to nab the accused.

In another case, the police achieved a major success by arresting a head of inter-state gang of criminals, who had been declared a proclaimed offener (PO) about five years ago.

Police sources said proclaimed offender Jasbir Singh, alias Seera, was arrested by the police on a tip-off. The accused, who was involved in number of criminals cases, including murder and smuggling of opium and poppy husk and was wanted by the Haryana and the Rajasthan police.


Sarpanch booked for misappropriating funds
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 2
The police has booked Iqbal Singh, sarpanch of Jaura Chhatran, village for misappropriating government funds. Mr R.P.S. Brar, SSP, talking to newsmen here today said Niranjan Singh, former sarpanch of the village, filed an affidavit to the Block Development and Panchayat Officer, Gurdaspur, that the accused had misappropriated government funds to the tune of several lakhs of rupees. A grant of Rs 4,66,613 was granted for development works in the village.

Mr Brar said it was stated in the affidavit that instead of utilising the grant for the development purposes the sarpanch misappropriated this amount for his personal ends and produced fake utilisation certificate.

Mr Brar said when the Block Development and Panchayat Officer along with the technical hand held the inquiry, the allegations levelled against the sarpanch were found correct. The sarpanch had misappropriated the government funds amounting to Rs 3,03,329.

The BDPO sent his detailed inquiry report holding the accused guilty to the Deputy Commissioner, who further recommended the case to the SSP for taking action against the accused. 


Boy, girl found dead by villagers
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, April 2
A girl and boy allegedly committed suicide by consuming a poisonous substance at Jandali village near Ahmedgarh yesterday.

Some villagers informed the police that two bodies were lying in the village fields. The bodies were sent to the local Civil Hospital for postmortem examination. and later handed over to the Municipal Committee, Ahmedgarh for cremation. A case under Section 174 of the CrPC has been registered.

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