Tuesday, June 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



I-T Department’s credibility at stake

The Siti Cable scam in Amritsar exposes moral depravity as well as financial skullduggery. Soon after the police action, the Directorate of Inspection, an independent wing of the Income-Tax Department, swung into action and carried out search operations at the residential and business premises of the main accused. The next day there were reports that the police had taken away all the documents and other evidence and were not supplying the accused even xerox copies thereof.

The displeasure of the officers of the Directorate is misplaced and stems from a lack of awareness of settled law that where the criminal and civil jurisprudence overlap each other in operation, it is the former which will take precedence over the latter.

The respective locus standi of the police vis-a-vis the Income-Tax Department in the field of economic offences has already been settled by the Punjab and Haryana Court in Amandeep Singh case cited at 252 ITR 139 in the context of Sections 102 and 457 of CrPC and section 132A of the Income-Tax Act. As per the ratio laid down, the Income-Tax Department should approach the court seized of jurisdiction to receive the seized evidence which comes to be termed as case property.

Last year, when the jobs-for-money scam with Ravi Sidhu as its kingpin hit the headlines, the then zonal apex officers of the Directorate of Income-Tax issued a statement that all the money with the accused and its source in the hands of job-buyers will be thoroughly investigated. However, little has been heard ever since about the action taken. The people need to be told by the Directorate or the Press must step in on behalf of the people to ferret out the truth.


It might interest The Tribune readers to know that the Chief Commisserate and Directorate of Inspection at Amritsar have only one junior officer in their Valuation Cell with powers limited to verify the cost of construction up to Rs 10 lakh. So, the middle class or the lower middle class assessees who are able to fulfill their life-time dream of constructing a house are given full treatment of rigorous investigation. Nobody knows what happens to verification of the cost of construction of multi-storeyed behemoths coming up at prime locations.

Credibility and probity in the functioning of the Income-Tax Department, particularly its Directorate of Inspection, needs a lot of meaningful restructuring to rehabilate and reinforce its respect in the eyes of the taxpayers.

R.C. Khanna, Chartered Accountant, Amritsar

BSNL’s questionable ad

The BSNL advertisement, “Connecting India — Bringing your world together”, I saw at Palam airport in New Delhi the other day, does not do justice to the Sikh gentleman who is shown making a phone call. Why can’t it get a Sikh with a well-tied turban in their ad? The ad shows a person with a piece of cloth sloppily wrapped around his head which is supposed to be a turban and the left facial side has been transposed onto the right as is often done by ignorant printers in our country when depicting turbaned Sikhs.

If the man (shown here in Army fatigues) is supposed to be a soldier, then it might be better for BSNL’s own good to have the soldier dressed up in his proper uniform rather than in his battle fatigues, which at the best of times do not look so impressive.

It would also be better if BSNL gets a Sikh who looks real for its ad campaign (very often non-Sikhs are all shown with a turban and beard in our serials and ads on TV), and ensures that its models know how to tie their turbans properly. Otherwise, instead of “Connecting India”, it may end up “disconnecting” its Sikh clientele altogether.

Himmat Singh Gill, Chandigarh

Incorrect report

The report “Chief Architect, 2 others suspended” is not based on facts. It says that on detection of fraud by the Accountant-General (Audit) in April 2001, Mr Nathi Ram deposited Rs 98127. A re-audit was therefore suggested for the already audited periods (1995-2001), when Mr V.P. Arora, Mr Sansar Chand, Mr P.C. Kansil, and Mr S.K. Midha held the charge of the post of Chief Architect. The concluding title given by the AG to the report was “Non-observance of rules led to embezzlement by cashier” by reuse of vouchers/ bills etc, the record of which is kept and maintained by the cashier. However, the AG’s audit concluded in 1995 and 1998 reported no such lapses.

The matter was reported to the UT police who, after investigation, arrested the cashier and filed a challan in the court.

The Inquiry Officer, Mr Bishnoi, also pointed out fraud on account of the reuse of bills, missing APRs and delayed payments and suggested recovery of interest for the delayed period of disbursement of amount. None of this has been handled by me which led to embezzlement.

I would like to clarify that I have never handled government money. Consequently, where is the question of my involvement in the embezzlement of funds?

S.C. Thukral, Chandigarh

Media fellowships

The National Foundation for India has announced the 2003 North-East Media Exchange Programme (NEMEP), which offers six fellowships to journalists from the region and other parts of India to study specific development issues.

The fellowship is competitive and has been awarded to young and promising journalists from the North East as well as senior-level editors and media specialists from the rest of India. Each fellowship for the North East carries a grant of Rs 35,000 as well as the return Second Class AC sleeper train fare from the awardee's home to the place of secondment (usually a media organisation). For the fellows from the rest of India, it’s a grant of Rs 15,000 as well as similar travel arrangements. NEMEP has sent 61 journalists to this programme so far, including 21 from other parts of India.

The aim is to help journalists improve their understanding of issues in India as well as, specifically, a complex region like the North East, and also to help them network with other communicators in building a communications bridge to other parts of India.

The last date fore receiving applications is July 15, 2003.

For further information, contact the Senior Programme Officer, National Foundation for India, Core IVA, Upper Ground Floor, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110 003, email: monica@nfi.org.in (Ph: 011-24641864/5).

Sanjoy Hazarika, Convener, NEMEP, New Delhi

Reliance blues

Yet another fraud is in the offing through the Reliance Infocom. Gullible people were lured to buy Reliance mobile connection with promises of full connectivity, Internet, films, songs and sports display etc. After four months of having handed over the set, the connectivity is from Chandigarh to Delhi and Punjab towns and not vice versa.

As a matter of fact, the subscribers have possessed a toy to play with their children. It was supposed to bring communication revolution at cheaper rates. As a clever move, advance cheques for the next three years payment have been collected and bound the subscribers. Frequent enquires have revealed no hope for improvement in the functioning of the system.

It was expected of a big business house to make all preparations before the sale of the sets to provide expected communication services. I am afraid, Reliance Industries has reduced its reputation to dust and unless it provides a spurt, it is heading for a scam. Mr Mukesh Ambani and Mr Anil Ambani need to take the warning on a very serious note.

Air Marshal P.K. Jain (retd), Chandigarh

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