Tuesday, June 17, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


Mini secretariat at Patiala

THE mini secretariat at Patiala, which was commissioned by Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh on June 9, has been designed by the Department of Architecture, Punjab, and constructed by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).

The monumental complex was designed by the Department of Architecture under my guidance when I was the Chief Architect of Punjab during 1996-2001. We designed this complex in accordance with Punjab’s architectural heritage and character. We suitable modified it in the modern context.

Before I took over as the Chief Architect, most of the government buildings in Punjab such as the district administrative complexes (DACs) at Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur and Jalandhar were designed by my predecessors in their own way.

You will find that the other DACs or mini-secretariats which are coming up in Hoshiarpur and Moga are being built in conformity with Punjab’s architectural character, suitably amended in the modern context.

P.R. Luthra, Former Chief Architect, Punjab, Chandigarh



Den of corruption

This has reference to Mr R.C. Khanna’s letter, “Case for overhaul of Income-Tax Department” (June 2). I must say that it requires courage and strength of conviction to call a spade a spade about one of the most important departments of the Central Government.

I am also inspired to share with your readers one of the most illegal practices prevalent in the Income-Tax Department. Each assessment range is headed by an Additional/ Joint Commissioner of Income Tax under whom the Assessing Officers perform the work. The majority of them are Income-Tax officers, and also one or two Assistant Commissioners of Income-Tax and Deputy Commissioner of Income-Tax.

It is enacted in section 119 of Income-Tax Act that assessment powers are independent and no senior can interfere in any manner in the exercise of such power by an Assessing Officer. The Supreme Court and the High Courts have also held that no superior authority, even the Central Board of Direct Taxes can interfere with the independence of an Assessing Officer in framing an assessment.

Assessees, chartered accountants and advocates know that in all cases of scrutiny assessments, all assessing officers have to unofficially go to their respective Additional/ Joint Commissioner of Income Tax to report the progress of cases selected for scrutiny and seek directions as to how an assessment order is to be passed. This illegal interference in the independence of the assessing officer is taking place everywhere right under the nose of the Union Finance Ministry in New Delhi.

This issue was taken up by Mr R.C. Khanna at an open meeting when the Chief Commissioner of Income-Tax visited the Amritsar Tax Bar after taking charge. It was suggested that either this illegality should be stopped or it should be done legally under Section 144A which provides that an Assessing Officer can seek directions from the Additional/ Joint Commissioner of Income-Tax and the latter, after giving notice both to the assessee and the Assessing Officer affording opportunity of being heard, may pass appropriate directions in writing on the issue(s) involved. In that meeting, the Chief Commissioner assured the Tax Bar, in the presence of his Additional/ Joint Commissioners, that it would be certainly done under the due processes of the law in future.

Will the Chief Commissioner of Income-Tax come out with the number of cases where Section 144A has been invoked? My humble submission is that unless this vicious circle of illegality is broken, we cannot dismantle the den of corruption.

Vijay Aggarwal, Chartered Accountant, Amritsar

Fleecing patients

THERE is no uniform charges for tests like TMT, ECHO and CAG in Punjab. For instance, a cardiologist charges Rs 200 or so as his consultation fee at Patiala whereas those at Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar demand anything between Rs 300 and Rs 350. Similarly, gynaecologists, dermatologists and urologists charge different fees in the state. Blood tests, X-Rays, ultra sound and MRIs are also done at different rates. The charges for operation are also not uniform in Punjab. Here in Patiala, for example, a laser operation with folding lens costs Rs 11,000. The same is done for Rs 13,500 at Chandigarh.

A cardiologist is a cardiologist whether he is at Patiala, Jalandhar or Mohali. Charges for lipid profile at Amritsar should cost the same for a patient at Patiala or at any other place because the procedure for the test is the same.

There is need for uniform charges throughout the state. The IMA of every state should look into this and do something. Medical and para-medical persons should maintain the dignity of the profession. The less said the better about government doctors who do practice at home even while pocketing the non-practising allowance. They also perform operations in private clinics. They are a blot on the face of this noble profession.

Dr Naresh Raj, Patiala



Nanakshahi calendar

The Punjab Government is unnecessarily getting embroiled into the controversy regarding the dates of Gurpurab. Indeed, the Nanakshahi Calendar has many deficiencies, some deliberate and some due to inexperience. Yet it is a reformist step with some starting pangs.

It is also correct that due to the Akali Dal's participation in national politics, they take advantage of their long exclusive hegemony over the SGPC and Akal Takht to create problems for the politics of the non-Akali Sikhs. But all such problems get resolved in time. The Congress Government in Punjab need not get bogged down in an unnecessary controversy.

The Punjab Government need not adopt the Nanakshahi Calendar as a whole; it is bound to follow the national calendar. However, no government which has to profess secularism can assume the authority to arbitrate on the dates of the religious events of any particular community. It is only for the leadership or the highest religious authority of that community, or religion, to determine the dates they want to follow. Wherever the government wants to accommodate some of the religious festivals or events of that community as holidays, it has to adopt the days acceptable to that community.

Aridaman Singh, Jhubal Bhai

Road safety

Road travellers will be happy to note the smooth riding surface and lane markings on the road from Patiala to Chandigarh. This has disciplined all the drivers on the road and, surely, the accident rate must have come down on this route.

Keeping in view the alarming accident-rate on the roads, other state highways emanating from Ludhiana up to Mohali, Jalandhar, Moga and from Bathinda to Barnala need similar improvement on riding surface and lane-marking of roads, especially where the density of vehicular traffic is high.

The names of the SDO, the Executive Engineer and the Superintending Engineer should be displayed on all important crosses and junctions with their telephone numbers for the information of the general public so that in case of bad road maintenance, they can be contacted.

Roads, which are the lifeline of our economics and strategic defence movements in the border belt, should be given top priority. This will raise the image of the Public Works Department and bring down the accident-rate on roads. The transport business will also flourish, giving a boost to tax collection.

Lt-Col. Daya Singh, Bathinda

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