Monday, July 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Best Bakery ruling: A poor reflection on the judiciary

APROPOS of the editorial “Best Bakery verdict” (June 30), the judgement is a poor reflection on our judicial system. In this particular case, the judiciary has failed to uphold people’s faith.

It was perhaps the best documented case where the accused were publicly identified, affidavits were filed by the victims and their relatives before the National Human Rights Commission, victims deposed before the Citizens Tribunal and the national media and most of the suspects were arrested. Yet the witnesses were finally coerced or cajoled to go hostile. Even the key witness in this case, Zahida Habibullah Shaikh, has gone missing after deposition.

The question is not whether Gujarat 2000 goes the way of Delhi 1984 or Bombay 1993, nor whether it remains an unsolved replica of the Ahmedabad communal holocaust of 1969, but it is the effectiveness of our law enforcement agencies and the justice dispensation system that must find themselves in the dock and establish their eroding credibility.

We boast of the vast spread of the electronic media, which video-films everything including crime, the clippings of which are repeatedly shown on TV. Why can’t then we identify and punish the guilty? Any exception in law is bound to generate a heinous disregard for the judicial system of the country.




The Best Bakery case best exemplifies how by managing the evidence, even the fast track courts can be derailed. No significant conviction has resulted even in the politically motivated pogrom of 1984 even after two decades and many commissions of inquiry.

Killing of innocent people in a burning train or by reprisals or murdering human beings for skinning a dead animal are all equally heinous and should be dealt with sternly to prevent recurrence. In most of the cases, the real accused are never apprehended in the first place or the cases are weakened to provide a safe escape route to the killers.

If the mobs are given a free hand to teach a lesson to some people and if passions are allowed to ignite innocent persons and the properties, it could be the turn of the another community tomorrow.

Should we not opt for a just society? Should we not have special laws to take care of the law of evidence which turns hostile under threat or allurements?



It is a national shame that the court has acquitted all the 21 accused, involved in the Best Bakery episode. The judge, who delivered the verdict, pointed out with deep anguish that it was not safe to convict the accused; there was not an iota of evidence for that. Apart from castigating the politicians and the police for their roles, he called the incident a blot on the city. Nay it is a blot on the face of the nation.


Need to shift HP capital

ALL right thinking people should welcome the suggestion of former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal to shift the state capital from Shimla to the lower belt of state, preferably to Jahoo, Sarkaghat or Ghumarwin.

Of course, Mr Dhumal’s idea is belated. He should have implemented this proposal during his regime. The people of the lower belt should wholeheartedly champion the cause of the region by supporting the proposal. We should specifically keep in view the geographical situation of the state.




Unbundling of PSEB

The Punjab Government has decided to unbundle PSEB and now the former has taken up the job with speed (June 19) to achieve the end without knowing what to do and how to do. It is simply hoodwinking the known result that “It will not be the Orissa model which has already failed.” Consultants are being appointed to show the path to the government how to achieve its objective.

Even when the PSEB, as a monolithic unit, is responsible for the continuity and quality of supply, whenever there is a complaint from the consumer, he is silenced with these words: “Pichhon hi khrab hai”. After unbundling of PSEB into three or four organisations, the poor consumer will not know whom to approach for poor service and quality of supply.

Each organisation will be interested to achieve its own objective from commercial aspect without being responsible and ensuring proper service to the consumer. Even these days, when the PSEB has shut down one unit of the Ropar thermal plant because of no demand of power, it is continuing with power cut on some categories of consumers. Those who have embarked upon the process of unbundling the PSEB will not be there in their chairs, when results of this adventurism will be known and they will not be called upon to account for lapses. It is only the poor consumer who will be there to suffer for the irregularities.


Fleecing students

Apropos of the report about the murder of Bhaddal’s IET Chairman, the investigating agency should look into why money is arbitrarily being charged and whether money paid by students for securing jobs was one of the reasons for the crime. It should also be examined why the students are being fleeced with impunity. Is there no controlling authority to check the same?

The Supreme Court while deliberating on the question of capitation fee issue in 1991 had ordered that every state government shall constitute a committee consisting of the Vice-Chancellor, Education Secretary and Director of Technical/Medical Education to fix the ceiling on fee chargeable by such colleges. The committee shall fix the fee once in every three years or at such longer intervals, as it may think appropriate. It appears that this committee is non-functional. Otherwise, how can the college authorities charge fee at their will? it is not uncommon to find clauses in the colleges’ prospectus announcing that the fee will be increased by 10 per cent from the next academic session. There are instances when students are charged the bus fare for the whole session even if, due to some exigency, they board the bus once only.

The state government authorised the Punjab Technical University (PTU) to make admissions through the CET. The PTU notifies rules for admission and refund of fee etc in certain situations. But many colleges do not follow the rules and refund the various fees, the amount invariably being more than Rs 40,000.

Unfortunately, the PTU does not respond to the grievances of the students. On the contrary, it itself fleeces the students by charging huge amounts in the name of counselling, which is simply an allotment of a seat. The students’ welfare and the quality of education in the colleges is the last priority for the PTU. Will the State Department of Technical Education wake up for the students’ cause?


Root out corruption

Political corruption has reached alarming proportions. Our political masters including Chief Ministers promote their kith and kin at the cost of the exchequer. Surely, they could have used the money for building houses for poor people, constructing schools in the villages to educate the children or building hospitals for the sick in the villages. Every day we read in newspapers that the government has sanctioned money to provide essential facilities in rural and backward areas. But, in reality, only a fraction of the sanctioned amount is utilised for development and the rest goes into the bank accounts of the political masters to meet their own requirements. What more can one expect from these leaders? There is a need to root out corruption.


Postal holiday?

The post offices in Ferozepore City area function at the pleasure of the staff. The offices open and close at the whim of the employees. For instance, when I went to the post office at Arya Samaj Chowk at about 9.30 a.m. recently, it was closed. When I rushed to another post office at Tahlli Mohalla, I found it open. Surprisingly, however, I could not see the staff. It was, certainly, no lunch break. I, of course, found one person at the last corner near the working shelves.


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