N C R   S T O R I E S


Panic reigns as coaches catch fire
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 10
Two coaches of a stationary, unoccupied train were gutted when a fire broke out while it was waiting to be shunted to the maintenance yard of the Delhi main railway station here today.

More than 16 fire engines were rushed to the station to control the fire and prevent it from spreading. Complete panic prevailed at the station as hundreds of passengers and railway employees scurried for safety. The platforms in the vicinity of the burning coaches were finally cleared of passengers to facilitate fire-fighting operations. No one was reported injured in the incident.

The police said a case had been registered and efforts were being made to ascertain the cause of the fire. The possibility of a carelessly thrown cigarette or bidi having caused the fire could not be ruled out as the train had arrived an hour earlier from Azamgarh and all passengers had left the train. The same train returns to Azamgarh in the night.

According to a spokesman of Northern Railway here, the Kaifiyat Express train reached the Old Delhi railway station at 12.30 pm. It is scheduled to leave for the return journey at 11 pm. During the interim period, the train is normally taken to the maintenance section for cleaning and inspection. The fire was noticed just before it was to be shunted to the maintenance section.

Even as the fire brigade was informed a number of railway employees tried to douse the flames with water. The fire was confined to two coaches of the sleeper class.

The fire service department of Northern Railway also tried to put out the fire but was unable to do so. The Delhi Fire Service was called at 2.20 pm. By the time fire-fighters of the DFS reached the railway station two coaches had been completely gutted.

Senior police, fire service and Northern Railway officials also rushed to the station to supervise the fire-fighting operations. A detailed inquiry is being conducted by senior officials of the Northern Railway, the spokesman said.

He said when the passengers left the train the coaches were locked. The coaches were to be opened in the maintenance area. No outsider could have entered the coaches.

Concern over crime spiral

Ghaziabad: The increasing crime in Ghaziabad, Noida, Bulandshahar and Meerut districts is worrying the police brass of UP. The UP Director-General of Police, Mr V. K. B. Nayar, in a meeting of police officers of western UP in Sahibabad two days ago had expressed grave concern over the rising crime graph in the zone. He instructed the district police chief to quickly bring the activities of the gangs under control.


PGIMS admissions dogged by controversy
Jatinder Sharma

Rohtak, November 10
The admissions to various medical courses like MBBS, BDS, MD, MS etc in Pt B. D. Sharma Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS), which were earlier perceived to be fair and transparent, have been embroiled in controversies this year.

The Punjab and Haryana Court had last week ordered the admission of those students who had secured higher marks in the entrance test, but were not given admission during counselling on September 29 and 30. Others, who were much lower in the merit list, had been admitted by the counselling board headed by the Director, PGIMS.

During the MBBS and BDS admission, the counselling announced for September 29 was postponed on the day at 5 pm to September 30, which was the last date for admission to any of these courses. On September 30 at about 5 pm it was

announced that there were no more open category seats available. Those candidates, who had been left out in the open category, were asked to leave. However, around midnight it was announced that some more open category seats were available. These were offered to candidates with much lower merit and who happened to be available at that time, ignoring the claims of those who were much higher in merit and had left the counselling site after the announcement that open category seats had been exhausted.

Many of the aggrieved candidates and their parents, who moved the court, alleged that it was all by design and intended to accommodate certain candidates with lower merit for reasons best known to the authorities. Thus, the present decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court may require re-counselling.

For admissions to various postgraduate courses like MD/MS/PG diplomas, only a day’s notice for second counselling was given through a newspaper advertisement. The counselling was held on a Sunday. For some of those, who might be away, it was not possible to reach for counselling for which only 24 hours’ time was given and no interview letter was sent.

Still worse, about 25 in service candidates, who had failed to qualify in the entrance test, were admitted. This was done ignoring the conditions laid down in the prospectus itself. As per the Medical Council of India (MCI) regulations, a candidate must score at least 50 per cent marks in the entrance test to become eligible for admission to any postgraduate course.

The least important course in PGIMS here is that of ophthalmic assistant. As per the prospectus, admission to this course is to be made on the basis of 10 plus 2 merit and no entrance test is held. The interview committee scrutinised the certificates of the applicants and recommended admissions of candidates in order of merit/marks.

However, now the PGIMS authorities have ordered that all candidates be called and given a one-hour written test.

It is not known under which rule the written test is being held.


Viscera report helps nail wife for murder
Our Correspondent

Rewari, November 10
Following clinching findings made by experts of the Forensic State Laboratory, Madhuban, about the cause of death of one Amir Chand, the police have arrested Saroj, the wife of the deceased, and her two accomplices, Sohan Lal and Om Prakash, on charges of murder and criminal conspiracy.

Although Amir Chand, a railway employee and resident of Qutabpur locality, was allegedly poisoned to death on April 14, 2003, yet the police could not lay their hands on the accused for six months in the absence of conclusive proof regarding the cause of the victim’s demise.

All three accused have now been remanded in judicial custody by a local court. Earlier, the police had registered a case of causing hurt by means of poison, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy under Sections 328, 307 and 120-B of the IPC against the accused. But now with clinching proof of the cause of the victim’s death, Section 307 has been converted into Section 302 (which deals with murder) .

According to the police, Saroj had deserted her husband and was living with her paramour Brahmjit in the latter’s house in Vikas Nagar for the past about eight years.

However, felling that her husband’s presence was an irritant that she could do without, a conspiracy was allegedly hatched. Amir Chand was coaxed to join the company of Sohan Lal and Om Prakash, both railway employees, at Sohan Lal’s residence where Amir Chand was allegedly administered poison in liquor on the night of April 14 , 2003. An unconscious Amir Chand was rushed to Railway Central Hospital, New Delhi, where he eventually died on April 19, 2003. The report of the chemical examination revealed that Amir Chand’s death was caused due to poisoning.


Roads carpeted overnight for Mulayam
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, November 10
At least for the visit of the Chief Minister, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, to Shipra Revera the administration rose gallantly to the occasion.

Not only was the whole area spruced up but all roads leading to Revera were carpeted overnight.

The coming of Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav had virtually heralded a race among netas and officials alike. Nobody wanted to miss the chance to be seen alongside the Chief Minister of the state.

Even the District Magistrate and the SSP from Meerut reached the venue hours before the Chief Minister’s arrival. After having greeted the Chief Minister, they were soon on their way back.

The MD of the UP Power Corporation, Mr Avinash Awasthi, with a retinue of his staff was also in attendance as the Chief Minister is also the Power Minister of the state.

All officers and office-bearers of the Ghaziabad Development Authority and the Nagar Nigam were also seen vying with each other to be the first in saluting the VVIP of the day!

Legislators and those who had been MLAs or MLCs once, like Dadri’s former MLA Sameer Bhatti, Ghaziabad’s SP chief Sajjad Hussian, Rakesh Tyagi and many other had also come to shake the CM’s hands.

Samajwadi Party youth sabha national secretary Mukhya Gujjar was seen registering his presence by remaining by the CM’s side for quite sometime.

“The Chief Minister is in no mood to face the Press”.

“No, no Press” was the constant refrain of the officials around the CM. “We can very well face an antagonistic Press but not the wrath of the Chief Minister”, they were heard saying. In spite of this reporters had sneaked in along with the Chief Minister.

The Shipra Revera Resident Welfare Association had, through a memorandum, acquainted Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav with their grievances against the GDA and the nagar nigam for their various failures and acts of negligence in the area. The CM was seen just nodding. They requested for a culvert to connect Vaishali with Indirapuram, a road to link Shipra Revera with Hindon river bridge etc.


A smile on your face is the only reward he is looking for
Nalini Ranjan

New Delhi, November 10
From a village in Ropar district to the nitty-gritty of dealing with bigwigs as the president of the sprawling East Delhi automobile market and at the same time looking after several social service voluntary organisations like the Punjabi Sabhyachar Society and the Pandav Nagar Shree Ram Lakhan Ram Leela Committee, it has been a long haul for Jathedar Darshan Singh.

Now, a well-established businessman and social worker of the area, who rubs shoulders with top notch politicians and industrialists, the journey was by no means an easy one. It was 1981 when Darshan Singh landed up in the country’s Capital with nothing more than a few spare clothes and some essentials.

Those were difficult days. Unable to find suitable employment, this sturdy sardar then set up his own welding unit in a rented garage in Pandav Nagar, East Delhi. He had acquired this skill while attending school in Punjab. In just a few months, he had established himself as an honest and well-meaning person in an area where Muslims were the majority community.

This was also the time of tension and unrest in the area as the residents were demanding a separate graveyard. Darshan immediately jumped into the fray and sat on a dharna along with the local Muslim leaders in support of their demand. Victory came a few days later when the then Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi, personally intervened and had a plot of land allotted for the graveyard.

This incident was perhaps the turning point in Darshan Singh’s career. He realised the importance of helping the needy as it brought considerable peace to him. Deeply religious, he follows the scriptures to the word in his day-to-day life.

His abilities came into particular focus during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Residents still recall how Darshan Singh worked day in and day out to restore normalcy and communal amity in the area. It was basically through his efforts that this particular locality remained an oasis of peace while the entire East district was burning.

Again in 1993, Darshan Singh was forced to take on the leadership of the agitating shopkeepers of the Pandav Nagar truck market when the DDA demolished it. The market had been there for the past 35 years. Darshan Singh organised the shopkeepers and launched an agitation . Finally, permanent land was allotted to the market and as a tribute to his leadership Darshan Singh has been the president of this market since 1988.

The Punjabi Sabhyachar Society of which he is the founder president has been engaged in social service in the area by organising free health check-up camps and providing sewing machines and financial help to the destitute and the deprived, so that they can earn for themselves. The society has also arranged several mass marriages for girls belonging to slum clusters.


Consumer forum makes Telecom Dept pay for negligence

Jhajjar: The district consumer forum has imposed a penalty of Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000, respectively, on the Telecom Department for delay and negligence in providing services to its subscribers.

According to information, Rajiv Kataria, a resident of teachers’ colony in Bahadurgarh, had complained to the consumer forum that his telephone no 220660 had been on the blink since the past two months and the BSNL authorities were not rectifying the fault despite repeated complaints in this regard.

The forum today ordered the BSNL authorities at Bahadurgarh to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 for negligence in providing service, out of which Rs 2,000 would be deducted from the salary of the BSNL employee who was directly responsible for rectifying the fault.

In another decision, the forum slapped a fine of Rs 1,000 for delay in installing a new telephone connection at the residence of Mr Surinder Sharma at Arya Nagar colony here. OC


CPM to contest three seats
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 10
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) will contest three seats in Delhi and is holding talks with other like-minded parties to defeat the Congress and the BJP in 15 other seats in the Assembly elections.

Announcing this at a press conference here today, CPI (M) Delhi State Committee secretary P M S Grewal said Nathu Prasad has been fielded from Ramnagar (SC) where the party stood third in the previous two elections, while Munnu Singh will contest from Yamuna Vihar and Ranjit Singh from Mahipalpur.

“It is unrealistic to think that a third alternative can emerge in Delhi.... But we feel that there are 15 seats where non-Congress, non-BJP candidates can win.... We will back them,” Mr Grewal said, but refused to name the parties that were being approached.

He said it was essential in the current situation to have a solid block that was secular and committed to the cause of the poor and the lower middle class. “This block would be able to raise its voice in the Assembly against the communal and pro-rich BJP and the anti-poor Congress that is seeking to privatise every thing from water to education,” he said.

INLD list out

The Indian National Lok Dal president, Mr O P Chautala, today released the list of people who have been issued tickets to contest the Assembly elections.

Among those who have been issued the tickets are former MLA from Shabad, Daulatpur, Jeetram Solanki; Henchandra Bhatt from Bawana; Bharat Singh from Najafgarh; and Virendra Singh, alias Bindu Dagar, from Mahipalpur.

Party leaders are now discussing the names for the second list, which will be released later. Party leader Hari Singh Rana said that the party would shortly release the manifesto.


This card gives you easy access to expert advice
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 10
TFN Limited, a Delhi-based relationship building company since 1997, has introduced ‘easycard’ with its unique range of services with a new concept to serve people.

For the first time, a complete solution card has been floated in the market that would solve all problems, a card that would make life simpler.

In today’s world, easycard has become a buzzword due to its customer-friendly services of cracking various personal riddles with just clicking of fingers.

The expert advisory, world-wide information and telechatting services are especially designed for the busy executives, businessmen, students, professionals, housewives and others, a release said.

Easycards counsel its customers on things like emotional break-up, social recognition, problematic children, career promotions, time management, yoga and spiritual development, coping with alcoholism, drugs, gambling and other vices, improving relations within family and outside, dealing with addictive and abusive parents, siblings, carping bosses and getting positive results, and also a host of psychological problems, solving old-age problems or anything else which cannot be imagined in advance.

Thus, in the hands of easycard experts, counselling and handling of emotions has become both—science as well as art..

The services of telechatting provide relief to the people who are alone and have no one to share their feelings.

Thus, easycard provides an opportunity to lead a totally new life. Easycard can prove a goldmine of encyclopaedic information flowing out on each call on the subjects ranging from earth science, wildlife, plants, space, societies, cultures, and what not. It is also an exclusive infoline on tourism which answers specific queries on roads, rail and air travel, and also on the tourist spots, shopping malls, religious and historical places, the release claimed.

The easycard experts also provide advice in a different sphere that of legal matters, monetary things and share market, banking, loans, credit cards along with the guidance about chartered accountants, astrology, cooking, interior decoration, gardening, health and sex problems etc.

Thus, the holders of an easycard enjoy the privilege of having access to the top-of-the-line professional that is only a phone call away, without spending precious time in seeking appointments for the expert advice.


Damaged roads turning into pollution hazard
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, November 10
Repair of roads in the town and other parts of the district seem to be quite tardy. It may be recalled that most of the roads had been severely damaged during the monsoon season. However, it has failed to catch the attention of the authorities.

Most of the roads in this industrial hub continue to be dotted with potholes and “craters”. To make matters worse, at some places the roads under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Corporation Faridabad (MCF) have been filled up with soil resulting in dust clouds and extreme air pollution. The main road connecting B K Road with Sector 49 has been worst hit. Long stretches of this road are either under sewer water or full of mud and soil to level up the potholes.

A resident on the NH no 3 complained that instead of maintaining these roads, the authorities had “abandoned them”. When the problem was raised with the district administration, they shifted the blame to the MCF, he said.

Social activist K L Gera said that most of the roads had become “accident-prone” and needed immediate repairs. Members of the MCF, who had taken up the issue with the authorities, alleged that no progress had been made in arranging the necessary funds for the repair of roads in the town.

Senior Deputy Mayor Shiv Charan Lal Sharma said even though a budget of Rs 10 crore was required for the repair of roads, this issue had not been taken up in a serious manner with the authorities in Chandigarh.

However, according to the authorities in the PWD Department, the repair of roads was in progress and promised that most of the roads would be repaired by December end. A project with a cost of 13 crore to relay and widen the 30-km road between Faridabad and Gurgaon was due to start soon, an official claimed.


37,039 cases settled by Lok Adalats
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, November 10
As many as 37,039 cases have been settled in the 94 Lok Adalats set up in Faridabad district. Stating this on the occasion of ‘Legal Services Day’, the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr R. S. Virk said that the Lok Adalats had come to the rescue and relief of a large number of people who were awaiting justice.

He said that the Lok Adalat had become a practical option to settle cases in an amicable manner and overcome the problem of delay.

He said the aim of the ‘Legal Services Day’ was to create awareness among the people about the availability of free service in the field and to educate them about their legal rights. He stated that at least 754 persons had been given free legal services in this district so far.

He said cases settled by the various Lok Adalats included 174 cases relating to Marriage Act, 6,474 civil cases, 5,750 criminal cases, 2,547 land disputes, 3,104 cases related to labour disputes,

1,35 bank cases, 2,366 cases related to Motor Vehicles Act and 16,489 cases of miscellaneous nature. He said that victims under the Motor Vehicles Act had been provided compensation of over Rs 15.21 crore so far.

Besides, the permanent Lok Adalats and settlement panels have settled 6,640 cases so far. These include 4,147 cases of Motor Vehicles Act with compensation to the tune of Rs 3.46 crore. Additional District and Session Judges, Mr R. K. Khanagwal, Mr S. K. Kaushik, Mr N. K. Mittal, Mr Jagdip Jain and Additional CJM C. B. Sheoran were among those who were present on the occasion.

Free legal services for poor, disabled

Poor people or physically challenged children were entitled to free legal services by the ‘Free Legal Aid Cell’ at the District Courts here.

This was stated by Anita Sehrawat, member of the cell and legal counsellor, while addressing an awareness camp at Sunped village in the district yesterday on occasion of ‘Legal Services Day’. She said that poor people with an annual income below Rs 30,000 and orphans could seek these services.

The ‘Free Legal Aid Cell’ accepted a number of applications from the people for such services on the occasion. Mr Vineet Bajaj and Mr Rakesh Singh, other members of the cell, educated the people about the provisions of Section 125 and Section 498-A of the IPC. A similar camp was also organised at Sanatan Dharam Mandir Complex at Palwal.

Marriages of girls from poor families solemnised

Marriages of six girls from poor families were solemnised here recently with help of `Manav Sewa Samiti’, a social organisation based here.

According to Mr Arun Bajaj and Kailash Sharma, president and general-secretary of the Samiti, holding marriages for poor girls was one of the main activities of the organisation. They said the Samiti had organised marriages of 18 girls in the past three years.

The function was held at the Jan Kalyan Mandir in Sector-7 according to the Hindu rituals. Kunwar Akhilesh Singh, MP, who was present as special guest, praised the efforts of the Samiti in this direction. He said funds for such social cause was not a problem if the people were dedicated to the cause.


SOS to expert to end monkey nuisance
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, November 10
In a bid to end the nuisance by monkeys, the Sonepat Municipal Council has launched a special campaign to capture monkeys from different parts of the city. According to a report, the Municipal Council has contracted one Zaffar Ali from Mathura (UP) to rid the town of the monkey nuisance. Zaffar Ali is engaged in the business of capturing monkeys and leaving them in mountains and forests, from where they would find it difficult to return.

Reportedly, the Municipal Council has agreed to pay Rs 125 for every monkey captured by him. However, if manages to capture more than one hundred or more monkeys, he would be paid at the rate of Rs 100 for every monkey captured. The contractor would leave the monkeys in secluded places across the Yamuna river in UP, so that they find it extremely difficult to return from there.

The contractor has started his work in the Prabhu Nagar Mandi area. Thereafter, other areas like Gur Mandi, Gita Bhawan, Bus Adda, Murthal Road, Ganj Bazar, Sikka Colony and Ashok Nagar would be covered, where the monkeys have become a real nuisance for the residents of the city.

In the past, such a campaign was launched in Gohana town, where more than 100 monkeys were captured and let off in the nearby forest areas. However, most of the monkeys that were captured and let off in far off areas returned to the town. In effect, the expenditures incurred on the plan were wasted as the monkey finally returned after some time.

The Sonepat Municipal Council launched a special campaign on the directive of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Balwan Singh, who had received numerous complaints from the local people as well as from social and voluntary organisations demanding the end to the monkey nuisance.

They had complained that the monkeys had bitten not only children in the localities but a number of women and the aged persons.

A large number of monkeys are active in Sector 14, 15, old Housing Board colony, Shivaji Colony, Mohalla Kalan, Ram Bazar, Indira Colony, Model Town, New Colony and Municipal Colony, near the Subhash Chowk.


New BJP chief denies hand in liquor smuggling
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, November 10
The newly elected president of the Haryana unit of the BJP Mr Ganeshi Lal has denied his involvement in the smuggling of liquor during the regime of the Bansi Lal Government in the state.

Talking to the mediapersons here recently, he described the allegations levelled against him as baseless and said that these were aimed at lowering his image.

The BJP leader also stated that the government had tried to implicate him in the false case during the Chehal Commission but the Punjab and Haryana High Court had come to his rescue. The then government, he said, also tried to file an appeal in the court but failed to do so on the fear of its losing.

Regarding the imposition of VAT in the state, the BJP president alleged that the Central Government was exploiting the traders on some pretext or the other but the BJP was forcing it to withdraw the VAT to avoid confrontation with the traders.

Referring to the next Assembly elections, he announced that the BJP would contest these elections on its own and would not enter into alliance with any party in the state. The base of the BJP, he claimed, has been strengthened in the urban and rural areas of the state.

Auctioning of shops

Following complaints of irregularities in the auctioning of as many as 20 shops by the Kharkhoda block samiti in Kharkhoda Municipal town of the district, Zila Parishad has sent a proposal to the commissioner and principal secretary of the development and panchayat department for cancellation of the auction and action against the erring officials. This was stated by the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rajiv Ranjan, in the meeting of the Zila Parishad recently.

According to the chairman of Zila Parishad, Mr Raj Singh Dahiya, five members of the Kharkhoda block samiti had lodged a complaint with the Deputy Commissioner and the Chairman, Zila Parishad, alleging that the Chairman of the block Samiti Kharkhoda has indulged in auctioning of the shops, violating all the rules.

It was stated in the complaint that neither any announcement was made nor the tenders were invited through newspapers before auctioning shops to his favourite persons. Moreover, as alleged in the complaint, the favoured persons were called in a room and security receipts were issued to them and this action of the block samiti had caused losses of thousands of rupees to the samiti.

Besides, there was no proposal to construct shops in front of the block office at Kharkhoda, but receipts of security for five shops on this site had also been issued.

Mr Dahiya also informed that in the auctioning of these shops, the block samiti did not circulate the agenda among the samiti members and did not inform the municipal authorities either.

The ADC informed the members in the meeting that preliminary inquiries had established some irregularities in the auction and as a follow-up action, cancellation of proposal has been sent to the commissioner, he said, adding that the action would also be initiated against those found involved in the irregularities.

Mr Dahiya added that the Zila Parishad had sought information about the availability of drinking water in the government schools and private educational institutions from the school authorities.


Three dairies in the dock for defaulting on cess
Our Correspondent

Sonepat November 10
The district administration is contemplating to issue notices to three milk producing companies for the recovery of more than Rs 2 crore outstanding against them.

According to a report, this step is being taken on the complaint of the Animal Husbandry Department alleging the failure of these companies to pay the arrears of the cess imposed on them by the state government despite a number of notices issued to them from time to time. The district administration has decided to take punitive action, including attachment of property of these companies if they failed to pay the arrears of the cess to the department concerned.

These companies, it may be recalled, owed a sum of Rs 2,58 crore towards the ‘cess’. The cess was imposed in 2001 but during the past three years, one of these companies had paid a sum of Rs 45.65 lakh to the department concerned.

The Sterling Agro Industries situated at Kundli village owes a sum of Rs 1,36,30,872 out of which it had paid a sum of Rs 45.65 lakh and still it has to pay Rs 1,48,55,000 and this amount includes Rs 33,40,472 as interest also.

Another company, Dairy Foods India situated at Kundli village, also owed a sum of Rs 61,32,319 as cess and another Rs 9,97,319 as interest. The management of this company had showed its inability to deposit such a huge amount to the department concerned.

Another company also owed Rs 14,72,623 as arrears of the cess whereas another Rs 12,51,800 is due as other tax. Another sum of Rs 2,20,823 will have to pay as the interest by the management of the company. The department, it may also be recalled, charges 10 paise per litre as cess from the milk producing companies in the state. Each company is consuming more than 10,000 litres of milk while manufacturing desi ghee and other products.


Sewerage problem persists in Sonepat
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, November 10
The Yamuna Action Plan was launched in Sonepat town more than a decade back, but the sewerage problem continues to plague the residents of a number of localities because of frequent blocking and overflowing of sewer lines, open manholes and delays in repairing works.

There have been reports of repeated blocking of the sewer lines in about a dozen localities, including West Ramnagar, Subhash Chawk, Halwai Hatta, Faiz Bazar, Ashok Nagar, Idgah Colony, Malvia Nagar, Housing Board Colony, Jain Bagh Colony.

According to the residents of these localities including the shopkeepers, the blocking of sewer lines in Faiz Bazar is a routine affair and the main cause is the milk dairies.

The lines get blocked as the buffalo dung goes into them. In West Ramnagar, the residents are forced to raise the level of their lavatories to avoid overflowing in the compounds of their houses.

The residents allege that the laying of the lines was not in proper level. In a number of streets of the localities, the manholes are left uncovered and according to reports from different areas, the covers on a number of such open holes on sewer pipelines have reportedly been missing for the last many months.

These holes result in a number of untoward incidents.



Ashok Agarwal, advocate and convenor of the NGO Social Jurists, believes in the principle, “Courts to people and people to courts”. In an exclusive interview with Smriti Kak, he talks about his journey in the echelons of justice.

A fervent desire to fight for the rights of society saw a student of BA walk into the courts as a trade union representative. That was in 1969, today having armed himself with a degree in Law, the same man dons the black robe to continue his fight.

Ashok Agarwal, advocate and convenor of the NGO Social Jurists, is convinced that as a lawyer it is his privilege and duty to take up the cause of the poor and the marginalised. His talisman, he asserts, is “courts to people and people to courts”.

Refusing to bow to the inertia that benumbs society at large, be it government offices or educational institutions, Mr Agarwal is steadfast that for every problem there is a solution.

Having assimilated the problems that ail civil society he takes refuge in the power that is rooted in the scales of justice, “Courts can be seen as the best platform for highlighting the cause and exposing the government to some extent,” he points out.


You have managed to take up issues that concern education and sought aid for the deprived sections. How did you decide to get involved in the cause?

Being a labour lawyer with a trade union background and fighting cases for the labour class and against the establishment for the last 33 years from the labour courts up to the Supreme Court, I have closely seen the plight of the labour class in this country. Through the introduction of public interest litigation (PIL), I got an opportunity to use judicial forums for ventilating the grievances of the common man, who is incapable of fighting for his rights directly.

I filed my first PIL in 1978, in the High Court of Delhi, highlighting the delay in appointment of the Presiding Officers of the Labour Courts/ Industrial Tribunals in Delhi and also shortage of other staff in these courts, causing immense delay in adjudication of industrial disputes.

When parents under the banner of Delhi Abhibhavak Mahasangh came out on the roads in 1997, protesting against arbitrary and unjustified fee hike by unaided recognised private schools in Delhi, I offered them free professional services and took up their matter with the High Court.

While I was preparing the PIL against exorbitant fee hike by so-called public schools, I found that one of the main causes of exploitation of parents by these schools is the continuous deterioration in the standard of education in the government schools.

This is when I decided to take up the cause of the children studying in government schools. In December 1997, I filed a PIL highlighting the absence of basic amenities like drinking water, toilet blocks, electricity, pucca building, boundary walls etc in Delhi government and MCD-run schools, which was a violation of the fundamental right to education as guaranteed by the Constitution.

What laid the ground for NGO Social Jurists?

Social Jurists is an unregistered and non-funded organisation of a group of lawyers. Members of this group, besides doing their professional work, devote themselves to the cause of the weaker sections. We are clear that we are doing it as our duty and not as charity. We don’t accept any money in any manner from anybody for taking up these causes.

We pay from our own pockets because we believe in making friends. We go to people, befriend them, identify their problems and examine what can be legally done for them. Once we are convinced that taking up their cause in the courts can solve their problem, we prepare and file PIL in the name of Social Jurists.

We also try to educate people on how to fight for their rights. We are convinced that courts alone cannot solve all problems of the people and, ultimately, people have to fight their own battle. We are using court orders for empowering the people to understand that authorities can be moved if rights are asserted and fought for.

The Public Interest Litigation filed by Social Jurists have resulted in favourable judgements for the people and the society at large. What have been, according to you, the most memorable and also the toughest cases so far?

Cases pertaining to fee hike by unaided recognised private schools, absence of total basic amenities in relocated resettlement colonies, free beds for poor in Apollo Hospital and Lal Kuan fire tragedy are the most memorable and also the toughest cases so far.

You have fought for the rights of the people living in resettlement colonies and for the rights of rag pickers. Working with the government departments and making your way through the red tape must have been quite an experience.

Yes, but my experience is that if right issues are taken up with honesty, forcefully and strategically, even people who constitute the government are moved. There are lots of good people in the government who want to work but are not allowed to work. Court interventions help them work. Reputation of an activist also influences the officers’ approach.

Court’s intervention, highlighting of the issue by the media and formation of public opinion has really worked in pressuring the government to respect the rights of the common man. Poor people feel empowered when they see that the court takes the government to task.

You have earned respect and acclaim as a crusader for providing people what is their due, how did you deal with the pressure and even threats that you must have encountered on the way?

I have never bothered about the pressures and the threats. If your are strong and determined no one dares to threaten you. I have been threatened just once by a police officer, who threatened to arrest me because I was leading a community demonstration at MCD school, Hastsaal Resettlement Colony. We were protesting against horrible conditions in the school.

When the entire community offered to court arrest alongside me, the police officer withdrew the threat and started showing sympathy with the agitators. My experience is that when you fight for the people in right way and for right cause, even your opponent has to appreciate you.

You recently organised a seminar to discuss the concerns of the Common School System. You have been interacting with not just academics, but also other stakeholders. What is your evaluation about the CSS and the Education Bill?

Establishment of CSS is a must for giving socio-economic and political justice to the people. The Education Bill is totally defective and must be rejected by the people. The Education Bill is totally contrary to the object underlying therein. Government must redraft the Education Bill on the basis of good quality Common School System.

What are your concerns as a lawyer about the legal profession?

Friends in the legal profession are a very powerful segment of the society. Now, the composition of legal profession is not the same as it was 20-30 years ago. A large number of friends in legal profession are from economically weaker sections of society and they can do wonders in changing the society if they devote some of their time for the cause of the poor, but as a privilege and duty and not as charity.

For the common man courts and lawyers are best kept at a distance. Your comment?

It is not correct. The lawyers’ major income comes from the pockets of the common man. Lawyers and courts look at common man as only consumers of justice and not as citizens of the country who are equally entitled to share the wealth of this country. Lawyers have a duty towards the common man.


Hunt for three robbers of businessman
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 10
The North District police have launched a manhunt to arrest three youths who robbed Rs 2 lakh and jewellery worth lakhs of rupees from the house of a businessman in Nabi Karim area today. When the robbery took place, the businessman, Himmat Das Maurya, was at his work place. His wife Sharda was alone in the house. One of the suspects knocked at the door and said that he wanted to meet Mr Himmat Dass.

When he was told that Mr Himmat was not at home, he went back. The suspect came again and asked Himmat’s mobile phone number. When he was writing the number of Himmat, two other youths armed with pistols came inside the house. They overpowered Sharda and ransacked the house and decamped with cash and jewellery, police said.

Blood bank worker killed

Vikram Singh (24), who worked with a blood bank in Lajpat Nagar was hit by an RTV near Lodhi Hotel today. When the accident occurred, the RTV was allegedly driven by a minor while the driver was sitting beside him. The driver of the vehicle and the boy have been arrested. The incident occurred when the victim was going to his work place on his cycle, police said.

Fire in factory

Fire broke out in a chemical factory in Sewadham area in North East district this evening. About one thousand chemical drums were kept in the backyard of the factory which were gutted completely.

The Delhi Fire Service rushed 18 fire fighters which took more than two hours to douse it. However, no casualty was reported. The cause has not yet been established, a spokesman of the Delhi Fire Service said.


Three held for bid to kill constable
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 10
With the arrest of three youths, the East district police today claimed to have worked out a case of an attempt to murder a constable in Mandawali area in the first week of November.

The suspects were identified as Dinesh, Fayeem and Mohammad Bassi. They were arrested yesterday from different places in East district. They entered the world of crime for the first time. Their names did not figure in the police record. A special team was constituted to work out the case, police said.

The police recovered a countrymade pistol of point 315 bore, mobile phone, knife and a stolen Hero Honda motorcycle from their possession.

According to the police, the suspects attacked the constable, Satya Prakash Rana, near Mohammad Masjid in front of Sadbhawana Apartments while he was gathering intelligence about the local criminals. He was admitted to GTB Hospital from where he was shifted to the Institute of Spinal Injuries as he received serious spinal injuries. When the incident happened, all the senior police officers reached the spot.

Seeing the sincerity and devotion of the constable to the duty, the Commissioner of Police promoted him as Head Constable. The police questioned all the criminals of the area to find out the suspects who had attacked him. During investigation of the case, the names of Dinesh came to light. Trap was laid and Dinesh and Fayeem were arrested together from Ghazipur Dairy Farm. Their questioning led to the arrest of Bassi.

During interrogation, they disclosed that the constable used to often question them on their presence and movements. He would keep a watch over them. Therefore, they decided to teach the constable a lesson as it was humiliating to be questioned publicly. They executed their plan when the constable was conversing with someone. The policeman was shot at from a close range with a countrymade pistol allegedly by Dinesh. When Dinesh shot at the constable, Bassi was present. Thereafter, they planned to go to some place in Rajasthan, but could not leave the Capital, the police said.

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