C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Cheques bounce despite funds
Aditya Rishi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
A cheque-bounce, despite the fact that you have enough funds in your account, may leave you high and dry and of course wondering as to what went wrong.

It entails a lot of troubles like you paying the returning charges, your money rotting in the bank and above all the agony of a sullied reputation (or jail if the man who didn't get his money decides to sue you).

Mr Om Parkash Aggarwal of Om Industries, Chandigarh, Mr Ashish Bansal of Raghav Enterprises and Mr Anil Gupta of Chandigarh Wires are some of the unfortunate persons who have gone through such a harrowing time, courtesy their bank.

And they are the ones who have decided to come on record and call their bank’s bluff.

If your HDFC cheques have been returned due to insufficient funds when these shouldn't have and the customer support and senior officials of the bank have then shocked you even more with their dilly-dallying that bordered on harassment, you know now that you are not alone to suffer. Apparently, there is more in it than what meets the eye.

Mr Aggarwal, who suffered this agony only a few days ago, says, "I had issued a cheque (no 537549) for Rs 50,820, which came for collection in the HDFC Bank, Sector 35, on May 25, when the closing balance in my company's account was Rs 77,309.89 (The Tribune has documents to prove that), well over the amount for which the cheque had been issued.

“When I called the customer care, they first asked for details and later said they were unable to help.

“On contacting the bank, they either said the manager was away or I couldn't see him.”

“In another complaint related to cheques, when I contacted the Regional Manager, the reply was that outstation cheques could only be sent where your account was maintained; this in the era of centralised banking and same-day clearing,” Mr Aggarwal adds.

Another customer, Mr Anil Gupta, says, "Earlier, when it happened with me once or twice, I approached the bank and it assured me that this thing would never be repeated, but it has been happening far too often now, which shows that the intentions are not right somewhere."

"I thought I was alone to suffer this, but it seems this has been happening to many others. Money is not the object. The parties I deal with trust me, but the issue of reputation is more severe, and in business, if you have lost reputation, you have lost everything," says Mr Ashish Bansal.

There are a number of harassed customers like him who are now slowly realising what's happening.

Proceeds first and postings later — that's the standard operating procedure in banking.

It means that before entering the final figure for the day in the debit column, the credit column has to be cleared first, but the HDFC bank seems to have been doing just the reverse.

That's easy. If you have Rs 100 in the shadow balance and a cheque for Rs 50 is presented, the bank should first pay Rs 50 from my account to the bearer (or whoever has presented the cheque) before closing the book for the day.

By not releasing the funds early, before returns are filed, the bank gets to keep the money for at least five more days before the cheque is re-presented and also makes the customer pay the returning charges, which seems to be a small amount (Rs 300) for a businessman.

But if you keep in view the number of cheques that are returned for insufficient funds each day, the amount is enormous.

Enquiries at the clearing house in Sector 17 revealed that the number of bounced cheques for the HDFC Bank was anything between 50 and 200 per day.

Most of these cheques are for big amounts and the bank, of course, gets the returning charges as well. Even at 100 cheques returned for insufficient funds per day, the bank makes a neat Rs 30,000 per day in just one city.

The money keeps adding over months and years. "Their intentions are clearly malafide," says Mr Om Aggarwal.

"And think of lakhs of rupees that get stuck in the bank for the time the cheques are not cleared," he complains.

Routinely, banks receive back the bounced cheque on the same day from the RBI and, for precaution alone, release the proceeds at 11 am the next day to check counter returns.

But the HDFC Bank has not been releasing the proceeds before 12.30 pm and start debiting the cheques at 11 am only as soon as the clearing arrives. That gives them a ready excuse to return the cheques.

When contacted, Mr Rajeev Chibber, Manager, HDFC Bank, Sector 35, put the entire blame on the collecting branch, which, he said, was delaying releasing the funds and not his branch.

He also said the same-day clearing was yet to be introduced in Chandigarh and the service was available in New Delhi only.

Mr Chibber said he was ready to help any complainant who approached him.

He checked his papers and replied to a question that most of the complainants held trade accounts, on which the bank offered special facilities, but the average balance required was Rs 40,000.

Average balance was not the issue with any of the complainants who contacted The Tribune.

When told that the bank could not return the cheque just on the ground that the average balance was not maintained, he plainly denied that it was so.

Meanwhile, the customers, who know they have been wronged, continue to suffer… and you could be one of them. Rs 300 is a small amount , or you may take the bank to court and get paltry compensation, but the HDFC, it seems, continues to smile all the way to... where else, but the bank.



Inter-state gang of car thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 26
The police busted a gang of inter-state car thieves and arrested the kingpin, Gurjit Singh Chandokh, a resident of Sector 38-C. The police recovered three cars from his possession.

He was produced before the Duty Magistrate who remanded him in police custody till May 31.

Gurjit, owner of a motor workshop R.K. Automobiles in Sector 37-D, was nabbed by the crime branch during a naka at the Sector 37 and 38 dividing road, yesterday. He was driving a stolen white Maruti.

The other two members of the gang, Afjal Mohammad and Zalil-ul-Din, both residents of Meerut who stole the vehicles and replaced the engine and chassis numbers are also wanted in the case. A police party has been sent to Meerut to nab them.

Police sources said during preliminary interrogation, Gurjit admitted that he had changed the chassis and engine numbers of the stolen car with the chassis and engine number of accidental “total loss” and “cash loss” vehicle. He said he had tampered with the chassis and engine numbers of several vehicles and had sold them.

The accused used to buy “total loss” or “cash loss” vehicles along with the registration certificates from the insurance company and then remove the engine and chassis number plates. They used to steal similar types of vehicles and replace the number plates of the stolen vehicle with that of the “total loss” vehicles. The remaining parts of the vehicles were sold to junk dealers.



MNC in tax net
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
Are multinational companies circumventing laws to evade taxes?

If notice served on a major electronic goods company, which has a warehouse on the periphery of Chandigarh, is any indication, certain companies have been looking for ways and means of offering incentives to consumers at the cost of the state exchequer.

The company has been charged not only with concealing sales of Rs 4.93 crore to evade the payment of sales tax but also with transferring goods worth Rs 6.10 crore outside the state against the “C” form. It has also been charged with not disclosing the value or tax liability of nearly 30,000 gift items it gave to customers as an incentive.

The notice was served on the Bhabbat (near Zirakpur) office of the multinational company today after officials of the Excise and Taxation Department finished scrutinising its records.

Companies, in an endeavour to cut costs and lure customers with small gift schemes, have been looking for ways and means to avoid taxes. For example, the aim of transferring goods worth several crores of rupees outside the state against the “C” form was to evade the payment of Central sales tax. Now the company would be required to pay almost double the tax and a penalty.

A team of the Excise and Taxation Department had in a surprise move checked the company’s warehouse and its Punjab office in Chandigarh on May 12 besides scrutinising the returns filed by it for the year 2003-2004.

Subsequently, company officials were summoned on four occasions for clarifications and their versions before the show cause-notice under Section 26 of the Punjab General Sales Tax Act was reportedly issued today.

“Some of the offences are serious and can lead to conviction and imprisonment up to six months besides the recovery of the evaded taxes and a penalty of 200 per cent,” revealed sources in the department.

The sources maintained that though the company had shown a taxable turnover of over Rs 24 crore, it paid tax only on a taxable turnover of Rs 19.29 crore. Similarly, the company purchased airconditioners, refrigerators and washing machines worth Rs 14.51 crore and transferred goods of the value of Rs 6.08 crore outside the state on the “C” form. Use of the “C” form, the authorities maintained, was limited to five provisions — sale, use in manufacturing or processing, mining, use in generation or distribution of power and packing of goods for sale or resale. But in this case, the “C” form had been used for goods worth crores of rupees over and above permitted utilities. The misuse of the “C” form, says the show-cause notice, was intentional and meant to change the nature of the transaction. Instead of inter-state sale, it has been allegedly shown as stock transfer to hoodwink the state exchequer of its legitimate due from the company.



Officials inspect slaughterhouse
Supply of substandard meat
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 26
The Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park (Chhat Bir Zoo) authorities today sent a team of zoo staffers to verify the facts related to the supply of meat of dead animals by a Saharanpur-based meat contractor, for the consumption of zoo animals.

Led by veterinary doctors posted at the zoo, the team visited the slaughterhouse owned by Mr Inam, a resident of Lohani Sarai, Bakri Wala Chowk, Saharanpur, and inspected its premises.

Mr A.S. Dogra, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Punjab, said the team would submit its report in this regard in a day or two. He also stated that the department would take necessary action against the defaulters.

Mr C.B. Singh, ADME of Saharanpur, said he had received a complaint regarding supply of dead buffalo meat by a local contractor to the zoo. He also added that an inquiry has already been marked to the Chief Veterinary Officer of Saharanpur in this regard.

Meanwhile, the meat contractor supplying meat to the zoo denied the allegations. In an affidavit, Mr Inam said the news item was not based on facts. He also denied speaking to the reporter. Mr Inam also claimed that no raids were conducted by veterinary doctors at his slaughterhouse and no labourer was nabbed.

He further claimed that the meat supplied to the zoo was being supplied after physical verification by the veterinary doctor of the Saharanpur municipality. Moreover, the veterinary doctor at the zoo personally inspected the meat before it was fed to the animals.



Coca Cola bottler penalised for poor quality
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 26
The District Consumer Forum, Panchkula, has directed Kandhari Beverages, bottler of the Coca Cola company, and Shivam Bakers and Confectioners, Kalka, to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 for supplying fungus-infested and muddy cold drinks to a Kalka resident.

In her complaint before the forum, Mrs Anita Sharma, a resident of Kalka, alleged that the Fanta cold drink bottles that she bought from Shivam Bakers in August 2003 had passed its expiry date.

She alleged that her children fell sick and suffered from gastroentritis after consuming the cold drink. Mrs Sharma had bought three bottles of Fanta but her children consumed only two and she found fungal growth and dust particles floating in the third bottle of the lot.

Mrs Sharma said she had made the purchases on August 7, 2003 and immediately after consuming the cold drink her children were taken ill.

She added that she even reported the matter to the Tehsildar, and later filed a complaint with the Consumer Forum.

During the course of arguments, the respondents’ counsel pleaded that there was no proof that the children suffered from gastroentritis after consuming the cold drinks.

After hearing the arguments, Mr J.N. Bhardwaj, President and Ms Maninder Sharma, members of the consumer Forum, expressed their concern over contamination in the cold drink bottles.

They also directed the Director General Health, Haryana, to take appropriate steps in checking the expiry date and contamination upon receipt of the order.



Sukhna storage capacity goes down by 1 pc
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
In what may be seen as an alarming fact, the fast depleting Sukhna Lake lost about 1 per cent of its storage capacity during the last monsoon due to the silt coming down the Shivaliks. The lake lost 41.78-acre feet of its storage capacity. The capacity of the lake after the 2004 monsoon stood at 4166.96-acre feet, whereas the storage capacity at the end of the 2003 monsoon was 4208.74-acre feet.

A survey carried out by the Chandigarh Administration in conjunction with the Irrigation and Power Research Institute (IPRI), Amritsar, has come out with this report on the loss of storage and surface area of the Sukhna.

The fast depleting storage capacity of the lake has caught the notice of the authorities who have tied up with the National Ship Design and Research Centre (NSDRC), Visakhapatnam, for preparing a project report on de-silting the Sukhna.

Even as plans were on paper, silt deposits accumulated in the lake. The report on the hydrographic and land survey of Sukhna Lake carried out in March, 2005, by IPRI has been handed over to the Administration.

Every year a survey is carried out “to assess quantitatively the magnitude of the silt deposited in the lake.” The survey also calculated the surface area of the lake after the monsoon of 2003. At the brim of the lake, that is 1163 elevation feet, the area was 368.47 acres and the same after the monsoon of 2004 was 364.67 acres. The report says this means loss in surface area was 3.8 acre.

Also, IPRI, Amritsar, has studied what amount of silt needs to be excavated to bring the lake back to its old depth. This is as per the plan of the Chandigarh Administration to dredge the silt long accumulated on the bed of the lake.

The survey says just to bring the bed level to 1148 elevation feet, about 1294-acre feet or 564 lakh cubic feet of silt needs to be removed. It may be recollected that the Administration may even want the level to go down to 1142 elevation feet. These calculations are being worked out by the NSDRC separately.

According to Dr. G S Dhillon, Consulting Engineer for Water Resources and member of the sub-committee for the coordination and implementation of the scheme for the de-silting of Sukhna Lake, “from 1988 to 1999, the Administration removed almost 485 lakh cubic feet of silt through various methods.



Special Story
High Court grants relief to Majors-General
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today granted relief to Majors-General who were drawing pension less than the subordinate rank of Brigadier. With this, the pension of dozens of Majors-General, who had retired prior to January 1996, is set to be enhanced.

A Division Bench comprising Mr Justice S S Nijjer and Mr Justice S S Saraon today allowed the petition which sought removal of anomalies resulting in Majors-General being paid less pension than Brigadiers.

As many as 19 Majors-General and one Air Vice Marshal who had retired from service between 1978 and 1996 had sought legal recourse after the Central Government had failed to redress their grievances. The High Court orders, according to legal experts, would apply to Majors-General concerned all across the country.

Implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission had created a unusual situation, where Brigadiers started drawing salary and consequent pensionary benefits more that the next higher rank of Major-General.

The Fifth Pay Commission had recommended a pay scale of Rs 15,350-450-17,600 for Brigadiers in addition to a rank pay of Rs 2,400 per month and a pay scale of Rs 18,400-500-22,400 for Majors-General. The Central Government, however, revised the pay scale of Brigadiers to Rs 16,700-450-18,050. This resulted in Brigadiers’ minimum pay grade Rs 19,100. Consequently their pension too became more than Majors-General.

The Fifth Pay Commission had recommended separate pay bands for different ranks. Prior to this, there was a running pay band from Lieutenant to Brigadier and hence no such anomalies had then arisen.

In June 1999, the Ministry of Defence had also issued instructions that the pension of all officers irrespective of the date of retirement would not be less than 50 per cent of the minimum scale of the revised scale of pay. Later, the government had issued instructions removing anomalies in cases of Majors-General retiring after January 1996, but others continued to draw lower pension.

The affected officers represented before the Central Government against this anomaly and in November 2000, the government admitted the facts. After no move was made by the government to straighten out things, another representation was sent to the then Army Chief in June, 2001. The Army responded that the matter has been taken up with the Central Government. In September 2001, the affected officers “learnt” that the ministry had no not taken any step to remove the anomaly and moved the high court a month later.

The petitioners contended that they had become Majors-General by due selection and occupied positions carrying much more responsibility than Brigadiers. They had sought directions to the Central Government for removal of anomaly in fixing pension and family pension in the case of officers who retired in the rank of Major-General, but were getting pension less than officers who retired in the subordinate rank of Brigadier.



MDC booths cleared of encroachers
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 26
Booths in Mansa Devi Complex occupied illegally by beggars and shopkeepers selling wares were today cleared of encroachments by the Enforcement wing of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA).

The issue was highlighted in the columns of the Chandigarh Tribune on May 23. The newspaper had highlighted that after having spent lakhs on developing the market, HUDA’s failure to remove unauthorised kiosks near its market had spelt doom for business.

A team of HUDA officials led by Mr Karam Chand, Mr Ajay Bansal and Mr Jasbir Singh got 44 booths vacated from encroachers. The unauthorised market set up near the HUDA market was also removed and 35 shops were razed. Tin-shed shops near the HUDA kiosks and encroachments by shopkeepers in market verandahs were also removed.

Though there were some mild protests, but the police was called- in and the operation went on smoothly. Encroachments by motor mechanics in the service lane of Sector 11 were also removed.



Pilgrims hurt in collision
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, May 26
As many as 12 pilgrims were injured, eight seriously, when a tourist bus in which they were travelling, had a head-on collision with a truck on the Panchkula-Naraingarh highway in ITBP Training Centre in Bhanu village in the wee hours today.

Three — Deepak, Shiv Raj and Pulkit — the seriously injured were rushed to the PGI in Chandigarh while five — Deepak, Mamta, Babu Ram, Himmat Singh, Sukhdev and Shiv Raj were taken to the General Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula. The rest were discharged after first aid at ITBP Hospital, Bhanu.

According to the police, the bus (DL-1PB-7574) heading towards Panchkula collided head on with the truck (HR-01-GA-1129) approaching from the opposite direction leaving the bus passengers injured at the spot.

The pilgrims, hailing from Madhya Pradesh, were heading for Shimla from Delhi.

Rakesh Kumar, the bus driver, said the truck was on high beam which caused the accident. The police has started investigating the matter.



Army Aviation’s 14 Flight wins best flying trophy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
Based on operational proficiency and flight safety achievements, Army Aviation Corps’ 14 Recce and Observation Flight has been adjudged as the best flying unit in the Western Command Zone for the year 2004-05.

The trophy was received by the Lt Col S.S. Alang, the flight’s Officer Commanding, from Chief of Staff, Western Command, Lieut-Gen P.K. Grover during the annual Army Aviation conference at the Headquarters Western Command in Chandi mandir Cantonment today.

Chairing the conference, General Grover congratulated the Army Aviation Corps for its excellent performance during the previous year. He said considering the fact that new state of the art helicopters and fixed wing aircraft were likely to be inducted in the future, the Army Aviation Corps was set to be a force multiplier in the battlefield.

He also emphasised the need to promote flight safety, which is an end product of synergised efforts of the aviators and the ground staff involved in flying and maintaining the aircraft.



Pubs, discos now open till 2 a.m.
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
Restaurants, pubs, discos and clubs can now open till 2 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays in the city.

However, cyber cafes are allowed to open up to 2 a.m. on all week days, according to an order issued by the District Magistrate.

Through another order, carrying of fire-arms has been banned in the union territory. The order, however, will not apply to military and paramilitary personnel and other government servants required to carry arms in connection with their official duties.

The order has also been issued making it mandatory for landlords to furnish particulars of their tenants to the nearest police station.



Police seeks details of tenants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
Landlords and owners of commercial establishments in the city have been asked to furnish particulars of the tenants to the area SHO while renting out accommodation.

An order to this regard was issued by Mr Arun Kumar Deputy Commissioner, under Sector 144 of the Cr PC. Employers have been asked not to engage services of anybody without furnishing necessary details to the police.

The Deputy Commissioner has also banned the running of restaurants, pubs and discos between 1 a.m. and 4 am. On Saturdays, they can remain open till 2 a.m.



Minor fire at Fun Republic
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
A minor fire due to a short circuit caused panic at Ruby Tuesday in Fun Republic, here today. Seeing thick smoke, people called up the fire station and three fire tenders arrived on the scene.

However, the firemen found later that a paper which found its way into the tandoor had caught fire and was responsible for the smoke. Also, a short circuit soon after caused a fire. It was brought under control using fire extinguishers.



Man impersonating as RTO held
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, May 26
Impersonating as a Regional Transport Officer (RTO) and collecting money from truckers on the Panchkula-Naraingarh road near Barwala, the police has arrested a Chandigarh resident along with four others.

The impersonators — Govardhan Dass, a resident of Burail village, Chandigarh, Ashok Kumar of Bhabhat village near Zirakpur, Dilshar Mohammad and Mohammad Sitar of Uttar Pradesh and Balwant Singh, a resident of Ibrahimpura village in Dera Bassi — were caught red-handed while collecting money from the truckers last evening.

Following a complaint by Mr Nikka Ram, a truck driver, a police party led by Mr Viney Malik, Station House Officer, Raipur Rani, reached the spot and questioned the self-styled RTO. During inquiry, Govardhan Dass claimed himself to be an RTO from Punjab and said he had been on official duty. The truck driver, Nikka Ram was transporting telephone equipment from Parwanoo towards Maneksar when he was stopped by the “RTO”.

Sources in the police claimed that Govardhan failed to produce his identity card and subsequently he along with his accomplice were arrested. The police has recovered Rs 500 from them. An Esteem Car (CH-03E-4117) used by the suspects in the crime has also been impounded.

The police today produced them in a court where they were remanded in judicial custody.



Kalka woman booked in cheating case
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 26
The local police has booked a Kalka woman for duping a Chandigarh based retired chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court of Rs 80,000 that he had given her to get an ayurvedic medicine patent. The accused instead of getting the medicine patent with the late Harbans Singh, the complainant, started selling the same herself.

The police registered a case of cheating against Ms M.S. Pinky Sealia, a resident of ward number 12, Kalka, under Sections 420 and 406 IPC, yesterday. The police said the accused woman had already procured an anticipatory bail in this regard after a complaint was filed against her. The police will now serve a pre arrest notice to her in this regard.

The complainant, the late Harbans Singh, a resident of Sector 4, had filed a complaint to the police in 2004 alleging that Pinky had taken the money from him to get the medicine patent with his name. She instead allegedly started selling the medicine herself and thus cheated him. The late Mr Singh died later after he filed the complaint with the police. The police after investigating the matter registered the case yesterday.



House burgled; 1 held for stealing
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 26
A house was reportedly burgled in the city while in a separate case the local police arrested a person for stealing a mobile phone, here, today.

According to the police, Ram Rattan Kumar, a mechanic in phase I, Industrial Area was arrested last night on the charge of stealing a mobile phone. A complaint was filed in this regard by Satish Kumar alleging that Rattan had stolen his mobile phone which was lying in his jeep parked in Sector 28 market on May 24. The police arrested the accused following the complaint and registered a case of theft.

He was produced before a local court today, which remanded him to judicial custody till June 9, said the police.

Cash, goods stolen

Mr Jal Singh of Burail village, landlord of a house, reported to the police that Rs 1900 in cash one colour TV, one Sony camera and other articles were stolen from the residence of his tenant, Mr Ajaib Singh. Mr Ajaib Singh was reportedly sleeping on the top floor of the house when the theft was committed. A case of theft has been registered.


Mr Guninder Singh of modern Housing Complex, Mani Majra lodged a complaint to the police that 15 water taps were stolen from his residence. He told the police that he was out of station from May 15 to 25. A case of theft has been registered.



Cheating accused surrenders
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 26
A woman wanted by the local police in a case of cheating to the tune of Rs 11 lakh, today surrendered before the police. She was running a chit-fund company. According to the police, Rajwanti Rana, a resident of Sector 48 and wife of retired a Sub Inspector of Haryana Police, was booked on a complaint filed by 17 persons on May 27, 2003. She has been remanded in police custody for two days.



Maruti showcases Swift
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
Maruti Udyog Limited unveiled its new car, Swift, at a function here today. The General Manger, Maruti Udyog, Mr RS Kalsi, and the Regional Manger, Mr H.S. Brar were present on the occasion.

The highlight of Swift would be an autocool feature, available till now in luxury cars only.

Available in eight shades of red, orange, green, blue, silver, gold, grey and black, the booking for Swift opens on June 6.


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