A wholly unwanted coinage

The Supreme Court need not always be right”, observed former Chief Justice of India Justice Y.K. Subharwal while addressing a childrens’ meet in New Delhi recently. In this context, the Supreme Court has manifestly gone wrong by ruling that death sentence should be awarded in “rarest of rare cases”. Thereby, it overturned the time-honored convention of Section 302 IPC that death penalty is the rule and life sentence the exception.

In laying down this rule, the judges seem to have acceded to the appeal of Bassanio in the Merchant of Venice: “And I beseech you/ Wrest once the law to your authority:/ To do a great right, do a little wrong”. Portia retorted: “It must not be…” (courtesy Lord Russell in Syndall V. Casting Ltd., 1967, IQB302). This besides, the phrase “rarest of rare cases” is a wholly unwanted coinage on the part of the judges of the Supreme Court, which has not even the remotest literary, lexical, or grammatical warrant as a substitute for “rare cases”.

We might say of Mrs Sonia Gandhi that her humour is rare; her wit, rarer; her pleasantry, rarest of all. But it is certainly wrong to say that Mrs Sonia Gandhi is the rarest of rare women in the world. For though the adjective ‘rare’, unlike ‘unique’, admits of comparative and superlative degrees, these are not supposed to qualify species of the same genus of nouns such as “rarest of rare cases”, ‘or’ rarest of rare women.

A.B. CHANDRA, Advocate, Chandigarh


Thermal plant, a role model

A 12 MW thermal plant is being set up near Patiala, which would daily supply some 2.88 lakh units of power. It would cost between Rs 55-60 crore and will start production within two years. As private companies, and not the PSEB, will run the plant, it is expected to be a role model for nine similar plants in Punjab.

The fuel to be used for power generation will be rice-straw, at present farming the agro waste. This is welcome, but it reminds us the Jal Kheri Power Plant, a PSEB venture, located on the banks of the Bhakra Main Line Canal near Patiala.

The 10-MW Jal Kheri Plant also used rice-straw as fuel and had imported equipment. Many engineers received training abroad for designing, constructing and operation of rice-straw based power plants. The project was conceived in mid-80s and abandoned in early 90s. The reasons for its failure were never made public.

The Ghanaur Project is expected to work as the light house and show way to nine more power plants of similar capacity and design in Punjab. The project planners should recognise the roadblocks faced at Jal Kheri and improve measures to overcome them.

Dr G.S. DHILLON, Chandigarh

Solar power

According to Prof Michel, a Nobel Laureate, more than 10,000 times the energy consumed by mankind is being transmitted to earth by the sun, but the mankind is able to exploit only a fraction of it for its benefit. Solar energy is a cheap source of the heating, cooking and lighting. The food cooked in a solar cooker is very delicious. The Government of India has an independent ministry to promote renewable energy. The Punjab government too has a separate department.

During a visit to this office in Sector 33-D, Chandigarh, one finds the most beautiful building in Chandigarh where no bulb or florescent tube is being used in daytime. It produces its own solar power and supplies its excess to the PSEB. The government spends crores of rupees on popularising solar geysers. But the message never reaches its own departments.

We don’t find solar geysers in government rest houses, hotels, hostels, laundries and hospitals. We should know that charity begins at home.

Dr A.L. ADLAKHA, Amritsar

A clear message

Keith Ellison, the first US Muslim elected to federal office, sent a clear message to the world about US diversity by placing his hand on the Quran during the swearing-in ceremony on January 4.

This provoked criticism from some bigots who don’t know or value the lessons of American history. For example, Representative Virgil Goode warned of a future where there will likely be many more Muslims elected to the Congress and demanding use of the Quran.

In fact, most Congressmen use no book when taking their oath. They simply stand, raise their right hand and are sworn-in. Only those who choose to participate in a “photo-op swearing-in” bring a book. Some Christians bring a family Bible and Jewish members their sacred scriptures. Ellison brought his.

Interestingly, the Quran Ellison brought to his swearing-in was once the copy of Thomas Jefferson, the third US President. In using Jefferson’s Quran, Ellison reminds all Americans of their founding fathers’ convictions and the values they embraced that shaped the new American republic.

SANDEEP GHIYA, Mulund (W), Mumbai

Harassing the honest

The Punjab government has implemented the PNDT Act effectively to curb the menace of female foeticide. It will go a long way in correcting the disturbed sex ratio in Punjab. Most ultrasound centres have stopped sex determination, though some black sheep are still there. Sadly, some Civil Surgeons are unnecessarily harassing the honest ultrasound centres in the name of improper record-keeping for reasons known to them. The ultrasound centres are very helpful in diagnosing the disease of the patients and their proper treatment.

The government should give strict instructions to Civil Surgeons not to issue show-cause notices to honest ultrasound centres on flimsy grounds. This will give a bad name to the government and the programme itself.

Dr H.C. GARG, Jaitu Mandi



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