Donít exclude judiciary from RTI

The Action Group of Judicial Transparency Reforms and Human Rights has rightly questioned the Supreme Courtís request for its exclusion from the ambit of the Right to Information Act. I do not accept the apex courtís argument that RTI would adversely affect or interfere with the independence of the judiciary or in the administration of justice.

In the democratic scheme of governance under the Constitution, transparency is the key to all well-intentioned laws. Even the judges are fallible. The Supreme Courtís request at a time when the Judges (Inquiry) Bill 2006 is awaiting enactment by Parliament to check the judgesí deviant behaviour is unfortunate.

The judiciaryís powers under the Contempt of Courts Act 1971 have already denuded the common man of the right to question the judgesí deviant behaviour. Absolute power to 700-odd members of the higher judiciary without any check would take a toll of the valuable rights of the common man and the litigant public. It would also be at the cost of independence of the district-level subordinate judiciary which deals with 98 per cent of the countryís total litigant public.

C.L. JASSU, Govt. National (PG) College, Sirsa


No tax exemption

The All India Ex-Servicemen Parishad of Kangra district has urged the Himachal Pradesh government for exemption of toll tax at Kandwal toll barrier for the ex-servicemen living near the border area of the district. The reason: they have to visit Pathankot with their family members for medical treatment in the military hospital and the CSD canteen in the Army Cantonment.

The same is the case of ex-servicemen living in Kasuali, Dharampur and Kumarhatti areas of Solan district. They need to visit Chandimandir, Chandigarh for various military entitlements including visits to ECHS-sponsored health care institutions for medical treatment and consultation.

However, let alone ex-servicemen, the Himachal government has not exempted even serving defence personnel travelling in their own vehicles and wearing civil clothes who are otherwise exempted from payment of toll tax under the provisions of the Toll Tax Act and by order of the Supreme Court. Illegal taxation and undue harassment of such defence personnel continues, particularly at the Parwanoo toll barrier. The Chief Minister and leaders of the ruling and Opposition parties in the State Assembly should clarify their stand on the violation of the Toll Tax Act, willful defiance of the Supreme Courtís explicit ruling and, consequently, the denial of soldiersí rights in Himachal Pradesh.


Drug prices

The prices of 866 generic medicines have been slashed by 11 leading manufacturers from Oct 2, 2006. Cipla and Novartis companies are no exception to it. But the chemists at Ropar are not prepared to accept the reduced rates despite reports in this context in The Tribune (Nov 1 and Dec 2, 2006).

Under the scheme, BPL families, handicapped persons and senior citizens would be provided medicines for treating cancer free of cost. If so, why can senior citizens not be provided medicines for cardiac disease free of cost or at least at 50 per cent concession? Charts containing the list of medicines and their latest prices should be displayed at all chemists shops for the benefit of the customers.

A.S. ARIJ, Ropar


Dual pricing wonít do 

The Union Petroleum Ministry is reportedly considering duel pricing of LPG and kerosene, i.e. subsidised price for the poor and market price for the affluent sections. What is the definition of poor and who will draw a line between those who can and cannot afford?

There will be widespread resentment amongst ordinary consumers such as senior citizens, retired persons and the salaried class. The additional burden of Rs 150 a cylinder on LPG will upset the domestic budget of ordinary families. Any classification of the rich and the poor shall breed corruption and increase the workload of the Food and Civil Supply Department.

The present rates for LPG and kerosene should continue and the ordinary consumer should not be put to additional burden. The Union Petroleum Minister and Chief Ministers of all states must give serious thinking to this aspect and come to the rescue of the middle class.

D.K. TALWAR, Panchkula


Mamataís politics

Isnít it ironical that while Indians all over the world are applauding the Tatas for acquiring Corus, the British steel giant in them face of stiff competition, Trinamool Congress leader Mamta Banerjee is playing spoilsport by once again raking up the Singur issue?

As a leading politician and former Railway Minister, she should have behaved in a more responsible and mature manner. Such retrograde and regressive politics is not in the interest of any of the stakeholders at Singur. Besides, it will not bring about a change in her political fortunes.

If Tatas decide to shift their small car project to some other state, it will send negative signals to the rest of the industry and the people of West Bengal will be the losers. No sane politician will do that. It is about time Mamata practised prudent politics.

M.K. BAJAJ, Zirakpur



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