C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

CBI raids on Estate Office, city residences
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Vice-president of the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee and proprietor of Dhillon Complex Kewal Dhillon and the SDO (Building), Estate Office, T.P. Singh, were today booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on charges of criminal conspiracy and Prevention of Corruption Act.

The case was registered following day-long raids by the CBI at the building branch, Estate Office, Sector 17, Sector 9 residence of the Congress leader, Sector 24 residences of the SDO and a private architect in Sector 26.

Sources in the CBI suspect that officials of the Estate Office got wrong building plans of the Fun Republic multiplex sanctioned, ignoring serious building violations. Rule 5 of the Punjab Capital (Development Regulation) Act, 1952, was ignored while extending benefits to the proprietor of the multiplex.

The sources doubt that since the state exchequer suffered financial loss worth around Rs 6 crore due to wrong sanctioning of the building plans, the central agency was also looking into the angle of financial gratification and other monetary transactions carried out by the suspect.

Earlier, after reaching the building branch, the CBI team sealed the premises and started quizzing T.P. Singh, assistant executive engineer Brij Mohan and draughtsman Sandeep Sharma. The functioning of the branch has been under focus for the past many months.

Apart from the official record of the Fun Republic, the raiding parties have reportedly confiscated files of nine other cases, including that of Taj Hotel, some guest houses, a private house and a private school.

The sources said a preliminary scrutiny of the official records had revealed that the Plan Approval Committee, Upper, had allowed the issuance of the building plan, provided the violations in the basement and upper floors were removed. But the officials sanctioned the building plans, though the violations were neither sanctionable nor compoundable. While the violations existed at the site, the sanctioned plan did not mention the violations.

Deputy Commissioner R.K. Rao said there was complete transparency in the functioning of the Administration. “The CBI may have received some complaints and we have provided the details. I can comment only after the investigations of the cases,” he added.

The deputy town planner of the municipal corporation in a recent report had found the violations. According to sources, an estimated fine of Rs 5.75 crore was calculated to be imposed on the owners of the multiplex. Of this Rs 1.50 crore had been calculated as conversion charges.

According to reports, the plan cleared by the chief architect of the UT had 52 per cent covered area of the basement for parking, while only 30 per cent was found being used as parking. The report mentions a fine of Rs 34 lakh for the above from May 26, 2003, onwards.

It also mentions that the height of the building is much more than that shown in the original plan. It further states that the false ceiling on each floor is also not as per the plan. The stairs on each floor have also been found to be in violation of the building plan. The report also states that the fire exit on the third floor has been blocked and commercial activity is going on there.

The corridor on the ground floor of the building having the exit is also in violation of the plan as it cannot be used for commercial activity as per the report. The report further points out that various kiosks put up on the floors are on an area which should be for the public and are thus in violation of the plan.



Bank strike call withdrawn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The strike call by the United Forum of Central Bank Unions has been withdrawn. The strike was scheduled to begin tomorrow.

Officers and employees of Central Bank of India have been on the agitational path. Co-convener of the United Forum of Central Bank Unions, Chandigarh chapter, BS Gill, said even the token one-day strike scheduled for February 23 which all other banks were supposed to join, has been called off.

He said that the strike call had been withdrawn after successful round of talks between the top management and leaders of the unions of the banks. “An understanding has been reached between the two sides and a pact has been signed,” he said. 



MHA seeks draft of arts panel
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Acting on the response of the Chandigarh Administration regarding the contentious issue of the Urban Arts Commission, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked the former to send a draft of the proposed Commission.

“After receiving the draft on the issue, the ministry is expected to decide on the issue”, confirmed a senior official.

Earlier, it had been stated the issue was not sent to the Municipal Corporation due to reported pressure of the Union Government for a response on the subject.

Sources in the ministry said it was not necessary that the issue was be tabled in the Budget session. It has to be constituted by the legislation as and when required.

It is learnt that while advocating that the Commission should have its own character, the Administration has been sighting legislations which could hamper smooth functioning of the proposed Commission. At least two acts --- Capital of Punjab (Development and Regulation) Act, 1952, and the Punjab New Capital (Periphery) Control Act, 1952 which govern Le Corbusier's masterplan with regard to the development of the city have been passed by Parliament.

It has further been proposed that the proposed Commission should be headed by the UT Administrator and he should select its members. The Commission would have to pass a speaking order within 45 days, explaining why a specific proposal has been rejected.

On the issue relating to Le Corbusier’s vision on the city’s periphery, it has been proposed that the Commission should also include the area of the periphery falling in Punjab and Haryana. Representatives of the two states should also be members of the body.

To be enacted by an Act of the Parliament, the Commission will have the competence to reject or modify any plans of any local body-- including of residential complex --- which impinge upon urban aesthetics. Plans of private buildings would also be under the scanner. In a note sent to the Administration, the MHA had advised the former not to sanction any new project till the constitution of the proposed council. 



Police Gypsy stolen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
It might sound unbelievable, but it has actually happened. A Gypsy belonging to the Punjab Police was stolen from Sector 42 this morning.

Driver Rajinder Singh, a constable with the Phillaur police, had parked the vehicle (PB-37-1706) in the Attawa market for taking tea. But when he returned, the vehicle was not there. He searched for it for around two hours, but in vain. He later lodged a complaint with the local police. A case has been registered.



GCM: Defence raises two pleas against Army
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The general court martial (GCM) which re-convened to revise its findings in a case pertaining to sexual assault by a colonel on a women officer under his command, today took a new turn with the defence raising two pleas against the actions of the Army authorities.

Sources said that the defence today contended that the interview granted to the complainant by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lt Gen Daljeet Singh, at the time when the findings of the court were yet to be confirmed and the matter was still sub-judice was against the principles of natural justice.

The GCM, presided by Brig J.S. Rawat, Deputy Director Ordnance Services, 11 Corps. had reassembled at Tibri Military Station near Gurdaspur yesterday. It had earlier acquitted Col D. Mitra of all charges levelled against him.

The defence also termed as incorrect, investigations into the matter by the military intelligence (MI) when it was still sub-judice. An MI officer had been sent to the unit concerned where he had reportedly questioned some officers and men.

Earlier, the revision order was read out in the court, after which the prosecution presented its address. It quoted two previous cases, one being the infamous Rupan Deol Bajaj versus K.P.S. Gill case, in support of its contentions.

The defence did not complete its address today and the court was adjourned till tomorrow.



SAD joins BJP in opposing urban arts panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The formation of the Urban Arts Commission has stirred a hornet’s nest. Close on the heels of the BJP and the CVM opposing it tooth and nail, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today came down heavily on its formation, terming it as another attempt by the Central Government to “remote control” city’s decision-making process and muzzle the voice of the elected representatives of the people.

“Already ad hocism rules the roost in Chandigarh with the common man at the receiving end,” Gurpartap Singh Riar, president of the local unit of the SAD, told Chandigarh Tribune. “It will add to the prevailing confusion about the distribution of functions between the Chandigarh Administration and the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC),” he added.

Riar said the MCC was the elected body of the residents and it was incumbent upon the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to delegate more powers to the corporation to make it an effective tool for governance.

However, the Central Government wants to “remote control” the city’s administration from Delhi through the commission, which portends ill for the growth of the democratic institutions in the city.

In fact, the very character of the union territory makes it a “transit camp” for bureaucrats from other states, including Punjab and Haryana, who come for a short stint.

With no permanent stakes in the city, the bureaucrats are virtually accountable to none, leaving the residents at the mercy of the officialdom, he alleged.

The Akali leader said the SAD would urge its MPs to oppose the commission whenever such a proposal would be brought in the Lok Sabha.

Alleging that the city’s character was undergoing a rapid transformation on account of the “lop-sided” policies of the Administration, he claimed that strengthening the democratic institutions was a better bet than forming a commission dominated by “outsiders”.

Already ad hocism rules the roost in Chandigarh with the common man at the receiving end. — Gurpartap Singh Riar.



Test for learners too!
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The Chandigarh Administration has introduced a schematic test for the applicants of the learner’s licence. The test would be a pre-qualification for getting the licence.

The test would check learners’ understanding and knowledge of traffic rules regulations and traffic signs. Till now, the Registration and Licensing Authority was conducting only an oral test of the applicants. Some states like Maharastra (Pune RTO) and Andhra Pradesh are already conducting such test.

The National Informatics Centre (NIC) is developing a software wherein questions, only schematic, would be displayed to be answered by the applicants. The test would take care of the problem of the applicants who cannot read and write.

STA earns Rs 9.48 crore

The State Transport Authority (STA), Chandigarh, has recorded an increase of Rs 64,97,670 corresponding to the 10-month period last year. The STA has earned Rs 9.48 crore during the period from April 2006 to January 2007, whereas it earned Rs 8.83 crore in the same period the previous year.



Air Marshal Chaturvedi visits 3 BRD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the IAF's Nagpur based Maintenance Command, Air Marshal K.S. Chaturvedi, arrived at No 3 Base Repair Depot here on an inspection visit today.

On his arrival, he was received by Air Commodore R.K. Srivastava, Air Officer Commanding, 3 BRD, along with senior officers of the depot, a statement issued here said.

The AOC-in-C visited the production squadron and discussed new projects taken up by the depot. He inspected the new married accommodation project (MAP) coming up in Sector 31 and 47, Chandigarh.

In Phase-1 of the project, 199 dwelling units for Warrant Officers and airmen will be constructed at the cost of Rs 14 crore. The construction of these dwelling units had commenced in March 2006 and is expected to be completed by September this year. 



Bomb scare proves lucky for businessman
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Bomb scare proved lucky for a Faridabad-based business man today when he got back his suitcase containing Rs 5 lakh, which he lost near Mauli Jagran on his way to Chandigarh railway station. The suitcase kept lying on the road as no one picked it up suspecting it to be carrying some explosives, said the police.

Giving details of the incident, the in-charge of the Mauli Jagran police post, Bhupinder Singh, said head constable (retd) Ajit Singh found the bag lying on the road during his morning walk. He picked up the bag and suspecting it to be a bomb took it along with him to the police post.

“There were scratches on the suitcase leading us to believe that they occurred when the suitcase fell on the road. We decided to open it and call some private people for witnesses. We found Rs 5 lakh, some clothes, documents and address of its owner in it”, said Bhupinder Singh said.

The police sources said the police contacted the man, who in the meantime, had lodged a complaint with the Sector 7 police station in Panchkula about his missing suitcase.

The owner identified himself as Ramesh Kumar of Faridabad.

He is a businessman and was on a trip to Panchkula.

He told the officials that he took an autorickshaw for the railway station to catch a train for Faridabad early this morning. As the road was a bumpy one, the suitcase might have fallen out of the vehicle.

The police returned the suitcase to him after verifying his antecedents and his ownership.



Property dealers meet EO over case disposal
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 21
A delegation of the Haryana State Property Dealers Welfare Association today met estate officer S.P. Arora and told him of the inordinate delay in the disposal of cases pertaining to property.

The delegation comprising 31 members led by Suresh Aggarwal, president, said they were being subjected to harassment in cases pertaining to permission for transfer, issue of re-allotment letters where sales deeds had been executed and friendly transfers.

Aggarwal demanded that the system of marking presence after the execution of sales deed be dispensed with since it served no purpose. This, he added, was also not permissible under the law and involved unnecessary harassment.

Chief patron J.S. Sangari emphasised in a letter issued recently to the Chief Administrator that grievances of the public could be removed if work was done as per the maximum period mentioned on the board.

He also pointed out that non-issue of re-allotment letters in friendly-transfer cases after examining the sellers, purchasers and witnesses was creating unnecessary complications.

It has also been brought to the notice of the estate officer that allotment letters in cases of oustees were not being issued and they were being harassed on one pretext or the other.

The delegation demanded that all pending cases be finalised and allotment letters be issued without any further delay.



Plea to demarcate ‘abadi deh’ area
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 21
The panchayats of 154 villages of Pinjore, today, demanded withdrawal of a criminal case against 15 villagers for holding the district town planner captive during a demolition drive in the periphery.

At a meeting held here today, they said that the demolitions were unjustified and that the government must adopt the 2003 notification, which aims to increase the abadi deh area of the villages.

Attended by local leaders, members of the panchayat and villagers were unanimous on the fact that the government could not act arbitrarily in demolishing "unauthorised" structures.

The villagers said that the government must implement the notification increasing the abadi deh area in villages before initiating a demolition drive. "They must first ascertain whether our residential structures fall outside the abadi deh area or not.

Once the demarcation is carried out, the villagers would know exactly who has an unauthorised building," a local Congress leader said.

It was resolved that all senior Congress leaders including the local MLA and deputy chief minister Chander Mohan, the Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda will be approached to intervene in the matter and decide in favour of the villagers. 



Need to encourage alternative means of resolving cases: Expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
“In Canada, around 80 per cent of the cases are settled before reaching the trial stage. This expedites the decision-making process and allows the client to get on with his life and save costs. It is very common for the lawyer there to even sit in a conference room or talk to the other side or write to the other side and suggest a settlement. Such offer to settle is recognised by the court and can be brought up after judgement for discussion on the costs to be awarded to the winning party,” said Jayant Chauhan, deputy judge and lawyer, Ontario, Canada.

Chauhan was delivering a lecture on “Modernising the legal and judicial institutions for the 21st century in India” organised by Mindsprings (India) Private Limited, a law firm providing dedicated legal services to non-resident Indians with its head office in Chandigarh.

Chauhan is a deputy judge in the Richmond Hill Court. He has earned degrees from many renowned educational institutions in England, Germany and Canada. He was called to the Bar in Ontario in 1972, England in 1965, and admitted as an advocate in Gujarat in 1982.

In India, it would be very difficult for a lawyer to be seen by his client with the lawyer of the opposite party. The reason: the client sees this as compromising his case. “The only place where the lawyers in India can be seen to deal with the matter is in the court room. This leaves little room for the lawyer to find a suitable compromise in settling a case and this prolongs the cost and time for the trial. In India, a much smaller proportion of the cases are settled before the trial and the lawyers make income from primarily doing court work.”

He said it was helpful to have alternative means of resolving cases without taking a case to court such as mediation, arbitration and negotiations. “The process of mediation is getting formalised and is becoming more common now in Canada. In the adversarial court system, the lawyers are required to protect their client’s interest and in this adversarial atmosphere they may not have the incentive to settle,” he said.

“A number of adjournments before the case reaches the trial stage is a common phenomenon in India. In Canada, adjournments are not granted unless there are good reasons and there are cost consequences to the party asking for adjournments,” he added.

“Like the medical support, society needs an orderly and effective legal system for its citizens to develop the economy and protect human rights,” he said.



Sec 35 ruckus: Youth, mother interrogated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The Chandigarh Police today swung into action after a news item “Mentally unstable youth creates ruckus in Sector 35” appeared in these columns, and took the youth to the Sector 16 General Hospital for medical examination.

Sources in the Sector 36 police station said the police swung into the action early this morning and sent a team of policemen to the youth’s house, but they found the house locked. However, neighbours told the police that both the youth and his mother were inside the house and had put a lock outside in order to avoid police.

At this, the senior police officer in Sector 36 police station deputed a cop there. The youth and his mother were taken to the police station when they came back. The SHO of the Sector 36 police station, Inspector Ishwar Singh Mann said the youth was taken to the hospital for medical examination. The hospital staff told the police that they would constitute a board of doctors, including psychiatrists, to ascertain the state of the youth’s mental health.

However, the police can not initiate any action in this case until the doctors give their report about the mental health of the youth. If found mentally unfit, he would be sent to an asylum otherwise he will face a criminal case, said a police officer. 



Water in LPG cylinder!
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 21
Dr Ramesh, a resident of Sector 26, complained here today that the LPG cylinder being used at his home for the past few days was filled with water. Maintaining that he had bought the cylinder a month back, he said he had installed it only five days back.

"Two days back, we could not light the burner. We checked the cylinder and its weight was down to 27 kg. I turned it around to see what was wrong and water gushed out of the spout," he stated.

The faulty cylinder has been replaced free of cost by the gas agency. The Manager, Mr Ajay, said sometimes there is water in the cylinders and these are replaced free of cost as per company policy.



CII conference concludes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The two day CII- defence industry partnership conference that concluded at the CII Northern Region Headquarters here today, set a road map to create cross-linkage between the private sector and defence forces for long-term benefit and to facilitate the indiginization process of Indian defence industry.

This conference saw a host of leading luminaries from the defence forces and the allied industries deliberate on the challenges and opportunities which the defence industry faces today. Apprising about the achievements of the meeting, RM Khanna, conference chairman, said, "The defence industry provides enormous opportunities to the private sector. Recent changes in the procurement procedures and introduction of the offset policy has further added a new dimension to the entire scenario. The small and medium sector being one of the major contributors to defence industry can play a vital role in the current scenario”.

Today, the technical session focused on the strengths and capabilities to the defence sector in the products ranging from their core competencies in terms of research and development to specialisation in providing networking and power back-up solutions to the defence establishments. The industry giants who presented their technical strengths included Mahindra Defence Systems, Gokak Mills, Huber Suhner Electronics Private Limited, Indocen Electronic Systems Private Limited and Kirloskar Oil Engines Limited.

Concurrent to the meeting , industry also showcased their core competencies in terms of products and services that they can offer to the defence establishments through the exposition. As many as 20 companies from all over India participated in the exposition, while over 150 participants, mainly CEOs, business heads and senior officers from defence and allied industry participated in the conference. 



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