P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Share cost of development, Badal to people
Hints at reviewing free power to farmers
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Badiala (Bathinda), December 5
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today asked the people of Punjab to share the cost of development in the state as the government itself was not in a position to generate the huge amount of funds required for the purpose.

Badal was addressing a rally organised to observe the 35th death anniversary of Sant Fateh Singh in his native village here.

Badal said it was mandatory for the beneficiaries to help the state government obtain a loan for development from the World Bank. He indirectly admitted that the state’s financial position was not good and the people should come forward to contribute in its development plans and schemes.

“It is not feasible for the government to pay every thing free and subsidise every facility because governments need funds to run administration and execute development schemes and plans”.

He indicated that the Cabinet might review the government’s policy of providing power to the farm sector free of cost, but he did not disclose any time frame to take the decision.

Badal said there was an urgent need to improve the education sector and health services. According to a rough estimate, every household in the rural areas will have to contribute an average amount of Rs 1,500 for providing potable water in each village.

As many as 17,000 teachers will be recruited in the next three months to fill vacant posts in schools. The government envisages to provide a laboratory, furniture and sports facilities in every school, he added.

He blamed the previous Congress regime for burdening the state with a debt of Rs 45,000 crore.

The Chief Minister announced to upgrade three 10+2 schools at Burj Dhilwan, Choke and Rampura villages in the Joga constituency at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore besides setting up an Adarsh School in this constituency at a cost of Rs 4 crore. Another school would be constructed by the SGPC at a cost of Rs 3 crore at Badiala village in the memory of Sant Fateh Singh.

Paying tributes to Sant Fateh Singh, working president of the SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal, said the government had drawn a plan for all-round development of the Malwa region.


Two Doctors, One Post
BJP tussle leads to suspension of medical officer
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 5
Health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla today suspended Balwinder Singh Sohal , medical officer , Municipal Corporation allegedly for hampering the joining of his successor Inderpal Singh Grover for more than 45 days at the behest of senior BJP leaders.

Sohal was transferred to community health centre, Sur Singh, in Tarn Taran district on October 16 by principal secretary, health and family welfare Vijay Kain while Grover, a medical officer of government medical college was posted medical officer of the Municipal Corporation. Transfer orders of the principal secretary read , “ with immediate effect”.

Grover could not draw his salary since October 16 because the Local Bodies Department had refused to accept his joining, though both portfolios are with the BJP. This led to tussle between the Health Department and the Local Bodies Department due to non-relieving of Sohal. It is learnt some senior BJP leaders, close to the local bodies minister came to the rescue of Sohal and asked him not to get him relieved. They allegedly threatened Grover not to pursue his posting in the Municipal Corporation. The local Municipal Committee authorities did not pay heed to requests of Grover to allow him join. With the result Grover would go to the office regularly but he was never allotted any room. Some local BJP leaders took up the stand the Health Department could not “impose” any doctor on the Municipal Corporation by “browbeating” the officials of Local Bodies Department. This virtually annoyed the health minister who took action against Sohal.

Chawla alleged instead of showing obedience to orders of the principal secretary, health, Sohal had refused to relinquish charge for more than 45 days of the transfer orders . She said Sohal would not attend the telephones of senior officials of the Health Department who wanted to persuade him to relieve the charge .

Since the Local Bodies Department refused to accept the joining of Grover, Chawla directed civil surgeon Lehmbar Singh to take his joining in the local civil hospital so that he could draw his salary . The civil surgeon said he had received verbal orders from the headquarter for accepting the joining of Grover as medical officer with a view to ending the tussle between two departments of the state.


5 HC judges sworn in
Daya first woman elevated to Bench from Bar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
First woman advocate to be elevated to the Bench from the Bar, Daya Chaudhary, and four other advocates today were administered oath as additional judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court by Chief Justice Vijender Jain.

Other members of the Bar sworn in as judges are Rakesh Kumar Garg, R.K. Jain, K.S. Ahluwalia and Jaswant Singh.

At a ceremony attended by sitting and retired judges of the high court, bureaucrats, relatives and 500 advocates, the Judges swore to "bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established". The Judges also swore to "uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India" and "duly and faithfully and to the best of ability, knowledge and judgement, perform the duties of the office without fear or favour, affection and ill will".

Justice Garg was born on September 2, 1952, belongs to well-known family of Bhucho Mandi, Bathinda. He graduated from the Rajinder Government College, Bathinda, in 1972 and did his LLB in 1975. He practised in the district courts there from January 1976 to July 1983 and was practising at the high court since August 1983. He also remained the vice-president of the High Court Bar Association in 1999-2000 and secretary, District Bar Association, Bathinda, in 1981-82.

Justice Jain was born on October 1, 1958, and belongs to a family of lawyers of Hisar. His father Gulab Singh Jain was income tax advocate and was member of the Legislative Assembly from Hisar. He passed his graduation from Kurukshetra University in 1978 and obtained his law degree in 1982 from University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. Justice Jain practised for 25 years on civil, criminal and revenue side at Hisar and Chandigarh. He twice remained executive member of the High Court Bar Association.

Justice Ahluwalia was born on May 31, 1957 and did his graduation from Government College for Men, Chandigarh. After post-graduation in English, he did LLB from Panjab University. He concentrated on criminal side and remained additional advocate-general, Punjab, from April 1997 to December 1998. He was designated senior advocate on February 26, 2007.

Justice Chaudhary was born on January 10, 1959, and did post graduation and LLB before doing postgraduate diploma in personal management and labour welfare. She has been practising in high court and Supreme Court since 1987 and was designated senior advocate in April this year. She also remained assistant solicitor-general of India.


CJ for more women on Bench
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The Punjab and Haryana High Court would have more women judges with Chief Justice Vijender Jain today declaring he was in favour of increasing their representation in judiciary.

Taking to the media after the swearing-in ceremony on the high court premises, he said 50 per cent of population comprised women. "If we do not give representation to women, what will be the incentive for other women advocates?" he questioned.

He added names of more women would soon be considered for elevation as high court Judges. He said when he came to Chandigarh as Chief Justice he was told no woman advocate from the Bar had ever been elevated to the Bench. "Daya Chaudhary's name was considered and her case was found to be fit for recommendation," he added.


Virk questions powers of VB
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
In his petition seeking pre-arrest blanket bail or 10-day advance notice in any case likely to be registered in Punjab, the state's former DGP S.S. Virk today virtually questioned the powers and authority of the Vigilance Bureau (VB) to inquire or investigate cases on its own.

He also claimed that the chief director of the Vigilance Bureau (CDVB) was removed in contravention of law. The petition is expected to be taken up by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday.

Virk, in the 283-page petition, claimed that the Punjab government had issued exhaustive guidelines on March 6, 2000, not only for streamlining the vigilance machinery in the state of Punjab, but also for making it more responsive and justifiable.

Under the guidelines, the Vigilance Bureau had no authority to conduct inquiry or investigate on its own, until an order was conveyed to it by the Vigilance Department. The same, he asserted, functioned directly under the state chief secretary.

He added that the state government, subsequently, passed the State Vigilance Commission Act, 2006, for the constitution of the State Vigilance Commission. But after coming to power, the present government repealed the Act vide notification dated March 22, 2007.

With this, the instructions issued by the state government on March 6, 2000, once again came into effect. As per the instruction, a procedure has been laid for taking cognizance of the complaints and conduct inquiries. Pare 10 (D) of the instructions asserts that the vigilance department can order a suo motu inquiry without formal reference from the administrative department only with prior approval of "respective committee" and competent authority.

The first information report against him, he claimed, was registered at vigilance bureau police station on September 8 by bypassing the entire process.

Claiming that the CDVB was removed in contravention of law, he added that the vigilance department was also restructured to make it an "oppressive outfit". In fact, the Badal government soon after coming to power proceeded to restructure the police and bureaucratic set up to achieve "ulterior motives".

Virk has already been granted regular bail by the high court in a corruption case. Allowing his plea, Justice H.S. Bhalla had on October 31 ruled that detaining him behind bars would put him on "slow fire" as the trial was likely to take time.


PSEB unbundling: Farmers block rail traffic
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 5
Hundreds of farmers, employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), students, and agriculture workers today blocked rail traffic for three hours at the railway station in Sunam, about 13 km from here, in protest against the proposed unbundling of the PSEB by the Punjab government. State president of the BKU (Ugrahan) Joginder Singh Ugrahan led the protesters.

Ugrahan said the main demands of the protesters were the abolition of Central Electricity Act-2003, no privatisation of the PSEB, reinstatement of the terminated employees of the PSEB, and withdrawal of “false cases” registered against employees opposing the unbundling of the PSEB.

Amritsar: Thousands of farmers under the banner of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee (KSC) today disrupted rail traffic for three hours at Manawala railway line due to which a number of trains arrived late. They were protesting against the move privatise the electricity board.

Addressing the farmers, Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, convener of the committee, urged the state government to pass a resolution in the Punjab Assembly to not to implement the Electricity Act 2003. He said due to privatisation, a number of farmers who were already reeling under huge debts would be ruined further.


Technocrats not consulted, say engineers
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 5
The engineers’ association of the PSEB has accused the state bureaucracy of keeping technocrats out of proposed consultation on the reform process of the board.

In a letter to Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, the president of engineers association HS Bedi has alleged that core committee on power sector reforms formed under the secretary, power, has submitted restructuring models of the board to government without taking any technocrat working in the field into confidence.

The engineers have sought an appointment with the CM to make him aware about their point of view on the matter before a final decision is taken.


Bhindranwale Portrait Row
Internal matter of Sikhs: Hindu samiti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 5
President of the All-India Hindu Suraksha Samiti Surinder Kumar Billa has said the installation of a portrait of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the Central Sikh Museum was an internal matter of Sikhs. Hence leaders of various political parties should refrain issuing inflammatory statements on the issue.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Billa said many leaders had started taking political mileage by announcing that the portrait would be removed from the museum.

Such statements would vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in the state. He, however, said the ruling SAD should be held responsible for raking up the controversy by installing the portrait 23 years after Sant Bhindranwale’s death.

Earlier, senior Congress leader Tejpreet Singh Peter criticised senior leaders of his party, including PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, for adopting “double standard” on militancy. He asked Bhattal to clarify her position over the acceptance of leaders like Harminder Singh Gill, who had been a confidant of the Sant.

Peter said Gill was inducted into the PPCC as general secretary despite his strong militant background. He (Gill) remained the president of the All-India Sikh Students Federation for a long time and a number of cases were registered against him during peak of militancy.

Similarly, Peter also criticised the party high command for the induction of Ajit Inder Singh Mofar into the party. Mofar had once elected from Sardulgarh on the SAD (Amritsar) ticket.

Meanwhile, Gill refused to comment over the controversy.

On the other hand, Bhai Mohkam Singh, convener of the Khalsa Action Committee said if voted to power in the next Assembly elections, the Sikh community would install a portrait of Bhindranwale in the House.

Dal Khalsa leader Kanwarpal Singh criticised the BJP, Congress and other Hindu organisations for raking up the issue. “Such statements would vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of the state,” he said.


Book accused, says SAD(A)
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 5
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today asked the Punjab government to register cases against those who have been issuing provocative and objectionable statements over the installation of a portrait of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale at the Central Sikh Museum by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC).

He alleged that the Congress and the RSS wanted to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the state.

Talking to media persons here today, general secretary of the SAD (A) Jeet Singh Alloarkh said though some Hindu bodies had announced Punjab bandh on December 14 against the installation of Sant Bhindranwale’s portrait at the Sikh museum, the SAD (A) would organise peaceful marches on that day at all district headquarters to convince the people of all religions that they were secure in Punjab.

Alloarkh said the SAD (A) would not tolerate interference by anyone in the religious affairs of the Sikh Panth, as no one had such a right.

He said a big conference would be organised by the SAD (A) at Fatehgarh Sahib on December 25 to announce its programme regarding issues of Punjab.


A deep conspiracy, says BSP
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 5
BSP chief, Punjab, Avtar Singh Karimpuri said yesterday that the installation of the portrait of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale at the Sikh Museum of the Golden Temple after 23 years of his killing in Operation Bluestar was done under a deep conspiracy to disturb the peace of Punjab. But the BSP would not allow any person to disturb peace and communal harmony of the state at any cost, he affirmed.

Accusing both, the Congress and the SAD(B), Karimpuri said Bhindranwale was a creation of the Congress and the latter always supported him during his life, while the SAD had instigated him to achieve its political goal.

Why did the SGPC, being dominated by the chief of SAD Parkash Singh Badal, had installed the portrait in the Sikh Museum and the latter remained a silent spectator, he asked.

Why Badal had not got it installed during his previous regime (1997 to 2002), questioned Karimpuri. Badal should clarify his stand over the installation of the portrait to clear the doubts of people of the state, said Karimpuri.

He also criticised leaders of the BJP for keeping mum on this issue. The BJP leaders always opposed Bhindranwale and claimed themselves to be sympathisers and supporters of Hindus.


NRIs more sinned against than sinning: MLA
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5
"Reports of estimated 14,000 proclaimed offenders in Punjab, more than 1,000 are NRIs who are guilty of heinous crimes, including murder, criminal intimidation, kidnapping and forgery, are wide of the mark. In fact, it is the NRI who has suffered the most from the filing of false FIRs", said Jassi Khangura, MLA of KiIla Raipur, in a press note here today.

He said "NRIs, whether they are in employment, in business or retired, are depend on their overseas income to exist. The overwhelming majority are simply not able to remain in India to defend themselves".

The MLA has pointed out "many panic on the filing of an FIR against them and flee the country. Invariably the FIR happens to be false, often instigated by their family members in Punjab in connivance with the land mafia. The Punjab police specifically targets NRIs to deprive them of their rightful property. NRI property represents that largest pool of ill-gotten gains accumulated by corrupt Punjab police officers."

"That is why I had requested CM Punjab earlier this year to order urgent review of all FIRs against NRIs within 72 hours of filing. Yet the Punjab government is ill equipped to do this because a register of NRIs does not exist. Moreover, whilst many of these NRIs declared as POs are foreign citizens, the Punjab government does not report the matters to the foreign mission concrned in Delhi", he said.

"On accounts of false FIRs, thousands of NRIs have been deprived of property, effectively denied return to India, families separated, some indefinitely, and from afar they helplessly learn of their assets being usurped by their relatives and various strata of the Punjab government, " said the press note.


Govt approves 3 sewage plants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The Punjab Government yesterday approved a project of installation of sewage plants at Jamalpur, Balloke and Bhattian at a cost of Rs 87.07 crore.

A decision to this effect was taken at a state-level steering committee meeting chaired by the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here.

The committee also gave its nod to include towns of Kharar, Kurali, Banur, Zirakpur, Dera Bassi and Nayagaon in the urban agglomerations of Mohali since the municipal councils of these towns were contiguous to the growth of Mohali.

Energy-efficient building

The building of the Punjab mini secretariat, Chandigarh, would be developed as the first energy-efficient building of Punjab.

Science, technology and environment minister Bikram Singh Majithia gave this information while inaugurating energy conservation building code (ECBC) awareness workshop yesterday. He said this building would be projected as example of energy conservation motivating others to follow.

Majithia said he had separately written to the UT Administration to initiate same energy-conservation measures in Punjab and Haryana civil secretariat, Punjab Vidhan Sabha buildings and Punjab and Haryana High Court building as these buildings were in the control of the UT Administration. Similarly, all deputy commissioners and local government departments have been requested to convert district complexes as energy-efficient buildings at the earliest.

Haj quota

The Punjab Government would soon approach union ministries of home and external affairs for enhancing the quota of Haj pilgrims of Punjab from 558 to 1000 and declaring Chandigarh as a demarcation point instead of Delhi for facilitating Hajis from Punjab to undertake direct pilgrimage.

An assurance to this effect was given by Badal while chairing the first meeting of the state advisory committee on minorities here yesterday.


Row over fountain demolition
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, December 5
Demolition of a fountain at the Garhi Ahata chowk here has put sub-divisional magistrate Manasvi Kumar and executive officer Vijay Kumar of the civic body here in a spot.

Local resident S.P. Bhasin has sought registration of a case against both officers. In a complaint to the SSP, Gurdaspur, Bhasin has alleged the officers got the fountain demolished without getting any approval from the elected MC body.

Bhasin has claimed that flag was hoisted on all national days.


Trade union workers block traffic
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 5
A joint action committee of various trade unions of industrial workers today blocked traffic on the Ropar-Chandigarh road at Nangal crossing for about two hours against the privatisation policy of the government. The police has booked for trade union leaders.


High Court
Ex-Punjab addl AG Sandhu gets bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Punjab’s former additional advocate-general Harpreet Singh Sandhu, booked for his alleged involvement in the Ludhiana City Centre scam, was today granted bail by Justice Surya Kant of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Allowing his application for regular bail, Justice Kant directed his release to the satisfaction of the Ludhiana chief judicial magistrate.

Pronouncing the order in an open court, Justice Kant observed that the petition was being allowed after taking into consideration the period already spent by the petitioner in custody; and also the fact that the culmination of proceedings was likely to take time as the investigations were still continuing.

The judge added that the petitioner was no longer holding official assignment. The patronage of the state exchequer was also not available to him. As such, there was apparently no likelihood of his tampering with the evidence or influencing the investigating agency.

Sandhu was seeking regular bail in FIR registered on March 23 in the alleged scam under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 201 and 120-B of the IPC, and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The “scam” pertains to allegations of causing loss of several crores to the Improvement Trust and allegedly involves the former Chief Minister and others. The allegations against Sandhu are that he, along with another, took Rs 3 crore commission from the management of Messers Today Homes to facilitate the acceptance of their bid by the Trust.

CBI plea turned down

Turning down the CBI’s plea for grant of six months time to file the next status report in matter pertaining to the alleged elimination of accused in the Saini blast case, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed it to submit the next report on investigation carried out by it on April 2.

Taking up the case, the Bench, comprising Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Harbans Lal, observed in the open court that they were not inclined to give such a long date. Giving reasons, the judges asserted that the court should be aware of the progress being made by the investigating agency. The judges also took on record the status report submitted by A.K. Sharma, SP, State Crime Branch, CBI.

At the very onset of the hearing, CBI counsel Rajan Gupta stated that names had been changed in the report to protect the identity of the witnesses. Nevertheless, the report should be sealed after the perusal by the court.

He added that the CBI was still in the process of recording statements and the progress could be affected if the report was not sealed. Accepting the prayer, the report was directed to be resealed and was handed over to the High Court Registry for safe custody. The case will now come up for further hearing on April 2.


Bank scam accused refused bail
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, December 5
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) has tightened noose around 14 suspects the Hindu Urban Co-operative Bank scam here following the rejection of their anticipatory bail application by the additional district and sessions judge, Gurdaspur.

The court has also rejected the bail application of two other arrested by the VB in the case.

The 14 suspects - Satish Kumar, former MC chief of Dhariwal Municipal Council Harjinder Kaur, Thappa, Surinder Kumar, Sita Rani Kuldeep Arora, employees of the council - and members of the board of directors of the bank comprising Veena Gupta, Sanjiv Sharda, Bishambhar Dass, Dinesh Sharma, Vikas Gupta, Darshan Sharma, Usha Sharma and Vinay Kumar - were granted interim bail by the court in a case of forgery and corruption.

Following the rejection of anticipatory bail by the court the VB has launched a hunt for the suspects booked.

Dilbagh Singh, DSP, VB, Gurdaspur, claimed the suspects wanted in the case would be arrested soon. The bureau has initiated action against them as per the law.

Two persons including Tilak Raj, a former executive officer of Dhariwal municipal council, and Ravi Kumar, an employee of the bank, have been arrested by the VB for involvement in the Dhariwal -based Langah market scam last month.

Following Punjab a Haryana High Court direction, the VB has arrested two persons and booked 14 others, including certain members of the board of directors of the Hindu bank in a case of corruption and forgery. The bureau has registered cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Sections 420, 467, 471 and 120-B of the IPC against them at Gurdaspur.


Grant for govt-aided schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Decks have been cleared to release grant-in-aid to the tune of Rs 24 crore of the first quarter- April to June- of this year to pay salaries to employees of government-aided schools in Punjab. The DPI(school), Dr Jagtar Singh Khatra, this afternoon signed the file to release the grant. The order in this regard will reach the treasury tomorrow, it is learnt.

As many as 9,000 employees, including about 8,000 teachers of 484 aided-schools, have not got salaries since April this year. Grant has been released without pre-audit as decision in this regard was taken at a meeting held under the chairmanship of chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh in the third week of last month.

Ashwini Kumar, a spokesman of the government-aided school teachers and other employees union, expressed happiness at the release of grant.

Meanwhile, Manohar Lal Chopra, patron of the union, said on the instructions of the chief secretary, the education department had decided to set up a committee to simplify the process of releasing grant to aided schools. At present the process was very cumbersome and time-consuming.


Sangrur schools get Rs 84 lakh
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 5
Under the Sarv Siksha Abhiyan, Rs 84,27,000 was given for development works to 979 schools of Sangrur district at a function here today.

Deputy Commissioner V.K. Ohri handed over the cheques for this amount to the block education officers of 11 blocks. The amount will be spent through rural education development committees on books, repair of furniture, and purchase of material for the schools.

The deputy commissioner honoured disabled sports children who had won four gold medals, five silver medals and five bronze medals at the state-level sports competitions, held at Jalandhar on World Disabled Day. The gold medalist were given Rs 1,000, silver medallists Rs 700 and bronze medallists Rs 500 in cash.


2 attendance registers at tehsil office
Commissioner suspends 3 clerks
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 5
S.K. Ahluwalia commissioner Patiala division has suspended three clerks, posted at the tehsil office.

Ahluwalia said he was going to recommend departmental action in the case against tehsildar Vinay Sharma as the responsibility of maintenance of attendance registers and records lay with her.

The three suspended clerks are Jatinder Singh, Gurdarshan Singh and Usha Rani, all posted in the tehsil office. “ What astonished me during the inspection was two attendance registers were being maintained in the tehsil office for the month of June. Not only the attendance marked in the registers was varying but, there was difference in the number of employees in the two registers. Moreover, each of almost all employees had availed 18 to 25 days of leave whereas, employees with 10 years of service could avail 10 days of leave and employees with 20 years of service could get maximum of 20 days’ casual leave. This shows that either the employees were not aware about the rules or they were just bunking from the office thinking they could not be caught. The said clerks who, were maintaining the records, could not even present the leave applications of employees,” said S.K. Ahluwalia.

The marriage registeration records in the tehsil office were also found to be incomplete. The marriage records were also checked by the commissioner after a number of complaints about employees taking bribe for the registeration of marriages.


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