P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Principal Dhaliwal suspended again
The SGPC has asked Geeta Sharma to officiate as principal with immediate effect
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 10
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) today made history of sorts by suspending Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, principal, Guru Ram Dass Medical College, for second time in less than two years.

Earlier, he was absolved of all charges made by the SGPC following his first suspension on February 3 , 2006 .

While Dr Dhaliwal alleged he was “punished” for becoming a hurdle in giving masters of surgery seat under NRI quota to an emergency medical officer of the college who happens to be a “blue- eyed boy” of senior officials of the Shiromani Committee, but SGPC president Avtar Singh alleged he (Dr Dhaliwal) was shown the door amid serious charges of misappropriation of funds, mismanagement and “anti-SGPC” activities. He alleged one of the confidants of Dr Dhaliwal who was dismissed from service, continued to “blackmail” people in the name of Dr Dhaliwal. He said the SGPC office was flooded with complaints and serious one was being given to the police. He said rest of the charges would be listed in the charge sheet being served on Dr Dhaliwal shortly.

Dr Dhaliwal is the fourth principal in a row since the inception of the SGPC-run medical college in 1997 who has been removed unceremoniously. Earlier, Dr Hardyal Singh and Dr Surinder Singh Cheema were not allowed to complete full terms. Dr Dhaliwal, who served as the lone elected member of the Medical Council of India, was replaced by Dr S.S. Walia, a senior professor of the college. Dr Dhaliwal had joined as professor, surgery, on August 19, 1998,. He was given extension by then SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, after his superannuation.

However, after a few months, Dr Dhaliwal was reinstated following clean chit given by the inquiry committee, constituted by the SGPC.

Expressing dismay over his second suspension, Dr Dhaliwal said SGPC secretary Harbeant Singh , an executive committee member Rajinder Singh Mehta and Joginder Singh , an assistant secretary Shiromani Committee visited his office with the suspension letter afternoon. He said the SGPC officials told him categorically either to resign or face suspension. “I preferred suspension”, he said. He asked if there were any serious charges as to why he was given “clean chit” and reinstated earlier ?”

Vigilance Noose Loosening
Punjab sits on prosecution sanctions, denies them
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Even after being caught red handed by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB), many senior officers/functionaries of the Punjab government continue to evade action. Against as many as 103 officials charged with various acts of omission and commission, the Punjab VB has not been able to get prosecution sanction from the government department concerned. Prosecution sanction from the competent authority is mandated under Section 19 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Out of these 103 cases, prosecution sanction has been pending in 83 cases. Many of these cases have been lingering for over a year despite the fact that departments are bound to decide prosecution sanction matters within two months of the date of reference made to them by the vigilance department.

Some Striking Cases

  • Darshan Singh, maths lecturer from Ferozepur, charged with possessing fake MSc Mathematics degree. Investigation completed in June 2005; prosecution sanction pending.
  • DS Guru, then health secretary denied prosecution sanction for Dr Ranjit Kumar, trapped accepting Rs 5000. Denial came on grounds of “dubious character of complainant”.
  • Vijay Kumar, then commissioner Faridkot declined prosecution sanction for naib tehsildar Jaichand Parinda. Charged with asking the complainant to pay Rs 8000 to fix deficiencies in stamp duty before registration, Parida issued a receipt of Rs 1655. Commissioner said since deficiency in stamp duty is no ground for refusal of registration of documents (under Registration Act), embezzlement charges against Parinda were misplaced.

In the remaining 20 cases, prosecution sanction has been plainly declined on grounds like “animosity”, even “dubious character of the complainant.” Denials have also come in cases where VB had caught the functionary red handed.

Significantly, many denials have come following parallel departmental inquiries by departments, which are in blatant violation of the Punjab Government’s own vigilance rules and the Supreme Court directions. The SC in its 1996 judgement in the CBI v/s Deepak Chaudhry case had ruled that competent authorities will not hold parallel inquiry for the purpose of granting sanction for prosecution.

Another rule being ignored pertains to the time taken by departments to decide matters regarding prosecution sanction. The norm is for the state to decide the matter within two months from when the vigilance department refers the case to it.

But information procured by Hitender Jain of Resurgence India under the RTI Act and analysed by The Tribune, shows that in 47 vigilance cases out of 103, prosecution sanction was kept pending for one to two years; one case against railway protection force sub inspector Gurdial Singh and constable Ashok Kumar lingered for over four years; 42 cases have been pending for four to six months -- all in infringement of rules. Even the VB has not been following the timeline specified for investigations.

While it is supposed to complete investigation in trap cases in two months and other cases in three months, it has taken as long as 47 months to complete investigation in some cases. In none of the nine cases (out of 103) against senior officers (IAS, IFS, etc) has the VB completed investigations in time, as reflected in information gathered under RTI. Even the state government has been flouting rules on prosecution sanction when it comes to these officers.

In five cases out of nine against senior officers, state has not granted prosecution sanction despite passage of many months since closure of investigation.

In case of two IAS officers, state has declined prosecution sanction. These include officers S.S. Dhillon and R Venkatratnam, facing charges of corruption and discrepancy in recruitments, respectively (investigation time taken by VB -- 25 and 22 months, respectively).

In cases of IFS officer Basant Raj charged with embezzlement (investigation time 10 months), superintending engineer VK Setia caught red handed accepting Rs 10,000 (investigation time four months) and Sewerage board XENs A.S. Oberoi, Mukul Kumar, M.L. Bansal (investigation time 47 months), prosecution sanction has been pending. In five out of nine cases, sanction was declined.

Among departments, revenue tops the list with 31 (out of 103) cases where prosecution sanction has not been given, followed by local government with 12 cases, Punjab State Electricity Board with 9, police with 6 cases, cooperative societies with 7, rural development with 6 cases; health and education with 4 cases each.


Six bonded labourers rescued
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 10
The police today rescued six bonded labourers from a cotton factory here. These labourers were employed in the factory since November last year and were not paid any wages.

Giving details, the general secretary of the CPI, Jagjit Singh Joga, said there were 14 bonded labourers, eight of them some how managed to flee from the factory. Four of them Bahadur, Amresh, Aasa Devi and Savitri Devi approached him on Tuesday and narrated their plight.

Taking a serious note of the issue, a team of the CPI activists was sent to ascertain the facts and after visiting to the place, the team confirmed about the ‘ill condition’ of the labourers, he added.

After receiving report of the team, a complaint was submitted yesterday to the SSP, Bathinda, to take action in this regard.

A police team today conducted raid to the factory, Shiv Cotton Factory, and got the six bonded labourers released.

The rescued labourers stated that they had reached the place on November 24 and till the date they were given only food and were detained in the premises of the factory. They were thrashed when they wanted to go out.

Terming it all a planted story, the owner of the factory, Radhey Shyam, accused the labourers of telling lie about they having been forcibly detained in the factory.

SSP Naunihal Singh said the sub-divisional magistrate, K.P.S. Mahi, was investigating into the matter.


Protest against ad hocism in judiciary
Additional sessions judge resigns

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 10
To lodge his protest against ad-hocism in the judiciary, an Additional District and Sessions Judge (ad-hoc) here, has put in his papers.

Jaspal Singh Chugh, who is also presiding officer of the fast track court, Gurdaspur, got a fax message last evening from the Registrar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding the acceptance of his resignation which he had submitted on December 4.

Though Chugh had mentioned family problem as a reason for resigning the job yet the non-regularisation of his service and discrimination with the judges, appointed on ad-hoc basis was the main cause that forced him to quit his job.

Out of the 12 ADSJs appointed in Punjab and Haryana by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on ad-hoc basis, Chugh is the first to quit the job for not being regularised despite the Supreme Court ruling in the Brij Mohan Lal vs Union of India AIR 2002 (page 2096).

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had appointed 12 Additional District and Sessions Judges (six each in Punjab and Haryana ) in 2004. Two ADSJ from Punjab and one from Haryana had already quit their jobs for one reason or the other.

Talking to The Tribune, Chugh claimed that ad-hocism in the judiciary forced him to take the decision. He said the SC guidelines clearly say that ad-hoc appointees may be absorbed in regular vacancies if subsequent recruitments take place and their work is found satisfactory.

Chugh who joined as ADSJ at Sangrur on March 7, 2004, reportedly had given representation to the high court for his absorption but to no avail. He joined at Gurdaspur in June 2006.

After serving as ADSJ for your years, Chugh claimed that the high court had filled vacancies twice till now but not even a single judge, working on ad-hoc basis, has been regularised.


Recommendations against jail overcrowding were ignored
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 10
While overcrowding was one of the main reasons behind Monday’s rioting in Central Jail here, the state jail authorities ignored the reported recommendations made by District and Sessions Judge Gurdev Singh after his monthly inspection of the jail. While Gurdev Singh refused to divulge the contents of the reports sent to the DGP (Prisons), DIG (Prisons) and Punjab and Haryana High Court, jail sources confirmed that he had recommended in his reports to keep the prisoners in the jail in accordance with its capacity of 525 inmates.

"Where is the space in other jails for shifting the prisoners? — Mohammad Izhar Alam DGP (prisons)

DGP (prisons) Mohammad Izhar Alam said the recommendations made by the District and Sessions Judge were binding on the jail authorities and they were immediately implemented.

However, when asked about Gurdev’s repeated recommendations against overcrowding, he replied, “Where is the space in other jails for shifting the prisoners?”

He said there was plan to construct a new jail in Jalandhar and Kapurthala at Theh Kanjla village in Subhanpur on the Jalandhar Amritsar highway. The land for constructing the jail had already been identified but the construction was yet to be started, he said.

Talking to The Tribune, Gurdev said he had been inspecting the jail every month as per the provisions of Punjab jail manual since July last year.

However, to a further query he said neither the DC nor the SSP had accompanied him even once during the inspection visits. According to the jail manual, a DC and SSP had to accompany a district and sessions judge at least once in three months.

The DC and the SSP claimed that they had been visiting the jail at regular intervals. They had accompanied high court Judge Uma Nath Singh during his last visit to the jail about two and a half months back, they added. Similarly, DGP (prisons) also claimed that he also visited the jail at regular intervals.

Meanwhile, the suspended acting jail superintendent Satpal Singh said the district and sessions judge had made his last inspection of the jail on December 27 but a copy of the report sent to his seniors had not been received by the Central jail.

According to jail sources, more than double the capacity of 525 inmates have been lodged in the jail for the past several months. Due to overcrowding, the inmates are packed in the barracks like animals. The number of inmates had reached almost triple of its total capacity as 1,400 inmates were recorded in the jail in May last year. The jail authorities shifted 175 inmates to Ludhiana jail after getting permission from the DGP (prisons) in June last year. So much so, no cultural programme was organised on Diwali due to the law and order problem because of overcrowding.


Effluent Discharge into Rivers
HC asks Punjab pollution board to file status report

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Quoting Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink” to sum up the water situation in Punjab due to discharge of effluents in the rivers even from across the border, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked the state pollution control board to file a status report on the steps taken to prevent the entry of waste matter flowing into Sutlej from Kasur city in Pakistan.

The directions follow suo-motu cognizance of a news-report on discharge of effluents in the rivets carried in these columns last year.

In its endeavour to provide potable water to “all”, a Division Bench of the HC, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, also directed the filing of an affidavit on “what action has been initiated by the state of Punjab, Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board, along with the Punjab Pollution Control Board, to stop the discharge of sewage directly into river Beas.”

The court further asked for complete list of 102 polluting industries in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Phagwara and Kapurthala that had not installed effluent treatment plants and were discharging waste material into Sutlej directly or indirectly. Details were also sought of action taken against them by the pollution control board. The case will now come up for hearing on February 19.

Pronouncing the directions, the Bench observed “the court, as a catalyst, has been making earnest endeavour to take all concerned and stakeholders along to do its bit as we will never know the worth of water till the well is dry”.

The Bench also observed: It is stated in the affidavit that local enquiries reveal river Sutlej carries effluents of Kasur in Pakistan. Therefore, monitoring of the river was done by the Punjab Pollution Control Board at the exit and entry points of the river in India. It was found that some domestic effluent was received in the river from Pakistan as total coliform and COD were found higher on analysis... to ascertain the impact of the effluents from Kasur, long-term monitoring is required to be carried out and the same has been started by the Punjab Pollution Control Board. We would like to have a status report of the Board with regard to the monitoring carried out...”

It added: It has further been stated in the affidavit that stretch of Sutlej between Ludhiana and Harike has been identified as the most polluted and has been covered by the National River Conservation Directorate, Ministry of Environment and Forests, under the River Action plan. A scheme amounting to Rs 229 crore has been sanctioned for restoring the quality of water called Sutlej Action Plan. A comprehensive detailed affidavit be filed by the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board with regard to action proposed to be taken, or yet to be taken, utilization of funds, and the time frame in which the objective can be achieved.

Before parting with the orders, the Judges observed 10 municipal committees, Mukerian, Pathankot, Dasuya, Tanda Urmar, Rayya, Begowal, Dhillwan and Bholath, were discharging sewage directly or indirectly into Beas.


Mittal not invited to Chawla’s function
Tribune News Service

Nangal, January 10
A day ahead of the visit of health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla to the town, infighting in the BJP came to the fore today. The health minister is to visit the town tomorrow to inaugurate a health awareness camp at Swami Navaljee temple. However, former minister Madan Mohan Mittal, who represents the area, has not been invited to the function. This has infuriated his supporters in the area.

They alleged that the function had been organised at a place that had served as a platform for launching a candidate of the Uma Bharti’s party in the last Assembly elections. This was done deliberately to show down Mittal, they added.

The supporters of Mittal also demanded an inquiry into the use of funds provided by the previous Congress government for the temple. They said they would boycott tomorrow’s function.

Mittal confirmed that he had not been invited to the function. He, however, declined to comment on the issue.


SAD-BJP govt complete failure: Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today lashed out at the SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab, terming their government as a complete failure on all fronts. She rubbished allegations of her going soft on the ruling alliance.

Settling down the issue of her being divested of one of the two posts she held, Bhattal said, “I was given the task by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. If she asks me to give up one position, I will willingly do it.”

Bhattal said she was not invited to the NRI conference. “It was a SAD show. Many of the important NRIs who were invited to the Parvasi Bharti meeting in Delhi were not even invited to Chandigarh or Jalandhar,” she added.


SAD elections to be over by Jan 31
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Parkash Singh Badal today announced schedule of organisational elections of the party. The election process will be completed by January 31,the day president of the party will be elected.

SAD secretary Daljit Singh Cheema said Balwinder Singh Bhunder had been appointed chief electoral officer for the elections. Many senior leaders of the party had been appointed election observers for different districts, other states and countries.

The election to all circles and districts will be completed by January 20 and delegate session for the election of president held on January 31. Sukhbir Singh Badal may become full-time president of the party on that day. At present, he is acting SAD president.


Transporters disrupt road toll plaza operations
Tribune News Service

Kiratpur Sahib, January 10
Transport operators of the area today blocked operations at the Rohan-Rajdeep toll plaza near the Kiratpur Sahib-Nangal toll road. The transporters along with office-bearers of the Punjab Sangharsh Committee against toll roads today descended on the toll plaza of the company at 11 am.

They organised a dharna there and did not allow the company officials to collect toll from passing vehicles till 4 pm. Police officials were present at the spot to monitor the situation but did not stop the protesters.

The protesters received cheers from the passing vehicles as they were not made to pay the toll today.

Addressing protesters, Darshan Singh Mattu, a senior leader of the CPM said the government had given away public roads of Punjab to private companies. In states like Maharashtra toll roads were alternative roads. The Mumbai-Pune toll road has been constructed by a private company at its own cost. People going from Mumbai to Pune have the option of either going on the express toll road after paying the tax or take the public road.

However, in Punjab people were being forced to pay as the private companies had taken over public roads. The Anandpur Sahib-Kiratpur Sahib road was already a four-lane road constructed at the government cost in 1999 during the tercentenary celebrations. The land of people residing in the area was taken at token reserve government price for construction of public roads. However, now it had been handed over to a private company and people were forced to pay for moving on it.

Maha Singh Rori, another leader, said the previous Congress government had benefited the company owned by son of union minister for agriculture Sharad Pawar by allowing toll roads in the state.

Transporters said taxes for operating on Punjab roads was the maximum. Vehicle owners and transporters in Punjab had to pay road tax at the time of registration of the vehicle, cess on petrol and road toll.

The agreements for toll roads are loaded in favour of companies. Besides the hefty charge they imposing on people now, the companies can increase toll by 10 per cent every year.

The protesters also uprooted the barrier raised alternative link roads allegedly by toll operators to prevent diversion of traffic.


Panchayat samiti, ZP, panchayat poll planned in one go
Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 10
The Punjab government has plans to hold Zila Parishad, Panchayat Samiti and panchayat elections simultaneously. Minister for panchayats, rural development and elections Ranjit Singh Brahmpura stated this at Morinda today.

He along with MLA Ujagar Singh Wadali was here to lay foundation stone of rooms in government school Tajpura near Morinda.

The minister said decision to hold the said elections simultaneously to save money. On Congress allegations the government was trying to capture panchayats by holding indirect elections for sarpanches, the minister said it was just an apprehension of the opposition. The decision to hold indirect elections for sarpanches has been taken to finish groups in villages.

In direct elections it has been observed strong groups had been formed in villages to grab power. This was hitting the development in villages. By holding indirect elections the power would be restored to group of panches that would reduce the group politics.

The opposition was, however, alleging panches who would be empowered to elect sarpanches now, would be under the pressure from government officials to elect nominees of ruling party. The direct elections for sarpanches would have proved to be referendum on present government performance.

The minister also said there were reports on misuse of development funds provided to villages.


Dera chief denied permission to visit ashram
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 10
The deputy commissioner, Bathinda, today did not permit Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to visit the ashram of the Dera at Salabatpura near here tomorrow and hold- four day congregation.

Responding to a letter of the Dera seeking permission for their chief’s visit here and holding the congregation, deputy commissioner Rahul Tiwari, said in view of the fragile law and order situation in the district and the threat to life of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, permission cannot be given for this purpose.

Tiwari said the decision not to accede to the request has been taken following discussion with the agencies involved in the maintenance of law and order.

Senior vice-chairman of the Dera, P.R. Nain, had written a letter to the deputy commissioner on January 8 seeking permission for visit of the Dera chief and holding the congregation to observe birthday of Shah Satnam ji Maharaj. He had said the main satsang will be held on January 13.


Marriage palaces flout rules with impunity
Bipin Bhardwaj

Tribune News Service

Pathankot, January 10
Come up in violation of town and country planning norms, over a dozen marriage palaces-cum-resorts along the Pathankot-Dalhousie bypass road have not only been evading taxes, but also causing huge losses to the state exchequer.

The practice has been going on for the past of couple of years as the owners have been blatantly throwing norms to the wind. Certain marriage palaces and resorts even have allegedly encroached upon government land. Being on the highway, a majority of the marriage palaces and resorts have even constructed metalled entry and exit points without obtaining the mandatory permission from the PWD authorities.

Safety measures seem to have been given the go-by by proprietors of these business establishments as hardly anyone of them has gone in for no-objection certificates from the fire brigade authorities. Playing music systems till late hours during parties despite the ban imposed by the local administration, the owners have been putting residents of their surroundings to a great hardship by creating noise pollution.

Sprawled over acres of land, these multistoreyed marriage palaces and resorts have not been approved by the district town and country planning department. Charging Rs 50,000 to Rs 1,00,000 per party, the owners of these resorts have not been issuing bills to their customers, thus evading taxes, alleged a customer. The owners have hardly maintained any account of the commodities spent on the marriage parities to evade value added taxes (VAT) even though the customers are being charged for it.

According to the records of the district town planner, Gurdaspur, the Canada Marriage Palace, Erina Gulshan, MK Resort, Walia Resort, Sonam Resort, Venice Public Resort, Kaler Resort, Kaler Palace, Malhotra Farms, Hotel Kingston and DLM Valley Resort that have come up along the Pathankot-Dalhousie bypass road are functioning without getting their buildings approved from the department.

Moreover, these resorts, a majority of which are located outside the Pathankot Municipal Council limits, have been turning a blind eye towards the notices served by the department from time to time.

During late night parties, major traffic jams on the busy Pathankot-Kullu highway are often seen outside these marriage palaces, thus causing hardship to commuters and road users.

District town planner (DTP) Madan Lal Kaushal said the marriage places had come up in violation of the district town and country planning norms. Repeated notices to them for completing the formalities for getting clearance certificate from the department have failed to yield results, he claimed.

The DTP also revealed that recovery from these unauthorised marriage places and resorts was in crores, which they had been evading for a long time.


5,000 trained lineman jobless, courtesy PSEB
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January10
More than 5000 qualified and trained linemen have been without jobs in Punjab as the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) allegedly has not made any recruitment of linemen for 11 years.

Nearly 12000 posts of lineman are vacant since 1998 but the PSEB has not filled these. Linemen, it was learnt, were last recruited by the PSEB in 1996.

More than 5,000 linemen are sans jobs despite being qualified and trained for the job of lineman. “Unemployed linemen were being subjected to apathy by the government for 11 years but, nobody ever came to our rescue. All these 5,000 linemen are equipped with t two- year diploma courses and two-year apprenticeship. The PSEB has thousands of vacancies and its work was suffering but it has failed to make recruitment,” rued Tarlochan Singh, president of the ‘Berozgaar Linemen Union Punjab.”

Sources in the PSEB said there was no move to start recruitment process for posts of linemen.

Tarlochan Singh and Rajinder Singh Pathankot said on one hand, the Punjab government was talking about providing employment to fresh unemployed youth by training them under the “Parkash” scheme but, on the other it was hardly bothered about the fate of thousands of duly qualified linemen jobless for years.


High Court
Notice to Punjab on school dropouts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
The Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday issued notice of motion to Punjab and other states on a petition filed in the public interest for adopting appropriate steps to check dropping out of students, who were yet to complete primary, middle and high school.

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, fixed February 13 as the next date of hearing in the matter. In his petition against Punjab, the Union of India, DPI (colleges), city-based advocate Jagmohan Singh Bhatti sought directions to protect the career and the educational standards of the students admitted to the schools in the state. Referring to news-items in a section of media, the petition said the reports had pointed out that up to 28 per cent students left studies by 5th standard, 76 per cent by 10th standard and 90 per cent by 12th standard.

Citing lack of schoolteachers as one of the primary reasons, the petitioner said there was shortage of about 25,000 teachers and 2,200 principals in schools of Punjab. He added that providing education was the prime duty of the state. As such, the government should formulate a resettlement plan for students, who had left their studies in the past decade or so. The petitioner said steps should also be taken to remove staff shortage. Frequent checks should also be carried out on unauthorised schools and teaching shops. Besides this, special buses for village students should be provided.

Pherurai’s trial record sought

A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked Punjab to produce trial record of Punjab’s former senior superintendent of police G.S. Pherurai. He was acquitted by an Ambala fast track court in a fake currency case. The Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice K.S Ahluwalia, fixed January 23 as the next date of hearing in the matter.

The court had earlier taken a suo motu cognisance of news-report on Pherurai’s acquittal. Subsequently, high court advocate H.C Arora filed PIL in the matter.

Matter in allegations can’t be ignored: Counsel

In an apparent attempt to gain out of its Chief Minister’s loss, Punjab today tried to use his case to defend its stand in state’s former director-general of police S.S. Virk’s matter.

Appearing before Justice H.S. Bhalla of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a case filed by Virk for transferring the investigations in his matter to the CBI, state counsel Reeta Kohli said it was held that a court does not have to shut its eyes to substance in the allegations in cases where the allegations were of political vendetta and mala fides.

Elaborating, Kohli said salaried employee Virk had made cash deposits of Rs 3 crore in different accounts in diverse names as cash deposits of over Rs 10 lakh come under scrutiny. The Supreme Court, it may be recalled, had noted in Parkash Singh Badal versus State of Punjab’s case that even though there was an element of personal or political rivalry, it was ultimately to be seen whether materials existed to substantiate the allegations.

The state also made an all-out attempt to defend senior superintendent of Punjab Police Surinder Pal Singh in the matter. Refuting allegations levelled by Virk against him, Kohli said Surinder was neither the complainant in the land matter, nor the investigation officer.

Kohli said an FIR was registered on the basis of report by DSP Zora Singh. Replying to court query on why Surinder was a part of the investigating team and his role in the matter, Kohli said he happened to be the station house officer of Flying Squad Police Station-I, Mohali. She added that the team had eight-nine officers each with a specific role. His role was limited only to compilation of the reports.

Kohli added that petition under Section 482 of the CrPC was not maintainable and Virk should have filed the case under Section 226.

Justice H.S. Bhalla today asked the state counsel to inform the court on the status of investigations and the time required by the state to file a chargesheet in the matter. The state counsel said the challan would be filed in three-weeks as 10 days were required to complete it. Another 10 days were needed to check it. To this, Justice Bhalla observed that on the face of it, 24 hours were enough to check the challan as a team of officers was on the job. The matter will come up for further hearing on Friday.


CAT defers hearing on Virk’s plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Giving last opportunity to the Union government, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) today deferred hearing of the application filed by S.S Virk, former DGP, challenging his suspension orders by the Punjab government.

The tribunal has asked the Centre to file reply by January 29, failing which an official not below the rank of joint secretary (home) would have to appear before the tribunal to explain the delay and their stance on the applicant’s suspension.

In his application, Virk has also challenged a memorandum “whereby the articles of charges were served upon him”. He has also challenged the failure of the Union of India to decide statutory administrative appeals filed by him on April 18 and May 25. He has also sought directions for declaring that the order of suspension no longer subsists. He was placed under suspension when the government was considering his case for termination of his state-to-state deputation so as to save him from the Punjab government’s wrath.


Forum tells PSEB to pay compensation
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 10
The district consumer forum has directed the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities to pay Rs 1,000 to a resident of Sant Nagar here for wrongly slapping penalty of Rs 22, 319 on him in a case of power pilferage.

President of the forum P.D. Goel has also directed the PSEB to make the payment in a month. Since checking of the site was done by an officer below the rank of an assistant engineer so Goel also quashed the penalty imposed by the PSEB on Jaspal Singh complainant.

Jaspal Singh in a petition to the forum had claimed the PSEB imposed penalty of Rs 22, 319 on him for allegedly stealing power by bypassing electricity meter. 


BSNL gears up for competition
Will appoint direct selling agents

Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
At the receiving end of competition posed by private telecom operators, public sector telecom giant Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has finally decided to go proactive to realise its dream of “connecting India”.

BSNL has decided to appoint direct selling agents (DSAs) for door-to-door marketing of its products in a bid to capture the ever-expanding telecom market.

“Persons having matriculation qualifications, STD/PCO operators and retired BSNL employees are eligible. Besides providing a competitive edge to the nigam, the scheme would fulfill BSNL’s social objective of creating job opportunities for the unemployed persons, particularly rural youth,” chief general manager, Punjab circle, S.R Aggarwal, said here today.

The DSAs would be employed on commission basis to sell products such as recharge coupons, SIM cards, India telephone cards, broadband connections, landline connections and mobile phones.

In fact, sources said the telecom giant was targeting the ever-expanding rural market in Punjab, which has the highest tele-density in the country. With the urban telecom market saturated, the rural areas hold good potential for new landline and mobile connections besides other products, an official said.

Another reason for the BSNL “going rural” was that in urban areas, the government-controlled telecom giant faced tough competition from private operators. Since it has a large presence in the rural areas, it holds an edge over other players.

Officials highlighted that if the experiment of employing the DSAs was successful, the scheme could be expanded with the inclusion of more services, like fault repair and collection of telephone bills. With the BSNL infrastructure in place, training of the DSAs should not be any problem, an official added.


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