P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Two NRIs among 4 killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 1
Four members of a family, including two NRI brothers, died when a truck loaded with wheat collided with their car in the wee hours here today. The incident took place at the Amritsar-Pathankot road while saving a cow which had strayed on the road.

The victims, identified as Gurdeep Singh (62), his son Manjinder Pal Singh (32), younger son Manmohan Pal Singh and his wife Rupinder Kaur (23), all residents of Bhulle Chak village, Gurdaspur, died on the spot. Kuldip Kaur, wife of Gurdeep Singh, was critically injured in the mishap. She was rushed to the Civil Hospital, Batala, where her condition is stated to be serious. Driver of the truck Kulwinder Singh of Nangal Pannuan village fled from the scene. The police initiated action after registering a case under relevant sections of the IPC.

Both brothers, Manjider Pal Singh and Manmohan Singh, residents of Germany, had come to their native village for a vacation. According to information, the family was going to Amritsar International Airport to see off Manmohan, who was returning to Germany today. The impact of the accident that occurred in 4 am was so intense that the front two wheels of the truck (PB-O2-AJ-9635) came out besides severely damaging the car (PB-O6-E-6767). The police had a tough time to bring out the bodies from the vehicle. The cow also died in the incident.


GMADA to issue public bonds
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 1
The Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) is going public. The authority would soon issue public bonds to raise capital for its various infrastructure projects. This was decided during the last meeting of the executive committee of the authority headed by chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh.

“This is part of a common practice to raise resources. The PIDB (Punjab Infrastructure Development Board) does it and till some years ago the PSIEC (Punjab Small Industries and Exports Corporation) was also raising funds through market borrowing. Other than bonds, GMADA would be raising money through loans. We would see which of the two gives better return in terms of rate of interest, re-payment schedule and moratorium,” said the chief secretary.

GMADA is undertaking a large number of development and infrastructure projects in the area under its jurisdiction for which funds would be required. An estimate of such projects listed for the next two years would cost GMADA over Rs 2,000 crore.

GMADA has some commercial and institutional properties in Mohali, which can be auctioned to raise sufficient capital for these projects. But it was felt by the committee members that these could be sold off in bulk as it would invite huge amounts of income tax and would also be bad marketing strategy. Thus the total requirements of funds cannot be met with from the authority’s own resources.

The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) Act provides that the “authority can from time to time borrow money by way of loans, debentures or bonds or such financial instruments from such sources other than the state government.”

To issue bonds for raising money among the public and other financial institutions involves a detailed procedure of getting the credit rating done through approved agencies and raising bonds.

Since this whole procedure would take some time, the first public issue of GMADA is expected to be announced only after six months.

It was, however, pointed out during the meeting that there was no flexibility in repayment or renegotiation at any point in case GMADA issued public bonds.

Other than issuing public bonds, GMADA would also be taking loans from banking institutions by either mortgaging an equivalent property or sharing revenue stream. Executive committee members suggested that while taking loans from banks a flexibility clause would also be added so that GMADA can pay off the loans as and when it sells its properties.


Houses for Vimukat Jatis
CM tells DCs to identify shamlat land
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal directed all deputy commissioners of the state to identify ‘shamlat’ (panchayat) land in villages of their jurisdiction for allotment for dwelling units to members of Vimukat Jatis.

Badal gave an assurance to this effect to the Confederation of Punjab Pradesh Vimukat Jatis led by president Dr Tarsem Singh Mahla at a meeting at Chief Minister's residence on Tuesday evening.

Badal asked the DCs to find out ways to allot land to eligible beneficiaries of the Vimukat Jatis that had constructed houses on the panchayati land over the years. He also asked the vice-chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, to submit the final report in a month relating to the case sent by the Department of Welfare of SC/BC for reviewing the Vimukat Jatis so that the government could take up the matter with the Union government for inclusion of Vimukat Jatis in the list of Scheduled Tribes.

Badal also asked the SC and BC Welfare Department to examine the proposal to grant 5 per cent reservation exclusively for eight Vimukat Jatis viz Sansis, Bazigars, Bauria, Bengali, Nat, Gadhila and Barar put forth by the confederation.

To another demand for a separate commission for Vimukat Jatis on the pattern of commissions for Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, Badal asked the chief secretary to work out modalities for a separate board for the welfare of Vimukat Jatis by giving representation to their members.

He also agreed to the demand of the confederation to increase the income limit of Rs 5,000 to Rs 1 lakh per annum for scholarship to the eligible beneficiaries of Vimukat Jatis on the pattern of SC families.

Badal also assured the representatives of the Vimukat Jatis that the state government would provide adequate funds for the construction of dharmshalas and cremation grounds for their community provided they procured land on their own.

He also asked the principal secretary, Social Welfare, to issue instructions to all DCs to include the word Vimukat Jati while issuing a caste certificate and tie up with the Punjab SC Land Development and Finance Corporation to sanction loans to the members of the Vimukat Jatis at low interest on the terms and conditions for the Scheduled Castes.

He also directed the principal secretary, Rural Development and Panchayats, to extend the benefit of the construction of flush toilets to the Vimukat Jatis on the pattern of Scheduled Castes and a provision of special grant for this be earmarked.


Conversion of green belt land into commercial site
BJP leader writes to CM for probe
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 1
A BJP leader here, in a letter to the inspector-general police (Crime) and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, has demanded a probe into illegal conversion of open green land into commercial site claiming that an agenda item in this regard was never passed by the Amritsar Municipal Corporation.

Naresh Sharma, former councillor and district general secretary, BJP, showing the records here on Wednesday, said the government had on February 6, 1997, ordered the conversion of the green belt space into commercial site. He said a resolution was put up at the meeting of the corporation vide agenda item 40/11, but the House had not passed it at the meeting held on August 4. At present the commercial plot is registered in the name of former deputy speaker Darbari Lal’s wife Beena Rani and his two sons Rajesh Kumar and Karanveer.

Darbari Lal refuted the allegations of Sharma and added that the issue was being politicised. He said he was not even a member of the Legislative Assembly when the agenda was put up for amendment in the corporation House in 1998. He said even the proposal for converting the open space green land was taken up much before the purchasing of the plot by his family members. He alleged that there were other areas in the city which had been converted into commercial sites, but the BJP was silent over the issue.

Sharma said the state government again on March 12, 1999, had written to the corporation for the amendment and a proposal was made vide agenda item 101/23 in the House at its meeting on November 3,2000, and the members had decided to keep it pending. After this, the local bodies secretary on April 20 and May 20, 2000, again wrote to the corporation for the amendment.

Sharma alleged that after the formation of the Congress government in the state, the then commissioner, MC, on the appeals of local bodies secretary amended the scheme illegally on October 14, 2002, and the MC House gave approval to the scheme on January 2003 vide agenda item 15/10 and on the basis of this, the government allowed the conversion of the open green space land into commercial plot. Under the scheme only 40 per cent area was to be covered and the height of the building was restricted to 24 ft, but later a former principal secretary had ordered an increase in the covered area to 60 per cent and raising of height of the building to 42.6 ft, he alleged.

Demanding a probe into the case besides action against the official responsible for this, Sharma alleged that soon after the amendment in the scheme, Darbari Lal got the plot registered in the name of his wife and two sons.


SAD-BJP to hold Punjab rally in Delhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
The SAD-BJP ruling alliance has decided to hold a Punjabi rally in Delhi on February 22 to protest against the interference of the Congress in what it called “the religious affairs of the Sikhs” by attempting to divide the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (SGPC).

The two political parties are also aiming to pressurise the union government into announcing a financial package for farmers and the industry in Punjab.

Announcing this at a joint press conference, newly elected SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and the state BJP president Rajinder Bhandari said, “The protest will highlight the Centre's indifferent attitude towards the state on various issues, including the package for debt-ridden farmers and the industry”.

Elaborating on the agenda for the rally, Sukhbir said three main demands concerning the state's agriculture, industry and alleged attempts of the Congress to divide Sikhs by trying to form a separate SGPC in Haryana would be raised at the rally.

He said the farmers of the state, who had contributed 65 per cent of the foodgrain to the Central pool, were being ignored by the Congress-led UPA government.

He said the rally would demand a package for the state's agriculture sector in the form of a waiver of loans for the farmers. "The Centre is cash surplus. A major part of the revenue generated from the states goes to the Centre which can waive the loans of the agriculture sector in Punjab," he added.

The two leaders were speaking to the media soon after the meeting of the Coordination Committee of the two parties in which various issues facing the state were discussed. They both said the issue of appointment of chairmen to boards and corporations was also discussed in the meeting and the issue would be settled soon.

Referring to the issue of sale of state properties by the SAD-BJP alliance to run the government, Sukhbir said this was a false Congress propaganda. "Unproductive assets are being made productive," he said adding that the recent auctions of commercial sites in Bathinda and Amritsar for around Rs 200 crore each would give a stimulus to economic activity.

The auction of commercial sites would result in demand for construction material and labour, the SAD chief said adding that the state would also benefit with increased collection of VAT and other taxes. Replying to a question about the extent of flight of industry from Punjab to neighbouring states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir where the government had offered income tax and excise exemption to the industry, Bhandari said this could be assessed from the declining collection of Central Excise, which dropped from Rs 2,786 crore in 2003-04 to Rs 867 crore in 2006-07.


Meeting on Resource Mobilisation
No concrete decision taken
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
The Cabinet sub-committee that met here this evening, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, to discuss additional resource mobilisation ended without taking any concrete decision because of serious differences among ministers on certain fiscal matters.

The ministers who attended the meeting were Manoranjan Kalia, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Adesh Partap Singh and Manpreet Singh Badal.

The Finance and Planning Departments led by finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal today informed the sub-committee, that there would be a need to mobilise additional resources of Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 crore to meet the Budget requirements and fund the proposed enhanced annual plan during the next financial year.

While the Budget is to be presented in the Punjab Assembly on March 11, the Planning Commission has invited the Chief Minister and his team of ministers and officers concerned to Delhi on February 19 to discuss the state’s annual plan.

The plan for the current financial year was to the tune of Rs 5,111 crore and of it Rs 3,700 crore was to be provided from the provisions made in the Budget.

However, about Rs 1,400 crore has been released so far from the Budget for the plan, it is learnt. Manpreet is keen to enhance the plan to Rs 6,000 crore for the next fiscal year. However, the lack of financial resources required to fund the plan have become a major hurdle in enhancing the plan size.

Sources said the finance minister and industries and local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia wanted that the government should take some decision to put the Punjab economy back on the track. Though Punjab is moving ahead, the pace of its development has become a major worrying factor for all concerned.

For resource mobilisation, the Finance Department wanted that instead of free power, the farm sector should be provided power at Rs 60 per BHP. That will mobilise additional resources to the tune of Rs 800 crore.

The sum of Rs 800 crore will also include Rs 292 crore that will not have to be paid as subsidy, which was given during the current fiscal year, across the board to all sections of society during the next financial year in case the farm sector was given subsidied power instead of free power.

The Finance Department was of the view that once the state switched over to subsidised mode of power for the farm sector, the state government will also be in the position to levy property tax, sewerage and drinking water charges in urban areas to recover some part of the expenditure being made on providing such services to urban areas.

It will also enable the government to levy some local area development tax in place of octroi that was abolished a few years ago.

At the meeting, stress was also laid to review the atta-dal scheme that will require about Rs 700 crore during the next financial year. The number of those who are given atta-dal on subsidised rates is very high. It can be brought down to 7-8 lakh families.

Steps can also be taken to enhance the revenue collection from VAT. By becoming strict, the state government can easily enhance revenue collection by Rs 1,500 crore per year. After Kerala, it is Punjab where people spend maximum money on consumer goods in the country. However, its revenue from VAT is far from satisfactory.


British Columbia to help Punjab in HRD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
Aboriginal relations and reconciliation minister of British Columbia Michael De Jong has offered to work with the Punjab government in upgrading technical skills and knowledge through experts and teachers exchange programmes in the sphere of primary and secondary education, technical education, skill development, tele-medicine, bio-technology, nano-technology and information technology.

Jong made this offer here at a meeting hosted by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in honour of the visiting delegation on Wednesday.

Badal informed the delegation that Punjabis shared a special bonding with British Columbia, one of the most prosperous and advanced provinces in Canada, as Punjabis had a strong presence there and they had contributed immensely towards the prosperity of the land of their adoption.

The Chief Minister informed Jong that the Punjab government would soon ink a memorandum of understanding with British Columbia for bilateral cooperation in the field of transportation and education, leading further to employment. He solicited Jong's cooperation for the skill development programme in the state, besides the absorption of quality manpower from Punjab in the industry of British Columbia. He also requested Jong to consider Punjab as their number one choice for importing manpower and also ease out the procedure for migration of skilled youth from Punjab to that province.

Jong assured the Chief Minister that British Columbia was looking forward for collaboration with Punjabi University, Patiala, Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar, Technical University, Jalandhar, Panjab University, Chandigarh, and Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, to upgrade the standard of education and improve the chances of employability of students from Punjab to Canada.


LPG Misuse
Agency made Rs 9 lakh in a month
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 1
Nirzag Gas Agency owners had allegedly minted Rs 9 lakh in one month by transferring gas from domestic LPG cylinders to commercial cylinders even as domestic users suffered a shortage and even had to buy cylinders at a premium.

Taking the lid off what could be a nationwide scandal, indicated by the shortage of domestic cylinders in New Delhi and other parts, the inquiry report revealed in detail how the illegally filled commercial cylinders were sold at a price ranging from Rs 700 to Rs 1,000 per cylinder whereas the gas used amounted to less than Rs 400.

Commercial cylinders were sold by the Nirzag agency owned by Shiv Kumar Sharma, who was earlier nabbed by the CBI in an immigration racket, for nearly Rs 1,000 to KFC, Maharaja Hotel and Vardhman, besides several other industrial houses and prominent eateries.

The inquiry report states that these three companies had no idea how the cylinders were being prepared and were paying the market price with all payments duly accounted for.

However, many others did not account for the payments as they knew the cylinders were illegally filled. The report states that many restaurants knowingly bought these cylinders at Rs 700 with unaccounted payments.

This way they saved Rs 300 per cylinder while the agency owner earned about the same amount in illegal trade.

Sharma was nailed when sale documents of industrial houses revealed that the agency sold 1,000 cylinders in one month whereas his official capacity was only to sell about 400 cylinders.

Meanwhile, Sharma has termed the inquiry report as completely bogus. “After the officials had checked our documents, they told us that everything was fine and now suddenly there is this inquiry report.”


Notice issued to PTU under RTI Act
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
The State Information Commission, Punjab, has issued a notice to the Punjab Technical University (PTU) authorities for violating provisions of the Right to Information (RTI) Act by not providing the required information to an applicant from Mansa.

Issuing the notice to deputy registrar-cum-public information officer P.K. Verma, the commission has asked him to show cause on February 28 as to why the penalty of Rs 250 per day, for every day that passed when the required information was not supplied after the expiry of 30 days from the date of receipt of the application, should not be imposed upon him under Section 20, RTI Act, 2005.

Meanwhile, the university has been advised to give the required information to the applicant before the next day of hearing. For the inconvenience and unnecessary expenditure that the complainant has had to bear to attend a futile hearing, Rs 500 has been awarded to him, which should be paid to the complainant before the next day of hearing (February 28).

A representative of the Mera Sahib Educational Welfare Society, Mansa, had filed two applications last year under the RTI Act for some information from PTU. But no information was provided.

Then the applicant moved the commission. Even on the date fixed for hearing the case, no representative of the university turned up at the commission. After that, the commission decided to issue the notice to the university.


Budget session from Feb 25
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
The Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday approved the summoning of the 4th session of the 13th Punjab Vidhan Sabha from February 25 to March 19. A spokesman of the Punjab Government said the session would begin with Governor’s Address on February 25 and the budget for the year 2008-09 would be presented on March 11. 


Promotions of Transport Dept staff by Feb 15
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 1
The government has decided to recommence the long-pending promotions of employees of the state Transport Department and the first list of promotions will be released by February 15.

Apart from this, the department has also decided to honour bus drivers and conductors with a cash award and certificate of merit under the incentive scheme introduced by the government, said Punjab transport minister Master Mohan Lal Sharma.

The minister was addressing a gathering of employees of the Punjab Roadways Transport Corporation here today.

After honouring 41 drivers and 44 conductors of the department, the minister also announced that the drivers and the conductors would be awarded for best performances on a monthly basis.

This would not only boost the moral of the employees, but also help in improving their efficiency, he claimed. The minister said the department had also chalked out a plan for recruiting 125 employees, besides 300 bus conductors of 300 new buses to be purchased shortly.

He claimed that the department had succeeded in curtailing a loss of Rs 9 crore in the past one year which otherwise was Rs 17 crore. 


Cop slaps student, residents hold protest
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 1
Residents held a demonstration and raised slogans against the police at the Piran Wala Chowk at Sunam today when a head constable of the Punjab Police Pardeep Singh allegedly slapped a student Jatinder Singh, who was standing at the chowk.

The city in charge of the Sunam police said this evening that Jatinder and another boy were standing at the chowk. On seeing the head constable, the boy ran away from the chowk. At this the cop questioned Jatinder about the identity of the boy who had fled. Jatinder expressed ignorance about the boy’s identity. At this Pardeep Singh slapped Jatinder.

The city in charge further said the police had got Pardeep medically examined. He said now a report about the head constable was being prepared.


Committee to review farm gate milk price
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
The Punjab government has decided to constitute a permanent committee to review farm gate milk price periodically with reference to the cost of production which will be estimated on the basis of breed, region and season by Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU).

A decision to this effect was taken here by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while chairing a joint meeting of progressive dairy, poultry and fish farmers. It was also decided in the meeting to vest powers for the prevention of adulteration in liquid milk to the Dairy Development Department concurrently with the state Health Department.

The Chief Minister assured the dairy, poultry and fish farmers that he would soon take up their case of the exemption of income tax with the Unoin Ministry of Finance on the pattern of agriculture as the income accrued from allied farming should also be exempted from the income tax.

Badal agreed to the proposal of progressive dairy farmers for the upgradation and construction of two cattle mandis every year with financial assistance from the cattle fair fund. He also desired that a uniform design/pattern should be adopted for the said purpose and suggested to utilise the services of a dairy consultant or an expert architect in the field to create infrastructure for dairy development in a meaningful manner. He also asked the board to regularly organise animal fairs and milk competitions to encourage dairy farming amongst the farmers. Badal also asked the chief engineer, Commercial, PSEB to ensure interrupted 24-hour power supply to the dairy units consisting of at least 50 animals.

The Chief Minister also conceded the demand of the dairy farmers to allow them to import semen of superior quality bulls directly from reputed companies across the globe and said he would soon take up the matter with the Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Animal Husbandry, GoI, to give permission to them in this regard. He also directed the Animal Husbandry Department to tie up with internationally acclaimed firms for import of sufficient quantity of the best quality semen for the production of superior milk cattle to enhance the milk production.

He also directed the principal secretary, Animal Husbandry, for initiating a procedure to give due representation to progressive dairy farmers on the Punjab Dairy Development Board to enable them to contribute immensely towards the development of dairy.

Badal also directed the Department of Fisheries to devise a self-sustainable mechanism to fix minimum support price for fish. He also underscored the need for modernisation of fish farms on scientific lines to enhance the production of high-quality fish seed. He also stressed the need for value addition of fish to supplement of the income of fish farmers.

Badal also suggested that farmers of the water-logged areas in Muktsar, Moga, Faridkot and Ferozepur districts adopt fish farming in a big way and a pilot project for saline water is being commissioned soon after signing a memorandum of understanding between the Punjab and Australian governments.


ADGP Promotions
Maintain status quo, HC tells Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
Punjab government’s move to fill up the vacancies of additional directors-general of police (ADGP) today hit a roadblock with a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court directing the state and the director-general of police to maintain status quo.

The directions by the Bench, comprising Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain following a challenge, to the state government’s alleged move to promote a 1982-batch IPS officer Sumedh Singh Saini, by batch-mate Rajinder Singh.

Taking up the petition, the Judges directed that Saini should be arrayed as a party after observing that the petitioner’s counsel, during the course of arguments, had prayed for the same as serious allegations had been levelled against him in the petition.

In their detailed order, the Judges observed: “Counsel for the petitioner has argued that Rajinder Singh be considered for promotion as per law, along with batch-mates Sanjiv Gupta, Sumedh Singh Saini and Suresh Arora - all of the year 1982”.

“He has argued that there are five posts of additional DGPs lying vacant and it has been a precedent that the entire batch is considered in one go, as there are no rules for promotion to the posts.”

“He has further argued that there are serious allegations of abduction and murder against one of the officers, that is Sumedh Singh Saini, and an FIR under Section 342, 365 and 120-B of the IPC was registered against him by the CBI on April 18, 1994. Vinod Goyal, special judge, CBI, Delhi had framed charges against him pertaining to this case.”

“Suspension under the rules has not been contemplated, though his suspension should have been done. He relies upon a judgement of the Supreme Court in the Union of India versus Rajinder Singh case. Another case is being investigated by the CBI, pertaining to the murder a retired IAS officer B.S. Multani’s son, against the officer”.

Issuing a notice of motion, the Judges fixed February 18 as the next date of hearing in the matter and directed the state and the DGP to maintain status quo.

In his petition seeking directions to the state of Punjab and the DGP to consider him for promotion, along with his batch-mates, Rajinder Singh has categorically stated that while Saini was being promoted due to his closeness to the government, he was being victimised for registering cases against SAD’s working president Sukhbir Singh Badal for election-related offences.

Giving details, Rajinder Singh stated that as IGP, Bathinda zone, he had to perform unpleasant duties which resulted in the lodging of two FIRs against Sukhbir Singh Badal. When the present government came to power, he was sent on a post which had not existed previously even though there were no adverse reports against him.

He added that Saini could not be promoted when serious criminal proceedings, pertaining to kidnapping and murder, were pending against him.


High Court
Sharma’s appointment to IAS quashed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
Quashing the orders appointing V.K. Sharma as an IAS officer from non-state civil service cadre, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today suggested the Union Public Service Commission to consider afresh the comparative suitability of all eligible candidates for another post, to which Dharamjit Singh Grewal was appointed in 1998-99.

The directions follow a petition by Karam Singh posted as additional registrar (distribution) with the Punjab Co-operative Societies at Chandigarh.

The petitioner had sought directions for quashing the impugned notification of September 20, 2004, and order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal on February 3, 2006, dismissing his application oregarding the appointment.

The petitioner claimed as per the notification of September, 2004, V.K. Sharma and Dharamjit Singh Grewal were appointed to the IAS cadre, without considering his case.

Describing the appointments as illegal, the petitioner contended he was not called for assessment, even though the government had recommended him.

The petitioner was appointed as assistant registrar cooperative societies, Punjab, in pursuance to his selection by the Punjab Public Service Commission in 1979 and was later promoted. In 1998-1999, as many as 10 names were recommended from the non-state civil service officers category for appointment of two officers to the IAS.

Taking up the petition, the High Court Division Bench, comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Mohinder Pal, set aside the CAT order rejecting the petitioner’s claim to appointment.

The Bench also quashed the recommendation and appointment of Sharma, while giving liberty to the commission to consider and assess the comparative suitability of all 10 candidates including the petitioner, other respondents and Grewal as per the findings recorded by the tribunal.

Before parting with the order, the Bench directed: “If the commission on the basis of comparative assessment finds that Grewal is not to be empanelled in the select list, his recommendation and appointment also stands annulled and set aside.”

The judges concluded that the commission should complete the process preferably within a period of three months from today. 


Inside Babudom
Many Punjab IAS officers to retire this year
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
One of the senior most IAS officers in the country Bharat Ram Bajaj, who retired from the civil services yesterday, is among the 10 IAS officers who are scheduled to retire in Punjab during this year.

This means about 5 per cent of the total sanctioned cadre strength of 193, will retire in Punjab by the end of this year.

Bajaj, a 1970 batch IAS officer who had put in 37 years of service, was also the president of the Punjab IAS officers Association. He was in the scale of chief secretary for the past more than two years. Notably Bajaj had handled several important assignments during his service. The one that has assumed importance now is his work as principal secretary, local government, during the tenure of the previous Congress regime.

Bajaj has reportedly raised objections to the entire process of the Ludhiana city centre project, which were overruled by the political masters of the day. Former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, his family, former local government minister Jagjit Singh and a few others face a case of corruption on the matter of the Ludhiana city centre.

Bajaj had also remained posted in the Chandigarh Administration as finance secretary.

As the year goes by, this will be one of the biggest chunk of retirements in the IAS in the past few years, hence paving the way for new round of promotions and fresh postings.

Among the senior lot of the bureaucracy that is retiring includes Amitabh Pande, of the 1971 batch. He is presently posted with the Government of India in the council of centre-state relations.

Also on the retiring list are Vijay Kain and Robin Gupta from the 1974 batch. All the three -- Pande, Kain and Gupta are in the scale of chief secretary.

Other two officers retiring are Janak Raj Kundal of the 1977 batch and Ravinder Singh Sandhu of the 1982 batch. Both are principal secretaries.

The retirements of these six senior officers will result in some promotions also. The next in line to be promoted to the principal secretary-level is the 1983 batch that has three officers - N.S. Kang, Suresh Kumar and Jagpal Singh.

The other four IAS officers who are retiring this year are S.K. Ahluwalia, Kanwal Bir Singh Sidhu and Babu Lal.

All the three are from 1990 batch and were originally Punjab civil service officers who were promoted into the IAS. The last is Gurpal Singh Bhatti of the 1997 batch. He was also a PCS officer promoted to the IAS.

Meanwhile separately, eight PCS officer are also scheduled to retire this year. They are Amrit Lal Garg, Kulbir Singh, Ajmer Singh, S.M. Sharma, Sukhvinder Pal Singh, P.S. Johal, Zora Singh and Avtar Chand Sharma.


Assault Case
Health minister lodges report against NCB official
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 1
Balwinder Kumar, superintendent, Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB), who allegedly assaulted and misbehaved with health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla during an operation against a heroin smuggler here yesterday, may find himself in bigger trouble despite his unconditional written apology.

Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon has asked Chawla to send a complaint against the NCB official so that action could be taken against him through the Punjab Vidhan Sabha for misbehaving with a minister.

“Kindly give me justice by punishing the NCB official who used abusive language, pushed me and tried to run me down under his official car,” read the written complaint that was lodged by Chawla with the SHO, Civil Lines, here.

The minister alleged that when her official vehicle stopped at the traffic lights near the District Courts, some passers-by asked her to intervene as somebody was being beaten up in a vehicle coming from the opposite direction.

“When I asked the NCB official about it, he started abusing me,” the minister alleged.

Later, it was learnt that Balwinder Kumar was carrying a notorious heroin smuggler Sukhbinder Singh, alias Sukha, who was picked up by the NCB team in an operation.

However, Balwinder Kumar, while talking to The Tribune, denied having assaulted the minister. He said as he was a resident of Himachal Pradesh, he was not able to recognise the minister.

He alleged that the smuggler had escaped in the melee when Chawla and her gunmen tried to intercept the operation. The smuggler was nabbed again after a chase. The smuggler has been lodged in Burail Jail, Chandigarh.

In his written apology, the NCB official has said he should be forgiven and that he won’t repeat it in the future.

The DGP has sought a report from district police chief Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh.

Chawla alleged that the NCB official misbehaved with her in full public view at a busy chowk though the crowd revealed her identity to the operation party of the Narcotic Cell.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has also taken a serious view of the incident and decided to take up the matter with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The organising secretary of the BJP Manohar, who is in charge of Punjab, HP and Chandigarh, assured Chawla that the matter would be taken up with the Chief Minister.

The health minister has already conveyed the incident to the chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh so that true picture could be presented before the Chief Minister.


Merchant ‘beaten up’
SHO suspended after traders protest
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 1
Traders and activists of various organisations, including district president of the BJP Jatinder Kalra, today blocked the Sangrur-Delhi main road at Khanauri, about 55 km from here. 

They also staged a dharna there for about four hours against the alleged beating up of a Khanauri iron merchant, Ashok Kumar, by Khanauri SHO Rulda Singh and his police party at about 3.30 am today.

Kalra told The Tribune over the phone that Ashok, a BJP worker and iron merchant, was going to his shop to get a truck carrying iron rods unloaded there. He said on the way the SHO and other policemen stopped him and started beating him up without any reason. Ashok made a call from his mobile phone at his residence but the policemen snatched it.

The SP (D), Bhupinderjit Singh Virk, reached the dharna site, along with Moonak DSP Balraj Singh. The protesters were adamant not to lift the dharna as they wanted immediate action against the SHO and the police party. However, they lifted the dharna when the SP (D) announced suspension of the SHO.

Sangrur SSP Arun Pal Singh confirmed the suspension of the SHO. He said the SP (D) would send the report to him on the issue. 


Headmaster in spot over fraud worth lakhs

Tarn Taran, February 1
A fraud worth lakhs of rupees has been detected by the district authorities of the Education Department at Baba Sidhana Government High School, Sheron, 8 km from here, allegedly committed by the headmaster of the school.

Piara Singh Talwar, DEO, Secondary, said after the initial inquiries the drawing and disbursing powers of the headmaster had already been withdrawn and the next senior master had been given the powers. The DEO further said Ashita Sharma, headmistress of Government High School, Palasour, had been deputed as the inquiry officer.

According to initial inquiries, teachers of Government Elementary Schools, Rasulpur, Dargapur and Usaman have also alleged that the headmaster had withdrawn their lakhs of rupees deposited under the General Provident Fund (GPF) without their consent, besides withdrawing seven months salary of a teacher who had been on leave without pay. A huge amount to be paid to SC students as stipend had also been reportedly embezzled by the headmaster for the past more than two years.

The inquiry officer went to the Sheron school today and noted the statement of the affected teachers. The headmaster had been maintaining two cash books, which was said to be a serious matter.


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