P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Jail Violence
35 prisoners to be shifted
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 31
The Central Jail authorities have identified 35 prisoners who were reportedly responsible for violence in the jail located near Basti Adda Chowk yesterday.

Jail superintendent Gursharan Singh Sidhu told The Tribune that recommendations would be made to seniors for shifting these rebellious prisoners to some other prisons of the state.

Earlier, several prisoners had been shifted from the jail after violence occurred on January 7.

In the meantime, an FIR has been registered against these rebellious prisoners under Sections 436, 427 of the IPC and Section 10 of the Public Property Damage Act, said the SP (city) who was the first among district police officers to enter the jail during prisoners unrest.

Meanwhile, a team, comprising Dr K.S. Bawa, Dr Alfred and Dr H.S. Lamba, failed to ascertain the exact cause of the death of undertrial Jaspal Singh during post-mortem.

Senior medical officer Ranbir Singh told The Tribune that Jaspal’s viscera had been sent to forensic laboratory in Patiala for chemical examination and his heart had been sent to Medical College in Amritsar for an examination. The exact cause of his death could be known only after getting reports of these examinations, he added.

The jail superintendent said ADC (general) S.P.S. Marar was likely to visit the jail on Wednesday to start a probe into the causes of violence in the jail.


Farmers to protest ‘meagre’ compensation for land
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Rorewala (Attari), March 31
The Kisan Ujara Roku Action Committee formed by farmers of border villages of Roranwala Khurd and Attari here today got a boost when several farmer unions announced support to start protest against the state and the Central governments for announcing inadequate price for the land for an integrated checkpost at the Attari Joint Checkpost.

Addressing farmers, Rattan Singh Randhawa, leader of the Jamhoori Kisan Union, said they were not against the national project, but would not allow an inch of their 120 acres if adequate compensation was not declared on the pattern of Mohali and Barnala. He said the government had announced Rs 31 lakh, Rs 16 lakh and Rs 14 lakh per acre of land of A, B and C, categories, respectively, while the earlier prices announced were Rs 45 lakh, Rs 24 lakh and Rs 20 lakh per acre.

Randhawa announced that they would gherao the deputy commissioners’ offices on April 8 for the arbitrary decision of the state and Central governments for acquiring their land at throwaway prices to benefit multinational companies in the state.

Satnam Singh Pannu, a spokesman of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, warned that farmers in the state were ready to sacrifice their lives instead of giving their land at throwaway prices as was done by farmers in Kalinga and Nandigram in Bengal. He said the current market price of the agricultural land in the area was Rs 70 lakh in view of tourists flocking the area to watch the Beating the Retreat ceremony, but the government wanted to acquire the land for commercial use at a meagre amount.

He urged the government that if it wanted to acquire the land it should announce incentives of 70 per cent displacement allowance, registration with stamp duty for the land to be purchased by the farmers, free tube well connection, government job to one of the members of the family.


Kar seva of Bungas from Baisakhi
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 31
The kar seva of historical Ramgarhia Bungas on the Golden Temple complex has been assigned to the Vishavkarma Welfare Trust by the SGPC, which will spend more than Rs 1 crore on its conservation. It is likely to begin from Baisakhi.

This is for the first time that the kar seva of the historical monument will be carried out by world-renowned conservators under the supervision of the SGPC and Sikh scholars.

The four-storeyed Bungas built by Sikh warriors in 1794, got damaged during kar seva earlier.

The SGPC has asked the trust to carry out the conservation of the monument under the supervision of a sub-committee comprising two experts from GND varsity, an executive member of the SGPC and heritage experts.

The agency that would execute the project is Noida-based Heritage Conservation Management Services. The professionals who would undertake the work are Maninder Singh Gill, art conservator, Ajaibdip Singh Jamwal, conservation architect, Sri Kumar Menon, material analyst, and Kunjan Poput, structure engineer consultant.


Damage to Vegetable Crops
16.35-cr relief for farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
The Punjab government today announced Rs 16.35 crore for farmerswhose vegetable crop was damaged by severe cold and frost in the state, besides levying 1 per cent more infrastructure fee to collect revenue of Rs 350 crore.

A decision to this effect was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here today.

Harcharan Bains, media adviser to the Chief Minister, said today the step was to provide relief to farmers as a special dispensation.

Cold and frost are not covered under the 11 categories of natural calamities specified by the government of India. However, said Bains, the Chief Minister was of the view that any damage to crop due to conditions of weather ought to fall in this category. Therefore, the government took a decision to go beyond the existing norms to provide relief to the farmers.

The Cabinet also decided to revive and fill 244 posts of physical training instructors in the classical and vernacular cadre in the Directorate of Secondary Education. The appointments will be on contract.

Bains added that the Cabinet also decided to mobilise additional resources to revamp 150-year-old canal system by charging 1 per cent more infrastructure fee to collect Rs 350 crore on the purchase of foodgrains. The fee will be borne by the government of India. This became necessary to ensure that sufficient water reached the tail-ends of the canals and water courses for the farmers.

Bains clarified that the farmers would not have to bear any burden for being beneficiaries of this decision.

The Cabinet also gave ex-post facto approval for re-inclusion of 10 villages namely Addi, Balagan, Kamalpur Afgana, Hardochhanni, Aluna, Nurpur, Bhopar Saidan, Hassanpur, Alar Pindi, Baupur Afgan in Gurdaspur block and addition of seven villages of block Dinanagar namely Jogar, Sander, Behrampur, Majithi, Kothe Majithi, Pasial and Samsherpur in Dorangla block.


Bhattal hand in glove with Badal: Amarinder
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
To win the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab, there is a need to act tough against the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) instead of adopting the policy of “appeasement as done by Punjab Pradesh Congress chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal,” said Capt Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister.

Disapproving of the style of functioning of Bhattal, Amarinder said when the SAD government was virtually mauling Congress workers and registering false cases against them, the state Congress leadership was playing friendly cricket matches with SAD-BJP leaders, engaging in social events with them and talking of holding dinners together.

“It was against the very nature of Punjabi people to be soft towards their political and other rivals,”he added.

“My observation that Bhattal was hand-in-glove with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and both were helping each other has been proved correct as the case against Bhattal has been withdrawn by the Punjab government,” said the former Chief Minister. “The case was in the middle of arguments when it was withdrawn. As the Home portfolio is with Badal, he knows how it has been done. Can prosecution do anything without consulting him ?” asked Amarinder.

However, in this respect Bhattal said the decision to withdraw the case was taken on December 1,2006, when the Congress headed by Amarinder was in power in the state. Application to withdraw the case was moved two days later by the prosecution on December 3,2006 during the Congress government,”she asserted. “It is a matter of record,”she added.

Talking tomediapersons, Amarinder said, “I strongly object to social harmony with SAD leadership when Congress workers were being booked in false cases and sent to jail. If Bhattal’s case can be withdrawn, why not the cases registered against Congress workers,” he said.

“I have told Congress president Sonia Gandhi that 6,000 cases had been registered against Congress workers in Punjab. Many of them were poor workers who cannot afford to engage an advocate,” said Amarinder, who claimed to have informed he would work for the party in Punjab, but would have no truck with Bhattal.

He said Bhattal had not the courtesy to inform him during her visit to Patiala “I represent as MLA”. What would happen if tomorrow such a public show was held me at Lehra from where Bhattal was elected, he added. Bhattal was now saying she had been appointed by the party high command and no one should speak against her.

“I also became CM with the approval of the party high command, but Bhattal tried to pull my government down in connivance with Akali leaders by speaking against my in public”, he said.

Bhattal had supported the Badal government by getting the panchayat elections, which the Congress had won, postponed. As there was no power in the countryside in March, people would have voted against the Badal government aggressively. However, as harvesting would be over in April, the Badal government would now be able to transfer power from farm sector to domestic sector that would help him in panchayat elections.


Govt to launch Punjabipedia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
On the pattern of Wikipedia, the Punjab government has decided to launch Punjabipedia to promote Punjabi language, literature and culture. Education minister Dr Upinderjit Kaur stated this here today. She said the Punjab Languages Department, which would be restructured soon, would have a computer and languages laboratory main task of which would be to promote the use of Punjabi on computer through Internet, e-mail and other modes, including SMS message etc. “ We will make use of Punjabi as good as is that English now”, she added.

She said an ordinance would be issued in a month to make Punjabi compulsory in all types of schools in Punjab and a high- powered committee would be set up to take the issue of teaching Punjabi in the schools of Union Territory of Chandigarh, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal, Rajasthan and other places.

Suggestions on the implementation of Punjabi in schools will be welcomed, she added.She said efforts would be made to prepare resource material especially books to enable students to study medical, non medical and engineering courses in Punjabi. She was not against English, the minister said. “ I would like students to have full interest in learning English but not at the cost of Punjabi”, she said.

Announcing to double the prize money- from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh- for Sahit Shiromani Award, the highest literature award in Punjabi that is given for life- time achievement by the Punjab Languages Department to writers, Dr Upinderjit Kaur said prize money for other 12 literary award, which would be given in May, had been enhanced from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh. She said the Languages Department would be restructured and renamed the National Institute of Punjabi Language, Literature and Culture. The union government would be approached to fund the Institute that would he have many streams to promote Punjabi language and culture and work as coordinator among various universities to avoid duplication in creative work in the filed of Punjabi literature and research. There is plan to merge the Punjab Text Book Board in the institute.

There is also programme to start job -oriented courses in Punjabi to handle job of translation etc.


Capt to address conference on Baisakhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said he would address a political conference at Talwandi Sabo on April 13 on the occasion of Baisakhi. Later, he would also tour various parts of the state and meet Congress workers facing cases.

He said Congress general secretary Margaret Alva had given him go ahead to work for the party’s win in Lok Sabha elections.

“I am prepared for a fight with the SAD leadership and will take the battle to the SAD camp,” he added.

Asked why was he not attending Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meetings, Amarinder said he was never informed in this regard.


‘Health care services in pitiable condition’
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 31
President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Sirmranjit Singh Mann said here today that Punjab health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla had failed to provide health care services to common people in the state.

In a statement, the SAD (Amritsar) chief said hospitals and dispensaries were lying in pitiable conditions and the government had done nothing to improve facilities here. Poor sections of society were the worst affected by this apathetic attitude, he added.

He said it was unfortunate that most of the state-owned health care facilities did not even have adequate staff and the government was doing nothing to fill the posts that had been lying vacant in these institutions since long. He said sanitation conditions in the hospitals were deplorable and most of them lacked a regular supply of life saving medicines.

He said the health minister instead of paying attention to these issues was busy touring the state to meet her own political interests. He said the party had demanded that the government should initiate measures to ensure proper availability of medicines, medical equipment, etc.


Abandoned Southall Boy
Farmer disputes Bihar couple’s claim 
Ravinder Sud

Hoshiarpur, March 31
The affirmation of a farmer at Tanda Ram Sahay village in Mukerian sub- division of this district about an abandoned boy found at a Southall clinic (UK) in the third week of this month and later identified as Gurinder as his nephew (son of younger brother Mohinder Singh), has put a question mark on the claim of the couple from Bihar - Ganga Prasad, shopkeeper, and Bindiya Devi of Aurangabad.

Talking to mediapersons here in the presence of MP Avinash Rai Khanna, Kuldip Singh, a farmer of Tanda Ram Sahay, claimed that the mother of his nephew Dapinder Kaur, who was allegedly doing illegal trade of human trafficking, took the boy with her to Malaysia in August 2007.

Dapinder had strained relations with her husband Mohinder Singh, who had been working in Italy. Their divorce case is pending in a court here. Dapinder had been residing with her parents, along with her son Gurinder Singh (11) and daughter Navjeet Kaur (13), at Jalalpur village in Hoshiarpur district, said Kuldip Singh.

According to his information, Dapinder, along with her son Gurinder, first visited France from Malaysia and later entered England in the second week of March 2008 where she abandoned the boy.

Kuldip Singh, who was accompanied by his cousin nambardar Ranjit Singh, showed xerox copies of birth and school-leaving certificates and photographs of Gurinder with family members.

According to the birth certificate, Gurinder's date of birth is April 21,1997. Before the dispute between the husband and the wife, Gurinder was studying in Dashmesh Public School, Mukerian, and when Dapinder left the house of her in-laws in 2006, the boy also left the school.

To prove the claim, family members are ready to get the DNA test of the boy done to ascertain his identity.

The family would make every effort to see the boy reunited with them, asserted Kuldip Singh.

MP Avinash Rai Khanna said after going through the facts, apparently the claim of Kuldip Singh seemed to be genuine. He would take up this issue with the Union Ministry for External Affairs for adopting legal procedure to repatriate Gurinder. At present, the boy is being looked after by a social service organisation of Southall.

He had already written to one of his friends Darshan Singh Grewal, former mayor of Hounslow city to look into the matter and do the needful.


Memorial to 35,000 Sikh martyrs
Sushil Goyal and Mahesh Sharma
Tribune Reporters

Jitwal Kalan, March 31
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced that the state government would set up a memorial in commemoration of 35,000 Sikh martyrs of the big “ghallughara” (holocaust) on the land of Kup and Rohirra villages (near Mandi Ahmedgarh), about 10 km from Malerkotla.

These Sikhs had sacrificed their lives while fighting against the army of Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1761 at Kup and Rohirra villages. Badal further said for the setting up of the memorial, he would send Rs 1 crore as a first instalment while crores of rupees for this purpose would be given later.

He also told MP from Sangrur Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa to arrange land for the memorial in these villages.

Badal also said the state government would assign the duty of designing the memorial to an internationally known architect. He said in this memorial complex, a befitting memorial on the pattern of Jallianwala Bagh would be constructed. “Besides this, a park, lights, fountains etc. would also be provided, as Kup-Rohirra was a holy place of sacrifices for us,” he added.

Badal was here today for the inauguration of a new refinery, set up by Tara Feed Limited, Jitwal Kalan, about 10 km from Malerkotla.


Ratra pats engineers’ back
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 31
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) seems to be upbeat on statistics related to power generation by board’s three power plants and their plant load factors. Praising engineers, chairman, PSEB, Y. S. Ratra today said for the first time all three thermal plants had broken previous records of generation.

Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, Bathinda, the board’s oldest plant, generated 2,999.82 million units (MU) against previous 2,793.67 MUs. Similarly, Guru Hargobind Thermal Power Plant, Lehra Mohabbat, generated 3,498.286 MUs of electricity against 3,443.17 MUs, while Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant, Ropar, generated 9,775.41 MUs against 9770.34 MUs.

In total, the board has broken the previous record of 15,434.64 MUs by generating 16,273.516 MUs in 2007-08.

Ratra also disclosed that apart from record generation, other factors of the plants had also improved considerably. 


Villagers threaten to launch stir
Mahesh Sharma

Bhaini Sahib, March 31
Farmers of five villages of the area threatened to launch an agitation in case their land was acquired for construction of proposed memorials of Sat Guru Ram Singh at Rayeean village near here.

Member of the Bhaini Sahib Rayeean Development Board Surinder Singh and deputy commissioner, Ludhiana, Sumer Gurjar said the process for acquiring 300-acre land was yet to begin.

“Though we have received proposal for the memorial, the process has not been initiated for acquiring the land. And if at all it is acquired, proper procedure will be adopted and owners be paid compensation for the same,” said Gurjar.

Farmers of Panjeta, Kot Gangu Rai, Koom Khurad, Rayeean and Bhain Sahib gathered at the village gurdwara here and resolved to oppose forcible acquisition of land for non-agricultural purposes.


Burney to be honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
Pakistan human rights minister Ansar Burney, who is scheduled to visit India from April 2, will be honoured at Nangal Khialrian village in Hoshiapur. “A function will be held to honour Burney, who played a pivotal role in the release of Kashmir Singh, who belonged to Nangal Khialrian village,” said an organiser of the function.

Burney will also meet the sister of Sarabjit Singh, who is on death row, during the visit. He is likely to visit Badal village, a native place of the Chief Minister. He will be accompanied by his wife Shaheen and son Fahad.


Budget no prelude to early poll, says Ashwani Kumar
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 31
After the presentation of a populist Budget by the UPA government, union minister of state for industry Ashwani Kumar spoke to The Tribune on a wide range of issues. The extract of the interview is as follows:

Q: The UPA government has introduced a please-all Budget. Will it be right to conclude that the Lok Sabha elections are round the corner?

A: The Budget, recently presented in Parliament should not be linked to early Lok Sabha elections, scheduled to be held early next year. It is true, however, that under the guidance of the UPA leadership, this Budget is a historic charter for the empowerment of farmers, women, youth and the under privileged sections of our society. The debt-relief package to the farmers, along with the NREGA scheme, are the most ambitious social welfare and economic empowerment schemes undertaken anywhere in the World. The credit for which goes to All-Indian Congress Committee chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

We have fulfilled all promises that we made in the National Common Minimum Programme.

Q: The UPA government’s leadership with the Left allies is strained on the issue of Indo-US civil nuclear deal and questions have been raised about the longevity of the government. What are your comments?

A: It is unfortunate that our Left allies have taken a rigid position on the deal. There is no doubt that the deal is negotiated by the UPA government and is the best that could have been obtained. It is generally conceded that clean energy is critical for securing development and economic growth of India. The deal, if operationalised, will end India’s isolation as regards nuclear technology is concerned.

The UPA leadership is seeking to build a broad nation consensus in favour of the deal. I do not see any immediate threat to the stability of the UPA government which could last its full term.

Q: Regional parties are emerging and asserting themselves in various states giving rise to competitive political forces in the country. How does the Congress propose to strengthen itself ? Do you see a long spell of coalition government at the Centre?

A: It is true that Indian polity stands fractured. There are regional, caste and communal forces that are determining electoral results. In these circumstances, the nation needs a national party with pan-Indian appeal cutting across divisive fault lines that threaten the social and political fabric of India. The relevance of the Congress as a party of national resurgence and custodian of the nation’s sensitivities is self-evident.

I believe that in the years to come, the Congress will derive its strength from the youth and also from groups which exist on the margins. The Congress will need to define a national agenda, which will bind the entire nation around an appeal.

Q: It is observed that political debate amongst leaders is reflective of personal bitterness and personalised attacks in which people causes are lost. What would you like to say on that ?

A: I have repeatedly stated that Indian democracy will lose its strength if personalised and vicious attacks among our political leaders are not replaced by a serious debate on political issues.

Q: You have been a minister of state for industry for the past over two years. What has been your main contribution to the state?

A: I have the satisfaction of espousing issues of the state both as an MP and as a minister. For instance, I was amongst the first persons who raised the turban issue in France with the French government. I have also played my part in requesting the Indian government for facilitating the pilgrimage to the Sikh shrine in Pakistan.

The proposal to give at least manufacturing investment region (MIR) to Punjab was first mooted by me. My ministry has also agreed in principle to extend the Eastern Industrial Corridor to Ludhiana.

In addition to the above, I have been able to get a new superfast day train connecting Delhi to three main towns, Gurdaspur, Batala and Pathankot, of Gurdaspur district. The Pathankot Civil Airport has been opened for civil aviation.

In order to secure the future of the youth of Gurdaspur district, I have persuaded the Tata company to start a skill upgrading programme through computer literacy in the district.

The foundry town, Batala, has been given Rs 80 crore for the upgrade of common facilities under the Industrial Infrastructure Upgrade scheme implemented by my ministry. Apart from these initiatives, I have done quite a lot for the state.

Q: Considering that though you are in the Rajya Sabha, you have focused on the development of Gurdaspur. Are you planning to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Gurdaspur parliamentary seat?

A: In this regard, all I can say is that I will abide by the decision of AICC chief Sonia Gandhi.


‘Wild’ side of UT’s super rich
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
If you thought Chandigarh was all about greens, here’s a peek into its “wild, red” side. UT, with its massive wildlife wealth, possessed by the high and mighty, can put any state in India to shame. It did in 2003 when its residents made a beeline for disclosure of wildlife articles under a government of India’s amnesty scheme. The scheme gave owners of wildlife articles a chance to register and legally possess these.

As against 509 applications received from Punjab, Chandigarh alone furnished a whopping 596 applications, reflecting its fascination for wildlife and opulence. Around 331 of these applications came after the deadline of 180 days ended on October 14, 2003. The amnesty had been notified on April 18, 2003.

The most striking detail about disclosures from Chandigarh relates to its massive shahtoosh wealth, and the fact that 80 per cent of the disclosed articles are of Schedule I animals like tiger, lion and elephants, protected by law. Applicants from Chandigarh declared to be in possession of 740 shahtoosh shawls.

Considering one shahtoosh shawl requires wool from about eight chiru deer, close to 6,000 chirus must have died to bestow this treasure upon Chandigarh. Chiru is nearly extinct, and on Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act.

For the first time since 2003, disclosures made by Chandigarh’s super-rich are in public domain, thanks to the RTI Act. Among applicants in possession of expensive wildlife articles are big names of Venod Sharma, Congress politician; Babli Brar, daughter of former Punjab Chief Minister Harcharan Brar; Hira Lal Sibal, noted advocate and father of union minister for science and technology Kapil Sibal; Usha Khaitan of Amrit Vanaspati family, Jagwati Gupta of the Jagat cinema group; R.K. Saboo, past president, Rotary International; and the famous lawyer family from Chandigarh, the Atmarams.

Also on the list is the family of former Chief Justice of India M.M. Punchhi, sitting Supreme Court judge Ashok Bhan and former Kerala High Court Chief Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta. The families of Mr Justice Bhan and Justice Gupta declared six and eight shahtoosh shawls, respectively.

Another name on the list that rings a bell is of S.S. Pandher, father of Nithari killings accused Moninder Singh Pandher, who has a house in Sector 27. The largest disclosure from Chandigarh came from Jagwati Gupta of the Jagat cinema group, who furnished 55 applications.

Maximum 31 shahtoosh shawls in the individual category have been declared by Supriya Modi of the Modi family that owns Chandigarh Distilleries and Oil Bottling Ltd. She’s followed by Babli Brar, who owns 26 such shawls. Together, Babli and her mother Gurbinder Brar own 41 shahtoosh shawls. They are still no match for the Modis who together declared 45 shahtoosh shawls. Interesting to see is the name of retired Haryana IAS officer Veena Eagleton, on the list.

Congressman Venod Sharma’s family submitted 27 applications. No declaration was made by Venod’s son Manu Sharma. Following the Sharmas is Hiralal Sibal and family, followed by the Saboos.

Benefits of the amnesty scheme actually went to the affluent, and not to the less educated and aware ones, who, the government thought needed to be given a chance to declare wildlife articles. In the list from Chandigarh, there are only two “madaris”, who have declared two live monkeys each.


High Court
Conviction can be suspended in exceptional corruption cases
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
In a significant judgement likely to affect government employees convicted of corruption, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today held that discretion for suspension of conviction could be exercised only in exceptional cases.

In a ruling, a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice Sham Sunder, held: We conclude the discretion for suspension of conviction under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, can be exercised only in exceptional cases.

Elaborating on the cases, the Bench added, “Where the prosecution of the accused is shown as based on malafides or on account of bad faith or other such/similar exceptional grounds”.

The ruling comes on a petition filed by Prem Kumar against the State of Punjab. The matter was placed before the Division Bench for “answering the reference as to whether the appellate court can suspend the conviction in exercise of powers vested under Section 389 of the Code of Criminal Procedure where the accused is convicted for an offence punishable under the PCA Act”.

Contemptuous remarks by Punjab IAS officer

The High Court has taken suo motu cognisance of a communique bringing to the fore alleged contemptuous remarks made by a senior Punjab IAS officer in an inquiry report.

Taking up the matter, Justice Surya Kant of the High Court today directed the state’s additional advocate-general M.C. Berry to place on record the copy of the inquiry report submitted by IAS officer G.S. Cheema, “the contents of which have been reported by the media in various news items”. The judge also fixed April 3 as the next date of hearing in the matter.

In the communique, advocates Paramjit Singh Brar and Jagtar Singh had stated they were shocked to come across the news item in a paper dated March 17 regarding the contemptuous remarks made by the IAS officer against the High Court in the inquiry report prepared by him.

Quoting the news report, they said it had been reported that the officer had remarked that the High Court all along seemed to be biased towards a person and the office of Punjab advocate-general had strongly deprecated the contemptuous language used by the officer against the High Court, along with the law officers. The report pertains to the appointment of a professor at Government Ayurvedic College, Patiala. The case will now come up for hearing on April 3.

CBI probe sought

Amritsar-based Cable TV Operators Association, through president Gurmukh Singh Khalsa, has sought a CBI probe into cutting of cables and signal theft.

The association has stated: There is a complete breakdown of law and whole of the city police from senior superintendent police to the down level have refused to register an FIR. They actively participate in cutting cables and encouraging theft of signals besides violating the Copyright Act. In the process, disturbance is caused to some 38,000 subscribers.

Taking up the matter, a Division Bench has issued notice of motion for May 13 to Punjab home secretary and others.

Allotment of liquor vends

The High Court today fixed April 2 as the next date of hearing on all writ petitions, including a PIL filed by two Punjab Congress legislators Amrik Singh and Avtar Singh Brar against alleged irregularities in allotment of liquor vends for financial year beginning Tuesday.

The Congress legislators in their PIL have cried foul arguing that a large number of liquor vends allotments were made in favour of Ponty Chadha's group and involved violations. 


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