P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Raise paddy MSP to Rs 1,300: Youth Akali Dal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
The Youth Akali Dal has threatened to gherao UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi if the Union government fails to raise the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy to Rs 1,300. The youth wing of the party says it will lay a siege on 10 Janpath.

Stating this here today, Bikram Singh Majithia, patron, Youth Akali Dal, and public relations minister wondered that on the one hand finance minister P. Chidambaram had conceded last week at Rajpura that the country could save Rs 10,000 crore because of the bumper wheat crop produced by Punjab farmers and on the other hand he was trying to push them deeper into the debt trap by marginally revising the MSP.

He said the Akali Dal had been demanding that the MSP should be linked with wholesale price index (WPI) so that farmers should not made to suffer because of the increasing prices of agricultural inputs.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has objected to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal terming the MSP of Rs 850 as “rubbing salt in farmers’ wounds”. Party spokesman Bir Devinder Singh termed the remark as shallow, premature, ill conceived and politically motivated.

The PPPC spokesman said an increase of Rs 105 per quintal for paddy was only an ad hoc decision. The matter regarding fixing still higher MSP for paddy had been referred to the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, primarily because any increase in the paddy MSP was strongly opposed by the BJP-ruled states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Orissa. It is primarily because of their opposition that the matter had to be referred to the EAC.


Centre probes threat to Hindu families
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 13
The recent incident of a few Hindu families in Rayya, Punjab, being stopped from holding a kirtan and jagran is in the notice of the Union home ministry.

The intelligence agencies are checking the background of the men who threatened the families to stop the jagran or leave the village.

A complete report is being collated by the Central agencies. A senior officer in the Punjab police, who was in the forefront during militancy, has also been asked by Punjab government to give his assessment on the issue.

The Hindu families, fearing their safety, had to take refuge in the Durgiana temple at Amritsar, 40 km from Rayya.

This afternoon, PPCC members, led by its chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, met Union home minister Shivraj Patil and demanded strong action against the guilty

She said Patil had assured her of the safety of the Hindu families. Later talking to mediapersons, Bhattal said the BJP should speak on the issue and reveal its stand.



CM grants Rs 65 cr more for Amritsar
Central approval to world-class university in the city
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, June 13
Acceding to the demand for revamp of the holy city’s infrastructure to meet international standards, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced a grant of Rs 65 crore, in addition to the Rs 100 crore already allocated for the integrated development of the city.

Addressing a gathering at Guru Nanak Auditorium after a presentation on the Rs 100-crore development project by technical experts of US-based Tetra Tech India Limited, the Chief Minister said out of Rs 65 crore, Rs 20 crore each would be spent on the development of outer wards, solid-waste management, laying of sewer lines and Rs 5 crore for the plantation of neem trees as part of a beautification project.

The project is likely to be executed by reputed firms for which the global tenders had already been floated.

Badal also announced that the Centre had cleared the state government’s proposal to set up a world-class university in the city on 700 acres.

He recently called on the union sports and youth affairs minister Manohar Singh
Gill, who had consented to sanction Rs 3 crore for laying astro-turf at Guru
Nanak Dev University.

Badal said his government had embarked upon a plan to modernise Government Guru Nanak Hospital and Medical College at a cost of Rs 130 crore. Probably, it would be among the best hospitals in the world.

“We owe moral duty to develop Amritsar as one of the finest cities across the globe in view of its historical and religious importance. The development of this city cannot be quantified in terms of money, rather it is the sheer devotion and faith to bring all-round development here as lakhs of devotees visit Sri Darbar Shaib daily,” said Badal.

He stressed the significance of over-all development and growth of Amritsar in the context of the improved Indo-Pak relations, which would further give a fillip to the bilateral trade between two countries in general and Punjab in particular.

The Chief Minister said the state government had initiated concerted efforts towards integrated development of the corporate cities of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala, Mohali and Bathinda.

Speaking on the occasion, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said it was his and his father’s (Chief Minister) commitment to develop Amritsar as one of the best cities in the world even before coming to power.

“Now that people have given us a chance to serve them, they will spare no efforts to fulfil their promise,” he said.

Information and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia urged Badal to formulate a policy for a balanced growth of the city, without ignoring the outer wards. He impressed upon him to allot more funds for the development of the wards.

Member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu said he would keep his word given to the people of Amritsar to provide ultra-modern infrastructure in this historic city.

He said the development of Amritsar was a pointer toward the development of not only India, but of the entire world as it reflected the cosmopolitan culture and rich heritage binding humanity.


Leader booked; Maadh families return
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 13
The beleaguered families of Maadh village returned to their homes today after the intervention of senior officers of the district administration who had agreed to register a case against the Akali leader for threatening them.

It was only after they were assured about their safety, that they agreed to return. They were taken to their villages along with various leaders in a special bus arranged by the district administration.

Surinder Kumar Billa talking to The Tribune said the police had also registered a case against Yuvraj Singh (FIR No. 123) under Sections 295-A, 452,506,148 and 149, IPC, and 25, 27,54 and 59, Arms Act.

The SHO, Beas, confirmed that a case had been registered though no arrests
had been made.

While demanding the immediate arrest of the accused, Billa urged the government to restore water and electricity connections to the houses of these families. He said other residents of the village also assured the families about their safety.


Akshay to be shown with full beard
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 13
Following pressure from Mumbai-based Sikh organisations, Vipul A. Shah, producer of Hindi feature film, “Singh is Kinng,” yesterday submitted an affidavit that Akshay Kumar, the hero of the film, would be shown as a “reformed Sikh” by carrying out the necessary amendments in the script.

Talking to The Tribune from Mumbai, Shah said Akshay was especially coming to Mumbai from South Africa for a day-long “patch-work shooting”.

Earlier, in an affidavit, submitted to the Mumbai-based Sikh organisations, Shah had confessed there was a mistake in the script of the feature film in which Akshay was shown with a trimmed beard in a couple of sequences.

“I want to change it by shooting a sequence in between where Akshay realises his mistake of having a trimmed beard. In the end he (Akshay) grows his beard.”

The producer of the film said he had no intention of hurting the sentiments of Sikhs. He said he had great respect for the community.

The producer agreed to postpone the promotional campaign of the film from June 15 to 20 after the necessary “patch-work shooting”. He also said the posters of the film would highlight the fully grown beard of Akshay and the posters of the actor with the trimmed beard would not be marketed.

Former SGPC secretary Gurbachan Singh Bachan, who participated in the parleys in Mumbai, said the producer agreed to carry out the necessary amendments after holding four meetings.

Office-bearers of the International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO), Sikh Affairs, D.S.Gill and G.S.Lamba thanked the Mumbai-based organisations for taking the necessary steps to get the changes done in the script of “Singh is Kinng”.

Shah also assured through the affidavit that he would release the film only after getting its approval from the community.


Attari-Wagah telecom link snaps
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 13
Telecommunication link between Attari (India) and Wagah (Pakistan) snapped for several hours due to damage to cables near Jandiala (Amritsar), near here, today.

The damage to the BSNL phone line caused inconvenience to Pakistani passengers who wanted to inform their families about their safe arrival in India at the Wagah-Attari joint check post.

A large number of Indian residents who are linked through BSNL towers in Hoshiar Nagar, Gharinda, Attari, Rajatal and Iban were affected.

SDO (rural) Gurmej Singh said the telecom link was snapped during digging work for widening of the Jalandhar-Amritsar road.


Kendari Singh Sabha runs into trouble
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, June 13
The Kendari Singh Sabha, an organisation of the Sikhs which undertook the spread of Sikhism, has run into trouble.

The present head of the sabha, Giani Harinder Singh of UP, has been charged with pruning the main body of the sabha and filling it with his chosen men. The general body of the sabha has been convened at Chandigarh on June 15 to elect office-bearers and approve the amended constitution of the sabha.

Inquiries reveal that the sabha was constituted in 1872 to spread the message of the Gurus. The sabha was allotted a piece of land measuring 2.5 acres in Sector 28, Chandigarh, and 4 acres in Delhi near the Qutab Minar.

Manjit Singh Calcutta, former secretary-general of the SGPC and general secretary of the sabha, today alleged that Giani Harinder Singh had reconstituted the governing council with his own men and he (Manjit) had been made adviser of the sabha without his knowledge.

Harinder Singh, member, SGPC, has alleged that Giani Harinder Singh in his circular regarding the general body meeting on June 16 has stated that the constitution of the sabha will be amended, whereas the proposed amendments in the constitution have not been circulated to the members.

The rivals of Giani Harinder Singh also allege that he wants to grab the land allotted to the sabha at Chandigarh and Delhi. Giani Harinder Singh denied the allegations of grabbing the land and that he had put his own men in the general body and the governing council.


MC poll campaign picks up in Sangrur
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 13
With the announcement of tickets by major political parties for the local municipal council (MC) elections to be held on June 30, many candidates today intensified their election campaign.

Some candidates held corner meetings in their wards following the development. The Congress is contesting in all 21 wards of Sangrur town, while the SAD and the BJP are contesting 11 and 10 wards, respectively, as alliance partners.

While district president of the BJP Jatinder Kalra said he was of the view that the candidates of the SAD-BJP alliance would win at least 17 seats, district president of the Congress and MLA from Sangrur Surinder Pal Singh Sibia claimed that the Congress candidates would capture at least 17 seats of the local MC.


Punjabi exam on June 24
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 13
Deputy director of the Punjab languages department Balbir Kaur has said that those candidates whose qualifications had been relaxed by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) from PhD to M.Phil and whose vacancies were advertised by the PPSC recently can now appear for their Punjabi examinations on June 24.

Earlier, the languages department had held the examination on May 15 against a previous PPSC advertisement.

This was stated in a press note of the department. Balbir Kaur added that information in this regard could be had from the languages department office and the last date of filling application forms had been set as June 20.

Only those candidates who have not cleared the Punjabi test in their matriculation exams can apply for the above said posts.


Promotions: HC notice to govt
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 13
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice of motion to the state government for August 4 on a writ petition filed by members of the AMIE (India) Engineers Association, Punjab, (Irrigation), regarding violation of rules/instructions in promotions by the Irrigation Department.

The court has said: “If the state fills the vacancies which fell vacant prior to March, 2000, that will be subject to the final decision of the writ petition”.

The writ was filed by Surinder Kumar and others alleging that the department has been violating directions of the Supreme Court (SC) while promoting diploma holder junior engineers (JEs) to sub-divisional officers (SDOs) by ignoring the departmental promotion committee guidelines and instructions issued by the personnel department on April 27, 1982.

Earlier, the association had said under service rules 1941, only degree holder JEs were eligible for the promotion as SDOs.

Then in July, 2004, the rules were amended in which the diploma holder JEs were also made eligible for their promotion as SDOs, including degree holders.

The SC has given verdict for the implementation of these rules for the posts that fell vacant from 1997 to 2005.

The issue that came before the apex court in May, 2007, was: Whether old 1941 rules or new 2004 rules, which became effective from July 9, 2004, will be applied for filling the vacancies reported during 2000-01 under old 1941 rules for promotion of JEs to the post of SDOs in the Irrigation Department.

Surinder Singh Kler, working general secretary of the association said vacancies reported from 2000 to 2007 should have been filled under the 2004 rules, according to the SC directions.

After getting information under the RTI Act from the chief engineer, irrigation, the association revealed that a total of 186 vacancies of promotion quota of SDO were reported from 1996 to 2000. Seventysix more posts of SDO had fallen vacant from 2000 to December 31, 2007.

He alleged that 90 degree holder JEs were promoted ignoring 40 AMIE/BE qualified JEs despite 96 vacancies being there before 2000.


HC raps judge for ‘eulogising’ his tasks
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
A District and Sessions Judge’s attempts at “eulogising” the tasks of a judicial officer by using terms like “talent and skill” have not escaped the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s notice.

A High Court Division Bench has made it clear that instead of “talent and skill”, a Judge needs to exercise care, caution and self-restrain while passing order of sentence in criminal cases.

Pronouncing death sentence to a Ludhiana resident for killing his wife; and daughter he had earlier raped; the District and Sessions Judge had earlier stated: “To my mind, sentencing is a delicate task requiring an inter-disciplinary approach and calls for skills and talents”.

The observations were made by the Judge in his order, which was passed after convicting the accused in the double murder case in November 2007.

Taking up the murder reference and the criminal appeal filed by the accused, Mohinder Singh, against the orders of conviction and sentence passed by the Sessions Judge, the High Court Division Bench upheld the same.

At the same time, the Bench, consisting of Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice A.N. Jindal, took judicial note of the terms used by the Judge in the order.

The Judges ruled: “In para 37 of the judgement, the Sessions Judge, while eulogising the task of a judge in passing orders of sentence has mentioned, ‘To my mind, sentencing is a delicate task…’”

The Judges added: “In our view, passing of an order of sentence may require more of care, caution and self-restrain than talent and skill of a judge, particularly, in cases of awarding the extreme penalty of death sentence”.

The Judges further added: “Such types of cases are unfortunate and exceptional wherein the courts have to take hard decisions in order to respect the sentiments of the community in terms of the guidelines laid down in the judgements of Bachan Singh and Machhi Singh’s cases; and other subsequent judgements of the apex court on this subject, which are to be followed before arriving at a conclusion that a case of murder would fall in the category of the rarest of the rare cases”.


No fresh rural polls in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today said no to the decision of holding fresh elections to gram panchayats in Punjab where elections were countermanded after the candidates were declared elected.

While staying these elections, a High Court Division Bench allowed the state to hold fresh elections to panchayats where polls were countermanded before election date.

The orders were passed while admitting a bunch of petitions challenging the countermanding of panchayat elections. The Bench, holding the court during the vacations, ruled: “In view of serious and important questions of law involved in these petitions, we are of the view that the matter should be heard by a Division Bench of this court.”

The Bench, as such, directed the High Court Registry to place the matter before the Chief Justice for appropriate direction and added these petitions be finally decided within three months since the issue related to the elections.

The Judges also observed that it was necessary to take up these matters
during the vacations as elections to certain panchayats had either been countermanded or cancelled.

The Bench stated that in some cases, the nomination papers were initially rejected, but later shown to have been accepted. Similarly, in some cases the nomination papers were initially accepted and later rejected.

The Bench ruled: “On consideration of various factors, statutory provisions and judgments, prima facie we are of the view that in the cases where candidates have been declared elected in accordance with Section 54 of the Punjab State Election Commission Act, 1994, or where the returning officer has declared the result under Section 69 of the Act, and elections have been countermanded thereafter, the holding of fresh elections shall remain stayed.”

In other cases, where the election had been countermanded before the date of polling, the state may hold fresh election. But, the outcome of the election would be subject to the final decision on the petitions.


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