C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Death by Drowning
HC notice to Haryana, HUDA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Taking up a public interest litigation (PIL) petition on death by drowning in the city and its vicinity, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion to Haryana and HUDA for July 28. The notices were issued on a petition filed by a city-based lawyer.

He prayed for directions to Haryana and HUDA to give compensation to parents of victims, besides ordering an inquiry into the incidents of drowning and fixing responsibility. He also asked for initiation of steps to prevent the recurrence of such mishaps.

The petitioner said HUDA had acquired land in Nada village for developing Sector 31 and had been raising the level of the earth at selected points for roads and other infrastructure.

At places, the earth had been dug up for laying sewerage. However, signboards had not been installed around pits and ditches to caution residents to keep away and ensure the safety of children.

Giving details of the drowning incidents, he said on June 29, three huts built on the Sukhna choe in Sector 26 gave way and two-and-a-half-year-old Bishnu drowned.



Rs 6 crore sanctioned for dist court complex
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
After being pulled up by the Punjab and Haryana High Court for the inordinate delay in according administrative approval for setting up a new district court complex in Sector 43 here, the ministry of home affairs has sanctioned Rs 6 crore for the project.

This takes the total sanction in this year’s budget for the project to Rs 8 crore.

Last week, a Division Bench of the High Court had directed the union ministry of law and justice to furnish its consent within a week.

An official of the MHA is likely to be present in the court tomorrow to announce the sanction of the amount.

The UT home secretary had earlier written a letter to the union ministry of law and justice. The union ministry of urban development had conveyed that the matter came under the domain of the union ministry of law and justice, which was providing funds for the project, and that the administrative approval had to be provided by the law ministry.



‘Bogus’ votes: DC to probe role of asst RO
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

The video clip showing assistant returning officer Gurmandar Singh pressing the EVM button during elections in Ward No. 7 in Dera Bassi.
The video clip showing assistant returning officer Gurmandar Singh pressing the EVM button during elections in Ward No. 7 in Dera Bassi.

Mohali July 8
The Punjab State Election Commission has asked the DC of SAS Nagar to probe the role of an assistant returning officer (ARO) during the Dera Bassi municipal elections held on June 30.

Rajeev Sharma, BJP candidate from Ward No. 7, who lost the election by a mere three votes, complained to the election commission that the ARO himself cast bogus votes in favour of the candidate declared the winner.

Sharma said camera clippings showing the ARO pressing the button on the EVM had been submitted to the election commission, which had been sent to the DC for probe.

ARO Gurmandar Singh is posted as tehsildar of SAS Nagar and was on puton election duty. He was authorised to enter polling stations to oversee polling arrangements.

The candidate’s polling agent inside the booth, Manoj Sharma, said Gurmandar Singh checked the total number of votes polled with the voting machine lying outside and then pressed the EVM button at least twice. Sharma said video clips were procured from cameramen deployed by the government to record the proceedings.

Sources said the ARO could have pressed the EVM button to see if the total number of votes polled tallied with the manual count maintained by the presiding officer.

Sharma, however, pointed out that the ARO was not authorised to do so. The DC of SAS Nagar, Rahul Bhandari, said: “We have asked the ARO to file a response to the allegations.”



HC Ceiling
JE suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Taking serious note of the collapse of false ceiling in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Chandigarh administration today suspended a junior engineer for poor supervision of work.

The ceiling had collapsed yesterday while Justice Mahesh Grover was holding the court. Those present in the courtroom had a narrow escape as a portion of the false ceiling came crashing down on the dais.

A committee under an SE has been constituted to go into the details of the incident. “ If any other official is found guilty, action will be taken against him too”, he added.



Students charged over fee
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Violating the Panjab University (PU) guidelines with impunity, private colleges of the city are charging fee according to their whims and fancies putting the students at the receiving end.

Recently, the PU, in order to tighten the noose around private colleges indulging in overcharging, had fixed the fee structure for various streams. Shockingly, the colleges are conveniently flouting these rules by projecting “add-on courses” like cosmetology, environmental auditing, French, Functional English, child psychology, event management, business statistics, video reporting, web designing, animation and graphics as “compulsory” ones.

Rabinder Nath, a PU senate member, strongly objecting to the move by the colleges, said: “It was unanimously decided at the meeting attended by principal of all colleges that these add on courses would not, in any case, be imposed on the students. It is a breach of trust and if the colleges are forcing students to pay for “add-on courses”, then an emergency meeting should be called and the practice should be stopped immediately.”

Ashok Goel, a PU syndic, said: “In the name of add-on courses, which are optional, the colleges are fleecing the students. The university should take tough measures to control this malpractice.”

These add-on courses were introduced three years back by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and to boost these courses, the UGC has even decided to release a grant of lakhs of rupees.

The parents and students resented that the colleges were using this initiative of the UGC to fleece them.

“Where does uniformity in the fee structure stand when the colleges are charging extra money in the guise of these courses, which otherwise should have been optional?’’ asked the parents.

The college authorities justify their stand by saying that these add-on courses are made compulsory “just to encourage the students to enhance their skills”. The students are being asked to shell out Rs 1,200 to Rs 2,400 extra for an add-on course.

Principal of DAV College B.S. Josan said: “We are charging fee as was decided in the all-principals meet. These add-on courses have been introduced to help students enhance their skills and what is the harm in going for them.”

Another Rs 400 are being charged for “un-aided faculty”. Ironically, this amount is being charged from the students of those streams, too, where no un-aided teachers have been engaged. “We will engage them later,” said the principal.

Uma, a lecturer with MCM DAV College, who was responsible for conducting admissions to BSc I said they had been officially instructed to charge for add-on courses. “We have been instructed by the principal to charge for add-on courses from all students barring those who have taken two practical subjects. Otherwise, there are no set rules for it.” The principal could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.



Serpentine queues on first day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Hundreds of students, accompanied by parents, thronged city colleges on the first day of admissions today. Starting as early as 8 am, the admissions continued till evening.

There were serpentine queues for professional courses. Commerce remained much sought after. While all BCom seats at GGDSD College, Sector 32, Government College for Girls, Sector 11, Government College, Sector 42 and DAV College-10 were filled on the first day itself, a few are said to be available at Dev Samaj College for Women, Sector 45, and DAV College, Sector 10.

At DAV-10, in the UT pool a total of 135 seats were filled up to rank 342. The highest merit without weightage was 90 per cent and with weightage 78 per cent.

In the general pool, all 20 seats were filled up to rank 135. As many as 100 students were admitted in BA-I with above 65 per cent marks.

At MCM DAV-36, the cutoff in economics was 65 per cent aggregate (without economics at plus 2 level) and 55 per cent aggregate (with economics at plus 2 level).

In psychology, functional English and English, the cutoff stood at 85 per cent, 70 per cent and 75 per cent, respectively.



‘Kidnapped’ bank officer on way home from UP town
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The “ kidnapped” Mukerian-based bank manager Samir Gupta tonight contacted his wife, informing her that he was returning home from Bulandshahr in UP.

Neeru Gupta said her husband called her up at 10.30 pm and before she could make any query, Samir hung up.

“I called up on the number and the person who answered the call said a call had been made from his PCO at the Bulandshahr bus stand and the caller had boarded a bus for Delhi,” she said.

The Chandigarh police, which has not registered a case so far, was tight-lipped on the matter. “We are waiting for him to return and will be able to comment only after questioning him”, the police said.

On Sunday, Samir Gupta reportedly called his wife informing her that he was being forcibly taken away by unidentified people from the Sector 43 bus stand here. His whereabouts had been unknown since.

Earlier during the day, Neeru had alleged that her husband had paid the price for being a whistleblower.

“My husband was kidnapped as he had exposed malpractices in the bank,” said Neeru Gupta at the Sector 36 police station. Visibly disturbed, Neeru said: “Samir had written three letters to his bosses and also to the Punjab Vigilance informing them about certain bank employees taking kickback for sanctioning loans to farmers”. Neeru rued the fact that the police had not come to the aid of the family.

The police suspected the family was hiding some facts.



Open areas not being weeded
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Tribune News Service

Wild growth around a residential area in Sector 41, Chandigarh.
Wild growth around a residential area in Sector 41, Chandigarh. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari

Chandigarh, July 8
Overgrown weed in open spaces, including residential areas, is a common sight in the city. It has become a cause of concern for residents as these places have not only become a breeding ground for diseases, but also a haven for anti-social elements and drug addicts.

Residents rue that despite numerous requests to the civic authorities to remove weed before monsoon, nothing had been done.

The overgrown weed and other wild growth makes it difficult to trace if anybody is hiding there. The spaces have become hangouts for drug addicts looking for “bhang”, popularly known as “sukha”.

A random survey of the city revealed that the civic authorities have not visited several open areas for years. The wild growth is so much that it has become impossible even for tractors to clear the areas.

Southern sectors and areas around Colony No. 5 and Sector 55 are specifically plagued by wild growth.

A resident of Sector 41-B, Shubash Chander Malik, said: “I have complained to the MC several times and also taken up the issue with councillors and the executive engineer of the horticulture wing, but to no effect.”

Congress grass had grown over 10 ft in a plot adjacent to his house, he said, adding that they were living under constant fear of snakes, leeches and other insects.

Also, over three incidents of snatching had occurred in the area, which had no streetlights for months.

The Punjab Hemp Cultivation and Bhang Permit and Pass Rules, 1955, state that the district administration can grant license for hemp cultivation to temples, dharamshalas and other religious institutions on their land. Hemp grown in any other area is illegal and cannot be sold.

A senior officer in the horticulture wing maintained that the MC removed wild growth from areas that came under it. Vacant plots belonged to the administration and it was responsible for the removal of weed there.



Dogra Scouts conquers peak after 40 yrs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The mountaineers of Dogra Scouts made yet another indelible mark in the arena of mountaineering when the Tangors, as they are popularly known, unfurled the Tricolour atop Indrasan Peak.

Standing majestically at a height of 20,410 feet, the peak is considered to be the world’s fifth most difficult summit and has remained invincible since the 1960s.

The contingent, led by Maj Anil Manhas, comprised two officers, two JCOs and 23 other ranks. It began its venture on May 20. The team was flagged in at Headquarters 36 Sector, Puh in Himachal Pradesh, by Commander, Brig K.N.P. Nair, a statement issued here today said.

The team faced extreme chill, incessant snowfall, high-pressure blizzards and threats of avalanches.



Promote football culture

Until now, lack of modern facilities was a big hurdle for the UT sports authorities to develop football culture in the region. Not anymore! The UT administration's plan to build a world-class football and athletics stadium in Sector 56 is a major step towards promoting sports culture in the region.

It is not only a major step towards the AIFF's dream to prepare a team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but also a guarantee to put the city on the international map. Next, the UT administration should eye partnering with leading national and international football clubs and institutions to give the much-needed boost to the city talent.

There is also a need to set up a football academy in the city where the basic skills and other essential requirements for professional football can be taught. Football should be promoted among all sections of the community, particularly at the school level.

Also, it's important to improve newspaper coverage of football so that the players are encouraged to take up the sport.

Rajesh Krishan, Chandigarh

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at news@tribuneindia.com or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030





Class XI Admissions
General category commerce seats filled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The students keen on taking up commerce stream in Class XI had to return disappointed as the education department announced closure of seats in the general category in all schools during today’s counselling session. The session is underway at GMSSS-10.

The cut-off at GGMSSS-18 was 59.2 per cent, at GMSSS-21, it was 59.4 per cent while at GMSSS-8 and GMSSS-20, it was 58.2 and 58 per cent, respectively. The counselling for the science stream (general category) also ended in all schools except GGMSSS-18. General category seats in the IT course (vocational stream) have also been filled.

The sixth day of the counselling saw a spurt in admissions in the humanities and vocational streams. There were still no takers for the newly introduced course in general health at GMSSS-32. As many as 941 students were admitted to various schools today. Admission tally till date:



Admission schedule
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Interview for admissions to MA (sociology-1st semester) will be held on July 10 at 9 am at the department.

Department of philosophy: The interview for admission to MA-1 (philosophy) will be held on July 10 at 10 am. No separate interview letters are being issued as per the chairperson of the department.

Department of Urdu: The interview for admission to MA-1 (Urdu) will be held on July 10 at 10.30 am. The candidates are advised to bring their original certificates and testimonials for verification.

Department of ancient Indian history, culture and archaeology: The interview for admission to MA (1st semester) will be held on July 10 from 9.30 am to 1 pm.



Stu C advertisers’ paradise
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Discotheques, clubs and pubs have devised an innovative way to lure the young brigade with posters announcing late-night parties, free drinks for girls and free entry for couples dotting the students’ centre of Panjab University.

The nightclubs and pubs have made the campus their favourite hunting ground and are making most of the authorities’ ignorance.

While the laws in Chandigarh do not permit liquor to be served to youths below 25 years, these clubs are blatantly targeting the university students, especially the girls.

A poster put up by one of the nightclubs in Sector 8 on a board at the students’ centre says: ‘Belly Dancers’ Night’: Free couple and girls entry till 10.30 pm and free drinks for ladies.

Vice-chancellor Prof R.C. Sobti said, “The matter has just been brought to my notice and strict action will be taken against the offenders.”

ASP Madhur Verma, feigning ignorance about the matter, said: “We will check the posters and initiate action against the culprits and if need be, we will book them.”



NCC shooting camp begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The North Zone Shooting Coaching Camp of NCC began at Patiala ki Rao firing ranges here today. Brig Rajindra Singh, Deputy Director-General, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh NCC Directorate, inaugurated the camp in which 120 cadets from various states and UT Chandigarh have been selected to undergo advance training for precision shooting.

The aim of the camp is to prepare cadets for the All-India Govind Vallabh Pant Mavalankar Shooting Championship and national shooting competitions.



Return of the Challan
Ex-Army officer moves HC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Can charges be framed against an accused without the challan being technically present before the court? This is the vital question of law a retired Army officer has raised before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In written representations addressed on the administrative side to the HC, Lieut-Col Anil Kabotra (retd) has asserted that in his case the challan was, technically speaking, not in the court. As such, framing of charges and the trial was illegal. But the “important factor” was ignored.

The police booked Colonel Kabotra under Section 498-A of the IPC. In fact, first information report No. 104 was registered at police division No. 1, Pathankot, on May 27, 2003, after he was accused of subjecting his wife to cruelty, an allegation he has all along been denying vehemently.

Elaborating on his contentions while talking The Tribune, Colonel Kabotra said the challan was initially filed by the police in alleged violation of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission’s order. It was ordered to be withdrawn by the court on an application moved by the Pathankot SP.

The return of the challan was “against the law”, Colonel Kabotra claimed. He added the police again put it up before the court. But, both the withdrawal of the challan and its subsequent presentation for the second time, was illegal.

The retired officer, in his representations, further asserted that the Gurdaspur district magistrate then ordered the withdrawal of the case on October 23, 2006, under Section 321 of the CrPC. But, Pathankot sub-divisional judicial magistrate dismissed the district magistrate’s orders.

Subsequently, the Gurdaspur additional district and sessions judge upheld the judicial magistrate’s orders, while dismissing the state’s revision petition. Colonel Kabotra has added that his contention on the trial being illegal in the technical absence of the challan; and certain other factors like an inquiry report by the Punjab DGP, do not find a mention in the orders of the court orders pronounced on February 2008.

Colonel Kabotra has also asserted that as a soldier, he has bravely fought this battle “without any falsification or any underhand means”. Seeking High Court’s intervention for granting him justice that is long overdue, the retired officer has added it was a matter of his life and liberty.



Loan Waiver
Don’t depend too much on technicalities, HC to courts
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that the courts should not depend too much on technicalities; and become a hindrance in the amicable settlement of loan disputes between farmers and banks.

The ruling came on a petition filed by Major Singh and another farmer. They had taken a loan for agriculture purpose, but could not repay the same due to “adverse circumstances in the family”.

Taking up the matter, Justice Ranjit Singh asserted: “This usually is the plight of a farmer, who is invariably a victim of vagaries of weather and is generally at a loss in the profession of agriculture. This problem is acute and had prompted the Government of India to come out with a scheme of loan waiver in favour of the farmers, which in itself will speak about the gravity of the situation in which the farmers in this country are placed”.

Commenting on the role of a court in the matter, Justice Ranjit Singh held: “The counsel for the petitioners is justified in making a serious grievance about the approach adopted by the court. Despite the helpful attitude of the bank by expressing its willingness to accept the settled amount subject to the directions from the zonal office, the court adopted a rather technical attitude to deny the prayer of the petitioners. The approach by the court to deny the benefit of the scheme to the petitioners on the ground that the scheme is not in existence is even not the stand of the bank. The court instead of being helpful has been a hindrance in the amicable settlement of the dispute”.

The Judge asserted: “The petitioners apparently could not make a timely approach as they were not given any time to react. The court has compounded the matter by adopting a rigid technical attitude. Since the bank was willing to accept the amount by way of settlement subject to approval by zonal office, the court should have encouraged the settlement, instead of choosing a course which was even not pleaded”.

Going into the background of the case, the Judge observed the petitioners had challenged an order passed by Sangrur Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), vide which he had declined an application filed by the farmers for discharge of liability arising out of a loan as per one-time settlement.

Coming to the rescue of the farmers, Justice Ranjit Singh added: “The impugned order, as such, cannot be sustained. Once the offer was made by the bank for one-time settlement and was availed by the petitioners, the equity and fair play would require that the petitioners were not denied the benefit accruing on account of this scheme. The impugned order was accordingly set aside”.



5 HC judges to take oath tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Pursuant to their elevation, judges-designate Rajan Gupta, Ajay Tewari, Jatinder Chauhan, A.G. Masih and Nirmaljit Kaur will be administered oath on Thursday afternoon. With their elevation, the Punjab and Haryana High Court will have a record number of 47 judges.

In all, eight names were recommended by the High Court collegium, headed by Chief Justice Vijender Jain, on January 18. Masih’s name was not a part of the list as it had been cleared earlier, but the elevation was kept pending as he had not attained the age of 45.

However, out of the total eight, four names have not been cleared for judgeship. Advocate Ritu Bahari’s matter has been referred to the Supreme Court for reconsideration.

With Nirmaljit Kaur’s elevation, the High Court will have four women judges for the first time in its history. The other women judges are Justice Nirmal Yadav, Justice Daya Chaudhary and Justice Sabina.

The development is significant as the union ministry of law has categorically stated that it is in favour of increasing the representation of women in the judiciary.



2-yr term for accused
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Disagreeing with the trial court decision of acquitting an accused in an acid attack case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court here has sentenced him to a rigorous imprisonment for two years, besides slapping a fine of Rs 50,000, payable to the victim. The accused had disfigured the face and caused the loss of an eye due.

The Judge had, on July 24, 2007, acquitted the accused Dimple Kumar, alias Dimpa, of Amritsar district.



CITCO MD refused extension
DC Rao’s fate uncertain
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
With the central government refusing extension to Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) managing director J.S. Bir, the fate of DC R.K. Rao now hangs in the balance.

According to sources, the cabinet committee on appointments (CCA) has rejected Bir’s extension for one year. Earlier, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) and department of personnel and training had endorsed Bir’s one term extension.

The MHA is competent to give three months to an IAS officer and Bir’s three-month extension ends on July 19.

Sources said if Bir’s case was taken into account, Rao could not get one-year extension, as both officers were “similarly positioned”. His three-month extension is going to expire next month.

Meanwhile, key posts continue to lie vacant in the Chandigarh Administration.

While delay in the appointment of home secretary by the central government has been highlighted a number of times, some other prominent posts continue to remain vacant, thus allegedly hampering official work.

Close on the heels of the post of home secretary, the post of legal remembrancer has been without any occupant for several weeks.

And, shifting of Chandigarh Housing Board’s (CHB) chief executive officer (CEO) Amar Nath to New Delhi will hamper the functioning of the board. Amar Nath had been coordinating the ambitious project of construction of underpasses in the city.

Another CHB official, Kamlesh Kumar, is also on his way out. Another HCS officer S.K. Setia, credited with introducing several reforms in the education sector, has sought repatriation to his parent state.



Mansur Ali on Advisory council
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The Chandigarh administration has appointed Mansur Ali as member of the UT Administrator’s Advisory Council.

He is advocate in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and chairman of the Chandigarh Wakf Board



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