P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Badal demands 50% share in Central taxes
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
The Punjab government today presented its case seeking more fiscal benefits for the state before the 13th Finance Commission. Demanding a special economic package for the border cities and villages, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal told the visiting Finance Commission chairman Vijay Kelkar and his team that Punjab bore the brunt every time there was a war or heightened military activity on the border, “so the centre must announce a special grant for development of border areas, besides a special agriculture and industry package”.

“Punjabis are heroes of the nation and they must get special treatment,” Badal said, demanding from the Centre to pool in towards subsidies to the farmers. “Since it is neither the farmer nor the government that benefits from the subsidies, the nation that gets the ultimate benefit in the form of foodgrain must compensate Punjab for the subsidy it gives to its farmers," Badal told the commission. Kelkar, however, expressed his opinion saying that he did not think that Punjab’s model on subsidies was workable for long.

Punjab, in tune with most other states, has further demanded 50 per cent of the gross central receipts from taxes and other resources. Badal wanted Rs 5,000 crore during the five-year period (2010-15) for provision of civic infrastructure in rural areas of the state, Rs 4,600 crore for five-year period to meet 75 per cent of the cost of development works in urban areas e.g. roads and bridges, water supply, sewerage system, sewerage treatment plant etc.

Punjab, to the surprise of the team of the finance commission, told them that Punjab was in dire straights on the fiscal side due to the deficit it had inherited over the years, first on account of terrorism that curbed development and required huge expenditure and then the non-generation of any revenue due to long years of President’s rule. “Punjab is different from other states, we have our own problems being a border state, so we should not be clubbed with others while deciding on the grants allocated to us”, Badal told the officials.

In a forceful manner, he told the finance commission that Punjab should not be equated with other states that lack basic infrastructure like roads and canals. “We have built our roads and canals, but we need money to develop them further and to maintain and improve the infrastructure further”.

Badal pointed out what he called the “wrong policies of the Centre”, by saying that the flight of industry from Punjab was not on account of any recession here, but due to the concessions given to the industry in the neighbouring states.


All states want bigger pie in Central kitty: Kelkar
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
Chairman of the 13th Finance Commission of India Vijay Kelkar today stated that all the projections related to growth of the country are bound to change due to global recession.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Kelkar said the report of the commission would be ready by October 2009. The commission is currently visiting various states and talking to the state governments regarding their expectations from the Centre and the problems being faced by them.

When asked about the demands that have been put forth by various states, Kelkar said all states wanted a bigger share in the central tax pool. He added that many states were against the concept of centrally sponsored schemes. “Though they feel that centrally sponsored schemes are eroding their autonomy, the problem is the implementation of these scheme at the state-level,” he said.

Several states have pointed out that many schemes could not be properly implemented till these were made more flexible to suit local conditions. “We were told in Himachal Pradesh that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme includes the water-harvesting system for employment generation. Since in Himachal Pradesh snow is harvested in place of water, this single word change caused a delay in implementing the scheme. Similarly, in Punjab, the scheme has not been implemented properly because the wages offered to labour are only Rs 100, which is lower than what a normal labourer earns here,” Kelkar said, adding that these schemes would be better implemented if the states are allowed to mould these to suit them.

He said many states also felt that the centrally sponsored schemes were an “intrusion” into their autonomy. “On the other hand, these schemes cannot be completely ignored. These have also led to many positive changes,” he added.

“We have been apprised of the special problems being faced by the people living in border areas. I have been told that there is about 600 km of border belt here and large tracts of cultivable land have been rendered useless,” he said.

Appreciating the Punjab model of sharing of VAT collections with the municipal and other local bodies in lieu of octroi, Kelkar said this was a useful model that could be tried out at other places in the country. “Local bodies are where all the action is. They are at the cutting edge of development. While generating their own resources from levying user charges, property tax, non-utilisation of land fee, etc these also should have a larger share in the state taxes,” he suggested.

When asked about the Commission’s observation on the issue of power subsidies, Kelkar said the members had been told that the subsidy was to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore that was “unsustainable”.

“The state has only a limited number of energy resources and power is very expensive. The government is aware of it but does not know how to get out of this situation,” he said.


Bibi Badal kicks off SAD LS poll campaign
Varinder Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 4
The apparent fix or reluctance within the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) over the selection of its candidate from Patiala notwithstanding, the whirlwind tour of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s wife Bibi Surinder Kaur Badal in the constituency has kick-started the SAD poll campaign.

The front-runners for the SAD ticket were said to be the party general secretary, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, and Kuldip Kaur Tohra, daughter of the late SAD leader Gurcharan Singh Tohra and wife of former minister Harmel Singh Tohra.

The SAD’s dilemma in handing over the party ticket to either of the two was that Professor Chandumajra was said to have courted opposition of almost all SAD heavy-weights from Patiala, including the Punjab cooperative minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, district SAD president (rural) Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, former MLA Hamir Singh Ghagga and former minister Harmel Singh Tohra. On the other hand, Kuldip Kaur Tohra, who, was said to be supported by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, was a greenhorn with hardly any experience in contesting parliamentary polls in comparison to Chandumajra. In this situation, the party may even come up with a surprise candidate.

That the SAD was serious in winning the Patiala seat under any circumstances was evident from the efforts of the Badal senior and Bibi Surinder Kaur Badal to establish contacts at the grassroots level in every nook and corner of the district. Bibi Badal has already covered a number of assembly constituencies like Rajpura, Dakala, Ghanaur, Samana during her two-day Patiala sojourn as a part of her ongoning campaign to mobilise workers for the party’s “langar” programme.

“We will win all the parliamentary seats,” asserted Bibi Badal at a function at Dakala today, adding that she did not intend to contest from the Bathinda parliamentary seat. She said it was up to the party high command to announce the party candidates from Patiala and Bathinda. “The party will be announcing the names of the rest of the candidates shortly,” said Bibi Badal, who was accompanied by a number of senior SAD leaders, including former SGPC chief Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur and former SSS Board chairman Tejinder Pal Singh Sandh. Bibi Badal also remembered late Jathedar Tohra’s sacrifices for the party.


Cong infighting starts over Amarinder election tour
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
Bitter infighting seems to have started over former Chief Minister and party Campaign Committee chairman Capt Amarinder Singh’s campaign tour starting from December 8 with Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal stating it has been cancelled. The Amarinder camp, however, claimed it was on. Pradesh Congress president Mohinder Singh Kaypee said he did not know about the status of the programme.

According to sources, PPCC president Mohinder Singh Kaypee made a request to the Amarinder camp to postpone his campaign tour from December 8 to 12 in view of the elections to the Youth Congress taking place on December 8. They said Amarinder however reasoned that the programme was independent of the Youth Congress elections and felt there was no need to cancel it.

CLP leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal when contacted on the issue said she had received calls from Youth Congress leaders in Delhi saying the programme would affect the ongoing drive undertaken for the Youth Congress elections in the state. She said since she did not want an impression to be given that the party was torpedoing an exercise initiated by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, she talked to PPCC president Mohinder Singh Kaypee.

Bhattal said Kaypee told her that the programme had been cancelled forthwith. She said the programme would now only be held after December 22 in keeping with the Jammu and Kashmir elections and added “they (Amarinder camp) will keep the programme again in consultation with us”.

Kaypee when questioned about the issue earlier, said he did not know anything. He however admitted that he was slated to accompany Amarinder during the campaign tour.

Amarinder’s loyalist and Talwandi Sabo legislator Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu when questioned about the development said the PPCC president had requested that the campaign tour be postponed in a communication today. He said since all arrangements had been made, it was decided to continue with the tour.

Sources said since Sangrur was regarded to be a stronghold of CLP leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, her supporters did not want Amarinder to start his campaign tour from the town.


Move to remove 400 NRIs from list of POs
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 4
The Punjab government is all set to get the names of about 400 NRIs of Punjabi origin removed from the proclaimed offenders (POs) list. There are about 1,400 NRIs on the POs list in the state. After examining the cases of such persons, the state government has decided to initiate the legal process to get the names of about 400 NRIs removed from the POs list.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Kamaljit Singh Hayre, president of the NRI Sabha, Punjab, said the state government had asked him to ask the POs concerned to apply to the respective courts, which had declared them POs, for re-examining their cases. He said the state government had provided him with a list of the names of 400 POs. “We would put that list on the website asking the POs concerned to file applications through their advocates to the respective courts requesting them to re-examining their cases,” said Kamaljit Singh. The state government will examine the remaining 1,000 cases of POs in due course, said Kamaljit Singh.

At the previous NRI conference in Chandigarh, a large number of NRIs had complained that many Punjabis settled abroad had been got declared POs by vested interests in connivance with the police by getting false cases registered against them with the objective of either grabbing their property or to settle other personal scores. “As many NRIs have been declared POs, they are unable to visit their native villages as they fear arrest by the police authorities concerned,” said Kamaljit Singh.

There are many NRIs who were not even aware as to what sort of cases had been registered against them and on what basis the police had got them declared as POs. At the last conference, the NRIs had alleged that the easiest way of preventing one NRI from entering the country is to get him declared a PO in connivance with the police. When an NRI, who has been declared a PO, will not be able to enter the country, it becomes easy to grab his property.

Kamaljit Singh said the NRI Sabha would verify that the person, who has filed an application in the court, is actually an NRI and not someone else.



Terrorists active in state
On their hit lists are religious leaders

Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
The Punjab police has in a report discussed at the conference of DGPs recorded that Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) are active in the state.

The report, prepared by the intelligence wing for the conference held in November-end, noted that other terrorist groups working to revive terrorism in Punjab included Khalistan Commando Force, Panjwar, and the International Sikh Youth Federation, Rode.

It said the busting of two terrorist modules and recovery of two major consignments of highly explosive material had averted blasts like those, which had happened in Jaipur, Bangalore, Assam and Ahmedabad.

The report also mentioned that the terrorists were following a two-pronged approach, indulge in blasts as well as target religious heads like Dera Sachha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala and Ashutosh Maharaj of Divya Jyoti Jagriti besides politicians, including former union minister Jagdish Tytler.

The threat perception to the Sachha Sauda dera head is particularly high. Following the busting of a KCF module this year, it had been revealed that the accused had links with Baba Bakshish Singh, the prime accused in an attack on the dera head in Haryana. One of the accused Amarjit Singh also took ‘naam daan’ at the dera in order to monitor its security arrangements. Ten members of the KCF were arrested after the busting of the module and two AK-47 rifles; a pistol and ammunition were seized.

In another case in November this year, special narcotics cell, Amritsar, and the Punjab police busted a KZF module and seized five AK-47 rifles and ammunition as well as 2 kg of heroin and fake currency worth Rs 50,000. The arrested persons said KZF force chief Ranjeet Singh, alias Neeta, had sent the consignment to target the Sirsa dera head as well as Jagdish Tytler.

The police intelligence reported that the force had seized two explosive consignments of the KZF. It said in the first catch, 24 kg of explosive along with 25 detonators and wires had been seized in June this year. It said another consignment was recovered in the same month from KZF recruits who claimed they had visited Pakistan a number of times as part of jathas. One of the members of the module was Bibi Ranjit Kaur of Bath Kalan in Fatehgarh Sahib district who had also visited Pakistan twice along with jathas.

Besides, the state police has also busted a module of the ILRF operating in Mansa, Ferozepur and Bathinda districts that had also planned to attack religious congregations addressed by the Sacha Sauda dera head.

DIG, counter-intelligence, Jagdish Kumar Mittal said he was not aware of the report submitted at the DGP’s conference. He, however, said two inter-state intelligence support teams headed by a DSP each had been constituted in the Intelligence wing to coordinate with Central agencies to ensure quick reaction operational capabilities.


Ensure quick justice, Badal tells lawyers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday exhorted lawyers to play a proactive role in quick dispensation of justice to the people, as they were an integral part of the judicial system.

Presiding over a function organised here at Law Bhawan for the implementation of the ‘Punjab Advocates Welfare Fund Act-2002’ by the Punjab government, in collaboration with Bar Association of Punjab and Haryana here, Badal said it was a pragmatic step aimed at the welfare of the advocates who owed a moral and social responsibility for the administration of Justice. He also exhorted the legal fraternity to discharge their duties with professional commitment, dedication and sincerity in the larger public interest.

Badal appreciated Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Justice Tirath Singh Thakur for his commitment towards improving the delivery of justice in the state by reducing the pendency of cases considerably through the unique method of mediation and conciliation.

He assured the Chief Justice that the state government would provide all financial assistance and cooperation for the construction of judicial complexes and lawyers’ chambers in the state. He reiterated that it was an endeavour of the state government to provide congenial atmosphere to the judiciary and lawyers to discharge their duties efficiently.

Responding to the demand raised by the Advocate-General Punjab and chairman, Trustee Committee, H.S. Mattewal, for liberal contribution towards Advocate Welfare Fund, Badal announced Rs 1 crore on the spot and agreed in principle to pay annual instalments of Rs. 1 crore each for the remaining period of his tenure.

Speaking on the occasion, Justice Tirath Singh Thakur, lauded the Chief Minister for showing special concern for the welfare of the judiciary. In his address, Mattewal, hoped that the interface between the judiciary and state government would prove to be an ideal platform and go a long way to strengthen the bonds of judiciary, legislature and executive. He said the implementation of this Act would benefit 30,000 advocates of over 61 Bar Councils in Punjab. He pointed out that the trustee committee constituted under Section 4 of the Act would grant up to Rs 5 lakh incase of death of an advocate and up to Rs 2 lakh in case of serious ailment.


Mysterious blast damages 7 shops in Bhikhiwind
Our Correspondent

Bhikhiwind (Tarn Taran), December 4
Panic griped this border township today morning when seven shops and a Tata Sumo was badly damaged in a mysterious blast.

However, the police was still looking into the reasons what caused such a high intensity explosion. Harinder Singh Chahal, district police chief, said they had sent the samples to laboratory to know the exact cause of the blast. Denying any bomb blast, he added that leakage in fridge in one of the sweetshop could have resulted in the explosion.

The blast occurred at about 5.15 am in which blowing up roofs of three shops while four other shops had a minor damage. A Tata Sumo standing outside the shops was, too, damaged. The damaged shops are either sweet shops or confectionary shops.

The shops belongs to Baljinder Singh, Raj Kumar, Kewal Singh, Prem Singh and others.

Deputy commissioner Khushi Ram, SSP Harinder Singh Chahal, besides MLA Prof . Virsa Singh Valtoha and other reached the spot.

The SSP told that the dog squads, explosive experts and officials of the BSF had been called to survey the spot and detect the cause of explosion. A case under Section 427 of the IPC has been registered in the regards.


‘Definition of Sehajdhari unconstitutional’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
The Sehajdhari Sikh Federation said today that the SGPC’s definition of Sehajdhari Sikhs was unconstitutional and against the teachings of Sikh religion.

Reacting to the decision taken by the SGPC to define Sehajdhari Sikhs, federation president Paramjeet Singh Ranu said 85 per cent of the total world Sikh population consisted of non-amritdhari Sikhs as of now. He condemned the action of SGPC for declaring non-baptised Sikhs with shorn hairs born in Sikh families as ‘patits’ and alleged the SGPC was playing in the hands of anti-Sikh forces.

Dr Ranu said the ‘Mahan Kosh’, the encyclopedia of Sikhism defined Sehajdharis at page no 137 as “A person who remains at ease with liberal thought who is an integral part of Sikhs but do not adhere to the amrit and kach-kirpan but believes in the 10 Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib and has no other religion”.

Dr Ranu said the confusion being created by the SGPC between the patits and Sehajdharis should be cleared, as the patit word was applicable only for the amritdharis. He said whenever an amritdhari violated the amrit code of conduct by any transgression he became patit and had to be rebaptised, but a person who had never been baptised in his life couldn’t be termed as patit as he was Sehajdhari.

Our mind should be crystal clear to accept the definition of Sikh that a person who believes in 10 Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib and has no other religion is a Sikh and the Sikh who adheres to the five Kakars and adopts initiation of baptism is an amritdhari Sikhs, he added.


Six PCS officers inducted in IAS cadre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
The union personal ministry today issued orders inducting six Punjab PCS officers in the IAS cadre. The officers are Deepinder Singh, M.L. Aggarwal, Balwinder Singh, Harbupinder Singh Nanda, Prabhjot Singh Mand and Arunjit Singh Miglani.

The issue of their induction has been hanging fire for the past several months because of prolonged litigation among the PCS officers over seniority issue. They have been inducted in the IAS on the directions of Supreme Court, which had decided their case recently and given directions to state government to do needful in this regard. The state government had forward their names to the union ministry for necessary action.

In a late evening development, the Punjab government transferred local bodies’ director Sameer Kumar. He has been replaced by S.K. Sharma. Sameer Kumar has been sent to the elections department as additional secretary.

During the Amarinder regime, S.K. Sharma was posted as commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana.


PCS officers to wear black badges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
An emergent meeting of PCS (executive) officers was held today to discuss the situation emerging out of the non registration of FIR by the Amritsar police on the complaint of SDM, Amritsar, consequent to the hooliganism resorted to by the lawyers. The association expressed grave concern with regard to the deteriorating law and order.

The association has decided to call upon its members to wear black badges tomorrow and also meet the chief secretary to press upon him the need to register the FIR in the said case and bring the culprits to book. The association shall chalk out its further course of action after seeing the response of the government by convening a general house meeting at Amritsar on December 9, 2008.


Trial court to consider doctor’s negligence
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that it was for the trial court to consider whether a doctor was criminally negligent.

The ruling, on what all constitutes medical negligence, by Justice Ajai Lamba came on a petition filed by Dr Neena Gupta of Patiala. She had sought the quashing of an FIR registered under Section 304-A of the IPC at the Civil Lines police station on March 30, 2006.

It was registered at the instance of Surinder Singh Chadha. The complainant had alleged his wife Devinder Kaur had died “because of negligence during the course of treatment.”

Dismissing the petition, Justice Lamba asserted: “Judged by the standards laid down, a professional would be liable for negligence on one of the two findings; either he was not possessed of the requisite skill which he professed to have possessed, or he did not exercise with reasonable competence in the given case the skill he did possess.

“A practitioner must exercise a reasonable degree of care. Deviation from normal practice is not necessarily evidence of negligence. Also, an error of judgement on the part of a professional would not per-se be negligence.

“So long as it can be found that the procedure which was adopted was one which was acceptable to medical sciences as on that date, the medical practitioner cannot be held negligent merely because he chose to follow one procedure and not another and the result was a failure”. Referring to the case in hand, the Judge ruled: “The opinion of the board of doctors having been taken, I find that prima facie it cannot be said while exercising jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr. PC that the FIR should be quashed.

“It would be for the trial court to consider whether the petitioner was criminally negligent as is required on the touchstone of law. While exercising jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr.PC under inherent powers, the petitioner cannot be adjudged innocent. The facts and circumstances do not warrant the quashing of the FIR.


High Court
Dissolution no bar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
The high court has ruled there is no legal bar on the continuation of land acquisition proceedings even after the dissolution of an improvement trust.

The ruling comes on a petition filed by Brig Sassi Inder Singh and others. The petitioners’ land was in the area to be acquitted by Ludhiana Improvement Trust for development and housing scheme.

Taking up the matter, Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Sabina ruled: The controversy can be conveniently answered by way of framing two functions — whether acquisition process could continue after the dissolution of the Trust; and whether the acquisition proceedings are vitiated on account of non-issuance of notices to five of the petitioners.

The Bench ruled: “Land acquisition proceedings could continue after the dissolution of the trust.” On the second issue, the Bench asserted the petitioners mentioned against serial number five to nine in the petition “did not have any right as they were transferee after the issuance of notification under Section 36 and 42” of the relevant Act.

Free traffic flow

Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Jasbir Singh today made it clear that roadside vendors should not be allowed to cause traffic hazard in Pathankot. Taking up a bunch of petitions, the Bench asked the authorities concerned to initiate an action against those creating traffic bottlenecks. They were also asked to make sure the vendors were not allowed to carryout business in all such areas.


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