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City Centre Scam
Arguments on framing of charges fixed for Jan 10
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 13
Sessions Judge G.K. Rai today fixed January 10 for arguments on framing of charges in the City Centre scam case, involving former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

He also directed the 19 accused to file a reply on January 8 to the application seeking cancellation of their bail, filed by a witness in the case. He also directed the accused to complete inspection work of the case file by January 8. Vigilance Bureau’s counsel M.L. Solanki requested the court for expediting the process of framing of charges.

Alleging that the accused were deliberately delaying the framing of charges on the pretext of the file inspection work, Solanki argued the case had completed a year in the court today and the lawyers of the accused were still inspecting the file. It had been 214 working days and still the work was not completed. No other accused had ever taken more than 100 working days for the work, he said.

The defence lawyers claimed that they were regularly inspecting the case file and it would soon be completed.

One of the witnesses, Sunil Kumar Dey, had alleged that 19 accused, all office-bearers of Today Homes, were threatening him to turn hostile. He alleged he was being intimidated and threatened of dire consequences if he went ahead with his statement.

The witness had sought cancellation of bail of Today Homes MD G.K. Gambhir, vice-president Vinay Subhiki, GM Sunil Kumar Sharma, marketing manager Sanjeev Kumar Gupta, assistant marketing manager Saurabh Gupta and Ashwajit Singh, MD of the IPE Company. The applicant has also sought strict action against 12 other accused in this case mainly related with the Today Homes company.

Out of the total 34 accused, 28, including Capt Amarinder Singh and former local bodies minister Chaudhry Jagjit Singh were present. Amarinder’s son, Raninder Singh, and son-in-law, Raminder Singh, had sought personal exemption for today as the former was to attend a shooting championship and the latter was to go abroad.


Govt to slap more cases on Amarinder
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jaito (Faridkot), December 13
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh might face more trouble ahead with the SAD-BJP government contemplating initiating at least eight new vigilance cases against him.

This was announced by ruling SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, who targeted Amarinder during all three rallies he addressed in Faridkot district at Jaito, Kot Kapura and Faridkot town today.

This was apparently in retaliation to the recent mass contact programme of Amarinder in the area where he levelled allegations of “corruption and nepotism” against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir.

The SAD chief was accorded a rousing reception at Faridkot. People lined on both sides of the road to greet him as he reached the town from Kot Kapura.

Sukhbir said eight or 10 new multi-million scams had surfaced against the former Chief Minister during investigations by the Vigilance. “Direct involvement of Amarinder in these scams that caused losses worth crores of rupees to the public exchequer was being probed”, he said.

Talking to mediapersons, he accused Amarinder of being “non-serious and uncommitted leader who was afraid of facing a crisis”. He “fled” abroad when the Assembly resolved to initiate a Vigilance case against him and returned only after getting anticipatory bail instead of facing the situation here.

Sukhbir said during his regime, Amarinder failed to prove a single charge of corruption against “us”. He also challenged Amarinder to make public the names of 50 Congress men he claimed to have been murdered by SAD activists in the past two years.

Similarly, he dared the former Chief Minister to publish the list of 7,500 Congress men falsely implicated by the police during the SAD-BJP regime, and clarify how many police stations he had visited in support of these party men.

He challenged Amarinder to himself contest the coming Lok Sabha election from Bathinda and announced that someone from “our” family would be the SAD candidate.

Sukhbir claimed Parkash Singh Badal took personal interest in getting prices for wheat and paddy enhanced. He said the focus of the SAD would be on development and not wasting time by targeting Amarinder Singh. Whatever development has been done in Punjab during the past 60 years was during the SAD regime, whereas the Congress did nothing for the state.

Addressing a public meeting at Jaito, Sukhbir said the “anti-Punjab” Congress-led UPA government at the Centre should be thrown out of power in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Only a BJP-led government with the support of the SAD at the Centre can take care of the interests of the state.

He presented a cheque for Rs 2 crore to the town area committee of Jaitu, Rs 2.68 crore to Faridkot and Rs 3.38 crore to Kot Kapura.



Media policy soon: CM
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Sang Dhesian, December 13
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has said a comprehensive media policy would be announced in the coming days to ensure the welfare of the journalistic fraternity in the state.

The Chief Minister, who was here to preside over the convocation of the Guru Nanak Khalsa Girls College here today, reiterated that all the promises made to the journalists in their poll manifesto during the last Assembly elections would be implemented soon in letter and in spirit.

The government is yet to come out with the policy in the past one and a half years though several representations have been given to the SAD chief and the public relations minister.

The SAD in its manifesto had maintained that a Media Welfare Fund with a minimum government corpus of Rs 5 crore would be created to extend immediate monetary assistance to the journalists in case of any emergency.

The manifestos also includes introduction of insurance cover worth Rs 5 lakh each for working journalists, allotment of plots by PUDA, Improvement Trusts and Municipal Corporations in the state for group housing societies of working journalists, unlimited free travel facility in Punjab Roadways and Pepsu Roadways buses, including luxury buses for working journalists.


SAD (A) to allot ticket to OBCs 
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 13
Considering other backward classes (OBCs) and economically weaker persons of high castes as an “ignored” lot by various political parties in the elections, the Shiromani Akali Dal (A) has chalked out a programme to allot them ticket, along with the SCs, in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.

Talking to The Tribune recently, general secretary of the SAD (A) Jeet Singh Alloarkh said no political party had bothered about the OBCs and the economically weaker persons of high castes in the state so far. This was the reason that the SAD (A) would give a special place to them in its poll agenda, he added.

Alloarkh said the SAD (A) would not only give tickets to the OBCs and economically weaker persons of high castes in the ensuing LS elections, but also in the future Assembly and the SGPC elections.

The party general secretary said the party would now make a public announcement, regarding candidates for the LS elections, during the Shaheedi conference to be held at Fatehgarh Sahib on December 25 and December 26. He said in the first list names of seven candidates would be declared though party had decided to contest 10 LS seats in Punjab.


Capt warns leaders claiming to be Cong candidates
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 13
The Congress will take action against its leaders claiming to be Lok Sabha candidates as the party is yet to decide on ticket allotment.

This was stated by former Chief Minister and chairman of the PPCC Election Campaign Committee Amarinder Singh here today.

Amarinder was in the city to appear before a court in connection with the alleged City Centre scam. Amarinder, seemingly upbeat after his campaign in several areas, said some of the senior party leaders of the state, who were trying to torpedo the campaign, were dancing on the tunes of the ruling combine.

Categorically stating that PPCC president Mohinder Singh Kaypee was not a party to the spoilsport, he said the issue had already reached the senior Congress leaders.

He said his family members would apply for ticket from the Patiala and Bathinda parliamentary constituencies in the next elections.

His son would be a contender from Bathinda and wife from Patiala. It was for the party high command to take the final decision on the issue, he added. Ruling out Congress alliance with Lok Bhalai party supremo Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Capt said LBP was a one man's party. “If Ramoowalia wants to be with us, he should dissolve his party and join the Congress,” he added.

Charging Akalis of patronising political terrorism in the state, Amarinder said 1,500 Congress workers were framed in false cases, 48 workers were murdered during panchayat elections and the accused, who had been booked under Section 302 IPC, were not arrested and were being patronised by Akali leaders. He had the pictures to prove his claims and he would produce them before the media in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, Capt Amarinder Singh accused the government of victimising additional-advocate general-cum-former law officer (Vigilance Bureau) during his regime Harpreet Sandhu by falsely implicating him in the City Centre scam.


SAD to contest Delhi MC polls
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Chamiari (Ajnala), December 13
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has announced that the SAD would contest the coming Municipal Council election in New Delhi on the party symbol.

Stating this to media after laying the foundation stone for the work of canalisation of 150-km Sakki Nullah at a cost of Rs 118.05 crore here on Thursday, Badal said in the Delhi Vidhan Sabha elections, the party lost the single seat contested on its symbol with the margin of just eight votes. He expressed confidence that in the coming Lok Sabha Elections, the SAD-BJP combine would register a thumping win in the state and would play a significant role in the formation of the NDA government at Centre.

On the proposal of establishing a federal agency in the aftermath of Mumbai attack, Badal said the Centre had not made it clear as what would be the composition and functioning of the agency as state, Central and the international intelligence agencies were already in place.

Bikram Singh Majithia, minister for information and public relations, criticised Amarinder for using unparliamentary language against senior leaders of the SAD.

Badal also laid the foundation stone of Rs 1.5-crore Sultanwind Bridge to be reconstructed over the Upper Bari Doab Canal in Amritsar.


Sarna urges Sonia to abolish black list
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 13
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has assured the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) that she will review the demands of the Sikh community, including that of doing away with the black list of Sikhs living in foreign countries.

A delegation headed by Paramjit Singh Sarna and Harvinder Singh Sarna, present and former presidents of the DSGMC, respectively, told The Tribune over the phone here today that Sonia had also agreed to bring a legislation to amend the constitution to allow the Sikhs to perform weddings under the Anand Marriage Act.

During the meeting that lasted for about 15 minutes, they put forward the demands of the Sikh community, including that of abolishing of the disturbed area tag on Punjab.


Need to activate UPA in state: Ramoowalia
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 13
Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP), has said the Congress on its own will not be able to win the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab. He says the BKU ( Lakhowal)-backed National Democratic Alliance ( NDA), comprising the SAD and the BJP, was a major force in Punjab and to defeat it the Congress will have to tie up with Left parties, the Bahujan Samaj Morcha and other political outfits having substantial vote bank across the state.

There is a need to reactivate the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the state.

“My party, the Left parties, the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Morcha can be part of the UPA,” he says. AICC chief Sonia Gandhi should convene a meeting of leaders of the all political parties who could become a part of the UPA.

“Next week, I will visit Delhi to discuss the issue of coalition of political parties in Punjab to defeat the NDA in Lok Sabha elections,” says Ramoowalia, who is keen to contest from Sangrur where he had launched a village-to-village march.

“Vasundhra Raje-like attitude of certain Congress leaders in Punjab could lead its fall in the state,” he asserts.

On the issues to be raised by his party during Lok Sabha elections in Punjab, Ramoowalia says these include upholding the dignity of daughters, economic security for jobless youth, promoting of farm economy and protection of the business of small/ retail shopkeepers. “I am also opposing the ‘parvarikaran and veeparikaran’ of politics in Punjab.”

Morcha may tie up with Cong

President of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha Satnam Singh Kainth has said he has got no offer from the Congress for an electoral tie-up in the Lok Sabha elections. Kainth, who has his support base in the Doaba region, said if any offer came from the Congress, he would discuss the same with his party leaders and go by their opinion.


50% cut in VAT on fuel hike withdrawn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
The Punjab government has withdrawn 50 per cent reduction in levy of VAT (Value Added Tax) on the hike in prices of petrol, diesel and LPG. This 50 per cent cut in VAT was imposed in July this year, after the Centre increased the fuel prices.

Officials in the Excise and Taxation Department informed TNS that this subsidy in VAT ceased to exist after the fuel prices were rolled back last week. “We had announced the reduction in order to give a relief to the consumers. Now that petrol prices have been rolled back by Rs 5 a litre and diesel by Rs 2 a litre, the notification granting a cut in VAT leviable on the hiked price of petroleum products, ceases to exist,” confirmed a senior official.

Punjab, which has been reeling under a financial crisis, had announced a cut in VAT only on the enhanced price of fuel. While the prices of petrol and diesel have now been slashed, the price of domestic LPG remained unchanged. But the state government has also withdrawn VAT subsidy on the cooking gas.

Officials say this will not affect the customers as the subsidy component was just 95 paisa per cylinder.

VAT returns from petroleum products during the past two months have been Rs 146 crore, compared to Rs 140 crore in the corresponding period last year. This means that the growth in VAT collections is just 3.6 per cent.

“The prices have come down and VAT relief has been withdrawn, but the state will still loose Rs 70 crore in VAT collections because the prices have been rolled back. Unlike other states, which are mulling a 20 per cent surcharge to beat this deficit, we have decided to give benefit of Rs 70 crore to the people,” said excise and taxation commissioner A. Venu Prasad.


CM cancels transfers of 840 border cops
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 13
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has said all transfers of policemen from border districts to other districts made recently have been cancelled. He has issued necessary instructions in this connection to director-general of Punjab police N.P.S. Aulakh.

The Tribune on December 6 carried a news that about 840 constables and head constables serving in four border districts of Batala, Gurdaspur, Majitha and Tarn Taran, have been transferred to other districts of Punjab under rationalisation in the police. This move invited criticism from various quarters, including a section of the Congress leadership of the state.

Ashwani Shekri, a Congress leader and convener, state election campaign committee, Punjab had alleged when all departments had been increasing vigil on the international border apprehending threat from anti-India elements operating from Pakistan, the DGP, Punjab, has ordered the shifting of about 840 police personnel from four border districts to other districts of the state.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister, who was at Lodhinangal village of this district to attend a social function, told mediapersons former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who was not serious about his family and party, could not meet the expectations of people of Punjab.


Nawanshahr plagued by traffic chaos
Parmod Bharti

Nawanshahr, December 13
Though the incidents of road accident are on the rise, nothing, except lip service, is being done to streamline the traffic on the main roads in the district. As per available information, as many as 92 persons have died and 130 injured in 120 road accidents which have taken place during the current year so far.

The sharp increase in the number of vehicles, lack of traffic sense among people as well as the apathy of the authorities in enforcing road safety measures, encroachments on the main roads and chowks, etc., are the main causes of the prevailing chaos on the roads.

Besides, with the construction of the Rahon-Machhiwara bridge across the Sutlej, the volume of heavy traffic has increased manifold in the town as it happens to be the shorter route for the vehicles running from adjoining states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh to New Delhi.

But the main roads and chowks in the town are plagued by encroachments and are not capable of bearing the pressure of heavy traffic.

The construction of a bypass is the need of the hour. For the past more than 10 years, laying of two foundation stones by two former Congress Chief Ministers —Harcharan Singh Brar in 1996 and Capt Amarinder Singh in 2006 — is all that has been done in the name of the construction of a bypass. Last year Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, while addressing a gathering at Khatkar Kalan, had mooted the idea of constructing an elevated road at Banga and Nawanshahr for solving the problem of traffic congestion. But nothing concrete has been done so far either to revive the scheme of a bypass or conducting a survey for the proposed elevated road.


Plans to revamp Meena Bazar
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 13
The Tourism Department has again decided to revamp Meena Bazar, which used to on the left side of the Quila Mubarak at the time when Razia Sultan was imprisoned in Bathinda.

The government has planned to pump up tourist activities in this area in which Meena Bazaar would play a major role.

According to information gained from the Tourism Department vide letter no. 333 under the RTI Act, efforts were on to bring back the bazaar, which attracted many when it was functional. The project would take shape by next year.

Deputy director, tourism, Punjab, said the proposal had been sent to Delhi and was with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).


Fund collection by school principal
DPI to examine propriety 
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Serivice

Chandigarh, December 13
Can a government school principal collect money on his own from the students, or the area residents, on the pretext of carrying out improvements in the school? The vital question of law on propriety and conduct has been referred to Punjab director public instructions (DPI) by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The issued had cropped up before the division bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Jasbir Singh while hearing a petition filed in public interest by Patras and other petitioners of Nag Khurad village in Amritsar district.

The petitioners had aired their “grievance against collection of donations in the name of development fund by a respondent, working as officiating principal of government senior secondary school”.

They had contended the demand and the receipt of money in the name of development fund by the principal from the students and the inhabitants was without any sanction of law and without any authorisation from the government.

Taking up the matter, the Bench observed: “The question whether the respondent could have embarked upon the process of collecting money of his own from the students or the inhabitants of the area allegedly for making improvements in the schools, and whether such collection would constitute misconduct on his part so as to subject him to disciplinary action under the relevant rules, is a matter that can, in our opinion, be left to be determined by the director public instructions.

“The argument that the embezzlement of the amounts collected by the respondent would constitute an offence and should attract prosecution, cannot be brushed aside lightly, but before any such prosecution can be launched, the competent authority must arrive at a definite conclusion that there was an embezzlement of amount in question, either in full or in part.

Suffice it to say that the matter having already come to light and the authorities having already initiated proceedings, the proper course for them is to take the same to its logical conclusion”.

Before parting with the order, the Bench ruled: “We direct the DPI to examine the question whether it is a fit case in which the matter ought to be referred to the proper jurisdictional police or the vigilance bureau for taking action against the respondent for the alleged embezzlement committed by him”. 


Inspection teams to visit govt schools every month
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
The Punjab government has put in place a new system of monitoring government schools education in the state. Special inspection teams at the circle-education level have been constituted to visit schools every month.

Director-general (DG) of the school education Krishan Kumar said three teams had been constituted to visit all schools falling within the Jalandhar, Faridkot and Nabha education circles. These teams included teachers from various schools in the area and would report directly to the DG.

Kumar said it was being felt that district education officers were not able to visit schools in their areas regularly. “As a result of which many schools are never monitored and no one knows what the problems of students and teachers in such schools are. In

order to reach such schools and get a feedback from all other schools as well on a regular basis, these special teams have been constituted,” Kumar added.

He further said the teams would be going for two kinds of inspections. Other than surprise visits, there would be monthly-planned inspections during which the teams would inform the school about their visit and then inspect the school. These teams during such visits would also hold small tests of students to ascertain the quality of education, which was being imparted in these schools and results of the tests would be included in the inspection report, he added.

“The teams have been given a format in which their reports will be compiled and submitted to the DG school education. The format includes every possible detail of the school’s functioning, including attendance of students and teachers. The teams will also check if the morning assembly was held or not, the timetable followed or not and the regularity of monthly tests,” he added.

He said a host of other checks, including school cleanliness, would be noted by these teams. “Besides, the team will report the infrastructural deficiencies in the schools. Is there a library? Are there labs in the school? Registers and student report cards being maintained properly? But if there is anything beyond the format which the team notices, it can make a special mention of it,” Kumar added.

The three teams had been put in place by circle education officers and start surprise visits from this month. Regular pre-informed visits would begin from next month. 


Governor to decide on PTU vice-chancellor soon: Badal
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Sang Dhesian (Jalandhar), December 13
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has denied that technical education in the state would be “saffronised” if an RSS person is appointed the next vice-chancellor (VC) of Punjab Technical University (PTU).

The hunt for the new VC has been going on ever since the previous incumbent Dr S.K. Salwan put in his papers in August.

Badal, who was here today to preside over the convocation of Guru Nanak Khalsa Girls College, said the file of shortlisted candidates for the post was pending with Chancellor-cum-Governor Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) for approval.

The Chancellor will select the suitable person any day now, he revealed.

There had been media reports that Badal had asked the state BJP leadership to suggest a candidate for this post and the name of a senior RSS functionary and principal of an engineering college had been doing the rounds as the front-runner.

About the delay in the selection of the suitable candidate, Badal chose to pass the buck on to the search committee by saying that the latter took its time to recommend a panel of candidates.

Reacting to the snub to the organisers of the NRI Sabha convention yesterday, he said he had apologised to the organisers since he had to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister. When his attention was drawn towards SAD chief Sukhbir Badal, who was present in the city and yet chose to give the event a miss, he said the query should be directed to the latter.

Commenting on former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s challenge to the Badals to contest from the Bathinda Lok Sabha seat, he said these were “hollow challenges aimed at playing to the galleries.”

“Amarinder should learn to conduct himself in a more dignified and mature manner. It is for the party to decide the candidate for a particular constituency, ” the CM said.

Elaborating his developmental agenda, Badal said the government was presently working on establishing world-class universities at Amritsar and Bathinda.

Earlier, he gave away degrees to 328 postgraduates and graduates at a ceremony in the presence of college management committee president Kuldeep Singh Wadala. Badal also announced a grant of Rs 25 lakh for the college.

He presented the college colour, a roll of honour and a merit certificate to Kanwaljit Kaur who had stood first in the inter-college pistol shooting championship of GNDU.


State to raise retirement age of medical teachers
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 13
The state is likely to increase the retirement age of medical teachers from 60 to 65 to meet a shortage of staff on the pattern of Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences.

This was stated by minister for higher medical education and research Tikshan Sood after inaugurating the multi-slice spiral CT Scan centre at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital and Government Medical College here.

He said the state government would provide Rs 68 crore to Baba Farid University of Health Sciences to speed up research work and assured that the medical college being established in Jalandhar would start functioning within the stipulated time of two years.

Earlier, Punjab Academy of Forensic Medicine organised a seminar on “Toxicology and its social aspects” in the conference hall of the medical college. Vice-chancellor of university S.S. Gill presided over the seminar.


Teachers hold flag march
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 13
Hundreds of teachers working in Zila Parishad and other schools being controlled by the local-self government’s institutions held a flag march in the constituency of rural development and panchayat minister Ranjit Singh Brahmpura here today. The agitating teachers were demanding to give back the control of schools to the Education Department.

State president of the All-Punjab Elementary Teachers Union Baba Gurmukh Singh and state president of the ETT Teachers Union Romesh Hoshiarpuri led the march.

Leaders warned the government that if it failed to fulfil their demand before the ensuing Lok Sabha elections, they would disturb the functions organised by the SAD-BJP. 


Debt waiver to ‘big’ farmers a policy matter: HC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held the issue of giving debt waiver to “big” farmers is “a matter of policy”. As such, there is a little scope for the courts to interfere.

A Division Bench of the High Court, in the same ruling, also upheld the provisions of “Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008”.

The Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice L.N. Mittal ruled: “Question as to whether big farmers ought to be given debt waiver, is a matter of policy. Mere fact that small farmers or marginal farmers have been given benefit, does not by itself, create any right for the big farmers.

“Further question that the objective of the scheme to give benefit to farmers who are committing suicide on account of debts is not achieved, can also not be gone into by this court. Survey relied upon by the counsel for the petitioner cannot be accepted to 
be conclusive”.

The ruling came on a writ petition filed by Mukhtiar Singh and other petitioners against the Union of India and other respondents. The petitioners had sought directions for reframing or amending the scheme, introduced for waiver of “certain loans”.

The petitioners had contended the scheme gave rise to tendency of default in payments. The scheme, in fact, envisaged classification of debtors as marginal, small or other farmers, without regard to the fact that the need of waiver was more for the big farmers. Placing reliance on a survey conducted by journalists in areas witnessing the adoption of extreme steps by the agriculturists, they had contended maximum suicides were committed by big farmers.

After hearing the arguments in the matter, the Bench asserted: “We are unable to find any ground for interference. It is well settled that this court does not interfere in policy matters, unless violation of any law or any legal right is shown.

“In the field of economic activities, higher flexibility has to be allowed to the policy makers. As held by the Supreme Court, play in joints has to be allowed to deal with the complex problems, which do not admit solution through any doctrinaire or strait-jacket formula”.


Exemption to PCA, others legal: HC 
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has not found any illegality or irregularity in exemption to Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) and other sports associations from the payment of entertainment duty.

Pronouncing the orders on a petition by Sarabjit Singh Kahlon, Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Jasbir Singh also ruled the petition had failed to “make out a case for our interference on the ground of undue enrichment, for there is no real basis for us to hold that grant of such an exemption would result in any undeserved enrichment”.

The petitioner had questioned the validity of a notification dated December 6, 1995, issued by Punjab department of excise and taxation. The government, vide the notification, had exempted all sports meets organised by state-level or national-level sports federation from liability to “pay whole of entertainment duty chargeable under the relevant Act in respect of as many as 21 games, including cricket”.

The petitioner argued Punjab Cricket Association collected entertainment tax from the spectators. As such, it could not be permitted to retain the collected money.

The Bench ruled: “The petition does not appear to us to be a real case of public interest…. As mentioned in the application filed by the Association, the petitioner had multiple rounds of litigation before this court even in the past.

That includes petition filed in public interest by the petitioner for getting back an area measuring 2.45 acres from the Association on the ground that the said area had been encroached upon. The petition was dismissed as withdrawn.…

“In the totality of these circumstances, we are of the view that the present writ petition does not qualify for being described as a genuine PIL so as to justify our intervention at the instance of the petitioner….

“The bonafides of the petitioner in filing the writ petition apart, the legal position regarding the power of the government to grant an exemption retrospectively stands authoritatively settled by the decisions of the Supreme Court…

“It is evident the power to issue an exemption notification can be exercised even retrospectively. The fault being found by the petitioner with the impugned notification, therefore, does not stand scrutiny and has to be repelled.

The Judges added: “The petition does not make any allegation, leave alone a specific allegation, supported by any material to the effect that the Association had collected entertainment tax from those who came for watching its sports events.

In the absence of any assertion in the petition that such collection had indeed taken place, we have no hesitation in rejecting the contention that the grant of exemption retrospectively would amount to permitting the Association to enrich itself unduly.” 


Rs 2 lakh looted from gas agency staff, 3 shot dead
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 13
Two motorcycle-borne youths shot dead three persons and looted Rs 2 lakh from a mobile gas agency team of Bharat Petroleum on the Sunam-Mansa road at Cheema Mandi, near Sunam, last night.

Nath Singh Satauj, one of the deceased, was an active worker of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan). In protest against his killing, activists of the BKU (U), led by state president of the union Joginder Singh Ugrahan, today blocked traffic on the Sunam-Mansa road at Cheema Mandi for an hour.

Sunam DSP Joginder Singh Sandhu said the miscreants shot dead gunman of the mobile gas agency Avtar Singh, cashier Sat Narayan, and Satauj and looted about Rs 2 lakh. He said the killers also took the gun of the gunman with them. The mobile gas agency team visited Cheema from Lalroo twice a week to distribute LPG cylinders in the village, he added.

The DSP said raids were being conducted by the police parties to nab the miscreants. He said the police had registered a case under Sections 302 and 392 of the IPC besides various provisions of the Arms Act.


Cop on duty run over by panch, dies
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 13
A head constable identified as Inderjit Singh, who was posted at the Longowal police station, succumbed to his injuries today at the DMC hospital, Ludhiana. He, along with two others, was allegedly hit by a person with his vehicle at Kila Bharian village, about 12 km from here, last evening.

The incident reportedly took place when he along with other policemen had gone to the village after receiving a tip-off that two groups were fighting there.

DSP Pritpal Singh Thind said when the police got the information about the fight between two groups, one belonged to Kila Bharian village’s panchayat member (Panch) Gurcharan Singh and other to Sarpanch Nachhattar Singh, it sent police force there and Inderjit Singh was one of the members of the police party.

He said when the police party reached there, Gurcharan Singh allegedly drove his vehicle towards Inderjit Singh, Paramjit Singh (a commando on leave) and one Gurbaksh Singh, due to which they sustained injuries.

Inderjit Singh later died today, while both other injured persons had been admitted to the local civil hospital for treatment.


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