P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Science stumped: Schoolchildren shown Mohali stadium, not science city
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 14
Cricket gets precedence over science! Yes, in Punjab cricket is preferred to science by those managing school education at the government level.

When Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal made his wish “official” that students from Punjab’s rural government schools be brought to Mohali to show them the international cricket Test match between India and Australia, the official machinery acted fast. Deputy commissioners arranged buses to bring students to the stadium. About 25,000 students watched the four-and-a-half day match as the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) played host to them.

The obvious purpose was to inculcate love for cricket in rural students. One may term it a case of skewed priorities, but the message was clear from the political leadership that in Punjab it was more important to show cricket matches to rural students than provide them sufficient teachers to impart quality education.

Unfortunately, the school Education Department has not shown the cricket match-type zeal in arranging educational tours for students to Pushpa Gujral Science City along the Jalandhar-Kaurthala road, near here. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had sanctioned Rs 1.25 crore for tours of school students to the science city. The letter sanctioning the money has reached the authorities concerned.

Of the sanctioned amount, Rs 50 lakh was for buying entry pass to visit the science city and Rs 75 lakh to transport the students. With the money at least 50,000 students can visit the science city, biggest in Asia having several attractive features like Jurassic Park. A student has to pay Rs 100 entry fee to visit the science city. Earlier, an entry ticket used to cost Rs 60. With the sanctioned money, no trip of students to the science city has been arranged, it is learnt. The sanctioned Rs 1.25 crore , if not spent by March 31, will lapse. However, as annual examinations will start next month and continue till April, it will be difficult for students of senior classes to visit the science city in these months.

Sources said the School Education Department had approached the science city management urging it to allow 4,000 students daily for which payment would be made. However, the management has told the department that it will not be possible to do so as issuance of entry tickets is computerised and the money will have to be deposited before entry into the city.

Moreover, the science city meets its establishment and other expenditure from the income it generates from entry fee and gets no grant from the government.


Has PSEB lost its legal status?
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 14
What is the legal status of the PSEB sans extension to it by the Union government? Under Section 172-A of the Electricity Act-2003, the state and Union governments were to decide the extension. The state government had applied for extension, but the Union government has not granted it so far, making the PSEB status in legal terms untenable.

Earlier extension granted to the PSEB ended on November 30. The PSEB was constituted under the Electricity Act, 1948. This Act was repealed in 2003 and the new Electricity Act, 2003, was enacted. Under the new Act, the PSEB was to be unbundled by the state government into several companies. Though Punjab was given extension several times to unbundle the PSEB, it did not do it.

Last time, the Union government had given extension telling the state government to submit road map of the programme to unbundle the PSEB. However, the state government wants to keep it pending till the Lok Sabha elections. It had applied for another extension which has not been granted.

Extension has not been allowed under the new Act and the earlier Act, 1948, under which the PSEB was formed stands repealed. In such a situation can the government appoint chairman or member of the PSEB? The Punjab government on Tuesday appointed HS Brar PSEB chairman removing YS Ratra.

Senior PSEB officers say the state government cannot make any appointment in such a situation. They refer the case of Himachal. The court had quashed the extension granted to the chairman of the Himachal Pradesh State Electricty Board by the government there. Under the new Act, companies are to be set up and directors appointed by framing appointments rules. Rules are also to be framed for the appointment of chief executive officers by directors.

A senior Punjab government officer said the PSEB existed as an institution and now a case for extension was pending before the Union government which had sought answer to some queries from the state government. “As the case is before the Union government, we consider legal status of the PSEB as intact,” said the officer. Sources said the Union government had rejected another extension telling the state government to set up a transmission company to meet legal provisions of theAct 2003 on the unbundling of the PSEB.

Many PSEB officers say technically and legally the PSEB has not been granted extension by the Union government, hence, its legal status is untenable since November 30 last.


Sukhbir Badal’s clout up in party
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
If developments, including deliberations at the core committee meeting of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) held here today, are any indication, Sukhbir Singh Badal is on for an important functional position in the Punjab government.

The issue of giving Sukhbir, sitting MP from Faridkot and president of the SAD, an important functional position in the government came up at the fag end of the meeting that was called to discuss the strategy of the party in the upcoming general elections.

Interestingly, there was no opposition to his induction in the government.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who was present at the meeting, was reportedly receptive to the views expressed by some members.

He, however, made it clear that since Sukhbir was his son, he does not want to be blamed for projecting him as a senior functional member of the government. He made it clear that he respects the sentiments of the members of the core committee.

Sources reveal that though no formal decision was taken, it was now for the Chief Minister to decide how to honour the sentiments expressed by the party members.

It may be pertinent to mention here that at a rally held in Moga a few days ago, demand for making Sukhbir the Chief Minister was made.



MPLAD Fund Utilisation Rating
Sidhu writes to Chief Secy
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, January 14
The Department of Planning’s rating of members of Parliament on the disbursement of MPLAD (MP’s Local Area Development) funds, describing the performance of Navjot Singh Sidhu (BJP) as “very poor,” has upset the MP. Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh has said the department had no authority to grade the MPLAD fund’s utilisation.

In a missive to the Chief Secretary, Sidhu has demanded responsibility to be fixed on who played a “dubious” role to manipulate facts to belittle his (Sidhu’s) performance. However, the Chief Secretary said the remarks in the noting of the Department of Planning might be “inadvertent”.

In the letter, Sidhu said it was very sad and ironic that the Planning Department had given a wrong impression as his performance had been more than 100 per cent.

The BJP MP threatened to move the Privileges Committee of Parliament against officials of the Department of Planning.

Ironically, the facts and figures on the basis of which the performance of Sidhu was rated included Rs 2 crore which was unutilised during the 13th Lok Sabha by the then MP from Amritsar RL Bhatia (now Governor of Bihar). Sidhu said he was declared “second best MP” in 2007.

Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, KS Pannu, in his communication to the secretary, Department of Planning, has clarified that Sidhu had received Rs 9 crore only as MP in the 14th LS and had spent Rs 9.56 crore. He added that Rs 2 crore the unspent amount of Bhatia’s tenure was released in December only. The DC urged the state government to put the record straight.


Only selective PR in Punjab
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal may have today taken the Public Relations department within his fold by divesting both the secretary and director from their posts and given their charges to officers attached with him but the problem is not with these heads but the total lack of staff to man day-to-day operational needs.

The public relations department is doing with five public relation officers (PROs) and three APROs at the head office here. The situation is such that each officer is attached with around six ministers and is expected to disseminate information about the concerned ministries to the media.

Due to the staff crunch and the emphasis on highlighting the Chief Minister, his son and Shiromai Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal and Information Minister Bikram Majithia, the department is able to do little else. There is also confusion as to whom to highlight more. This despite the fact that the Chief Minister’s media adviser Harcharan Bains is responsible for most of the releases pertaining to policy as well as important political issues.

At the field level, as many as 13 out of the 20 districts do not have a regular District Public Relations Officer (DPRO) and the charge has been given to APROs stationed there.

The government has moved to take the appointment of 16 PROs and 21 APROs out of the ambit of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) and now these posts may be filled directly by it but the delay is doing so has hit operational efficiency. Meanwhile, APROs who have been working without any promotion since the past 15 years, are peeved that they are not being considered for promotion as PROs despite having the requisite qualifications.


Root out Cong: Sukhbir
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Takhtupura (Moga), January 14
President of SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal has called upon people to root out the Congress from the state and vote in favour of SAD-BJP candidates in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections to pave the way for the formation of the NDA government. He was addressing a public rally here today.

He said if voted to power the NDA government would reduce the prices of petrol by Rs 15 and that of diesel by Rs 10 per litre within 15 days of the formation of the government. Senior party leaders Gurdev Singh Badal, Jathedar Tota Singh, Sikandar Singh Maluka, Youth Akali leader Barjinder Singh Brar and local leaders Maheshinder Singh, Nidhark Singh Brar also addressed the gathering.


Acquisition of 17 acres: Residents start dharna
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 14
Apprehending forcible possession of acquired 17 acres by the Improvement Trust (IT) here with police help, residents of the area and the land, led by the Zameen Bachao Sangharash Committee, today started dharna near the site. They held a rally there attended by members of the affected families and activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan). The IT has acquired more than 17 acres (situated on the Sangrur-Sunam road) for the Mansahia Nagar scheme here.

President of the Sanghrash Committee Amarjit Singh claimed that the local SDM and the executive officer (EO) of the IT, along with the police, reached the site of the acquired land the previous evening to take possession of it, but people opposed them forcing them to return.

However, executive officer of the IT Jeewan Bansal said they had gone there as the SDM had desired to see the site of the acquired land. They had not gone there to take the possession, he added.

Amarjit Singh said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had assured the three members of the Sangharash Committee, when they met him at Bhawanigarh on January 11, that the administration would not take possession of the land. Despite this, the officers visited the land previous evening to take the possession, he added.

Today’s rally was addressed by BKU (Ugrahan) leaders Darbara Singh Chhajla and Jaswant Singh Tolawal, general secretary of the committee Roshan Lal and press secretary of the committee Sohan Singh. 


11 more IPS cadre posts sought
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
The Punjab government has asked the Union government to designate posts of the director-general of police (Punjab Home Guard and Civil Defence), ADGP (Law and Order) and SSP, SAS Nagar, as cadre posts in the state.

In the IPS cadre list sent to the Centre, the state government has recommended that besides one post of the DGP and another of the ADGP, two more IGs be included. While the number of DIGs remains the same, seven more posts of SP have also been included.

The state’s IPS cadre list has been revised after 1995 and following nod from the Union Home Ministry the strength of IPS cadre in Punjab will increase from 79 to 90.

The ex-cadre posts proposed for ‘encadrement’ include: DGP, Punjab Home Guard and Civil Defence, ADGP (Law and Order), IGP (Human Rights), IGP (Traffic), DIG, CM security, DIG (Legal Affairs), SSP, SAS Nagar, SP (City-I) Jalandhar, SP (City) Bathinda, AIG (Intelligence Special Branch-II), AIG (Crime), commandant, 7th IRB, Kapurthala, AIG (Information Technology), AIG (Welfare) and the SPs (Traffic and Security), Amritsar city, Jalandhar, Ludhiana city, Patiala, Bathinda and SAS Nagar.

The posts proposed to be excluded from the cadre are: DIG, police training, DIG- cum-Commandant General, Home Guard, and Director, Civil Defence, SSP, Batala, SSP, Khanna, SSP, Majitha, SSP, Jagraon, SP, CID, Amritsar, Commandant, 27th Battalion, PAP, Jalandhar, and Commandant, 3rd IRB, Ludhiana.

Some cadre posts have also been recommended for change of designation. The IG and DIG, computer and telecommunications, be designated IG and DIG, information technology and telecommunications. The SP, intelligence, special branch, be re-designated AIG, intelligence, special branch-I, and the SP, crime, special staff re-designated AIG, crime investigation. The SSP, Nawashahr, be called SSP Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar.

The proposed cadre list will include two posts of DGP. The DGP will have fixed salary of Rs 80,000, while the DGP, Home Guard, will get lower scale. The seven ADGPs will have the same pay. The state will have 15 IGs and 19 DIGs. The SP cadre posts remain 40.


Strictures against two PSEB officers 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
The Punjab and Haryana High Court is surprised at the shocking way the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) functions. It not only “compromised” with an employee appointed on the basis of a forged certificate, but also reinstated him.

Taking up the petition filed by employee Agyakar Singh seeking the quashing of a charge sheet issued to him, the Division Bench of Justice Ashutosh Mohunta and Justice Rajan Gupta also virtually passed strictures against the board’s administrative member and an inquiry officer.

The Bench observed: “It is inexplicable how the administrative member issued the order dated February 7, 2001, reinstating the petitioner in service, despite the fact that he was aware the petitioner had secured appointment on the basis of a forged certificate.

“It is also surprising the inquiry officer gave opinion in his inquiry report that there had been a compromise between the petitioner and the Board. It is evident that both these officers acted against the interest of the Board and in total violation of the law.

“We fail to understand how there can be a compromise between an employee, who secures appointment on the basis of forged certificate and the Board. Such a compromise between a delinquent employee and an instrumentality of the state is unknown to the law”.

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Gupta asserted: “In the facts and circumstances of the case, we direct in case at the time of culmination of disciplinary proceedings the petitioner is held guilty, the Board shall fix responsibility for directing his reinstatement in service.

“In case it is found the petitioner was not entitled to be reinstated, the Board shall take a decision regarding the recovery of amount paid to the petitioner as salary for the period he was not entitled to remain in service.”

The Bench also made it clear leniency cannot be shown to delinquent officers. “Equity jurisdiction cannot be exercised in case of a person who gets appointment on the basis of a false certificate or by playing a fraud. No sympathy or equitable consideration can come to the rescue of such a person.

“It is further held compassion cannot be allowed to bend the arms of law where an individual acquires a status by practicing fraud. Fraud and collusion vitiate even the most solemn proceedings in any civilised system of jurisprudence.” 


Call for an end to ‘inspector raj’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
In a blunt allusion to the presence of rampant corruption in Punjab’s Department of Industries, top industrialists of the state has asked the state government to “end inspector raj”.

Amarjit Goyal of Modern Steels, Mandi Gobindgarh, stated that several officials from the same department visited industrialists on one pretext or the other and it might “serve some good if only a single person is authorised for such visit,” he said.

Goyal was speaking at an interactive session regarding the new industrial policy of Punjab organised with PHD Chamber members to seek inputs on the draft industrial policy.

Goyal emphasised that keeping in view the rich agricultural base of Punjab, agro-based food processing industries, dairy development, along with development of land banks, could help the recovery and growth of this sector.

Satish Bagrodia, president, PHD Chamber, said the new policy of the state should be proactive to minimise the adverse consequences of global economic slow down and promote industrial growth above the 11th plan target of 8 per cent as suggested by the planning commission.

Rajiv Bali, chairman, Punjab Committee, PHD Chamber, said an aggressive public-private partnership was required for better and smooth connectivity, while demanding more focal points, time-bound clearances, dedicated rail freight corridor from Delhi to Amritsar and infrastructure for exhibitions and expositions. 


Plight of Urdu upsets poets
Neeraj Bagga and  PK Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 14
Noted poets representing a shared vision of India, before the start of the Jashn-e-Bahar Mushaira as part of the 14th National Youth Festival at Khalsa College here today talked to The Tribune.

Dr Pandit Anand Mohan Zutshi, popularly known as Gulzar Dehlvi, said the poets could play a pivotal role in capturing the spirit of the country and energise the young to appreciate the work of veteran poets.

Appearing upset on the plight of the Urdu language, he said Urdu had become the casualty of the freedom and the government must promote this beautiful language.

Karnail Singh, popularly known as Sardar Panchhi, said he was really saddened by the event in Mumbai. He said he was going to render a special poem dedicated to the innocent people and security men who died while saving people. Reciting a couplet of his nazam on the spirit of Mumbai, he said “Bulbullo jaago tumhari jaan tan khatre mein hai, baagban khatre mein hai, apna chaman khatre mein hai...’.

Nida Fazli, another noted Urdu and Hindi poet and Bollywood lyricist, said for him Urdu and Hindi were not different languages. Historically, both languages were rooted in common man’s language. However, British rulers under their Divide and Rule policy divided this language into two. The only difference is Urdu had some words from Persian and Hindi contained some words from Sanskrit, he added.

Presided over by Dr Gulzar Dehlvi, one of India's veteran Urdu poets, the stage was conducted by Dr Mahdi Jafri. The evening was enriched by noted poets, including Munawwar Rana, Waseem Barelvi, Popular Meeruthi, Johnny Foster, Satya Pal Satyam, Inder Prasad Akela, Deepti Mishra, Pritpal Singh Betab, Sardar Panchhi, Gauhar Raza, Charan Singh Bashar, Shabeena Adeeb, Nusrat Mehdi and Isha Naaz, Dr Manmohan Singh, Pritpal Singh Betaab and Parminder Singh.


Amarinder did not defame SAD, says high court
Quashes complaint and summoning order
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Capt Amarinder Singh did not defame the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), after all. A party worker had accused Punjab’s former Chief Minister of defaming the SAD by issuing advertisements and posters in five newspapers, just prior to the February 2002 Assembly polls in Punjab.

But the judgment pronounced by Justice Ranjit Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today says the party worker has no reasons to feel aggrieved, as the advertisements refer to an individual — Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Setting aside the complaint and the order summoning Capt Amarinder Singh to face prosecution in the defamation case, Justice Ranjit Singh has also made it clear public figures should not be too thin-skinned.

In fact, the judgment begins with a quotable quote on the need for cultivating acceptance and forbearance. “Those who fill a public position must not be too thin-skinned in reference to comments made upon them. So said Cockburn C.J. long ago.

“How true this seems even today and in the present case where proceedings for defamation have been initiated against the petitioner, an ex-Chief Minister of the state by the respondent (NS Minhas), who is an advocate and also the general secretary of SAD (Badal), UT, Chandigarh.

“Respondent has filed his complaint against the petitioner alleging that he has defamed the party. The petitioner, who stands summoned to face prosecution for an offence under Section 500 IPC, has filed this petition to quash the complaint purely on technical ground that the respondent would have no locus to file this complaint, as he is not a person aggrieved by the offence”.

In his detailed order, Justice Ranjit Singh asserted: Minute analysis of these advertisements and the allegation in the complaint would indicate that these make reference only to an individual, namely Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab.

“Even the complainant-respondent is conscious of this fact and has averred in the complaint that after reading the newspapers, the members and the office bearers of the local unit felt hurt.

“Even the averred intention attributed to the petitioner is to defame the party president, Parkash Singh Badal, in the eyes of the general public at large in order to get votes.….

“It is not for this court to comment on the individual perception of a party worker. But, certainly courts are not arena where political battles are to be fought on the basis of such individual conceptions. It seems to me reaction of an over-enthusiastic party worker to express his loyalty to a leader….

“In the background, it would be rather difficult to hold that the respondent would be an aggrieved person, as he has tried to convey…. The complaint and the order summoning the petitioner, therefore, cannot be sustained and are set aside. 


Punjab CS apologises
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Punjab chief secretary today expressed his “unqualified apology” for not filing reply to a petition by NGO Resurgence India on cadre-non cadre row. Justice TPS Man accepted the apology and fixed the case for February 17. The petitioner had claimed: The posting of officiating SSPs in two districts is a part of stratagem to somehow post ineligible non-cadre officers on cadre posts and ex-cadre posts.

Punjab restrained

Punjab was restrained from declaring the result of 244 posts of educational service providers. The posts were advertised on April 13, last year.

The order by Justice Permod Kohli was pronounced on a petition filed through counsel Kapil Kakkar by Gurmeet Singh and another petitioner. They had challenged a clause in the advertisement, whereby a mark was given for every six months spent after the declaration of result of certificate course in physical education.

Health ministry

Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Hement Gupta issued notice of motion to Union Ministry of Health and others on dilapidated conditions of hospitals and dispensaries in Punjab. The petition has been filed by Balwinder Singh Bhinder. 


Nihang chief attack case: 2 held
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 14
Even after more than 36 hours, the district police could arrest only two persons out of the long list of accused who were booked for firing at the convoy of Baba Balbir Singh, chief of the Shiromani Panth Akali Budha Dal, yesterday.

According to the police, Jaswinder Singh Lali and Sham Singh, both belonging to Surjit Singh’s group, the rival of Baba Balbir, were arrested in the early hours today from Talwandi Sabo.

A senior police officer said, “We had chalked out a strategy to investigate the case from today morning, but the visits of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SAD (B) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal made us change the programme.”

Baba Balbir Singh, talking over the phone from Muktsar, said, “The police has a callous attitude. Otherwise, they know the whereabouts of the accused and can arrest them in a day.”

“Even after facing the deadly attack, I did not defer the pre-planned visit to Muktsar where I led a religious procession of Nihangs today,” he added.


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