C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


CBI indicts ex-DPI for role in cash-for-job scam
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
The Central Bureau of Investigation has indicted a former UT director of public instruction (schools), Samwartak Singh, for his involvement in the infamous “cash for jobs” scam that came to light in September last year. Holding him guilty of misusing his official position and causing injustice to deserving candidates, a verification report submitted by the agency a few months ago recommended a regular case be filed against him.

The CBI conducted the verification exercise in response to a complaint filed last February by Hemant Goswami, founder of the Society for Prevention of Crime & Corruption, an NGO.

The report, procured under the Right to Information Act, blew the lid off the UT administration’s claims of not having found enough evidence to establish Samwartak’s role in the fraud. It not only held the latter guilty but also called the entire teacher recruitment process a “farce”.

According to the report, the criteria laid down for recruitment of teachers was not followed and this paved way for selection of undeserving and nonmeritorious candidates. The fraud was detected when a UT vigilance team, acting on a tipoff, arrested two touts - Jolly and Hardev Singh - promising a teacher's job to one Kamalpreet Kaur in return for an amount of Rs 4 lakh. During the enquiry it was found Samwartak was in constant touch with Jolly which, according to him, was for some pending proposals of the tourism department.

The verification report discussed the communication between them in length and claimed it threw light on the modus operandi adopted at the time of recruitment.

Interestingly, according to the report while the Chandigarh police registered an FIR and even filed a charge sheet against Hardev and Jolly in the chief judicial magistrate’s court under sections 420 and 120 B of the IPC, the charge sheet was in no way related to the instant selection criteria, which jeopardized the future of aspiring candidates.

Key Inferences

  • It has been corroborated from various call details that there was a direct nexus between Jolly, Hardev and Samwartak Singh in fleecing candidates to give bribe in lieu of appointment as teachers.
  • selection of teachers was not made according to the criteria hence selection is defunct.
  • Many candidates who qualified objective test did not figure on interview lists of the education department.
  • A candidate who secured 1.33 marks out of 40 in objective paper for JBT recruitment was called for interview.
  • Education department overlooked the advertised selection criteria with regard to descriptive competency tests/subjective papers and selected candidates who failed in these tests.
  • In case of some candidates, there is huge difference between marks of written test and interview. Some candidates secured 35 per cent in the written test, but scored 80 to 90 per cent in interview.

Prelim Report

This is just a preliminary verification report submitted by an investigation officer. The report was analysed by senior officials who decided that the registration of a criminal case against Samwartak Singh was not required at this stage. We are further verifying some evidences. The verification in the complaint is still on.

— Mahesh Aggarwal, DIG, CBI Chandigarh Zone



Blood report goes missing, newborn dies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
High drama prevailed at the GMCH, Sector 32, today when Mohammad Suleman, a resident of Sector 26, held the hospital authorities responsible for the death of his newborn. After Suleman’s wife delivered a baby on December 3, he was asked to get the blood investigation of the baby done. He reportedly submitted a blood sample on December 4 and was asked to collect the report within a few hours. To his shock, the report went missing.

He frantically tried to trace the report, but no one helped him. The baby died the following day.

“Had I got the report on time, doctors would have started treatment and he would have lived. They have no answer how the report went missing. I kept begging them to help me, but they shooed me away. How can they be so insensitive while dealing with lives? They killed my baby and now I want them to be punished,” Suleman lamented.

A written complaint in this regard has been submitted to the Medical Superintendent’s (MS) office, but the MS, Dr Vipin Kaushal, has still to receive it. “I can only comment after seeing the complaint. We will look into the matter and take action if required,” Dr Kaushal said.



‘Politicians or dacoits — who are worse?’
Kulwinder Sangha

BK Pancham Singh Mohali, December 7
“An inquiry should be conducted into the assets of politicians and dacoits to know who are the bigger dacoits among them”, said BK Pancham Singh, 80, a former Chambal valley dacoit who has rejoined mainstream society. Addressing reporters at Sukh Shanti Bhawan in Phase VII here today, he asserted he was not interested in joining politics and wanted to lead a “peaceful life”. “‘Rajniti mein bahut jhanjhat hote hain, aram ki zindagi nahin hai’ (life in politics is not a bed of roses)”, he observed.

Pancham, who was sentenced to death by a court on charges of murdering 100 people, said “every person is a slave of his circumstances”. “I too became a dacoit after circumstances compelled me. But I had some good points that senior politicians could recognize, because of which my death sentence was reduced to life imprisonment”

Pancham was released from prison after only eight years of being incarcerated there. All the eight preconditions he had laid down for the surrender of members of his gang, comprising some 550 dacoits, were reportedly accepted by the prime minister at that time, Indira Gandhi. Among them were no death sentence for him and his close associates, all dacoits to be kept in “open jails” after their surrender, land should be allotted to them for cultivation, houses for their families and employment for their children.

Narrating the sequence of events, the former dacoit, who had a prize money of Rs 2 crore on his head, said: “I was severely beaten up by some residents of my village, Singhpura in Madhya Pradesh, during the ‘panchayat' elections held in 1958 after which I had to undergo treatment at a hospital for 20 days. On returning home I was again harassed by that group of villagers after which a feeling of revenge developed in me and I came in contact with a dacoit, Mohar Singh, and became a member of his gang. I then went back to my village and killed five of those people. My gang had spread terror and also played a major role in the formation of various governments. Women and children, however, were never targeted and a part of the money looted was spent on the welfare of the poor”.

Pancham was reportedly “approached” by the country’s noted independence activist and political leader Jai Prakash Narayan in the Chambal valley to persuade the former to surrender and he did so in 1972.

Pancham, who reportedly became a dacoit at the age of 26 and remained one for 14 years, claimed his life changed after he came in contact with members of a Hindu sect when they visited the jail where he was lodged.



Legal troubles for Kings XI intensify
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
More than four months after Preity Zinta got relief from the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Nirmaljit Kaur asserted the stay on further proceedings in the “Kings’ XI” audit matter would not come in way of dispute resolution. As the case came up for hearing yesterday, the respondents sought time to file a reply. Taking note of the plea, Justice Kaur fixed March 18 as the date of hearing. In her petition, Zinta had earlier asserted: “Despite the fact that the accounts were duly filed with the Registrar of Companies, along with penal fee etc, and the matter stood concluded between the parties, the respondent Registrar in apparent gross abuse of the process of court filed a complaint against the company and its directors.”

Elaborating, her counsel DS Patwalia said the complaint was filed alleging “non-compliance at the hands of the company, and the petitioner, in submitting the balance sheet and the audited reports.”

Going into the background of the controversy, Zinta said she along with another made a bid for Kings-XI team “with an intent to enter the sport of cricket and entertainment in general”. Her consortium was successful in securing the bid. Zinta added she along with her consortium incorporated a company KPH Dream Cricket Private Ldt.

Due to reasons beyond the control of KPH and its directors, the accounts could not be filed with the respondent - Registrar of Companies by October 30, 2009. But the annual return was filed on April 22, along with the penal fee as prescribed. Yet, they received a notice dated April 26 for additional information and clarification. Not wanting to take chances, they resubmitted the balance sheet, along with the profit and loss account on May 15, but later came to know of the complaint.



Cop hit by car
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
In an incident of road rage, a Mohali-based sub-inspector of the Punjab Police, Harjinder Singh, was seriously injured when a Ford Fiesta car (CH01AA-0029) hit his car from the rear at the Sector 28 traffic lights here.

The cop was coming from Panchkula when the accident took place. He tried to stop the car, but was knocked down by the car. He tried to stop the car again, but was hit again. The SI suffered a fracture on his right arm and was admitted to the Sector 16 hospital.



Three LPG agencies challaned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
The weights and measures department of the UT Administration today challaned three LPG agencies after some cylinders were found underweight. The agencies that were challaned are Punia Gas Agency, Sabharwal Gas Agency and Premier Gas Agency.

The raid was conducted in Sector 47 led by Mahavir Kaushik, Controller of Legal Metrology (Weights and Measures).



VAT, excise collections up
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
Collections from value added tax (VAT) and excise for 2010-11 are up in the city if the collections until November 30 are any indicator. So far, the excise department has registered 28 per cent increase in excise collections from liquor compared to the collections in this quarter last year.

As per official records, while in 2009-10, the excise collections were Rs 138 crore, this year, the department has already collected Rs 111 crore against the target of Rs 144 crore. With less than four months remaining, the department is sure to achieve its target well in time.

Even in the VAT collections of marble, the department has registered a substantial increase from Rs 65 lakh last year during this quarter of the year to Rs 1.03 crore until now.

The total VAT collections are pegged at Rs 925 crore this year as against Rs 787 crore collected in 2009-10.

While officials maintain that the target was revised from Rs 810 crore to Rs 925 crore after the administration recently hiked the VAT from 4 per cent to 5 per cent on the lines of neighbouring states, a methodical approach to tax collection on specific commodities, especially those prone to tax evasion, also got the tax registers ringing.

The administration had earned a revenue of Rs 921.18 crore in 2009-10 collectively from excise on liquor, entertainment tax and VAT in 2009-10, and netted Rs 78.27 crore more compared to 2008-09.

The VAT revenue aggregated Rs 787.78 crore in 2009-10, 11.03 per cent more than registered in 2008-09. In 2007-08, the collection was only Rs 648.45 crore. The department registered an excise revenue of Rs 133.65 crore in 2009-10, which is Rs 27 lakh more than Rs 133.38 crore in 2008-09. In 2007-08, the excise collection was Rs 127.93 crore.

The administration had recently hiked the percentage of VAT from the existing 4 per cent to 5 on essential items such as kitchenware, computers, stationery items, electronic gadgets, skimmed milk and handicrafts, among others.



PGI says strike not justified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
Taking serious note of the strike call by its contract workers, the PGI authorities have claimed that the strike was unjustified. According to the official statement released by the PGI, the allegation of contract employees regarding the non-payment of salary for October and November was false.

“M/s Helpline Hospitality Pvt Ltd and M/s Skylark Cagers International Ltd refused to pay them the salary on the increased DC rates for October/November, 2010. Their contract was cancelled on the ground of violation of the terms and conditions of the contract. The PGI administration has taken upon itself the task of paying the salaries to the contractual workers at the prevailing revised DC rates as per the number of days put in by each one of them. The counters were set up to facilitate the payment to contractual workers and about 100 workers have already drawn their salary,” the press note said.

The PGI administration is striving to ensure the smooth functioning of the hospital by re-deploying manpower at its own level and also with the help of Punjab and Haryana governments and the UT Administration.



HC moved over stir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
Taking note of the ailing health services at the PGI due to the stir by contractual employees, an advocate-cum-social activist today moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Advocate Ajay Jagga sought the high court’s intervention to prevent the stir from throwing activities out of gear and to prevent the situation from assuming the shades of a civic crisis at the region’s premier health institute.

He moved the high court this morning and, in fact, tried to get the matter fixed for hearing today itself. Later, the petition was filed in the registry and would come up for hearing tomorrow.



MC may impose entry tax on commercial vehicles
Pradeep Sharma/TNS

Chandigarh, December 7
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) may impose an entry tax on commercial vehicles entering the city to partly finance the creation and maintenance of the road infrastructure.

The issue was deliberated upon at the UT-MC coordination committee meeting presided over by UT Adviser Pradip Mehra. Other issues pertaining the raising of resources for the civic body in the backdrop of the transfer of certain functions to the MC, including V-3 roads, were also discussed.

The imposition of the entry tax seems to be a spin-off of Mayor Anu Chatrath’s demand for the transfer of road tax revenue amounting to about Rs 10 per annum. Since all roads, besides V-3 roads, are set to be transferred to the civic body, the Chandigarh Administration should transfer the road tax revenue to the corporation, the Mayor had said.

Since the decision to transfer the road tax fell in the purview of the Central Government, it was mooted that the MC should explore the possibilities of generating resources through alternative sources, including imposition of the entry tax on commercial vehicles. Road tax revenue goes into the coffers of the Consolidated Fund of India and any decision on this will come from the Centre.

Sources said since the administration wanted to transfer all roads to the MC in due course, the transfer of resources from the administration to the civic body was the need of the hour. In the backdrop of the highest vehicular density in the country, the roads in Chandigarh needed repair at regular intervals, entailing huge expenditure.

The MC had been raising the issue of the transfer of more resources to the MC with the administration following the transfer of certain functions such as primary education, primary health and gardens, besides roads, to the MC.

Kids can play in school ground

It was decided that children could play in school playgrounds of their respective area on the recommendation of the councillors. It was a long-standing demand of residents that the school grounds should be allowed to be used by the children after school hours.



HC’s date with blood donation today

Chandigarh, December 7
The Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar and Bench will donate more than their precious time for public good on Wednesday morning. The lawyers and judges will, in fact, donate blood in larger public interest during a camp organised by the High Court Blood Contributors Club.

On the eve of the function, 55 donors, including 15 judges, were honoured with commendation certificates during a function held in the high court Bar room.

Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal handed over the certificates to at least 40 advocates. High court judges, including Justice Jitendra Chauhan, Justice Permod Kohli, Justice Daya Chaudhary and Justice RK Garg, also attended the function.

An active member of the movement, ML Sarin, said the camp would be inaugurated at 9.45 am by the Chief Justice. — TNS



Cold wave grips Punjab, Haryana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
The winter chill is finally setting in the region. As cold air currents crisscrossed the northern states of Haryana and Punjab today, Hissar recorded the lowest temperature in the plains with mercury dipping to 3.2°C.

The cold wave, which is likely to continue for the next seven days, has been also sweeping the Hill state of Himachal Pradesh where people are bracing to biting cold in areas of Mandi and Kalpa at temperatures as low as to 0.3 and 0.8 °C, respectively. In Punjab, Adampur recorded the lowest temperature in the state at 3.5°C. Residents of city beautiful also felt the chill as temperature fell to 7.2°C, the lowest in the season.

Night temperature in Ambala and Karnal also plummeted to 5.4 and 6.0 °C. In Punjab, Ludhiana also came under the influence of intense chill recording a low of 4.4°C.



Unidentified body found

Chandigarh, December 7
The body of an unidentified middle-aged man was found lying in the circus ground at Mani Majra here today.

The body was sent to Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, for post-mortem examination. The police said there was no injury mark on the body.

The deceased was about 50 years old, the police said. During a search, it did not find anything from his pockets that could help in his identification. — TNS



From Schools
Alumni meet

Chandigarh: Jawahar Navodaya Vidayalaya, Sector 25, has organised its alumni meet with great festivity on the campus. The function started with a welcome speech by the school vice principal. Alumni, present on the occasion, shared their experiences with the students goading them to choose their option for a career young in life. Former Deputy Commissioner NVS, Regional Office, ML Sharma, presided over the function. Principal PK Sharma gave the concluding remarks. A cultural function was also organised in honour of the alumni present on the occasion.

AIDS awareness rally

An AIDS awareness rally was organised by children of Air Force School, 3 BRD, on Tuesday in the vicinity of Sector-31 area. The children held posters with messages on HIV/ AIDS. Messages like “I Care. Do you?”, “Never, never, never give up” and “The faithful have nothing to fear” were conveyed through the banners made by the students. The rally was organised under the aegis of AFWWA (L) 3 BRD, Air Force.

Annual day

Mohali: Doon International School celebrated its seventh annual day at Tagore theatre, a press note issued here here said on Tuesday. R.J Khanderao, regional officer, CBSE, Panchkula Region, inaugurated the programme by lightning the lamp. Managing director of the school, CS Mann, welcomed the guests. The programme was captivating as it depicted the multi coloured panorama of songs and dances from different parts of the country. — TNS



INSO protests against hike in food prices
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
High drama prevailed at Panjab University today when the Indian National Student's Organisation (INSO) at Student Centre protested against the recent hike in food prices on the Panjab University Campus.

The protest led by INSO president Anil Ghanghas led the delegation, which forcibly tried to get outlets at the student centre shut. The protesters however made a quick exit when the university authorities summoned the police. “They cannot take university to ransom. They are protesting against price hike despite the fact that their own representative was present in the concerned committee. The university has had enough. There is a way to put points across and any nonsense will not invite a police complaint,” said Professor Naval Kishore, Dean, Students Welfare.



UGC-NET roll numbers dispatched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
Roll numbers of all eligible candidates for the forthcoming UGC-NET examination for the Junior Research Fellowship and eligibility for lectureship scheduled to be held on December 26, have been dispatched, a press note here said today.

As many as 11,971 candidates found eligible will be appearing at 29 centres on the PU campus and various colleges in the city. The candidates who do not receive the admit cards by December 20 should personally contact Prof. VK Walia, coordinator, UGC-NET in the department of Zoology, Panjab University at Telephone No. 0172-2534272. Those candidates who do not get their roll numbers are required to bring two passport size photographs duly attested by a gazetted officer. If the candidates in the visually handicapped category have not requested the coordinator for a scribe, can apply by December 20, 2010.



PU second in international moot contest

Chandigarh, December 7
University Institute Of Legal Studies (U.I.L.S.), Panjab University, team comprising Navratan Singh (fifth year), Ravipal Singh Bains (fourth Year) and Navreet Kaur (second Year), became first runners up in the International Environment Moot Court Competition, held at Mumbai, by SNDT Women’s University Law School in association with Surana and Surana International Attorneys.

The selected teams from India will now compete against the other teams from the rest of the world in the finals to be held at Stetson University in Maryland , Washington D.C. in March, 2011. — TNS



Fellowship for PU VC

Chandigarh, December 7
Professor RC Sobti, Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University, has been honoured with the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) fellowship with effect from January 1, 2011.

With around 225 research publications, 22 books and numerous awards to his credit Sobti will now be participating in academy’s activities aimed at agricultural development. — TNS



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