C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
The Chandigarh Police’s callousness in handling the case of five-year-old Khushpreet’s kidnapping followed by his murder is now official. Acting on a magisterial inquiry report submitted today, an embarrassed police finally cracked the whip against the guilty officials. Two Inspectors and a Sub-Inspector were suspended and the DSP (South) transferred to the Police Lines.

Inspector Uday Pal Singh, the then SHO of the Sector 34 Police Station, Inspector Narinder Singh Patial, the then in charge of the Burail police post, both of who had earlier been posted to the Police Lines, along with Sub-Inspector Balraj Singh posted at the Burail police post have been placed under suspension with immediate effect and will face a departmental inquiry for the levy of major penalty against them.

The DSP (South), who was entrusted with the critical assignment of leading a team of 18 policemen to track the kidnappers at the time of the payment of ransom, was let off with a slap on the wrist by being shifted to the Police Lines.

In his 26-page inquiry report, inquiry officer, ML Sharma, who holds charge of Director (Transport), has stated: “The police has miserably, squarely and hopelessly failed from the very beginning to handle this case...While junior officers showed complete apathy to the seriousness of the situation, the senior officers are morally responsible for the flimsy investigations.

“The approach of the police was very casual from day one and they not only delayed the registration of the FIR, but also did not take any effective step, keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter,” the report said while recommending exemplary punishment to the guilty police officials.

The guilty cops

Vijay Kumar, DSP (South)

“He underestimated the gravity of the situation. Vijay Kumar sent a routine crime report on an email to the SSP without realising the seriousness of the case. As per his statement, Uday Pal Singh kept him in the dark about the gravity of the case. He was over-dependent on the SHO for information and he failed to ensure that the SHO performed his duties. He waited till 2.30 pm (on December 22, ie a day after the kidnapping) when he himself reached the police post and realised the gravity of the situation. It is at this stage that he called up the SSP over phone.”

Inspector Uday Pal Singh, SHO, Sector 34 police station

“Prima facie, it is established that Uday Pal Singh has not discharged his duties in a befitting manner expected of such a decorated and senior police officer as he has listed in his statement. The loss of time in the initial stage was crucial. Uday Pal Singh failed to build a relationship of trust with the victim’s family due to which they did not have faith in the efforts being put in by the police.”

Inspector Narinder Patial, Burail police post in charge

“It is a mockery that when everybody was aware of the ransom call at 4.22 pm, the proceedings for lodging the FIR were started after 9 pm. His attitude speaks of casualness and cannot be absolved of this lapse. In the case diary it was also mentioned that Patial has added case diary No 1-A to cover up his non-performance. The police wasted 22 vital hours following the ransom call. The case diaries also do not mention a word about the instructions issued by the seniors to remove the vigil operation during the payment of ransom. There is no mention of any meeting held by senior officers and, whether instructions, if any, were passed through them, from time to time.”

Sub-Inspector Balraj Singh

“Balraj’s statement seems to be a bundle of lies. His response to the complaint of the family was casual and non-serious. His carelessness led to the loss of vital hours following the kidnapping.”

Damning comments

l ”The police has miserably, squarely and hopelessly failed from the very beginning to handle this case...While junior officers showed complete apathy for the seriousness of the situation, senior officers are morally responsible for the flimsy investigations.”

l ”The police officials tried to shift the act of performance/responsibility on one another. In this way, a lack of coordination is found between the police officials.

Ransom payment: Claims and counter-claims

l Police officials and the victim’s family seem to be at loggerheads. Patial and Uday Pal claimed that the victim’s uncle Sukhvinder “did not cooperate with the police regarding the use of dummies for ransom and was in a hurry to leave with the ransom to be handed over to the kidnappers. The uncle was uncooperative and in a hurry, due to which the police had no time to prepare or place an electronic chip in the notes. On the other hand, Sukhvinder said during payment of the ransom, the SHO told him not to manhandle the kidnappers or take steps on his own as these were the directions of the DSP.

l The police failed to get any vital clues about the kidnappers during the payment of ransom.


l Police failed miserably from the very beginning

l Police approach was casual from day one. It not only delayed the registration of the FIR, but also did not take any effective steps

l There was utter lack of coordination and police officials tried to shift the blame and responsibility on one another

l Police and family members engage in claims and counter claims on the ransom payment episode


l Major penalty for glaring lapses on the part of the police officials

l Senior officials should find instances of individual and collective failure resulting in loss of credibility

l Police should lay down a standardised procedure for cases of kidnapping for ransom

l The police should learn from this experience and not repeat the gross mistakes

l It should also work at a better strategy to handle public outburst by involving the civil administration

Let off the hook

While the report found four police officials guilty, it found “no fault” with several other police personnel. They include Ranbir Singh, head constable, Jaskaran Singh, munshi at the Burail police post, Sub-Inspector Rohtash Singh, head constable Dev Raj, and Sub-Inspector Sarwan of the Burail police post who were directly involved in the investigation.

Report and the family

We are dissatisfied: Father:Khushpreet’s father, Lakhbir Singh, said they would be meeting the UT Home Secretary tomorrow to seek stringent action against the erring cops. “We are disappointed with this report. Merely suspending three policemen and transferring a fourth means nothing as they will soon be reinstated. Moreover, there were 17 policemen who were part of the police team that was assigned to monitor the payment of ransom on December 22. All of them were negligent as they could not nab the accused. We had demanded the dismissal of all these police officers and registration of a criminal case against them. Instead, much to our dismay, only soft action has been taken. I lost my son due to police negligence. Khushpreet’s killers are still roaming free and we are being denied justice,” he said.
Kulwinder Kaur (mother
Kulwinder Kaur mother

Kulwinder Kaur (mother): She feels depressed about the loss of her child due to the casualness of the police in tracing him

Sukhvinder Singh (uncle): The police at the Burail police post continued to take the matter lightly even after they had been informed that a ransom call had been received. He said had it been a case of a high-profile family, the police would have acted differently.

Harjinder Kaur (maternal aunt): She alleged that Avtar Singh, a tenant of the family, was well-known to the child and might have kidnapped the child.


Recounting Partition pangs
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, January 19
Apart from meaningful entertainment, theatre festivals bring alive diverse regional cultures. Trilingual play “ Ghar Wapsi Ke Geet” presented by Alternate Living theatre group from Kolkata on the third day of the ongoing sixth TFT festival at Tagore Theatre too was significant in thisregard.

Conceived, scripted and directed by Probir Guha, the play though enthused with an universal issue of families uprooted due to urbanisation, industrialisation or migrant refugees with direct reference to the 1947 Partition, was radically different in many aspects.

It was virtually a collage of incidents weaved to focus on the chain reaction of problems faced by such displaced persons from time to time. In the absence of a conventional story line, the director relied on a number of sequences, melting into each other, to prove that the Independence was not a matter of Partition between the two countries, but crores of innocent people were displaced for no fault of theirs. The riots, fear, insecure future, unemployment compounded their problems. Unfortunately, for many who were displaced or turned homeless with their agricultural land acquired for urbanisation or industrialisation in their own country were doomed to face another torment and pangs of the forced Partition.

The tone and treatment replete with innovations and immaculate psycho physical movements was a treat to watch despite a few utterances in Bengali. Musical renditions by Subhadeep Guha which augmented the performance remained the lifeline of the production. The actors included Rahul Roy, Sujay Das, Hussain, Avihit Dutta, Lokesh Cahmka, Mohan Dutta, Avi Das, Mamoni Das, Slipi Das and Panna Mandal.

Parvesh Sethi welcomed chief guest Dr KK Khandelwal, IAS.

Hindi play “ Tamar Patra “ will be staged by Nirman Kala Manch, Bhopal, tomorrow.



Rs 12 crore sanctioned for three new schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
Putting its own house in order to implement the Right of Children To free and Compulsory Education (RTE) ACT, the UT administration today approved around `12 crore for the construction of three new schools in the city.

The approval was given today at a review meeting of Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan wherein it was decided that `1.82 crore would be spent on the construction of government high school, Kaimbwala, `2.80 crore on government high school, Pocket No 1, Mani Majra, and `6.41 crore on government high school, Kishangarh.

“With the RTE coming into force, we will need more educational institutions to meet the infrastructure specifications of the Act. We plan to complete the construction by 2012. In addition to these three schools, construction of five more schools is underway. With these institutions, education system will witness a revolutionary change,” said DPI (S) PK Sharma.



Job fest gets underway in Panchkula
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 19
Hundreds of boys and girls converged on a stall set up by the Army at a three-day Haryana Employment Development Fair that commenced today at the Sector 5 parade ground.Young boys and girls could be seen enquiring about the recruitment process at the stall.Various software companies had also put up stalls at the fair.

Earlier, Minister of Education and Health Geeta Bhukkal said Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was trying to convert the state into an educational hub. She said around 416 technical institutions had been set up in the state during the past six years and 39 more industrial training institutes (ITI) had been approved. She said under the Union government’s skilled development scheme, the state government was planning to set up 40 ITIs and 1,500 skilled development centres in the state.

Senior Congress leader and former Governor Chadravati said the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan needed to be implemented properly. She claimed that under the project funds were being diverted to other centres.

The employment hub of state’s modern city-Gurgaon had failed to provide jobs to the youth, she alleged.

Phool Chand Mullana, president, HPCC, former councillor Manvir Kaur Gill, Sub-Divisional Magistrate KK Kalsaon and members of the Sarv Vikas Foundation were among those present on the occasion. 



Two new hostels to come up at PU
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
All set to introduce 20 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC), Panjab University today approved construction of two new hostels on its Sector 25 campus.

The hostels one each for boys and girls will come up at a cost of Rs 20 crore.

Foundation stones of the six-storeyed buildings will be laid on January 26 and Republic Day tea will be organised at the hostel sites.

“We plan to complete the buildings by the commencement of 2012 session. This primarily comes in the wake of OBC reservation. We shall not only be reserving seats under this category, but will also correspondingly increase the number of general seats. We have started the process with the approval of these two new hostels and will eventually move on to upgrade other amenities as per the available funds,” said Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti.

With the campus getting the status of “Centrally Funded University” after its inclusion in Section 2(d)(IV) of the CEI Act, it is now required to introduce reservation of 20 per cent of seats for the candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes coupled with a mandatory increase in the number of seats for general category students.

“Another boys hostel is under construction and will be completed soon. Hostels are our top priority as the number of applicants double every year. With seats being increased further we shall require more hostel rooms. The university will also review the condition of current hostels and upgrade them,” added Naval Kishore, Dean, Students Welfare.

The university has seven boys and seven girls hostels. One boys hostel is being constructed and a girls hostel has been approved.



Development course for medicos
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 19
The eighth professional development course (PDC) in management, public health and health sector reforms for district-level senior medical officers was inaugurated today by Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab.

The 10-week programme is being supported by the European Commission and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.

Chawla said doctors were required to be constantly updated with latest information in different areas in today’s competitive world so as to achieve pace with the fast moving world. The course would be useful for them as they would develop specialised skills in management and health sector reforms.

This would particularly be beneficial while handling administrative positions. She stated that after completing this course the participants would act as “Agents of Change” to ensure availability and accessibility of better medical services offered as an integral part of on-going health and family welfare reform programmes as well as services under the National Rural Health Mission.

Prof RC Sobti, Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University, who was the guest of honour, emphasised upon better indoor medical services. He appreciated the vast development made in the medical sector in the country, which had also attracted many foreigners to avail medical treatment here.

He also spoke on the culture of medical insurances, the pattern which was more popular in western countries in comparison to India.

Among others present on the occasion included Raji P Srivastava, MD, Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PSHC), Dr Ashok Nayyar, director, Family Welfare, Punjab, Dr Lehmber Singh, director, PHSC, and Dr HS Chauhan, nodal officer, PDC.



Stopgap Measure
2-acre land for dump sought at Jheuriwala
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 19
After facing protests from Sector-23 residents over the dumping of garbage in the sector, the municipal council has urged the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) to allot two acres of land at Jheuriwala village as a stopgap arrangement.

The dumping ground at Sector 23; and (right) garbage-lifting machines lying at the MC office in Sector 4, Panchkula.
The dumping ground at Sector 23; and (right) garbage-lifting machines lying at the MC office in Sector 4, Panchkula. Tribune photos: Nitin Mittal 

Garbage is currently being dumped in a vacant plot in Sector 23 across the Ghaggar.

Though the garbage is being dumped in huge pits dug in the area and later covered with the earth, residents have been demanding the shifting of the same for the past one year.

It may be recalled that the ministry of environment had given its nod to the district administration to set up a garbage treatment plant at Jheuriwala village around two months ago.

The HUDA authorities had also earmarked around 12 acres of land for the purpose but the authorities concerned were yet to take a final call on the setting up the garbage plant, as residents of the village had protested against it.

Even the Haryana State Pollution Control Board had not issued the NOC to the council for dumping the garbage in the sector but the garbage from the entire town was still being dumped at the site.

The authorities later decided to shift the dumping site to Moginand village but that, too, had to be shelved.

The site where the garbage was currently being dumped had been earmarked for the setting up of a hospital, school and community centre by the planning department.

Executive Officer KK Jain said they had urged HUDA to allot the land in Jheuriwala for the dumping of garbage.

He said over 70 tonne garbage from the town was being dumped in the pits and later covered with earth to prevent the spread of stench in the area.

Jain said the council was also in the process of commissioning four trucks to carry bins at the cost of Rs 30 lakh along with a JCB machine.

He said the MC would also purchase small fire engines for around Rs 80 lakh.

The council currently has four trucks that can lift and carry four bins of three cubic metres each.

The council has already identified six sites in the town where garbage collection centres will be set up. These include Sectors 2, 12, 10, Azad Colony, Rajeev Colony and Indira Colony. These centres will have six to eight feet high walls on all sides to avoid littering of garbage.



Draftsmen’s protest

Mohali, January 19
Members of the Punjab Draftsmen Association staged a dharna in support of their demands here today. The protesters raised slogans and asked the government to keep their welfare in mind and accept their demands or face protest. They alleged that the government had failed to do justice with them.

Association president Rakesh Kumar Bajaj said they had held several meetings with government officials and every time they had been given assurances but to no avail. — TNS



LPG Cylinder Blast
Victims yet to receive admn’s help
Our Correspondent

The entrances to the houses damaged in the LPG cylinder blast have been blocked as these have been rendered unsafe for inhabitation at Phase XI, Mohali.
The entrances to the houses damaged in the LPG cylinder blast have been blocked as these have been rendered unsafe for inhabitation at Phase XI, Mohali. Photo: Vicky Gharu

Mohali, January 19
Two days after an LPG cylinder blast damaged houses in Phase XI here, victims are yet to receive assistance from the administration.There was panic among residents of the LIG houses in the locality as some buildings had become unsafe. While the house in which the blast took place was badly damaged, adjoining houses had also developed cracks.

Some affected residents said they had to take the help of neighbours, friends and relatives for food and shelter.

Vinod Singh, whose house was badly damaged in the incident, said he along with members of his family had to take shelter in a friend’s house as they had to vacate their house.

Veena, another affected resident, said arrangements for food and shelter were made by SAD leader Sukhinder Singh (Babbi Badal) in a nearby gurdwara today.

She said government officials had visited the area after the blast but no repair work, which was urgently required, was started by them.

Deputy Commissioner Parveen Kumar said the treatment of the injured was being monitored by the district administration. All three persons who had sustained burn injuries in the blast triggered by a leaking LPG cylinder on January 17 were now stable and about to be discharged from the hospital.

The DC said technical assessment of the damaged houses had been done and the affected persons would soon be given financial assistance so that they could get their houses repaired.



Police gropes in the dark
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 19
Even after two days of the murder of Berkeley Automobiles security guard and robbery of Rs 14.5 lakh in cash, the local police is groping in the dark.The police is waiting for the fingerprint report from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Madhuban, to match with the criminals active in the state, Punjab, UP and the national capital region of New Delhi.

According to sources in the police, as the attackers did not touch anything or leave anything behind, including the blunt weapon used in the murder, it was becoming difficult for them to zero in on the accused involved in the crime.

Even though 15 teams have been constituted to raid the possible hideouts in Punjab, UP, New Delhi and other districts of Haryana, the police is unlikely to make any headway in the case.

Meanwhile, the police has arrested three persons involved in robbing cigarette vendors who returned to their houses late at night.

The accused have been identified as Pawan Kumar, Sonu Chawla and Ravi, all residents of Sector 19.

Sector-10 police station in-charge Surjeet Singh said the accused were involved in 15 cases since January 1 and used to target their victims near the BEL factory, Sector 6 and 11.

They used to involve their victims, who were generally on foot or riding a bicycle, in a minor accident and then take away their valuables.



Illegal construction stopped
Tribune News Service

An additional floor constructed illegally on a building at Abheypur, Panchkula, on Wednesday.
An additional floor constructed illegally on a building at Abheypur, Panchkula, on Wednesday. A Tribune photograph

Panchkula, January 19
Fearing a possible collapse of two residential buildings, residents of Abheypur village protested against the illegal construction of additional floors by their owner here today.

The residents said Rajender Aggarwal, owner of two buildings having around 400 small rooms, had given units on rent to migrant labourers.

They alleged that the foundation of the buildings was weak and the addition of another storey could lead to a collapse of the structures.

Subhash Nishad, a resident, complained to MC executive officer KK Jain, who deputed a building inspector for investigation.

After listening to the grievances, the inspector stopped the work at the site and ordered the removal of the construction material.

Jain said the construction work had been stopped and the owner had been warned against going ahead with the construction.

He said legal action would be initiated against the owner of the buildings if he resumed construction activity.



Admn’s confession to Planning Commission
Infrastructure crumbling
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, Janaury 19
It is now official. The city’s infrastructure, primarily health and education, is crumbling.Candidly confessing this to the Planning Commission of India, the UT Administration today sought to justify an enhancement of their planned budget to Rs 934 crore, marking an increase of Rs 473.09 crore over the existing Rs 450.91 crore, for the next financial year (2011-2012).

The Planning Commission was also informed that by the end of 2011-12, the UT would have contributed a surplus of Rs 2,000 crore to Central funds in the current five-year Plan, began 2007-08.

During the last four financial years, the UT had received Rs 1,378 crore, besides funds under the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

Of the Rs 934 crore that had been sought, Rs 684 crore was to be allocated for regular development schemes.

The remaining Rs 250 crore was intended to be spent on different schemes under the JNNURM, which included affordable housing for poor under the slum rehabilitation scheme.

UT Administration officials, led by Finance Secretary VK Singh, made an hour-long presentation through videoconference before the Planning 

Others present included Special Secretary (Finance) Ajoy Sharma, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Alok Kumar, Director-Principal of Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Dr Raj Bahadur, Director Social Welfare Varsha Khangwal and Director Information Technology Yogesh Kumar.

Justifying the UT’s demand for an enhanced budget, the officials explained to the Planning Commission that owing to the city’s increasing population, the UT Administration was required to upgrade existing healthcare and medical facilities.

These included constructing a trauma centre in one of the southern sectors; upgrading of facilities at the Government Multi Specialty Hospital, Sector 16; converting the polyclinic at Sector 45 to a 50-bedded hospital; and constructing 805 new rooms in existing schools and five new government schools after implementing the Right to Education Act.

Given the present scenario, the UT Administration was only seeking what it had already given back to the Centre’s funds by way of stamp duty and other revenue, said a senior UT official on the condition of anonymity.



Warmer day, but icy winds continue to sweep city
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
Chilly winds continued to blow through the city as well as several areas in adjoining Punjab and Haryana today. However, residents could take heart from the slight increase in minimum temperature in Chandigarh to 5 degrees Celsius, which had plummeted to 4.3 degrees on Tuesday.

The maximum temperature recorded today was 18.5 degrees C, two degrees below normal. The meteorological department has predicted a slight rise in temperatures on Thursday even as chilly winds are likely to continue to sweep the city.

Meanwhile, Adampur in Punjab remained the coldest place in the region at -0.6 degrees C. Amritsar recorded a minimum of 2.4 degrees, while in the hill station Simla the mercury fell to 1.1 degrees.

According to the Met, the icy winds will continue to sweep the city for a few more days and the cold conditions are expected to prevail. However, there is likelihood of day temperatures rise from Friday onwards.

The weatherman has predicted a clear morning on Thursday with temperatures oscillating between 6 and 20 degrees C. “Though the sun will make an appearance on Thursday also, it won’t make any difference as cold winds will blow throughout the day,” an India Meteorological Department official said.

The maximum humidity recorded today was 88 per cent and the minimum 33 per cent, while the wind speed measured was somewhere between 13 and 16 km per hour, he added.

With the weather clearing, air and train services improved, giving some solace to travellers. However, the Howrah-Kalka Mail, which had been running late for the past ten days, continued to be late indefinitely today due to bad weather on the way, sources at Northern Railway said.

The weatherman has forecast a mainly clear sky becoming partly cloudy later on, with likelihood of frost in a few places in Punjab and Haryana.



22-yr-old woman commits suicide
ribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
A 22-year-old resident of Manimajra committed suicide by hanging herself at her residence here today.The victim, Mayawati, a housewife, was found hanging from the ceiling fan by her niece, Pooja, in the afternoon.She took the extreme step in the morning when she was alone at home. No suicide note was found from the spot.

The police was informed and the body was lowered after cutting the rope with which she had hung himself.

The police rushed the victim to the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, where doctors declared her brought dead.

She was married six months ago and her husband, Krishan, was a labourer. The police was questioning him to ascertain the reason behind her taking the extreme step.

The body was kept at the hospital mortuary and would be handed over to the family after post-mortem examination. 



Sub-committees’ Elections
11 file papers for chairman
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
Eleven councillors have filed their nomination papers for posts of chairman of 12 sub-committees constituted by Mayor Ravinder Pal Singh Pali on January 12.Seven councillors have filed their papers for posts of vice-chairman. Today was the last date for filing papers for the road, water supply and sewerage disposal, electricity, environment and city beautification, house tax and apni mandi sub-committees.

As the last date for filing papers for the sanitation, fire and emergency services, art, culture and sports, enforcement, woman empowerment and slum development sub-committees was January 20, the final picture would emerge tomorrow.

The councillors who filed their nominations for chairman were Bhupinder Singh for road, Jatinder Bhatia for water supply and sewerage disposal, Manjit Singh for sanitation, Kamlesh for electricity, Pardeep Chhabra for environment and city beautification, D S Babla for fire and emergency services, Arshad Khan for slum development, Sarita Devi for house tax, MPS Chawla for enforcement, Resham Chand Jakhu for apni mandi and Pam Rajput for woman empowerment.

No councillor had so far filed nomination for the chairman of art, culture and sports sub-committee. Nominated councillor Pallav Mukerjee said he would file his papers for the post of chairman of the slum development sub-committee tomorrow.

Complaining about the delay in sending them the notice to filing nominations, he said the councillors had got only one day to decide on filing papers as they received the notice on January 18.

The Mayor said if only one candidate filed papers for posts of chairman and vice-chairman of any sub-committee, their selection would be final.



Ranchi Mayor visits MC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
A three-member team of the Ranchi municipal corporation (MC) visited the MC office here today to study water supply, sewage treatment, garbage collection and maintenance of green belts and parks.

Mayor Ravinder Pal Singh Pali welcomed the delegation and Additional Commissioner-II Lalit Siwach gave a brief introduction regarding various projects and functions of the corporation.

The members who visited the city were Mayor Rama Khalkho and councillors Arvinder Singh Deol and Geeta Kujur. The team also visited parks and waterworks with MC officials.

Senior Deputy Mayor Kuldeep Singh, Deputy Mayor Sheela Devi and other officers of the MC were also present.



Car firm, dealer told to repair or refund
Anuja Jaiswal/TNS

Chandigarh, January 19
Acting on a complaint of a Mohali resident, the UT District Consumer Redressal Forum has directed Tata Motors and Joshi Autos to either repair the complainant’s Indigo car or refund its value to him and pay him a compensation of Rs 20,000.

The company had allegedly sold a faulty vehicle to the complainant and were refusing to replace it. Chetan Gill had purchased a new Tatar Indigo from Joshi Auto on June 10, 2008, and within a month, it started giving trouble.

Since the vehicle was under warranty till December, 2009, it was taken several times to the workshop and major repair work was undertaken. The company failed to rectify it.

Frustrated by frequent visits to the workshop, with no solution coming through, Gill approached the forum and requested for replacement of the car or refund, along with compensation.

In response to the complaint, the companies claimed the claim was unjustified and there was no defect in the vehicle. They also claimed that the complainant had failed to give any expert opinion or evidence to prove the defects pointed out by him in the vehicle.

They also claimed that allegations of the complainant were contradicted by the job cards, which did not mention any defect in the vehicle. They said despite this, the vehicle was attended to whenever it was brought to the workshop.

The lies of the companies were nailed when the forum sought the opinion of experts from the Punjab Engineering College. Experts from the mechanical department opined that the vehicle had multifarious problems.

The forum’s presiding member Rajinder Singh Gill and member Madhu Mutneja directed the respondents to receive the car from the complainant and get the defect rectified. In case they were unable to do so, they could then refund the value of the vehicle paid by the complainant.

The forum further directed the respondents to pay Rs 20,000 as compensation for causing mental and physical harassment to the complainant.



Insurance firm, bank told to pay Rs 18.75 lakh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
In a significant judgement, nailing the evasive attitude of insurance and credit card companies, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has ordered Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Company Limited and Citi Bank to pay Rs 18.75 lakh to a Panchkula resident, Ritu Sodhi, whose husband died in a road accident in the city in July 2007.

While listening to the complaint filed by Ritu Sodhi and her children, seeking compensation as per the insurance policy issued to Citi Bank card members, commission president Pritam Pal and member Jagroop Singh Mahal also directed the two companies to pay Rs 1 lakh as compensation for causing mental harassment to the complainant.

In her complaint, Ritu Sodhi had stated that her husband, Mohinder Pal Singh Sodhi, was a Citi Bank gold credit card holder and had taken up the bank's offer for buying an insurance policy, Suraksha Forever, from Royal Sundram Alliance Insurance Company Limited. The policy had an accident death cover to the tune of Rs 25 lakh and the same was Rs 18.75 lakh in case of death in an accident involving a two-wheeler.

In July 2007, Mohinder died in a road accident at Manimajra. When Ritu approached the insurance company for the claim, it refused to pay her the insured amount. She subsequently filed a complaint with the forum and sought Rs 10 lakh as compensation.

In response to the commission, the counsel for the insurance company argued that the commission had no territorial jurisdiction to try this complaint as the company's office was situated in Chennai and the agreement had taken place there. This argument was found devoid of merit and the commission rejected the plea.

The company also argued that the claim was exaggerated and the complainant was entitled only to Rs 7.5 lakh, which was triable by the District Forum. The commission also took objection to the company's plea that the insurance was only for Rs 7.5 lakh and noted that the bank was indulging in unfair trade practice to attract customers into buying the policy.

The commission did not accept the arguments and directed the two companies to pay the entire amount of Rs 18.75 lakh and compensation of Rs 1 lakh within 30 days of the order, along with 9 per cent interest from 2007.



Demand for freehold bidding grows
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
In the backdrop of the forthcoming auction of commercial property, the demand for the auction of commercial property on freehold basis like residential property has staged a comeback.

With the Chandigarh administration following an “outdated” system of auctioning commercial property on leasehold as opposed to Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh governments, different organisations have called upon the administration auction commercial property on freehold.

“The auction of property on leasehold defies any logic. In fact, the auction of property on leasehold burdens the investors, who have to to shell out substantial yearly leasehold besides the higher bid amounts,” said Chandigarh Beopar Mandal chairman Charanjiv Singh.

Chandigarh Industrial Association president MPS Chawla said it amounted to “double taxation”. When the allottees paid higher bid amount than the neighbouring states and other levies like stamp duties, the rationale for charging the yearly lease money was unjustified, he stated.

At a time when the city was warming up to retail revoulation, such “lopsided” laws would hit the business in the city. A few years ago, the administration had reportedly decided to auction property on freehold on the recommendations of the Industrial Advisory Committee and on the persistent demand of public to attract more investments in real estate in the city. However, that proposal never saw the light of the day.

With Chandigarh emerging as the major retail centre in in the wake of world-class living standards, the city attracts a large number of investors, including NRIs, for commercial property.

In the last auction in 2009, the per square yard rate was quoted at Rs 2.74 lakh.

“The sale of commercial property on leasehold is a thing of the past. In fact, it will be beneficial for the administration if it shifts to the sale of property on freehold,” said Haryana Group Housing Federation president BK Sanghi.



Tanishq Heist
SI, 4 others promoted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
Senior police officers today promoted a Sub-Inspector and four constables, lauding their effort in cracking the Tanishq heist.Sub-Inspector Ranjit Singh of the Crime Branch was promoted as Inspector while constables Kanwar Pal, Durjan Singh, Jasbir Kumar and Jaswinder Singh were promoted to the rank of head constables.

The police has arrested a total of 11 persons in the case. Armed dacoits had dressed as policemen and fled with jewellery worth around Rs 10 crore from a Tanishq showroom last week. The accused were arrested from Ghaziabad in a joint operation with the Delhi Police.



7 health staffers fall ill
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 19
Seven employees of the health department were taken ill here on Wednesday after they drank tea that had been prepared using a chemical which they mistook to be water. The employees, most of whom were women, worked under the revised national TB control programme at the town’s Civil Hospital.

While on duty the workers often liked to have tea that was prepared in the TB laboratory itself. Soon after having tea today some of them complained of a stomachache while a few others began vomiting.

They were admitted to the hospital’s emergency wing when their condition started to deteriorate. Two were put on glucose while the others were administered injections. The stomachs of all of them were washed.

However, it is not clear whether a chemical was accidentally used while making tea or the water stored in a beaker, which had some chemical in it, was used. Strangely, none of the employees could make out from the taste of the tea that something was wrong with the beverage.

Those who were hospitalized were a member of the integrated counseling and testing centre, Sonia; a laboratory technician Sukhjinder Kaur; pharmacist Sarabjit Singh; senior TB supervisors Rajeev and Rupinder Kaur; senior TB laboratory supervisor Sandhya; and TB health visitor Amarjit Kaur. The employees were, however, discharged from the hospital’s emergency wing after about four hours.

District health officer Dr Jai Singh said a report on cases of food poisoning was sent to the state surveillance unit by the district unit.

Reacting to the incident, Mohali civil surgeon Dr PK Shridhar said a “very astonishing incident” had taken place, which he called “almost suicidal”. “I’ll try to find out why this happened and also take steps to avoid any such incident in the future”, he added.


PU Notes

Chandigarh: The department-cum-centre for women’s studies of Panjab University will organise a seminar on “Women and Culture: Embodied Realities and Social Constructions” on January 21 at the ICSSR Complex.

To be attended by various delegates, the seminar will aim at analysing the representation of women in various socio-cultural traditions of the region and their subordination in patriarchal culture.


Hotel Management and Tourism (UIHMT) organised a workshop on “Academics - Industry Interface” on the Panjab University campus here today. The programme was marked by specialised deliberations on various aspects of hotel and tourism industry, in which students of BSc (hospitality), hotel administration and tourism management participated.

Ashish Nikunj, chef, International Cruise Liners; Dr Rajiv Kumar, manager, human resource, Hotel Taj, Chandigarh, and Vikas Nagwani, manager, learning and development, Hotel Taj, Chandigarh, were the key speakers.

Ashish Nikunj, through his presentation on ‘future food’ expressed his thoughts on latest trends in food production, while Vikas Nagwani, highlighted the importance of corporate ethics.

Prof Lalit K Bansal, director-in charge, UIHMT, highlighted the importance of such interactions with the industry. — TNS



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