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HC raps Admn for flip-flop over RTE
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has agreed that minority schools have a right to prescribe their own admission norms. Justice Mahesh Grover has also come down heavily on the UT Administration for “doing a flip-flop of sorts” and has held its stand to be illogical. Taking up the admission age matter, Justice Grover asserted senior advocate ML Sarin, arguing on behalf of minority schools, “appears to be right when he contends that private institutions such as the ones he represents, have a right to prescribe their own norms of admission to regulate them in the manner they so desire.

“There is, indeed, no doubt that they have a right to follow their own procedure in the matters of admission and regulation thereof, if such a decision satisfies the tests of fairness, transparency and being non-exploitative”.

At the same time, Justice Grover added: “Such a decision, which is to subserve the interests of children and society, thus, should also be reasonable, as fairness will also include reasonableness and the interests of the children in general would require a desirable situation, where a uniform policy is adhered to in the region where such schools are located”.

The petition was filed by minors through counsel Girish Agnihotri, along with Binayjeet Sheoran and Arvind Seth. Coming down heavily on the UT Administration, Justice Grover ruled: “Much of the confusion has been created by the Chandigarh Administration, which has been doing a flip-flop of sorts.

“The plea of the Administration that it has nothing to do with the process of admission being followed by the private schools has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

“The details of the communication which the officials have exchanged with the schools establishes shadow-boxing by them.

“If the Administration had nothing to say in this matter, why were school managements rushing to them for clarification and why was the Administration sermonising them?

“But in any case, if the matter had come to them, they should have attempted to have a uniform policy, rather than issuing a directive in the garb of a clarification and then, leaving the schools holding the baby and fending for themselves when a hue and cry erupted.

“It was, thus, imperative for them to evolve a mechanism at that point of time and even if the procedure had to be changed according to the interpretation that they had arrived at regarding the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, some uniform transitional mechanism should have been evolved and adopted by them.

“Instead, all government schools, which were directly under the control of the Administration, were permitted to admit children as per the previous policy. Was it that the RTE was applicable only to private schools and not to government schools? The stand of the Administration, thus, is illogical and irrational…”



Three-year-olds get a shot at admission
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
Putting to rest the controversy over admission age, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked Sacred Heart School, Sector 26, Carmel Convent School, Sector 9, St John’s School, Sector 26, and St Anne’s School, Sector 32, “to consider the cases of all children born up to September 30, 2006”.

Pronouncing the order on a bunch of petitions by 17 minors, Justice Mahesh Grover asserted that the directions were “a one-time measure”.

Issuing seven commandments, Justice Grover also ruled: “It is desirable and in the interests of the children and their parents that a somewhat uniform policy is adopted so as to create a harmonious process of regulated admissions. Such a process would obviate the chance of children of different age groups competing with each other”.

Justice Grover further ruled the four schools “may issue a communiqué about the directions given in this judgement, which shall be sufficient notice to the desirous parents, with no further publication of a notice. The schools need not give any separate notice for this purpose. However, they shall display it on their notice boards.

“As per the norms set up by the Chandigarh Administration, the schools shall also be entitled to charge fee of Rs 100 on the admission form given out by them.

“If the forms are available on the website of the schools, the same be downloaded by the parents and submitted to the school along with fee of Rs 100”.

The seventh commandment reads: “The forms shall be accepted by February 20, 2011. Each school is, thereafter, free to fix the date for admission. The forms shall be scrutinised by the schools in another three days after receipt and thereafter, a date shall be fixed for holding draw of lots as per their convenience, which shall be given out to the applicants/parents”.

Before parting with the order, Justice Grover asserted: “The court feels compelled to add that these directions should not result in euphoria for those who might perceive it as a vindication of their stand, nor should it be perceived as a derision of those whose decision has not been appreciated, but this should be treated as an opportunity to all, where we put our heads together to evolve a mechanism, where our young ones do not have to see a brooding gloominess in the process which, otherwise, is the beginning of their journey on the path of enlightenment”.

Fixing April 27 as the next date of hearing, the Bench asserted: “Before this date, the Administration, through its Education Secretary, shall submit a proposal, to be followed uniformly in all schools of the UT.

“The copies of the proposals shall be given to all schools and they would be free to submit counter-proposals, if any. While concluding such an exercise, those involved in the process may also derive the benefits of the conclusions arrived at by the Ganguly Committee, formed pursuant to the directions of the Delhi High Court.

“The entire material be, thus, placed before the court. The Administration shall form a panel of educationalists, sociologists and psychologists to suggest a proper age for admission to initial classes and to ascertain a uniform policy”.

‘Going to court before class’

Miffed over the age controversy, Justice Grover asserted: “It is with some anguish that this court proceeds to decide the matter which affects small children who, before seeing the face of the classroom, are seeing the face of the courtroom and have invoked the jurisdiction of this court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, albeit through their parents, even before they have learnt the first alphabet. “The process of initiation into education should have been a solemn and joyous affair for those involved, rather it has assumed the colour of cattle fair or a flea market”, the court observed.



PU rivalry spills over to court
Lawyer assaulted in front of police station
Tribune News Service

Narinder Gujjar, who was injured in an assault, at the GMSH, Sector 16, Chandigarh, on Tuesday.
Narinder Gujjar, who was injured in an assault, at the GMSH, Sector 16, Chandigarh, on Tuesday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, February 15
An advocate, who is also a student leader, was beaten up with baseball bats, iron rods, batons and even sharp-edged weapons by four youths due to old student rivalry in broad daylight and full public view opposite the Sector 17 police station here today.

Narinder Gujjar was beaten up soon after he stepped out of the district courts and was about to enter his car. He was rushed to the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital at Sector 16, from where he was referred to the PGI. He sustained a fracture in his right leg and injuries on the chest, hands and head.

The police managed to nab one of the four assailants, Karanveer Singh, who turned out to be a BA student of DAV College at Sector 10, from the spot even as his accomplices fled. Student rivalry was believed to be the reason behind the brutal attack. Incidentally, Gujjar featured in a list of trouble-makers on the Panjab University campus prepared by the police.

The police registered a case of attempt-to-murder, rioting and criminal intimidation against former SOPU president Barinder Dhillon, Karanveer and two others following a complaint by Gujjar, who identified them as the assailants.

The incident occurred at 1 pm when Gujjar, along with another advocate Ashish Pannu, who also sustained minor injuries, set out for lunch from the courts. He was assaulted and beaten up by the four in the parking lot.

The four accused had parked their car at some distance and had come on foot to attack Gujjar and damage his car. The incident led to commotion on the busy Sector-17 road.

Old rivalry the reason

The police said old rivalry was the reason behind the attack. Narinder Gujjar is a Hindustan Student Association leader and former PU law student. He had allegedly bashed up Barinder Dhillon in November 2008 along with nine others outside the residence of the PU Vice-Chancellor. Dhillon had to be administered five stitches for a head injury. It is believed that Dhillon was seeking to avenge the attack.

Victim has violent past

The UT police booked Narinder Gujjar along with three others on February 1 for thrashing a UT police sub-inspector at the Sector-3 police station. Gujjar had then come to extend support to a DAV student, who was arrested for indulging in violence. He was also booked in 2009 for firing in the university and featured prominently in the list of PU trouble-makers.

Commotion at hospital

High drama was witnessed at the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital in Sector 16 when an advocate slapped a photojournalist while he was objecting to photographers clicking pictures of the injured. This led to a scuffle between advocates and mediapersons. The police had to be called in to control the agitated advocates and mediapersons.

Work in courts suspended

Advocates protested against the attack at the parking lot of the district courts and raised slogans against the police for failing to provide adequate security to them. Work remained suspended in the courts after lunch as news of the attack spread. The advocates also blocked the road near the Cricket Stadium at Sector 16 for a brief while and dispersed only when UT SSP Naunihal Singh reached the spot and assured them of security.



KK Sharma ‘on way’ from Delhi to UT
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
The Delhi government is set to relieve KK Sharma, a 1983-batch IAS officer and Principal Secretary (PWD), who has been posted as the new Adviser to the UT Administrator, ending earlier uncertainty on whether or when he will join the Chandigarh Administration.

This was reportedly decided at a meeting between Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, where the Ministry of Home Affairs decided to review the transfers of a couple of senior officers.

While Delhi Jal Board CEO Ramesh Negi and Commissioner of Trade and Taxes Jalaj Srivastava are being given extension, Sharma is being relieved with immediate effect, sources said, adding that a modified transfer order would be issued soon.

The uncertainty over Sharma’s joining here arose following reports of Dikshit today reportedly extracting an assurance from Chidambaram that transfers of some of the five officers recently posted out would be reviewed and put on hold.

Reports said Dikshit met Chidambaram in New Delhi to seek a review of the Centre’s decision to transfer several top IAS officials without consulting the Delhi Government.

When contacted, local MP and Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Pawan Bansal claimed that he was not aware of the issue.

The Chief Minister had earlier written a letter to Chidambaram, demanding a review of the decision on the ground that their transfer would seriously affect her government’s annual budget-making exercise.

The Centre, on Friday last, transferred five top officials, Principal Secretary (PWD) KK Sharma, Delhi Jal Board CEO Ramesh Negi, Commissioner of Trade and Taxes Jalaj Srivastava, Transport Commissioner RK Verma and Industries Commissioner Chetan Sanghi.

Dikshit had claimed in her letter that the Delhi Government was facing a shortage of officials and the situation would be more serious when a large number of officials would retire in the next three or four months.



Now, PUSU begins protest over hostel mess charges
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
Exactly a week after the principal of Panjab University’s dental college, Dr Krishan Gauba, was forced to resign following an eight-day long student agitation and barely 24 hours after the University Business School head expressed his “regret” to protesting girl students of his department, it was the turn of the Panjab University Students Union (PUSU) to launch a protest outside the vice chancellor’s office demanding uniform mess charges in girls and boys hostels.

Last fortnight has witnessed a spate of continuous ‘dharnas’ (sit-ins) by varsity students on serious and frivolous issues alike, from demanding removal of department heads to expressing dissent on ‘paranthas’ (type of flatbread) not being served in campus canteens.

Student leaders appear to have virtually “booked” the premises outside the vice chancellor’s office, which has become a scene of endless protests. The most recent was the agitation held today by PUSU over the pathetic condition of toilets and varying mess charges in hostels.

“Residents of the girls hostels are being charged money for meals they don’t consume and are also fined Rs 4 for missing a particular meal. We also protested against the poor quality of materials used in renovating the bathrooms in the boy’s hostels. Five days after the renovation was completed there were problems of water blockage and leakage from roofs and taps,” said Sukhjit Singh Brar, working president of PUSU. Incidentally, PU officials had restricted students from staging protests outside the VC’s office last year and also announced strict action would be taken against students found blocking the road outside the office. However, during the past 15 days, students have been staging ‘dharnas’, shouting slogans and even sitting on hunger strike here.

The chain of protests on the PU campus began on February 1 when students of the HSJ Institute of Dental Sciences & Hospital demanded removal of their department head who, they claimed, was as an “over-disciplinarian”.

The pandemonium continued and certain MCom (e-commerce) female students of the University Business School staged a thee-day long protest demanding removal of their head for “not treating them at par” with MBA students of the same department. Eventually, the UBS head expressed his “regret” to the students following a hurriedly called meeting of syndics on Monday night.

Meanwhile, PU dean of students welfare Naval Kishore said: “Students must follow the mechanism put in place to address their problems. I told the students who were protesting today to first take up the problem with the respective department. If their demands pertain to campus hostels, they must first give a representation to the dean of students welfare’s office and action would be taken.”

Cascading effect

  • Feb1-9: Students of HSJ Institute of Dental Sciences & Hospital demand removal of head, Dr Krishan Gauba. An inquiry committee was set up to verify students’ demands and eventually the PU syndicate accepted Gauba’s request to relinquish charge
  • Feb 10-14: MCom (e-commerce) final semester students demand ouster of department head for “not treating them at par” with the MBA students of UBS. Taking responsibility, the head expressed his “regret” following which the protest was called off
  • Feb 15: Representatives of PUSU shouted slogans outside the VC’s office demanding revision of mess charges in girls hostels. Presently, the hostellers have to pay certain minimum charges even if they don’t eat any meal. This rule is applicable only in girls hostels, say student leaders



10-year-old goes missing from ‘Snehalaya’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
A 10-year-old boy went missing from ‘Snehalaya’ at Maloya village here this evening. Suraj was admitted to the home for the destitute last year. The authorities informed the police about the incident in the evening. A missing report has been lodged at the Sector 39 police station.



Showers bring in some chill
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
Cloudy sky and a slight drizzle for the third consecutive day caused the mercury to dip, bringing in some chill in the city today. A Met official said the intermittent drizzle and the dip in temperature was because of the rain in almost all parts of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The weatherman has forecast more rains even on Wednesday.

From 8.30 am. to 5.30 pm., 0.6 mm rain was recorded, the met office said.

The maximum temperature dropped to 18.2 degrees Celsius (°C), 4.2 degrees lower compared to 23 °C recorded on Monday while the minimum was 13.4 °C, four notches above normal, an official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

The maximum temperature was expected to hover around 19 °C and the minimum around 9 °C respectively.

The weatherman has forecast a generally cloudy sky in the city during the next 24 hours, with one or two spells of rain or thundershowers. Hailstorm/thunder squalls with wind speed exceeding 45 kmph could also occur at isolated places in Punjab and Haryana.

Unchahar Express delayed

The Unchahar Express (14217) running between Allahabad and Chandigarh was delayed by 11 hours. The train, which reaches city railway station at 10.15 am, arrived at 9.15 pm. An inclement weather on the way was the reason behind the delay, railway sources said. All the flights landed and departed as per schedule.



RTE Guidelines
Admn did not issue complete documents: Private schools
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 15
Even as the district administration in its reply informed the court yesterday that it had framed the RTE policy and guidelines and had issued the same to schools, the counsel for the private schools denied having received any detailed guidelines from the administration.

The counsel said the administration had not provided the private schools with complete documents pertaining to the RTE policy and guidelines. When asked by the court about the status of the RTE documents, the counsel for the district administration sought time for clarification.

Opposing the repeated adjournments, Pankaj Chandgothia, petitioner, said as the schools were already in the process of finalising admissions, any delay in the decision would jeopardise the rights of children falling under the 25 per cent quota. Chandgothia had sought directions for immediately framing of guidelines for implementing the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

The Judge has kept the case for final hearing on February 16 keeping in view the urgency of the matter.

Earlier while filing the petition, Chandgothia and his wife Sangeeta stated that they had experienced the trauma, tension and worry which parents underwent during the admission process, since they were parents to two sons, presently aged 9 and 11 years. They said certain rules and regulations framed by the administration had only added more confusion to the tedious admission process.

The couple had stated that there was no clarity about the number of seats which each school had to fill through the EWS quota, how the students could be identified for admission under this quota, whether the quota could be implemented in a phased manner, whether fee for private students could be increased in order to recover the loss that these schools would incur on account of implementation of the quota.



Experts review cyber crimes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
The Centre for Police Administration, University Institute of Emerging Areas in Social Sciences (UIEASS), Panjab University, organised a special lecture on “Current Trends in Cyber Crime and Practicing Cyber Safety” by Sanjeev Sofat, professor and head, department of computer science and engineering and coordinator, Cyber Security Research Centre, PEC University of Technology, on the PU campus here today. Sofat said the world of cyber crime was very complex as criminals could easily route their attacks or communications through different countries with different legal systems. This system of multiple hops in which long chain made the criminals invisible, led him to call cyber crime as ‘Trans-National Faceless Crime’.

While highlighting the dangers of venturing into the virtual world, he urged the users to be careful about the 3Cs-content, contact and commerce. He dwelt on various forms of the crime and opined that security agencies were gearing up to meet this challenge by establishing cyber cells in various police stations around the country. Akshat Mehta, assistant professor, Centre for Police Administration, stated that despite appropriate legislations for dealing with cyber crime in place, unfortunately, the number of cases registered under the Information Technology Act were miniscule.



Sanitation Work
MC to go in for e-tendering
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 15
In order to introduce more competitiveness, the Mohali municipal corporation has decided to go in for e-tendering for outsourcing sanitation work. The move will help contractors belonging to far-off areas give their bids, thus introducing more competition among bidders. The civic body authorities claimed that such a move would help check corruption and bring about transparency in the system of allotting work to contractors. The tenders for sanitation work will be opened on February 22.

The one-year contract for sanitation work had expired on November 25. An extension for two months was given thereafter to contractors. As the civic body failed to give a fresh contract during the extended period, one month’s extension was again given in January by the commissioner of the corporation.

The civic body has now decided that only one contractor would be allotted the work of one zone.

Earlier, one contractor used to take care of more than one zone resulting in poor quality work.

The town has been divided into four zones for cleaning purposes. Zone one consists of Phases I, II, III , IV and VI, zone two has Phases III A , III B 1, III B 2 , VII and VIII while zone three consists of Phases IX to XI, Sector 48-C, and Industrial Area, Phase IX. Sectors 70, 71, Phase V and Industrial Area, Phases VII and VIII, fall in zone four.

In order to improve the state of sanitation in Mohali, the civic body has proposed to divide the work into two parts before giving it on contract for another year. While part one comprises cleaning the town, including the curb channels, the second consists of dumping of garbage from collection points.



Stabbing victim alleges police bias
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
The family members of Siddharth Malhotra, who was stabbed in Sector 40 on January 28, met with the UT SSP today and accused the police of registering a false case against their son.

Siddharth sustained grievous injuries in the attack, which took place while he was returning from tuition.

Instead of arresting the assaulters, the police booked the victim in the case, the father alleged.

Siddharth was stabbed by Ankush Chadha and his accomplices near the Sampark Centre in Sector 40. The victim lost two fingers in the attack.

The police lodged an FIR against Siddharth on February 13 saying he had also stabbed the prime accused, Ankush.

“The cross-case was registered on the basis of a medical report of Ankush Chadha, which suggested that Ankush had also sustained injuries in the brawl that day. There is no question of bias as we are going by medical records,” said Charanjit Singh, SHO of police station-39.

Arun Malhotra, father of Siddharth, alleged that Ankush had a political background and that they were under pressure to arrive at a compromise. When they refused to do so, the police booked his son instead due to bias towards them, he said.



Booking of officials
Forest officials’ strike tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 15
Irritated over being implicated in a case at the alleged behest of sand mining mafia, field officers in the Punjab Forest Department are going on a one-day statewide pen down strike on February 17, demanding cancellation of the First Information Report (FIR) registered against some of their officials.

A spokesman of the Punjab Forest Deputy Ranger and Ranger Association said as part of the strike, a dharna would be staged at the state headquarters of the Forest Department in Mohali.

On last Friday, the police had booked forest range officer Gurman Singh, guards Devinder Singh, Sahib Singh and Amrik Singh along with six others for allegedly threatening and assaulting Varinder Singh, a suspect in a sand mining case. While the police has been stating that the case had been registered after the victims moved court alleging non-registration of a case, the forest department officials claim that police was acting under pressure.



MC panel okays 3,500 new posts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
A special committee headed by city mayor Ravinder Pal Singh today approved creation of about 3,500 new posts for various sections of the municipal corporation with an additional budget of approximately Rs 60 crore.

The draft of the new posts will be tabled at the coming budget session of the MC general house scheduled for February 25.

According to the draft approved by the panel, it is proposed to add the posts of executive engineer and subdivisional officer in every MC department. In addition there is a proposal to set up a special mechanical wing for maintenance of all MC vehicles.

It is also proposed to strengthen town planning and the architect wing.

The proposal also suggested separate staff for the senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor.

The draft has also proposed fresh recruitments in the primary health and education departments that were recently transferred to the corporation.

The committee also decided to table rules on recruitment and promotion of MC staff at the next meeting scheduled for February 21.



Free dental check-up
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 15
About 110 persons availed free dental check-up facility during a camp organised by Sunder Lal Ram Parshad Khosla Charitable Trust at Kundi village in Sector 20 here today.

Stating this in a press release, NK Khosla said senior dental surgeons explained proper tooth brushing techniques to the school children in the village.



Students from Bhutan to get reservation in PGI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
The PGI is all set to give reservation to students from Bhutan. The reservation, first of its kind for students from any foreign country, is being introduced on an initiative of the Central government.

At present, a majority of foreign students enrolled at the PGI are from Nepal. A few others are from Mauritius, Bangladesh and African countries.

In a meeting of the academic committee chaired by the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare on January 17 here, it was decided that two seats in the institute were to be reserved for the students from Bhutan. These students will be entitled to take admission in MD, MS or BSc (nursing) after the decision is implemented.

These students will be extended a concession of 5 per cent on the pattern of other reserved categories.



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