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Punjab News 

Rana’s ‘conflict of interest’:

HC notice to Punjab

Chandigarh, October 24- The Punjab and Haryana High Court today put the State of Punjab on notice on a petition filed in public interest for restraining Power and Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh from dealing with affairs of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL).
A Bench of Justices Ajay Kumar Mittal and Amit Rawal also issued notice to the corporation and Rana Gurjit Singh for November 14 on a PIL filed by advocate Hari Chand Arora. He contended that Rana Gurjit needed to be restrained from dealing in particular with matters pertaining to determination of rates for the purchase of power from private producers, and a decision on shutting down thermal plants at Bathinda, Ropar, Rajpura.
He alleged Rana Gurjit and his wife were majority shareholders in Rana Sugar Mills, a power-producing company. It had signed two agreements for sale of power to PSPCL.
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission, which determined power tariff, was bound by the policy decisions taken by the state government. Alleging that Rana Gurjit had conflicting interest as an individual and as a Cabinet minister, Arora added he should not have been given the Power Minister’s portfolio.
The Bench was told that the petitioner had sent a protest representation to the CM also when the portfolio was allotted to Rana Gurjit Singh. Referring to information received by him under the RTI, Arora said Rana Sugar Mills had filed three court cases against the state government, Punjab State Electricity Board and PSPCL over the past 10 years.
Personal interest of Rana Gurjit Singh and that of PSPCL were conflicting as a civil appeal filed by Rana Sugar Mills against the State of Punjab and PSPCL were still pending in the Supreme Court. Arora also referred to a meeting held by the Power Minister with PSPCL officials, the photos of which were uploaded by the corporation on its website. It clearly stated that the Minister for Power discussed the issue of “improving the system of power purchase” by PSPCL. As such, the minister was entering an area of conflicting interests, the petitioner said.

 

Raje govt refers controversial

bill to select committee

Jaipur, October 24- Amid protest by the Opposition and BSP in the Rajasthan Assembly, the Raje government on Tuesday sent the controversial ‘gag’ bill on amendment of the CrPC which it had tabled in the House on Monday to a select committee for review and reference till the next session of the House.
As the House resumed on the second day for Question Hour, opposition members raised the issue demanding withdrawal of the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, and rushed to the Well of the House shouting slogans and traded charges with the treasury benches.
Home Minister GC Kataria told the House that the state government had taken the permission of the President while issuing the ordinance on September 7. Comparing the Maharashtra government’s bill with Rajasthan’s ordinance/bill, Kataria said the provision of 180 days against Maharashtra’s 80 days, and restriction on the media for coverage of a case before 180 days would be reviewed.
Kataria’s motion to refer the Bill to the select committee was passed by a voice vote, Speaker Kailash Meghwal said.
Rebel BJP MLA GS Tiwari said, “Pahle thuka kyon, phir chata kyon (why did you spit first, then licked it).”
As the Raje government went on the backfoot with Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje not present in the House, the Congress picked up farmers’ crop loan waiver demand and did not allow the Speaker to run Question Hour. The House was adjourned for an hour.
On Monday night, Raje had called a special meeting and summoned six of her cabinet ministers asking them to review the bill’s provisions.
Earlier, hundreds of mediapersons held a protest march wearing black bands against the bill which they called a “black law” that deprived right of expression and freedom to right.
Meanwhile, PCC president Sachin Pilot said it was a victory of the Congress that compelled the state BJP government to check the passage of the “gag bill”, and it is now a face-saving exercise for the government.
On September 6 and 7, the Rajasthan government had issued a gazette notification of an ordinance approved by the Governor for amending the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and IPC, in its application to the state.
By bringing Amendment in Section 156, Central Act No 2 of 1974, a provision has been made that, under the aforesaid sub-section, “No magistrate shall order an investigation to conduct against any person, who is or was a judge, or a magistrate or public servant, as defined under any other law for the time being in force, in respect of the act done by them while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of their official duties, except with the provision sanctions: 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (Act No 2 of 1974) or under any other law for the time being in force.”

 

DNA test order for kin

of 39 missing in Iraq



Jalandhar, October 22- Even as the Indian government has failed to get any conclusive clue on the fate of the 39 men missing in Iraq for three years, their families were today asked to undergo DNA tests, raising concerns.
The families, who said they had got messages through police stations and numberdars, were in a quandary over why the need was felt for such a test.
Kamaljit Kaur of Bath Kalan, whose husband was working in a construction company and was reportedly held captive — along with 38 others, mostly from Punjab — by Islamic State in Mosul in June 2014, said, “I was not at home, so the cops left a message. After this, a numberdar came saying DNA tests of my two sons are to be done.”
Manjit Kaur of Rurka Kalan, whose husband Dawinder Singh too is missing in Iraq, said, “I got a call from Dhaleta police post to get DNA tests done of my three sons. We have not been given any update and are clueless over the reasons.”
Deputy Commissioner Varinder K Sharma said, “There have been directions from the MHA to get the samples of children of missing Iraq men taken and sent to Delhi. I think it is just a routine exercise so the DNA tests can be immediately matched in the event of any information.”
In Amritsar, too, families were asked to reach Government Medical College. Eight families did reach, but were asked to come on Monday as they did not have the kits for taking DNA samples.

 

Militant killed in encounter

in Kupwara district of J&K

Srinagar, October 22- A militant was killed in an early morning gunfight in north Kashmir’s Kupwara on Sunday, Army said.
The militant was killed in a gunfight at Langate Handwara, some 70 km from here, during an anti-militancy operation.
“A contact was established at five this morning. A terrorist was killed and a weapon was recovered,” Srinagar-based defence spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia said. He said the operation was still in progress.
The identity of the slain militant was not established immediately.
Sources said joint teams of the Army, police and CRPF had laid an ambush in the area as they had input about militant movement.
“As the militants were challenged they opened fire triggering a brief gunfight that left a militant dead,” sources said.

Ahead of May auction,

Rana called up Mining Director

Chandigarh, October 7- Ahead of the sand mining auctions in May, Irrigation and Power Minister Rana Gurjit Singh had called up Director (Mining) Amit Dhaka and enquired about the procedure.
Dhaka has said this in his statement before the Justice JS Narang (retd) Commission.
The commission was formed following The Tribune report on May 25, highlighting how four employees of Rana Gurjit had bagged mining contracts. Taking cognisance of the report, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had constituted a judicial commission of inquiry under Justice JS Narang (retd).
Narang had submitted his report on August 10. Subsequently, the Chief Minister had asked the Chief Secretary to examine the report.
The commission, in its report, has given the clean chit to the minister.
The Chief Minister holds the portfolio of Industry, under which the mining wing falls.
As per the statement given before Justice Narang, Dhaka said he had received a number of calls from several persons in connection with the procedure of the auction. “Those who called included politicians. I told every person that the procedure and process had been posted online.”
In reply to a question whether or not Rana Gurjit had tried to influence him for favouring anyone in connection with Saidpur Khurd and Mehadipur mines or any other mine, Dhaka accepted the minister had called him up just before the auction of May 19 and 20.
“He called on my telephone and asked for the procedure and process finalised for holding  the sand mine auctions,” he said.
Dhaka claimed he explained to the minister the procedure had been improvised by the software developed by Punjab Infotech and Indian Telephone Industries Limited. “I told him that for any clarification, he should call on helpline numbers.”
Rana Gurjit admitted that he had called up Dhaka before the auction. In his statement before the commission on July 26, the minister said, “I called up the Director (Mining) to understand the procedure being adopted for e-auctions as some of my persons had enquired from me.”
Rana Gurjit’s four employees had bagged mining contracts that courted controversy. His cook Amit Bahadur got the contract of a mining site in Nawanshahr’s Saidpur Khurd village for Rs 26.51 crore. Kulwinder Pal Singh, deputy general manager, got the contract of Mehadipur quarry for Rs 9.21 crore, Gurinder Singh bagged a quarry in Mohali’s Rampur Kalan village for Rs 4.11 crore and Balraj Singh bagged a contract at Bairsal village for Rs 10.58 crore.
Later, Balraj and Gurinder had backed out when it came to depositing 55 per cent of the bidding amount. So, they were not allotted the sites.
The minister had claimed they were his former employees and had resigned just before the mining auctions.

 


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