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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.

 

 

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