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November 26, 2001 - November 26, 2001

SC refuses to stay HC order Monday, November 26, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The Supreme Court of India has refused to grant a stay order against the judgment of the full Bench of the Gujarat High Court holding that 'teacher' is not an 'employee' within the meaning of Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972.

A full Bench of Gujarat High Court comprising justice B C Patel, Justice J N Bhatt and Justice M R Calla had given an important judgment on May 4, 2001, in the case of Shantiben Lallubhai Christian against Administrative officer of the Ahmedabad Mu nicipal School Board, under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972.

The High Court after taking into consideration the various judgments and considering the definition of the term 'employee' under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, held that 'teachers' are not entitled to claim gratuity under the said Act.

The High Court had held that the main function of the teacher is teaching, which cannot be considered to be any skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled, manual, supervisory, technical or clerical work.

It also held that the term 'employee-workman' under other labour legislation as well as the judgments of the Supreme Court in the case of Ms A Sundaram Bal and Hariyana Unrecognised Schools Assocaition, the 'teacher' will not be covered in the definition of the term 'employee' under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, and hence, they are not entitled to claim gratuity.

Ahmedabad Private Primary Teachers' Association had preferred a special leave petition before the apex court challenging the above referred judgment and order passed by the High Court full Bench.

A division Bench of the Supreme Court had granted leave, but refused to stay the judgment and order dated May 4, 2001, of the full Bench of the Gujarat HC.

Thus, for the time being till any other order is passed, the High Court judgment will remain in force in the State of Gujarat and accordingly 'Teacher' will not be entitled to claim any gratuity under the provisions of the Payments of Gratuity Act, 1972.

Attorney general of India Soli Sorabji along with advocates Devang Nanavati and Deepak Shukla appeared for the AMC School Board.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Ancient tribal custom receives a blow Monday, November 26, 2001

VADODARA: A failed agreement regarding a marriage has flared up tempers in the Lavaria village of the Devgadh Baria taluka. The tribal tradition of selecting a girl of one's choice and then reaching an agreement with her parents has come under a cloud.

Vaghabhai Patel and the members of his family were allegedly beaten up by Pratap Rama and three other accused on Thursday evening.

The reason being that Patel had decided to get his daughter Mimi married elsewhere after she stayed for about eight months at the place of Pratap.

Pratap had taken Mimi at his place to marry her, but the families could not agree. Mimi eventually returned to her parent's place about a month back. On Thursday Pratap reportedly came to her residence in a jeep along with three other accused and allegedly abducted Mimi.

A pregnant daughter-in-law of Patel, his son and wife were allegedly beaten up. Pratap Raiji Baria, a resident of the village said that some youngsters in the village cheered the miscreants. "The girl had hidden herself in a container used for storing corn. She was dragged out of that place, but no one did anything," he said.

Baria pointed out that an engagement ceremony for Mimi had been held on the same day. "Within an hour of the completion of the ceremony, the accused reached the place and ruined everything," Baria alleged.

Kanu Brahmbhatt, a Sarvoday worker working with the tribals, said that those who supported the girl's family were being harassed. "Besides, there is political support to those who are involved in the incident. We have approached high ranking officials in the police regarding the incident," Brahmbhatt said.

Deogadh Baria police has registered an offence under the Sections 366, 452, 325, 323, 504, 506 (2), 537 and 114 of the Indian Penal Code. Special IG (Vadodara Range) Deepak Swaroop said that he had been informed regarding the incident. "We are looking into the matter. The villagers can rest assured and shall have full cooperation from our side," he said.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Meatless day observed across state Monday, November 26, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The Sadhu Vaswani Mission under the guidance of their spiritual leader Dada J P Vaswani, began a drive against cruelty to animals, by observing November 25 as International Animal Rights Day and Meatless Day.

To awaken the conscience of humanity and spread awareness, the mission would undertake an annual world-wide campaign to respect life and vegetarianism. The campaign began in 1986 and has today converted nearly one crore people to vegetarianism, a press release stated.

People from all walks of life, across the globe have pledged to go meatless on this day. Over the years, the campaign has grown from strength to strength. It aims at spreading awareness, sensitising people to the concept of reverence for life as the first step to world peace.

To mark this day , the mission and its centres world-wide organise peace marches, seminars and adopt multi-pronged efforts to persuade people to accept this cause as their own. In India, the past 15 years had seen a huge response. The governments of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have supported the mission and keep slaughterhouses closed on this day.

Last year, 42 butchers in Ahmedabad shut shop on November 25, and pledged vegetarianism on the day. Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka governments have declared November 25 as Meatless Day.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Epic quake survival stories to be documented Monday, November 26, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Remember Nalini Kumbhare, who survived 96-excruciatingly long hours under the debris of her apartment in the city with her one year old son Keyur, feeding him sand and pinching him hard enough to cry so that someone could hear the cries and rescue them?

Or Shastri Kaka of Bhuj, who spent days at the local crematorium so that hundreds of those crushed to death by the killer quake were bid farewell through a decent funeral, complete with all traditions and rituals?

Well, if the recommendations of the recently concluded World Health Organisation (WHO) seminar on the experienes of the Gujarat earthquake are to be followed, tales of battle for survival like those won by Nalini or the selfless service extended by Shastri Kaka would be documented and circulated for the world to take inspiration from!

Almost a hundered participants from all over the country and abroad unanimously resolved that various stories of survival and outstanding courage should be recorded and published by the government. All those who worked to save lives and minimise losses to the community in the disaster-affected areas should be taken on record of appreciation, especially those who worked in the first 24 hours simply driven by their human instincts in absence of adequate resources, it was recommended.

"The idea is to document one of the most pro-active actions initiated by the community in wake of a disaster for the world to take inspiration from. Of course, the documentation work has been entrusted to the state government, we will be sponsoring the same", WHO local state co-ordinator Dr Prashant Waingaukar told TNN.

Health minister Ashok Bhatt, who was deputed as the chairman of the NGO co-ordination committee at the time of the quake, conceded that the state was all game to come out with such a document. "Most of the exemplary work done by voluntary agencies is already recorded in detail with us. Whatever is missing, our people will take note of the same so that a detailed document could be prepared to co-incide with the first anniversary of the quake", Bhatt told TNN.

On the more significant lessons learnt from the way quake rescue and relief was managed or rather mismanged in Gujarat, it has been stressed that a proper disaster management machinery be out into place at the earliest.

Towards this, a permanent state level co-ordination committe extending to the district, taluka and village level should be made an integral part of the Disaster Management Authority. A Disaster Management Plan should be immidiately prepared, armed with current information technology like Geographical Information System (GIS).

Assesment of all nodal centres for health and medical care and other emergency and essential services for their vulnerability to disasters and compilation of a detailed directory of doctors, paramedics and other agencies that can assist in disaster management has been especially stressed upon to strengthen the health-care factor in any forthcoming disaster.

"Importantly here, experts emphasised that all activities aimed at immidiate action in a disaster should be subjected to periodical drill or mock events that will require a manual detailing the person, task, frame and responsibility for the entire operation. A major drill atleast at six months interval must take place", said Dr Prashant.

Interestingly here, the WHO officials said that while their organisation recognised early implementation of the recommendations in the interest of the state, the final responsibility of executing the same would depend solely on the state government. How much time the government will take to implement these suggestions (if at all it will) is anybody's guess. Hopefully, before the next disaster strikes the state.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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19,000 villages find themselves without power Monday, November 26, 2001

VADODARA: Its been a bleak scenario in rural Gujarat post-Diwali, with the Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) stopping single-phase power supply during day-time to about 19,000 villages in the state.

Disclosing this, a GEB official said that cutting off single-phase power supply to rural areas during day time will help ensure disciplined operation of the entire power system in the state.

GEB has already imposed a three-hour evening power-cut on the non-continuous industries and a half-an-hour evening power cut imposed on towns. Power thus saved is diverted to the rural areas for meeting their domestic power requirement in the evenings.

The decision to cut off single-phase power supply to rural areas was taken following a critical power situation created due to several reasons, including several thermal power units being taken out for annual overhauling, absence of additional assistance of power from the western grid and discontinuing power purchase from IPPs.

With the gap between demand and supply of power at present being about 1500 MW, the GEB had no alternative but to discontinue single-phase power supply to villages during the day-time, sources said. However, supply will be resumed between 6 pm and 7 am.
These 19,000 villages, that have about seven lakh agricultural irrigation pumps, receive power from 3000 rural feeders connected with nearby electric sub-stations located in different parts of the state.

Sources indicated that the main reason behind stopping of single-phase power supply to rural areas during day time is that it is misused by converting into three-phase supply that increases the load on the system and thereby causes huge revenue losses to GEB.

Irregular power supply in rural areas has been compelling trading and business communities, educational institutions, branches of nationalised and co-operative banks to switch over to power generators or use candle light for carrying out their day-to-day activities.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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