Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh on Wednesday asked the state residents to protest against the "steep hike" in electricity tariff and not to pay arrears of their power bills.
"The state government has burdened the people with 12.8% hike in power tariff. Adding to their misery, the hike has been imposed with retrospective effect. No law permits this. I would suggest that you do not pay the arrears," said Capt Amarinder Singh, while talking to mediapersons outside the SAS Nagar district courts on Wednesday. Capt Amarinder was here to make an appearance before the court in the Amritsar improvement trust case.
"When the industry is opposing the hike tooth and nail, how can one expect the salaried class to bear the brunt of the hike? When Punjab does not have electricity, what does it want the people to pay for? How can the government force people to pay with retrospective effect," asked the state Congress chief.
Lashing out at the state government, Capt Amarinder said: "The SAD government is all out to fleece the people. First, with the power tariff hike and now, with the move to impose property tax. The sole agenda of the Akalis is to loot."
Talking about the so-called differences among the party cadres, Capt Amarinder said: "Such talks are a figment of media's imagination. We are all united and there is absolutely no difference among the leaders."
Meanwhile, additional district and sessions judge Jaswinder Sheemar recused herself from hearing the case. Citing personal reasons, the judge had sent the referral to the Ropar sessions judge.
The case would now come up for hearing before the court of district and sessions judge, Roopnagar, on August 28.
The application seeking the release of Capt Amarinder's passport to facilitate his travel abroad for some personal work was not entertained by the court, as the judge had already sent the referral. "We will move the Punjab and Haryana high court in this regard," informed one of the counsels of Capt Amarinder.
Former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, former minister for local bodies Chaudhary Jagjit Singh and other accused also appeared in the SAS Nagar court in connection with the case.
The Punjab vigilance bureau had registered the case in September 2008, following a report of the committee of the Vidhan Sabha indicting several persons, including the former chief minister and the minister for local bodies, for having caused a loss of about Rs 130 crore to the state.