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Sanjeev Verma, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, September 10, 2013
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has informed the Punjab and Haryana high court that it was only after considering the issues raised by Punjab IAS officer Mandeep Singh that a chargesheet was filed against him in the Patiala special CBI court in the recruitment scam of 909 panchayat secretaries during the SAD-BJP regime between 1997 and 2002.

Punjab's forest and wildlife department secretary Mandeep Singh had challenged his prosecution sanction in the case by the central government under the Prevention of Corruption Act granted on August 6, 2010.

In this case, former Punjab assembly speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon and former IAS officer JS Kesar are also accused along with 10 block development and panchayat officers. Kahlon was the rural development and panchayat minister at the time of the recruitment, Kesar was the principal secretary and Mandeep Singh was director of the department.

However, countering the IAS officer's stand, the CBI has submitted that it was settled principle of law that according of sanction for prosecution was an administrative act and the accused had no right to be heard in the said process as held by various court judgments.

Stating the petitioner's stand as devoid of merit, the CBI also informed the court headed by justice Rajiv Narain Raina on Monday that the department of personnel and training (DoPT) had issued prosecution sanction after considering all aspects of the case and the Patiala special CBI court had already taken cognisance of the offences against the accused IAS officer on October 5, 2010.

Mandeep Singh's representation sent on August 6, 2010, had raised the point of hostile deposition of approver Joginder Singh in the case. But the CBI submitted that even after going through a copy of Joginder Singh's deposition dated April 22, 2009, it was found that the approver had not turned hostile in the CBI's case which was distinct from the original Punjab vigilance's case.

The case

The case was registered in June 2003 for alleged irregularities in the selection on the statement of the then director, rural development and panchayats, on charges of corruption, forgery and abuse of official position against all the accused. The case was later transferred to the CBI that found out that money had exchanged hands during the selection process.

For the time being, the trial of the case in the special CBI court Patiala has been stayed by the high court. The CBI had filed a chargesheet in the Patiala special CBI court in July 2010.

The case has now been adjourned for hearing in the last week of September.