The Congress on Sunday questioned the credibility of the "judicial investigation" ordered into the book scam in which Punjab education minister Sikander Singh Maluka is embroiled, saying the official order held no locus standi.
There were no specific terms and references of these orders that entrusted the inquiry to retired district and session judge AN Jindal, Punjab Congress spokesman Sukhpal Singh Khaira said at a press conference here.
Distributing the copies of the order signed by principal secretary (education) Anjali Bhawra, Khaira also questioned the statutory provision under which the senior IAS officer had passed these orders.
"The farcical and ridiculous terms of reference of the so-called inquiry have completely vindicated our allegations of gross cover-up operation, as it is not covered under the Commission of Inquiries Act, 1952," he stated.
"It is shocking to learn that the so called terms of reference do not include by designation the education minister, who is actually the kingpin of the scam. It only mentions that the ambit of inquiry would include any person with a role in the purchase and supply of books, science kits and map masters," he said.
He said there was a need to investigate the entire disbursement of the central funds used under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) during the tenure of the additional state project director, SSA, Parampal Kaur, daughter-in-law of the education minister. "Everyone knows that Maluka's daughter-in-law was placed in the DGSE's office to make it easier for the minister to embezzle funds," he said.
He said the office order had restricted and limited the scope of inquiry to fix responsibility on the state project director and director general of school education (DGSE) KS Pannu and other officials in order to give a clean chit to the education minister.
Khaira said the minister's statement holding the DGSE responsible for the scam clearly indicated that the judicial inquiry was "pre-meditated, meaningless and redundant".
Khaira stated that the Congress would follow a legal path to pin down the education minister, if he was not removed from the cabinet for his alleged role in the scandalous purchases.
He said there was also a move to file a public-interest petition for a thorough investigation of the utilisation of the central funds in the education department.