Punjab chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal has issued instructions to all government departments, besides divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners, to remove those officials from public-dealing posts who are facing trial in vigilance trap cases on the charges of accepting bribe money.
The decision came as the Punjab vigilance bureau (VB) detected that 19 such officials managed to get back their postings after their release on bail.
The chief secretary's communiqué, issued last week, has also asked the departments concerned to either shift such officials to another district or call them at the headquarters so that they cannot influence witnesses or tamper with the evidence against them.
The VB had taken up the matter with the chief secretary last month, highlighting 16 cases wherein 19 accused got the same or similar postings after being released on bail and getting their suspension revoked, pending the outcome of their trial.
"This not only becomes demoralising for the public, especially the complainants, when such accused officials get back same or similar postings of pubic dealing, but it also adversely affects the VB investigations as the accused officials get room enough to influence the witnesses or tamper with the evidence against them," VB chief director Suresh Arora wrote to the chief secretary on July 8, seeking the removal of all such accused officials from similar postings.
Acknowledging the VB's assertions, the chief secretary's order further said: "The re-instatement of such accused officers/employees to the same posting is not suitable on administrative grounds as well, besides conveying a wrong message to the public and the government employees."
Of these 16 trap cases wherein 19 officials are presently enjoying the same postings after their release on bail over the past two years, 10 cases are being heard in the VB's Patiala range, four in the Amritsar range, and one each in Ludhiana and Ferozepur ranges.
These officials include Dr Rohtas Mittal (veterinary doctor, animal husbandry department, posted at Naina Khurd, Patiala); Balwinder Singh (clerk, Patiala municipal corporation); Vipin Kumar, auction recorder, Kulwinder Singh, secretary, and Rajinder Singh, mandi superviser (all three posted at market committee, Samana); Mohan Lal (accountant, Desh Bhagat Government College, Dhuri, Sangrur); Parminder Singh (platoon commander, Home Guards, Sangrur); Gurvinder Singh (assistant manager, Punjab Agro Development Bank, Sangrur); Shri Ram, subdivisional officer (SDO), and Bhag Singh, clerk (both posted at Lasoi sub-division office in Sangrur district); Tajinder Singh (constable posted at Sangrur city police station); Harikesh (clerk posted at Sunam municipal committee); Kishan Puri (clerk, Sangrur municipal committee); Jarmesh Singh Rahra (assistant at Fazilka cooperative sugar mill); Rajpal Singh (registrar at market committee, Chogowan, in Amritsar district); Amrit Lal (clerk, municipal council, Jandiala, Amritsar); Lakhwinder Singh (lineman, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited, Gurdaspur); Sukhdev Raj (SDO, PSPCL, Dhariwal village, Gurdaspur) and Harmanpreet Singh (clerk, PSPCL, at Lalito village in Ludhiana district).
When contacted by HT, Kaushal said, "This has been done as a matter of public policy, in public interest."