It's been three weeks that Punjab's chief secretary (CS) okayed punitive action against officials found guilty of setting up a fake Vigilance Bureau (VB) trap that led to excise and taxation officer (ET) Ranjit Singh's suicide last year, but even directions from the head of the state's bureaucracy have failed to have effect.
Despite CS Rakesh Singh's April 30 orders - which came after the Punjab and Haryana high court issued notices to the government for reply to a writ petition filed by Ranjit's widow Manjit Kaur - there has been no action against superintendent of police (SP) Amandeep Kaur or former additional excise and taxation commissioner (AETC) Harvinder Kaur Brar, who along with head constable Harminder Singh were indicted in the probe by IAS officer Mansavi Kumar and IPS officer Harpreet Singh Sidhu that found the trap fake.
ETO Ranjit, then posted in SAS Nagar, had committed suicide in April 2011 after he was falsely implicated.
The indicted SP has, in fact, got a new posting last week instead of facing any punitive action, 10 months after the probe report was submitted.
The probe report, submitted to the chief secretary in July 2011, had recommended that the SP and head constable be suspended and be charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act. It sought departmental action against the AETC, who was promoted as deputy excise and taxation commissioner two months after the indictment.
Acknowledging the fresh posting of SP Amandeep at an IRB battalion in Ludhiana, home secretary DS Bains told HT, "I cannot comment at this juncture. The matter is in court now." Postings of SP-rank officers from the PPS cadre are done by the home department, which is under deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal.
The SP had earlier been pulled out of the VB and repatriated to the Punjab Police headquarters in Chandigarh after HT reported the matter in a three-part series ('Custodians of corruption', February 16, 17 and 18).
NOT WALKING THE TALK
The home secretary had on March 3 endorsed the report of the inquiry panel sending a two-page note to the chief secretary: "I am inclined to agree with the recommendations of the Inquiry Committee report in which it has been suggested that a case under the PC Act, 1988 be registered against Amandeep Kaur, reader head constable Harminder Singh, Vipan Kansal, Jatinder Pal Singh advocate and Vijay Ghai." Kansal, Jatinder Pal and Ghai, the three men with whose connivance ETO Ranjit was framed, have also faced no action.
The chief secretary, who heads the vigilance department as it is under direct charge of the CM, agreed with Bains and the orders for action was forwarded by the vigilance department to the home secretary and the excise and taxation department.
Excise and taxation commissioner (ETC), A Venuprasad, remains tight-lipped on the recommended suspension of the then AETC Brar and departmental inquiry against her for "dereliction of duty and telling lies before the inquiry panel". Asked if he followed the chief secretary's orders, Venuprasad said, "I don't remember."
The state, however, still faces the matter in the high court that served notices to the home secretary, state DGP, the VB director and the indicted cops to file their replies by July 17 to the writ petition by the ETO's widow.