Alleged conman Davinder Singh Gill is not new to controversy. He had hit the political careers of three BJP leaders, including former chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Raj Khurana, who is currently facing a trial in a graft case.
Khurana, former MLA from Rajpura, had joined the BJP after leaving the Congress and had to resign as CPS after his arrest in the graft case.
Khurana, co-accused Davinder and Bhag Singh, private secretary at Punjab secretariat posted as personal assistant to then technical education minister Swarna Ram, are currently facing trial in the case which will come up for hearing on September 18.
The case had made headlines in May 2011 after the arrest of Khurana and “fixer” Davinder, who had worked as a clerk in the office of the Registrar of Firms and Societies, Punjab, and had left the job.
The complainant, Manpreet, general secretary of Punjab Automobile Mechanics’ Association, had accused Davinder of demanding Rs 2-crore bribe allegedly to be given to then industries minister Manoranjan Kalia, through then CPS Khurana “for closing the complaint” received against the office-bearers of the association.
Flaunting his connections, Davinder had acted as “mediator” and had accepted Rs 1.5 crore — Rs 15 lakh in cash and Rs 1.35 crore through nine cheques — at the official residence of Khurana on May 4, 2011, the night of the trap. The bribe was recovered from the boot of the car of accused Davinder and cheques were also recovered from him.
Acording to the CBI, the bribe was demanded by the three accused, all currently out on bail in this case, for getting a complaint quashed against the executive members of Manpreet Singh’s association, the Punjab Automobile Mechanic Association. Davinder is currently in judicial custody with regard to fresh cases of cheating registered against him.
The complaint was to be quashed by then industries minister Kalia, and Davinder had convinced Manpreet that Khurana could get it quashed by Kalia.
The CBI investigations revealed that in pursuance of the conspiracy, Bhag Singh got a note signed by Swarna Ram, then minister of technical education, that referred the complaint to Kalia for action. Bhag Singh made available the copy of the note to Devinder to help him be in a position to ask for the bribe, it is alleged.
Davinder had introduced the complainant to Khurana and CBI investigations revealed that there is conversation of Khurana that they had met Kalia in connection with the complainant’s work. Complainant yet to record statement.
The trial in the case commenced in October 2013 with the recording of the statements of three witnesses, including complainant Manpreet Singh. However, the recording of his statement has not been completed as he has been seeking adjournments citing ill health. He was summoned twice and each time he sought adjournment on health grounds thus deferring recording his statement.
Deepak Jain, customs and excise inspector, a shadow witness in the case, in his statement before the court, had said that bribe of Rs 1.5 crore was recovered from the boot of Davinder’s car parked outside Khurana’s house. He said Davinder had accepted the money and cheques at the official residence of Khurana. Jain said the entire bribe amount was recovered from Davinder’s car, along with the cheques.
Initially, names of Kalia and Swarna Ram cropped up in the case and led to their resignations from the cabinet, but following questioning, both were given the clean chit.