Giving the clean chit to a patwari accused of corruption, an inquiry conducted by Kahan Singh Pannu, special principal secretary to the Punjab chief minister, has indicted six serving and former officers of the state Vigilance Bureau for abuse of power, and recommended the registration of an FIR against them.
The probe report (accessed by HT) has concluded that the officers connived directly or indirectly to falsely implicate revenue patwari Mohan Singh in a corruption case pertaining to the paddy scam in Punsup (Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation). The report, submitted on April 30 to the Punjab chief secretary, is awaiting the latter's approval for action against the officers.
Vigilance Bureau joint director Surinderpal Singh, former VB SSP (Patiala) Shiv Kumar Sharma (now retired), SSPs Jaspal Singh and Surjit Singh Grewal, suspended SP Banarsi Das and inspector Isher Singh have been indicted.
It all started when Mohan sought Rs 20 as government fee from Sharma in November 2009 for conducting mutation of land at Rurki village in Fatehgarh Sahib in the name of the SSP's son. Offended, the SSP threatened to frame the patwari. As per the inquiry report, the officer carried out the threat.
Pannu had conducted the probe following a complaint by the Revenue Patwar Union, Punjab, which had met the chief secretary in March.
In his report, Pannu said, "VB officials highly misused their powers to settle personal scores and humiliated an innocent person (Mohan Singh)." "Sharma abused power… and through Jaspal Singh, Banarsi Das and Isher Singh implicated the patwari in a false case… all these officers, during their stints at Patiala, had worked under Sharma," he said.
Recommending the registration of an FIR, Pannu made the remarks, "Jaspal Singh and Banarsi Das were directly involved in humiliating and falsely implicating Mohan Singh at Sharma's behest."
The inquiry also indicted then Jalandhar range VB SSP Surjit Singh Grewal for threatening Mohan Singh not to seek information under the RTI (Right To Information) Act against Sharma. Pannu has recommended further probe against Grewal to ascertain his culpability in the case.
On Surinderpal Singh's role, the report said he bypassed rules by not putting up the file concerned before the DGP and even tampered with records to 'oblige' Sharma. Pannu has recommended stern legal action, stating that, "Surinderpal is involved in abuse of power along with Sharma and others."
In his concluding remarks, Pannu has recommended a probe into Sharma's assets. Sharma's son Mohit had been arrested in the 2008 diamond robbery case. Diamonds worth crores of rupees, looted from a Surat-based merchant, had been allegedly recovered from Mohit's residence in Ludhiana.
Surinderpal Singh was the investigating officer in the disproportionate assets case against the Badal family; he later turned hostile, leading to the acquittal of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and others.
Grewal, now the Moga SSP, was recently acquitted in a 'fake encounter' case.