Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday issued a notice of motion to the Punjab government on a petition about the fake vigilance trap case. The high court directed the state government to mention the action taken, if any, against the cops found guilty in a high-level inquiry into the case of excise and taxation officer (ETO) Ranjit Singh.
Justice Mahesh Grover directed Punjab (through its home secretary), state director general of police (DGP), vigilance bureau (VB) director and the indicted cops to file their replies by July 17, the next date of hearing.
ETO Ranjit Singh had committed suicide in April 2011 after he was falsely implicated in a corruption case and forced to pay Rs 8 lakh in an effort to clear his name.
The probe committee comprising IPS officer Harpreet Singh Sidhu and IAS officer Mansavi Kumar had indicted and recommended the suspension of superintendent of police (SP), vigilance, Amandeep Kaur and head constable Harminder Singh for laying a fake trap and extorting Rs 8 lakh from Ranjit Singh.
Then assistant excise and taxation commissioner (AETC) Harinder Kaur Brar had been found guilty of dereliction of duty and telling lies before the probe committee.
Hindustan Times had highlighted the case in its three-part series 'Custodians of corruption' (February 16, 17 and 18), following which the indicted SP, posted at Ludhiana, was pulled out of the VB and repatriated to the police headquarters. No subsequent action has been taken since then.
The petition filed by the ETO's widow, Manjit Kaur, has prayed "for issuance of an appropriate writ, order or direction for follow-up action on the inquiry report."
The petitioner also sought monetary compensation for herself and her two children as well as all other terminal benefits granted to a government servant, "as he (ETO) died due to his honesty and due to the corruption of VB officers who not only planted a false case of corruption but also extorted Rs 8 lakh during police remand… abused and slapped him in his locality and made a demand of Rs 50 lakh after his release on bail, which forced him to sell his share of the agriculture land and finally, commit suicide."
Probe panel findings
* ETO Ranjit Singh was innocent in the case
* The officer was forced to pay Rs 8 lakh for clearing his name, of which Rs 2 lakh were kept by the head constable and the rest by SP (vigilance)
* His false implication was linked to complaints from traders that he was very strict in imposing taxes
* The case against the ETO (now deceased) be cancelled in the absence of incriminating evidence
* SP (vigilance) Amandeep Kaur and head constable Harminder Singh be suspended immediately and booked under Sections 182 and 120B of the IPC
*A separate case be registered against the SP and her accomplice under the Prevention of Corruption Act and a probe be conducted by a special investigation team (SIT) or an independent agency
* Assistant excise and taxation commissioner Harinder Kaur Brar (since promoted) be suspended immediately and a departmental inquiry started
* Rajiv Sood and Rajinder Singh, who accompanied the SP during the fake trap against the ETO as complainants, be booked under Sections 420, 465, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC.
Caught in red tape
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, on whose directions the probe panel was formed, said on Wednesday that he would look into the matter, while claiming that he was unaware of the probe findings.
Chief secretary Rakesh Singh, when contacted earlier, had stated that he had written to the home and excise and taxation departments for action against indicted officers, as recommended by the inquiry report.
Home secretary DS Bains said he had not received the file concerned after he wrote on March 3 for action against SP Amandeep Kaur as he was not convinced with her reply to the show cause notice.
Officials in the home department said the file was with the chief secretary, awaiting the chief minister's nod.
Senior officials of the excise and taxation department claimed that the file recommending punitive action against assistant excise and taxation commissioner Harinder Kaur Brar was yet to be received.
The ETO's widow, Manjit Kaur, recently got a cheque for Rs 30,000 from the excise and taxation department as 'reward' for high tax collection by her husband. 'I will spend this money on fighting my case," she said.
March 29, 2011: Vigilance Bureau arrests ETO Ranjit Singh in Mohali after a trap laid by SP (vigilance) Amandeep Kaur
April 20, 2011: Ranjit Singh gets bail; commits suicide by consuming poison two days later
April 29, 2011: Chief secretary forms high-level inquiry panel on the CM's directions
July 9, 2011: Panel submits report to then chief secretary SC Agrawal
January 2012: ETO's widow Manjit Kaur leaves the country after being denied security in the wake of threats
February 2012: Amandeep Kaur pulled out of VB and sent to state police headquarters
March 2012: Manjit Kaur returns; home secretary DS Bains writes to chief secretary to implement probe panel recommendations for punitive action against the guilty
April 17, 2012: Manjit Kaur files civil writ petition in high court
April 25, 2012: High court issues notice of motion to Punjab