The Punjab government's 'lame excuses' in delaying prosecution sanction against public servants caught red-handed in trap cases have failed to cut ice with the Punjab and Haryana high court as the state government has now been pulled up and told to set its house in order in a month's time.
Not amused with the state government's 'baseless' arguments, the division bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Augustine George Masih has directed the state to "either take remedial measures" or the court would be "constrained to issue certain directions".
The court while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Patiala resident Paramjit Singh, said the important aspect that immediately required the attention was long pendency of the matters relating to the grant of prosecution sanction. At the same time, the court was anguished that the parallel in-house inquiry was being used as an excuse to decline prosecution sanction in trap cases.
Astonished with "quite unsatisfactory" situation, the court questioned the state authorities' rationale of conducting re-investigation when the public officer was caught red-handed in a trap laid by the vigilance bureau.
Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Abhishek Goyal argued, "The sanctioning authority and even the investigating agencies hold parallel inquiries and fresh investigation even in trap cases. The competent authority then refuses to grant sanction and on the basis of the declining of sanction, the vigilance bureau files cancellation reports in the courts and the corrupt public servants never face trial."
The petitioner had sought directions to the Punjab government for submission of a report to the high court of all public servants against whom FIRs had been registered for bribery, fraud and corruption, and probe completed but challans not presented in respective trial courts.
In response to petitioner's one of the RTI applications, the department of rural development and panchayats had informed him that district development and panchayat officers (DDPOs) Kripal Singh Khokhar, Lakhwinder Singh Dhaliwal and Mohinder Singh were caught red-handed by the vigilance bureau. Also, FIRs had been registered against DDPOs Sanjiv Kumar in November 2008, Lakhwinder Singh Dhaliwal in September 2008 and Bhajan Singh in 2002.
The RTI information revealed that the prosecution sanction against Kripal Singh Khokhar in the FIR registered in January 2011 is pending; in cases of Sanjiv Kumar and Mohinder Singh it had been declined; no request for grant of prosecution sanction in case of Dhaliwal had been made; only in cases of Bhajan Singh and Bipan Kumar, sanction had been granted in August 2004.