Almost 20 months after an FIR (first-information report) was registered in the case where 27 files about serious complaints and inquiries against bureaucrats had gone missing, charges were on Wednesday framed against a retired deputy secretary of Punjab Civil Secretariat.
The trial against Yograj Sharma, against whom charges were framed before additional district and sessions judge KK Kareer, would commence on January 15 when the court begins recording evidence.
Sharma retired in April 2012. The missing files contained complaints against IAS (Indian Administrative Service) and PCS (Punjab Civil Services) officers and had gone missing from Sharma’s custody. Chandigarh Police ar rested Yog raj on February 19, and he secured bail in March.
The police have laid charge against Sharma under Section 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 13(1)(C) (if an official dishonestly or fraudulently misappropriates or otherwise converts for his own use any property entrusted to him or under his control as a public servant or allows any other person to do so) and 13(1)(D) (by corrupt or illegal means, obtains for himself or for any other person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
The case was registered in March 2013 on the complaint of Ravi Kiran, under secretary in the department of personnel at Punjab Civil Secretariat, Chandigarh, which stated that bureaucrats’ confidential files had gone missing during Sharma’s tenure.
The department found 35 files missing initially, of which it traced seven during subsequent inquiry and reconstructed some other since. Inquiries and disciplinary action against some officers were delayed as a result.
The files went missing after they were marked and forwarded to Sharma, then under secretary in the personnel department. In a departmental inquiry that was initiated, thethen Punjab special secretary (general administration) Bhawna Garg held Sharma “squarely responsible”.
She added in her report that the under secretary had also delayed by more than a year the clearing of another set of 27 sensitive files, which he should have done in a week. These 27 files also contained serious charge sheets against several IAS and PCS officers and Sharma “sat over them” for a year to 18 months.
The-then Punjab chief secretary Rakesh Singh had recommended a case against Sharma. The report of another inquiry by former IAS officer JPS Puri, which was submitted to Rakesh Singh on Wednesday, stated that Sharma had failed to explain where 28 of the 35 files had disappeared after these hand been sent to him.
Puri also hinted that there were specific motives behind Sharma’s actions but made no reference to a possible role the controversial officers might have played.