For the past more than a month, the Punjab vigilance bureau (VB) has been hunting for a chemical analyst of the state health department, Dr Rajwinderpal Singh, who faces charges of faking chemical reports of samples of heroin, smack and opium to benefit persons arrested with the contraband in at least 29 cases of drug seizures.
Assistant chemical examiner Dr Rajwinderpal is the main accused in the FIR registered on November 11 under the Prevention of Corruption Act and various sections of the Indian Penal Code at the Mohali VB police station. He has been accused of tampering with samples of 25-kg opium, seized on July 11, and submitting a 'negative' report. His anticipatory bail plea has already been rejected by the Mohali court.
Rajwinderpal's colleagues at the health department's chemical analysis lab in Kharar - junior assistant Rajesh Mishra, lab technician Lekh Raj and peon Mohit Guglani - have also been on the run ever since the VB registered the FIR.
Samples tested at the Kharar lab were shown to be having negligible presence of morphine. However, when the samples were tested in the lab of the Chandigarh administration on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court, high morphine content was detected.
The matter had reached the high court through the bail petition of Karu Lal, who was arrested with the contraband in the opium seizure case, along with two others, in July near the Shambhu police check post in Patiala district.
The court had then told the VB to probe the entire matter and also specify whether there were more such cases of tampering with samples or faking chemical reports of these drugs in the Kharar lab.
"The tendency and frequency of some public servants to help the gangs dealing in the illegal trade of narcotics for extraneous consideration and corrupt practices have been tremendously increasing day by day," observed justice Mehinder Singh Sullar, while entrusting the VB with the inquiry in his court order dated October 11.
"Such persons, with the connivance of public servants, are exercising non-existent super power of the courts," the court had further observed.
The VB, in its affidavit submitted in the court on November 12, identified 29 cases where Dr Rajwinderpal gave "loose and unsealed samples of contraband to the analyst for examination".
The VB's special investigation team (SIT), led by inspector general (IG) B Chandra Shekhar, has also detected 88 other 'negative' reports of samples of contrabands seized from Jalandhar, Amritsar, Bathinda, Khanna, Gurdaspur, Batala, Tarn Taran, Pathankot, Fatahgarh Sahib, Moga, Fazilka, Patiala, Sangrur and Hoshiarpur in cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
VB sleuths have been making rounds of the Kharar lab, keeping a watch on the procedure adopted to receive samples of seized drugs from across the state.
The lab receives 70-80 such samples daily, on an average, with cops arriving from various districts, including Amritsar and Gurdaspur, with sealed packets of drugs.
When contacted, principal secretary, health, Punjab, Vini Mahajan admitted that the health department was yet to take action against Dr Rajwinderpal Singh.
On the main accused and three other employees of the department wanted by the VB not turning up for duty, Mahajan said government employees had to abide by certain rules related to their leave period and she would look into the matter.
She added that she had not yet received any communiqué from the VB related to the case.