With the booking of senior Punjab-cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Gautam Cheema for abduction and molestation with regard to a case involving his friend-turned-foe after the two were allegedly involved in shady land deals, the spotlight is once again on many such senior cops whose names cropped up in similar cases at various stages.
Former Punjab police chief-turned-Akali leader Paramdeep Singh Gill, who recently crossed over to the BJP, has fenced 150 acres of shamlat deh (village common) land around a seasonal rivulet at Saini Majra village near Kurali in Mohali district, throwing the cancellation of the girdawari (possession of land) in his name to the winds. The former director general of police (DGP) even concealed the fact that the girdawari in his name had been annulled by the Dera Bassi sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) while moving court for restraining three villagers from disturbing his possession of the land. That case is now pending with the department of revenue, wherein a naib tehsildar-rank officer had to submit his final report before taking any action as per the judicial orders of the Rupnagar court.
The Punjab and Haryana high court, while hearing a petition related to the “illegal” occupation of shamlat land by IPS officer Sanjiv Gupta had in December 2007 entrusted a thorough probe into all such cases in Chandigarh’s periphery to the then ADGP (law and order) Chander Shekhar.
The present Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini is no exception, for his locking horns with his IPS colleague Sanjiv Gupta way back in 2007 led to the complaint in the high court by one Kulwant Singh of Kansal village. It was Gupta’s rebuttal to the accusations against him in a criminal complaint that gradually led the high court in its proceedings to entrust the inquiry into all such land deals, including the illegal occupation of the village common lands or encroachment of any individual’s land in Chandigarh’s periphery, to Chander Shekhar in December 2007.
Later, the three-member tribunal headed by Justice Kuldip Singh (retd) in its report submitted to the high court had pointed towards a big “land grab scam” being operated in the periphery of Chandigarh where thousands of acres of land “has been grabbed” or is in the “process of being grabbed”.
The tribunal mentioned in its report that in Kansal, DGP Saini also has 32-kanal land, and that the change of ownership from jumla mustraka malkan (land under control and management of panchayat) to the right-holders and various sale deeds are wholly illegal. It was also found that the authorities could do no partition of the gair mumkin nadi (river land).
In another such case, former Punjab DGP SS Virk was even arrested in 2007 on charges of possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income and misuse of official position. Besides allegedly possessing disproportionate assets, the ex-DGP was charged with misusing his authority by indulging in private business as a public servant in violation of service rules.
In yet another case, the local bench of the Debt Recovery Tribunal ( DRT ) recently had directed the Centre and the Punjab gover nment to take action against officers involved in the real estate business. Prominent among those pulled up were senior IPS officer, inspector general of police (IGP) Parampal Singh Sidhu and four Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officers. The tribunal indicted the officers for obstructing the process initiated by Punjab National Bank to recover Rs 21.8 crore debt from a housing society.