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Why tainted officer not suspended, HC asks Punjab

chandigarh Updated: May 14, 2013 00:55 IST
Sanjeev Verma

The Punjab and Haryana high court has questioned the Punjab government's decision not to suspend Mohinder Singh as deputy director, rural development and panchayats, despite serious allegations of corruption against him in a number of cases where inquiries are under process.

Justice RK Garg made it clear that if the state failed to satisfy the court about conducting a proper inquiry into the case, there was every possibility of handing over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The development took place during resumed hearing of a case in which the rural development and panchayat department had illegally changed the cadre of elementary teacher training (ETT) teachers Gurpreet Singh and Amrik Singh to clerk by putting "forged signatures" of the department's director. Also, one Suman was appointed clerk at the panchayat samiti, Sirhind, despite a ban on regular appointments. The FIR in the case was registered on December 12, 2012, at the vigilance bureau (VB) police station, SAS Nagar.

Visibly anguished, justice Garg said, "I fail to understand why can't you suspend Mohinder Singh when an inquiry is going on. He is not indispensable. Petitioners say three FIRs are pending against him."

An FIR was also registered on September 30, 2011, at the police station, Phase 8, SAS Nagar, against Mohinder Singh for forging signatures of the director, rural development and panchayats, for making the transfer of 28 panchayat secretaries.

Coming down heavily on the authorities concerned, justice Garg questioned, "Why only the court should point out everything? Has the state of Punjab lost its senses as everything is put to the court? This scam can be of very high magnitude."

State changes probe officer

The Punjab government's counsel informed the court that superintendent of police (SP), vigilance bureau, SAS Nagar, Hargobind Singh, had been replaced as investigating officer (IO) by assistant inspector general RS Khatra. The court had earlier found Hargobind "misdirecting the inquiry" and had questioned his feasibility on the post.

As directed earlier, V Neerja, VB director, was present in the court; she was questioned as to why she did not oversee the inquiry after handing it over to Hargobind.

The court also took a serious note that despite clear directions, no affidavit was filed by the principal secretary, home department. The court also questioned as to what was the reason to appoint PS Kalike, additional deputy commissioner (development), SAS Nagar, as the inquiry officer against Mohinder Singh when the latter had earlier exonerated Kalike and others in the "JCB scam".

However, the state counsel informed the court that the home secretary was out of station and requested for some time to file a proper reply within a week.