The Central Bureau of Investigation has indicted Punjab Assembly Speaker and senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader Nirmal Singh Kahlon for his alleged role in a Rs 4-crore cash-for-job scandal.
The bureau alleged the rural development and panchayat ministry under Kahlon selected people for the job of panchayat secretaries against bribes during the Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party government’s previous tenure in 1996-2001.
The case was registered on a complaint from director, rural development and panchayats, to the CBI director that Kahlon and chairmen and members of the four selection committees forged records to favour certain candidates.
In 2003, Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered a CBI probe. In its 54-page report, the bureau also nailed 15 officials – including two IAS officers Mandeep Singh, then director in the ministry, and J.S. Kesar, then financial commissioner of rural development.
It said Kahlon could have received 50 per cent of the Rs 4 crore collected by the department officials involved in the selection process.
But even nine months after asking the state government for permission to prosecute Kahlon, as “sufficient evidence is there to show the commission of offences on the part of Mr Kahlon and others …”, the CBI has not received the go-ahead.
The bureau has not yet been able to file a chargesheet in the special court in Patiala. CBI spokesperson Harsh Bhal in Delhi confirmed, Kahlon, however, said,
“Only the government would know about it.”
The CBI depended on the revelations by Joginder Singh, then deputy director and chairman of one of the section committees, who later turned whistle blower in the case.
He confessed that Kahlon had instructed all the panel chairmen that “only those candidates are to selected whose (roll) numbers would be conveyed by Mandeep Singh and Kahlon’s private secretary Vikas Sharma”.
The CBI found that the selection panel chairmen collected Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh from reserved category candidates and Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh from general candidates.