Deciding a 26-year-old case, the Patiala district court has acquitted BJP leader and former chief parliamentary secretary Raj Khurana and Congress MLA Amrik Singh Dhillon besides 37 other accused in a fertiliser scam.
Three men, however, including two nephews of Dhillon, have been held guilty in the 1995 case involving embezzlement of farm subsidies of `49 lakh through a bogus firm, and will be sentenced on November 21.
Those convicted by the court of additional district and sessions judge Rajinder Aggarwal are Swaran Singh, managing director of private firm Modern Agro-Chemical Industries, Rajinder Singh, joint director of the firm, and Mangaljit Singh, a former agriculture officer of the Punjab government; Swaran and Rajinder are nephews of Dhillon, who is at present the MLA from Samrala.
The scam had been unearthed by a group, Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations (CIFA), in 1995, though the case was formally registered only three years later. Their complaint to the vigilance bureau said Modern Agro-chemical at Lawalpur village in Jalandhar district had committed a fraud with the state exchequer and the farmers by siphoning off subsidies worth rs 49 lakh.
On April 30, 1998, the VB registered the case against 44 people for cheating and forgery besides other charges under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption act. These included Khurana, his wife Raj Kumari, Dhillon, his family members, and more than 20 officials of the agriculture department. Two of the accused died during the pendency of the case.
The probe had found that Modern Agro-Chemical pocketed the subsidy - allegedly at the behest of the politicians named in the FIR - by showing bogus transport bills of raw material and names of farmers purportedly given fertilisers at subsidised rates, even though the firm never produced any fertiliser or purchased any raw material.
Even after the delayed FIR, the VB was repeatedly accused of lopsided investigation due to the involvement of politicians. The chargesheet was presented in 2001, 13 years after the registration of the case.
CIFA president Satnam Singh Bheru said, "We are unsatisfied with the decision and will surely file an appeal against the decision in a higher court."
What's the matter
*Scam unearthed by Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations (CIFA) in 1995, though case registered only 3 years later
*Complaint to vigilance bureau said Modern Agro-Chemical, a private industry at Lawalpur in Jalandhar, defrauded exchequer and farmers of `49 lakh in subsidies
*VB booked 44, including BJP leader Raj Khurana, his wife, Cong MLA Amrik Singh Dhillon, his kin who owned the industry, and officials of agri dept
*Probe found Modern Agro-Chemical pocketed subsidy by showing bogus transport bills of raw material and names of farmers purportedly given fertilisers at subsidised rates, even as it never even produced fertiliser