Antiques smuggling: Sidhu writes to CM seeking CBI probe
Sidhu’s recommendation came after the Mumbai zonal unit of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence wrote to the chief secretary on August 23 to initiate suitable action against the Punjab Civil Services ( official under the conduct rules.punjab Updated: Sep 02, 2017 09:08 IST
Punjab tourism and local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the alleged transactions of former director, tourism, cultural affairs, museum and archives, Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa, with a businessman accused of smuggling antiques.
In a letter to chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Sidhu stated that smuggling of antiques from the state was a serious matter. “The government should get it probed by the CBI, which is the designated agency for investigating smuggling of antiques out of the country,” he wrote. The minister, who also referred to Randhawa’s long stint in the department, personally handed over the letter to the chief minister during a meeting on Friday.
Sidhu’s recommendation came after the Mumbai zonal unit of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) wrote to the chief secretary on August 23 to initiate suitable action against the Punjab Civil Services (PCS) official under the conduct rules.
The minister, who had got Randhawa shifted out of his department over two months ago, said the smuggling of antiques was akin to “loot of heritage” of the state. “There is no inventory of antiques being maintained by the department. The official could not have done all of this without others being involved. The inquiry is needed to get to the bottom of this whole thing,” Sidhu said, adding that he will also write to the governor.
Randhawa could not be contacted despite repeated efforts.
Know the case
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence case relates to smuggling of furniture designed by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier and his associate and cousin Pierre Jeanneret, by India-born US citizen Vijay Nanda.
“During investigation, role of Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa in arranging antiquities for Nanda, participating and bidding in international auction of antiquities through him, and sale of furniture of various government offices and universities situated in Punjab to Nanda and Devesh Goel has come to light,” DRI additional director general Shrawan Kumar had stated in his letter to the Punjab chief secretary on August 23.
During investigation, Goel, who is a Delhi-based exporter and a close associate of Nanda, had submitted documents containing his cash transactions, wherein details of cash payments allegedly made to Randhawa as well as amounts spent on entertaining him were recorded, according to the letter. The DRI had also questioned Randhawa on May 1 about his dealings with Nanda and Goel.