Ten days after the Hindustan Times highlighted the embezzlement of panchayat funds totalling Rs 26.6-lakh at Ramuwala Kalan village here, the state government has suspended block development and panchayat officer (BDPO, Moga-1) Jaspreet Singh and panchayat secretary Rajwant Singh for their alleged role in the scam.
The move comes after Moga deputy commissioner (DC) Parveen Kumar Thind had sent the inquiry report to the director and principal secretary, rural development and panchayat department, recommending action against both the officials.
“The officials have been suspended on the basis of the preliminary inquiry report,” DC Thind said. On chances of registration of a case against the accused officials, he said a detailed inquiry will be held and a decision will be taken after that.
On March 11, in its report, HT had highlighted how BDPO Jaspreet Singh despite lack of quorum in the panchayat meet got himself appointed as the administrator and allegedly embezzled the grant meant for the village.
The BDPO, with the help of panchayat secretary Rajwant Singh, had withdrawn Rs 26.6 lakh from two bank accounts of the panchayat between January 16 to March 8 this year, when the poll code of conduct was in force.
In his inquiry report, Zila Parishad secretary Ranjit Singh termed the withdrawal of money as illegal. “Both the officials even failed to appear before the inquiry officer to clarify,” he said.
Sarpanch Amandeep Kaur failed to get the quorum at a meeting held on October 7 last year and she requested the district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) to appoint an administrator, saying seven of the nine panches had refused to attend the meeting.
In the 10-member panchayat, at least five panches needed to be present.
On November 31, the DDPO had appointed social education and panchayat officer (SEPO) Satpal as the administrator till December 31. After that there was no administrator due to enforcement of the poll code from January 4.
After getting himself appointed as administrator in an illegal manner, BDPO Jaspreet allegedly pocketed Rs 13.36 lakh. The remaining Rs 13.66 lakh went to the accounts of Brothers Brick, Narula Trading Company, Bhagwan Singh, Aman Kumar Rai, Baljinder Singh and Som Nath.
Sarpanch had said not a single penny was spent on development works the money was meant for.