Book scam: 18 months on, indicted officials still on plum posts

  • Prabhjit Singh, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Feb 26, 2016 12:25 IST

The officials indicted in December 2013 in the Jindal Commission inquiry into the multi-crore-rupee book scam continue on plum posts, even as the departmental investigation started in June 2014 is pending.

Besides Vinod Kumar, who reportedly committed suicide in the middle of the investigation, the other indicted officials who were later chargesheeted in September 2014 include Punjab School Education Board finance controller Gurtej Singh; retired director public instructions (elementary) Pritpal Kaur Sidhu; assistant state project director (ASPD) Tanjeet Kaur; Barnala district education officer (DEO) Harkanwaljeet Kaur; and Jarnail Singh, a close associate of rural development and panchayat minister Sikandar Singh Maluka and posted at the State Institute of Science in SAS Nagar.

Besides, seven more officials were chargesheeted in September 2014, and a regular inquiry for major penalty, which could lead to the termination of their services under Clause 8 of the Punjab Punishment and Appeals Rules, was initiated subsequently. About 18 months on, the action is still awaited. Gurtej’s inquiry was entrusted to SS Lamba, a senior official in the finance department, while a similar inquiry under Rule 8 of the Punjab Service Rules was marked to retired IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer RC Nayyar. Nayyar declined to talk on the issue, saying: “We inquiry officers are not supposed to talk to the media,” while Lamba stated he had submitted his report against Gurtej a fortnight ago.

Principal secretary (school education) G Vajralingam claimed he was unaware of the issue, as he had joined office only last month. “Nobody has, so far, flagged the issued. If it comes up, I will look into it,” he added. Education minister Dr Daljit Singh Cheema put the onus on DPI (secondary) Balbir Singh Dhol, saying: “The DPI is supposed to do all the follow-up of the Jindal Commission recommendations.”

Confronted with the fact that those indicted by the Jindal Commission were still in office or had retired with all the benefits despite regular inquires pending against them, the minister said for even that, the DPI was accountable. The DPI said inquiry officer RC Nayyar was yet to submit his report to the government. The latter’s tenure was only six months from September 2014.


On June 4, 2014, the day Vinod Kumar committed suicide as Chandigarh Police claim, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal approved the departmental action against all the indicted officials, as the Commission recommended. The file remained in the CM’s office for six months, and it was on December 13, 2013, that the-then principal secretary (school education) Anjali Bhawra moved it for the CM’s approval for action. Vinod Kumar’s body was found in Chandigarh’s Sukhna lake.

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