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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Maluka ‘cleared’, CM fails to act against indicted officials

Prabhjit Singh, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, June 04, 2014
First Published: 08:30 IST(4/6/2014) | Last Updated: 08:34 IST(4/6/2014)

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s oft-repeated resolve — that the corrupt would be punished if evidence is given — seems to have failed when it comes to those picked by education minister Sikandar Singh Maluka for shady deals to purchase school library books worth Rs. 9 crore and science lab kits worth Rs. 7.5 crore.

The Justice AN Jindal Commission of Inquiry, formed after a series of reports by HT, has indicted the ‘purchase committee’ members, three officials of the education department, in its report submitted to the chief minister a month ago. It gave the clean chit to Maluka, who had, in fact, formed the panel against the rules in the first place.

But leaves aside any action against the minister, the CM has not even acted the indicted officials — Vinod Kumar, the then district education officer of Mohali, Pritpal Kaur, the since-retired director of public instructions (DPI), elementary, and now retired and Gurtej Singh, an official in the Punjab School Education Board.

The chief minister’s office (CMO) confirmed that no decision had so far been taken on the Jindal Commission recommendations. While the CM’s principal secretary, SK Sandhu, told HT that Badal had ordered “appropriate action”, principal secretary, school education, Anjali Bhawra is yet to see any such orders, she confirmed.

Sources in the CMO said a second thought on the issue was to take legal opinion for tabling the probe report in the Vidhan Sabha, instead of taking the action against those indicted.

In case the government decides to place the report before the legislature, any action against the indicted of ficials would not see the light of day for the next three months, as the next assembly session would be held in August-end.

The last session was held in March, and conventionally the gap between two sessions remains more than five months. The constitutional norm to hold the session is at least once in 6 months.

WAY OUT? NOT BINDING, JUST DELAYING TACTIC
Recommendations of any commission, like the Jindal Commission, for med under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1952, are not mandatory to be implemented by the state, said Punjab advocate general (AG) Ashok Aggarwal.

Also, there is no provision in the act that binds the state government to table the probe report in the Vidhan Sabha unless any resolution was adopted in the House for forming the inquiry commission. In this case, it was the CM’s decision, not the assembly’s.

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