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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Ranike rip-off: HC 'not averse' to independent probe

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times   Chandigarh, February 14, 2013
First Published: 23:36 IST(14/2/2013) | Last Updated: 23:38 IST(14/2/2013)

The Punjab and Haryana high court has made it clear to the Punjab government that it's not averse to have the case of bungling of Border Area Development Programme funds, allegedly involving former cabinet minister Gulzar Singh Ranike and his staff, investigated by some independent agency.

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The observations have come from the court headed by justice Ranjit Singh while hearing a bail petition filed by an Amritsar resident, Jagdish Kumar, who is in the Amritsar central jail in the case.

The Punjab vigilance bureau is investigating the case as of now and had informed the court earlier that Ranike's personal assistant Sarabdyal Singh had accumulated assets worth Rs. 2.56 crore from the embezzled amount between July 2008 and September 2012.

Justice Singh has observed, "State counsel is also apprised that the court would not be averse to have this case investigated by some independent agency in view of the involvement of very high[ly] influential political leader."

"The counsel may be prepared to make submission in this regard," the court added, while issuing the directions for placing on record the investigation conducted in the case.

Ranike had put in his resignation as cabinet minister on September 16, 2012, after HT exposed the scam worth crores of rupees in August in a series of news stories.

During the resumed hearing of the case on Thursday, the state counsel sought some time to file a detailed reply in the case and the case was posted for hearing on February 22 for arguments.

Jagdish Kumar has sought bail in an FIR registered at Civil Lines police station in Amritsar on June 25, 2012, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for charges of fraud and also under the Prevention Of Corruption Act. He was arrested on October 12, 2012.

It has been alleged that Jagdish and one Kanwal Kishore kept the forged stamps of the Amritsar district transport officer (DTO) and prepared forged driving licences. It was on the basis of the forged driving license that one of the accused Amit Kumar had opened the fake bank accounts and withdrew Rs. 11 lakh of government grant illegally.

The court has been informed that it was Sarabdyal who used to collect the cheques of gram panchayats and clubs from the office of district development and panchayat officer (DDPO), Amritsar, and to give cheques to Amit Kumar and one Daljit Singh for depositing the same in the accounts at Bank of Maharashtra. It has also been alleged that Sarabdyal used to keep 75% amount with him and give the rest to facilitators like Amit.

The petitioner, Jagdish, has contended before the high court that his name has not been mentioned in the FIR and the only allegation against him is that he had procured false licence by procuring false residence proof.

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