The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court, Haryana, here has held former director of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Amrender Nath guilty in three cases and sentenced him to two-and-a-half-years’ rigorous imprisonment (RI) for forging bills during the excavation exercise at Rakhigarhi in Hisar district.
The Institute of Archaeology, a training institution functioning under the ASI, took up three excavation projects at Rakhigarhi during 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000. The projects were carried out under Nath’s supervision. The discovery in Rakhigarhi led archaeologists to consider it as the biggest site of the Harappan civilisation. Earlier, experts used to regard Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan as the largest site.
It came to light that forged and fabricated bills of non-existent shops, showrooms and firms were used to misappropriate ASI money. The FIR was registered in 2001.
According to the CBI court judgment in the first case, Nath, while working as ASI director, forged and fabricated money receipts/memos himself as well as in league with co-accused Anil Kumar and Jitender Kumar and passed off the documents as genuine for claiming adjustment of cash withdrawal to the tune of Rs 2.56 lakh.
In the second case, it was found that Nath, along with Anil Kumar and then ASI superintendent RD Singh, forged and fabricated receipts/memos for cash withdrawal to the tune of Rs 1.58 lakh.
In the third case, the CBI court detected that Nath, while working in collusion with Anil Kumar, forged bills to the tune of Rs 1.55 lakh.
The CBI court had also found that Nath bypassed provisions of the purchase procedure envisaged in the Archaeological Works Code and General Financial Rules as quotations were not called for purchases worth more than Rs 1,000.
“There are close to 100 forged bills in these three cases. We produced witnesses who proved that such firms or shops never existed,” said CBI counsel DS Chawla.
While deciding on the quantum of sentence to Nath, the court said, “The excavation work carried out by the accused (Nath) is a landmark in the history of archaeology in India. The court cannot lose sight of this fact… No doubt, in excavation work some bills etc. were forged and fabricated by the accused. Therefore, on one count, the accused deserves leniency. However, he cannot be given any undue advantage in the quantum of sentence and thus, it is to be adjudged accordingly.”