Former sarpanch, others booked for Rs.16 lakh fraud, 6 yrs after filing complaint

  • Navrajdeep Singh, Hindustan Times, Patiala
  • Updated: May 23, 2015 22:04 IST

A case of cheating and corruption has finally been registered against several panchayat officials of Bodoli Gujran for siphoning off Rs.16 lakh of development funds, six years after a complaint was filed against them with the rural development and panchayat department.

The complaint was lying with the Punjab police, unattended, for about four years. Nirmala Devi, the former sarpanch of Bodoli Gujran, and panchayat secretary Pankaj Sharma were accused of siphoning off grants sent by the state government and the income generated from village's common land for six years from 2002 to 2008.

Junior engineers of the public works department posted during that period have also been booked in the case. Nirmala was accused of bungling funds meant for construction of roads, small drains and toilets. She was also charged for tampering with government records, cash books and memo registers to conceal the alleged fraud, besides opening fake bank accounts to siphon off government funds.

Then junior engineers were accused of making wrong assessment reports, while filing progress reports of development works. The delay Complainant Balvir Singh, a native of the same village, had written over 20 communiqués to the home secretary, the director general of police, Patiala's senior superintendent of police and the rural development and panchayat department between 2009 and 2015, demanding a thorough investigation and registration of a case against the defaulters.

In 2009, he first reported the matter to the state's vigilance department, which initiated an inquiry but left it in-between due to reasons better known to them. The department failed to submit a report despite directions from rural development and panchayat department and the additional deputy commissioner (ADC) of Patiala.

In 2011, former Patiala ADC conducted an independent inquiry into the matter and allegedly found the suspects mentioned above of denting state exchequer on several occasions somehow but did not recommend any action against them. It was only after DGP's direction on November 20, 2014, that the inspector general of police (Patiala range) instructed Patiala SSP to conduct a detailed inquiry into the matter.

Following this, the local police sought a report from the district attorney (legal), who suggested registration of a case against the accused. Resultantly, a case has been registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using forged department as genuine) and 120b (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

According to Ghanaur DSP Pritpal Singh Ghuman, the case was registered after a detailed investigation, and it has now been shifted to DSP (investigation) in Patiala for further inquiry.

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