Iron ore scam: IAS officer punished, Badal saved ‘blue-eyed’ Punjab Civil Service officer | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Iron ore scam: IAS officer punished, Badal saved ‘blue-eyed’ Punjab Civil Service officer

The iron ore scam took place in 2004 when 1989-batch IAS officer Saroj was the managing director (MD) of PAFC and 1993batch PCS officer Dr Amarpal was the additional managing director. Hindustan Times had broken the iron ore scam.

punjab Updated: May 25, 2017 10:11 IST
Vishal Rambani
Former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal .
Former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal .(HT File Photo)

Punjab Civil Service (PCS) officer Dr Amarpal Singh, whom the then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had once punished for being “guilty of gross negligence, to say the least” in Rs 24-crore iron ore scam, was later exonerated by Badal by just giving a warning.

“The officer is warned to be careful in future”, wrote Badal, a day before the implementation of election code of conduct, salvaging him of the punishment in the scam involving purchase of iron ore by the Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation (PAFC), in which IAS officer Kirpa Shankar Saroj was punished. The relief given by the CM has paved the way for Dr Amarpal’s elevation to the IAS rank. In fact, his name is included in the list sent by the present government to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in April.

The iron ore scam took place in 2004 when 1989-batch IAS officer Saroj was the managing director (MD) of PAFC and 1993batch PCS officer Dr Amarpal was the additional managing director. Hindustan Times had broken the iron ore scam.

While Saroj was punished on the advice of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Dr Amarpal was punished on the advice of Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) in 2013.

The PPSC, acting on the then CM’s remarks ‘major penalty’, had recommended stopping his three annual increments and reduction in time scale (demotion of rank) under the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal), Rule 1970.

CASE DOSSIER
  • Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation (PAFC) ventures into iron ore export without mandate in 2004
  • Selects Reliance Polycrete Ltd allegedly without any tenders; releases Rs 17 crore to the company
  • The company mortgages fake titles of properties offered as security in favour of PAFC
  • Two cheques for Rs 5 crore and Rs 9 crore, which the company had issued in April 2005 to the PAFC, were dishonoured
  • After it was served a showcause notice, the firm issues two new cheques for Rs 15 crore in September-December 2005, which, too, were dishonoured
  • FIR registered against firm; government suspends IAS officer Kirpa Shankar Saroj, who was PAFC MD, but no action against PCS officer Dr Amarpal, who was addl MD
  • Acting upon inquiry report and recommendation of chief secretary Rakesh Singh, CM orders major penalty against Saroj and Dr Amarpal in 2012
  • UPSC advises reduction of time scale of the IAS officer, while PPSC orders stopping of three increments of in 2013
  • Dr Amarpal files review in May 2016, and a day before code of conduct the then CM Badal exonerates him, giving him only a warning

BADAL IGNORED ADVICE OF TWO EX-CHIEF SECYS

Badal’s order providing relief to Dr Amarpal was issued on January 2, 2017. His order was not only contrary to his previous order, but also against the advice of two former chief secretaries Ramesh Inder Singh and Rakesh Singh, and inquiry officer Romila Dubey, a retired IAS officer, who all had held Saroj and Dr Amarpal guilty.

“The Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation has suffered financial loss due to the negligence and connivance of both these officers. Hence, both of these officers deserve... major punishments for this negligence,” observed Rakesh Singh. In response to this, the then CM had once ordered “major penalty”.

Notably, Badal had earlier also helped the PCS officer by not his ordering suspension, while the IAS officer was suspended.

Dr Amarpal, a blue-eyed official of the Badal regime, remained on other key posts, including chief executive officer (CEO) of Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) and secretary, NRI affairs.

PCS OFFICER’S APPEAL

After being awarded major punishment in 2013, Dr Amarpal moved an application before the then CM on May 3, 2016, seeking review of the punishment, pleading that he was innocent.

Even as an appeal under the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules-1970 can be filed within six months of punishment order, Badal directed the personnel department to seek the advice of the advocate general (AG) on whether the CM can hear the appeal. Also, the PPSC had confirmed the order for major punishment to the PCS officer, as suggested by the Punjab government.

In his advice, the AG said, “The review petition can be heard and decided by same authority which has passed the orders against which review petition has been preferred”. Banking upon this advice, without taking any note of inquiry officer’s findings and remarks of two former chief secretaries, Badal, on January 2, passed an order: “The officer is warned to be careful in future.”

When the poll code was in force, the Punjab personnel department sent the file to the PPSC in mid-March to confirm the CM’s order and the commission, in its meeting on April 16, endorsed it.

Notably, the PAFC ventured into iron ore export without any mandate in 2004. And it was Dr Amarpal who released an advance payment to a private company for importing iron ore, while going against the legal advice.

BOX

CASE DOSSIER

-Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation (PAFC) ventures into iron ore export without mandate in 2004

-Selects Reliance Polycrete Ltd allegedly without any tenders; releases Rs 17 crore to the company

- The company mortgages fake titles of properties offered as security in favour of PAFC

-Two cheques for Rs 5 crore and Rs 9 crore, which the company had issued in April 2005 to the PAFC, were dishonoured

-After it was served a show-cause notice, the firm issues two new cheques for Rs 15 crore in September-December 2005, which, too, were dishonoured

-FIR registered against firm; government suspends IAS officer Kirpa Shankar Saroj, who was PAFC MD, but no action against PCS officer Dr Amarpal, who was addl MD

-Acting upon inquiry report and recommendation of chief secretary Rakesh Singh, CM orders major penalty against Saroj and Dr Amarpal in 2012

-UPSC advises reduction of time scale of the IAS officer, while PPSC orders stopping of three increments of in 2013

-Dr Amarpal files review in May 2016, and a day before code of conduct the then CM Badal exonerates him, giving him only a warning

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