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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

Receipt scam: NGO cries foul asNRIs told to pay embossing fee again

Sanjeev Bhalla, Hindustan Times  Nawanshahr, November 29, 2013
First Published: 21:19 IST(29/11/2013) | Last Updated: 21:24 IST(29/11/2013)

On the basis of information received under RTI Act, a local NGO on Tuesday claimed that the money embezzled in Rs. 1.75-crore receipt scam, which had occurred in the office of the commissioner, Jalandhar division, over a year ago was being charged from people.

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Three people, including a clerk of the commissioner office, were involved in the scam.

The scam was unearthed by the then divisional commissioner, Jalandhar, Anurag Verma and a case was registered against main accused Charanjit Singh, a clerk in his office. Brothers Yogesh Soni and Ajay Soni, who were private service providers of the banks and financial institutions that were supposed to deposit fee money in the bank, were other accused.

Through the RTI, NGO Human Empowerment League Punjab (HELP) got the copies of such letters issued by the commissioner in May and June 2012 and then January 2013, wherein he had asked the deputy commissioners in the entire Jalandhar division to recover the fee from people who got services from the commissioner's office.

As per the letter issued by the commissioner's office on January 30, 2013 to the deputy commissioners of Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran, Pathankot and Amritsar districts, it was mentioned that the money pertaining to the receipt scam, which included the fee for embossing of documents related to NRIs as well as loans, must be charged from the people who had applied for the same during that period.

The scam was unearthed in February 2012. The accused had embezzled Rs. 1.75 crore, including Rs. 75 lakh for 20011-12 and Rs. 1 crore for 2010-11.

The RTI information revealed that the deputy commissioners of all these districts had further asked the revenue department officials to get deposited the fee according to Section 48 of the Indian Stamp Act, 1899, or the action would be taken under Sections 409, 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 and 120 (B) of the IPC.

Parvinder Singh Kitna, a founder member of HELP, asked that when they had already given the money at the office of the commissioner for embossing of documents and other purpose then why they would pay for it again.

A senior officer at the commissioner's office said the receipt scam occurred as people used to pay the money to the clerk instead depositing in the bank themselves and the clerk and private service providers used to keep the requisite fee taken in cash from the applicants instead of depositing it in the bank.

Commissioner, Jalandhar, R Venkatratnam could not be contacted as he was out of town, while his personal assistant (PA) Vinay Sharma said in this case applicants were supposed to deposit the money themselves in the bank instead depending on others. He said no money was deposited in the bank by the applicants or their own reliable persons and now fee was being charged from them as per the Indian Stamp Act, 1899.

On being asked that why the property of the accused should not be attached to recover the amount, he said the clerk had been dismissed from service by the government.

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