More than a month after a first information report (FIR) was registered in the Patiala land scam, the nine accused including IAS officer and former deputy commissioner Vikas Garg are yet to be arrested.
Garg and the others are facing arrest after being booked in the scam, which saw the registration of a sale deed of Rs 250-crore government property that was marked as private. The land in question, measuring around 6,000 sq yards, houses five government offices.
The FIR was registered on November 9, following which the Patiala district court rejected the bail application of all accused, including officials and the property seller as well as purchaser.
The vigilance bureau (VB) has so far been relying only on the mobile tracking system to trace the accused. However, the latter have switched off their mobile phones. The VB has conducted raids at Panchkula, Chandigarh, Patiala, Sangrur and other places, but to no avail.
"Now, we will conduct raids at their possible hideouts," said Pritam Singh, senior superintendent of police (SSP), vigilance bureau, Patiala Range, adding that since the accused were well aware of the inquiry's outcome much before the registration of the case, they had managed to abscond.
The other accused are former district revenue officer (DRO) Rajbir Singh, former naib tehsildar Gurinder Singh Walia, former kanungo Pritpal Singh, ex-patwari Suresh Kumar and private individuals NP Singh, Yashpal Aggarwal, Davinder Singh Sandhu, Ravdeep Singh and Jaswant Singh.
All were booked under sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 420 (forgery), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and also under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The case was registered on the directions of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who had marked a VB probe on the basis of then divisional commissioner SR Ladhar's inquiry report, which had indicted the officials. The VB was tasked with probing the role of private buyers and sellers. As for the government officials, Ladhar's report was upheld by the financial commissioner (revenue), Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia and the VB itself.