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HindustanTimes Sun,23 Nov 2014

Garg was in constant touch with accused, says chargesheet

Vishal Rambani  Patiala, May 10, 2013
First Published: 00:34 IST(10/5/2013) | Last Updated: 00:35 IST(10/5/2013)

In its first chargesheet in the Patiala land scam, the Punjab vigilance bureau (VB) has said that former Patiala deputy commissioner Vikas Garg was in constant touch with the accused and had acted as the executor for selling government property after declaring it as private.

The chargesheet has identified naib-tehsildar GS Walia as the kingpin of the scam.

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The VB has said in its challan that Garg took Rs. 80 lakh and Walia charged Rs. 1.05 crore for executing the deed. It said the patwari and the kanungo had taken Rs. 3.5 lakh and Rs. 2.5 lakh, respectively, for changing the mutation. The accused then sold off prime government land worth Rs. 250 crore to private individuals.

To prove that the land in question belongs to the government, the VB has done a lot of spadework and attached documents dating back to 1951, 1952 and 1957 to make it a watertight case.

Spelling trouble for all the accused in the case, including Garg and Walia, district revenue officer (DRO) Rajbir Singh has turned an approver in the case and given a statement in court under section 164, CrPC that Garg and Walia were hand-in-glove with the accused.

The VB challan has also established this charge by producing the call details of Garg to show that he was in constant touch with accused Yashpal Aggarwal, his relative Munish Aggarwal and NP Singh.

Though the challan has been produced against Yashpal Aggarwal, Jaswant Singh and Devinder Sandhu, who are in jail, its main focus is on how these people cheated the government in league with officials.

"Walia introduced the sellers and buyers to the DC. After that, they all made a plan that Walia would send the case file to the DC for guidance.

After discussing the matter, the DC would pass verbal directions to the DRO, who would then put his remarks on the file, saying, 'File discussed with DC'. As per the report submitted by the naib-tehsildar, there is nothing on merit to deny the sale deed.' Acting on this plan, Walia later executed the sale deed," the DRO told the court, claiming that Garg himself introduced the accused to him in the DC office.

The VB has listed 45 witnesses in the case, including divisional commissioner SR Ladhar, who conducted the inquiry, vigilance inspector general V Neerja, SSP Pritam Singh, former deputy commissioner Deepinder Singh and tehsildar AS Thind. Deepinder and Thind have said that the land belonged to the government.

The challan also highlighted that before Garg joined as DC, Walia had also tried to cheat Thind, his immediate boss, by asking him to execute the registry, claiming that both parties were known to him. However, Thind became suspicious, and instead of executing the registry, he made an official entry of objections in the daily dairy register.

The VB has requested the court to deny bail to all accused, saying they could destroy the evidence in the case and hamper investigations, especially when two accused in the case are still absconding. It has also approached the high court for cancellation of interim bail to Walia so that it could go ahead with his custodial interrogation to ascertain the source of the huge properties amassed by him.

"The first challan has been produced against private persons. We have sought the permission to file a challan against government officials, which would be submitted soon after we get the approval," said SSP Pritam Singh.

VB's spadework

The VB has produced a notification (no. 865) issued on August 12, 1952 to prove that the land in question is a government property and was not allotted to Barjinder Singh, father of Kiraninder Singh, a scion of the Patiala royal family.

It produced a daily dairy report (no. 408) dated August 22, 1952, which clearly mentions that kothi no. 9 is not part of khasra no. 104, as claimed by the offenders. It said the land was part of kothi no. 10, the official residence of the chief justice of the Pepsu high court.

The VB also produced the land sale deeds executed by Barjinder (in 1950s), where it is clearly mentioned that he is selling land demarcated as government property

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