The Punjab government has ordered the registration of a first information report against a serving and five former officers of the state Vigilance Bureau (VB) on charge of abuse of power in a patwari frame-up case.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal took the decision on Wednesday on the basis of the case file submitted by chief secretary Rakesh Singh.
An HT report ('Former VB SSP, others indicted for frame-up', May 15) had highlighted the indictment of the officers for falsely implicating revenue patwari Mohan Singh in a corruption case pertaining to the paddy scam in Punsup (Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation).
As per the probe report, Mohan Singh had been 'punished' because he had demanded mandatory fee of Rs 20 for land mutation from Shiv Kumar Sharma, then senior superintendent of police (SSP), VB, Patiala range.
Sharma (now retired), VB joint director Surinder Pal Singh, SSPs Jaspal Singh and Surjit Singh Grewal, superintendent of police (SP) Banarsi Das and inspector Isher Singh had been indicted in the inquiry conducted by Kahan Singh Pannu, then chief minister's special principal secretary.
Pannu had conducted the probe following a complaint from the Revenue Patwar Union, Punjab, which had met the chief secretary in March. He had submitted the probe report to the chief secretary in April.
Ironically, Surinder Pal Singh was the investigating officer in the disproportionate assets case against the Badal family. He had later turned hostile, leading to the acquittal of Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal and others in 2011.
"The CM has cleared the file for registration of the FIR and we have initiated the process for action," Rakesh Singh told HT.
About the three-month delay after the submission of the probe report, he said, "We followed the procedure for clearing the file. It takes time to complete the formalities."
Sources said the file had returned to the chief secretary's office from the CM's office and it would now be forwarded to the VB for necessary action.
ABUSE OF POWER
Mohan Singh had sought government fee from Sharma in November 2009 for conducting mutation of land at Rurki village in Fatehgarh Sahib. Offended, the then SSP had threatened to teach the patwari a lesson. As per the inquiry report, the officer carried out the threat.
In his report, Pannu had said, "VB officials highly misused their powers to settle personal scores and humiliated an innocent person (Mohan Singh)."
"Sharma abused power… and through Jaspal Singh, Banarsi Das and Isher Singh implicated the patwari in a false case… all these officers, during their stints at Patiala, had worked under Sharma," he said.
Recommending the registration of an FIR, Pannu had made these remarks, "Jaspal Singh and Banarsi Das were directly involved in humiliating and falsely implicating Mohan Singh at Sharma's behest."
The inquiry also indicted then Jalandhar range VB SSP Surjit Singh Grewal for threatening Mohan Singh not to seek information under the RTI (Right To Information) Act against Sharma. Pannu had recommended further probe against Grewal to ascertain his culpability in the case.
On Surinder Pal Singh's role, the report said he bypassed rules by not putting up the file concerned before the DGP (director general of police) and even tampered with records to 'oblige' Sharma. Pannu had recommended stern legal action, stating that, "Surinder Pal is involved in abuse of power along with Sharma and others."
In his concluding remarks, Pannu had recommended a probe into Sharma's assets. Incidentally, Sharma's son Mohit had been arrested in the 2008 diamond robbery case. Diamonds worth crores of rupees, looted from a Surat-based merchant, had been allegedly recovered from Mohit's residence in Ludhiana.