Pesticide scam: Govt seeks Sandhu’s reply to chargesheet in 15 days

  • Prabhjit Singh, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Feb 04, 2016 09:02 IST
Punjab’s suspended director, agriculture, Mangal Singh Sandhu (HT File Photo)

Three months after Punjab’s suspended director, agriculture, Mangal Singh Sandhu was chargesheeted in the multi-crore pesticide purchase scam, the state government on Wednesday served a notice on him to reply to the chargesheet within 15 days or face an ex parte decision.

An ex parte decision is taken without requiring all parties to a case to be present.

It was also decided to issue a public notice in this regard in newspapers as Sandhu did not respond to any official communiqué pertaining to the departmental inquiry initiated against him under the Punjab services rules, sources said.

Sandhu, who was arrested on October 3, 2015, and remained behind bars for two months, was chargesheeted on October 6 in a departmental inquiry for major punishment under the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1970. He was released after the Punjab and Haryana high court granted him bail on December 11.

The other two chargesheeted senior officials — deputy director ( cotton extension) Parminder Singh and then joint director, agriculture, Balwinder Singh Sohal have already filed their replies.

When contacted, financial commission development (FCD) Suresh Kumar, confirmed that the department had so far not received any reply from Sandhu despite the grace period given to him.

“We have finally decided to proceed (for a regular inquiry against the three officials) as per rules,” he told HT.

Not yet sacked

Sandhu, who was granted two-year extension after his retirement in 2014, continues to be under suspension, getting half pay. The file pertaining to the termination of his services is still awaiting agriculture minister Jathedar Tota Singh’s nod.

According to a state government notification dated April 30, 2015, the extension in service of any officer after his retirement would abruptly be discontinued in case of his arrest in a corruption case and also in case of a chargesheet against him for major penalty under the departmental inquiry.

Talking to HT, the minister said he had not yet received the file in question. “The file was in the chief minister’s office (CMO), from where it was sent to the FCD (financial commissioner development),” Tota Singh said.

The FCD said the file had been forwarded to the minister concerned.

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