An inquiry into the auction of the Improvement Trust properties at the prime City Centre complex here has indicted its executive officer Gurinder Singh Sodhi and others for causing a loss of nearly `50 lakh to the government, by giving possession of one shop out of seven without any auction.
The inquiry was conducted by subdivisional magistrate (SDM) Gurpal Singh Chahal, who was entrusted with the inquiry by Varun Roozam, DC-cum-chairman of the Trust.
Roozam had marked the inquiry after a discreet report of the audit department highlighted the scam that the official has given possession of seven shops at the City Centre, while the auction was conducted for only six shops.
In a tactful manner, the EO and his staff counted shop numbers 19 to 25 as six shops, but they were actually seven shops (shop nos 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25). The HT had highlighted the scam in its report ‘Audit dept smells a rat in shops allotment at City Centre complex”. The scam was brought to light by the audit department.
On May 17, 2010, the PIT had auctioned shops at the complex in pairs comprising six outlets and two such pairs, six shops each, had been auctioned. However, instead of counting shop numbers 19 to 25 as seven units, the officials mentioned them as six shops and handed over to a bidder, thus incurring a loss of around `50 lakh.Following media reports, the DC marked the inquiry to the subdivisional magistrate.
“During the inquiry, it was found that the actual auction was done for the area of 682.49 sq yard. But while giving possession, the PIT handed over the possession of 857.68 sq yards. Thus, by giving nearly 175 sq yards extra, the officials caused heavy financial loss to the Improvement Trust, as City Centre is prime property in the city. For this, executive officer Gurinder Singh Sodhi and officials of the technical branch are held guilty,” summarised Chahal in his inquiry. He has submitted the report to the deputy commissioner for further action.
Ironically, before Chahal, the audit department had summarised the same thing in its objection. The audit had flagged that a total of 12 showrooms were auctioned, but the officials concerned have been given the possession of 13 showrooms. Interestingly, the payment of only 12 showrooms was deposited with the department.