The Punjab vigilance bureau has booked IAS officer Gurdev Singh Ghumman for indulging in cheating, criminal breach of trust and forgery to misappropriate funds and causing loss to the state exchequer. The FIR against the Ghumman was registered on January 13.
The bureaucrat, currently posted as special secretary in the department of rural development and panchayat, is already booked in a case of amassing assets disproportionate to his income. This case was registered by the VB in December 2015.
The fresh FIR against Ghumman, a 2006-batch IAS officer comes after a series of HT reports — published in March-April 2015 — revealed how Ghumman had as secretary of the Punjab State Technical Education Board gone to Leh and stayed there for six days, to “attend” a training course that never happened. Other than this trip, he charged the government for several other “official” trips which were never undertaken. The reports also highlighted unwanted purchases for the board done by Ghumman.
Following HT reports, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on April 7 last year ordered a vigilance inquiry against Ghumman while divesting him of the charge of secretary of the board.
The VB’s inquiry report was submitted early this month following which a case has been registered against Ghumman under sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant), 420 (fraud), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a fraud document) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code besides relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Other than Ghumman, the VB will now be acting against Grand Travel Planners, a Sector 17-based travel firm that allegedly prepared stay and travel bills for the IAS officer.
Organised by the National Productivity Council (NPC), a course planned from July 7 to July 11, 2014, was postponed, but the officer “showed” he had diligently participated in it claiming `1.86 lakh from the government after holidaying in a five star hotel for six days.
The FIR also relates how the officer went for another official trip to Goa which was held from January 12 to January 16, 2015. However, he only attended it for two days even though he stayed in Goa for five days. “Also despite the fact that the course fees included arrangement for his stay, he stayed in a five-star hotel, booking himself into the hotel’s club suite spending `3.58 lakh, much more than his entitlement. The bills for the stay issued by M/S Grand Travel Planners were passed by Ghumman himself,” states the FIR.
Hefty travel bills
Interestingly, the FIR further states that Ghumman had during his posting in the Board showed that he had “travelled” to New Delhi 13 times on official trip.
For these trips Ghumman neither took permission from the chairman of the board (which is mandatory) nor were any entries made in his travel log book. No reports were submitted by him in his office regarding these trips either. “For these trips, Ghumman charged the board `10.75 lakh for his stay in hotels in Delhi, the bills of which also he passed himself. The VB found that he had in reality stayed in these hotels only four times,” states the FIR.
The bills he passed were also issued by the same travel agent who had organised his trip to Goa.
The FIR adds that the IAS officer also showed seven persons working in the board who did not actually exist and pocketed their “salary” worth `7.6 lakh. He also bought an expensive camera in contravention of the purchase rules.
Other than this case, Ghumman has been booked by VB in a disproportionate assets case under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act on December 28, 2015. The case was registered after an inquiry was initiated against him in October 2013 by the VB. The IAS officers’ income and expenditure were checked from 2003 to 2013. It was found that Ghumman had earned almost ` 6 crore during this period but he had spent over Rs 7.6 crore, almost 27.5% more than his income.