A Punjab and Haryana high court bench on Friday dismissed a plea of former Akali minister Nirmal Singh Kahlon challenging a trial court order of summoning him in the panchayat secretaries’ recruitment scam.
The former minister had filed a plea stating that he could not have been summoned as sanction obtained by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was declined by the state government. As per Section 197, sanction is not necessary where the allegations of the prosecution are that the act has been done with mala fide intention or against the law or which amounts to commission of an offence. The sanction is necessary where acts done by a public servant have reasonable connection with a purpose of the official duty.
The high court took note of the CBI submissions that there were allegations that after entering into a conspiracy to select panchayat secretaries against monetary consideration, the accused persons committed forgery in records and destroyed evidence to justify their illegal acts and earned ill-gotten money by abusing their official position. A handwriting expert had confirmed forging of documents, the CBI had claimed.
The CBI had claimed that after the interviews were conducted, chairmen of the selection committees again prepared duplicate sets of interview sheets and got some columns filled from the assisting staff in order to accommodate more candidates.
Subsequently, the chairmen of all four selection committees allotted marks for the personality test in the relevant column of the second set of interview sheets to include names of candidates who were recommended by Kahlon, Mandeep Singh, JS Kesar, Vikas Sharma, besides their own candidates. An approver had stated that the interview sheets were prepared time and again and the ones prepared earlier were destroyed, the CBI had claimed.
Dismissing the plea, the HC stated these acts could not be held as done in performance of the official duties or having reasonable connection in performance with official duties.
The petition was filed in October 2015 challenging the Patiala CBI special court order of summoning Kahlon for the recruitment of 909 panchayat secretaries more than a decade ago.
The case was registered in June 2003 on the statement of the then director of rural development and panchayats department. Kahlon and various state government officers were charged with corruption, forgery and abuse of official position for irregularities in the selection process. The recruitment pertains to the period of Akali-BJP regime in the state between 1997 and 2002.