Suspended IAS officer and former deputy commissioner of Patiala, Vikas Garg, who was arrested by the vigilance bureau (VB) in connection with the Patiala land scam worth Rs 250 crore, was remanded to 14-day judicial custody on Saturday.
Garg, who was arrested in the wee hours of Friday by the VB from Delhi, had been remanded to a one-day police custody on Friday by the court of chief judicial magistrate Balwant Singh.
Garg was produced in the court on Saturday morning and was thereof remanded to judicial custody; he was immediately sent to the central jail in Patiala.
Though senior superintendent of police, VB, Patiala, Preetam Singh claimed the court had denied extending the police custody as sought by the bureau, highly placed sources in the bureau disclosed that the VB had expressed 'satisfaction' with Garg's interrogation and desired no more custody. This 'satisfaction' and unwillingness to demand an extension in police custody has raised quite a few eyebrows.
"It is really astonishing that the bureau did not ask for further police custody of a suspended officer involved in a scam worth hundreds of crores, especially when he had evaded arrest for nearly two months," said a police official.
Garg was allegedly instrumental in marking 6,000 square yards of government land as private property to facilitate its further sale. A probe by the then divisional commissioner SR Ladhar had indicted him for executing the sale deed of a plot worth Rs 250 crore for just Rs 6.3 crore.
Besides Garg, nine others have been named as co-accused in the FIR, including Patiala's ex-DRO Rajbir Singh; naib tehsildar Gurinder Singh Walia; kanungo Pritpal Singh and patwari Suresh Kumar.
Sources in the bureau disclosed that VB would also summon the other accused, including former naib tehsildar Walia, who had not bothered to join the investigation for the past three days despite being out on interim bail.
Garg, a 1998-batch IAS officer, served as the deputy commissioner of Patiala, Muktsar and Ludhiana.
Garg to give Virk company in jail
Vikas Garg, who would stay in the central jail at Patiala for at least 14 days after being remanded to judicial custody by a Patiala court, would find a 'good company' in the form of Punjab Police Service (PPS) officer and former SSP of Amritsar (Rural), Preetpal Singh Virk, to while away his time.
Garg, who was lodged at the central jail, Patiala, on Saturday noon, has been kept in the 'MP Ward' barrack where Virk is also staying. (The state government is yet to formally suspend himfrom service.)
On Monday last week, Virk was awarded ten years' rigorous imprisonment by a CBI court in Patiala in connection with the 'illegal confinement' and 'kidnapping in order to murder' of a Sunam boy in 1993, when he was the superintendent of police at Sangrur.
"Since Virk had also been posted in Patiala when Garg was the DC, there may be a few prisoners who are in jail because of the actions of these officers. The move to keep them in the same barrack has been taken keeping in view their security," a jail official, who did not want to be named, told the Hindustan Times.
Four others are lodged in this barrack on account of their satisfactory conduct in the jail and who are about to complete their terms.