Dushyant disagrees with SET findings, tussle with Vij escalates
The SET report had blamed Vidyarthi for only giving verbal instructions to order the closure of liquor vends during the lockdown, dilly dallying the supply of information to SET and hampering the visit of the SET to a distilleryUpdated: Aug 07, 2020 23:28 IST
A crisis is brewing in the BJP-JJP coalition government in Haryana. A day after home minister Anil Vij recommended departmental action against excise and taxation commissioner Shekhar Vidyarthi, deputy chief minister and JJP leader, Dushyant Chautala on Friday rejected the “allegations made by a special enquiry team (SET) against the IAS officer.”
The SET report had blamed Vidyarthi for only giving verbal instructions to order the closure of liquor vends during the lockdown, dilly dallying the supply of information to SET and hampering the visit of the SET to a distillery.
Chautala who hold the excise and taxation portfolio also said he was not in agreement with the SET’s observations pertaining to his department. The JJP leader said coming days would reveal the shape of his disagreement with the home minister on the SET findings, indicating the ongoing tussle between the two.
The relations between the two have been bitter ever since Chautala as Hisar MP levelled allegations of corruption in purchase of medicines in health department, a portfolio held by Vij in the previous government also. Chautala had also filed a defamation case against Vij when the latter snapped at him with a “drug addict” remark.
Defending the IAS officer, Chautala in a statement on Friday said that Vidyarthi is a senior officer and has done a commendable job regarding closure of liquor vends.
Rejecting the adverse remarks of the SET pertaining to the functioning of excise and taxation department, Chautala said at a press briefing that the inquiry team did not take into account many aspects before making such observations. “Whether it is about the compliance reports of closing liquor vends in all the districts… the inquiry could have been done in a far better manner. I had ordered the closure of all liquor vends on the evening of March 26 and compliance reports came from all the districts by 11am on March 27,’’ Chautala said. He said that as per the Punjab Excise Act applicable in the state, no officer was allowed to visit a distillery. “Hence such a demand made by SET could not be considered,’’ he said. Chautala said since one of the distilleries is located in Punjab, the Haryana excise department do not have the authority to grant permission to visit.
Taking a swipe at the police department which is under the home minister, Chautala said 14 FIRs were lodged regarding illicit liquor by the excise department. However, as per the SET report, the police could not conduct any investigation or take any action against any officer. The JJP leader said while the excise department has taken action against its erring superiors and given a strong message but the police investigation into the matter could not go above the driver-level.