HC stays arrest of IAS officer in Panchkula case
The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday stayed senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka’s arrest in a case registered against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act in Panchkula.
“Considering that as per the amended provisions, no enquiry, inquiry or investigation can be initiated without prior sanction, arrest of the petitioner is stayed. However, he shall continue to join investigation if called for,” the bench of justice Avneesh Jhingan ordered, posting the matter for July 28 for further hearing.
The high court passed the order on the 57-year-old, 1991-batch IAS officer’s plea seeking quashing of the FIR and stay on any proceedings arising out of it.
The FIR was registered on the complaint of Haryana State Warehousing Corporation (HSWC) managing director Sanjeev Verma, on April 26 at the Sector-5 police station in Panchkula.
The allegations include making appointments at HSWC in an illegal and arbitrary manner when Khemka served as its MD in 2009-2010.
Khemka’s counsel, senior advocate, RS Cheema had argued that inquiry in this case started in April, 2020 and no sanction as contemplated under Section 17-A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was obtained. It is a statutory requirement given in order to protect public servants.
Allegations in the FIR, even if taken to be true did not constitute offence under any penal provision, especially when issuance of appointments by the petitioner was merely a follow-up ministerial act, pursuant to the selection finalised by the executive committee, the plea asserted.
It was informed that same set of allegations were probed by the police in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and no cognisable or any other offence was concluded to be found out.
Cheema had submitted: “The timing of the extremely vexatious complaint on April 11 for 12-year-old allegations, immediately upon Verma’s appointment as HSWC MD on April 8 (who had mala fide against the petitioner) and vindictiveness of his action towards maligning the petitioner’s reputation by misusing official position as MD, warrants immediate indulgence of high court and quashing of the FIR.”
Verma, too, was booked on Khemka’s complaint. The criminal case against him has been registered under the sections pertaining to a public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury, threatening any person to give false evidence, using as true a certificate known to be false, and criminal conspiracy.
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