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A year on, no trial for irrigation engineer caught taking bribe; promoted instead

The vigilance has violated the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) that states that a challan has to be filed within 90 days of the arrest of the accused.

punjab Updated: Feb 03, 2018 15:00 IST
Prabhjit Singh
Prabhjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Bathinda
Bathinda news,engineer caught,bribe

More than a year after the state vigilance bureau arrested an executive engineer of the irrigation department, Kailash Kumar Singla, taking bribe red-handed on January 10, 2017, trial has not begun, as the vigilance is yet to file a challan. However, the state’s senior bureaucrats used this major failure — no filing of challan — as an argument to not only re-appoint, but promote him. All this, in violation of Punjab Civil Service Rules.

The vigilance has violated the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) that states that a challan has to be filed within 90 days of the arrest of the accused.

Singla and his colleague, superintendent engineer Suresh Goel, also caught taking bribe, were arrested under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Goel was immediately terminated from service, but the irrigation department did not even issue a charge-sheet to Singla.

In March 2017, Singla, who is now director, hydel design, Punjab, was also booked in a disproportionate assets (DA) case, after Rs 1.25 crore were seized from his residence. The seizure had included Rs 10 lakh in the then new Rs 2,000-note denomination. Singla, who was suspended, remained in jail for over three months, before coming out on April 28, 2017.

Bathinda VB SSP Jagjit Singh refused to answer questions on the prolonged delay in filing the challan. “The challan will be filed within this month,” was all he could say.

The role of bureaucracy

On May 31, 2017, after a month of Singla’s release from jail, the then principal secretary, irrigation, KBS Sidhu revoked the suspension, citing vigilance’s inaction. Singla was promoted to the post of the SE on June 30. This was done without any communication with the vigilance.

“In case, he (KK Singla) is convicted and sentenced, this promotion will be non est (invalid) and he will be dismissed from service from the date of his conviction,” reads the promotion order in possession of HT. KBS Sidhu’s successor VK Singh notified the order.

Singh, now on deputation in Delhi, denied that he had passed such a promotion order. “I did not chair such a Departmental Promotions Committee (DPC) meeting,” he claimed, adding that this promotion had been decided before he took charge.

Vigilance was probing case, so no dept charge-sheet: officer

Sidhu claimed that the promotion was valid as the department had not charge-sheeted Singla. He added that vigilance had also not framed charges against the officer and the suspension had also been revoked when the DPC met.

“The promotion is kept in a sealed cover (not implemented) only if any of these three conditions would have applied,” he claimed. However, he had this to say when questioned on why the department did not charge-sheet Singla, “Since the vigilance was already investigating the matter, we did not charge-sheet Singla.” He admitted that the irrigation department did not pose any query to the vigilance, while promoting Singla.

“I am already humiliated, I do not want to say anything now as the case is with the vigilance,” Singla said, when contacted for his version.

First Published: Feb 03, 2018 12:03 IST