HT Follow-up| Moga panchayat grant scam: FIR to be lodged against Dhurkot sarpanch, two officers for embezzling ₹59 lakh
Of Rs 71 lakh , over Rs 57 lakh was withdrawn between January 1 and March 31 this year from the panchayat account and was shown as spent on development works in the village. However, an inquiry later found that not a single penny was spent on any development work.punjab Updated: Sep 06, 2017 11:19 IST
District Attorney (legal) has recommended that Moga district authorities lodge a First-Information Report (FIR) against Dhurkot sarpanch Sarabjit Kaur and two other officials for their alleged involvement in embezzlement of Rs 59 lakh from village accounts in January to March this year. The other two officials — block development and panchayat officer (BDPO, Moga-1) Jaspreet Singh and panchayat secretary Karam Singh — are already under suspension.
Dhurkot village in Moga block-1 had received a grant of ₹71 lakh from the government for distribution as compensation for land acquired for four-laning of national highway-71 (Jalandhar-Barnala).
Of Rs 71 lakh , over Rs 57 lakh was withdrawn between January 1 and March 31 this year from the panchayat account and was shown as spent on development works in the village. However, an inquiry later found that not a single penny was spent on any development work. This money was also spent when the poll code of conduct was in force. When this is in force, no official is allowed to withdraw even a single penny from government exchequer for any purpose.
HT had reported the embezzlement in May
In its May 7 report this year, HT had highlighted that the sarpanch in connivance with panchayat secretary allegedly embezzled Rs 57.6 lakh village grant. Later, the missing amount was pegged at Rs 58.55 lakh. The probe also indicted the suspended BPDO after the officials found transactions of more than Rs 25,000 from the panchayat account — for which the BDPO has to give express approval. It was also found that panchayat secretary Karam Singh directly credited Rs 3.5 lakh into his personal account.
“We have received a report from the DA legal, who has recommended the lodging of an FIR against the sarpanch and both suspended officials,” Moga district development and panchayat officer Lakhwinder Singh Randhawa said.
The DA (legal) has recommended that the accused be booked under Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and Section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption act.
DDPO Randhawa said Moga DC Dilraj Singh will mark the DA report to Moga SSP and then the FIR will be registered. BDPO Jaspreet is under suspension for another embezzlement that HT had highlighted.
Why was BDPO suspended
BDPO Jaspreet Singh was suspended on March 22 this year, after HT highlighted embezzlement of ₹26.6 lakh at Ramuwala Kalan village panchayat in the same block. In this case, the state rural development and panchayat secretary had also suspended Moga-1 panchayat secretary Rajwant Singh and directed retired IAS officer RC Nayyar to look into the matter. This embezzlement was also committed when the model code of conduct was in force. Sources said Jaspreet enjoys political patronage.