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Punjab irrigation scam: HC dismisses bail pleas of contractor, five dept officials

According to the state vigilance bureau, under the previous SAD-BJP regime, higher officials connived with contractor Gurinder and allocated works worth Rs 1,000 crore to him alone, that too on rates 50% higher than the departmental rates.

punjab Updated: Nov 16, 2017 12:33 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab irrigation scam,irrigation scam,HC dismisses bail pleas
Accused Gurinder Singh bagged majority of the works of the drainage and kandi canal wings of the irrigation department at highly inflated rates.(HT File)

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday dismissed bail pleas of a contractor and five officials allegedly involved in Rs 1000-crore irrigation department scam in Punjab.

The accused are contractor Gurinder Singh and irrigation department officials Gurdev Singh Syan (chief engineer, now retired); Vimal Sharma (supervisor); Gulshan Nagpal (executive engineer); Harvinder Singh (chief engineer, retired) and Bajrang Lal Singla (executive engineer).

While dismissing their bail pleas, the high court bench of justice AB Chaudhary said, “Court is convinced that there is prima facie evidence against all the petitioners and huge evidence is required to be collected by the investigating agency and that is possible only if the custodial interrogation is allowed and not otherwise.”

The court also took note of some instances of bid documents being shared by officers with Gurinder in advance.

According to the state vigilance bureau, under the previous SAD-BJP regime, higher officials connived with contractor Gurinder and allocated works worth Rs 1,000 crore to him alone, that too on rates 50% higher than the departmental rates.

It was alleged that a pre-bid meeting was made essential for allocation of major job works so that all the bidders in the field be introduced to each other and their mutual deals be got struck down and the job work may be allocated to Gurinder, on his desired rates by forming a cartel.

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Even small works were awarded to Gurinder by clubbing them into a single deal. Due to this ‘unholy nexus’, the annual turnover of the contractor increased from a meagre Rs 4.74 crore in 2006-2007 to Rs 300 crore in 2016-2017, without any justification whatsoever, state advocate general Atul Nanda argued.

Justice Chaudhary in his order observed that prime facie the petitioners had worked together for making ‘unjust enrichment’ of the contractor by ensuring ‘tailor-made’ conditions. The state was straightaway caused a loss to the extent of around 35% to 50% of the contracts, justice Chaudhary added.

The court noted that Gurinder obtained the contracts at higher rates and then sublet the work to small contractors without any permission from the government and in connivance with official.

“…They knew that contractor would not do himself (sic). Thus, it is prima facie proved that the works were allotted to Gurinder Singh contractor at highly inflated rates, 35-50% higher causing straight loss to the public money in the State of Punjab,” the HC bench observed.

The court also took note of some instances of bid documents being shared by officers with Gurinder in advance.

First Published: Nov 16, 2017 12:33 IST