Vigilance takes U-turn to save Khemkaran MLA
Putting a big question mark on its functioning, the Punjab vigilance bureau has taken a U-turn to save Shiromani Akali Dal MLA from Khemkaran and chief parliamentary secretary (rural water supply and sanitation) Virsa Singh Valtoha in a disproportionate assets case.
The vigilance bureau (VB), which had chargesheeted Valtoha in 2003 claiming that he had spent Rs 45.88 lakh more than his known sources of income during the SAD-BJP tenure from 1997 to 2002 when he was a member of the Subordinate Service Selection Board (SSSB), has now backtracked saying "Valtoha's expenditure was within his income limits".
Ironically, the case against Valtoha was registered by the same vigilance officer, Surinderpal Singh, who had turned hostile in a disproportionate assets case against chief minister Parkash Singh Badal despite being the investigation officer.
The U-turn follows a reinvestigation plea filed by Valtoha before vigilance bureau chief director Sumedh Singh Saini last year. In a challan presented against Valtoha in March 2003, Surinderpal, the then SSP (vigilance) in Mohali, had charged the SAD leader with making a personal expenditure of Rs 63 lakh as against his actual family income of Rs 17.12 lakh. He had produced accounts, banks statements and witnesses in support of the claim.
However, in a supplementary challan presented in a Mohali court on April 3 this year, the VB drastically slashed the expenditure made by Valtoha and conveniently inflated his family income. The VB claimed that it had found in its reinvestigation that Valtoha's "actual" expenditure was far less (Rs 17.03 lakh) than his family income of Rs 26.20 lakh.
"The revised calculation shows that Valtoha, in the period 1997-02, earned Rs 26,20,482, while his expenditure was only Rs 17,03,841. Thus, his total income was Rs 9,16,641 lakh more than his expenditure for that period," said DSP (vigilance) Amarjit Singh in the supplementary challan.
Surinderpal had registered a case against Valtoha at the vigilance police station in Mohali on July 12, 2002, under various sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act. The VB had then claimed that Valtoha had amassed wealth by taking bribe from candidates appearing for the SSSB interviews.
It was a case of vendetta: Valtoha
Claiming that the truth had now come to the fore, Valtoha told HT that the vigilance bureau had booked him under former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh's pressure. "Amarinder had got the case registered to defame me and please his cabinet colleague Gurchet Singh Bhullar. It was motivated by vendetta politics. I had been seeking a reinvestigation into the case since 2002, but no one listened to me," he said.
Denying that the VB took a U-turn under political pressure, Valtoha said, "Had it been so, the charges against me would have been dropped during the SAD-BJP's previous tenure." He said he would ask the CM to ensure strict action against vigilance officer Surinderpal Singh for registering a false case to defame him.
VB challan in 2003
Valtoha owns benami property worth Rs 22.5 lakh (kothi no. 85, Kabir Park, Amritsar) in the name of Atma Singh. VB submits statement of Chhatarpal Singh (seller) to back its claim
Valtoha owns Tata Safari (PB 09-D-0206), which is in somebody else's name. VB supports claim with statement of one Surjan Singh.
Valtoha owns Maruti car. VB produces a witness, Arvinderpal Singh, to support its claim
An amount of Rs 20.92 lakh deposited in the accounts of Valtoha's wife Palwinder Kaur
VB challan in 2012
House owned by Valtoha's father-in-law Atma Singh, who had sufficient sources of income to purchase it. He bought it for Rs 3 lakh. VB says it has no documents to prove that Valtoha owns the property
The Tata Safari was never owned by Valtoha, it is in the name of Sukhdev Singh, a resident of Valtoha
No such car owned by Valtoha, it is registered in the name of Kirpal Singh
No amount was deposited in the accounts till February 28, 2002. Since the period of investigation is 1997-02, this amount cannot be included in Valtoha's income