2,000-cr food grain transportation scam:Punjab govt accords sanction to prosecute ex-minister Ashu

Published on Nov 27, 2022 10:24 PM IST

The Punjab government has accorded prosecution sanction against former food supplies minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu in the alleged ₹2,000 crore food grain transportation scam.

Vigilance Bureau had arrested Ashu in Ludhiana on August 22 in an alleged scam related to the allotment of tenders for the transportation of grains. (HT file photo)
Vigilance Bureau had arrested Ashu in Ludhiana on August 22 in an alleged scam related to the allotment of tenders for the transportation of grains. (HT file photo)

Ludhiana

The Punjab government has accorded prosecution sanction against former food and civil supplies and consumer affairs minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu in the alleged 2,000 crore food grain transportation scam.

The Vigilance Bureau (VB) had arrested Ashu in Ludhiana on August 22 in an alleged scam related to the allotment of tenders for the transportation of grains during his tenure as food and supply minister in the previous Congress government. On August 16, 2022, the VB registered a case against the partners of Gurdas Ram and Company, officials of the state food and civil supplies department, and employees of the procurement agencies concerned for allegedly committing irregularities in accepting labour, cartage and transportation tenders for grain markets in Ludhiana district.

An FIR was registered under sections 420 (cheating), 409 (criminal breach of trust), 467 (forgery of valuable security, etc), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), 120B (party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence) of the IPC and sections 7 (2), 8, 12 and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act at the VB police station in Ludhiana.

VB chief Varinder Kumar said chief minister Bhagwant Mann has allowed prosecution sanction to proceed further into the case against Bharat Bhushan Ashu. A trial into the case has already started and the sanction accorded would support it, he said, adding: “According to Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, it is mandatory to have prosecution sanction against a public servant from the state government otherwise the case may fall flat,” he said.

During the VB probe, it came to light that at the time of submitting tenders for the year 2020-21 with regard to labour, cartage and transportation works in Ludhiana district, the lists of vehicles submitted by contractors were containing registration numbers of scooters, motorcycles, cars and other vehicles, which were not verified by officials of the district tender committee. According to the department policy, it was mandatory for the committee to reject technical bids after fining such discrepancies.

The VB filed a chargesheet in a court against Ashu, who is in judicial custody, contractor Telu Ram and commission agent Krishan Lal Dhotiwala on November 14. Senior superintendent of police (VB), Ludhiana range, Ravinderpal Singh Sandhu said they have got sanction from the government to prosecute in the case. He said that dismissed deputy director, food and civil supplies, RK Singla is yet to be arrested. As he is already dismissed they don’t need prosecution sanction to prosecute him, he said, adding that two district food and civil supplies controllers (DFSCs) Sukhwinder Singh Gill, Harveen Kaur were arrested on November 22. The bureau will apply for the prosecution sanction to prosecute them later after completing investigation against them.

A total of six accused have been arrested in the case so far. The VB had already initiated proceedings in the court against three accused, including RK Singla, dismissed deputy director food and civil supplies, Pankaj Kumar, alias Menu Malhotra, and Inderjit Singh, personal assistants of Ashu, to declare them as proclaimed offenders.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tarsem Singh Deogan is a senior reporter at Ludhiana. He has 16 years of experience in journalism. He has covered all beats and now focuses on crime reporting.

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