Five-star resort, plush apartments, prime properties: Punjab motor vehicle inspector lived life king-size
Kaler, who has a diploma in mechanical engineering, also owned luxury vehicles, costly watches, perfumes, and several imported gadgets
Patiala From a luxurious five-star resort at a tourist destination in Himachal Pradesh to owning two palatial flats in the prime locality of Noida, a farmhouse and land in Mullanpur, six commercial and residential plots at Mohali, prime properties in Jalandhar and other parts of Punjab valued in crores of rupees, has come to the fore during the vigilance bureau’s investigation of the properties of motor vehicle inspector (MVI) Naresh Kaler.
Not only this, Kaler, who has a diploma in mechanical engineering, also owned luxury vehicles, costly watches, perfumes, and several imported gadgets and used to stay in five and seven-star hotels. The MVI was living life king size when he was arrested on August 24 from Jalandhar.
An MVI is a class-3 employee of the Punjab transport department, and his pay grade is ₹10300-34800+ ₹3800 grade pay plus usual allowances, which amounts to less than a lakh per month.
As per the rules of the transport department, all commercial vehicles have to obtain a fitness certificate from the RTA office in order to ply on the roads and all such vehicles, along with their documents have to be physically inspected by an MVI in his office. Kaler was having charge of Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Pathankot, and other districts and was reportedly operating through agents, and signing fitness certificates without inspections by taking bribes.
“We were baffled when we started tracing the properties and wealth accumulated by Kaler. He was living life King size and even gifted some properties to his ‘friends’ and that too in posh localities in cities like Noida and Mullanpur-New Chandigarh. We are probing every property and are on the money trail,” confirmed a VB official.
During the probe, the VB officials found that the RTA office in Jalandhar was issuing 3,000 to 3,500 vehicle fitness certificates in a month. A Herculean task for any official, and that too for Kaler, who had an additional charge of two more districts. He was signing large numbers of fitness certificates in other districts too.
Every vehicle needs a minimum of 45 minutes to inspect, and it is impossible to issue even 50 certificates in a day. But Kaler used to issue 250 certificates per day. For every file, he was charging ₹1000 to ₹2800 — depending upon the type of commercial vehicle. Thus the accused MVI was minting huge money, which he invested in properties. We believe that he was paying a cut to higher officials and even some top-ranked officials of the transport department,” a VB official said.
As per reports, Kaler remained tight-lipped during questioning, but VB has started reconstructing the money trail and his purchase of properties. “The list of properties is very long, but so far, we have cross-verified that Kaler, through his family members and friends, has purchased 15 properties, and sold seven. However, most shocking was a luxurious resort in Naddi, Himachal Pradesh, which he built and started this season,” said a VB official.
When contacted, VB chief director Varinder Kumar confirmed that the probe has led to the unearthing of several properties.
“I won’t comment on the value of properties as it’s a long list, and we have examined only a dozen such properties. But their value was certainly in crores of rupees and highly disproportionate to MVI’s income sources. The evaluation process to find the commercial market price was on, and several properties are still under scrutiny and verification. However, everyone can guess how a class-3 official, having a salary of less than ₹1 lakh a month, can purchase commercial properties in Mohali, Jalandhar and even have a luxurious resort in the name of his mother in Himachal Pradesh. It was all built from ill-gotten money, and we have started proceedings of disproportionate assets case against Kaler and other MVIs involved,” Kumar said.