Nod for probe pending against 46 officials, politicians: Punjab VB to HC
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) has told the Punjab and Haryana high court that the probe against 46 officials and politicians (FIRs as well as vigilance inquiries) are pending for nod before 13 departments of the state government
Chandigarh : The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) has told the Punjab and Haryana high court that the probe against 46 officials and politicians (FIRs as well as vigilance inquiries) are pending for nod before 13 departments of the state government.
An affidavit submitted in the high court states that prior approval is pending in 35 cases, some even pending since 2018. The prior approval has been denied in six cases and granted in four cases between 2018 and June 21, 2023, it says. Details of cases have not been revealed.
The affidavit has been submitted by joint director (crime) vigilance bureau, Punjab, Gursewak Singh in a public interest litigation moved in May 2023.
The plea from human rights lawyer Sarabjit Singh Verka had sought quashing standard operating procedures (SOP) of September 3, 2021, issued by the central government for probe into criminal cases against public servants. It mandates prior approval by police for initiating probe against public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The plea also sought directions to the Punjab government to decide on investigation and prosecution of public servants “within a matter of weeks and months, and not in years, as had been happening in the past”. The PIL had blamed bureaucrats for the delay alleging that they were “supporting their corrupt colleagues”.
The affidavit says prior approval under Section 17 (A) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, is being taken only in the cases which fall under the purview of “recommendation made” or “decision taken” by such public servant in discharge of their official duties. Vigilance bureau is awaiting sanction to prosecute 46 accused in different cases, the affidavit underlines.
It mentions that it has got prosecution sanction against former minister and Congress leader Bharat Bhushan Ashu in an FIR registered in 2022 and PCS officer Narinder Singh Dhaliwal in a case registered this year.
However, prosecution sanction of Dinesh Bassi (former chairman), Amritsar Improvement Trust; IAS officers Sanjay Popli, GK Singh and SS Bains; and IFS officer Vishal Chauhan are yet to be received from the respective departments. The affidavit does not talk about nature of cases against them and when government was approached for nod.
The affidavit further says prosecution sanction against Simarpreet Kaur Dhillon, district mining officer, Ropar, in a May 3, 2021, FIR has been denied in March 2023. It further says that prior approvals sought by the VB against PCS officers TK Goel and Anita Darshi, are also pending before departments concerned. The affidavit does not divulge details of allegations against them.
It emphasizes that the VB is competent to investigate all the corruption-related matters pertaining to public servants of the state. The bureau is functioning according to the law settled by courts as per which if act of a public servant is ex facie criminal or constitutes an offence, prior approval of the government would not be necessary, it underlines.