Punjab speaker’s anticipatory bail plea rejected

August 14th, 2010 - 7:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Patiala (Punjab), Aug 14 (IANS) A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court here Saturday refused to grant anticipatory bail to Punjab Assembly Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon in a corruption case against him.
Kahlon, who is a senior leader of the ruling Akali Dal, had moved the anticipatory bail plea before the court which has summoned him to appear before it Aug 17.

The CBI had July this year filed a charge sheet in the CBI special court here against Kahlon on serious charges of corruption, cheating, forgery and abuse of official position.

Kahlon, who was earlier Punjab’s rural development and panchayats minister (1997-2002) when the corruption allegedly took place, has been booked by the CBI along with 14 other officers, including the then financial commissioner-cum-principal secretary J.S. Kesar and rural development director Mandeep Singh.

Both Kesar and Mandeep Singh are senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers in Punjab. Kesar retired some time back.

All 15 people, including Kahlon, have been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The charge sheet against Kahlon and others caused embarrassment for the ruling Parkash Singh Badal-led Akali Dal government in the state.

According to a CBI spokesman, the case was registered in June 2003 against the then minister for rural development and panchayats and others for abusing their official position, corruption, cheating and forgery of the records in respect of selection of 909 panchayat secretaries between 1997 and 2002.

The complaint was filed first by the then director, rural development and panchayats, in 2003. The matter was later transferred to the CBI for investigation.

The CBI spokesman said that investigations revealed that large sums of money changed hands during the selection process. Though the director, rural development and panchayats, was the appointing authority for the post of panchayat secretary, the minister, his private secretary and the financial commissioner (rural development and panchayats), “took undue interest” in the matter.

The investigations revealed that “forgery and destruction of original interview marks lists was done, in order to select candidates of their choice. A number of candidates with higher qualifications were awarded less interview marks and candidates who were having lower qualifications were awarded more interview marks.”

The accused approached the Supreme Court against the CBI investigation but the apex court turned down the plea in October 2008.

The Punjab government, which was again led by the Akali Dal, denied sanction for prosecution against the accused, including Kahlon.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court, however, in March 2008 had ruled that no sanction for prosecution was required by the CBI against the accused, including the then minister (and now Punjab assembly speaker).

The remaining officers against whom the CBI has registered a case are from the rural development and panchayats department.

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