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Posted at: Sep 13, 2017, 1:55 AM; last updated: Sep 13, 2017, 1:56 AM (IST)

Form SIT to probe paddy scam: HC

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12

Just over six months after the Punjab Government was castigated for a “shoddy” probe in the Rs10.52-crore paddy milling scam, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has told the Director General (Vigilance) to look into the matter.

Before considering the reference of the case to the CBI as per an earlier order, Justice Surinder Gupta asked the Director General to constitute a high-level team (SIT) for the purpose before submitting the report on an affidavit before October-end. The High Court, on a previous date of hearing, had impleaded the CBI as a party.

The developments took place on a petition by Punjab Agro Food Grains Corporation Limited for the cancellation of bail granted to respondent Manoj Jain. The court was initially told that only one person was arraigned as an accused in the case, prompting it to assert that thousands of quintals could not have been misappropriated by a single accused.

As the case came up for resumed hearing, Justice Gupta asserted a coordinate Bench was of the view that misappropriation of this magnitude could not be blamed only on one person without active connivance of officials in charge of the foodgrains.

Justice Gupta added a set system of periodical inspection was in existence. Report on custody of stock handed over for shelling or storage was also submitted to the department from time to time by the official concerned.

“As to whether investigating agency has looked into this aspect is a matter to be seen because from the (final investigation) report under Section 173 CrPC, I do not find any such reference,” Justice Gupta asserted.

The High Court, on the previous date of hearing, had asserted the prosecution case was that about 89,006 quintals of paddy was supplied by the petitioner corporation to the respondent for milling in pursuance of an agreement dated October 24, 2012. But only about 36,908 quintals was milled. The rest was misappropriated. The assessed loss to the corporation was over Rs10.52 crore.

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