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ĎBunglingí in CMís Relief Fund
Court orders probe against Rajinder Kaur Bhattal
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 10
In a significant decision which could have far-reaching consequences, Mr Surjeet Singh, Additional Sessions Judge-cum-Special Judge today ordered the Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, to probe the alleged bungling by former Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, in the Chief Ministerís Relief Fund.

Mr Surjeet Singh ordered the investigation under Section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr. PC) while disposing of an application moved in his court in this connection by Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, vice-president, Lawyers for Human Rights, International and president, District Amateur Boxing Association, Bathinda.

Mr Dhillon, in his complaint seeking the registering of a case against Mrs Bhattal under Section 409 of the IPC under Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, alleged that she withdrew Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Ministerís Relief Fund on December 30, 1996, in her own name for granting the money to the needy persons/institutions.

He further alleged that the money (Rs 20 lakh) was not accounted for by Mrs Bhattal. He added that earlier no Chief Minister had ever withdrawn money in his own name.

He alleged that the accused had dishonestly and fraudulently misappropriated public money for her personal use which was entrusted to her as a public servant and had committed a breach of trust within the meaning of Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

He pointed out that Mrs Bhattal promised to give Rs 5 lakh for the construction of an indoor hall boxing at Talwandi Sabo when she was Chief Minister of Punjab. He added that when he met Mrs Bhattal on January 26, 1997, at Sangrur, she told him that she would grant the money shortly as she had got the required money for the purpose.

After the assembly elections in February, 1997. Mr Parkash Singh Badal became the Chief Minister and money for the construction of the indoor hall was not received.

Mr Dhillon said on December 21, 2000, he read a news item in an English daily that Mrs Bhattal had actually withdrawn Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Ministerís Relief Fund in her own name.

He added that after that he started searching for relevant documents from which it could be established that Mrs Bhattal had dishonestly and fraudulently misappropriated the public money.
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