Friday, April 19, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Key player in Sidhu case held
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
The Vigilance Bureau has made its second major breakthrough in the Punjab Public Service Commission Chairmans’ corruption case by taking in custody Jagman Singh, a key figure, who reportedly used to manage not only the “unaccounted funds” but also allegedly acted as a “conduit between his boss and the candidates”.

The first breakthrough was reconstructing deleted files and decoding of passwords of the personal computer of the PPSC chief which provided access to vital information, including his investments, properties and other activities.

Jagman Singh, who is in his late 30s, has been in contact with PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu from mid 80s, and has been performing all duties assigned to him, including “home delivery” of “expected question papers” to “VIP clients “ of his boss.

Jagman Singh had been a suspect in the case from day one. He becomes the third person to be arrested in the case after Ravi Sidhu and Mrs Surinder Kaur Manchanda. Ravi Sidhu had claimed that Jagman Singh’s father, Mr Autar Singh Sekhon, had bequeathed his Masonic Lodge at Kasauli, to him .

Investigations reveal that Jagman Singh and Ravi Sidhu with support and backing from several others were virtually running the “recruitment racket”.

The investigators are convinced that some bankers were also involved as Jagman had been allegedly operating a number of “accounts surreptitiously”. In 1999, Jagman allegedly opened four accounts in the Chandigarh branch of Indus Ind Bank in the name of Jarnail Singh, Inder Singh, Ranjit Singh and Ashwani Kumar and used to deposit the ‘unaccounted money’ of the PPSC Chairman in these accounts. Though all these four persons exist but they probably had no idea that their accounts had huge deposits. Each deposit transaction was kept a little short of Rs 10 lakh to evade RBI directive. This was allegedly done in full connivance with bank officials, including the branch Manager , and a few others.

The investigations reveal that even the mandatory formalities of opening these accounts were not gone through.

This process continued until November 2000 when the money was allegedly withdrawn and put in “unaccounted lockers” which remained in “unlawful operation of Jagman Singh” for varying periods of time. Two of these lockers were regularised in July, 2001 while two others were regularised only in February this year. These were the lockers used to keep ‘unaccounted money’.

Not only that on March 26, a day after the PPSC chief landed in the vigilance net, Jagman allegedly made withdrawals from other legal accounts, including those in the name of the mother and brother of Ravi Sidhu. It was he who also used to operate their accounts also.

Jagman is believed to have confessed that he also used to receive “computerised question papers” from the PPSC Chairman, who used to come to his Sector 9 house. These question papers were meant to be given to the candidates with whom deals had been stuck through one of several touts. The candidates used to be called individually either to the house of the mother of the PPSC chief or to the house of Jagman Singh where they would spend the entire night in preparing for the written examination next day.

At no stage any of the “candidates” would know that similar papers were being “leaked” to others also. Such candidates would be provided all facilities, including board and lodging either in Sector 9 (Jagman’s house) or Sector 10 (Ravi’s mother’s house). They would not be allowed to make any contact with anyone, including on the phone, during their stay either in Sector 9 or Sector 10. Next morning the question papers would be taken back from them before they were taken to Patiala to take the theory papers.

The deal would not end there. After the examination answer sheets, would be allegedly delivered at Jagman Singh’s home with instructions to take them to examiners with a list of confidential roll numbers and marks to be given to each candidate mentioned against those roll numbers.

Irrespective of the answers in answer sheets, the candidate would be given pre-determined marks to get him in the merit list. Some of the examiners reside in different parts of the city. A few others , who came from outside, would do the evaluation work, on given guidelines either in Sector 9 or in Sector 10.

In one case, confessed Jagman, question paper was home delivered to a candidate , in Sector 24, with answer keys to a multiple choice question paper for the written examination next day. In no case question paper would be left with the “candidate” as Jagman or mother of the PPSC Chairman would take back all such papers from the candidates before they left.Back

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