Thursday, April 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Sidhu helped people at Badal’s behest: Jagman
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, April 24
Jagman Singh, once a main associate of PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, who today turned public approver in the case, dragged the names of the former Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and a high court judge in the case.

Highly placed sources told that in his statement before the CJM, Ropar, Mr Jagman Singh today informed that once Ravi Sidhu deputed him to deliver an exam paper to ‘Kala da munda’, a resident of Sector 9 in Chandigarh. Sidhu also told him that they were helping him at the behest of the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

In another revelation, he told the court that he had also delivered exam papers at the residence of a high court judge in Sector 24, Chandigarh. Though he did not remember the house number of the judge, he informed that the house was located in the outer lane of Sector 24, facing Sector 25.

He however, declined to identify any candidate who benefited from the exam papers. The papers were given to him with top headings cut due to which he could not tell for what exam they were meant, he said.

In his statement before the court, Jagman Singh also accused paper checkers with being part of the scandal. He was often asked by the PPSC Chairman to deliver the solved papers at the residences of particular paper checkers who were part of the racket, he alleged.

He also named Randir Singh Dhira, Markfed employee, as the main agent of Sidhu. He used to collect money from the kin of candidates in lieu of getting them recruited. The collected money was further given to him to be deposited in banks against bogus accounts.

He accused Sidhu’s brother Reetinder Singh, sister-in-law Ajinder Kaur and mother Pritpal Kaur of opening bogus accounts in banks for keeping the illegally collected money. His mother opened two accounts — one in her name and the other in a bogus name of Mrs Gurcharan Kaur — and kept the money collected by Sidhu in them.

Earlier, Sidhu used to keep the money collected from candidates in four bogus accounts. However, when his mother and brother returned from the USA, the amounts were shifted to their accounts, he alleged.

Jagman Singh was produced in the court of the CJM, Mr Ravinder Singh, early in the morning. His application for becoming a public approver in the case had come up before the court on April 21. The Judge had then issued his production warrants for today.

The Judge gave Jagman Singh two chances to reconsider his decision to become public approver. However, when even after two hourly breaks, he stuck to his decision, the judge recorded his statement.

The statement was recorded in-camera, with the Judge turning everybody out of the courtroom and recording the statement himself. After that, he declared Jagman Singh public approver in the Sidhu case.

With this, he has been guaranteed pardon for his offences for cooperating with the government in nabbing the culprits. His pardon in the case is, however, subject to certain conditions, which Jagman Singh has agreed to. The conditions include willingness to help in the investigation of the case and agreeing that he may be kept under detention during the trial and that he would support the prosecution’s case.

Giving reasons for becoming public approver, Jagman Singh told that he had been cooperating with Sidhu for money. But, now that the prestige of the family had been ruined because of him, he wanted that the guilty should be brought to book.


Vigilance Bureau to question Pritpal Singh
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau probing the case of the Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission, Ravi Sidhu, is determined to interrogate those whose names have figured in the investigation so far.

It got information today that Ravi Sidhu had sent abroad Rs1.36 crore through illegal channels. As per the earlier investigation, this amount was Rs 1 crore only. The police has traced assets, including cash, worth Rs 25 crore of Ravi Sidhu so far.

At this stage the investigating team requires Randhir Singh Gill, a Ludhiana-based accomplice of Ravi Sidhu. He is allegedly the kingpin of the major operations of Ravi Sidhu and has vital information about his activities. He has been missing since the last week of March when Ravi Sidhu was arrested by the bureau.

A senior police officer told TNS that an aide of the former Chief Minister would be involved in the investigation at the appropriate time. The name of the aide had figured in the interrogation of two agents arrested in connection with the Ravi Sidhu case. The police might also involve in the investigation the aide’s close relations who had been selected by the PPSC.

It had been reported that one of the agents had supplied question papers to the aide in a bungalow in Sector 9 here. “ We are collecting more evidence in this connection”, said the police officer.

Only after knowing the version of the persons accused by the agents could the truth be known, said the police officer.

The former secretary of the PPSC, Mr Pritpal Singh, who is a PCS officer, will reach here tomorrow . He has been summoned by the Vigilance Bureau to join the investigation. He was recently transferred from the PPSC on a complaint made by four members of the commission. The four members have also submitted an elaborate complaint to the state government against Mr Pritpal Singh.

He will be asked about the burning of certain records pertaining to 1998. The burning of the records has created a controversy in the commission. Why were the records pertaining to earlier years not touched? What prompted the burning of the records? These are the questions he would have to answer. He may also be asked about the rules and regulations pertaining to the custody of question papers and answersheets, the procedure for the evaluation of papers and selecting of evaluators and question paper setters.

There are reports that certain experts, who used to be called to be part of the interview board, allegedly used to connive with the Chairman to select the candidates of his (Ravi Sidhu) choice. Without the connivance of experts, it is difficult to select candidates, ignoring merit.

It is worth probing how many relations of experts have been recruited by the commission in the past five years. There are reports that a senior officer, who was an expert at certain interviews of the commission, got her daughter selected to an important post.


Probe commission illegal: Badal
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
“The setting up of a one-man commission of inquiry to probe irregularities, illegalities, corruption and other misdoings of the SAD-BJP government is politically motivated, vague and illegal,” says Mr Parkash Singh Badal, holding that the whole purpose of the commission is to “harass political opponents of the present Congress regime in the state”.

“We are ready to face any inquiry commission provided it is headed by a sitting Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court whose name has been cleared by the Chief Justice of the high court,” Mr Badal said .

Talking to TNS on the telephone from his native village, Mr Badal who, besides all members of his Council of Ministers, Chief Parliamentary Secretaries, MLAs, MPs, former MLAs and MPs and public servants associated with the previous SAD-BJP government, will face the inquiry panel said that Capt Amarinder Singh had been saying that the inquiry commission would be headed by a sitting Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

“There is a big difference between a sitting Judge and a retired Judge, especially when the action of the government smells of political vendetta and is motivated. We are not afraid of facing any commission or any inquiry but it has to be legal and in accordance with the law of the land.

“But by appointing a close relative of a senior political appointee of his own government as the one-man inquiry commission , the Punjab Chief Minister has given a clear indication of his intentions. Only today a close relative of the Chairman designate of the commission was appointed a Deputy Advocate-General by the Punjab Government,” alleged Mr Badal.

“What justice can we expect from this commission?” he said claiming that the appointment of the Punjab Lok Pal was done by his government with the approval of the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and he was legally entitled to hold any probe against any politician.

“Under the Commission of Enquiry Act, the charge to be probed has to be in the public interest and specific and not a vague thing covering the entire five-year term of a properly elected government,” said Mr Badal.

“I have asked my legal experts to examine whether the state can appoint a commission of inquiry when it already has a Lok Pal in office to do the same thing,” he said maintaining that if the Congress government wanted to go ahead with its one-man inquiry commission it should have amended the Lok Pal Act or obtained the consent of the Union Government.


Justice Garg takes charge of panel
Tribune News Service

A. S. GargChandigarh, April 24
In less than a day after the Punjab Government ordered the setting up of a one man “commission of inquiry” to probe into “irregularities, illegalities, corruption and other misdoings” of the previous government headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice A. S. Garg, took the charge today.

The setting up of the commission was approved by the state Council of Ministers after a meeting here last morning. The commission would inquire into the acts of omission and commission committed by the previous government, besides “acts of mala-fide and biased mind, which were detrimental to public interest”, along with “acts committed for personal gains which adversely affected the state exchequer, or squandering public money or resources”.


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