Wednesday, May 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

No sitting Judge for commission: CJ
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
A search has started for a retired Judge to head the one-man inquiry commission to probe all acts of omission and commission by the previous SAD-BJP government in Punjab as the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has expressed his inability to spare a sitting Judge for the commission.

The reply of the Chief Justice to the Punjab Chief Minister is the second major setback to the Congress government in the state in its crusade against corruption. Justice A.S. Garg, who was earlier appointed Chairman of the inquiry commission, decided to quit citing personal reasons after a controversy started over his credentials.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that a letter was written to the Chief Justice saying that the Congress government endorsed the demand of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for a sitting Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to head the one-man inquiry commission.

“But the Chief Justice has expressed his inability to spare any sitting Judge,” he said, adding that Chief Secretary Y.S. Ratra had been asked to prepare a panel of names of retired Judges from amongst whom the new Chairman of the commission would be picked.

“The search would be completed soon and the new commission would start scanning through all complaints received by the government against corruption in the previous government,” the Chief Minister said.

“We do not want to get into a witch-hunt. Only genuine complaints would be investigated and findings would be submitted to the appropriate authority for action against those held responsible,” he said. “We are not targeting anyone in particular. Whosoever has been involved in any act of omission or commission will have to face the action as per the law of the land. No one would be shielded,” he stated.

His assertion was a slight departure from his previous utterings where his predecessor, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, used to be named.

The Chief Minister said the crusade against corruption would continue unabated as the government was committed to wipe it out from Punjab. “Only last night, Vigilance officials briefed me about the developments in the fight against corruption during my absence from the capital here. All actions are planned and nothing is done in isolation,” he said, claiming that newspaper reports about the assets and properties amassed by a former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission would be looked into before he could offer any comment.

The Chief Minister defended the party’s guidelines on the disclosure of assets by all MLAs, saying that as per guidelines of the Ethics Committee of the AICC, headed by Dr Manmohan Singh, a five-page printed proforma was being submitted to all members of the Congress Legislature Party.

All information or complaints against corruption received by the government or its Vigilance Bureau were verified before any action was initiated, he said, maintaining that any guidelines with regard to the handling of complaints against gazetted or class I officers by the Vigilance Bureau were not on the agenda of the Council of Ministers’ meeting today.

The Chief Minister said he was not aware that Randhir Singh Gill, alias Dhira, had omitted names of 13 beneficiaries in his statement under Section 164 of the Cr PC after naming 46 beneficiaries in his first statement recorded under Section 161 of the Cr PC.

He held that the practice of taking oath against terrorism, discontinued during the previous SAD-BJP regime, has been revived and all members of the Council of Ministers had taken oath today. All government employees would take this oath, he said

He also announced the setting up of a Cabinet sub-committee on cooperatives with the purpose of making it a mass movement. He said at present, cooperatives in Punjab were dominated by the bureaucracy .

Talking about a spurt in violence in the Majha belt, the Chief Minister said a major drive against narcotics in the state had shown unprecedented results. More than 10 kg of pure heroine has been seized from the border areas. In one case, 120 bags of a contraband have been seized in Tarn Taran.

Talking about recent incidents of violent crimes in the Majha belt, he said the problem was primarily because of unemployment in those areas where some of the rich people had been targeted and robbed.” I have spoken to the Inspector-General of Police (Border Range) and Senior Superintendent of Police of Amritsar. We may thin out our forces in other area and deploy more forces in the Majha belt to contain violence. Our immediate concern is the escalation of tension along Indo-Pakistan border and our border with Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.Back

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