Saturday, January 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bansi Lal, son indicted
Chahal panel on prohibition policy
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
The Justice G.S. Chahal Commission of Inquiry has indicted former Haryana Chief Minister, Bansi Lal, his son, Mr Surendra Singh; and the then Prohibition Minister, Mr Ganeshi Lal.

The commission was set up by the Chautala Government on December 6, 1999, to probe various facets of the prohibition policy introduced by the Bansi Lal Government in July, 1996.

According to reliable sources, the one-man commission comprising a retired Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice G.S. Chahal, submitted its report to the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, in Delhi yesterday. The report is believed to be over 100 pages.

The term of the commission will come to an end on January 31.

The sources say functionaries of the commission sat late in the night on January 22 in the office to complete the report.

Interestingly, Mr Justice J.S. Narang of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had reserved his judgement on a petition challenging the appointment of Justice Chahal as the Commission of Inquiry a few days ago. The petition was filed by Mr Bansi Lal. The judgement is still reserved.

No senior functionary, including Justice Chahal; the Secretary of the commission, Mr R.S. Doon; and counsel for the commission, Mr L.D. Mehta, was available here today.

It is not known on what counts exactly the commission has indicted Mr Bansi Lal, Mr Surendra Singh, who is now Secretary-General of the HVP; and Mr Ganeshi Lal, who belongs to the BJP, which is supporting the Chautala Government from outside.

However, it is believed that since Mr Bansi Lal did not respond to the questionnaire sent by the commission to him, his silence has been taken by the commission as “admission of his guilt”. Hence, his indictment.

Among others, the commission had recorded the statements of two police officers, Mr Satyendra Kumar, who was I.G., CID, in the Bansi Lal Government; and the DIG, Crime, Mr K. Selvaraj.

Mr Selvaraj had presented a statement on behalf of the Haryana police before the commission. He was neither examined nor cross-examined by the commission.

The sources say Mr Satyendra Kumar had deposed before the commission that Mr Bansi Lal was very serious about implementing the prohibition policy. However, he admitted that criminals, irrespective of their political affiliations, were involved in liquor smuggling.

The police statement, the sources say, had said that there were no organised mafia or gangs of criminals involved in liquor smuggling.

Certain distillery owners had also gone to the high court on certain issues being looked into by the Chahal Commission. The sources say the commission has avoided any comment on these issues in its report.

The sources also say that no officer has been indicted by the commission.


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