Sunday, April 13, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Is the CBI overburdened ?
Refuses to take up Panchayat Secretaries’ case
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
In less than a month after a decision was taken by the Punjab government to hand over the inquiry in the Panchayat Secretaries termination case to the Central Bureau of Investigation, the agency has reportedly refused to look into the matter.

Though government officials are tight-lipped about it, sources confirm a letter has already been received by the department concerned.

Refusing to divulge the details of the letter, sources insist that lack of time and resources, among other things, are reasons cited by the premier investigation agency for their reported inability. The decision is significant as over 900 Panchayat Secretaries will be affected by it.

The agency had earlier sought the dismissal of a petition seeking its intervention in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam on the allegations that the government was involved in “Operation-Coverup”, instead of revealing the truth.

CBI’s Superintendent of Police had further claimed that “the cases relating to the Public Service Commission, under investigation by the Punjab State Vigilance Bureau, had no inter-state ramifications. Moreover, neither the Central Government employees, nor Central Government funds, were involved in any manner in the scam”.

The SP had added that “CBI’s resources were already over-stretched in the investigation of corruption cases and other special crime cases, including the ones entrusted by the High Courts and the Supreme Court of India”.

The government, it may be recalled, had stated in an affidavit filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court that a decision had already been taken to hand over the inquiry to the CBI.

The affidavit, filed on behalf of Punjab Chief Secretary, had further stated that a reference had already been made to the investigating agency. Taking up the case, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the impleading of CBI as a party in the matter.

The Panchayat Secretaries, in their petition, had earlier alleged that action was being initiated against them in a mala fide manner due to political vendetta. Claiming to have been appointed by the previous government in October 2001, Raminder Singh of Ferozepore and six others, in one such petition, had added that the government had proceeded against them by issuing a blanket order without giving them an opportunity of hearing.

Seeking the quashing of an order dated December 10, 2002, vide which the services of total 909 secretaries were sought to be terminated, the petitioners had added that the same was illegal and arbitrary.

Giving details, counsel had submitted on the petitioners’ behalf that the Secretaries were appointed in the department concerned by a duly constituted Departmental Selection Committee. The case is still pending before the High Court. 

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