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Congress to withdraw case against Bhattal
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
As the Punjab Assembly election draw near, the Congress Government in Punjab is “trying” to restore peace within the party by deciding to withdraw a long-pending case against its Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

The application, moved by the Punjab Vigilance this evening in the local courts to withdraw the case, would have been accepted but for its late filing. Now, the application would again be presented tomorrow before the Special Vigilance Judge, Mr R.S. Baswana.

The case pertains to alleged misappropriation of Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund during Ms Bhattal's brief tenure as the Chief Minister. The case had also generated controversy following allegations that Ms Bhattal had submitted fake receipts to prove her innocence.

The main allegation against the one-time beta noire of the present Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is that she allegedly misused her position to fraudulently withdraw Rs 20 lakh from the fund in the name of non-existing beneficiaries. It had also been alleged in the past that Capt Amarinder Singh, who was facing dissentions within the party in 2003, had struck a deal with Ms Bhattal.

In 2005, the Vigilance Bureau had moved an application in the local court for reinvestigating the case on the plea that it wanted to get the authenticity of the receipts verified. On its application, the court had given the custody of the receipts to the SP, Vigilance.

Today, the Vigilance officials landed in the court with an application stating that since the receipts were found to be authentic, it should be allowed to withdraw the case.

Interestingly in 2004, the Special Judge, Mr R.S. Baswana, had framed charges against Ms Bhattal under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13 (1) D of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The challan in case had been filed before a former District and Session Judge, Mr H.S. Bhalla.

Following a complaint lodged by Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, a Bathinda-based advocate and a former Senior vice-president of the Lawyers for Human Rights, an FIR in the matter was registered against Ms Bhattal by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

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