Chandigarh, July 26
In Amritsar land scam case, the inquiry report has found that ‘unnecessary haste’ was shown by former minister Tript Rajinder Bajwa and two senior IAS officers in giving the panchayat land to a private coloniser even when the model code of conduct was in force and the ruling Congress had already lost the elections.
The matter pertains to Bhagtupura village in Amritsar district, where 42 kanal and 16 marla of prime panchayat land was given to Alpha International City Colony at throwaway prices. Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal had exposed the scam last month at a press conference in Amritsar.
Subsequently, he had constituted a three-member inquiry committee led by Amit Kumar, Joint Development Commissioner, Rural Development and Panchayats.
The inquiry report noted that between December 2, 2021, and March 7, 2022, the file was lying with the Director Rural Development and Panchayats. With announcement of poll, the model code of conduct came into force on January 8, which remained in force till March 11, 2022.
The results of Assembly elections were announced on March 10, in which the ruling party had lost. “In such a scenario, the file should have been put up to the new minister for approval. But the same was not done.”
Instead, on March 11, 2021, the Financial Commissioner Rural Development forwarded the file to the Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats who gave approval on the same day. Interestingly, the inquiry committee noted that there was no proof of either minister’s office or the Financial Commissioner’s office receiving the file in their offices. “It establishes that the file was personally taken to the minister by the Financial Commissioner.”
“It establishes that the entire process was completed in haste.” The committee has also raised question over the approval given by the minister on March 11 as he was just part of a caretaker government for transaction of routine business. Now to check the validity of the approval given by caretaker government, the matter has been referred to competent authority.
Former minister Bajwa appeared before the inquiry committee on June 30, and in a written statement in his defence, he stated that as per the government notification, being a caretaker government he could carry out the routine business until a regular arrangement was not made.
All attempts to contact Bajwa remained futile as he did not take calls despite repeated attempts.
Amritsar Land Scam: Probe findings
- The inquiry report noted that between December 2, 2021, and March 7, 2022, the file was lying with the Director Rural Development and Panchayats
- With announcement of poll, the model code of conduct came into force on January 8, which remained in force till March 11, 2022
- The committee has raised question over the approval given by the minister on March 11 as he was just part of a caretaker government for transaction of routine business
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