Forestland scam: VB awaits prosecution sanction against two officers in graft case : The Tribune India

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Forestland scam: VB awaits prosecution sanction against two officers in graft case

Probe agency has written to Chief Secretary VK Janjua thrice

Forestland scam: VB awaits prosecution sanction against two officers in graft case

Illegal structures on the forestland near Nayagaon. file photo



Tribune News Service

Rajmeet Singh

Chandigarh, September 15

It has been three months since the Vigilance Bureau (VB) had booked two forest officers and as many former Forest Ministers in a corruption case. To this day, the VB awaits the grant of prosecution sanction against the two officers — an issue that might cause embarrassment to the AAP government that claims to have a zero-tolerance policy against corruption.

‘Unwarranted benefit’ to accused

In the past three months, the ADG-cum-Chief Director, VB, has written three demi-official letters to Chief Secretary VK Janjua, requesting him to expedite the grant of mandatory prosecution sanction from the Forest Department. The delay, the VB said, could give the forest officers unwarranted benefit in court.

In the last three months, the ADG-cum-Chief Director, VB, has written three demi-official letters to Chief Secretary VK Janjua, requesting him to expedite the grant of mandatory prosecution sanction from the Forest Department.

The delay, the VB said, could give the forest officers unwarranted benefit in court.

Sources say as there are strong “reservations” among the department’s senior officers to grant the prosecution sanction against the two officers, Forest Minister Lal Chand Kataruchak has referred the politically sensitive matter to Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who is expected to take a call after returning from Germany.

In June, the VB had registered two FIRs against the forest officers and former ministers Sadhu Singh Dharamsot and Sangat Singh Gilzian.

Dharamsot was the Forest Minister in the Capt Amarinder Singh government, while Gilzian was at the helm of forest affairs in the Charanjit Singh Channi government.

“Any delay or denial of prosecution sanction is not only legally untenable, but will also puncture AAP’s political narrative on corruption. The government cannot deny prosecution against the officers and, at the same time, proceeds against the former ministers as the two FIRs are inter-related,” said a senior government functionary.

Forest officials point out that the FIR against the two officials was the outcome of a complaint lodged by Davinder Sandhu, Director of immigration company WWICS, on the anti-corruption portal. He had attached a video, in which the officers could be purportedly seen asking for bribe, to substantiate his claim.

Sandhu had alleged that the forest officials were asking for bribe to allow the sale of farmhouses, while the department maintains that two officers became victims because they had lodged an FIR in connection with the construction of illegal farmhouses by Sandhu. Forest officials pointed out that it was unwise to give sanction as the department had several cases against Dharamsot.

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