Chandigarh, June 1
Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Thursday asked Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann to take action against his minister Lal Chand Kataruchak, who is facing charges of “sexual misconduct”.
Alleging that the minister has committed a “heinous crime”, the governor said he does not have any right to stay in the Cabinet.
Earlier, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) had issued a notice to the Punjab government following a complaint of “sexual misconduct” lodged by a Gurdaspur-based male victim against Kataruchak.
Punjab Police formed a three-member special investigation team after that to look into the “sexual misconduct” charge against the minister.
“Do not forget it. It is a heinous crime, which was committed by him (Kataruchak). He does not have the right to stay (in the cabinet),” the governor told reporters here.
“Through you (media), I again want to bring to notice of the chief minister that action be taken against this minister immediately,” he added.
The Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government is facing flak over the issue with the opposition parties demanding action against Kataruchak.
After taking cognisance of the victim’s complaint, the NCSC, last month, had issued a notice to the Punjab government and asked the chief secretary and the director general of police to investigate the matter and submit an action taken report.
The minister had allegedly approached the victim “by sending him a friend request on Facebook in 2013-14 and when he accepted it, Kataruchak allegedly started making advances”, the NSCN had said while quoting from the victim’s complaint.
“Since he was an influential person, he had promised me a government job due to which I remained mum. I was too young at that time to understand anything. But, his sexual excesses continued till 2021. However, he met me for the last time on Diwali in 2021 and he neither provided me with a job, nor met me after that,” the victim had claimed.
Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira had handed over “highly objectionable video clips of gross misconduct” of an AAP minister to the governor for forensic examination. However, he had not named the minister.
Purohit had then forwarded the forensic report of Kataruchak’s “objectionable” video to Chief Minister Mann. According to a report, the video was not morphed.
Talking to media persons, governor Purohit said he will be visiting border districts of Punjab on June 7 and 8.
Besides talking to villagers, he is also likely to hold meetings with representatives of central agencies and state security agencies.
Purohit had earlier also visited the border districts and expressed concern over the drug problem.
Replying to a question on the issue of drugs in Punjab, he said an improvement is visible while referring to media reports on seizure of narcotics.
Purohit, who is also the Chandigarh administrator, refuted recent accusations of senior Congress leader Pawan Bansal who had alleged that the Chandigarh administration was not fully utilising revenue generated from taxpayers and had also alleged insufficient fund allocation to the Union Territory.
Purohit claimed that Bansal presented wrong facts.
“I respect him (Bansal) a lot but he levelled allegations without facts and figures,” said Purohit.
Later, in a statement, the Chandigarh administration said the Union government consistently allocates a budget that surpasses the revenue collected from taxes.
It said it has effectively utilised the budget allocation provided by the government of India in the past four years.
Moreover, for the current financial year 2023-24, the Chandigarh Administration has secured an increased budget allocation of Rs 6,087.10 crore, representing a growth of Rs 307.98 crore compared to the previous year’s budget allocation of Rs 5,779.12 crore, the statement said.
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