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PSIEC stalling Chandigarh Police probe into industrial plots scam

Udyog Bhavan building in Chandigarh which houses the PSIEC

Chandigarh: The Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) is reportedly not cooperating with the Chandigarh police in tracing an important, “missing note” of the then Punjab Chief Minister. It has failed to respond to several letters sent by the police from September 2022 onwards, seeking more information needed to register an FIR.

Kumar Amit, Managing Director of PSIEC, on August 18, 2022, wrote to the Chandigarh police requesting it to register an FIR as the former CM Capt. Amarinder Singh’s note ordering the constitution of a 3-member examining committee of IAS officers to look into the Vigilance Bureau report dated January 30, 2019, was untraceable. The VB had indicted some officers of the Corporation in the industrial plots scam and sought permission to register an FIR.

Two RTI applicants, Dilbagh Singh and Jasdeep Singh sought a copy of the same order of the then CM, but the PSIEC and Department of Industries and Commerce could not provide it.

Talking to indianarrative.com, they claimed the then CM did not pass any such order, and it was a brainchild of the PSIEC officers – including the then MD – indicted by the VB in its inquiry number 3 of 2018. The self-created noting of the CM aimed to scuttle the VB probe by handing over the matter to a 3-=member examining committee of IAS officers, Dilbagh Singh claimed.

In his letter to the CP, Kumar Amit states as per the orders of the then CM on February 16, 2019, an examining committee comprising 3 IAS officers, MD, PSIEC, CEO, PBIP (Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion), and MD, PSIDC (Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation) was formed.

Inquiries revealed that the officers who occupied these positions at that time were Ms. Neelima, Rahul Bhandari, and Rajat Aggarwal. This high-powered committee trashed the VB findings and gave a clean chit to all the officers of the PSIEC. However, with the change of guard in Punjab in 2022, the VB asked the PSIEC to provide the then CM’s order, which stalled the proceedings against the officers involved in the scam and led to giving them a clean chit.

Interestingly, Rajat Aggarwal is the new Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) of the Vigilance Department, under which the VB functions.

On March 10, 2021, the Department of Industries and Commerce informed the PSIEC’s new MD that the said file-noting of CM’s order was with the Corporation only and not with it, as borne out from a letter of the Corporation dated April 18, 2019. The Punjab and Haryana High Court also asked the PSIEC to produce the same note of the CM, but it could not. The next hearing in the matter is on February 2, 2023.

Om Parkash, SHO sector 17, police station, said that they were conducting an inquiry in connection with the missing document at the request of the PSIEC, after which an FIR could be registered.

CP sources reveal that the PSIEC is not providing any information to reach a logical conclusion. Several letters have been sent to it. As the document is reported to be missing from the records of the Corporation, it is for the PSIEC to first fix responsibility on the custodian of the record at that time.

A perusal of the complaint by Kumar Amit, MD, PSIEC shows there is a long chain of government officers of different ranks who had been quoting and relying upon the then CM’s order. Inquiry into the matter will need full cooperation from PSIEC, which to date is lacking. “We suspect that no such document ever existed,” a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity.