Ranike’s PA, 5 others get 6-yr imprisonment

Wednesday, 30/01/2019


AMRITSAR : Six people, including Sarabdyal Singh, personal assistant (PA) of former Akali minister Gulzar Singh Ranike, on Tuesday awarded six-year imprisonment by a local court for embezzlement of government funds.

Hindustan Times had blown the lid off the scam in an investigative series ‘Ranike rip-off’ in 2012.

Additional district and sessions judge Shiv Mohan Garg also imposed Rs 2 lakh fine each on Sarabdyal and the five other accused, who have been held guilty of embezzlement and forging government records. Seven other accused were let off due to lack of evidence.

The other convicts included Mohit Sareen, a banker, Amrik Singh and Dalip Singh, both Akali sarpanches, close associates of Ranike, and Maninder Singh, an outsourced bank employee.

“The accused were held guilty under Sections 409, 120-B, 467, 468 and 471 of IPC. They had siphoned off the development funds meant for Ranike’s constituency, Attari. They had opened fake bank accounts by forging documents,” said Shivraj Singh Sran, additional district attorney.

The accused not only embezzled the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) funds, but also withdrew money under the Shagun scheme by opening fake bank accounts of beneficiaries. A case was registered in May 2011 by the Civil Line police station, but no action was taken against the accused.

After HT’s investigation series raised questions over the role of the staff of the then animal husbandry minister Ranike and his close associates, the then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal ordered shifting of probe to the state vigilance bureau, besides asking Ranike to resign from the cabinet. However, the vigilance bureau later gave clean chit to Ranike, while presenting the challan against the other accused.

In its investigations, HT had exposed embezzlement of at least Rs 2 crore in Attari constituency during 2011-12.

The documents then accessed by HT showed that on May 22, 2011, zila parishad officers, through the DC office, sent a detailed report to the planning and rural development department, carrying documents that pointed towards embezzlement of Rs 40.05 lakh of BADP funds through fake accounts in 2008-09.

Subsequently, mostly in the latter half of 2011-12 fiscal, a sum of Rs 2 crore was embezzled through cheques collected by Ranike’s staff from the block development and panchayat office (BDPO).

These cheques were deposited into bogus accounts by the then minister’s staff and then encashed via cheques issued to ‘self’, the HT investigation had shown.

The first FIR, pertaining to embezzlement of BADP funds, was registered in May 2011.

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