In a complete disregard of the negative observations made by the Punjab and Haryana High Court about a PCS officer – PS Sodhi – the Punjab government has posted him on a public dealing post of a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) in Khanna.
Convicted for contempt of court and facing serious charges of corruption,Sodhi was recently posted as SDM Khanna following orders of the Punjab chief secretary.
Despite a chequered past,Sodhi has been openly helped by several politicians of the state. Booked by the vigilance bureau in two separate cases of corruption,(FIR No 44 dated 25.9.2000 and FIR No 46 dated 20.8.1999),the state government refused to sanction his prosecution.
He faced allegations of taking illegal gratification while settling compensation cases when he was the land acquisition officer with PUDA Mohali.
In 2007,the high court while convicting Sodhi for contempt in the case fined him Rs 25,000. The courts order stated that Sodhi had been denying the disbursement of enhanced compensation to land owners on extraneous considerations. Sodhi was ordered by the court to grant enhanced compensation to land owners but he refused to obey. The HC also noted that the courts had been dealing with Sodhi leniently and he was let off with a warning that he should be careful in future.
However,respondent No 2 (PS Sodhi) has again violated the order passed by this court on 1.11.2004 with demonstrated culpability. Ordinarily,this court takes a compassionate view in contempt matters by considering numerous factors like rush of work,lack of funds,lack of staff and other factors. But in the present case no such leniency could be shown to respondent No 2 as his conduct is contemptuous. Accordingly,he is convicted for the contempt of this court for intentional violation of order dated 1.11.2004,on extraneous consideration, the court order stated.
However,despite his chequered past,Sodhi has managed to retain good postings.
In a fresh complaint to the chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and chief secretary Rakesh Singh,a Chandigarh resident Kailash Chand Sharma,has alleged that Sodhi has vested interest in acres of land worth crores of rupees at Khanna where he has invested in benami land deals through certain persons (also named in the complaint).
He was also accused of fraudulent transfer of shamlat/panchayat land and is facing allegations of grabbing NRI properties in Patiala.
Sharma has requested the chief minster to reconsider the decision to post such officers in places where they are likely to misuse their official position further. He has also demanded an investigation by an independent agency into the assets acquired by Sodhi during his employment with the state government.
Both Sodhi and the chief secretary,Rakesh Singh,could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.