A key member of the Special Enquiry Team (SET) formed to probe liquor scam is set to retire on May 31 but the Haryana government is yet to empower the team with powers under the CrPC.
After detection of theft of liquor from a godown of Sonipat district, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on May 6 had announced formation of Special Investigation Team. However, the government finally formed a Special Enquiry Team (SET).
Soon after its formation, the Opposition had started terming it toothless as it lacked powers under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Then Vij asked the Home Minister to empower the SET with Section 32 of the CrPC to enable it to summon witnesses.
Following proposal of the home department, the state government had referred the matter to Legal Remembrancer (LR) for legal opinion.
Sources say the LR has suggested the government should take opinion of Advocate General or state prosecution department, stating that the LR office doesn’t give opinion on criminal matters. Subsequently, the file was sent to Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan.
“I have not received any opinion on it as of now,” Vij told The Indian Express on Tuesday. The retirement of ADGP Subhash Yadav, a member of the SET, is due on May 31.
When asked, Vij said, “We will consider extension to him.” T C Gupta is heading the team while Additional Excise and Taxation Officer Vijay Singh is another member of the team. May 31 is also the deadline to complete the probe.
There were reports of theft or shortage of liquor in godowns at many places in the state during the lockdown. The SET has been asked to examine various aspects of the matter, including cases registered from March 15 to May 10 for pilferage of liquor from godowns and police stations’ malkhanas.
About 5,500 boxes of liquor which were recovered from smugglers by police and excise officials in 14 cases had disappeared from its stock in Sonipat district which had prompted the probe into the matter.
In a separate case related to theft of liquor from a godown, the police have also arrested former MLA Satvinder Rana.