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Justice Gill, who probed cases linked to SAD rule, takes over as Chief Vigilance Commissioner

The name of Gill, former acting chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, was recommended by a three-member committee headed by Amarinder and comprising Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana K P Singh and seniormost minister in the Cabinet Brahm Mohindra.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
April 8, 2021 7:49:02 am
The appointment of Gill has been made under The Punjab State Vigilance Commission Act 2020 notified in November 2020. (File)

Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, a retired High Court judge who headed the Commission of Inquiry set up in April 2017 by Amarinder Singh government to look into alleged vendetta cases registered during 10 years of SAD-BJP rule, on Wednesday took over as State Chief Vigilance Commissioner.

He was administered oath through video conferencing by Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore. Sharing photos of the video conferencing, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh tweeted, “During the oath taking ceremony of Justice Mehtab Singh Gill as Chief Vigilance Commissioner of the Punjab State Vigilance Commission. I wish him all the very best for his new role and responsibility.”

The name of Gill, former acting chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, was recommended by a three-member committee headed by Amarinder and comprising Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana K P Singh and seniormost minister in the Cabinet Brahm Mohindra. Including Gill, there were five retired judges and three IAS officers who had applied for the post.

The appointment of Gill has been made under The Punjab State Vigilance Commission Act 2020 notified in November 2020.

As per the Act, the powers and functions of the Commission shall be to exercise superintendence and control over the functioning of the vigilance and police establishment in so far as it relates to investigation of offences alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Among others, the Act also stipulates that the Commission shall inquire “on a reference made by the State government, wherein it is alleged that a public servant being an employee of the State government or a corporation, established by or under any State Act, government company, public sector undertakings, commissions, tribunals, cooperative apex bodies, universities, autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies, society and any local bodies, owned or controlled by the State government, has committed an offence with which a public servant may, under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, be charged at same trial”.

The Act also reads, “No suit, prosecution or any other legal proceeding shall lie against the Commission, the State Chief Vigilance Commissioner, any Vigilance Commissioner, the Secretary or against any staff of the Commission in respect of anything, which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act.”

As per the Act, the state government would appoint Chief Director of Vigilance on the recommendations of a three-member committee headed by the State Chief Vigilance Commissioner and comprising Chief Secretary and home department secretary.

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Also, the officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and above shall be appointed by Vigilance Bureau on the recommendation of a three-member committee headed by Chief Vigilance Commissioner and comprising Chief Secretary and Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau.

The three-member Punjab State Vigilance Commission would consist of Chief Vigilance Commissioner as chairman and two Vigilance Commissioners as members, each having a tenure of five years.

Justice Gill (retd) said after the Governor cleared his appointment as State Vigilance Commission chairman last month, he (Gill) on March 26 resigned from Commission of Inquiry into the alleged false cases he was heading.

The Punjab State Vigilance Commission Act bars Commission chairman and members from engaging in any paid employment outside the duties of office.

In the reports submitted to the government so far, Gill said the Commission of Inquiry into alleged false cases had decided around 4,000 cases. He added that 400 cases were left to be decided which would be looked into by retired judge B S Mehandiratta who was appointed as a member at the time of forming the commission on April 5, 2017, and by retired judge G K Rai who was inducted into the Commission in 2018 as a static officer to pursue the cases with the nodal officers, the DC and attorney of the districts concerned.

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