Harsh Kumar, an Indian Forest Service officer in Punjab posted as Chief Conservator of Forests (Information Technology), may face criminal action after being indicted by an inquiry ordered by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh into disappearance of a file pertaining to regularisation of services of 33 daily wagers in Department of Forests from the CMO.
The file had gone missing on April 12 from the office of Amrit Kaur Gill, Deputy Principal Secretary to CM. The matter was reported to Amarinder, who had marked a probe to Superintendent of Police, Balwant Kaur, who is deployed in CMO. The government is mulling registration of a case of theft against Kumar after the report.
Kaur, while basing her findings on the CCTV footage of the highly fortified second floor of Punjab Civil Secretariat that houses the Chief Minister’s Office, is learnt to have stated in her inquiry that Kumar had taken a file from Gill’s office on April 12 morning before she reached her office. Kumar was facing disciplinary action for regularising services of 33 daily wagers against the government policy. Minister of Forests Sadhu Singh Dharamsot had sent the file to the Chief Minister for taking action against the IFS officer. Gill was asked to look into the case. Gill had called Kumar on April 12 to give his side of the story. He was chargesheeted in two other cases by the government but Central Administration Tribunal (CAT) had given him relief in both the cases. Both these files were also lying along with the file that went missing. But those two files were left untouched. Sources said that as per the CCTV grab, Kumar entered Gill’s office around 9:30 am on April 12 when she was not there. He was asked to reach there at 10 am but he came early. He was not carrying any file when he entered. After five minutes, he was seen leaving her office with a file. Then he came back at 10 am when she was in the office.
Kumar, when contacted, said he was asked by Gill to reach her before 10 am. “When I reached there before 10 am, I found she was not inside. I sat in her room for a few minutes only to realise that I had forgotten my thick pile of papers to support my case in my car only. I left her office, called up my driver and asked him to bring the car in front of the secretariat gate. I was back in a few minutes with a thick pile of documents,” he said. “When I entered again, Mrs Gill was there. She asked me to leave my representation on her table. I did so and came back. After a few hours, I got a call from her saying she is unable to locate the file. It was after a few days to that incident that I received a call from the woman SP that she was inquiring into the disappearance of file. She came to me and asked me about it. I told her I had nothing to do with that file. Subsequently, I wrote to the Chief Minister’s Office that the file could be recreated as the issue had reached High Court and all the documents were there,” he said.
Kumar said he did not face any action in regularisation of daily wagers as a recent High Court decision on June 1 had upheld his decision. The department of forests had prepared a disciplinary case against Kumar after it was found that though the previous SAD-BJP government had passed an Act not to regularise daily wage employees above 58 years. Some employees were even over 65. Kaur had submitted her report along with a CD having CCTV grabs to Chief Principal Secretary to CM, Suresh Kumar, four days ago. He forwarded it to Principal Secretary to CM, Tejveer Singh, before proceeding on leave Thursday. Amarinder is not in Chandigarh. He is scheduled to return next week. The report would be put up to the CM for further action and the government is mulling registration of a case of theft against the IFS officer.
A senior functionary of the government said, “It is a serious matter. A strong action would be taken. It is not about the file. The file can be reconstructed but it is about the way a document has disappeared from the CMO.”