Investigating officer blamed for fiasco but no perjury proceedings this time
A Recruitment scam was going on in Punjab Rural Development and Panchayats department when Nirmal Singh Kahlon was the minister concerned in 2001-02 but there was not even an iota of evidence against Kahlon,who is presently Punjab Assembly Speaker,to establish his involvement in it.
This was the observation of Special Judge Rajinder Aggarwal,who had on Wednesday ordered acquittal of Kahlon in a case pertaining to the recruitment scam registered by Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) in June 2002.
The judge observed,Sequence of events indicates that a recruitment scam was going on in the various offices under the department of Rural Development and Panchayats,Punjab,and District Development and Panchayat Officers (DDPOs) had made backdoor entries in the government jobs… DDPOs allegedly stated before the Investigating Officer (IO) that they had made the said appointments at the asking of Kahlon but they have resiled from the said statements during the trial and have stated that Kahlon never asked them to make any such appointment.
He,however,found no evidence showing that the said appointments had been made by them at the instance of Kahlon. Therefore,it cannot be said that statements made by them before the court are false, he felt.
Though the court charged the IO for failing to conduct proper investigation into the case but this time,no perjury proceedings were initiated as were done in the case of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and others wherein the IO as well as Supervising Officer (SO),both senior IPS officers,were charged with perjury.
For this,Aggarwal reasoned,The witnesses should not be prosecuted merely for resiling from the statements made by them under Section 161 CrPC. It is fraught with danger of leading to gross injustice. Suchlike practice would give an impression to the witnesses that they can avoid their prosecution by sticking to the version attributed to them by the IO though the same may be false. It may lead to conviction of innocent persons. Though a few witnesses who might have made false statement under Section 161 CrPC may go unpunished.
Noting that a large number of witnesses,particularly some government officers holding important posts like that of DDPOs,have turned hostile,the court found,DDPOs had made appointments at their own level. No doubt said appointments were made illegally by them. They did not advertise the said posts… Since the proper procedure had not been followed at the time of making appointments,the services of the said persons had to be dispensed with.
Giving clean chit to Kahlon,the court ruled,No doubt from the evidence on record,it is made out that the concerned DDPOs had made said appointments illegally and the possibility of the said appointments having been made for extraneous consideration cannot be ruled out. However,there is no evidence at all to connect Kahlon with regard to the said appointments. Under these circumstances,it cannot be said that the said appointments were got made by Kahlon for any corrupt or illegal motive.