An accused in the 2013 infamous Jagdish Bhola drugs case of Punjab has managed to sell properties that had been provisionally attached by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Jalandhar in 2015, investigations have found. The land was sold by the accused in connivance with the then tehsildar Phagwara and Patwari (village level revenue officer), the probe has further revealed, leading the police to lodge an FIR on Tuesday night for fraud and criminal conspiracy section. The properties were sold by the accused in 2018 and 2019.
Two pieces of land — which were provisionally attached by ED — measuring 7-kannal and 7-kannals and 13.75 marla (nearly two acres) located in Hadiabad area, which is adjacent to Phagwara city, was sold by the accused, Harmesh Kumar Gaba. The attachment of the properties by the ED had been challenged by Harmesh and the case is pending before the Appellate Tribunal (Prevention of Money Laundering Act), New Delhi.
Harmesh Gaba is the brother of Chuni Lal Gaba, one of the main accused in the Jagdish Bhola drug case.
In the present case, Kapurthala police lodged the FIR on Tuesday on the complaint of Assistant Director of ED, Retesh Kumar Shrivastva, at the Phagwara City Police station, under Sections 420 and 120 of IPC. The FIR contains the names of Harmesh Kumar Gaba, Tehsildar Parveen Chhibber, and that of the then Patwari (whose name is not known).
According to the complaint, the accused Harmesh Gaba of Goyara (in Jalandhar), whose property was attached, is an accused in a money laundering case and has been found to be engaged in the smuggling of drugs. The money he made from smuggling drugs was used for the purchase of immovable properties in his name and also in the name of his family members.
ED complaint says that when Punjab police had filed an FIR in the drugs case, they were also investigating the cases from the money laundering angle. During their probe, the ED ordered the attachment of several properties of Harmesh Gaba in 2015.
Harmesh Gaba challenged this attachment and filed an application before the Appellate Tribunal (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) in July 2016, before subsequently filing a second application in this regard in July 2020 for early hearing of his appeal.
The ED, however, by then got information that Harmesh Gaba has sold the said properties, even though they had been attached.
“The accused, Harmesh Gaba, himself had filed an appeal before the Appellate Tribunal (PMLA) and thus sale of the same property during pendency of appeal shows abuse of process of law and mockery of judicial proceedings,” said the ED complaint.
The FIR also said that some concerned revenue and land record authorities were also in connivance with Harmesh Gaba allowing the sale of the said properties.
Also, the FIR mentioned an inquiry report of the then Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Phagwara in the sale of these properties whereby SDM report says, “Tehsildar should have taken care of this property, but he did not do so and because of which the entry to the effect that the said land has been provisionally attached by the ED, was not made by Patwari in the land record (Jamabandi of the village) which led to the sale of attached properties”.