A probe ordered by the Haryana government has given a clean chit to IAS officer Jagdeep Singh and his two children — Vishwajeet Singh and Gauri Sheoran, both international level shooters — who were accused of making “fraudulent claims” and getting “excessive cash awards” to the tune of Rs 60 lakh.
It was alleged that the fraud took place when Jagdeep was posted as Director (Sports), Haryana during 2013-2016.
The breather for the family comes months after another probe conducted by the Haryana Sports Department indicted the three and recommended a case against them on charges of criminal breach of trust, embezzlement and cheating besides various offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Jagdeep Singh is currently posted as special secretary in Haryana Finance Department.
The trio had landed in a controversy in March this year when Haryana’s former Principal Secretary (Sports) Ashok Khemka, after seeking approval from the Sports Minister Anil Vij and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, ordered the sports department to issue them show-cause notices, seeking their replies on the alleged embezzlement, criminal breach of trust, cheating and corruption. Khemka had also recommended registration of a criminal case against Jagdeep Singh, Vishwajeet and Gauri.
However, before they could submit their replies to the show-cause notice, Khemka was transferred out of sports department and posted as principal secretary.
The sports department on September 12 submitted its findings to Sports Minister Anil Vij exonerating Jagdeep Singh, Vishwajeet and Gauri Sheoran of all charges. Vij will further examine the matter, record his comments and then forward the probe report to the CM for final decision.
Sources told The Indian Express that while Gauri and Vishwajeet had submitted their replies within 15 days of stipulated time given to them in March, Jagdeep took some time and collected voluminous information from the sports department under Right to Information Act and then submitted his reply.
Meanwhile, the probe against them continued and the government has now concluded that the precedent of awarding cash prizes to sportspersons followed “since 1973” was adopted in the cases of Vishwajeet and Gauri Sheoran and thus “no malafide” was found on part of Jagdeep Singh or his children.
“Same set of rules by way of which Gauri and Vishwajeet were given cash prizes were followed in over 20,000 cases since 1973. The rules were interpreted in the same manner since over last four decades. Thus, putting the blame of ‘misinterpretation of rules’ on one single person [Jagdeep Singh] is not correct. Also, we have found that of the two committees that recommend and approve such awards to sportspersons – one at district level and another at state headquarters level – Jagdeep was part of neither. We also found that he did not exercise his influence, nor did he put in a word of recommendation regarding his children to any of the committee members,” said Anand Mohan Sharan, Principal Secretary (Sports), Haryana.
In December, last year, when Khemka had noted that “Bhim awards (state award for sportspersons) were wrongly given to both Vishwajeet and Gauri Sheoran”.
“A minimum of 50 points is required to be eligible to get this award. It was revealed that while scoring sheet of Gauri Sheoran showed her having scored 84 points in the team category, her Bhim Award score as per approved scoring scheme was 37 points. Similarly, in case of Vishwajeet Singh, his score sheet showed him having scored 60 points in Team category, while his actual score was 18 points”, Khemka’s inquiry in December, 2018 had pointed out.
Khemka had added that “there were instances where more than one cash awards were claimed for the same performance”.
Khemka had also recommended that Vishwajeet and Gauri “may be directed to return the certificate, Bhim statue, blazer, tie and scarf”and “return the money illegally gotten with 12 per cent interest per annum”.
Jagdeep Singh earlier had asserted that there was no wrongdoing in his two children being granted the state awards. He had said that his daughter had won 24 international and 85 national medals and had participated in 33 international championships while son had 12 international and 50 national medals. “They are the pride of the nation. How can anybody wrongly claim the state government’s money? Not only my children, but I can assure that not even a single sportsperson in Haryana has been wrongly awarded any money,” he had said.