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‘Practice has been in vogue since long’: Sports dept cites ‘precedents’ to exonerate IAS officer, his children

The Haryana government paid over Rs 44.53 crore to 4,370 sportspersons as award money for their achievements in tournaments using the same pattern they applied to pay the state former sports director Jagdeep Singh's children 2004-05 to 2015-2016.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh | Published: February 28, 2020 1:27:31 pm
Haryana sports department, Haryana government, sports department, sports department Haryana sports department, India news, Indian Express Jagdeep Singh, Vishwajeet and Gauri Sheoran had landed in a controversy in March last year

In its attempt to exonerate IAS officer Jagdeep Singh and his international rank shooters son Vishwajeet Singh and daughter Gauri Sheoran from allegations of claiming and getting extra award money in lieu of their sports achievements, the Haryana sports department cited the “practice in vogue since long”.

Further justifying its decision not to take any action against the three, despite IAS officer Ashok Khemka having issuing a joint show cause notice against them last year, the department has cited several other cases in which “similar norms were applied”.

The Haryana government paid over Rs 44.53 crore to 4,370 sportspersons as award money for their achievements in tournaments using the same pattern they applied to pay the state former sports director Jagdeep Singh’s children 2004-05 to 2015-2016.

The file notings, circulated over the last year among top officers of the sports department, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Sports Minister Anil Vij, while dealing with the notice issued by Khemka to Jagdeep, Vishwajeet and Gauri, revealed how officers cited “precedents” while exonerating the trio from the allegations in the notice.

The then sports director Bhupinder Singh, while dealing with Khemka’s notice, wrote, “Uniform norms have been applied in respect of all players and the practice was in vogue since long and before Jagdeep Singh joined the department. The allegation of malafide on his part may, therefore, not stand.”

He further wrote, “Since the government has not initiated action in respect of the other similarly situated players for recovery, who are several thousands in number, as also other officers who followed the same practice before Jagdeep Singh and those who scrutinised the applications over the years, selective action in specific cases may not be appropriate, and may not withstand legal scrutiny. In view of the above, government may take a uniform considered decision in the matter by taking a comprehensive view of the matter.”

The then principal secretary (sports) Anand Mohan Sharan too endorsed Bhupinder Singh’s opinion and concluded that “no wrong doing has happened at the level of Jagdeep Singh, IAS, and he cannot be blamed for the allegations”. He submitted the case file to the Vij, who approved it, after which it went to Khattar, who sought the chief secretary’s opinion.

The chief secretary then sought details about such “precedents” from the sports department. In the recent note dated February 19, while replying to Chief Secretary Keshni Anand Arora’s query on the issue, the sports department said that from the year 2004-05 till 2015-16, award money of Rs 23.15 crore was paid to 2,467 sportspersons in junior category, Rs 14.15 crore to 1,494 sportspersons in sub-junior category, Rs 2.19 crore was paid to 187 sportspersons in youth category, Rs 1.78 crore to 108 sportspersons in cadet category and Rs 3.25 crore was paid to sportspersons in shooting (individual, team, civilian, junior, youth) category.

The final decision on the sports department’s submission is awaited.

Jagdeep Singh, Vishwajeet and Gauri Sheoran had landed in a controversy in March last year when Haryana’s former Principal Secretary (Sports) Ashok Khemka, after seeking approval from Vij and Khattar, had 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 notice, Khemka was transferred out of the sports department.

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