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One down,spotlight shifts to ‘larger’ PPSC recruitment scam

Sidhu still faces main case along with eight others

Written by Chitleen K Sethi | Chandigarh |
Updated: April 9, 2014 5:35:55 pm

It was considered to be the Punjab Vigilance Bureau’s (VB) most sensational case ever. On March 25,2002,when the VB arrested Ravinder Paul Singh Sidhu — the then chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) — not many shed tears over the arrest of the blue-eyed boy of a former chief minister.

PPSC was then notorious for its alleged corrupt ways of recruitment and every aspirant had the PPSC job “rate card” handy.

Sidhu was trapped by the VB and caught red handed with Rs 5 lakh. Another Rs 8.16 crore tumbled out of his five lockers in a bank. His total worth at the time of arrest was considered to be over Rs 80 crore.

His arrest in the trap case (registered in Ropar) led to over five FIRs being registered in Patiala and Chandigarh. The main case called the “PPSC recruitment scam” case was registered against Sidhu and his eight alleged conduits on April 30,2002.

“With today’s court order,the trial related to his trap case has ended. In this case,he was the sole accused. However,all eyes are now on the outcome of the case against him and eight others pending in the court of Patiala special judge,” said an officer involved with the investigation.

In the PPSC recruitment scam,there were eight accused besides Sidhu,including Pritpal Singh — secretary of the Commission. Sidhu has been charged with collecting crores of rupees through bribe from candidates appearing in PPSC.

Sidhu and some of the co-accused have also been charged with giving the “paid” candidates high marks in the interview,arbitrarily down grading the other meritorious candidates,getting answersheets marked from the examiners of his choice,manipulating high marks and forging marks in answersheets.

Another five cases were registered against the “beneficiaries” of the scam on September 5,2002. On July 5,this year,in one of these five cases,a Patiala court held nine PCS officers guilty of paying bribe to be recruited and sentenced them to one year of imprisonment. These included five in-service and four retired officers.

The PPSC scam of 2002 was also significant as it had brought three sitting judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court under scanner for their alleged involvement in the case. On the asking of Chief Justice of India (CJI),Justice B N Kirpal,the then high court chief justice A B Saharya had conducted an discreet in-house inquiry into the judges’ involvement in the PPSC scam. Saharya indicted three sitting high court judges.

In a subsequent in-house inquiry by a committee of three judges headed by A R Lakshmanan — ordered by the CJI — one of three judges was absolved while the indictment of two judges was reaffirmed. The Justice Lakshmanan report,however,was never made public.

A separate case under Arms Act and Excise Act was also registered against Sidhu in April 2002 by the Chandigarh Police. But he was acquitted.

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