AFTER FINDING that a taxation inspector of Ambala had pocketed around Rs 38 lakh penalty amount over the past 17 years —from 1998-2015 — without depositing it in government exchequer and the Ambala SP had acknowledged a “tainted investigation” to save certain individuals, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered a probe under an Inspector General of Police (IGP) to “unearth the entire nexus of the scandal”.
In compliance with court directions to Haryana DGP KP Singh, names of two IGPs with “good track record” have been submitted to the court on December 12 for issuing further orders as to who would be heading the investigation team.
It transpires that there has been totally lopsided investigations with the “motivated cause to shield certain persons and to clothe the real perpetrators” of the crime that has large ramifications as the state has suffered huge loss, the court had remarked.
During the hearing of bail petition moved by the accused Excise Inspector Pankaj Bathla, Justice Fateh Deep Singh had noted, “SP Ambala (Abhishek Joswal) has squarely accepted that the investigations till date had been tainted one and not in the right earnest and subterfuges have been set up for a motivated cause to save certain individuals who were primarily responsible for this entire scandal where public money has been sought to be usurped.”
After discovering that the Ambala police have presented challan before the trial court on September 12 only against Bathla, the High Court was surprised over how one government official could do such a forgery without connivance of others. The court was also taken aback that even there was no audit objections on the issue for the past 17 years and no questions were raised by Bathla’s superior officers.
As per the investigation, Bathla was issued 66 VAT challan books since 1998, each containing 100 receipts, but he had only deposited 22 VAT challan books back to the department. According to procedure, VAT challan books are issued to the taxation Inspectors to collect government revenue and it is mandatory on their part to deposit the collected revenue to the Treasury and get the VAT challan books audited from the Section Officer posted in the district.
Bathla, in his bail petition, has alleged that during the investigation, 10 VAT challan books were recovered from the office of District Excise and Taxation Commissioner (DETC) Ambala and “possibility of the remaining 34 receipt books to be in the possession of the DETC, Ambala cannot be ruled out” and it is a result of “larger conspiracy” in which he is being made “scapegoat for overall irregularities of the department.”
An FIR was registered against Bathla at Ambala Cantonment police station on January 16 for forgery, criminal breach of trust and causing disappearance of evidence on the complaint of Randhir Singh, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Ambala. Bathla was arrested on July 20 and is lodged at Central Jail, Ambala.