Updated: August 19, 2021 9:59:58 pm
Punjab’s former Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini has been arrested in a corruption case in which he and several others were booked in September 2020 for allegedly getting agriculture land, including area lying in natural choe (stream) certified as a regular residential colony, a Vigilance Bureau senior official Thursday said.
Saini, who retired in June 2018, was arrested Wednesday night arrested by the Vigilance Bureau when he reached its office in Mohali to join the investigation in a disproportionate assets case registered against him but reportedly refused to get out from his vehicle. Photos of Saini behind the bars sporting white beard were out on Thursday.
Hours before he was arrested, Saini had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking directions for extension of blanket bail to him in all cases.
As per the VB functionary, the arrest was made in September 17, 2020 case where an FIR was lodged against World Wide Immigration Consultancy Services (WWICS) Estates Pvt Ltd, Nimrat Deep Singh, executive engineer, Public Works Department (PWD), and his father Surinderjit Singh Jaspal in Mohali under various sections, including Section 409 (Criminal breach of trust by public servant), 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (fraudulently using as genuine as document which is forged), 120-B (conspiracy) of IPC and sections of Prevention of Corruption Act.
The VB investigations pointed out that the Chandigarh house, where Saini was residing, was purchased with “proceeds of crime money” by Nimrat Deep and his father. On July 16, a Mohali court had ordered to provisionally attach House No. 3048 in Sector 20-D, Chandigarh with directions that “tenant” Saini, who was residing there, would deposit Rs 2.5 lakh per month as rent in government treasury. The FIR noted that three notices were issued to Nimrat Deep and his father, who had initially given the house on rent to Saini. During investigation, the VB said, the owners in “first two notices replied that they could not contact the tenant who was away in Delhi”. The FIR further noted that after being given another chance, the owners presented a photocopy of a letter by Saini in which the latter, among other things, wrote: “Perhaps we can examine cancelling our agreement to buy/sell the house, and I can shift to alternate premises”.
Following investigations into the FIR, on August 2 this year, Vigilance Bureau registered a case of disproportionate assets against Saini and six others, including Nimrat Deep and his father. Saini secured bail in the case from Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Another top VB functionary said Nimrat Deep was “a close aide” of Shiromani Akali Dal leader in Majha region.
In addition to offences under Prevention of Corruption Act (2018 amendment), Saini and others were also booked on August 2 under Sections 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment) and 120 B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
As per the VB FIR, during the “check period” between April 1, 2004 to December 10, 2020, Nimrat Deep and his family members were found to have as many as 35 movable and immovable properties, including Sector 20 house in Chandigarh where Saini is residing.
The FIR added that Nimrat Deep’s father rented out the first floor of the house to Saini at Rs 2.5 lakh as per a rent agreement dated October 15, 2018, which was valid for 11 months. As per the rent agreement, the FIR noted, total rent for 11 months worked out to Rs 27.5 lakh, “ but even before the rent agreement came into effect” Saini “paid Rs 40 lakh as security and an advance rent of Rs 5 lakh for two months, totalling Rs 45 lakh, which was more than the 11 month rent as per the agreement”.
Besides this, between August 2018 and August 2020, Saini deposited Rs 6.4 crore in the bank account of Surindejit Singh through various transactions “which was not as per the terms and conditions in the rent deed”.
“By September 27, 2019, an amount of Rs 2 crore was deposited in the bank account of the house owner from the bank account of the tenant,” reads the FIR, adding that to “justify the financial transaction, Nimrat Deep and his father entered into an agreement on October 2, 2019 with Saini after deliberations.”
The FIR noted that the said agreement was “unregistered” and there was “no witness account”.
It added that the agreement only had signatures of the seller and the buyer. The FIR further said that the rent agreement affected earlier was registered on e-stamp paper and was endorsed by two witnesses.
“It clearly shows that Nimrat Deep, his father Surinderjit and so called tenant/buyer Saini connived with others to enter into agreement dated October 2, 2019 in back date in a fraudulent manner to justify the stay of Saini,” read the FIR.
Earlier, while granting him interim anticipatory bail in the corruption case, the high court on August 12 had directed Saini him to join the investigation within a week. The former DGP on Tuesday had withdrawn from the high court a plea seeking directions to the Punjab Police not to arrest him in any other offence.
His lawyer had dubbed his arrest as “illegal” and added that according to a high court order issued last year, a seven-day notice had to be given to Saini before arresting him in any case pertaining to any incident during his entire service career.
Saini, a 1982-batch IPS officer, was appointed the Director General of Police (DGP) in 2012. He was removed from the post in 2015 after protests erupted over a series of sacrilege incidents. He retired in 2018.
In May 2020, Saini was also booked in the case of disappearance of Balwant Singh Multani in 1991. Multani was then a junior engineer with the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation. The police later added murder charge under Section 302 of the IPC in the FIR in the disappearance case after two former Chandigarh Police personnel who were co-accused turned approver.