January 7, 2017 4:34:32 am
AFTER CREDIBILITY of the police investigating team came under a “serious cloud of doubt to unearth the entire gamut of scandal” wherein an Ambala Taxation Inspector had pocketed a penalty of Rs 38 lakh over the past 17 years, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered a Special Investigating Team (SIT) under Haryana Inspector General of Police Bharti Arora to conduct further probe and submit a report by January-end.
Justice Fateh Deep Singh has ordered that the SIT would also include Jhajjar Superintendent of Police B Satheesh Balan and SIT in-charge would be at liberty to add any number of members to the SIT with credible track record to investigate the scandal. The state government functionaries have been ordered to ensure that proper assistance is given to the team, be it logistic support or otherwise.
Taking serious note of the case developments, the court observed, “Every conceivable effort is being made to put hurdles in the smooth investigation so as to save real culprits and the manner in which the department of revenue is being shielded for a motivated cause and thus attain a sinister design.”
Initially, the Ambala police and revenue department had failed to elicit the desired interest in the matter and rather tried to sweep the entire scandal under the carpet, noticed the court.
In compliance of earlier directions to Haryana DGP KP Singh to submit names of IPS officers of “good track record”, names of Arora and Balan were submitted to the court last month to issue further orders as to who would be members of the investigating team. While hearing accused Excise Inspector Pankaj Bathla’s bail petition, Justice Singh had noted, “SP Ambala (Abhishek Joswal) has squarely accepted that the investigations till date had been tainted 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.”
Taking note of the fact that the Ambala police have presented challan before the trial court on September 12 only against Bathla, the court was surprised as to how a single government official could do such a forgery without connivance of others.
The fact that even there was no audit objections on the issue for the last 17 years and no questions were raised by Bathla’s superiors, had surprised the court.
Investigation has revealed that 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.
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