By Rajinder S Taggar
New Delhi, Oct 24: The Punjab Vigilance Bureau is looking into the Inder Kumar Gujral Punjab Technical University's (PTU) multi-crore scam pushed under the carpet in 2020.
According to sources, documentary evidence has been provided to the VB indicating large-scale bungling in payments to the private owners of distance education centers, arbitrary appointments and favouritism shown to consultants by a former Vice-Chancellor.
The then Vice-Chancellor Kahan Singh Pannu IAS (now retired) had in May 2017 appointed Surjit Singh Dhillon IAS (retd) to inquire into the alleged scam pertaining to the period of his predecessor. The inquiry officer submitted his report in August 2017, following which an FIR was registered in January 2018 by the VB's Jalandhar office. Out of 10 accused, only the then VC Rajneesh Arora was arrested. He remained in judicial custody for 84 days before being bailed out.
For over 2-years, VB did not make any material progress in the case and transferred it to Hoshiarpur and then to Ludhiana after a few months for reasons best known to the then officers of VB at the helm.
In June 2020, the investigating officer of the case DSP Dalbir Singh filed a cancellation report in the court dismissing the findings of the inquiry officer Dhillon. Complainants who brought out the scam were not joined in the investigation for their statements and evidence in their possession.
The inquiry officer Dhillon looked into 19 allegations of misappropriation of funds and appointments made by flouting recruitment rules. As many as 11 allegations against the then VC were rejected while he could not decide on three issues for want of record which was not provided by the university. On the remaining 5-issues, the inquiry officer indicted the university management.
He held the appointments of Vishvadeep assistant registrar, Geetika Sood legal officer, Sumeer Sharma assistant director, and Maginder Singh Bedi assistant training officer, as violative of recruitment rules.
The issue of giving the undue financial benefit of over Rs 24 crore to Parveen Kumar, a Delhi-based consultant, was left out for further investigation as no record was made available regarding services provided by him to the university. The VB did not carry forward its investigation into the transfer of this large amount and left it buried there.
The proceedings of the BOG meeting dated November 6, 2015, agenda item number 59.17 had directed the VC to do away with the services of the consultant Parveen Kumar of NITiit, Delhi, who was paid Rs 24.37 crore for a period of 6 months.
The expenditure of Rs 5.60 lakh for installing solar lights in Kapurthala police lines was uncalled for, said the inquiry report. But no recovery to date has been made of this amount from those responsible for spending it in a wrongful manner to please the police officers tasked with investigations into the scam.
The inquiry officer indicted the VC, who first arbitrarily suspended and then terminated the services of Dr. N P Singh, dean of student welfare, by using his emergency powers even as the board of governors (BOG) refused to approve his action. Penal action was recommended against the VC, but to date nothing has been done on this count.
The BOG meeting dated December 11, 2015, in its agenda item number 60.6 had recorded that the action of VC, against Dr. N.P. Singh, was not justified and blatantly wrong. All his service benefits were restored with retrospective effect.
However, the VB in its cancellation report filed hurriedly said that all actions of the VC were approved by the BOG. It termed the scam a creation of different groups in the PTU staff, who were fighting with each other.
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