A few days after the registration of a disproportionate assets case against Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Dyal Singh Kolianwali, a close aide of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Punjab vigilance and anti-corruption bureau is now investigating another SAD leader, former minister, Sikander Singh Maluka, for disproportionate assets. Maluka is considered one of the closest aides of SAD chief Sukhbir Badal.
Maluka held the portfolio of rural development and panchayats in the previous SAD-BJP government. Sources added that Maluka’s close ‘political and business’ aides from the revenue department were also under investigation.
“The vigilance has already questioned a few patwaris. A number of officials in the revenue department are also being asked to join the probe daily. The vigilance has been on the job for the past week,” said a vigilance bureau officer, privy to the investigation, but not willing to be named, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The assets that are under investigation are the ones that Maluka, his family members or relatives own in Mohali district, especially in Majri, Zirakpur. In addition, properties at Rampura Phul, Barnala and Kharar are also under the scanner. Properties that the Maluka family own in Kansal village of Mohali district, situated on the outskirts of Chandigarh, are also being investigated. The former minister has a house here.
GMADA records being checked
Another vigilance team is checking records of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) for a few residential projects that Maluka allegedly help to get government nods.
“We have strong suspicion that Maluka was a shareholder in these projects, either directly or indirectly. It is a DA probe,” the officer, quote above, added.
Vigilance claims to have a few leads about the disproportionate wealth that Maluka had allegedly amassed during investigation into his role in an alleged scam of Rs 12 crore in purchase of ‘substitute’ land for Jheurheri village panchayat of Mohali district.
The shamlat deh (common land) for this village was acquired for the international airport in 2013. When the Jheurheri panchayat bought land in Fatehgarh Sahib district with some of the compensation money in 2016, Maluka was the rural development and panchayats minister.
“The money paid for the land in question was at a rate higher than the market price, and the difference was embezzled. Maluka was aware about the wrongdoing,” the vigilance has alleged. The role of two former IAS officers, who worked closely with Maluka, is also under investigation.
The specific charge
Vigilance claims that 36 acre of shamlat deh of the panchayat was acquired for the airport at a compensation of Rs 1.5 crore per acre. The state released Rs 54.3 crore, which as per norms should have been credited to the account of the sarpanch. However in August 2016, this money went to the account of the department director instead. With some of this money, department officials and the sarpanch decided to buy land for the village elsewhere.
More than 25 acre of farmland was bought in Karimpura and Kandipura villages of Fatehgarh Sahib, at Rs 13.6 crore later in 2016. The rate paid was Rs 54 lakh per acre, even as the prevailing collector rate was Rs 9.8 lakh.
“In this transaction, Rs 12 crore was eventually siphoned off. Investigation shows that the land was shown to have been purchased at a far higher rate than the market price at far-off places, without taking prior sanction from the competent authority as required under the rules,” the vigilance said.
Vigilance chief director BK Uppal could not be contacted as he is said to be on ex-India leave for a few days. Maluka could not be contacted despite repeated attempts, with his mobile phone status as ‘not reachable’.
In the past, Maluka has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in this case.
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