Vigilance Bureau registers case against DFSC, two Inspectors, and three commission agents for misappropriation in wheat stocks

Finds 10,716 bags less at three godowns, many bags weighing less

- True Scoop

The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB), during its ongoing campaign against corruption in the state, has registered a case against a District Food and Civil Supplies Controller (DFSC), two inspectors from PUNGRAIN, and three commission agents (Aartiyas) for their involvement in the misappropriation of wheat stocks purchased during 2018-19 in four godowns located in Ferozepur district.

Disclosing this here on Tuesday, a spokesperson of the state VB said the individuals booked in this case include Balraj Singh, DFSC Ferozepur (now retired), Suresh Kumar, Inspector PUNGRAIN, Incharge Purchase Center Ferozeshah, Balraj Singh, Inspector, Incharge of godowns at villages Lalle, Haraj and Talwandi Bhai, Hardev Singh, owner of Happy Commission Agents, Pawan Kumar, owner of Dhaliwal Trading Company and Iqbal Singh, owner of Gill Trading Company. In this regard a case has been registered under FIR No. 25 dated 26-09-2023, invoking sections 13 (1)(a) read with 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 471, 120-B of the IPC at VB Police Station Ferozepur range.

Providing more details, he informed that the wheat procured by the procurement agency, 'PUNGRAIN' Ferozepur, for the 2018-19 procurement season from purchase centers in Talwandi Bhai, Wada Bhai Ka, and Ghall Khurd was stored at PUNGRAIN's godowns located in villages Lalle, Haraj, and Talwandi Bhai, where Inspector Balraj Singh was responsible for overseeing these facilities. During a joint surprise inspection on 30-05-2018 and 31-05-2018, it was discovered that 10,716 bags, each weighing 50 kgs, were missing from the registered stock, while an excess of 60 bags, each weighing 30 kgs, were found in the existing stock. Additionally, the weight of many wheat sacks in the warehouse was found to be less than the specified quantity.

In another joint inspection at a godown in village Firozshah, it was found that Happy Commission Agent owner Hardev Singh, Dhaliwal Trading Company owner Pawan Kumar and Gill Trading Company owner Iqbal Singh, in collusion with Inspector Balraj Singh, who oversaw the PUNGRAIN warehouse at Shivam Enterprises in village Lalle, had falsely prepared records for purchase of 13,134 bags of wheat. Payments related to these fake procurement were transferred to the bank accounts of the aforementioned commission agents. Subsequently, as this scam surfaced, Dhaliwal Trading Company had deposited 2,200 bags of wheat between May 25th and 27th, 2018, without any gate passes, etc. in the same warehouse at Shivam Enterprises. The spokesperson also informed that the then Assistant Food and Supply Officer had inspected the grain market at village Firozshah on 21-05-2018 but found no bags of wheat in the market at that time.

During further investigation by the VB, it has came to light that Inspector Suresh Kumar, who was in charge of the purchase center at Ferozshah, had conspired with Happy Commission Agents, Dhaliwal Trading Company and Gill Trading Company to falsely report the purchase of 13,134 bags of wheat, amounting to Rs. 1,13,93,745 in value. This unscrupulous act resulted in a financial loss to the state exchequer as payments were made directly to the said commission agents. Additionally, then DFSC Balraj Singh failed to initiate criminal action against Incharge Inspector Balraj Singh and the said commission agents despite being aware of the scam. The DFSC colluded with the Inspector and the commission agents, enabling the collection of wheat sacks and the recovery of money from them. Consequently, the government officials failed to collect the mandated 3 percent market fee and 3 percent rural development fund associated with this purchase, which should have been deposited with the treasury, thus causing a direct financial loss to the state government. In light of these findings, a case has been registered, and further investigation in this case was under progress, he added.