Punjab food service manager fired for negligence in the line of duty

Amid alleged irregularities in the process of bidding labour, trucking and transport for lifting food grains, Punjab Minister of Food and Civil Supplies, Lal Chand Kataruchak , said Saturday that his department fired an officer of the rank of deputy director for gross negligence in the line of duty.

This came days after a case was registered by the Vigilance Bureau in relation to alleged irregularities in Ludhiana District under the previous Congress government.

Deputy Director Rakesh Kumar Singla’s role is under investigation over irregularities in the bidding process, sources said.

Singla is believed to be close to former food and civil supplies minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu whose role is also under the scanner, they said.

Speaking to the media here, Minister Kataruchak said Singla was fired for willful concealment of facts and gross negligence in the performance of his official duties.

Kataruchak said Singla breached the Punjab Civil Service Rules of 1970 by concealing the fact that he acquired permanent residency in Canada in 2006.

The officer was indicted in 2017 and the charges were proven on Jan. 29, 2019, Kataruchuck said.

The whole case was reviewed by a retired judge and a ministry officer. The officer received a copy of the indictment, but he did not participate in the investigation. Thus, given the circumstances, the said officer was removed from his post today, the minister said.

Vigilance is also investigating the role of Minu Malhotra, a close associate of former minister Ashu.

When Kataruchuk was asked about Ashu’s role, he refused to say anything except that the matter is under investigation.

He said, however, that no one involved in the irregularities would be spared.

Meanwhile, Punjab Congress leader Amrinder Singh Raja Warring while responding to the allegations against Ashu called it a vendetta against the Congress leader and the former minister. Warring said Ashu only implemented the policy adopted by Cabinet.

Is it the minister’s job to check the registration number of vehicles, he asked.

On August 16, the Vigilance Bureau had filed a complaint against three individuals from a company and some officials of the State Department of Food and Civil Supplies for irregularities in the bidding process.

During the investigation, it was found that at the time of the submission of tenders for 2020-21, the vehicle lists submitted by the contractors contained registration numbers of scooters, motorcycles and cars which did not have not been checked by officials due to criminal connivance with each other.

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