Punjab IAS officer arrested in Rs 250 crore land scam



Chandigarh: A senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer in Punjab, on the run for a few months, was arrested by the vigilance bureau for his alleged involvement in a Rs 250 crore land scam in the state's Patiala district, police said Friday.

Vikas Garg, a former deputy commissioner of Patiala, on the run from police for the past few months, was arrested and presented before a court in Patiala city, 80 km from here, vigilance bureau Senior Superintendent of Police Preetam Singh said.

Garg was suspended after his name figured in the illegal sale of prime government land worth Rs 250 crore in Patiala town when he was heading the district administration there in 2011. He was evading arrest ever since he was booked in the case.

Over 6,000 square yards of prime government land, commanding current market price of Rs 250 crore, was sold allegedly with the active connivance of government officials.

Garg, four revenue officers of Patiala district, three property dealers and two purchasers were booked by the vigilance bureau in November last year after the land scam was exposed. They were charged with cheating, forgery, breach of trust, conspiracy and other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Those booked included the then district revenue officer Rajbir Singh, naib tehsildar GS Walia, kanungo Pritpal Singh, patwari Suresh Kumar and property dealers Ravdeep Singh, NP Singh and Devinder Singh Sandhu. Jaswant Singh and Yashpal Aggarwal, who purchased the land, were also booked.

The land, belonging to the office of the district chief medical officer, was shown as private land and sold after getting its registry done fraudulently. Vigilance enquiries revealed that bribes of Rs 2 crore were paid to officials for completing the land deal.

While the vigilance bureau was able to arrest others involved in the case, Garg was on the run as he tried to seek anticipatory bail from various courts to save himself. His bail plea was, however, rejected by the high court.

IANS