The Ludhiana court of chief judicial magistrate Sumit Makkar Wednesday recorded the statements of two IAS officers — A Venu Prasad and Karnesh Sharma– as witnesses in the alleged harassment case related to the probe into CLU scam against former Congress minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu.
While Prasad was posted as the principal secretary to then local government minister Navjot Singh Sidhu during the Congress government in 2019, Sharma was then director of local bodies department. Both Prasad and Sharma refused to comment on the photocopy of the CLU scam enquiry file in the court Wednesday, and said that they cannot verify its contents till the original file wasn’t shown to them.
Advocate Sachin Arora, counsel for complainant Balwinder Singh Sekhon, a dismissed DSP who was the enquiry officer in the CLU scam, said: “Both officers said that they cannot comment on the photocopy of the file till they weren’t shown the original file.”
IAS officer Karnesh Sharma in his statement recorded in the court Wednesday, as seen by The Indian Express, said: “…I cannot state from the photostat copies of the original file…I cannot say if signatures are impressions of my signatures or not… I cannot state from any photostat..”
Prasad, currently posted as additional chief secretary to Punjab CM, in his statement, said, “…I would not be able to give a statement from the reconstructed file without seeing the original file… the reconstructed record is not original and hence it cannot be identified as original. Otherwise, I have nothing negative to state about it.”
During the hearing on November 4, former local government minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, while recording his evidence via video-conferencing from Patiala jail, had also refused to comment on “photocopy” of enquiry report and said that he cannot verify it till the original file wasn’t shown to him. Sidhu added, “Every file was initiated by Prasad since he was posted as my secretary at that point of time..”
The court has been told earlier that the original file is now “missing” from the office of local bodies department. The enquiry in the CLU scam was executed by Sekhon on the orders of then minister Sidhu, and the final report was submitted to Sidhu’s office in 2019. Sekhon alleged that Ashu had harassed and threatened him during the enquiry in which he (Ashu) was indicted. The file containing original probe report allegedly went missing from Sidhu’s office.
Prasad’s partial evidence was also recorded earlier in March this year when he had said that the original file was sent to the office of Sidhu but ‘never received back’.
In his statement recorded in court on March 7, 2022, Prasad said: “It is correct that an inquiry was marked by the local bodies minister to complainant Balwinder Singh Sekhon when he was on deputation with Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana… DSP had submitted that report.. The original file of inquiry was sent to local government minister through me on 10.04.2019… It is correct that this file was never received back..” .
The case will be heard next on December 13.