2001 HCS scam: Ex-HPSC chief, 9 officers in ACB crosshairs

The 29 persons named in the chargesheet submitted by the Haryana Anti-corruption Bureau before a Hisar court a few days ago include some of the then HPSC functionaries besides a few selected candidates, alleged to be close to the then ruling INLD leaders, reports Rajesh Moudgil

The charge sheet submitted by the ACB (earlier called state vigilance bureau of SVB) against 29 persons a few days ago before a Hisar court, has pointed out major irregularities in the selection of Haryana civil services (HCS) examination held during 2001 Om Prakash Chautala-led Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) rule.

These 29 persons include the then HPSC chairman K C Bangar, its members, eight serving HCS officers, a retired HCS officer, a former HPSC secretary, four allied services officers and the then HPSC examiners. Most of the 13 HCS (executive branch) and allied services officers indicted in the ACB chargesheet were closely related to those who were at the helm of affairs of the then INLD regime.

While Bangar is currently a senior leader in the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), the alliance partner of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP-JJP coalition government, one of the senior HCS officer also indicted in the chargesheet – Kamlesh Kumar Bhadu – is currently serving as officer on special duty (OSD) to the JJP leader and deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala.

Among the 13 officers named in the chargesheet are Kuldhir Singh, Vatsal Vashisth, Ranjit Kaur, Kamlesh Kumar Bhadu, Sarita Malik, Ashok Kumar, Rakesh Kumar, Poonam Nara, Dilbag Singh, Veena Hooda, Jag Niwas, Surender Kumar and Jagdeep who face charges under prevention of corruption Act.

Notably, while Kuldhir Singh is son of former INLD state president Sher Singh Badshami, Kamlesh Kumar Bhadu is closely related to Chautala family, Sarita Malik is daughter of former DGP, Haryana, M S Malik, Ashok Kumar is son of former INLD MLA B S Rawat, Jagdeep is closely related to the then HPSC chairman Bangar while Ranjit Kaur is sister of the then IAS officer Harbaksh Singh, who was close to the then chief minister Om Prakash Chautala.

It may be recalled that the former CM Chautala is currently leading the INLD and the former five-time chief minister Chautala Sr and his elder son Ajay were among over 50 people who were sentenced to 10-year jail in the JBT recruitment scam on January 16, 2013.

However, the INLD, which had remained a major political party of Haryana with its huge base in rural Haryana in the past, had suffered a crippling split and which subsequently led to the formation of the breakaway Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) in December 2018 when Chautala Sr expelled his grandsons, Dushyant, the then INLD MP from Hisar, and his younger brother, Digvijay, for anti-party activities, on November 2, 2018.

 A few days later, he also showed the door to his elder son and former MP Ajay for holding an “unconstitutional meeting’’ to support his sons on November 17, 2018, in Jind.

The probe, charges

According to information, the ACB probe which included forensic examinations, found out that marks of the candidates were increased and lowered by cutting or overwriting on the answer sheets in the selection process.

The probe also held that while there was no authentication of these cuttings or overwriting by the examiners, in several cases it was found out that double pens or inks were used in the marking.

Significantly enough, while different handwriting in different answer sheets by the same candidates was established in the probe, it was also found out that different parts of questions had been solved on different pages by the “candidates’’. It was also established during the investigation that marks in the answer sheets of several selected candidates were increased with the connivance of the examiners.

Prez nod to prosecute HPSC Chief, members

It may be recalled that prior to filing of the chargesheet against the accused persons, the state government had sought sanction from President of India to prosecute the former HPSC chairman and other HPSC members vide three letters in December, 2022 which was accorded by President Droupadi Murmu.

In September last year, the ACB (or the then known as SVB), in its report submitted to the government – 17 years after the cases of alleged irregularities in the HPSC recruitments in the selection of HCS (executive) and Allied Services examination and professors (college cadre) were registered – had stated the entire examination process of 2001 and 2004 was “vitiated” and the selections were “illegal and arbitrary”. This, thus, also questioned the fate of nearly 186 selected candidates of the 2001 and 2004 batches. The government had subsequently served show-cause notices to some of the officers.

According to information available, the sanction for the prosecution was related to three incidents mentioned in the then SVB First Information Report (FIR) registered in 2005.

While one was registered for the alleged irregularities committed in HCS-2001 and 2004 examinations, another related to misuse of the official position by making illegal gratification in the selection of HCS (executive branch) and other allied services examination and also in the selection of the assistant professors and lecturers in Chaudhary Devi Lal Memorial Engineering College, Sirsa, in which allegedly “ineligible candidates were allegedly selected and eligible, allegedly neglected’’.

According to media reports, apart from the 13 HCS officers, 16 others who have been chargesheeted include Bangar, former IAS officer Hardeep Singh, former secretary and former members M S Shastri, N N Yadav, Jagdish Rai, Narender Vidhyaalankar and Dayal Singh of the HPSC.

Likewise, the then empanelled examiners who would also now face prosecution include Prof J C Kappan, Maheswary Prasad, Prof Chander Mauli, R K Boss, Prof Pushpinder Kumar, Prof P S Chaturvedi, Jagdish Singh, S K Verma and Darvesh Gopal.

The charge-sheet has been submitted in the court of Hisar sessions judge Dinesh Kumar Mittal and the next hearing in the case has been fixed for August 10, 2023.