Four Punjab Police officers were dismissed from service Saturday after a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and departmental inquiry found them guilty in the case of misappropriation of cash worth Rs 5.70 crore recovered from the residence of Priest Anthony Madassery in March this year.
The officer were dismissed under Article 311 (2) (B) of the Constitution. They were identified as: Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Joginder Singh and ASI Rajpreet Singh, ASI Dilbagh Singh and Head Constable Amrik Singh. The first two embezzled the amount and while the latter helped transport and hide the sum.
On March 29, when Khanna police had in a press conference declared that Rs 9.66 crore cash was recovered from the priest and five others from Doraha in Ludhiana, the priest had alleged that Rs 16.65 crore was taken from his house.
Taking cognisance of media reports, the DGP had on April 1 constituted a SIT headed by then IGP/Crime Praveen K Sinha, with Jalandhar Police Commissioner Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, Patiala SSP Mandeep Singh and AIG (State Crime) Rakesh Kaushal as members. The SIT had registered the first FIR at SAS Nagar police station.
How the case unravelled
* The Punjab Police spokesperson said that based on confidential information regarding hawala transactions and recycling of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds by persons associated with Father Anthony and FMJ House, Jalandhar, Khanna Police had launched a decoy operation. Policemen in plain clothes and uniform participated in the operation, which led to seizure of a huge amount of cash from FMJ House on March 28.
* The recovered cash was brought to Khanna in two different vehicles. One vehicle was under the charge of Inspector Gurdeep Singh, the then SHO, Malaud. The second portion of the seized cash was in another vehicle in which ASI Joginder Singh, ASI Rajpreet Singh along with private decoy Surinder Singh were present.
* The CIA, officials from the income tax department and Directorate of Revenue Enforcement were also involved in investigating the source of the funds as well as in counting of recovered cash. Recovered cash amounting to Rs 9.66 crore was taken by income tax authorities to launch an investigation.
* In his inquiry, the IGP Crime concluded that while all the cash recovered by Inspector Gurdeep Singh was safely brought to CIA, a major portion of the recovered cash in the other vehicle had been misappropriated by the three persons in that car. The exact amount of misappropriated cash could not be determined in the enquiry as Father Anthony could not submit sufficient proof for the cash available at FMJ House when the raid took place and the missing amount as claimed in the complaint of Father Anthony to Commissioner of Police Jalandhar on March 31, 2019 and the statement recorded during enquiry of IGP, Crime, Punjab, were at variance with each other.
* The SIT examined the matter in three parts investigations into misappropriation/recovery of cash, dealings of FMJ House in connection of recycling of CSR funds and the presence of middlemen (dalaals) at FMJ House.
* The spokesperson pointed out that accused Surinder Singh, who was an informer and travelling with both ASIs, was arrested on April 17, which led the arrest of ASI Dilbagh Singh on April 24. ASI Dilbhagh helped in transporting the missing amount from one place to other. The two main accused, had gone underground on April 7 and were finally arrested from a hotel in Forte Kochi on April 30. Their arrest led to recovery of Rs 4.57 crore, Rs 2.36 crore and Rs 2.21 crore from ASI Rajpreet Singh and ASI Joginder Singh respectively.
* As per as the financial investigation into the dealings of FMJ, the total embezzled amount was Rs 5.70 crore, but Father Anthony has not been able to provide convincing proof to the SIT about why it was initially claimed that the missing amount was Rs 6.66 crore. About recycling of CSR funds and the presence of middlemen at FMJ House when the raid was conducted, the SIT is still conducting investigation.
*The spokesperson further said that attempts to recycle CSR funds through charities associated with Father Anthony and the church he is associated with was being made through the middlemen.
* The role of other officials of Khanna police is underway and a comprehensive report in this regard will be submitted by the SIT shortly.