Probe team constituted to look into liquor theft case in Haryana lacks powers: Cong

Chandigarh, May 15 (PTI) Main opposition Congress on Friday alleged that the probe team constituted by the M L Khattar government in connection with the theft of liquor bottles from two godowns lacks powers.

The probe team will check the actual availability of stock in all warehouses and godowns that were sealed by the Excise Department during the last two years for any violation.

Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that it was not a special investigation team but a special enquiry team that has been constituted. 'Whether the Khattar government is conducting an inquiry into the liquor scam or resorting to a cover-up? The layers of liquor scam have been fully exposed all over Haryana, but, intentionally, by entrapping the liquor scam in the wriggles of 'Special Investigation Team' (SIT) and 'Special Enquiry Team' (SET), an attempt is being made by the Khattar Government to put this scam under the carpet,' he said in a statement here.

Surjewala asked why a special enquiry team was constituted instead of a SIT to inquire into the alleged scam.

He added that only a SIT constituted under sections 2(h) and 2(o) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is empowered to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the scam by visiting every godown linked to it, confiscate documents, conduct raids, check the records of the Excise Department and Police Department and arrest the culprits.

'The present 'Special Enquiry Team' has no such powers, how it will hold an inquiry into the liquor scam,' Surjewala, a former Haryana minister, asked. He claimed the SET will remain confined to the conduct of an administrative enquiry only.

'During the last over five years of the Khattar government, not even a single inquiry into any matter or scam has been completed or brought to a conclusive result,' the Congress leader claimed.

'Burning examples of this trend are paddy scam, mining scam, Gurgaon- Faridabad- Aravali hills colonization scam, SC Scholarship scam. In this situation, the question arises whether this liquor scam shall also become a sacrificial lamb at the altar of the policy of the Khattar government to put the enquiries under the carpet,' he said.

The Haryana government had on Monday appointed senior IAS officer T C Gupta as head of the probe team.

Gupta is the Additional Chief Secretary in the Department of Power, Employment and Renewable Energy. The other members are Subhash Yadav, Additional Director General of Police, State Vigilance Bureau, Gurgaon, who is due to retire on May 31, and Vijay Singh, Additional Excise and Taxation Commissioner.

The team will submit its report by May 31, an order issued by the Home Department had said.

The Haryana Police on Saturday seized Rs 97 lakh in cash, two pistols and three mobile phones besides a sports utility vehicle following a raid here in a house to nab the prime accused in the case of missing liquor stocks from the two godowns in Sonipat.

The Sonipat police raided the house of accused Bhupinder Singh, but he managed to escape. However, later on, he surrendered.

The godowns in Sonipat from where the liquor stock was reported missing are stated to belong to accused Bhupinder Singh's wife. PTI SUN VSD IJT