Punjab govt orders probe into advocate’s allegations against ADC (General)

Amarinder Singh led-government has ordered a probe against Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Iqbal Singh Sandhu. (File) 

THE PUNJAB government has ordered a probe into a complaint by Advocate Gaganpreet Singh against Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Iqbal Singh Sandhu of allegedly misusing his powers in settling non-performing assets (NPA) account cases worth crores.

Advocate Singh had conducted a press conference outside the deputy commissioner’s office on Monday, during which he had alleged that ADC (General) Sandhu had already been warned by the high court to follow the rules and not make any decision out of the box. Singh told mediapersons that District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner Pardeep Aggarwal has delegated his powers given under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act (SARFAESI), 2002, to Iqbal Singh Sandhu, ADC (General), Ludhiana. He alleged that the ADC is exercising the powers of the DM under the Act as per his choice and is in many cases dismissing applications seeking permission for possession in the presence of police.

He further alleged that in small NPA accounts of Rs 10-20 lakh, the ADC never summoned the borrower party and used to pass the order within days. Banks can easily get the order within 30 days from the date of application for small accounts, but in big NPA accounts worth crores, the ADC used to summon the borrower party. “The meaning is clear that if amount in crores is involved then it is stretched on for months,” he alleged.

Advocate Singh said he had moved complaints before the Governor, RBI, Punjab chief minister, chief secretary, chief director of Vigilance Bureau and secretary department of Financial Services as well. He got a reply from the CMO office on Tuesday. The NPA of Ludhiana alone is of more than Rs 13,000 crore, he said, alleging that the ADC office had dismissed applications filed by different banks seeking possession of properties of defaulters. One such defaulter had an NPA amount worth Rs 50 crore while another had Rs 20 crore, a hosiery unit had defaulted nearly Rs 10 crore but the application filed by Allahabad Bank was dismissed by the ADC office, alleged Singh, adding that “this is hampering NPA collection”.

ADC(G) Sandhu, in a statement released Tuesday evening, stated that the allegations against him were totally baseless and false as the complainant lawyer was trying to arm twist the authorities as well as him for securing a particular case, related to possession of a disputed property, in their favour.

The statement added that one Suman Lata had appeared before the Ludhiana DC and alleged that the authorities of Punjab and Sind Bank had illegally encroached upon 134.37 sq. yards of their private property under the garb of SARFAESI Act order of the ADM dated August 2, 2017. The DC then marked the inquiry to ADC (G) for further investigation, on completion of which the ADC (G) had on October 4, 2019 recommended action against Gurmeet Singh, chief manager, Punjab and Sind Bank, for illegally encroaching upon 134.37 sq yards (had encroached upon 681 sq yards in place of 537.48 sq yards of land) additional land and not following the rules. The ADC (G) also recommended issuing of a showcause notice to the duty magistrate as well.

The ADC (G) decides the cases under section 14 of the SARFAESI Act as ADM. “During the tenure of ADC (G), I have decided around 2000 such cases which is a record in Punjab,” said the ADC(G)’s statement.

“Gaganpreet Singh was appearing as lawyer on behalf of the bank and now that the ADC (G) did not succumb to his pressure tactics for securing a favourable order, he is now trying to arm twist the ADC (G) Ludhiana and malign his image,” said the statement.

Advocate Singh said that ADC Sandhu has still not replied to the question of him misusing his powers.