Punjab and Haryana High Court orders CBI to probe property transactions of IGP Cheema

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When contacted by Chandigarh Newsline for his version regarding the allegations, Cheema said, “No comments!” (File)

WHILE ORDERING a CBI probe against IPS officer Gautam Cheema in the two cases pending against him in Mohali in connection with his association with property dealer Davinder Singh Gill, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Central agency to also probe various property transactions done by Cheema and a former defence accounts officer, Ajay Chaudhary.

“The CBI is also directed to look into the question as to why there has been an inordinate delay in concluding the investigation. Let the preliminary status report be submitted after a period of two months from taking over the investigation,” Justice Jaishree Thakur has said in an order dated March 4, while asking the CBI to investigate the delay in probe by the Punjab Police.

The two FIRs, registered in August and September 2014, allege that Cheema forcibly took a witness, a family friend of Gill, from police custody in an inebriated state and in another instance, Cheema and Chaudhary entered the house of Gill and his wife Kricpy Khera at midnight in March 2014 where they harassed them. Gill and Khera had approached the High Court in 2017 seeking a CBI probe in both the cases. In October 2018, the Punjab DGP had transferred the cases to Vigilance Bureau.

Observing that the SITs constituted by the state are unable to conclude the investigation “against one of their own” considering he is at present holding the rank of IG (Crimes), the court said the manner in which the investigation is being transferred from one agency to another does not inspire confidence of the court and prima facie it is of the opinion that a fair investigation would not be possible in such circumstances.

“The allegations as set out in the petitions and in the FIRs are serious, considering that they pertain to the conduct of a serving highly ranked police officer and deserve a thorough investigation, especially in the background of the allegations that a person of the police force is indulging in benami transactions and wielding influence to get FIRs registered, and removing person being interrogated by the Investigating Officer from his custody amongst other acts such as criminal intimidation,” the order reads.

According to the case filed before court, Gill and Cheema had come in contact in 2008 when he was SSP, Khanna. They developed family and business relations with the passage of time. It was Cheema who introduced Gill to Chaudhary, then an officer in the Indian Defence Services. However, their relations later turned sour.

It was also alleged before court by petitioners that Cheema was interested in buying disputed properties and then getting the dispute resolved by exercising the police power. “Gautam Cheema planned to do business of carving out farm houses in Mullanpur area near Chandigarh, and divide the profits in the ratio of 50:50,” according to the case before court, adding that the business was done through Gill’s Sky Heights Infrastructure House Building Society.

Before court, it was also alleged that “on the asking of Gautam Cheema, Gill allotted two show room plots at Rajpura in Rajpura Pride for Rs 65 lacs each in the name of Rakesh Chandra, who was working in association with Gautam Cheema”. The petitions also mentioned the alleged sponsored foreign tours of Cheema and Chaudhary.

The major allegation against Cheema also is that when Gill was in custody in a case, he set up a person to receive money directly from many of the investors, pretending that money was being collected on behalf of Gill. He refused to return the money later, Gill has alleged, adding that a spate of FIRs were registered against him and others at instance of Cheema.

When contacted by Chandigarh Newsline for his version regarding the allegations, Cheema said, “No comments!”