Another FIR to be filed against Punjab ex-Minister Dharmsot in Forest Dept. scam

Chandigarh, Dec 8: The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) has decided to register a fresh FIR under the Prevention of Corruption Act against former Forest Minister Sadhu Singh Dharmsot as investigations have revealed that he is in possession of assets that are disproportionate to his known sources of income.

According to Vigilance Bureau sources, Dharmsot bought six urban properties worth several crores of rupees, in and around Chandigarh, during his tenure as the Forest Minister allegedly with his ill-gotten money. The investigation pertaining to his disproportionate assets is complete. The second FIR is expected to be registered in the next few days.

Dharmsot is already facing a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act and is on bail. The VB registered the corruption case on June 6, 2022, against Sadhu Singh Dharmsot and another former Forest Minister S.S. Gillzian, DFO Mohali, Guramanpreet Singh, forest guard Dilpreet Singh, three Indian Forest Service officers and a forest guard. A 900-page challan was presented in the Special Court, Mohali, on August 6, 2022.

The case relates to the felling of trees and other illegalities. The action came on the basis of entries in a diary seized from a forest contractor Harmohinder Singh, alias Hummy, who was arrested on June 2 along with Mohali DFO Guramanpreet Singh over illegal construction of farmhouses on forest land. The diary entries showed commission ranging from Rs 100 for lower-rung staff to Rs 500 for the minister was charged for each tree that was felled.

Kamaljit Singh Kamal, a journalist with a Punjabi newspaper JagBani who was Dharmsot’s media adviser, and Chamkaur Singh, former Range Officer-cum-OSD to the minister, have also been arrested. Indian Forest Service officer Amit Chauhan, forest guard Dilpreet Singh, Gilzian’s personal assistant Kulwinder Singh Shergill, and Sachin Kumar have also been named in the FIR. Dharmsot was also involved in organised corruption pertaining to the issuance of permits for cutting of khair trees, transfer of officials, departmental purchases, and issuance of no-objection certificates.

The payment to Dharmsot was allegedly routed through Kamaljit and a Shiv Sena leader who was enjoying Punjab Police security. Dharmsot used to charge Rs 10-20 lakh for the transfer of a DFO, Rs 5-8 lakh for a ranger, Rs 5 lakh for a block officer, and Rs 2-3 lakh for a forest guard, according to the VB challan.

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