Top Chandigarh Finance Official in Golfing Controversy

By Jaideep Sarin

Chandigarh, Dec 1 (IANS) Even before he could tee-off with a new lifetime membership of a premier golf club, a top bureaucrat in the Chandigarh administration is likely to face ouster after it was found that he had allegedly tampered with official documents.

Chandigarh's Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar, a senior Punjab cadre Indian Administrative Service officer, has already proceeded on leave, pending his repatriation to Punjab, even as the city administration has sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe.

Kumar holds charge of some of the most important departments like finance, engineering, Capitol Project and several others.

He secured a lifetime membership of the Chandigarh Golf Association (CGA), located next to Chandigarh's famous Sukhna Lake, in his own name while he was dealing with a file pertaining to extending the lease of the government land allotted to the CGA by the administration.

CGA membership is a much sought after thing in Chandigarh and several of Chandigarh's powerful, influential and rich people are its members.

An internal probe by senior officials in the administration recently revealed that Kumar allegedly forged official documents, especially an order of the then Punjab governor and Chandigarh union territory administrator S.F. Rodrigues, to benefit himself with a lifetime membership.

After the controversy broke out, Kumar was verbally asked to proceed on leave by senior functionaries. Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil also gave his nod for a probe against Kumar, sources in the administration told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Kumar even had to face embarrassment last week when his official computer and certain other files from his office in the UT secretariat were "seized" following orders from senior officers.

The sources said Kumar, while renewing the lease deed for the CGA in 2009, allegedly got a clause added to the new agreement by which he and present adviser to the union territory administrator (chief secretary rank) Pradip Mehra would become lifetime members of the CGA by name. The arrangement was made in such a way that even after these officials retired from service, they would continue as life members.

Kumar allegedly tampered with the orders of Rodrigues regarding the fresh lease deed to benefit himself with lifetime membership.

Mehra, when he came to know about the controversial membership being given to him, refused to accept it and got the whole issue inquired into. The lid was blown off the episode when the lifetime membership card reached Mehra.

Surprised at the development, Mehra sought Kumar's explanation in this regard and questioned how the lifetime membership was offered to him without his knowledge.

During the internal probe, when Kumar's explanation was sought, he defended his action saying he had sought the approval of the administrator on the clause that was added later. However, he failed to produce any documents to show that the approval was given.

During the scrutiny, it was discovered that the approval letter submitted by Kumar as a reply to his explanation differed from the actual letter issued by Rodrigues.

While the approval letter issued by Rodrigues simply mentioned the extension of lease to CGA, Kumar's letter allegedly incorporated a clause, giving himself and the union territory adviser a lifetime membership of the CGA.

No senior Chandigarh administration official was ready to officially comment on the controversy.

Asked about the controversy, Kumar told IANS: "This is not the right time to speak about these issues. They (the administration) are looking into the matter and let them complete their probe. Only then I can say anything."

"I don't want to say anything at this moment," Kumar added.

In an earlier statement to a newspaper, Kumar claimed ignorance about the whole controversy. He claimed he had explained his position in this regard to relevant authorities.


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Title: Top Chandigarh Finance Official in Golfing Controversy

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