14 Dec : Society Flats sold in Open Market and allotted to Non-Members, Officials, Politicians – Genuine Members Defrauded – Nexus of Managing Committee Members & Contractors with Officials and Politicians of the State Cooperative Department, GMADA, Punjab State Electricity Board etc.
Summary of the Scam
1.1 The Society is one man show being run by one Mr. Swaran Singh in connivance with his son Gagandeep Singh, nephew Balbir Singh and other associates who are beneficiaries of the scam.
1.2 Swaran Singh and his associates enrolled 599 members in the society as against 338 flats, out of which more than 50% (313) were found “Non-Existent” and declared Bogus by the committee constituted by High Court.
1.3 Bogus Memberships sold to enroll new persons – Old/Genuine Members defrauded and their rights condemned unheard.
1.4 Flats allotted without any draw / criteria / procedure. Over 63% flats allotted to Non-Members, Benami Persons, Officials, Politicians, Advocates etc to garner their support in the scam.
1.5 Old/Original members after paying lacs of rupees and and even raising bank loans to pay money to the society are running pillar to post to secure the allotment of flats whereas the persons who were illegally enrolled much later than them and had not even paid a single penny to the society, but had greased the palms of the president, Mr. Swaran Singh have already been given allotments and possessions.
1.6 Some original members were issued allotments of bogus/non-existent flats. No action taken by Punjab Police on the complaints of members.
1.7 Flats originally allotted to genuine members handed over the officials/politicians to garner their illegal support in the scam.
1.8 Multiple flats allotted to near and dear ones.
1.9 Crores of rupees of society funds, diverted through Contractors to buy personal properties while defaulting payments of land cost to PUDA/GMADA.
1.10 Lacs of rupees of cash money collected from members unaccounted.
1.11 No records produced before Audits, Enquiries and even in the court of law. No action taken by any authority to procure the record in the interest of justice.
1.12 Large Scale illegal construction at site in connivance with officials of GMADA – No action taken by GMADA despite various representations by the members and even by the previous architect of the society.
1.13 Partial occupancy certificate issued by GMADA in connivance with the society on 03.03.2005, even when the land of society was under resumption.
1.14 No action taken by any authority or even Courts to tame the scam going on unabated since last more than 7 years – Most of the concerned officials & politicians are involved and are beneficiaries of the scam.
1.15 Over 100 families are bearing the brunt of rampant corruption, nepotism and ineptness of the officials and politicians of the Govt of Punjab since last more than 7 years and are prepared to take any extreme step.
Earlier also the matter has been reported by press media from time to time. Interestingly, in an exclusive coverage given by the Indian Express from 8th Feb, 2007 to 11th Feb, 2007 (Cuttings enclosed at Annexure – I), the Registrar Cooperative Societies, in his statement published on 10th Feb, 2007 [Annexure – I(c)] admitted that “The United Cooperative House Building Society, Mohali, is the most ill-famed society out of 21000 registered housing societies in Punjab. You name the irregularity, bungling and financial misappropriation – it’s all there”. The news item further quotes that “Replying to allegations that flats were sold in open market in connivance with some officials of his cooperative department, Vishwajit Khanna said the possibility of benami flats being owned by some departmental people in the society cannot be ruled out. Those having evidence to show the involvement of people of my department should come forward to ensure action against them”. However despite all this no action has been taken to tame the ongoing frauds by any authority. All efforts to enforce the law have landed on deaf ears probably closed by extraneous considerations.
The society is an open book of corruption prevalent in the Government of Punjab. The suffering members have approached every possible politician, officer, institution including the Chief Minister through his Adviser, Cooperative Minister, Registrar Cooperative Societies, Financial Commissioner (Coop), Punjab Police, Vigilance Deptt etc. etc., but no help seems forthcoming from any quarter. The whole scam, runs into more than 40 crores of rupees. In order to prevent action against the culprits, the flats of the society have been distributed to officers like peanuts. The functioning of the society reveals that there is no scope or binding of any law of land, rules and regulations in the society.
2. Facts and Figures
2.1 The United Co-operative House Building Society Limited, Sector 68, Mohali was constituted to provide housing to its members. The society was registered on 17.06.1987, under Registration No. 985, by the Assistant Registrar, Co-operative Societies, Ropar and was allotted 9.2 Acres of land in Sector 68, Mohali by PUDA (now GMADA) for construction of 364 dwelling units on 14.03.2000. However on actual measurement, the land was found to be 8.74 acres and consequently the number of flats to be constructed were reduced to 338.
2.2 Since its inception, the society is a one man show and is being managed and manipulated by one Mr. Swaran Singh in connivance with his son Mr. Gagandeep Singh and his nephew Mr. Balbir Singh. Swaran Singh enrolled many bogus names in the list of members of the society, so that these flats could be sold in open market at a later date to garner money in the form of premium. The ill-acts of Swaran Singh dragged the society into deep legal complications, when some members of the society had to move the court of law in order to protect their rights in the society. After two grueling bouts of litigation lasting over more than seven years, a detailed enquiry was ordered into the membership of society by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The enquiry was carried out by the three senior most Additional Registrars of the office of Registrar, Cooperative Societies and the Registrar, Cooperative Societies vide his order dated 31.07.2004 declared the list of genuine members of the society. In the enquiry, out of 599 members enrolled on the records of the society by Mr. Swaran Singh, only 286 members were found genuine, while rest 313 (more than 50%) were found non-existent/fictitious and were thus declared bogus. The copy of the detailed order of RCS dated 31.07.2004 which contains all facts and figures of the case along with the list of 286 genuine members is enclosed at Annexure – II.
2.3 However, in blatant disrespect of the orders of various courts and making mockery of the said orders of the Registrar, Mr. Swaran Singh conspired with the contractors of the society and sold the shares of bogus members in open market on huge premium. The perspective buyers were enrolled as members of the society by Swaran Singh. While the society had only 338 flats to be allotted to members, Swaran Singh sold flats and enrolled yet another 210 members in the society thus taking the total membership to 286+210=496. A committee comprising of three senior most Additional Registrars of the office of Registrar Cooperative Societies conducted an enquiry into the enrollment of these members and found that :
“ From the analysis of the record, it has been noticed that none of the new members have been enrolled against those members who were declared genuine (286) by the Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab in his Order dated 31.07.2004. Rather those members, who were declared non-genuine by the Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab in his Order dated 31.07.2004, have been substituted to enroll these new members between January to March 2004. Although almost all of these 109 members have paid an amount ranging from Rs.1 lac to 12 lacs for getting the flat, but still it is not possible to declare these newly enrolled members as genuine members. During the investigations, another fact has come to light that the President and Secretary of the Society have enrolled new members after taking huge money from them even after March 2004 and till February 2005.”
A copy of the report is enclosed at Annexure – III, which is an eye opener of the entire scam. But even after such clear evidence, no one seems interested to open his eyes to the scam, and the reasons are obvious.
2.4 In order to fetch maximum premiums the buyers were even committed the floors on which they shall be allotted a flat. Further, making mockery of all rules/laws and defrauding the genuine members of the society Swaran Singh arbitrarily passed two resolutions dated 12.09.2004 and 16.02.2005, allotting all flats of the society, without holding any draw of lots or following any other criteria. Many members who were issued demand notices on 09.09.2004 to deposit the money within 30 days were not even afforded an opportunity of depositing the money for allotment of flat and their rights were condemned unheard while allotting flats just three days after the issue of demand notice.
2.5 Most of persons who were allotted the flats did not figure anywhere in the list of 286 genuine members declared by the Registrar, in his order dated 31.07.2004. Many newly enrolled persons who had not paid even a single penny to the society were allotted flats whereas many old/genuine persons who had invested their life time savings in the society were simple ignored and defrauded. A true copy of the resolutions is annexed at Annexure – IV & V and a translated copy of the resolutions is placed at Anneuxre – IV(a) & V(a). As would be evident from the face of it 264 + 78 = 342 members have been allotted 261 + 77 = 338 flats, vide these resolutions. The highlighted names in Annexure – IV(a) & V(a) are the persons, who do not figure anywhere in the list of genuine members of the society. Interestingly, out of a total of 342 persons, 216 (63%) do not figure in the list of genuine members of the society. The highlighted persons also includes names and relatives of Senior Lawyers and Officials of Cooperative Department, who had been aiding, abetting and defending the illegal acts of the society using their influence and in their official capacities. Besides this, there are many benami flats owned by Senior officers of various government departments including Cooperative Department, GMADA and PSEB etc.
2.6 Some genuine members of the society when raised an alarm and demanded allotment of flats were issued the allotment letters of flats on fifth and sixth floors whereas the society is allowed to construct four floors only in addition to ground floor. Interestingly, these flats neither exist anywhere in the approved construction plan nor figure anywhere in the resolutions of allotment of flats. Many such allottees lodged their complaints with the Registrar, who admitted that the allotments are bogus (Annexure – VI) and suggested police action against the culprits. Many such complaints against Swaran Singh, his son Gagandeep Singh and his nephew Balbir Singh have been lodged with Mohali Police but due to the right political links, no action was taken by them in any such case.
2.7 As if this was not all, various instances have come to light where the flats allotted in the name of benami person or even some genuine member as per the resolutions, have been handed over to some senior government functionary to garner their support for the fraudulent acts of the society. Some such clear examples of fraud are as under:
i) Mr. Charanjit Singh, OSD to Finance Minister, Ministry of Finance, Govt of Punjab was never a member of the society and his name appears no where in the list of 286 genuine members of the society declared by the Registrar, Cooperative Societies. Mr. Charanjit Singh was illegally enrolled and given possession of a prime flat No. 139 in the society in order to garner political support for the illegal acts of the society. Interestingly, as per the resolution dated 12.09.2004, the flat No 139 stands allotted to one of the genuinely declared members of the society Mr. Gurdip Singh, who is still struggling for his rights in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. A copy of the electricity bill showing Mr. Charanjit Singh as an owner of flat is enclosed at Annexure VII.
ii) Mr. R. S. Pathania, S.D.O, PSEB Distribution Sub-Division, Sohana, Distt. Mohali, Punjab, who is the concerned officer of PSEB, was never a member of the society and his name appears no where in the list of 286 genuine members contained in the order of Registrar dated 31.07.2004. The Registrar Cooperative Societies, Punjab vide his office letter No. SPL-40-41 dated 05/04/05 (copy enclosed at Annexure VIII) specifically requested the officer not to issue electricity connections in the flats as the possession of flats was being given in an illegal manner to in-genuine/in-eligible persons. However, the society offered a prime flat (No. 235) to the concerned officer and got the electricity connections released. As a matter of fact, his own electric connection was the first connection to be released by PSEB in the society. A copy of his electricity bill as a proof of his ownership of flat is enclosed at Annexure IX.
2.8 Further, many members of the society have been given a rola-costa ride while allotting the flats, as the flats allotted to the members have been arbitrarily changed without any consent from the member, obviously to please and adjust some senior government functionaries to garner their illegal support. One such self explanatory complaint, which is gathering dust in the office of Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab since last many months is enclosed at Annexure X.
2.9 Interestingly, the Karta of society, Mr. Swaran Singh and his son Gagandeep Singh withdrew all their money from the society vide resolution dated 27.09.2003 (Annexure XI), and by depositing cash money amounting to Rs 2,00,000/- each, just a day before the allotment i.e, on 11.09.2004, the two allotted prime flats for themselves on 12.09.2004 & 16.02.2005. Interestingly, the son of president Mr. Gagandeep Singh was allotted two flats Nos. 226 & 267 on 12.09.2004, while many poor members who had deposited the money long back were not even allotted one flat.
2.10 In addition to the above, there is no end to the financial irregularities and embezzlement of funds in the society. In the name of depositing the land price to P.U.D.A. – Mr. Swaran Singh collected land cost of Rs 2.35 Lacs each from over 400 members including the complainants, amounting to a total of about Rs. 9.40 crores, whereas only a sum of Rs. 7.93 crores was required to be deposited with the P.U.DA., towards the total cost of land allotted to the Society. Despite that surplus amount collected from members, the land price has not been deposited with P.U.D.A. by Swaran Singh till date. Due to the huge misappropriation of funds by Swaran Singh, P.U.D.A. resumed the site and the same is still lying resumed with PUDA and all members of the society are suffering.
2.11 Further, various audit reports and enquiries conducted by the office of Registrar have pointed out embezzlement worth Crores of rupees in the society. An enquiry into the construction of flats carried out by Sh. Gurchet Singh, J.E., has revealed unaccounted advances to the tune of Crores of rupees have been given to the contractors of the society. Another enquiry report submitted by the Joint Registrar, Patiala vide his office Memo No. 5712 dated 24.12.2007, has revealed an embezzlement of funds to the tune of over Rs 60 Lacs by Mr. Swaran Singh, which was collected by him in cash from some members but was never deposited in the society account. The Joint Registrar has also pointed out that the managing committee in connivance with the contractors is doing large scale illegal construction at site, which is likely to cause huge losses to the society as and when these illegal flats are demolished by GMADA. Besides this, every audit report and enquiry has invariably pointed out that the society did not provide any record for audit/enquiry. However despite all this, no action has ever been initiated by the office of Registrar Cooperative Societies, Punjab to take control of the record or to recover the embezzled amount as almost all concerned officers/officials have been given illegal gratifications in one form or the other.
2.12 The involvement of the officials of GMADA is evident from the fact that to facilitate illegal occupancy of the flats to illegally enrolled members, the partial occupancy certificate was issued to the society on 03.03.2005 despite the fact that the land allotted to the society was under resumption. The information obtained from GMADA under RTI (Annexure XII) has revealed that the partial occupancy certificate was illegal and has been cancelled by GMADA. However, even after cancellation of certificate no action has been taken to oust the illegal occupants of flats as many officials of GMADA are themselves beneficiaries of the scam.
2.13 Further, in order to accommodate the illegally enrolled members, the society is indulging in large scale illegal construction at site. The size of flats has been reduced and the additional flats are being arbitrarily constructed in the parking area. Many basic facilities proposed in the society such as Community Centre, Mini Market etc. have been dropped to pave way for additional flats. In this regard many representations have been made to GMADA to tame the illegal construction going on in the society, but no action has been taken by GMADA in this regard.
3. Officers/Officials, Layers, Politicians Involved in the Scam
3.1. The entire scam has been executed with an active involvement and support of various Senior Government Officials, Politicians and Senior Lawyers of the Punjab and Haryana High Court who had been aiding, abetting and protecting the culprits. Some such persons are as under:
i) Capt Kanwaljit Singh. Minister for Cooperation, Punjab and his office had been the driving force behind non-action of Cooperative Department against the culprits. Sources close to Swaran Singh have revealed that he had given a large sum of money for the election fund of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, during recent assembly elections and in turn the minister is turning blind eye to all ill-acts of the society. The suffering members have given various representations to the minister but no action has ever been taken by his office to tame the scam or put the society’s house in order. The matter needs to be referred to CBI for proper investigation.
ii) Mr. S. K. Sinha, the then Financial Commissioner (Coop), Punjab arbitrarily regularized all illegal acts of the society in strong contravention to the scandalous findings of the enquiry committees constituted under the directions of High Court. Even though the acts of managing committee were not only fraudulent but were in clear contempt of the directions of High Court, Mr. S. K. Sinha misusing his official powers provided all legal shelter to the ill-acts of the society. Mr. Sinha was given huge illegal gratification for all these favors, which needs to be investigated by an independent agency such as CBI.
iii) Mr. Charanjit Singh OSD to Finance Minister, Ministry of Finance, Govt of Punjab, was not only allotted a flat as detailed at Point 2.7(i), but his brother Mr. Surjit Singh has also been given contract in the society through illegal means. Mr. Surjit Singh was appointed director of the company by the builder of society, namely M/s Add-on Builders and all powers relating to the works of society were delegated to him. The corrupt office bearers of the society and Mr. Surjit Singh, are doing large scale illegal construction at site without any approved plan, in order to construct additional flats at site. All necessary political/official support for these illegal activities of society is being provided by Mr. Charanjit Singh, OSD, who is misusing the office and powers of the Finance Minister. Mr. Charanjit Singh through his political/official influence has ensured that no action is taken by GMADA against the illegal construction being done by his brother in the society.
iv) Sh. Dharam Vir Sharma, Senior Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court, & his son Sh. Harit Sharma are the lawyers of the society and had been defending all acts of society before various courts through their legal tangles. In lieu of their services, Shri Harit Sharma, has been allotted Flat No 365 and another close relation of Shri D.V. Sharma namely, Shri Satish Kumar Sharma, has been allotted a Flat No. 231 vide resolution dated 12.09.2004. Interestingly, none of them were found to be genuine members by the Registrar vide his order dated 31.07.2004.
v) Mr. Swaranjit Singh, Addl. Registrar (I), O/o RCS, Punjab is the officer in-charge of the society in the office of Registrar Coop Societies, Punjab. Many clear cases of corruption, frauds and embezzlement such as the embezzlement of large amounts of money collected from members in cash, large scale illegal construction at site, issuance of illegal/bogus allotment letters to the members, non-issuance of allocation/allotment of flats to eligible members, illegal enrollment of members in the society for pocketing illegal premium etc. etc. stands proved on the records before the department. However on the behest of Mr. Swaranjit Singh, Addl Registrar (I), RCS, Punjab, no action is taken against the society or any of his associate committee members. So much so that even before the Hon’ble High Court, Mr. Swaranjit Singh submitted a patently false affidavit in order to support the illegal activities of the society and hide his collusion in the scam. Mr. Swaranjit Singh has been given various illegal gratifications by the society and was even publicly honored and was conferred “Saropa” in the function held at society premises on 15.06.2008.
vi) Mr. R. S. Pathania, S.D.O, PSEB Distribution Sub-Division, Sohana, Distt. Mohali, Punjab, has been allotted flat in the society through illegal means as detailed at Point No 2.7(ii).
Besides these, there are many benami flats which are owned by various Government Officers and Officials. Besides this, various illegal gratifications including huge sums of cash money has been paid to various officials of Cooperative Deptt, GMADA etc., which needs to be investigated.
4. Our Demands
i) The Government of Punjab should refer the matter to CBI to probe the open sale of society flats in the market and large misappropriation of funds and registration of criminal cases against the culprit managing committee members and corrupt officials, involved in the scam.
ii) The Managing committee of the society should be immediately suspended by the Registrar and the illegal activities going on in the society including large scale illegal construction should be immediately stopped. The entire record of society should be seized and handed over to an arbitrator, who may be a high ranking officer with high integrity.
iii) A high level committee should be constituted to carry out the detailed scrutiny of the members of the society in order to weed out bogus and benami members and prepare a list of eligible members for allotment of flats in the society as per their genuineness, seniority of membership and payment criteria. The defaulter members should be clearly identified and intimated and their money be returned.
iv) The flats of the society should be re-allotted to the genuine/eligible members through a fair and transparent method such as the draw of lots.
v) Criminal proceedings should be initiated against the culprit managing committee members who have given illegal possessions and fake allotment letters and have embezzled the funds and property of the members of society amounting to over Rs 40 Crores.
vi) The State Government should make appropriate amendments to the Bye-Laws of Cooperative House Building Societies to tame such scam and bring transparency into the working of Housing Societies.