Raman Singh’s son-in-law ignores summons; faces look-out notice

Raman Singh’s son-in-law ignores summons; faces look-out notice
Photo: ANI

Raipur: A lookout notice will soon be issued against former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh’s son-in-law Dr Puneet Gupta, who has failed to present himself for questioning in a Rs 50 crore scam in the purchase of equipment for the state-run DKS super-speciality hospital here, a senior police officer said.

Dr Gupta, who served as superintendent of the hospital for three years from January 2016 to January 2019, also faces charges of forging his degree.

He has been evading a police enquiry ever since a three-member committee found him guilty of criminal conspiracy, corruption and cheating. Police had filed an FIR against Dr Gupta but hed ignored requests to present himself for questioning, Raipur SSP Arif Sheikh said.

The state government had on February 15 set up a committee headed by Special Secretary A.P. Tripathi which included Joint Secretary Priyanka Shukla and Additional Director Ratna Ajgale. The committee, in its 18-page report, elaborated on irregularities like unapproved expenditure of several crores, overspending and submission of false audit reports.

The committee was set up after Dr. Gupta’s successor, Dr. K.K. Sahare, had brought the scandal to the government’s notice and lodged a complaint with the police for alleged fraud of over Rs 50 crore. Dr Gupta resigned after his father-in-law was voted out in last November’s assembly elections.

Sahare had also reported violation of several rules in the appointment of unqualified persons and that evidence of several financial deals had been concealed. Dr. Gupta has been avoiding the media after the committee found him guilty.

Dr. Gupta had secured loans from the banks on the basis of detailed project reports (DPRs) that didn’t have government approval. The chartered accountancy firm he said he asked to conduct the audit subsequently denied having been engaged for the job.

Dr. Gupta had earlier resigned from the government service in 2012. The Raman Singh government re-employed him in 2014 and glossed over the two-year absence to ensure continuity in his employment. The state chapter of Indian Medical Council has also suggested against action him. The Congress has demanded his passport be impounded.

Dr Gupta is also facing charges in the Antagarh tapes case in which former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, his son Amit Jogi and former PWD Minister Rajesh Munat were allegedly involved in bribing the Congress candidate Manturam Pawar to lose the by-election against BJP’s Bhojraj Nag in 2014. Pawar withdrew from the contest at the last minute.

In 2015-16, an audio tape revealed that the Antagarh assembly bypoll was fixed and the state Congress unit, headed by Bhupesh Baghel, now the Chief Minister, had expelled Amit Jogi from the party. The audio tapes contained alleged conversations between Ajit Jogi, Amit, Dr Puneet Gupta, Pawar and former Jogi loyalists Firoz Siddiqui and Ameen Memon, to “fix” the by-poll. The inquiry in the matter is still continuing.