Punjab Health Minister Vijay Singla and his officer on special duty were arrested on Tuesday for demanding Rs 1.16-crore bribe from construction projects and a 1% commission in future contracts, according to the first information report, PTI reported.
Singla, who was sworn-in just two months ago after the Aam Aadmi Party won the Assembly polls, was sacked on Tuesday afternoon by Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann. The chief minister had asserted that his government has zero tolerance to corruption.
The complaint against Singla was made by Superintending Engineer Rajinder Singh, who is posted at Punjab Health System Corporation on deputation.
According to the first information report, Pradeep Kumar, Singla’s officer on special duty, sought money from Singh for allotting construction projects worth Rs 41 crore.
Singla told Singh to follow Kumar’s orders, the first information report alleged. Kumar also phoned Singh to ask for the money.
On May 20, Singh was asked to pay Rs 20 lakh as a part of the bribe. To avoid mental harassment, Singh paid Rs 5 lakh on May 23 after Kumar had threatened to end his career, according to the first information report.
Singh claimed to have an audio recording of the conversation that took place on the day of the transaction.
Based on the complaint, the police registered a first information report at 11.38 am on Tuesday against Singla under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, The Indian Express reported. Mann had released a video announcing Singla’s removal from the Cabinet at 12.55 pm.
The chief minister had also claimed that Singla has admitted to the wrongdoings.
After being produced in court later on Tuesday, Singla told reporters that the allegation against him “was a conspiracy hatched to defame the Bhagwant Mann government in the state”.
Singla was sent to police custody till May 27.