Chhattisgarh HC asks CBI to probe 15 officers for embezzlement

Gargi Verma
Chhattisgarh HC, Chhattisgarh officers held for embezzlement, Chhattisgarh corruption case, Chhattisgarh government officers corruption case, Indian express

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The Chhattisgarh High Court on Thursday asked the CBI to lodge an FIR and investigate allegations of corruption against 15 senior government officers. The officers, including two former chief secretaries, have been accused of forming fake government departments and withdrawing salaries of non-existing employees.

The order by Justices Parth Prateem Sahu and Prashant Kumar Mishra, which came on a petition by Raipur resident Kundan Singh Thakur that was converted into a PIL by the High Court in 2018, observed that “startling and disturbing facts” regarding alleged corruption and embezzlement of funds to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore during 2004-2018 were brought forth by the petitioner.

The 15 officers include former Chief Secretaries Vivek Dhand and Sunil Kujur, Principal Secretary and Chairman of Chhattisgarh Professional Examination Board Alok Shukla, Chief Information Commissioner M K Raut, and senior officers Satish Pandey and P P Soti. Principal Secretary B L Agarwal, who was arrested in 2017 over corruption charges, is also named. Five employees of the Social Welfare Department, including Additional Director M L Pandey and Deputy Director Pankaj Verma, are among the 15. Rajesh Tiwari, who is now Director, Finance, and Ashok Tiwari were named as directors of the society through which the funds were embezzled, the petition said.

The petitioner was employed at a government self-help centre on contract basis when he found out that he was also shown to be employed at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre (PRRC) under the Social Welfare Department. PRRC, which claims to have been involved in the construction of artificial limbs for persons with disabilities, does not exist, according to the petition. The petition attached several documents to show budgetary provision and release of amount for establishment of PRRC in Raipur district.

The society, named Rajya Shrot Nishakt Jan Samman, was operating the bank accounts for PRRC through the State Resource Centre (SRC) under the Social Welfare Department. “SRC established in 2004 is a society under the provisions of the Chhattisgarh Society Registrikaran Adhiniyam, 1973 but has never been audited since,” the petition said.

“People hired on contract basis for other departments like education, GATLAB, etc were shown to be employees at the PRRC. They were not given any e-codes, and the salary was given in cash from the accounts of a society chaired by the 15 senior government officers,” the petitioner’s counsel Devarshi Thakur said.

The CBI has been asked to seize all relevant documents from the social welfare department within 15 days, the court order said.

Advocate General Satish Verma, who represented the state government, said, “This is the previous government’s corrupt practices. We have put forth our points. We are cooperating. It is sad that the High Court, instead of giving us a chance to investigate, handed over the case to CBI.”

The court noted that “the report along with submission memo of the respondent/State partially admits to certain financial irregularities” but “no serious attempt has been made to unearth and find out as to who has siphoned the amount.”