Friday, July 10, 2009

Over Rs 14 cr missing in name of Naxal war in Jharkhand

Manoj Prasad
Tags : Naxal war, Jharkhand, Secret Service fund

Posted: Friday , Jul 10, 2009 at 0926 hrs

In Naxal-hit Jharkhand, the first stop for 20 Union Secretaries working on a counter-Naxal strategy and where President’s Rule was extended for six months last week, the withdrawal of over Rs 14 crore Secret Service funds by Director General of Police V D Ram and other officials has been questioned by the office of the Accountant General which has called for an investigation saying rules were not followed and “the possibility of fraud, embezzlement and misappropriation of government funds cannot be ruled out”.

In one instance, DGP Ram withdrew Rs 5.60 crore in cash from the Secretariat branch of the State Bank of India on March 16, 2006 — a fortnight before he gave the withdrawal and disbursal power to the Additional DGP.

With the AG raising objections, Chief Secretary A K Basu has written to Ram: “DAG has raised certain objections regarding non-observance of provisions of Special Branch Manual and Bihar Financial Rules regarding Secret Service Expenditure. The objections are very serious in nature and it needs to be examined thoroughly. Please send a detailed up-to-date report regarding the steps taken by you in this matter so that further course of action can be decided upon.”

Money from the SS fund, according to Rule 4 of the Special Branch Manual (SBM), was to go to “informers who have given or are likely to give useful information of a secret nature, and whose identity must not be disclosed.” Jharkhand is one of the states worst hit by Naxal violence with large swathes under the control of ultra-Left extremists who regularly target police, politicians and the railways.

Although the SBM states that the Secret Service Expenditure (SSE) account is not subject to scrutiny by an audit authority, the Bihar Financial Rules (BFR), which still apply in Jharkhand, make it clear that “in respect of each officer authorized to incur secret service expenditure, Government will nominate a controlling officer who should conduct at least once in every financial year, a sufficiently real administrative audit of the expenditure incurred and furnish a certificate to the Accountant General”.

Copies of official documents in possession of The Indian Express show that the following withdrawals were made from the treasuries:

• July 2005: Rs 2.60 crore vide voucher no. 0092 from Doranda.

• March 2006: Rs 5.60 crore vide voucher no. 0025 from Secretariat.

• May 2006: Rs 60 lakh vide voucher no. 0080 from Doranda.

• June 2006: Rs 88.50 lakh vide voucher no. 0061from Doranda.

• May 2007: Rs 1 crore vide voucher no. 0082 from Doranda.

• September 2007: Rs 1 crore vide voucher no. 0044 from Doranda.

• March 2008: Rs 2.50 crore vide voucher no. 0021 from Doranda.

• Total withdrawal: Rs 14,18,50,000.

For none of these withdrawals, documents mandated by law were submitted to the AG and the amounts have been placed in the “objection” category and are being treated as outstanding against the officer(s) who made the withdrawals.

AG Rakesh Kumar Verma was not available for comment but Deputy AG M Roy Malakar pointed out: “It is a matter of concern that in spite of reminders, the provisions of the Special Branch Manual and Bihar Financial Rules are not being followed by the police department and the requisite documents mandated by these rules and manual have not been furnished to this office.”

Jharkhand follows the Bihar practice where the withdrawal and disbursal officer of the SSE fund is the Additional DGP, Special Branch and the Chief Secretary conducts an administrative audit and furnishes a utilization certificate to the AG.

Chief Secretary Basu did not conduct an administrative audit nor furnish the utilization certificate. Plus DGP Ram withdrew Rs 5.60 crore in cash from the Secretariat branch of the SBI on March 16, 2006 — a fortnight before Ram gave ADGP G S Rath the withdrawal and disbursal power on April 1, 2006 though Rath had been on the post since August 21, 2005.

Given this backdrop, Malakar drew the attention of the state government, stating that in accordance with the BFRs “a sufficiently real administrative audit” of secret service funds should have been done and a certificate furnished to the AG.

“This was not done. In view of the huge amounts involved and the inordinate delay in submission of the requisite documents, the possibility of fraud, embezzlement and misappropriation of government funds cannot be ruled out. In view of the seriousness of the matter, it is requested that immediate action may be taken to investigate the matter and ensure that the rules governing the accounting of the secret service funds are followed scrupulously,” Malakar wrote to Basu on June 17.

When contacted, DGP Ram, a recipient of the President’s police medal for meritorious service and another for distinguished service, said the utilization certificate was not furnished because the state government had not nominated any controlling officer. “The state government has been requested to do the needful to ensure compliance of the administrative audit provision,” he said.


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