Ten missing biscuit boxes haunt woman official for 18 yrs

A CAT bench of Justice P Swaroop Reddy and member Veena Chhotray laid to rest the ghost of the missing biscuit boxes by scrapping Delhi government's July 2000 memorandum to its Social Welfare Department official Rajbala Sharma accusing her of misappropriating the food items  meant for poor children in 1993 while working as Anganwadi supervisor.

The memorandum, while seeking her reply as to why a departmental probe against her should not be instituted, also proposed two major penalties against her.

Though the city government never completed the probe, it withheld her promotion since 2001, prompting her to make repeated representation to the government till 2008.

Sharma contended that she cannot be denied promotion on grounds of the probe, which has been kept pending for so long.

Acceding to Sharma's contention, the CAT quashed the government's memorandum against her "on account of abnormal and unexplained delay" in initiating the probe against her seven years after the incident involving the biscuit boxes and not completing the same in next ten years. It noted that the charge was 'trivial'.

"This incident has taken place in 1993 and the charge sheet was issued after seven years in 2000.  Now, we are in 2011. Eleven years have elapsed but the inquiry is still pending," said the CAT.

Quashing the charge memo against the woman officer, it also pointed out, "The charge is trivial as there is discrepancy of only 10 box of biscuits, the value of which is not available but it would not be substantial."

The Delhi government charge memo, issued against Sharma, said that "while posted and functioning as Anganwadi Supervisor, ICDS, Govindpur Projects, during 1993-94, she failed to maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty" as she showed in the stock register, receipt of 60 biscuit boxes, despite receiving only 50 of them as was evident from the fact that she changed the number 50 into 60 by overwriting in the register.

The charge memo against her also said she had sent only 50 boxes for distribution among children.

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