HC orders CBI probe into MNREGS in UP

Agency to check misappropriation of funds

In a decision that could have far reaching consequences and one that could land officers and bureaucrats in trouble, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Friday ordered a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Centre’s flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS).

A division bench comprising Justice D P Singh and Justice Ashok Pal Singh passed the order on the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a scribe Sachidanand Gupta seeking a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities.

The court said in the first phase, the CBI will probe the abuse and misappropriation of fund as well as the abuse of power under MNREGS with regard to seven districts, that included Balrampur, Gonda, Mahoba, Sonbhadra, Sant Kabir Nagar, Mirzapur and  Kushinagar in the years 2007 to 2010 with appropriate action and prosecution in accordance with law.

It said other districts will be taken up at a later stage. It also directed the state government to consider for establishment of multi-member State Quality Monitor at district and state level to supervise utilisation of fund under MNREGS till the centre framed appropriate rules, regulations or issue appropriate order keeping in view the observation made in the body of judgment.

The court observed that there was prima facie evidence that reveals startling facts with regard to misappropriation of fund allocated under MNREGA ‘right from lowest echelon of the elected representative, i.e. pradhan, gram sabha members to the higher bureaucracy in a well netted collusive manner’.

The court referred to the Union Minister Jairam Ramesh’s correspondence with the state government in which he had sought a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities.There were allegations that large-scale payment had been done to non-existing firms besides making payment on the basis of fictitious roll. 

“Members of Block Development Committee were working as contractor making fictitious signatures on the muster roll for misappropriation of fund under MGNREGA,” it observed.  The court also said despite there being sufficient material, the state government had not taken any action in the matter.

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