Lokayukta yet to move SC over scam in scheme for children

Lokayukta yet to move SC over scam in scheme for children

Lokayukta yet to move SC over scam in scheme for children

Though it has been two months after the High Court quashed a Lokayukta police case over supplying substandard food under the ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) scheme, the Lokayukta institution has not taken steps to file an appeal.

Despite the Home department asking for an opinion on filing Special Leave Petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court, the Lokayukta Legal Cell is silent on the issue.The Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) for Lokayukta police had recommended to file a SLP in the case on November 6, 2015.

The Lokayukta police had registered an FIR and conducted searches at 10 premises in March 2012. The food samples collected from anganwadi centres were sent for analysis to three different laboratories – Prestine Laboratories in Kodigehalli, Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) in Mysuru and National Institution of Nutrition in Hyderabad.

After investigation, the Lokayukta police had sought the sanction of prosecution against IAS Officer Dr Shamla Iqbal, who was the then director, Women and Child Development, ICDS joint director Usha Patwari and others, including the Chennai-based company - Cristy Friedgram Industries which had bagged the tender to supply nutritious food.

The High Court had quashed the FIR against the accused for procedural lapses on October 30, 2015. Within a week, the SPP had recommended for filing a SLP. For strange reasons the file is at the Registrar’s office. A senior Lokayukta official said it has to be finalised at the in-charge registrar’s office, since the registrar Lokayukta heads the committee for legal opinion.

“There is no Lokayukta at present and there is still confusion as to who is the senior most between the two Upalokayuktas – Justice Subhash B Adi and Justice N Ananda. The administrative powers rest with the senior most Upalokayukta when the Lokayukta is not there. Many such files are pending despite having two Upalokayuktas,” an official said.

Amidst this delay, Under Secretary to the Home Department has sought an opinion from the Lokayukta institution as well as from the SPP on moving an appeal against the High Court order. Sources in the Home Department said SPP Venkatesh P Dalawai on last Friday wrote to the Home department stating that his opinion has already been submitted to the office of the registrar Lokayukta and is pending.

Scheme and scam

The ICDS scheme aims at providing nutrition to children aged between six months to six years of age, expecting and lactating mothers, and adolescent girls. This means to provide nutritional food to 63,337 anganwadi centres recognised by the Department of Women and Child Development.

The Lokayukta police final report sent to the State government along with the request for sanction of prosecution stated that the food contained coliform bacteria and certain dangerous chemicals, harmful to expectant and lactating mothers.

The final report also quotes from another report submitted by the regional director of National Institute of Public Co-operation and Child Development, that insects and bacteria were also found in the food supplied by the company.