Supreme Court notice to state over 'misappropriation' of MNREGA funds

Supreme Court notice to state over 'misappropriation' of MNREGA funds

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Karnataka government on a plea for a CBI probe into allegations of corruption and misappropriation of over Rs 10 crore of MNREGA funds by the officials of the Watershed Development Department, Kollegal in Chamarajanagar district.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud sought response from the state government’s departments of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Agriculture, among others, on a special leave petition filed by Bengaluru-resident K N Somashekar.

The petitioner, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, contended that the investigation into allegation of misappropriation of public money of more than Rs 10 crores has been closed in a very manipulative manner allegedly by the then CEO of Zilla Panchayat.

He challenged the High Court of Karnataka’s order of March 24. The high court and the Lokayukta have accepted the enquiry report filed by the CEO, Zilla Panchayat favoring his own department, without proper instructions and authority for it, the petitioner claimed.

The petition also contended that the high court failed to appreciate that the Assistant Director of Agriculture inspected the office of the Taluk Agricultural Officer and found “culpable mismanagement, misappropriation and irregularities” in the implementation of the MNREGA scheme and non- maintenance of the cash book, though money has been drawn from the account from June 26, 2012, to November 7, 2012.

The Assistant Director of Agriculture was also brutally assaulted by a group of persons who were the supporters of the persons against whom the report was filed on November 17, 2012, the petitioner pointed out.

“The MGNREG scheme is made with some specific object to achieve the constitutional mandate and if the public money is allowed to be misappropriated and allegations of misappropriation is allowed to be closed in such a manner in active collusion of all the agencies of the government, the same will result in great injustice to general public,” it contended.

The petitioner also claimed an interim progress report filed by the ombudsman showed that 76% of the money has been spent from the MNREGA account for the purpose of purchasing materials.

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