Says CBI inquiry necessary to recover Rs 63 crore and disburse them to genuine beneficiaries
Asks centre to intervene and disburse Rs 309 crore lying with SC Welfare ministry since ten months to Dalit students
Chandigarh, August 29, 2020: Union food processing industries minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal today requested Union social justice and empowerment minister Thawar Chand Gehlot to recommend a CBI inquiry into the Rs 63 crore SC scholarship scam engineered by Punjab Scheduled Caste and Backward Classes minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot.
In a letter to Mr Gehlot, the union food processing minister said a CBI inquiry was necessary to recover the funds which had been embezzled at the instance of the Minister so that they could be disbursed to the genuine beneficiaries. She also requested that since the Congress government had clearly failed to distribute the SC scholarship funds in a bonafide manner to the beneficiaries, the centre may take over this responsibility pending an inquiry into the case.
Mrs Harsimrat Badal while requesting the Social Justice and Empowerment minister to forward the case to the Home ministry for institution of a CBI inquiry, said aside from the criminal offence the scam amounted to committing an atrocity against the scheduled caste community of Punjab. She said the scamsters were also playing with the future of Dalit students of the state. “Moreover the issue has widespread ramifications and the scope of the scam could be much more than what has been revealed in the inquiry report”.
Giving details, Mrs Badal said minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot had been indicted his own Principal Secretary, who was an officer in the rank of Additional chief secretary, of presiding over an Rs 63.91 crore scam. She said as per the report Rs 39 crore was misappropriated as there was no official record of the same. She said the minister was also accused of disbursing Rs 24 crore to private educational institutions against whom the government had ordered recoveries.
Mrs Badal said this was not all. “As per the report the Minister also signed files bypassing departmental procedures and even objections by the Principal Secretary were removed from the file. “The senior bureaucrat has indicted the minister along with a deputy director in the case. The deputy director – Parminder Singh Gill was suspended last year also in connection with anomalies in the disbursement of the SC scholarship but his suspension was revoked at the instance of Mr Sadhu Singh Dharamsot”.
The Union minister also stated in the letter that recently minister Dharamsot had announced that he had not distributed Rs 309 crore received from the centre since ten months under the SC scholarship scheme. “It seems the minister wants to disburse this amount as per his whims and fancies and having been thwarted from doing so by the departmental head he is sitting on this money. This is leading to a prolonged suffering among SC students with thousands of them not being given their degrees by private colleges as their scholarship amounts have not been received by the latter. These funds should be disbursed to beneficiaries following central intervention”, Mrs Badal told the social justice and empowerment minister.
She also disclosed that though the scam had been brought to public light since some days the Punjab government had not taken any action in the matter. She said the report submitted by the Principal Secretary to the chief secretary stated that he had issued notices to the Deputy Director to explain his conduct and account for the illegalities but the latter did not get any reply for two months. “This indicates that the officer has the backing of the minister. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has demanded the dismissal of the minister as well a registration of a criminal case against him but the government is stonewalling all attempts at a free and fair probe into this scam”. She informed the minister that Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had also refused to take any action in this matter