NCP on Thursday dubbed the clean chit given to Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde in the Rs 206 crore chikki “scam” by the ACB as an attempt by state government to “influence” the High Court proceedings in the case. Party spokesman Nawab Malik told reporters the final hearing in the rate contract or chikki “scam” will be held on January 7 before the Bombay HC.
“The petitioners will put forth their stand vigorously and NCP will also support them. The clean chit given to Pankaja Munde is an attempt by the government to influence the High Court proceedings,” Malik said. He said his party will demand a court-monitored probe in the case.
A PIL seeking an inquiry by a retired high court judge into the supply of ‘substandard’ chikki to students was filed before the HC last year after allegations were made against Munde. Malik also demanded a probe against Vinita Ved Singhal, Women and Child Welfare Secretary who was posted in the department after appointment of another bureaucrat Manisha Verma was cancelled.
“Singhal as ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) commissioner was responsible for alleged irregularities in the take home ration (THR) scheme. This shows how Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was encouraging corruption in the department,” he alleged.
Malik sought investigation of the bank accounts, ‘chikki’ (sweetmeat made with nuts and jaggery)) manufacturing units as well as audit reports of concerned contractors. The ‘chikki’ case pertained to alleged irregularities in awarding of contracts for purchase of snacks and other items worth Rs 206 crore for school children.
The minister was accused of flouting procedures in awarding contracts for supplying items like ‘chikki’, mats, notebooks and water filters for school children. Right from the start, Munde had rubbished the charges and said she was prepared for any inquiry.