A day after Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Atmaram Parmar ordered a probe against Navsarjan Trust for alleged misuse of foreign funds, the NGO, which was one of the participants in the Dalit agitation in Gujarat, on Wednesday questioned his authority in initiating such an investigation.
Parmar had ordered the investigation after representatives from the Amreli unit of Dalit Adhikar Ladat Samiti approached the minister with a complaint signed by one Ravjibhai Madhad and six others who used to work for Navsarjan Trust.
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Madhad, a lawyer, had filed a complaint with Amreli city police on July 27 alleging that the director, the president and the trustees of Navsarjan had committed criminal breach of trust, forgery and criminal conspiracy by not paying him and the others a due of Rs 1.5 lakh each, and also misappropriating funds worth Rs 30 crore that it had received for rehabilitation of the Dalits after the 2001 earthquake in Kutch.
“After getting the complaint, I instructed the Amreli superintendent of police to get it (the matter) probed and register an FIR, if necessary,” Parmar told The Indian Express on Wednesday.
Executive director of Navsarjan Trust Manjula Pradeep said in a statement said that the NGO “welcomed any impartial inquiry”, but warned, “if nothing is proved in the inquiry, then the state government will have to face the consequences as the minister has gone on the record”.
“We wonder in what capacity the Social Justice and Empowerment Minister of Gujarat is making allegations because his Department is nowhere involved in any capacity on any of these matters,” she stated.
According to complainant Madhad, Navsarjan Trust raised funds from Swiss Development Corporation and other overseas agencies in 2000 for giving Rs 1.5 lakh each to its 250 employees as one-time financial assistance, besides salary.
The NGO, however, did not disburse the grant among its employees and instead decided to pay annual Rs17,000 interest to them. Madhad also alleged that no employee even received the interest dues.
The complaint stated that Madhad was an employee of Navsarjan Trust from 1997 to 2011. He was sacked by the NGO in 2011 after a dispute over salary and financial assistance worth Rs1.5 lakh.
When he was terminated from the NGO, he was district coordinator of Amreli. Along with Madhad, services of six other employees in Amreli were also terminated by the NGO.
The complaint further read that officers of the NGO used to ask Madhad sign on “blank papers”, which he suspected, were later used for misappropriating funds meant for its employees. He also alleged that the NGO indulged in corrupt practices in disbursing the money that it had raised to help the Dalits after the earthquake and thereby violated provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
When contacted, Madhad said: “Navsarjan paid Rs1.5 lakh each to 70 workers from districts like Rajkot, Vadodara and Surendranagar after they went on a hunger strike in 2007. But, when we demanded our funds, we were terminated.”
He said after Amreli police did not take any action on his complaint, he moved the Gujarat High Court on August 16, seeking direction to police to register an FIR on the basis of his complaint.
Disposing of the matter, a single judge bench of Justice Sonia Gokani had directed Amreli police on September 1 to decide if the information submitted by Madhad revealed any cognizable offence and intimate the applicant about the same.
Meanwhile, Amreli police said they would decide the matter shortly.
“We shall decide the matter within 24 hours. We have summoned the complainant for further information and to know if any offence is made out and if yes, of what nature,” S P Jagdish Patel said.