The multi-crore Post-Matric SC Scholarship scam in which the name of Minister of Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot figures, resonated in the House with opposition MLAs demanding his resignation.
Raising the issue, AAP MLA Baldev Singh said it was sad a minister from the SC category was involved in the embezzlement of funds meant for SC students.
Lok Insaaf Party MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains said that he wanted to congratulate the Additional Chief Secretary of the department, Kripa Shankar Saroj, who indicted the minister of his own department in a probe.
Bains and his brother Balwinder Singh Bains later gathered in the well of the House and raised slogans against the minister and the government after they were not allowed to speak beyond a length of time by the Speaker, Rana K P Singh.
Speaking in his defence, Dharamsot said that the scholarship amount was audited by the finance department and the file related to it passed through several levels of officials, including the secretary of the department, before it came to him.
“The Chief Minister is sitting here. I am willing to face any inquiry,” he said.
The report by Saroj reveals a Rs 63.91 crore scam in the Post-Matric SC Scholarship scheme of the Centre.
In his report to Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan, submitted on August 21, Saroj has stated, “Under the PMS-SC scheme the GOI sent Rs 303 crore to Punjab during February -March 2019. Though the Directorate of Social Justice withdrew Rs 248 crore from the treasury, however, the department had then distributed this sum in an arbitrary manner. Significantly, records pertaining to Rs 39 crore are missing. Either this sum has been embezzled or paid to some ghost institutions.”
Further, he has stated, “Interestingly, Rs 16.91 crore was paid to such institutions against which the audit team had recommended a recovery of Rs 8 crore, thus costing the state exchequer Rs 24.91 crore. If the amount of recoveries which the audit team had concluded are added to this Rs 16.91 crore, then these officials had cost the exchequer to the tune of Rs 24.91 crore. The minister and his team of officers worked in tandem.”
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