THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court Monday stayed a trial court court order summoning Haryana-cadre IAS Officer Mona A Sreenivas, currently posted as Director of Election Commission of India in Delhi, as an additional accused in an alleged case of embezzlement of funds by government officers in Kaithal in 2012.
“Further proceedings against the petitioner, on the basis of impugned order dated July 4, 2019 shall remain stayed,” Justice Shekher Dhawan said in an order, while issuing notice to the Haryana government for October 16.
Senior Advocate Jasjit Singh Bedi, appearing on behalf of Sreenivas, argued that she was a prosecution witness in the case registered in April 2012 and her statement has also been recorded in the trial, adding that it was on her complaint only that the inquiry was conducted and an audit was ordered which disclosed the scandal. The court was told that Sreenivas was working as public servant when the crime took place and no sanction for prosecution has been obtained from the State. She had been earlier found innocent in the investigation.
According to the case details, Inderjeet Singh, an accountant with District Rural Development Authority, Kaithal under the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) scheme, was found to have committed forgery in various signed cheques between October 2008 and April 2012 and withdrawn excess amount as against the amount shown in the cash book and vouchers.
Inderjeet Singh would allegedly increase the amount in words and figures after Sreenivas, who was incharge of the scheme as Chief Executive Officer of the Zila Parishad and also the Drawing and Disbursing Authority, had signed on the cheques. In at least 11 cheques, an amount of Rs 77,80,000 was withdrawn within a period of two months by making forgery in the cheques, as per the police probe.
Sreenivas, who was Additional Deputy Commissioner Kaithal between June 2011 and November 2011, in the plea said that the voucher and cash book figures tally with the cheque amount before forgery in five out of 10 disputed transactions. “As far as the five remaining cheques are concerned, the corresponding vouchers and cash book entries have been destroyed by the main accused,” read the plea, adding all the 21 prosecution witnesses have been examined in the case and summoning her at such delayed stage is bad in the eyes of law.
The trial court order of July 4 reveals that then DSP Tekan Raj, who was an investigating officer in the case and has also been summoned as an additional accused now, had allegedly conspired with Sreenivas to save her from prosecution.
The lower court while summoning Sreenivas in the order passed on July 4 said, “A vacant space was left where the account was to be written in words and figures and amount was increased by making addition in the left over vacant space in the said cheques. But, concerned DDO signed the said cheques ignoring vacant space in cheques, for withdrawal of government money for various schemes”.
It added that DDO had “facilitated” the accused Inderjeet Singh to forge the cheques.