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Jharkhand HC pulls up Soren govt over claim of no starvation deaths in state

A bench of Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad was hearing a suo motu case after a letter was sent to the High Court on the death of three members of Bokaro family in a span of six months. At the last hearing, the court had asked the state to file an affidavit.

Written by Abhishek Angad | Ranchi |
Updated: December 5, 2020 1:30:55 am
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren. (File Photo)

The Jharkhand High Court on Friday took suo motu cognizance of The Indian Express investigation into the sprawling Pre-Matric Scholarship scam and asked the state to file a “detailed affidavit” in the matter.

The court had listed the matter after Ranchi-based lawyer Mohammad Shadab Ansari wrote to Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan asking the court to take cognizance of the findings of The Indian Express. The court turned the letter into a PIL, stating this was prima facie a “scandal”.

The investigation by The Indian Express had laid bare a nexus of middlemen, banking correspondents, school staff and government officials illegally diverting funds disbursed under the Centre’s pre-Matric scholarship for poor minority students.

The Indian Express investigated entries, district by district, on the National Scholarship Portal (NSP) and matched them with beneficiary bank accounts in the Public Finance Management System (PFMS) to find how a direct benefit transfer scheme was being derailed by corruption – despite checks like Aadhaar cards and fingerprints, and verification from school to state level.

On Friday, a Bench of Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice Surjit Narayan took note of the “detailed report published in The Indian Express” on the siphoning of money. Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan read out the headline of the report: “Many Ways to dupe a poor student: steal IDs, lie about source of funds, pocket most of it – all officially”, and said, “The Indian Express investigation is very exhaustive… It is a very serious matter and we want a detailed affidavit on this.”

Advocate General for the State of Jharkhand Rajeev Ranjan said he would have the affidavit filed. The matter will be heard again on December 18.

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