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Scholarship scam: Despite Capt’s objections, Centre constitutes 3-member probe panel

The communication states that the ministry has received a number of complaints regarding misappropriation of funds. It adds that considering the seriousness of the matter, it has been decided to constitute a three-member committee.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh | September 8, 2020 11:59:58 am
punjab, punjab scholarship scam, amarinder singh, captain on scholarship scam, indian expressPunjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. (File Photo)

Even though Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has objected to Centre ordering an inquiry into alleged multicrore Post Matric Scholarship Scam, the Centre has constituted a three-member committee to look into the scam and submit a report within a month.

The Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot has assigned Kalyani Chadda, Joint Secretary, Scheduled Castes Division-B, as the chairman of the committee, S S Meena, Joint Secretary (Administration) and Prakash Tamrakar, Director , Integrated Finance Division of Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, as members of the inquiry committee.

Centre vs state over ‘scam’

Centre’s probe into the scholarship scam comes despite Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh losing no time in asking his Chief Secretary to probe allegations against his minister. Amarinder even called Centre’s move an attack on the federal structure. But that has not made the Union government, which claims to have received a number of complaints, pull back its punches.

The panel has been asked to give its report within a month. The communication states that the ministry has received a number of complaints regarding misappropriation of funds. It adds that considering the seriousness of the matter, it has been decided to constitute a three-member committee. The committee will examine the various allegations of payments made to private institutions and other misappropriations as per the report submitted by Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Welfare, to Chief Secretary , Punjab. The committee will recommend the further course of action. The committee has been asked to submit the report at the earliest, but not later than four weeks.

Amarinder had earlier objected to Gehlot’s decision of ordering an inquiry and called it “an infringement on rights of the state and federalism.” He had stated that he had already directed the Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to look into the case and submit a report.

Additional Chief Secretary Kripa Shankar Saroj had, in a report to Mahajan, levelled allegations against his minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot that a scam of Rs 63.91 crore had come to light in the Centre’s scheme. He had said that while records pertaining to Rs 39 crore were missing, an amount of Rs 16.91 crore was paid to such institutions against whom the audit team had recommended a recovery of Rs 8 crore, this costing the state exchequer Rs 24.91 crore.

The opposition has been demanding removal of the minister from the Cabinet while Amarinder has stated that Dharamsot deserves a “fair inquiry.” Dharamsot has since denied the allegations. He has counter-alleged that his departmental secretary had an axe to grind against him as he was not posting his choice of officers in the department.

The Chief Secretary has also assigned an inquiry to three IAS officers including Jaspal Singh, KAP Sinha and Vivek Pratap Singh. The trio was given three days time to submit their report but given the enormity of documents they would have to go through they have sought more time to complete the probe.

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