The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court pulled up Beed collector on Wednesday as he failed to hold a detailed inquiry into the alleged siphoning of over Rs 20 crore from the public exchequer. However, the bench has granted 10 days times to the collector to explain his conduct.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Ravindra Ghuge sought his response as to why he shouldn’t be prosecuted for contempt of court. The bench has ordered the collector to explain his “lack of solitude for the rule of law” and why he didn’t conduct an enquiry.
The judges were hearing a PIL filed by Rajkumar Deshmukh, claiming that the state has shown several amounts spent for sinking wells, constructing roads and canals. However, not a single farmer or resident has been actually paid the money.
The PIL even alleged that the authorities have shown the names of dead persons as beneficiaries, who have received amounts from the state under the Mahatma Gandhi Rashtriya Gramin Rozgar Hami Yojana), which prohibits cash transactions. The PIL, however, claimed that the official records show that payments to the beneficiaries of the scheme have been made through cash transactions.
These include, amounts released from the state and Union government for these works between 2011 to 2019, and also a record of the projects for which these funds have been used.
The bench had even asked the collector to ascertain if funds meant for the MNREGA scheme have been diverted to any other scheme. A further point put forth is to check as to how many people have been employed for all these works and what amounts are they paid to carry out the constructions.
The judges had also asked the collector to ascertain if any social audit of these expenditures was done. The enquiry report was supposed to be submitted by April 6, 2021, however, the report wasn't filed till Wednesday when the matter was called out for hearing. The collector filed an affidavit stating that he has appointed a five member enquiry committee in March.
The bench pulled up the collector saying, “Prima facie, we are of the opinion that the incumbent Collector has exhibited an extreme lack of solitude for the rule of law and conducted himself in a manner not befitting the responsible office he holds. Having regard to his conduct, the matter needs to be dealt with appropriately under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.”