Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed registration of a case under Prevention of Corruption Act and Ranbir Panel Code against former Executive Director of the State Social Welfare Board for misappropriation of funds meant for a Shelter Home for widows, children and victims of devastating 2005 earthquake.
The direction was passed a division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), having its roots in unauthorized shifting of Home—Swadhar Shelter Home— from Kralpora in northern Kupwara district to Chadoora in central Kashmir’s Budgam district and misappropriation of the funds to run the Home.
After registration of the case against former Social Welfare Officer, Dr. Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din, the bench directed that the investigation shall be entrusted to a senior officer in police station Vigilance Organisation.
“The results of investigation (shall be) placed before the competent court in accordance with law, preferably within three months from the date of receipt of copy of the order”.
The bench also directed the officer that an amount of Rs. 2.50 lakh be deposited with Swadhar Shelter Home Kralpora, Kupwara.
The amount was diverted by the officer in favour of a lady for purchasing three marlas of land at Chadoora Budgam along with a sum of Rs 50,000 in issuing a bearer cheque instead of a payees account cheque.
“Likewise, a sum of Rs 24,879 paid (vide a/c payee cheque on December 26 2008) be also deposited by him in the account of Swadhar Shelter Home,” the bench said in the judgment which it reserved for orders last month.
“Thus, a total sum of Rs.3,24,879 be deposited with interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum from the date of their misappropriation till the date of the deposit,” the bench said, directing that the needful shall be done within a period of 30 days.
The bench also directed government of India to continue to release funds in favour of State Social Welfare Board and Deputy Commissioner, Kupwara, to facilitate smooth running of Swadhar Shelter Home.
“We make it clear that the funds shall be released in accordance with rules on receipt of utilization certificates required under rules and till Swadhar Shelter Home scheme remains operational.”
The State Social Welfare Board in 2005 had mooted a proposal for setting up a Shelter Home for widows, children, earthquake victims at Kralpora, one of them worst hit areas of massive earthquake that hit the state in October 2005.
The proposal met approval of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Department of Women and Child Development, Government of India. On January 10, 2006 conveyed approval for setting up of Swadhar Shelter Home at Kupwara. An advance payment of Rs. 3,58,000 was released for a period of four months from December 2005 to March 2006. The Shelter Home was to house 50 women inmates.
The Home was accordingly set up and 44 women and children admitted in it. The Home was housed in a building owned by one Abdul Ahad Malik, resident of Kralpora, Kupwara.
However, the Executive Director allegedly shifted the Home from Kralpora to Chadoora and admitted about 37 children in the Shelter Home.
Only few inmates in the Shelter Home at Kralpora, Kupwara were allowed to stay in the Home at Chadoora. The other inmates including widows, earthquake victims and orphans, who were given shelter in the Home at Kralpora, were allegedly thrown out and left shelter-less.
The petitioner—Mohammad Yaseen Lone— moved High Court, filing the PIL with an assertion that the Shelter Home was unauthorisedly shifted by the officer to Chadoora and most of the inmates thrown out from it. The petitioner had also pleaded that only 5 children from Kupwara were accommodated in the Home at Chadoora and none of the beneficiaries of the Home at Kralpora, belonging to Karnah, Tangdar area allowed to enjoy the benefit of the Scheme.
Subsequently after perusal of replies by the Government of India and the social welfare officer, the High Court on May 30, 2011 directed authorities to restore the Shelter Home at Kralpora, so that its benefit are extended to the orphans and widows and earthquake victims of the area. Beside, the court had also directed the SVO to hold necessary investigation regarding mishandling of the funds in shifting of the Shelter Home from Kupwara to Budgam either by Dr. Gh. Mohi-ud-din on his own or with the assistance of any other accomplice in the Board or any other outsider.
While the Home was restored in Kupwara, the SVO also filed its inquiry report, prima facie establishing omission and commission on the part of the officer and others who have assisted him in the alleged misconduct.
The inquiry report, court observed, explicitly states that the misuse of office and misappropriation of funds amounts to the offence punishable under J&K Prevention of Corruption Act 1949 (Samvat 2006).