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Supreme Court nod for CBI probe into alleged irregularities in NREGA

Saturday, 15 March 2014 - 7:00am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Giving a green signal to probe into allegations of financial irregularities in MGNREGS in seven districts of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed Uttar Pradesh government's plea challenging the Allahabad high court's January 31 order directing the premier agency to examine the corruption angle in the whole episode in seven districts.

A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and justice NV Ramana rejected the state government's argument that the police has registered 494 FIRs and chargesheets have been filed against more than 100 cases.

The court also rejected the argument that action against more than 700 officials has been taken and there was no need of CBI inquiry.

On January 31, a Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court had ordered for the CBI probe into allegations of financial irregularities in MGNREGS in seven districts of Uttar Pradesh.

Directing the CBI to file progress report every three months, the court said if the agency finds evidence of corruption in other districts during preliminary probe it can include in the report.

The seven districts under the scanner are Balrampur, Gonda, Mahoba, Sonbhadra, Sant Kabir Nagar, Mirzapur and Kushinagar. The agency has been told to probe anomalies between 2007-10 when the state was under BSP rule.

The high court had also asked the state government to establish multi-member state quality monitor at district and state levels to supervise utilisation of fund under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) till the Central government frames rules to check misuse of funds.

The court order came on a petition filed by a journalist Sachidanand Anand. As per the plea, the funds were released to seven districts between 2007-10. The biggest financial fraud to the tune of Rs250 crore was found in Sonbhadra in construction of check dams.

After warning from the Centre, then Mayawati government conducted inquiries and found that funds were embezzled. But instead of taking action against senior officers like CDOs, BDOs, programme directors, the government only acted against 50-odd junior level officers, the plea said.

Referring a statement of Union rural development minister asking then state government to order for CBI probe, the petitioner said, "Mayawati had rejected it saying a state government inquiry was underway."

After coming to power, the Samajwadi Party reopened Economic Offence Wing (EOW) inquiry in MGNREGS anomalies in seven districts, Anand contended.

In October 2013, Akhilesh Yadav also turned down the Centre's demand for CBI inquiry. In December, EOW submitted its preliminary report into NREGS anomalies in Mirzapur. The report indicted then DM and CDO of Mirzapur and recommended action against them, according to the PIL.

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