Multi crore PHE scam: HC seeks report

Excelsior Correspondent
SRINAGAR, May 24: High Court has directed the Government to inform the Court whether the drinking water has been provided to the people under the scheme in which crores of rupees have been misappropriated by the officials of Public Health Engineering (PHE) department.
Hearing Public Interest Litigation about much publicized multi-crore scam in PHE division Handwara in which various employees from the rank of Executive Engineer to Junior Engineer are under suspension and facing trial, Court sought information with regard to supply of drinking water to the residents of district Handwara.
Court has been informed by the petitioner counsel that approximately Rs 45 crores of money has been swindled, which the authorities have also admitted in their reply. He further added that the money was meant for the scheme launched to provide the drinking water to the people of Handwara Division and its adjoining hilly areas.
Division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey directed the State respondents to file the status report by next date indicating as to whether drinking water has been provided to the people for which the scheme (NRDWP) was launched or not.
Court asked the State Counsel that apart from criminal action against the erring officials, has any departmental action been taken against them or not. The State Counsel submitted that 26 employees are involved in the scam and various officials have been suspended till further orders.
Court earlier warned the authorities of Irrigation and Flood Control (PHE) department to expedite and conclude the departmental enquiry in much publicized multi-crore scam or face action.
The multi-crore embezzlement of public exchequer was unearthed in PHE department of Handwara Division way back in the year 2014 and immediately a PIL was filed before the court seeking probe into the scam and brought under book the erring officials.
Apart from investigation conducted by the Crime Branch in the scam, Commissioner/ Secretary to Government, Irrigation and Flood Control and PHE Department was earlier directed to report the court about the departmental enquiry initiated against the delinquent officials involved in the scam.
Investigation conducted by the Crime Branch has been completed and resulted into filing of final report before the competent court of law for initiation of proceedings against the wrongdoers in accordance with law.
Court earlier had directed Senior Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch Srinagar, to file status about the investigation of case FIR no. 91/2014 which was firstly registered at Police Station Handwara and thereafter transferred to Crime Branch, Srinagar.
In compliance of earlier court directions, the department of Public Health Engineering has placed its 16 officials  from the rank of Executive Engineer to Junior Engineer under suspension as they were found involved in irregularities and embezzlement of crores of rupees NRDWP scandal.
The suspension order of these officers added that the matter being of utmost public importance and Division Bench of High Court is very closely monitoring this aspect on regular basis.
“These officers have remained posted in the division, so their role needs to be enquired into and necessitate their detachment from the active duties by invoking of Rule 31 J&K CSR for a fair and impartial enquiry”, suspension order further read.
Authorities in pursuance of the rules due to pendency of enquiry against them has placed these officials under suspension with immediate effect and attached them CE I&FC.
In this connection records seized by the CB has been sent to the forensic science laboratory to seek the scientific opinion regarding involvement of accused persons in the scam.