The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been asked to look into the misappropriation of the union government subsidy of `120 crore that was meant for compensating rice shellers for upgrading damaged PAU-201 paddy in the year 2009-10.
The Punjab and Haryana high court order for the CBI investigation was issued last Friday by justice Surinder Gupta. It was based on a bunch of petitions from the aggrieved rice shellers, including Manpreet Singh, that many rice millers of Bathinda, in connivance with officials of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and procurement agencies, had not used the compensation for upgrading the year 2009-10 rice but instead placed the PAU 201 with other varieties produced in the subsequent years to claim the subsidy dishonestly.
Justice Surinder Gupta marked the case to the CBI for preliminary enquiry at the first instance, ordering it to "register a case, if the allegations are prima-facie found to be made out, and then file final report as early as possible".
The court said that as the case related to the embezzlement of public money, an inquiry by the Punjab government agencies might not yield proper results, as many officers of the high rank were accused. Considering the gravity of the offence and in the interest of fair investigation, the court found it necessary to involve the CBI.
CBI counsel Sumeet Goel had submitted that initial investigation by the CBI after complaint had suggested substance in the allegations. The petitioners had sought preliminary inquiry against unidentified officials of Punjab's procurement agencies, the district food and supplies controller at Bathinda, and various rice millers and FCI officials.