On Mahatma Gandhi’s 139th birth anniversary, allegations of corruption and mismanagement shroud the National Gandhi Museum in Delhi.
A scrutiny of the museum’s balance sheet as on March 31 last year by the office of the Director General of
Audit, Central Revenues, revealed that 1,487 books were missing from the museum’s library.
A voluntary organisation called the Apex Society of Legal Awareness has in a letter to the Prime Minister on September 28 demanded a probe by the CBI into complaints of financial and administrative irregularities as the museum.
Set up in 1959 opposite the Gandhi Samadhi at Rajghat, the museum is billed as the largest repository of Gandhian literature and artefacts anywhere in the world.
An autonomous body, the upkeep and running of the museum is funded the interest accruing from the Rs 10-crore corpus given as a grant-in-aid by the Ministry of Culture.
According to GL Verma, secretary of the voluntary organisation that has called for a CBI probe, the management has been violating all norms, including the Service Rules, Memorandum of Association and central government’s General Financial Rules.
Museum director Varsha Das however dismissed the charges as “baseless”, saying individuals “pursuing an agenda” were spreading “blatant lies” about the museum’s functioning.
The allegations however seem to be strengthened by the draft inspection report for 2006-07 conducted by the office of the Director General of Audit, Central Revenues.
“Provisions of GFR (General Financial Rules) have not been followed since the inception of the museum, though it was mentioned in the sanction that the grant-in-aid was subject to the conditions of the GFR — as amended from time to time,” the report says.
Gandhian scholar and the museum’s governing council member Y.P. Anand said, “Whatever the allegations, these must be inquired into,” Museum chairman Bimal Prasad refused to comment on the allegations.
The museum has been in the eye of a storm for over two decades. Demands that the institution be nationalised have been made from time to time.
Back in May 1986, the Justice PD Kudal Commission of Inquiry had said a museum of such supreme importance should not be kept in the hands of “such an inept management”.