The Delhi High Court (HC) on Wednesday said the presence of large numbers of ghost employees in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi was headed towards a "fiscal disaster" and pointed to a "catastrophic maladministration".
This was after the Delhi Police, probing the scam, submitted there were roughly 48,000 of them at present and the loss caused to the exchequer runs into almost Rs 500 crore.
Najmi Waziri, the counsel representing the police told a Bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra: "There is a loss of Rs 99.33 crore every year and the same has been going on for five
He said the special investigating team found it difficult to conduct the probe as Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) gave varying figures of the total number of employees they should probe for searching the ghost staff.
"While the MCD said in May 2010 that there were a total 1,24,358 staff, their latest affidavit says the number is 1,43,216", he said.
MCD caused a stir in January too, this year, when it told police that the total number of ghost employees was 43,487 and not 29,680, as mentioned earlier.
Calling for an affidavit from MCD Commissioner by June 2 specifying exact number of staff in each of its department, the court said: "Ghost employees have emerged for the first time in a municipal body It is understandable if there were just one or two but when such large scale employees are put on roll and they do not exist it earns the status of a fiscal disaster and of catastrophic maladministration."
"Any corporation which deals with the public exchequer is accountable to the public, how it spends money and if the employees have really been engaged and performed their duties to earn their salaries," Justice Misra said.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation complaining that MCD paid salary to over 22,000 gardeners and sweepers who existed as employees only on paper.
The civic body maintains the issue was blown out of proportion and the discrepancy in attendance could be due to the new biometric attendance system.
The court handed over the probe to the police for a thorough investigation after being dissatisfied with the in-house probe report submitted by the MCD over the issue.