Voicing concern over alleged misappropriation of funds meant for rural job guarantee scheme in Orissa, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to expeditiously decide on a CBI probe into the matter.
A bench headed by chief Justice S H Kapadia made it clear that if the Centre fails to take a decision within four weeks, the court would step in.
"We are informed by Additional Solicitor General (Indira Jaising) that the government is considering to approach the CBI for conducting the probe. For that purpose, we are giving four weeks time to the Centre.
"We make it clear that if the Centre does not take any decision, we would step in," the bench said.
The bench said the reports show that there is massive misappropriation of funds to the tune of 88% in some districts of the state.
"Reports of CAG as well as of National Institute of Rural Development NIRD shows misappropriation of funds allegedly by officials and functionaries of the implementation agencies, resulting in diversion of funds of honest tax payers of the nation."
The court issued the directions, while hearing a public interest lawsuit filed in 2007 by an NGO, Centre for Environment and Food Security, alleging large-scale corruption in the implementation of the programme for rural job under Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
Based on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in 2005, the scheme provides for legally-guaranteed 100 days of employment to at least one member of each rural household. The apex court had on December 16 last, while hearing the PIL, had indicted both the Union and the state governments for their failure in properly executing the rural job guarantee scheme and had asked them to explain as to why a CBI probe into the fund embezzlement should not be ordered.
"We are constrained to observe that the Union of India as well as the State of Orissa, prima facie, have failed to effectively and purposefully implement the provisions of the MNREG Act," the bench had observed.
"This has resulted in the deprivation of the entitled class from getting employment and receiving the allowances due to them in terms of the statutory guarantees available to them under the Act," it had said.
Seeking their response on ordering a CBI probe, it said, "We call upon both the Union of India and the State Government to show cause as to why there should not be a direction to the CBI to investigate this matter in accordance with law."
But the government apparently had done little to address the court's concern in last three month.