Legislative council chairman on Saturday formed a House committee to probe into the infamous JAKFED scam worth over Rs. 1,000 crore, which once again rocked the Upper House with members alleging failure of the government to effect recovery from employees and others involved and take action against some top officers.
The issue was earlier raised by Congress legislator Naresh Kumar Gupta during the question hour in the Upper House on March 11. The issue was duly supported by NC legislators, too, who sought a discussion on the subject as it involved huge public money.
During the discussion, Gupta said, "All the committees to probe into the scam were mere eyewash; it is bigger than the 2G scam. The embezzlement in the department started in 1987-88, this scam now is more than Rs. 1,000 cr and it should be probed properly."
Other members, including Nazib Suhrwardhi, Jugal Kishore, Ravinder Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Monga and others demanded a house committee on the issue, whereas, Gupta pressed for a CBI enquiry into the alleged scam.
Cooperatives minister Manohar Lal Sharma, while responding to members' concern, admitted that a major scam took place much earlier before he took over as minister. He claimed that the scam was not of large dimension as projected by the member, and maintained that the state government being a major stakeholder intervened in the matter when it came to its notice.
"As many as 35 employees were terminated and 15 others suspended, the cases are still pending with vigilance, accountability commission and crime bureau," said Manohar Lal.
The government then appointed the then additional chief secretary, SL Sailova, and secretary to government, power in 1998 as fact-finding inquiry officers regarding embezzlement/ misappropriations committed in JAKFED. The officers submitted a report to the government on August 31, 2000, pointing out misappropriations and embezzlement of the government money against various government officers and employees to the tune of Rs. 299 core.
The member pointed out that the embezzlement took place from 1993 to 1995-96 and after adjustment of many pending bills etc, the scam was worked out to be just Rs. 300 crores. But it is unfortunate that recovery made was very less. Why recovery could not be made from the employees and others involved and why many top officers were left out and no action was taken against them? What was the problem in revealing the names of those officers in the House, asked the member.
On the recommendation of the Pillai Committee, a special audit committee was constituted and it submitted its report in 2002. It pointed out outstanding of Rs. 1145.87 lakh against 79 employees of JAKFED. Out of this imprest account worth Rs. 893.42 lakh were pending adjustments and no accounts had been submitted for remaining outstanding of Rs. 252.45 lakh.
The accounts at present show that Rs. 386.64 lakh has been adjusted against an outstanding amount of Rs. 893.42 lakh and Rs. 8.74 lakh has been adjusted against an outstanding amount of Rs. 252.45 lakh. Recovery worth Rs. 254 lakhs was also pending in respect of 18 cases of rice mills and from nine more employees worth Rs. 39 lakhs.
After a long discussion on the issue, the chairman formed a House committee to probe into the scam. However, the members of the committee are yet to be announced.