In a major setback to the state government the Lucknow bench of the high court on Tuesday ordered a CBI investigation in financial bungling in the funds of national rural health mission (NRHM) in the entire state. The court has also directed the central probe agency to complete the investigation within four months.
Announcing the verdict the two-member bench of Justice Pradeep Kant and Justice Rita Raj Awasthi directed the CBI to make preliminary enquiries into the implementation of NRHM and utilization of funds at various levels in UP and to register regular cases against whom prima facie cognizable offence was made. As per the court order, CBI would conduct probe from 2005-06 till date.
The court said that documents highlighted the irregularities in NRHM, which led to the resignation of two ministers. The resignation of ministers underlined the adverse state of affairs in the implementation of NRHM of which the ministers were conscious, the court said.
After the NRHM scam snowballed into major crisis, the government had handed over the audit of NRHM to comptroller and auditor general (CAG). But the bench agreed to the suggestion of the additional solicitor general that it was not necessary for the court to wait for the CAG report as the scope of CAG and CBI were completely different. The court said, "with the kind of irregularities appear to have been committed in the matter coupled with the fact that attempt was made to wash of some evidence, the exigencies of time require that immediate steps be taken to bring to light the persons guilty".
The court rejected the plea of the state government to wait for the CAG report before handing over the case to the CBI.
Sachidanand and Jagdish Narain Shukla had filed the public interest litigation seeking CBI probe.
The court, while delivering the verdict had also taken note of murder of chief medical officers Dr VK Arya and Dr BP Singh and death of deputy CMO Dr YS Sachan in jail and financial irregularities committed in the office of CMO Lucknow.
The court said these developments were also connected with irregularities in NRHM. The CBI has been probing into bungling in NRHM in Lucknow. The court said it was painful to see that a scheme meant for providing quality health services had taken the lives of three CMOs and funds had been misutilised by public functionaries apparently in collusion with private stakeholders.
While asking the central government to provide full support to the CBI, the court has directed the state government to hand over all the records and extend full support and cooperation.
The court said that despite detection of irregularities till date no FIR, except in case of Lucknow, was filed. "Till the court took the cognizance no effort was made by the state government to take any action either departmentally or criminal against the erring persons, which shows their complete reluctance to identify the erring persons”, the court noted.