The Secret Service Fund (SSF) is definitely misused. When there is so much discrepancy in audited funds like the Commonwealth Games, what can one expect from funds that are completely un-audited? The chances of misuse and misappropriation are definitely much greater when funds are not subject to the usual audit and scrutiny processes.
Such instances of misuse and misappropriation are more in RAW, in IB, and even in the police set up. In Jharkhand, I have heard of such funds being misused for political reasons.
Again, much more attention is focused on SSF money given to intelligence agencies, police, and other arms of law enforcement, but what about the SSF money that goes to officials in civil administration and departments. This is something the public is completely in the dark about and I am speaking from my policing experience in Uttar Pradesh. But that does not mean that the DM or SP or anyone has the authority or prerogative to misuse it.
In one of my assignments when I was in the BSF, when I took charge of the account books on the SSF, I strongly felt that the way expenses were shown by my predecessor were highly suspicious and way out of how and what it should have been.
In the past, serious allegations have been raised and instances have been cited about misuse of SSF by RAW. Funds given to intelligence agencies are generally not audited.
That is why there has been a suggestion from responsible quarters that the money given for such purposes should also be audited. In many western countries, these funds are audited.
When one has to undertake a secret operation, which is usually undertaken by the police or intelligence agencies, there is a need to pay the informer or source who has been planted inside an organisation, one cannot do it under any known existing head, the SSF is meant to serve that purpose.
It is done quietly, and moreover, certain expenses have to be incurred by the station house officer in a police station or the SP at the district level, amounts which cannot be shown under any known head.
This is when the SSF account head is used. But since it is not audited, there is a strong temptation to misuse it.
While admitting that misuse of these funds has been going on since long, the degree and intensity of misuse in earlier years was much less that no one really bothered. But now, it has become part of an institutionalised process with the growing economy and skyrocketing corruption. Even in the case of audited funds, misuse has taken a quantum jump. Look at defence purchases, it runs into hundreds of crores.
SSF misuse is one of the manifestations of the bigger malaise of corruption which has been compounded by the lack of commitment on part of the government to take it head-on or be strict with it.
If things move like this, the problem will only grow in the days to come. It is also another manifestation of the misuse of secret agencies. Anti corruption agencies, vigilance agencies… there is total lack of effort on part of government to strengthen such agencies.
As told to Sanjib Kr Baruah.