To find out the extent of irregularities in the public distribution system, the Bombay high court has sought original files pertaining to three ration shops in Pune.
Nearly 70% of the ration cards registered with the fair price shops were non-existent and they have allegedly defrauded the state exchequer by Rs13.56 crore by dealing in one commodity — kerosene.
A division bench of justice BH Marlapalle and justice UD Salvi also directed Pradeep Patil, district supply officer, Pune, to remain present in court on Friday.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Pune resident Jayprakash Unecha seeking prosecution of a few government officials, along with former minister of state for food and civil supplies, Rameshchandra Bang.
Mahendra Kavchale, counsel for the petitioner, submitted that without their active support and participation the fraud could not have been committed by owners of the three shops.
During a special drive in October 2008, the civil supplies department had conducted scrutiny of records by randomly selecting fair price shops.
The scrutiny revealed that the department never issued 1,871 out of the 2,794 ration cards registered with the three shops
Also, it was found that these shops had disbursed 35.70 lakh litre kerosene since 2000 and defrauded the state exchequer by Rs14.56 crore.
In October 2010, the licences of the shops were terminated and the civil supplies department initiated proceeding for recovery of the defalcated amount.
However, criminal proceedings were initiated against them in December 2010 only after Unecha moved the high court.