In a change of stance, the Haryana government has decided to defer the reference for a CBI probe into the allotment of `18.04-crore work orders for installing galvalume roofing sheets on warehouses to an Ahmedabad-based company, M/s Proflex Systems, by Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka during his tenure as managing director, Haryana State Warehousing Corporation (HSWC) in 2009. Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had last month given his nod for a CBI probe.
Additional chief secretary, home, PK Gupta, told HT that the reference for a CBI investigation has been held back in light of a special audit by comptroller and auditor general (CAG) sought by the state government in the same matter.
While there cannot be an equivalence in the CAG audit and a CBI investigation which is basically a police probe to fix the criminal liability, the state government has decided to put off the reference for the CBI probe due to several reasons.
Since there are reports that the chief minister himself had approved use of galvalume roofing sheets for the warehouses of food and supplies department, his aides are concerned over the fact that a CBI probe will expose the CM and his aides to questioning by the central agency.
"Purchase of galvalume roofing sheets in HSWC by allegedly keeping the board of directors in the dark and the approval granted by the CM for installing galvalume in the warehouses of food and supplies department are two separate issues. The irregularities committed by HSWC in the purchase of galvalume roofing sheets cannot be justified by the approval given by the chief minister for installation of galvalume in food and supplies department warehouses,'' said an official.
The government, however, seems to have gone for a safer option by putting off the reference for a CBI probe and giving precedence to the findings of the yet to begin special audit.
The agriculture department in a 2013 communication to the chief secretary had cited irregularities in the tendering process for galvalume roofing sheets by the HSWC under Khemka. The department, which had prima facie found truth in the allegations, had recommended a probe by the state vigilance bureau into the matter. However, chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda opted for a probe by the central investigating agency.
Recommending a vigilance probe, principal secretary, agriculture (PSA), Roshan Lal, in a November 18, 2013 communication to chief secretary had said there appears to be a lot of weight in the allegations made by the complainant.
"Khemka as MD of HSWC took the board of directors (BoD) for granted by keeping it in dark about the introduction of a new technology - galvalume roofing sheets, a major policy decision requiring the prior approval of the board.Tendering process was vitiated once the specifications mentioned in the tender notice were changed after the pre-bid meeting. No cost analysis based on market survey was done to ascertain whether the rate of `1,127 per square metre was lowest or not,'' the communication said. The modus operandi of giving repeat orders worth crores to Proflex without inviting fresh tenders for discovering latest market rates is also against established norms of tendering, it said.
"It rather points to a criminal nexus between Khemka, HSWC executive engineer Vaneet Chawla and Proflex. Prima facie this points to a scam in the allotment of repeat work orders to the same party for extraneous considerations,'' the communiqué read.