Perturbed over the failure of the vigilance bureau (VB) to register an FIR against state welfare department officials for allegedly demanding bribe for releasing Rs. 90 lakh scholarship meant for commercial pilot training of four Dalit students, the Punjab State Commission for Scheduled Castes has directed the former to submit a status report in this regard within one month.
Speaking to HT, commission chairman Rajesh Bagha said that though the VB was asked to register an FIR against the officials concerned and to submit a status report on investigations into the case within three months, but the directions have not been complied with till date.
"We have issued a fresh notice to the VB's chief director to comply with the commission's previous orders within one month so that corrupt officials in the welfare department could be punished. The issue of scholarships not reaching the beneficiaries had already been raised during the recent assembly session. This is a serious issue as it has a direct bearing on the future of Dalit students' socio-economic growth," he said.
Bagha said that Prabhjot Singh of Ferozepur Khurd village in Pathankot and Manoj Kumar of Chehrata in Amritsar, in their complaint to the commission, alleged that though the central government had released Rs. 90 lakh under post-matric scholarship scheme to four SC students for undertaking commercial pilot training over three years back, but the welfare department officials had been demanding bribe to release the same.
The students, belonging to financially poor families, were made to suffer humiliation and harassment by the department for obvious reasons, the commission noted.
Taking up the students' plea, the panel on July 9, 2010 asked department's director to appear before it after two weeks along with their explanation and detailed information on central government sponsored schemes. During first hearing, then deputy director informed that a proposal worth Rs. 90 lakh had been submitted to the central government while they were yet to receive funds. He, however, failed to provide details of the central scheme. The department failed to cooperate with the commission in its probe about students' complaint.
Daleep Singh Pandhi, commission member, investigated the case and foundd several irregularities on the department's part in this regard, Bagha added.
Bagha said that welfare department, on December 29, 2010, informed the commission that additional director was conducting an inquiry into this case and inquiry report would be submitted after completion of inquiry. "Even after nearly two years, we have not received any report," he claimed
Pandhi, in his July 8, 2010, note maintained that Rs. 90 lakh scholarship had already been received by the welfare department in August 2009, but was not released to beneficiaries.
Vigilance bureau chief director Suresh Arora was not available for comments.