The state government will look into the functioning of the NRI (non-resident Indian) Sabha, as its president, Jasbir Singh Gill, is alleged to have spent beyond limit and hired people without the chairman's mandatory sanction.
Chairman Anurag Verma, who is also excise and taxation commissioner, has issued guidelines that bar the sabha president from withdrawing more than `20,000 from the official account for any reason except paying the salary, telephone and electricity bills. Even clause 7(e) of the sabha's constitution states: "Officers and employees shall be appointed and removed by the chairman".
Gill not only removed some of the senior employees, including executive director Khushi Ram and finance director SP Gulati, but also recruited new staff, including two receptionists and a media officer.
Clause 7(f) of the sabha's constitution says that the body will have an executive director to assist the president and the executive body. Gill removed the executive director within a couple of months after his joining and is charged with changing the authorised signatories for operating the organisation's bank account.
HT found that on August 14, payment of Rs. 14.31 lakh was made from the account to ANR Motor for a luxury Toyota Innova car; and on July 30, Rs. 2.19 lakh was withdrawn to pay to MG Store. On August 13, Rs. 1.30 lakh was paid to ST Computers for installing surveillance camera in the sabha's office; and on July 23, Rs. 90,000 was paid for a lavish party thown to the NRIs at Hotel Redisson. For all of this withdrawal, no mandatory sanction was obtained from the chairman.
Asked to specify reason, NRI Sabha president Gill said he was not bound to take anybody's permission for withdrawing money from the account. "Whatever payment I made is just for the development of the sabha and the NRIs," he said. Sensing that he had made a blunder by speaking in haste, he made a call to the reporter, later, to amend his version. "I am bound by the chairman's guidelines definitely but whatever payment and recruitment I have made is according to the sabha's constitution strictly," he said.
He claimed that the financial powers had been given to him "verbally by NRI affairs minister Bikram Singh Majithia". Confronted, Majithia ruled out any authorisation. "How can I give these powers to anybody, that too verbally?," he said, adding: "If he (Gill) has done something wrong, he should be penalised."
Sabha chairman Anurag Verma took serious note of the issue and said he would investigate.
"Gill is not authorised to spend any amount beyond `20000, barring some committed liabilities," said Verma. "He never took my permission to withdraw the big amounts or hire and fire officials at will," he added, hinting that action might be taken against Gill.
Gill never took my permission to withdraw the big amounts or hire and fire officials at will
Anurag Verma, NRI Sabha chairman
The financial powers were given to me verbally by NRI affairs minister Bikram Singh Majithia
Jasbir Singh Gill, NRI Sabha president
How can I give these powers to anybody, that too verbally? If he (Gill) has done wrong, he should be penalised
Bikram Singh Majithia, NRI affairs minister