The whistleblower in the loan scam that has rocked the Hoshiarpur Primary Agriculture Development Bank (PADB) has landed into trouble.
Showing no latitude to her for exposing wrongdoings of her colleagues, State Agriculture Development Bank (SADB) has issued a chargesheet to PADB's former assistant general manager (AGM) Santosh Kumari, accusing her of "sleeping over" the matter for two-and-a-half years. Her post-retirement dues have also been stalled.
Just a few days before her retirement in April, Kumari had sent a detailed report of the misdemeanours of certain bank officials and directors to the higher authorities. She had complained that loans worth Rs 13.4 crore had been advanced to these persons and their family members by flouting bank rules.
She had furnished detail of each and every case and called for suitable action against the wrongdoers. An inquiry was initiated and a manager, an assistant manager and a field officer were placed under suspension.
However, almost five months after her retirement, the department has also made the former AGM an accused in the embezzlement case by issuing a chargesheet against her.
She has been accused of not sending a monthly inspection report to the high-ups, failing to check proper utilisation certificates (PUCs) and other loan documents and not informing the irregularities to the head office on time. "Your negligence shows your involvement in the case of misappropriation," the AGM has been told.
Kumari said she had been punished for exposing the wrongdoings of influential persons, who enjoyed political patronage. "I dared to speak against them despite receiving threats from the accused and this is how the department is rewarding me," she added.
Giving reasons for the delay in reporting the irregularities, she said, "Collecting evidence was a herculean task as the staff members at the helm of granting loans were themselves involved in the scam. They had connections with higher officers and politicians. Fighting all pressures and bad health, I prepared a detailed note and personally submitted to the higher authorities before my retirement."
She claimed that the fraudulent deals were going on before she joined Hoshiarpur and it took her time to understand the modus operandi of the "gang". She also claimed that verbally she had been sounding the higher officials, but no action was taken. "I could keep mum and sit pretty after my retirement if I so wanted but I took it as my duty to expose the shady deeds," she added.
As for other charges, she said there were verbal orders from the head office to all the banks that monthly visit reports should not be sent.
SADB managing director GS Mangat justified action against the former AGM, stating that she was the supervising authority, who should have been knowing the wrongdoings all along. "And if she was aware of bungling, why she did not inform the high-ups," he asked.
He said the process of preparing the chargesheet was started as soon as the matter came to light, but due to procedural delay the same could be issued only recently. He also blamed the internal auditors for their failure to check the irregularities. He said the departmental inquiry had pointed out misutilisation of loan amount worth Rs 12.69 crore, for which three officers had been suspended and further action was being mooted. He said old loan cases would also be probed.