Markfed, a government agency for procurement of crops, has been allegedly holding back dues and benefits of 137 retired field officers, senior field officers, branch officers and senior branch officers, retired during 2001 to 2010, after claiming that they are responsible for damage of stored crops.
The officers allege that according to the Punjab and Haryana high court, no department could hold back dues and benefits of retired officers, but could hold back the gratuity, if any inquiry was pending against them.
The retirees allege that over-looking the court's orders from August 12, 2013, the department had not released their dues, causing them harassment.
One of the affected retirees, Kailash Chander Sabharwal, senior field officer (cotton), who has been pursuing the matter, said they would file a contempt of court petition against Markfed.
He claimed that 310 officers of the above-said rank were retired from the job. Out of them, 137 had been deprived of dues of benefits on the pretext of pending inquiries against them. Meanwhile, the Markfed had released gratuities of 34 retirees out of 137, but other benefits were still pending.
Sabharwal alleged that the department was unnecessarily harassing the retired officers for the misdeeds that Markfed was responsible for.
He claimed that Markfed procured wheat as well as paddy from farmers, and had warehouses that stored only 30% of procured crops, while the remaining crop was stored in the open. "Some of the crops get damaged or discoloured due to weather conditions and pests, and Markfed has been holding officers responsible for it.
The wheat that has shelf life of nine months has been stored in warehouses for three to four years and no officer has been empowered to shift a single grain without consent of the Markfed," he added.
Similary paddy has been stored in private rice mills for delivery to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in Markfed account. While the paddy had been embezzled by rice millers, the field officers, put on storage duty, had been held responsible for it, he alleged.
When contacted, Markfed managing director Karamjeet Singh Sra claimed that Markfed had already released dues and benefits to the retirees whose cases were under inquiry, but withheld dues and benefits of officers who were found guilty.
He further added that some of the retirees had filed revision of the cases decided against them, following which Markfed had sought government's directions whether to release dues and benefits to these retirees, adding that Markfed would follow directions of the state government.