Pension to ineligible persons in Haryana: High court hands over probe to CBI
The high court bench of justice Vinod Bhardwaj acted on a petition, pending since 2017 seeking a CBI probe, as the court was unhappy over the handling of the case by the state authorities
The Punjab and Haryana high court has ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe into the alleged disbursal of social security pensions to ineligible persons, including some in the names of dead in Haryana.
The high court bench of justice Vinod Bhardwaj acted on a petition, pending since 2017 seeking a CBI probe, as the court was dissatisfied over the handling of the case by the state authorities. The lawyers associated with the case, including Pardeep Rapria, who was the petitioner’s counsel confirmed the development. However, detailed order is awaited.
Initially, the CAG report of 2013 flagged discrepancies in the disbursal of social security pensions. It said the prescribed procedure for identification of beneficiaries for payment of old age samman allowance was not adhered to resulting in payment of allowance to ineligible persons. The record containing the proceedings of the committees for the selection of beneficiaries was also not maintained, it further said, recommending that the state may consider streamlining the procedure for the identification of beneficiaries besides reviewing and updating the lists regularly.
As per a probe conducted thereafter, 14,000 ineligible beneficiaries were found. As the government neither effected recoveries nor took criminal action, the 2017 petition was filed by one Kurukshetra resident, Rakesh Bains. The court sought reports from time to time but remained dissatisfied with the state’s action. At one point in 2019, the government had told the court that, “No recommendation at all for registration of FIRs was made by the CAG.”
But it said that recoveries were being made.
As the court remained dissatisfied with the action taken by the state authorities, the high court in February 2023, directed the director general, anti-corruption bureau, to file a comprehensive affidavit after going through the entire record and after assessing the participation of the officer/official of the district social welfare department in a case of alleged disbursal of social security pensions to dead persons in the state. The DG was also told to assess the participation of officials at the directorate level along with the public representatives/municipal councillors who had identified the dead persons for seeking benefits of such illegal disbursement, about the involvement and also whether the investigating officers have deliberately not taken note of the evidence available on record.
In the affidavit, the director general, anti-corruption bureau Shatrujeet Kapur had submitted that in most cases beneficiaries were not made to join the probe. No action was taken against beneficiaries even as scheme guidelines spelt that in case of wrong information, the persons might be prosecuted. It also submitted that even as in most cases public servants were involved in the grant of undue benefit, the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act were not invoked. As per the affidavit ₹4.58 crore has been recovered from ineligible beneficiaries and recovery of ₹7.57 crore from 6,722 wrong beneficiaries is pending, it said.
In the 2017 plea Rakesh Bains, had alleged that a large-scale scam in Haryana took place in which social welfare pensions were disbursed in the name of dead persons by state officials in connivance with local bodies’ elected representatives, across state.
In the year 2013 additional chief secretary, finance department had written to all concerned officials to fix criminal liability by lodging FIRs if a person withdraws pension after the death of the beneficiary. Supreme Court too had issued directions in this regard. However, despite clear directions of SC and departmental instructions the government had failed to register even FIRs in those matters, the plea had stated.