The Jammu and Kashmir High Court (HC) has directed authorities in Public Health Engineering (PHE) to complete the inquiry in embezzlement of funds in the department in North Kashmir district of Kupwara in 2014 and submit the status report within four weeks.
A division bench comprising of Justice BS Walia and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) directed the Commissioner Secretary PHE Department to complete the inquiry into the allegation and file the status report in the court within four weeks.
The HC said failure of the Commissioner Secretary to complete the enquiry and taking it to logical conclusion within the prescribed time shall entail action under law against him. “The status report should be filed by or before the next date of hearing regarding the implementation of directions passed yesterday,” it said.
The alleged scam, which was unearthed in 2014, involves fraudulent withdrawal of crores of rupees meant for National Rural Drinking Water Program (NRDWP) scheme from the official account of PHE Handwara division. The account was managed by the Executive Engineer, PHE division, Handwara. After the scam was unearthed, Chief Engineer, PHE, Kashmir, constituted a three-member committee to probe the allegations and find out the truth. The committee after scrutinising the records in its detailed report in August 2014 had recommended that the prima facie evidence merits referring the case to the Crime Branch of the J&K Police for investigation.
After the recommendations, the case registered at the Handwara Police Station was transferred to the Crime Branch in August 2014. Later, a PIL was filed in the HC, alleging that there were more irregularities and embezzlements worth crores of rupees in various other schemes executed in the past, particularly from 2006, done in connivance with officers and officials at the helm of affairs at the given point of time in the PHE division, Handwara. As the investigation was initiated under the supervision of HC, 16 officers and officials, including the then Executive Engineer, of PHE were suspended, pending enquiry.