Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has ordered State Vigilance Bureau (SVB) inquiry into the multi-crore Post-Matric Scholarship (PMS) scam in the state.
The CM took the decision as it was brought to his notice that embezzlement of money meant for PMS for Scheduled Caste and Backward Class students “by changing Aadhaar numbers of beneficiaries and transferring the money into forged Aadhaar-linked accounts has been going on a large scale”.
It was IAS officer Sanjeev Verma, Director, Department of Welfare of SCs and BCs, who blew the lid off the Rs 3.53 crore PMS scam in Sonepat district.
The Tribune broke the story ‘Rs 3.53-cr post-matric scholarship fraud in Haryana, 4 suspended’ on April 6. As the Chandigarh Police was delaying registration of FIR despite several reminders, Verma threatened ‘satyagraha’ outside the Chandigarh Police headquarters and within hours, the FIR was registered on May 13.
Verma in his report had also sought vigilance probe and special audit by the Accountant General (Audit), Haryana, as “Rs 236 crore has been disbursed under PMS in the past three years”.
On May 21, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Haryana Legislative Assembly under chairperson Gian Chand Gupta — while discussing a PMS scam of Rs 5.15 crore in Jhajjar district which the CAG had unearthed in its report no. 5 of 2017 — recommended a CBI probe to the state government.
Now, the order dated May 30 from the CM’s office reads, “The CM directs that an investigation by the SVB may be initiated immediately into the embezzlement to identify complicity. The CM has desired that Director General, SVB, may constitute a Special Investigation Team for the purpose.”
During the internal probe in case of the PMS scam at Sonepat, where Rs 3.53 crore was disbursed in February, it was found that same mobile numbers were used against a large number of candidates. While the process up to the sanction and passing of the bill by the treasury was duly followed, the forgery took place during the preparation of the list that was forwarded to the bank for payment.
The funds are not transferred if the Aadhaar number is incorrect, incomplete, doesn’t exist or not linked with a bank. In this case, the Aadhaar numbers mentioned existed and were linked with banks.
The complicity of educational institutes involved and possibility of fraud at DWO level has not been ruled out in the internal investigation.
At Jhajjar, between March and November 2014, the CAG found that Rs 5.15 crore was fraudulently disbursed. Rs 41.71 lakh was paid in regard of 28 forms where the same bank account number was shown against two different students i.e. 14 bank accounts were shown against 28 different applicants.
Also Rs 1.34 crore was paid in regard of 90 forms where the names and addresses of 45 students were repeated but their photographs were different in each case.
The payment of Rs 17.93 lakh was made to three students involving 11 different bank accounts on 12 occasions. It was also found that no photographs were affixed on 28 forms in violation of the conditions mentioned in the guidelines.