High Court Demands Explanation on Inaction Against IAS and HCS Officers in MGNREGA Scandal

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered the Chief Secretary to submit an affidavit by August 12 regarding the lack of action against certain IAS and HCS officers implicated in a major MGNREGA fraud. The court also directed the submission of a copy of the legal opinion issued by the Haryana Advocate General’s office in this matter.

The directions came after Panipat resident Dilbag Singh, represented by advocates Raghav Sharma and Kashish Sahni, filed a petition. Singh highlighted that the Haryana government adopted the MGNREGA scheme in 2007 to provide employment to the impoverished, but it was marred by a significant scandal involving excessive payments to the Forest Department.

The government had handed the investigation over to the Vigilance Department in 2011, which resulted in FIRs against officials of the Forest Department in November 2012. However, no actions were taken against the involved IAS and HCS officers. The Lokayukta of Haryana later recommended FIRs against retired IAS officers RP Bhardwaj, Mohammed Shayin, SP Saro, Renu S Phulia, and the then ADC of Ambala, Sumedha Kataria, in 2017.

A committee formed to implement these recommendations declared itself incapable of producing results, leading to no further action being taken. During the court hearing, the Haryana government informed that the AG’s office had advised that the responsibilities of the accused officers were limited to supervision, suggesting no grounds for a criminal case against them. In response, the High Court sternly instructed the government to present the AG’s opinion at the next hearing, demanding clarity on the matter.

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