Probe report questions role of minister in scholarship scam - ECAS Punjab

Probe report questions role of minister in scholarship scam

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Rajmeet Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27

In the Rs 55.71-crore scholarship scam, the role of Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot in shielding those involved has been questioned in a report submitted to the office of Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan.

The scam was exposed last year. It involved alleged irregular disbursal of funds under the Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme for the Scheduled Castes and other backward classes. Of the Rs 55 crore, the Social Welfare Department disbursed Rs 39 crore to "ghost" institutions as the records of the distribution of the amount are missing. Another Rs 16.71 crore was wrongly disbursed to private educational institutions despite the Finance Department during its audit pointing out recovery of Rs 8 crore from the institutions which had been illegally given the scholarship amount.

In figures
Rs55.71cr scholarship scam
Rs39 cr disbursed to "ghost" institutions
Rs16.71 cr given to pvt institutions

A copy of the report, submitted by Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Kirpa Shankar Saroj, has also been sent to the Chief Minister's office.

After the scam was highlighted in December last year, a departmental probe was conducted. The final report, submitted to the government on August 24, states that instead of the Director of the department sanctioning the payment, the minister had started calling the files for his approval.

Terming the findings as grossly absurd and unfounded, Dharamsot on Thursday categorically said he was willing to face any inquiry and action even if an iota of truth was found in the allegations. Terming the report as politically motivated, Dharamsot, in a statement given to a private channel, targeted his ACS Kirpa Shankar Saroj while denying having signed any file. The ACS was not available for comments.

The report submitted to the government gives details on how a Deputy Director in the department, who had alleged patronage of the minister, spearheaded the nexus along with other officials to disburse the funds in an illegal manner.

Dismiss minister: AAP

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has sought immediate dismissal and arrest of the minister and a time-bound probe into the scam, under the watch of a sitting High Court judge. Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema alleged that the Amarinder Singh government was trying to save the minister. Congress Rajya Sabha MP Shamsher Dullo demanded a CBI probe into misutilisation of the scholarship funds.

from The Tribune

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