SC refuses to hear PIL on Secret funds’ misuse

RSTV Bureau

supreme_courtSupreme Court has refused to interfere with an High Court order quashing a notification for CBI probe into alleged misuse and unaccounted withdrawal of huge sums from the Secret Service Funds meant to counter Naxal violence in Jharkhand.

However, the apex court kept the door open for hearing it in the future; saying that instead of a PIL, an appeal against the Jharkhand High Court order could be filed.

“The notification of CBI inquiry was set aside by the Jharkhand High Court. Petitioner cannot file a PIL against the order. Either, the state government should have filed a SLP or you should have,” a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice A K Sikri said.

It granted liberty to Ranchi-based social activist Raju Kumar to file an appropriate plea, following which his counsel Nirmal Kumar Ambastha agreed to the suggestion and withdrew the PIL.

The activist, in the plea, had sought a direction to CBI to “investigate the manner of distribution of money withdrawn by state police officers in the name of Secret Service Funds till the lowest rank police officer authorised to deal with and make payment to informers, who provide useful information and prosecute the guilty officers under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act for misusing their power and authority.”

Besides CBI, Union Home Ministry and Jharkhand government, the plea has also made the CAG, the Principal Accountant & Auditor General, DGP and the Additional DGP of the state as parties.

The petition has sought registration of cases under the PC Act against the police officers for “misutilising the money out of Secret Service Funds (SSF)”. SSF is exempted from the audit by the constitutional authority like CAG but is subjected to administrative audit only, it had said.

In 2004-05, the budgetary allocation for SSF was Rs 50 lakh only and its was raised to Rs 8.30 crore in financial year 2005-06. On March 10, 2006, the then Additional DGP (special branch) of Jharkhand withdrew Rs 5.6 crore by assuming the role of Withdrawal and Disbursement Officer “without any authorisation in this regard,” it claimed.

State government had agreed before to High Court to refer the issue to CBI. Later, the notification was set aside by the High Court, the lawyer said.

The plea had said despite withdrawing huge sums from SSF, the state police has “worst informer network and has not even been able to prevent the murder of MPs and their family members.”

It had also alleged non-compliance of the minimum mandatory provisions required for withdrawing money.

Jharkhand, which is facing Naxalite activities since long, gets huge sums by way of budget allocation for secret services rendered by the unknown informers, identity of whom must be protected and as such, this fund is exempted from the purview of audit by public auditors, it had said.