SC to hear plea on misuse of secret funds by Jharkhand cops

Ranchi(PTI): Top policemen of Naxal-affected Jharkhand may come under the scanner as the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea seeking CBI probe into alleged misuse and unaccounted withdrawal of huge sums from the Secret Service Funds, meant to counter red terror.

“We will certainly hear it next week,” a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice A K Sikri said when the plea filed by social activist Raju Kumar of Ranchi came up for hearing last week.

The PIL, filed through advocate Nirmal Kumar Ambastha, has sought a direction to CBI to “investigate the manner of distribution of money withdrawn by state police officers in the name of Secret Service Funds till the lowest rank police officer authorised to deal with and make payment to informers, who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, Ministry of Home Affairs and Jharkhand, the plea has also made the CAG, the Principal Accountant & Auditor General, DGP and the Additional DGP of the state as parties.

The plea 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 and is subjected to administrative audit only, it said, adding that even the provisions of the Bihar Finance Rules and Special Branch Manual have not been followed.

The plea also said Jharkhand government had already expressed its willingness to get it inquired by CBI.

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.” 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 and on March 10, 2006, the then Additional DGP, Special branch, Jharkhand withdrew Rs 5.6 crore by assuming the role of Withdrawal and Disbursement Officer without any authorisation in this regard,” it claimed.

The plea 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 said.

The plea raised a question of law as to “whether the public money can be allowed to be used by a specific government department without any administrative control, when such public money is exempted from audit by the government auditor and the records of the expenditure are of such nature that cannot be allowed to be duplicated anywhere and must be destroyed in order to achieve the purpose of such expenditure?”