Handwara PHE Scam: HC Directs Completion Of Probe In 3 Months, Action Against Officials

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday directed Senior Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch Kashmir, to ensure within three months completion of an investigation into a case involving fraudulent withdrawing of Rs. 20,34,634 against non-existent works by PHE officials, leading to the denial of potable water supply to hundreds of people in the Handwara area of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district in 2014.

Disposing of a Public Interest Litigation, a bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Vinod Chatterji Kou directed the SSP to file challan before the competent court of law within the period.

“On consideration of the matter and in terms of the order passed on December 15, 2014, the Court had sought a status report from the Senior Superintendent of Police Crime Branch, Srinagar, about the investigation of case FIR No. 91/2014, which was earlier registered at Police Station, Handwara and thereafter transferred to Crime Branch, Srinagar,” the court observed in order, a copy of which lies with news agency GNS.

The Court had also sought a status report about the departmental enquiry initiated against the delinquent officials.

A status report of the investigation in the FIR as also about the inquiry conducted by the department was filed subsequently by the officers concerned.

“It is seen from a status report filed by the Senior Superintendent of Police that several persons fraudulently and dishonestly have withdrawn an amount of Rs. 20,34,634/- against non-existent works in the PHE Division Handwara. Some of the officers were arrested and placed under suspension,” the court said, adding, “Perusal of the record reveals that Finance Department vide letter dated 27th of October, 2016, has also directed the Director General Audit and Inspection to conduct a special audit of the PHE Division Handwara w.e.f. 2006. A status report filed by the Commissioner/Secretary to Government Irrigation and Flood Control Department, reveals that the inquiry has been expediated and is in the process of conclusion.”

The Director, General, Audit and Inspection, the court observed, has also submitted a report to the Government for taking action.

“The respondents (government functionaries) are on record to guarantee a supply of safe drinking water to the public as per their requirement. It has been highlighted that in most of the areas safe drinking water is supplied as per the scheme of the Government of India and Government of Jammu Kashmir.”

The court closed the PIL, observing that it was satisfied with the investigation of the matter, the inquiry conducted by the Government as also the supply of safe drinking water to the public in Handwara.

“Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Jal Shakti Department (PHE), shall take departmental proceedings to its logical conclusion by adherence to rules and regulations in vogue and pass appropriate orders,” the court said, adding, “Chief Engineer, PHE Department, Kashmir shall ensure that safe drinking water is supplied to the areas of PHE Division, Handwara, which is not covered in terms of the scheme in vogue.”

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