Rashid Paul

HC directs Govt to complete disciplinary action against accused

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Multi-crore Handwara PHE scam…

Srinagar April 19: In the multi crore Public Health Engineering Department (PHE) scam in North Kashmir, the High Court today directed the concerned commissioner secretary to complete the disciplinary action against the accused officers and submit the report.

Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice MK Hanjura passed the direction after the court was informed that the department was still silent on the progress in disciplinary action against the erring officials apart from their suspension.

The investigation carried by the Crime Branch has been completed, it has produced the challan against the accused involved in the scam before the competent court of law, the division bench was informed by the government lawyer.

The bench directed the commissioner secretary PHE to ensure the disciplinary action is completed with a further direction that the report be submitted to the court.

The court is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) with regard to much publicized multi-crore scam in PHE division Handwara in which various employees of the department including many executive engineers and junior engineers are under suspension for their alleged crime of looting the public money supposed for provision of safe drinking water in the area.

The scam was unearthed in 2014 and immediately a PIL was filed before the High Court seeking probe and action against the accused.

During a hearing in February this year, the Amicus curie in the case had informed the court that disciplinary proceedings against the erring officials had not been finalized and the court had accordingly directed the chief engineer PHE to explain “as to what happened to the disciplinary proceedings”.

The Court observed that safe drinking water was not being supplied to the public and the chief engineer shall ensure its availability. It also had sought implementation of the water supply schemes meant for the region.

According to the petitioner, approximately Rs 45 crores in PHE division Hadwara have been swindled, a fact admitted in its reply by the government.

The petitioner said the money was meant for the schemes launched by the government to provide potable water to the people of Handwara and its adjoining hilly areas.

The PIL was filed by one Javed Ahmad Zargar.

In compliance to the court directions, the government has so far placed 16 officials under suspension after finding them prima facie involved in the scandal.

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