Days after the Punjab Vigilance Bureau started a probe into the Rs 39-crore SC post-matric scholarship fund scam which took place during the previous Congress government, the state agency is all set to register a case against the erring employees of the Department of Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities.
Based on the documents provided by the department and investigation done by the state agency, it appeared to be a case of misutilisation of funds by ignoring government rules and regulations, said a top government functionary.
The vigilance probe was being done on the instructions of CM Bhagwant Mann. Already, the state government has dismissed six officials involved in the scam. Confirming the development, a senior functionary of the VB said after Mann had ordered a comprehensive inquiry into the irregularities, the records of the department had been procured.
The scam came to light during the tenure of former Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot in the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government. A department probe had pointed out that instructions of the then CM for the disbursal of scholarships among SC students had been ignored and undue benefits given to certain private institutes. Instead of taking action against the erring institutes, benefits running into crores were extended to them.
Rather than taking approval from the Finance Department for a re-audit of 14 institutes, the erring officials added the names of more institutions to extend the undue benefits to them as well. Rs 16.91 crore were disbursed among nine institutions without receiving the approval from the Finance Department.
In August 2020, former Additional Chief Secretary, Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities Kirpa Shankar Saroj had submitted a report to the then Chief Secretary regarding the irregularities in the disbursal of scholarship. The inquiry was conducted by former Additional District and Sessions Judge BR Bansal. The inquiry officer had pointed out that the ‘noting pages’ recorded by the then Additional Chief Secretary were found missing from the records.
Department probe unearthed scam
A probe by the Department of Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities had pointed out that instructions of the then CM for the disbursal of scholarship among SC students had been ignored and undue benefits were given to certain private institutes.