SC/ ST scholarship scam: Uttarakhand govt informs HC 77% investigation complete, not in favour of handing over case to CBI

In the ongoing investigation in the multi-crore Scheduled Caste (SC)/ Scheduled Tribe (ST) scholarship scam, the State government on Friday informed Uttarakhand high court that 77 % of the investigation was complete and sought six-months’ time to complete the rest of the investigation, attributing the delay in the probe to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Apprising the HC that the state was not in favour of CBI investigation in the matter, the state government stated in its affidavit that if the case is handed over to CBI, people will lose faith in the state investigating agencies

Responding to the court’s earlier directions on September 1, 2020 on whether the state government was ready to handover the investigation to the CBI, the state government in its affidavit stated that “the investigation conducted by the special investigation team (SIT) is almost complete and there is no occasion for handing over the investigation to CBI at the conclusive stage of the investigation”

HT has a copy of the affidavit which was submitted in the HC by Avtar Singh, additional secretary in the state home department. The court will hear the matter again on Monday.

The state government further pointed out in the affidavit that “if the present investigation is handed over to the CBI at this stage, it will firstly result in unnecessary delay and secondly, the public at large, who has been following the matter due to its wide publicity, will lose faith in the state investigating agencies and the image of the state investigation agencies will be put at stake. Hence for the reasons stated above, the state is not in favour of handing over the matter to the CBI”.

Lalit Samant, special counsel representing the state government in the matter said the state government has stressed in its affidavit that the “SIT is conducting the investigation efficiently to its best efforts and its capabilities”

The SC/ST scholarship scam came to light after Dehradun based Ravinder Jugran filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in HC in 2018 alleging financial irregularities to the tune of nearly Rs 500 crore in SC/ST scholarship scheme between 2003 and 2016. The petitioner had demanded a CBI inquiry monitored by the high court should probe into the alleged multi-crore scholarship. Jugran said the scholarship is provided by the social department to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students beyond class 10 for all sorts of professional courses. “Major financial irregularities in the distribution of this SC/SCT scholarship took between 2003 to 2016. In many cases, one student was provided scholarship from many institutions ”, he said.

The SIT headed by inspector general (IG) Sanjay Gunjyal is probing the irregularities in the scam in 11 districts, while SIT headed by Manjunath TC, SP Crime Haridwar is investigating the scam in the rest of the two districts-Haridwar and Dehradun. Both the SIT heads were summoned by HC on September 11 to apprise it about the progress in the probe of the scam so far.

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