Jharkhand Mnrega scam: HC reserves order on PIL against Pooja Singhal

 Ranchi: The Jharkhand High Court on Wednesday heard two PILs in the MNREGA scam involving two IAS officers-Pooja Singhal (suspended) and Transport Secretary K Srinivasan. A division bench headed by Chief Justice Sanjaya Kumar Mishra, while hearing the PIL involving Pooja Singhal reserved its verdict on its maintainability.

The court, in another PIL involving Srinivasan, asked the state government and the CBI to file a counter affidavit before deferring its hearing till July 5. The PIL involving Singhal was filed by Arun Kumar Dubey. Through the PIL he demanded probing the role of Singhal in the MNREGA scam involving Rs 200 crore. He through his advocate Rajiv Kumar submitted that the scam took place in Khunti when Singhal was deputy commissioner. According to him, as many as 16 FIRs were registered at different police stations of the district in the matter.

Later, the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) probed the matter but no action was taken in the matter against Singhal, who was finally arrested by the ED. Supreme Court lawyer Kapil Sibal appearing in the case through video conferencing challenged the maintainability raising questions on the integrity of the petitioner’s advocate. His challenge was not accepted.

The court did not accept his challenge saying it is the prerogative of the petition to choose an advocate. Rajiv Kumar during his submission challenged the integrity of Advocate General Rajiv Ranjan saying a file related to the registration of an FIR in an illegal mining case has been lying with him for the last four months and he is defending Pankaj Mishra, MLA representative of Chief Minister Hemant Soren.

The PIL involving IAS officer Srinivasan was filed by Matloob Alam. He demanded a CBI probe into the MNREGA scam that took place in between 2008 to 2011 in Chaibasa when K Srinivasan was deputy commissioner. According to him, the scam involves Rs 28 crore. He submitted through his lawyer Rajiv Kumar that as many as 14 FIRs were registered in this scam and later the ACB also probed the matter registering preliminary enquiry but no action was taken in the matter. This is the second time a PIL in the matter has surfaced. Earlier, the court had disposed of the petition in 2013.

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