23 March 2022 4:40 AM GMT
A Division Bench of Tripura High Court, comprising of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice S.G. Chattopadhyay, has issued directions in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against alleged irregularities and misuse of fund allocated for the implementation of different health schemes in the State. Factual Background: From newspaper reports and the report of internal...
A Division Bench of Tripura High Court, comprising of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice S.G. Chattopadhyay, has issued directions in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against alleged irregularities and misuse of fund allocated for the implementation of different health schemes in the State.
From newspaper reports and the report of internal audit conducted by the Senior Audit Officer of the State Directorate of Audit for the period from 01.04.2006 to 31.03.2015 and from various other documents supplied under the Right to Information Act, 2005, the petitioner came to know that various irregularities were committed and huge amount of fund was misused and defalcated by the officers involved in the implementation of Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) training and various other health schemes across the State.
Seeking intervention of the Court, the petition sought a direction to the State respondents to initiate departmental proceedings against all Government officials who were found involved in the scam and recover the defalcated amount of money from the delinquent officials in terms of the audit report submitted by the State Audit Directorate.
The petitioner also sought to cancel re-employment given to some of the delinquent officials.
Contentions of the Petitioner:
A. Debbarma, counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that gross misuse of public money has been reported by the Directorate of Audit, Government of Tripura in their internal audit report dated 18.01.2016. The State Government has not taken adequate actions against the erring officials involved in the scam. Therefore, he urged the Court for issuing directions to the State authorities to book the offenders and take punitive measures against them.
Contentions of the Respondents:
M. Debbarma, the Addl. Govt. Advocate appearing for the State respondents, at first contended that the petitioner has no locus standi to file the petition. He further submitted that the audit report is under the scrutiny of the State Government and pursuant to the report, the State Government will take required corrective measures. Furthermore, he stressed that the petitioner has filed the petition with mala fide intention and oblique consideration and thus, urged for its dismissal.
Observations and Directions by the Court:
At the threshold, the Court held that the State counsel has not been able to attribute any mala fide to the petitioner. Even, there is no material to suggest that the petitioner is acting in furtherance of any personal gain or private profit or for any political motive. Moreover, the petitioner having relied on an official document has contended that misuse and defalcation of public money has been detected in the audit report furnished by the Audit Directorate of the State Government.
In these circumstances, the Court observed, where some allegations of misuse and defalcation of public money during implementation of health schemes have been brought to the judicial notice, it would be inappropriate to reject the petition on the ground of having no locus standi.
Further, the Court proceeded to note that except the audit report, petitioner was not able to furnish any other cogent materials in support of the statements made in the petition. It also noted that internal audit report reveals mainly the following irregularities:
The Court observed that as the State Government is considering the report with due importance and as it is also stated by the Government Advocate that required corrective measures will be taken soon by the State Government, it is apposite to issue these two directions:
Accordingly, the petition was disposed of.
Case Title: Sri Nishan Tripura v. The Secretary, Department of Health, Government of Tripura
Case No.: WP(C)(PIL) No. 23 of 2019
Judgment Dated: 21 March 2022
Coram: Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice S.G. Chattopadhyay
Authored by: Justice S.G. Chattopadhyay
Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr. A. Debbarma, AdvSocate
Counsel for the Respondents: Mr. M. Debbarma, Addl. Government Advocate
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Tri) 8
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