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'We Don't Appreciate This' : Supreme Court Gave Last Opportunity To Andhra Govt To Clarify Diversion Of SDRF Funds To Personal Deposit Accounts

Sohini Chowdhury
28 April 2022 3:25 PM GMT
We Dont Appreciate This : Supreme Court Gave Last Opportunity To Andhra Govt To Clarify Diversion Of SDRF Funds To Personal Deposit Accounts
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The Supreme Court, on Thursday, provided last opportunity to the State of Andhra Pradesh to file its counter affidavit in the plea assailing the act of the Andhra Pradesh Government of transferring funds from the State Disaster Response Fund ("SDRF'), from where the ex-gratia compensations are being disbursed to the kins/family members of the persons who have lost their lives to...

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, provided last opportunity to the State of Andhra Pradesh to file its counter affidavit in the plea assailing the act of the Andhra Pradesh Government of transferring funds from the State Disaster Response Fund ("SDRF'), from where the ex-gratia compensations are being disbursed to the kins/family members of the persons who have lost their lives to COVID-19 death, to personal deposit account.

"At the request of the Counsel for the State of AP, in order for the State of AP to file an affidavit through the Chief Secretary of the State, as a last chance matter is adjourned. Put up on 13.05.2022."

On the last date of hearing, observing that such transfer is in the teeth of the Disaster Management Act and the Appropriation Act, a Bench comprising Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna directed the State to refrain from diverting the funds and if diverted not to utilise the same for any other purpose than those provided under the Disaster Management Act.

Notice was issued and made it returnable on 28.04.2022.

On Thursday, Advocate, Mr. M. Nazki appearing for the State of Andhra Pradesh, apprised the Bench that no fund had been diverted other than for drought relief of 2018.

"No amounts have been diverted, these amounts were transferred for drought relief of 2018. It has been used only for that."

He informed the Bench that a letter had been circulated seeking adjournment to file the counter affidavit. He stated that as the Finance Secretary is the head of the concerned Department it is protocol to let him have a look at the counter affidavit before finalising the same. Given the fact that he had some personal difficulties, the affidavit could not be vetted and for the same reason adjournment was sought. Apart from this Mr. Nazki also submitted that the correspondence with the CAG at the relevant point in time was also not readily available.

"We have circulated a letter because the Finance Secretary's father is in the hospital. In fact I have a draft reply ready which needs to be sworn by the Chief Secretary…We have not diverted any amount. We had also at a relevant point in time responded to the CAG. Those documents were not readily available."

Justice Shah reminded the Counsel that the Chief Secretary was supposed to file the Counter and not the Finance Secretary.

Mr. Nazki informed the Bench that -

"The Finance Secretary has to vet it because he is the head of the department. We did not want to file without him having a look."

Displeased with the response, Justice Shah remarked -

"We don't appreciate this. Entire office is there. He has not gone with the office."

[Case Title: Gaurav Kumar Bansal v Union of India And Ors. MA 647/2022 in W.P.(C) No. 539/2021]

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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