New Delhi: NDTV has accessed a draft CAG report that points to several irregularities in the utilisation of grants given by the Central government to a trust for differently abled people run by union Law Minister Salman Khurshid and his wife. The draft report says there seems to be "suspected fraud" in the accounts of the trust. The minister is already under attack from activist turned politician Arvind Kejriwal over similar allegations leveled against him by a TV channel.
According to the draft report , the central grant of Rs 71.5 lakh that was given to Mr Khurshid's Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust in 2009-10 for distributing aid and appliances to differently abled people in 17 districts of UP wasn't fully utilised for the purpose for which the same had been sanctioned. The report also says that the trust gave out wrong information to the government relating to holding of camps for the distribution of aids and appliances to the physically challenged. The funds were given to the trust based on the recommendation of the UP government.
"It can be concluded that on one hand entire grant of Rs 71.50 lakh was not utilized by the Trust for the purpose for which it was sanctioned and on other the wrong report regarding organisation of the camp was given by the Trust," the report says.
The draft also concludes that out of the 17 districts in UP where the trust was supposed to hold camps, none were actually held in Allahabad, Bareilly, Siddhartha Nagar and Shahjahapur.
The report also states that the chain of events relating to audit of the trust indicates "suspected fraud" in its accounts and hence recommends that "In the light of the above it is suggested that grant of Rs. 71.50 lakh may be recovered from the trust along with up to date interest on it."
The draft report further adds that instead of recovering the grant along with interest, the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry released more money - Rs. 68.25 lakh - to the trust for the financial year 2010-11. As per the terms and conditions of the sanction, a utilisation certificate was supposed to be furnished by the trust within six months of the close of the financial year i.e. by September 30, 2011. However, no utilisation certificate was submitted till the date of audit, the report added.
Mr Khurshid is currently in London on an official tour and was hence unavailable for comments. However, refuting the draft report, his wife, Louise Khurshid, termed the charges against her trust as "baseless". She says her trust followed all guidelines and abided by rules framed by the ministry. "We have furnished all required documents and have even given the utilisation certificate," she said.
"I have personally spoken to the CAG, I will be giving him my side of the story on Monday. Most of the allegations are being made because my side of the story has not been heard yet," she added.
Similar allegations have been made against the Law Minister by a Hindi news channel, which claims that the NGO, which is run by his wife, forged signatures of government officials to attest that the funds were being used as intended. The minister and his wife have vociferously refuted all accusations and have threatened to take legal action against the channel.
Citing the expose, activist turned politician Arvind Kejriwal has demanded that the minister must either quit or be fired immediately. Adamant on his demand, he is leading a protest in Delhi against the minister. Yesterday, he was detained for leading a march towards Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence to press for his demand. He and some of his supporters spent the night at the makeshift jail in Bawana on the outskirts of Delhi. They were released this morning and have resumed their protest at Parliament Street.
The draft inspection report on the transaction audit and grants released by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is prepared by the Director General of Audit, Central Expenditure based on an audit done from April 2, 2012 to June 13, 2012. A draft report is normally sent to respondents seeking their response and is subject to changes.
The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is responsible for policies and programmes for the empowerment and welfare of the disadvantaged and marginalized sections of the society such as persons with disabilities. It releases funds as grants to different organizations and states under different schemes.