The Bombay High Court today directed CBI to probe the alleged Rs 6,000-crore scam in purchase of material related to tribal development schemes in Maharashtra and slammed the state government for not taking any concrete steps to look into the serious allegations.
A division bench of Justices V M Kanade and R P Sondurbaldota, which was hearing a petition filed by a tribal from Nashik district Bahiram Motiram demanding probe into alleged irregularities, said the allegation were not without substance and it was "alarmed" by their "serious" nature.
The bench, which had earlier this week opined that it would appoint a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the scam, today said the CBI would act as the court's SIT and conduct investigations into the case.
"The allegations levelled by the petitioner are not without substance. We are alarmed by it and they are of a serious nature. Considering the fact that the state government has not taken any steps to look into the scam we direct the CBI to probe it," the High Court said.
The court expressed dissatisfaction with the lackadaisical attitude of the state government and said, "Despite the Prime Minister of India and other Union ministers writing letters to the government asking them to look into the allegations, no concrete steps appear to have been taken."
Asking public servants to have "some conscience", Justice Kanade said, "People from various tribes are at the lowest rung. The least you (government) can do is provide them with food. In all such schemes it is seen that the money is disbursed but it never reaches the people it was earmarked for."
Earlier, the CBI had told the court that it does not have the manpower to probe the case as it is spread across various districts of the state. The court today asked the agency to inform it after two weeks as to how many officers would be required to probe the case.
The court has also asked the state government to conduct an independent inquiry and submit a detailed affidavit within two weeks.
According to the petitioner, the tribal welfare department allegedly made the purchases towards curbing malnutrition, distribution of cows and buffaloes, supply of diesel engine and pipes, without calling for tenders and the amounts shown as disbursed towards tribal welfare were actually siphoned off.
The petitioner alleged that in March 2006, the tribal development department procured liquid protein without following the due procedure or floating tenders. Also, the liquid protein bottles were not distributed, though the amount was disbursed.