Misuse of CSR Funds: PIL in HC Seeks Action Against Ex-Minister Beni Prasad Verm

New Delhi

A PIL has been filed in Delhi High Court alleging that former Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, ministry officials and several steel PSUs like SAIL misutilised CSR funds by investing a major portion of them in two Uttar Pradesh districts which were connected to him.

The petition, which seeks action against the former minister and officials of the ministry and PSUs as well as a CBI probe into the whole matter, came up for hearing before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath which asked government counsel Jasmeet Singh to take instructions and inform it on December 16.

The petitioner Rakesh Kumar Tiwari has alleged that the PSUs violated the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) guidelines regarding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities by investing their funds in districts Gonda, the constituency of Verma, and Barabanki, where he resides.

In his plea he has sought directions to the government to implement the recommendations of the Standing Committee of Coal and Steel which in its 35th report had recommended enquiry into the matter of the PSUs investing CSR funds against the standard guidelines as well as stringent departmental action against officials of steel PSUs who sanctioned CSR funds for the two districts.

His plea also claimed that the committee, set up by the 15th Lok Sabha, had strongly disapproved of the manner in which CSR funds were spent by the PSUs in the two districts at the cost of other deserving places.

The petition, filed through advocate Rishi Kumar Tripathi, has alleged that Verma, during his tenure as steel minister, had "misutilised to his advantage the resources of the ministry to please the residents of his constituency to win a political battle".

The petition has claimed that the DPE guidelines stipulate that CSR funds be invested in the peripheral areas of the PSU.

But "without any justification" the activities were focused on the two districts where none of the companies, including SAIL, National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL), Manganese Ore India Ltd (MOIL), Metallurgical and Engineering Consultants (India) Ltd (MECON), and Metal Scrap Trade Corporation (MSTC) have any projects, it alleged.

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