Law Secretary’s embezzlement exposes chinks in Rather’s strongbox
Finance Minister: I’m initiating thorough inquiry after returning from
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that Department of Finance has taken serious note of some officials’ and bureaucrats’ unauthorized withdrawals from the state exchequer. “This is an extremely serious matter that a public servant (Law Secretary Ghulam Hassan Tantray), who happens to be the government’s custodian and interpreter of law and rules, has drawn the money from public exchequer on account of his private visit to Tamil Nadu”, said a senior government functionary. He disclosed that over 30 government officials, government advocates, judges and registrars also attended the same marriage ceremony but none of them, excluding the Law Secretary, has claimed the reimbursement from the state exchequer.
Highly placed bureaucratic sources said that immediately after learning about the embezzlement, officials of Finance Department checked all accounts regulated by Financial Advisors/ Chief Accounts Officers. They noticed that no such withdrawal had been approved, sanctioned or authorized by any official of Finance Department. According to them, it was reported later in the afternoon that the money had been withdrawn from a legal aid related account that was being regulated by none other than the Law Secretary himself. In other words, they said, Drawing and Disbursing Officer (DDO) had himself authorized his illegal reimbursement and transferred the amount to his personal salary account in the Moving Branch of Jammu & Kashmir Bank Ltd at Civil Secretariat.
Reached over telephone for his reaction, Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather told Early Times that he had viewed the matter seriously and that he would order a thorough inquiry after his returning from
on Sunday. He was on way to the union capital to attend a meeting with the Central government officials alongwith Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Mr Rather asserted that he would not allow anybody to spend the taxpayers’ money on his or her private visits and engagements. He said that anybody found involved in embezzlement of state exchequer would be taken to task. New Delhi
Notwithstanding such assurances, political and bureaucratic circles seem to be worried over the way money was being swindled from the public exchequer by even the highly placed officials. “This has clearly exposed chinks in Mr Rather’s strongbox. Who knows how much of public money---and how many times--- has been withdrawn by the exposed official and others functioning as DDOs of different government accounts? It is a state of grave financial anarchy. Contractors, suppliers and other payees are told at the treasuries that there is no money in the government coffers”, said a senior government functionary.
“It hardly matters that a small amount of Rs 27,694 has been swindled. It actually establishes that it is a free-for-all thing and there is no system of regulating the finances. It also indicates that such unauthorized withdrawals are being carried out by government officials without any fear of accountability and scrutiny. This may not be the first and the last transaction and Law Secretary may not be the only official involved in such matters”, observed a senior opposition leader. He said that at least one political party would soon demand a special audit of Finance Department into all tainted accounts like the one exposed by Early Times.