Chhattisgarh government likely to set up SIT in PDS scam

Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel is likely to set up a special investigation team to re-look at the Public Distribution System (PDS) scam of the previous Bharatiya Janata Party government, in which a charge-sheet too was filed against 12 persons by the state’s anti corruption bureau (ACB) in 2015.

The Congress claimed that the scam was worth Rs 36,000 crore and during the election campaign it accused former chief minister Raman Singh of being involved in it. It said then that it would open an investigation into the issue if it was voted to power.

The scam pertains to alleged disbursement of rice and salt samples found unfit for human consumption in 2014 by certain officers. In all, 254 samples lifted from across the state were found to be unfit. The ACB, which investigated the case, recovered dairies which list payments allegedly made to certain officials and politicians whose names are in code.

In 2015, a public interest litigation was filed by Sudeep Shrivasatva in the Chhattisgarh high court demanding an SIT investigation. Shrivastava claimed ACB did not name the actual beneficiaries of the scam.

“A total of 27 people were named in the FIR in which only 18 were charge-sheeted including two IAS?officers,” Shrivastava, a lawyer in the state high court said. “The remaining accused were converted into witnesses and saved as they would have named many big politicians.” The court is still hearing the case.

BJP spokesperson and senior leader Sacchinand Upasane said the scam was unearthed and investigated by the BJP government. “We unearthed the scam and we registered cases against IAS officers and influential people. If the Congress government wants to form an SIT and investigate the case again, they can do it. The BJP government never tried to save anyone.”

“There were many documents which were not produced in the court and were deliberately hidden by the then investigating agency . All those documents will be scrutinized and government will take decision an appropriate decision this regard,” Congress spokesperson Shailesh Nitin Trivedi countered.

According to a senior police officer who asked not to be named, the chief minister has called for all files related to the scam and instructed the department to submit a proposal on the creation of a SIT. “We have submitted all the documents to the chief minister’s office which will soon take a call on setting up of the SIT,” the officer said.

An officer of the chief minister’s office confirmed this.

Ashok Tomar, a Raipur based political commentator said the Baghel government is trying to send out the message that it is serious about cracking down on corruption.