Timely intervention by local residents of the Jain community in Forbesganj town has helped save government money from being misappropriated by Araria district officials in Bihar.
In May 2015, local representatives of the Jain community had requested the Forbesganj municipal body to carry out the construction and repair of a road leading to their community office in view of a religious event scheduled for July that year. However, despite several meetings and numerous requests, the officials refused to carry out the work after which the locals raised donations among themselves and carried out the construction and repair of the road which was completed in June itself.
But some months later, in August 2015, the local residents found that the same officials of the local municipal body had passed a resolution to construct and repair the road that was already constructed and sanctioned a sum of Rs 29 lakh for the project.
Following this, the locals filed a complaint with the district magistrate of Araria, who after an inquiry, found that the allegations of attempt to misappropriate government money were true, and ordered the registration of an FIR against the concerned official, but since he was transferred, the FIR was not registered. Later, the locals raised the matter with the new district magistrate and other senior officials, but since no action was taken, the locals decided to file a PIL in the Patna High Court.
Dinesh Kumar, the lawyer who represented the locals, said that initially the government officials told the court that all the allegations made by the locals were false. “However, the officials could not answer the court when they were confronted with the resolution of August 2015 passed by the local officials granting Rs 29 lakh for constructing of the road despite being aware that the road was already constructed,” he said.
Taking serious note of the attempted misappropriation of government money, a division bench comprising the acting Chief Justice I.A. Ansari and Justice Anjana Mishra directed the principal secretary of urban development, DM of Araria, SDM of Forbesganj and executive officer of Nagar Parishad to personally appear before the court. While reprimanding the officials the order dated 29 February said: “A word of caution and warning to the erring officers to be careful in the performance of their statutory duties and act in accordance with the law.”