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Bihar paddy scam: High Court slams CBI over ‘counter-affidavit’

CBI cited staff crunch in reply to court question.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
April 22, 2015 1:03:37 am

Patna High Court on Wednesday pulled up CBI for filing “unasked for” replies in response to the court that had asked the agency if it was ready to take over the paddy scam case. The court took exception to the agency filing counter-affidavit mentioning staff shortage instead of replying to the poser on its readiness. The court would hear CBI’s reply on May 6.

On April 8 this year, the court, hearing a PIL filed by RTI activist Shiv Prakash Rai, had deemed alleged irregularities in paddy procurement and milling a fit case for CBI probe. While the state government admitted rampant irregularities, it tried to impress upon the court that it was competent to investigate the matter by its economic offences unit. The state government Wednesday told the court that it has filed about 1,000 FIRs into the matter that covers a period of five years beginning from 2009-10.

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The Indian Express had carried a series “grain of untruth” in May 2013 showing how the state government stared at a loss of over Rs 500 crore for 2011-12 alone with millers failing to deposit government rice in FCI godowns on behalf of the state food corporation. As per the agreement, a miller had to deposit 67 per cent of rice in advance to receive paddy for processing; but a large number of millers did not deposit rice allegedly in connivance with government officials. The PIL alleged that the paddy scam incurred loss of about Rs 4,000 crore to state exchequer in last five years.

The petitioner’s counsel Madhu Prasun Sudarshan told The Indian Express: “The court had asked CBI in last hearing to reply on its readiness to take over paddy scam case. The agency, however, filed a counter-affidavit. The court took objection to it because it was not asked for and CBI is not a party in this case. The CBI DIG had to appear personally later in the day. The agency will have to explain in next hearing if the counter-affidavit mentioning the agency’s staff shortage and other constraints was filed with permission of CBI director.” Sudarshan added the matter would be heard on 6 May. “It is the court that would take final call on if the matter should go to CBI,” he said.

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