‘Non-performing’ govt bodies in HC glare

The Allahabad High Court has directed the Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary to inquire into the functioning of those government corporations which are running apparently only to provide salaries, perks and status to a few individuals by appointing them as chairmen and directors of such bodies, even as they do not do any actual work on the ground.

The court has asked the Chief Secretary to conduct a thorough inquiry in this regard and submit a compliance report on May 10, 2013, which is the next date of hearing.

The order, passed by a single-judge bench of Justice Sudhir Agarwal recently, came in connection with a tenancy dispute of the Uttar Pradesh Bundelkhand Vikas Nigam (BVN), a government corporation incorporated back in 1970 to work for the poor in Bundelkhand.

The court has also directed the state government to recover the expenditures incurred on the salaries and perks of BVN officials in the past four years from the chairman, vice-chairmen and directors of the Nigam. The chairman of the BVN, who is currently one Ramesh Kumar Sharma, enjoys the status of a minister of state.

BVN was closed down in 1992 due to mounting liabilities and revived in 2008 (under the Rural Development Department) with only four officials being nominated by the government. Not a single employee has been employed ever since. The four officials are chairman, two non-government members as vice-chairmen and one director.

Holding that the state did not have a right to squander public money to benefit a few individuals with perks and status, the court went on to say that the prerogative of the government to nominate such officials need to be looked into.

Earlier, the BVN, which is located in a house in Civil Lines area of Jhansi, had approached the high court against an order of the Rent Control and Eviction Officer (RCEO), Jhansi, in which it had allowed the owners of the house to charge rent from the Nigam at an enhanced rate. Incidentally, the office of the Nigam did not close down between 1992 and 2008.

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