Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Friday asked the State Government to clarify by July 23 its stand on a petition seeking criminal action against BJP MLA Shankar Chaudhary for allegedly misusing earthquake relief fund in 2001.
In response to a notice issued by the HC earlier, the Government today filed an affidavit explaining the course of action it had planned against officials involved in alleged misuse of Prime Minister`s National Relief Fund (PMRF).
The petitioner raised objection to the affidavit on the ground that Government has not provided information on what action they intend to initiate against Chaudhary, the MLA from Radhanpur in Banaskantha district.
On this, a Division Bench of Justices Akil Kureshi and Sonia Gokani asked the Government to file another affidavit clarifying whether they intend to initiate criminal action against anyone, whom they prima facie find involved in misappropriation, including the ruling party legislator.
One Farsu Goklani has filed the petition through his advocate Jal Unvala. The petitioner`s counsel submitted before the court that even one-and-a-half year after the HC ordered suitable action against those responsible for misuse of relief fund, no steps had been initiated in this regard.
In 2007, Goklani filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) accusing Chaudhary of misusing PMNRF to the tune of Rs 21.01 lakh. The PIL said the building of a school, run by a Chaudhary-led trust, in his constituency Radhanpur was severely damaged in the 2001 earthquake.
Chaudhary claimed Rs 21.01 lakh from PMNRF for the damage caused to the building. With this money, he constructed another building on a private plot and not on land owned by his trust, which amounts to misuse of PMNRF, Goklani had alleged.
The HC, in early 2010, ordered Chaudhary to reimburse the amount he had availed from PMNRF with 10 per cent interest and also directed the Government to initiate action against all responsible persons.
Early this year, Goklani filed a petition drawing attention of the court about the alleged non-compliance of the HC order and demanded criminal action against everybody involved in the embezzlement of PMNRF, including Chaudhary.
On July 7, HC issued notices to the Government, Education Department and Chaudhary to file their replies.
Today Sangita Singh, Principal Secretary (Education), filed an affidavit stating they have initiated a departmental inquiry based on which guilty persons, if any, will be punished.