Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Chhattisgarh High Court directs Registrar to conduct inquiry into allegations of embezzlement of funds by state schools

The Chhattisgarh High Court has directed the Registrar under the Chhattisgarh Society Registration Act, 1973 to decide the application submitted by the petitioners expeditiously within an outer limit of six months from the date of receipt of application by conducting enquiry Section 32 of the Act, 1973 after providing opportunity of hearing to all the parties on the matter of alleged mismanagement of affairs, mis-utilisation of funds by irresponsible unscrupulous persons of Chhattisgarh Dioceses under whose aegis the schools are running in Chhattisgarh and against mass corruption.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Parth Prateem Sahu disposed of a PIL seeking following relief:-
“10.1 That respondent state may be directed to take over the administration and management of all 11 schools under Board of Education, CNI, Jabalpur and Board of Secondary Education Teachers Training, CNI, Jabalpur from Chhattisgarh diocese Board of Education, CNI Raipur situated in State of Chhattisgarh.  
10.2 It may declared that the Chhattisgarh Diocese Board of Education, CNI Raipur is not authorized to administer and run all 11 Schools and Administrator be appointed to take care of the said schools. 
10.3 That Chhattisgarh Diocese Board of Education Raipur may be restrained from dealing with any of the affairs of the schools under Board of Education Jabalpur and board of Secondary Education Teachers Training, CNI, Jabalpur. Further, an enquiry may be instituted through independent authority to investigate malpractice and corruption done by the respondents Chhattisgarh Diocese Board of Education Board during last 2 years and to register criminal case against the responsible office bearers of CDBE, CNI, Raipur. 
10.4 That the Respondent State may be directed to take immediate action against Chhattisgarh Diocese Board of Education Raipur or the responsible Board or person under the law for unauthorizedly, misusing and administering the funds extracted from the students. 
10.5 Any other relief may also be granted to the petitioner which this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case”
The Bench observed that the Petitioners have raised the issue of mis-utilisation of funds. After filing of petition as also based on the complaint, the higher body has taken cognisance, conducted an enquiry, made certain observations, issued recommendations based upon which the members/persons against whom the allegations were found to be correct were removed, earlier Executive Committee was dissolved and ad hoc Executive Committee was constituted.

Hence after filing of petition, remedial measures were taken by respondents by making recommendations and issuing directions for taking action against erring persons, who were found involved in committing wrong including action for recovery of unaccounted money .

With regard to initiation of certain proceedings by the Income Tax Department, as stated by petitioners, the High Court is of the view that the concerned department is an authorized agency to take action under the Income Tax Act. Hence, it will not be proper for the High Court to go into that issue.  

The main grievance raised by petitioners is with regard to diversion and mis-utilization of funds collected in schools under Chhattisgarh Diocese Board of Education, CNI. With respect to grievance raised, two enquiry reports are available in the record. An Enquiry Committee constituted by respondents ( Church of North India, Board of Education,  Board of Secondary Education and Teachers Training MP CNI, Jabalpur Diocese) conducted an enquiry and submitted its report in the year 2019. In the said report also it was concluded that the funds are transferred by the institution. It was also recorded that there is not much clarity as to how the amounts were utilized. There is no disclosure of heads under which funds received from schools were spent. Further in the recommendation it is mentioned that responsibility to ensure financial discipline in CDBE and Diocese was of the Bishop of the Diocese , the Court noted.
In the enquiry report dated 27.04.2019 , the Court further noted that  members of Enquiry Committee have not arrived at a conclusion with respect to quantum of funds misutilized and as per conclusion and recommendation made by Committee, no document has been placed before this Court to show, what further steps have been taken by respondents . In the aforementioned facts of the case and also in light of decision of  Supreme Court as discussed above, if the fund collected by school, is found to be transferred to a society, is unaccounted, as held in the enquiry report, it requires further enquiry to ascertain the quantum of amount misutilized and the persons involved in it so as to achieve the object of utilization of funds collected by schools, for betterment and management of schools only. 
The Respondent has specifically pleaded that C.G. Diocese Board of Education, CNI is registered as a society with Registrar, Firms and Societies, Chhattisgarh, therefore, the Bench found it appropriate to direct the Registrar, Firms and Societies, Chhattisgarh to enquire into the complaint of petitioners with respect to transfer of funds collected by schools to others. The Bench also directed that enquiry should be limited to the allegation with regard to diversion of school funds for other purposes.


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