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Patna High Court closes PIL seeking action against Darbhanga BDO, then Gramin Awas Assistant for irregularities in PM Housing Scheme

The Patna High Court closed Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed seeking appropriate action against the respondent Nos 7 and 8 (The Block Development Officer and the then Gramin Awas Assistant ,Ghanshyampur, Darbhanga) for their deliberate inaction in providing assistance under the Prime Minister Housing Scheme to eligible persons and disbursing it to ineligible person.

The petitioner also claimed in the petition that these irregularities were pointed out before the District Magistrate, Darbhanga which was not at all considered by the authorities.

A Counter affidavit is filed on behalf of the respondents dated 17.8.23. In the counter, it is pointed out that the SDO, Birraul has submitted an enquiry report before the Sub-Divisional Public Grievance Redressal Officer, Biraul, Darbhanga. The S.D.O. has also made a report to the Deputy Development Commissioner (DDC), Darbhanga who issued notice to the Block Development Officer, Ghanshyampur ,also forwarded by DDC, Darbhanga to the S.D.O., Biraul for report .

The report of the DDC, Darbhanga filed before a Sub-Divisional Public Grievance Redressal Officer, Biraul was extracted in the counter affidavit.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice K. Vinod Chandran and Justice Rajiv Roy directed an English translation to be provided which has been placed on record along with the supplementary affidavit dated 4.10.2022. The Court noted that the DDC has dealt with specific instance of irregularities found in the disbursal of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana under Budhev Inayatpur Panchayat. The petitioner herein has also been referred to as, the person who pointed out many of these. Explanations were called for and recoveries made from certain persons. In fact, all this material has been placed before the District Magistrate, Darbhanga which is the District Appellate Authority from the Public Grievance Redressal Cell.

A reply affidavit has been filed, raising a number of contentions and also alleging that there is no punitive action taken against the erring Officials.

The Court opined that when the matter is seized by the District Magistrate, who is also the Appellate Authority under the Public Grievance Redressal Scheme, there is no scope for a Public Interest Litigation. The matter having been taken up before one authority, the Court was not inclined to entertain the petition and close the same , clarifying that the Court had not said anything on the merits of the issues projected before the District Appellate Authority which has to be considered by the said authority.

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