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New twist in demand for probe into health mission funds


Lucknow: In a new twist to the demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged bungling in National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) funds in Uttar Pradesh, two applications were filed Monday before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court seeking the inquiry to cover the period prior to the Mayawati regime.

The new applications, by local lawyers, came as a division bench of Justice Pradeep Kant and Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi were hearing arguments on a PIL moved by a local journalist Sachidanand Gupta, demanding a CBI probe into the irregularities.

These irregularities are also seen as related to the killings of two government doctors and the suspicious death of another in jail.

According to a court official, “separate impleadment applications were moved by two well known lawyers who wanted that any probe into the alleged financial irregularities must include funds rolled out under the NRHM scheme right since 2005”.

The applications were moved by senior advocates L.P. Misra and Sandeep Dixit, who were strongly of the view that the period under Mayawati’s predecessor, Mulayam Singh Yadav could not be ignored.

The lawyers said they were not against a CBI probe into the suspicion of financial irregularities under NRHM, but the earlier period should not be excluded.

“A lot of funding had started flowing in right from 2005 under different centrally sponsored health programmes, while NRHM came in its full form with effect from 2006. Therefore, it would be in the larger interest of on equity and justice to include the entire period in the ambit of the proposed inquiry,” argued one of the lawyers.

Vehemently opposing the CBI probe, Uttar Pradesh’s Additional Advocate General Jaideep Mathur and chief standing counsel Devendra Upadhaya argued that the state government has not only ordered seven inquiries into the alleged bungling but has also taken some corrective action against certain officials.

Favouring a probe by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, they felt that since the CAG was a constitutional body, it was certainly more independent than the CBI, which could be influenced by the central government.

The arguments could continue Tuesday, when the court is likely to take a final call on the issue.