Millennium Post

Huge financial frauds even in Nirbhaya protests & other events

Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal on Friday lodged a complaint with the Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) against her predecessors — Barkha Shukla Singh and Kiran Walia and former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, alleging financial fraud. Maliwal claimed irregularities of crores of rupees between 2007 and 2015 in the name of organising protests after the Nirbhaya gang-rape incident and several other activities. Maliwal’s complaint comes days after the ACB registered an FIR against her in connection with alleged illegal recruitments in the women’s panel, on a complaint filed by Shukla. The ACB, in its reply, has said that the officials will be going through the documents and launch an inquiry if needed.

The allegations in the complaint include financial fraud of over Rs 50 lakh in name of Nirbhaya and a silent march for her on January 2, 2013, appointment of a sitting MLA as DCW chief providing opportunities for misuse of office, diversion of funds for political gains and personal glorification, paid interviews and irregularities in celebration of International Women’s Day over the years.

No quotations, no work order, no tender was done and the work was awarded to firms on the basis of a direct recommendation from the then CM Sheila Dikshit. A total of Rs 12.5 lakh was paid to one single firm for printing signages, placards and banners while Rs 32 lakh was paid to a company recommended by Dikshit for advertising without any work order. The audit report of this expenditure highlighted this huge fraud in very strong words stating that the Commission was forced to make payments for the event and that by organising such an event, the Commission violated its mandate under the statute, said the complaint. 

The fact that a sitting MLA was also appointed as Chairperson of the Commission provided ample opportunities to exploit the finances of the DCW to satisfy their political objectives. While holding the post of the Chairperson, her conduct amounted to misusing the public office with an aim to benefit certain individuals. Every year, a majority of the budget of the Commission was spent only on organising such functions and giving out advertisements which were criticised by audit reports time and again.  

A total Rs 37 lakh was spent for the celebration of International Women’s Day. The Commission, as a practice, hired event management firms for organising functions. No process was held for selection of the event management company M/s TIC. Almost Rs 1 lakh was spent to attract crowds to the programme in a manner befitting of only a traditional political party, by paying for buses, an expenditure which was definitely not aligned to the founding objectives of a statutory body. 

It was a lavish event celebrated at the cost of about Rs 90 lakh out of which about Rs 49 lakh was incurred by DCW and remaining by Department of Women and Child Development. Although work was awarded to the event management firm Degree 360 Solutions for an amount of Rs 7.95 lakh, the cost spiralled to Rs 39 lakh during the execution of the work without fulfilling any codal formalities and the same was paid in its entirety by the Commission. 

Further, it was also observed that in 2014, three NGOs, one of them called Kaveri, were appointed by the Commission for the Mahilla Panchayat programme without giving out any advertisements and grants worth several lakhs that were given to this NGO. It has been informed that Kaveri belongs to a relative of Barkha Singh.
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