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Section 409 to crack whip on those taking 'cut money'

Section 409 to crack whip on those taking cut money

Kolkata: Elected public representatives and government officials in Bengal who accept 'cut money' from beneficiaries of welfare schemes, will now be charged under a tough law that provides for life imprisonment in the event of conviction, CMO sources said Tuesday.

Errant public representatives and government functionaries will be charged under section 409 of the IPC, which relates to criminal breach of trust by a public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent, officials in the Chief Minister's office said on condition of anonymity.

A person convicted under the law is liable to be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, besides fine. The decision was taken by the Chief Minister herself, the officials said.

"Once the complaints are lodged, the civil administration can inquire as these are mainly related to schemes run by Panchayats or civic bodies. In case of any anomaly, the police will lodge formal complaints and initiate action against the accused," ADG (law and order) Gyanwant Singh said.

Meanwhile, in a bid to ensure that the various people-friendly schemes of the government reach people in a better way, Nabanna has instructed the District Magistrates across the state to give hearing to the problems faced by people.

As per sources in the state secretariat, complaints or grievances can be informed directly to the DM on a specific day in a week. Complaints can also be lodged with the Block Development Officers (BDO). The DM and the BDO can take action against errant officials, if the complaint is proved true. The hearing sessions are expected to start from the month of July in all the districts.

The decision on the part of Nabanna comes in the wake of complaints of some state officers accepting favours in terms of cash (referred to as cut money) from beneficiaries of state government schemes.

The state Assembly on Tuesday also witnessed furor by the Opposition over the cut money issue. The members of Congress and Left Front staged a walkout from the House, demanding an enquiry commission and release of white paper on cut-money.

In response, state Parliamentary Affairs minister Partha Chatterjee lashed out at the Opposition for disrupting the proceedings of the Assembly without any pertinent cause.

"They don't have any issue. The Chief Minister had made a statement and they are trying to bring out a wrong meaning of the same. They only do this to grab media attention. The ruling party in the state is strong and it is committed to work for the service of people of the state," Chatterjee reiterated.

He alleged that during the erstwhile Left Front government, there were demands from Trinamool Congress (the then Opposition) for probe in the issues of land scam and others, but everything had fallen on deaf ears.

Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly Abdul Mannan demanded an enquiry commission to properly investigate the whole issue and a white paper of the same.

Meanwhile, Left Front MLA Sujan Chakraborty demanded that there should be a place either at Nabanna or at the Chief Minister's residential office, where people can lodge their complaints related to cut money.

It may be mentioned that the Chief Minister has already constituted a monitoring cell of government welfare schemes with Colonel Diptangshu Chowdhury as its advisor, which will visit the districts to directly talk to the beneficiaries, listening to their feedback and complaints. It has already started its work and addressed various issues of the people.

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