BY REPORTERS EYE
The High Court of H.P. today issued notice to the Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary(Finance), Principal Secretary(Panchayati Raj), Deputy Commissioner, Kullu, Block Development Officer, Anni and Panchayat Inspector of Block Development Office, Anni, in a matter pertaining to alleged shuffling in the budget shelf of BDC, in violation of the guidelines of the 15th Finance Commission.
A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua passed these orders on a petition taken up suo moto by the Court as Public Interest Litigation on a letter written to Chief Justice by five members of the Block Development Committee, Anni, District Kullu. The petitioners have alleged that the budget was provided by the 15th Finance Commission for all the members of the Block Development Committee and they prepared the scheme shelf on that behalf and sent it to the Panchayat Inspector for approval. However, the Chairperson of BDC, in connivance with the Panchayat Inspector, shuffled the entire budget shelf which was prepared by the petitioners and allocated the share of the petitioners to the other members, at their own level. Petitioners have alleged that when confronted, the Chairperson could not offer any plausible explanation, save and except that the decision had been taken by the majority of the house.
The petitioners have further alleged that as per guidelines of the 15th Finance Commission, the budget has to be equally allocated among all the public representatives and no deviation can be made by the Chairperson or majority decision of the house. They have also alleged that the guidelines have been flagrantly violated by the Chairperson of the BDC by curtailing their budgets and shifting the same to the Members of her choice, which is unjust and unfair to them, as they are also public representatives and are answerable to the public of their areas. They have alleged that the matter was brought to the notice of Block Development Officer, Anni, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Kullu and also to the Deputy Commissioner, District Kullu, but to no avail. They have prayed that strict action may be ordered to be taken against the Chairperson and Panchayat Inspector for their failure to follow the guidelines and taking unilateral decision to reshuffle the budget shelf. The court posted the matter after two weeks and also directed the respondents to file their replies by the next date.