Friday, December 2, 2022

Top Meghalaya police official arrested for embezzlement of public funds

Correspondent

A top Meghalaya police official was arrested by the Special Investigating Team (SIT) of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) under the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly misappropriating government funds.
“The police official (Iangrai) has been arrested today and investigation is on,” Director General of Police, Lajja Ram Bishnoi said, but refused to divulge details.
Iangrai, who is the commandant of Special Force or SF-10, was arrested for allegedly misappropriating funds from the construction work of the National Emergency Response System (NERS) Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) facility at Sadar police station here in the state capital.
Sleuths of the SIT conducted simultaneous searches on the strength of the warrant issued by the Court of the Special Judge (PC Act), Shillong at the residential premises of Iangrai at Lumshyiap, Chanmari, Upper Golf Links, Shillong 1, Official Quarter at Golf Links, and Farm House at Rtiang, Umsning in Ri-Bhoi district.
During the searches, many incriminating documents, cash and material objects were seized.
Iangrai had moved the anticipatory bail application before the High Court on November 1, but his legal counsel on Wednesday prayed that the anticipatory bail may be withdrawn and accordingly the court dismissed the application.
A police official said that the Special Investigating Team of the CID found clinching evidence that Iangrai, who was earlier posted as Assistant Inspector-General of Police (Administration) in the police headquarter, transferred funds meant for construction of NERS PSAP project to his personal account which amounts to gross misappropriation of government funds.”
The project was being funded by the central government worth Rs. 95.78 lakh
“He diverted some of the fund into his personal account and submitted a falsified utilisation certificate of the project to the government, a police official said.
The embezzlement of public funds of Rs. 35,35,793 by Iangrai was unearthed by a four-member team led by Deputy Inspector-General (Eastern Range) Davis Nestell R Marak during an inquiry into the construction of the NERS- PSAP building.
It was only after audit objections, Iangrai refunded Rs 26,85,389 back to the Official AIG (A) account on September 19, 2022, but the remaining balance amount of Rs 8,50,404 is still in the personal custody of langrai.
Apart from the embezzlement of the NERS PSAP project, Iangrai is also accused in a vehicle procurement scam in which the police official bought 29 vehicles for the police department but didn’t hand it over to the department.
A PIL has been filed by a former diplomat Riewad Vicharwant Warjri and another citizen before the Meghalaya High Court against Iangrai for misusing public funds while purchasing the vehicles for the department.
On Wednesday, the government submitted a detailed affidavit and accompanying report before the High Court. The report appended to the affidavit filed by the Home Secretary to the State indicates appropriate steps having been taken thus far, including the service of a charge-sheet.
The government also informed the Court that appropriate steps would be taken to ensure that the assets of the delinquent are frozen since the extent of defalcation has been, prima facie, pegged at over Rs. 3 crore.
Advocate-General Amit Kumar informed the Court that the delinquent has sought some documents and has been afforded time to file his written statement in response to the charge-sheet.
An inquiry officer has already been appointed. Forty-three witnesses have been indicated in the charge-sheet and the connected papers.
The State submits that appropriate steps would be taken to ensure that the assets of the delinquent are frozen since the extent of defalcation has been, prima facie, pegged at over Rs. 3 crore.
“It is hoped that the inquiry is conducted as expeditiously as possible and without affording undue latitude to either the Department or to the delinquent,” a division bench of the court comprised of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Wanlura Diengdoh said.
The court also dropped the contempt proceedings instituted against the Home Secretary since the matter is being attended to by the State with the seriousness that it calls for.
“The rule is discharged and the Home Secretary is excused. It is hoped that the entire matter is monitored at the highest level to ensure that defalcated public funds are recovered and the culprit or culprits are brought to book,” the order stated.
Meanwhile, the court has listed the next hearing on the matter on November 25 to ascertain the progress in both the departmental proceedings and in respect of the FIR that is said to have been lodged.
On the other hand, Meghalaya Lokayukta has summoned former DGP R Chandranathan and Iangrai for hearing on November 15 in connection with the purchase of 29 vehicles.

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