Bangalore, Mar 18, 2013, DHNS:
The Lokayukta police on Monday recommended a charge sheet against IAS officer Shamla Iqbal and others in a matter pertaining to large scale irregularities in the supply of nutritious food for children in anganwadis across the State.
Submitting the final report on the investigation to the Special Lokayukta Court, DySP H S Manjunath also recommended a charge sheet against joint-director of senior citizens, Usha Patwari, besides Kumaraswamy and Subramani of the Christy Friedgram Industry.
Letters for sanction of the prosecution against Iqbal and Patwari have already been dispatched by the police.
Iqbal and Patwari were accused of turning a blind eye to complaints about the poor quality of food supplied by Christy Friedgram through the Mahila Supplementary Production and Training Center (MSPTC) to lakhs of young children, pregnant women and new mothers.
It was alleged that Iqbal, who was the director of the department of women and child development, did not supervise the quality of food despite several reports that the food was rejected by the target consumers. In many cases, the food was found infested with insects and cooked in rancid oil. Even a strongly-worded report by the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights on how the food, on being rejected by the children and women, was used as cattle fodder, did not evoke any response from Iqbal or Patwari, the erstwhile joint-director of the Integrated Children Development Scheme.
Later, a report by the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development, stating that the food samples revealed a strong presence of coliform bacteria, banned colours and insects, was ignored. Damaged grain was also reported . Even letters from the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development to the State government, expressing concern about the poor quality of food and hygiene, failed to elicit any action from the erring duo.
According to the report submitted by the Lokayukta, food samples sent by the police to the National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad have been detected with heavy traces of lead. The company was supplying pre-mixed packaged food. However, investigations revealed that Christy manipulated the guidelines for fulfilling the order. They not only collected money for raw grain, but also the profits that should have gone to the MSPTCs.
The contract with Christy was later scrapped by erstwhile director M E Shivalingamurthy as they did not fulfill the terms of their contract with the government, which clearly stated that MSPTCs had to be independent after three years of capacity building by Christy.
Iqbal and Patwari have been charged under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Kumaraswamy and Subramani have been charged under Sections 120B, 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection dangerous to life) and 420 (cheating and dishonesty). Both Iqbal and Patwari were suspended last year. While Patwari was reinstated as the joint-director of senior citizens, Iqbal has not yet been given a posting.
No charges were pressed against erstwhile assistant director Muniraju, who was also named in the case. All the three have cases of disproportionate assets pending before the Lokayukta police, which are under investigation.