Friday, November 2, 2012

O.A. No.139 of 2009 -- show ??????????

Hon'ble Dr. KBS-M(J)/Hon'ble LM- (M(A)

O.A. No.139 of 2009

Smt. Nagamani                       Vs. Union of India, BSNL & Ors.

            This case arises on account of the applicant Smt. Nagamani, who wa then the SDE (Sub-Divisional Engineer), CSC, City, Bangalore, being given a charge sheet on the ground that she failed to notice mis-appropriation for an amount of Rs.17,09,855/- against the sale of IT Cards at City CSC, by her immediate subordinate Shri V. Natarajan, STOA-P during the period from 18.8.1999 till April, 2002 and for having failed to monitor the daily activities taking place at CSC dyring the period, leading to the misappropriation of an amount of Rs.17,09,855/-.  Further to this charge sheet, she was given the punishment by order dated 19.5.2007 and 29.12.2007 (appellate order), the punishment order (which was then reduced in an appeal from ................. to .........)

            This being the case where the applicant has been charged with failute to notice misappropriation which is the charge imposed and the misappropriation amount being as large as around Rs.17.00 lakhs.

            We felt it necessary to examine whether the applicant has failed and whether the failure belongs only to her or some other officers as well and if so, the punishment given to the other officers.  Hence, we were required to ask the learned counsel for the respondent to furnish some details, especially, on the issue of guidelines of the deprtment to prevent such occasion of misappropriation and the regular practice prevailing in this particular office of CSC, City and also the diligence shown by the department for the implementation of the checks and balances.  We found the following lacunae in the system.
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1)         The Department of BSNL had for the first time come out with the concept of IT Cards introduced in the month of June, 1999, under which Cards were being printed with various denominations "for being used as Pre-paid Cards" which had to be sold to the customers.  For the proper implementation of this scheme, the department had issued a circular dated 13.10.1999 which apparently contained the procedure to be scrupulously followed while selling the IT Cards.  As per the guidelines extracted from Art. Of Charge No.2 of the Charge memo (page 30), we felt it necessary to inquire from the officers of the department as to how these guidelines were actually put in practice and we notice the following lapses.
            (i)         From the circular, it appears that the Cards are printed, sold and accounted for in a triangular system.  The Customer Service Centre decides how many cards they want during the fortnight and indented the same to the supplying office (a different office) where the incharge officer is........... (and the name of the officer at that time was Shri Henne Gowda).  When the cards are sold and cash is obtained from the customers, the cash is collected on daily basis by a third officer who is the Accounts Officer (AO) (Receipts).  From the circular, it is cler that such a triangular system was intended to be operative, but, in actual implementation, it was not operative and the department has failed to notice the same till in 2002, when the Audit wing of the department found out the discrepancy leading to misappropriation of nearly Rs.17.00 lakhs.  We find that (Henne Gowda's office) was not properly reading the indent slips issued by the STOA-P.  We have perused as many as 49 indent slips and found that in each slip the concerned STOA-P was showing the figures of unsold cards and indented cards.  But, in the next consecutive slip, the opening balance was always shown equal to the cards indented whereas the actual opening balance should have been shown as unsold cards (+) indented.  This is such an aspect
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where a person of normal diligence should have been able to see one indent slip and realise with the opening balance is not shown properly.  But, the supplying office was not able to detect it for more than three years.

2.         We also came to know that the indenting officer was allowed to print cards at his will and supply it to various CSCs as per their indent and apparently, the department had no system to check how many cards are being printed by the supplying office on a daily or monthly or yearly basis.

3.         The circular clearly states that a day-to-day detailed report in the prescribed format for the sale of IT Cards shall be prepared and submitted while depositing the cash with the AO (Receipts).  This was apparently not done for three years.

4.         There is also no system of tallying what the supply officer prints and issues and what is sold out by the entire division and money received by the AO (Receipts).

5.         In this particular case, we find from the records that while the Applicant SDE, who is also the Head of office seems to be kept in complete darkness by the STOA-P Shri P. Natarajan, who never presented any indent slip or any daily tally sheet for her perusal and signature, even the supplying office and the office of AO (Receipts) have never questioned the authority of STOA-P to sign the slips.  Further what pilferage or mistake they could have detected by just one liik at the slips, they have not detected. In fact, the AO has apparently never received any tally slips from any of the SDEs from whom he was collecting the cash on a daily basis.

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            With all the above omissions, it becomes quite clear that a greater omission is on the part of the Divisional Engineer (DE), DGM and the GM, who seem to have totally omitted their responsibiliy as a supervisory officer.  The guidelines clearly instruct the SDEs to submit a monthly tally report to the office of the DE and we were told that some other SDEs working under some other Des were following the practice of submitting such tallies.  This information was in fact produced before us by the learned counsel for the respondents to bring home the gravity of omissions by the applicant.  However, we tend to view it otherwise.  When a circular prescribes a monthly report, it is the duty of the supervisory officer to see that his juniors are sending the said report.  In addition, the DE is also supposed to carry out an annual inspection of all the SDEs which apparently has not been done during the three years or later and no officer superior to the DE has ever questioned for such omission.  Had the DE had asked for the monthly report even once, then the SDE would have come to know that her STOA-P was himself engaging in the entire correspondence without her knowledge or proof.

6.         We also find that the department did not have the system of monthly or quarterly meeting of the DE with all his SDEs.  Such a system of monthly meeting is extremely useful for proper coordination, human resource augmentation and preventing of possible misappropriation arising out of inadequate supervision either by SDE or by the DE or by the DGM.

7.         There is a difference in the amount of recour which is expected from the supervising officers for continuous scheme and a new scheme.  Since the system of cards was new, the supervising offiers were expected to watch for the proper
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implementation with more diligence that is required for the ongoing schemes.  No supervisory officer seems to have shown such rigour. 

8.         The scheme of the cards was such that at the end of every fortnight there was a possibility of some cards getting expired due to non activation since only the sold cards would be activated.  The department would also have prescribed a system for the tally of unsold and expired cards in order to understand the effectiveness of their customer service.  If such a system had been in place, even that would have helped in detecting the pilferage and misappropriation that was happening every fortnight.

            We therefore, feel obliged to ask the department to set up a proper system for the implementation of the circular dated 13.10.1999 and ensure that proper monitoring is done.  We reiterate that they should not stop at simply issuing the instructions and circulars but also collect and review the report that are to be submitted on a periodical basis.  We therefore, feel obliged to instruct the CMD, BSNL and CGM, Telecom, Karnataka Circle to set up a proper system for monitoring the printing, sale, cash collection, writing off unutilised cards, etc. And monitor them  for six months and report back to us how the monitoring system have been set in proper functioning.  The report should reach us on or before 31.12.2010.    

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