Vijayawada: The Supreme Court directed the Andhra Pradesh government not to transfer funds from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to personal deposit account.
The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna heard a petition on Wednesday over objections against the diversion of SDRF funds meant for providing ex gratia of Rs 50,000 per head, to the kin of the deceased due to Covid-19, to the personal deposit account.
The court issued directions to serve a notice to Andhra Pradesh government and also restrain it from transferring funds from SDRF to personal deposit account. The court said that if the funds were already diverted, they should not be used for the purpose other than under the provisions of Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The advocate and petitioner-in-person Gaurav Kumar Bansal informed the court that the Centre had come to know about the diversion of SDRF funds by the AP government and directed it to take corrective measures earlier. The case is posted for next hearing on April 28.
Meanwhile, the petitioner relied on the statement made of Union minister of state for finance Pankaj Chaudhary in reply to a query by TD MP Kinjarapu Ram Mohan Naidu in the Budget Session of Lok Sabha in February with reference to CAG’s report. The statement said that AP government received Rs 324.15 crore as the Central share of SDRF and Rs 570.91 crore under National Disaster Relief Fund.
AP transferred Rs 1,100 crore to the Personal Deposit Account of Directorate of Agriculture towards payment of input subsidy to farmers for kharif as gratuitous relief and this amount again was transferred to PD Account of commissioner, Directorate of Agriculture on March 31, 2020. The state government transferred this amount to PF account by showing expenditure as disaster relief and rehabilitation in violation of the Appropriation Act.
The entire expenditure transferred to PD account was adjusted from SDRF by showing it as expenditure deducted in violation of SDRF accounting procedure. Booking the expenditure without actually incurring it raised questions about the accuracy of expenditure figures of the state government.
Moreover, the AP government said that these funds were demarcated for pandemic related expenditure and were used in the following financial year even as SDRF guidelines allow adjustment of expenditure from the fund only for expenditure incurred on providing ‘immediate relief.’
However, the state government transferred the funds from SDRF to PD Account without spending on immediate relief.
SC advocate and petitioner Gaurav Kumar Bansal said, "The AP government flouted all norms to divert funds from SDRF to PD account to implement welfare schemes and give freebies to the poor. The SC directed it not to divert funds from SDRF and also not to utilise such funds in case already diverted so that the funds released to be used for the purpose they are meant for like providing relief to the Covid-19 victims’ families."