Vijayawada: The AP High Court on Thursday expressed its displeasure over the inordinate delay in clearing pending bills pertaining to the works taken up under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for 2018-19 and directed that they be cleared by the month-end
A division bench comprising Chief Justice AK Goswami and Justice N. Jayasurya heard a batch of petitions challenging non-payment of work bills taken up under the job scheme for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The court asked the state government as to why it was paying the bills for the new works taken up under the scheme instead of clearing the old bills as it was informed that the state government had issued budget release order for Rs 870 crore in April to clear the dues and directed it to pay the bills irrespective of the fact whether it had received funds from the Centre or not. The court cautioned that it would initiate disciplinary proceedings against the concerned officials holding them responsible for the delay in payment of bills and observed that it would issue directions to ensure the presence of principal secretaries of panchayat raj and finance departments in the court to give their explanation in the next hearing.
Special government pleader C.Sumon submitted that the state government would clear the pending bills by the end of July. However, the court issued an order stating that if the state government failed to clear the pending bills by that time, principal secretaries of panchayat raj and finance should appear before it to give proper explanation and posted the next hearing on August 4.
Petitioners’ senior counsels Dammalapati Srinivas, P. Veera Reddy and others argued that though the state government issued release order for Rs 870 crore in April to clear pending bills worth less than Rs five lakh, it failed to clear. They submitted that the state government was finding new reasons to defer clearing of bills during every hearing in the case.
They submitted that those who carried out the works under the scheme for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 had borrowed money and were now facing hardships to clear interest.
The court directed assistant solicitor general N. Harinath to submit details on the quantum of funds released by the Centre and for what purposes.
Sumon submitted that they had written letters to the Centre seeking release of funds for the works and sounded confident that the funds would be released by end of July so that the state government could pay bills....