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Posted at: Nov 15, 2017, 2:02 AM; last updated: Nov 15, 2017, 2:02 AM (IST)PURCHASE OF FURNITURE

Rs 38.25-lakh fraud at Panjab University

Bhartesh Singh Thakur

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 14

A committee of Panjab University (PU) has recommended action against two officials in purchase of furniture for varsity hostels in 2012 and 2013, while violating rules and specifications too. The officials under the scanner, a Junior Engineer (JE) and Sub-Divisional Engineer (SDE), even confessed to it. Moreover, the committee observed that bills of contractor were cleared in a day and alleged favouritism.  

The committee report will be tabled before the syndicate on November 19. 

Former Dean Students Welfare (DSW) and chairperson of physics department Prof Navdeep Goyal was the complainant in the case in 2014. After that, supplier firm M/s Diwedi Steel Furniture was blacklisted but by the time fraud came to light, the payments were already made.   

"Concerned SDE and JE have admitted their fault. There has been dereliction of duty while inspecting the materials supplied and wrongly recording the same in measurement books. Warning issued by the XEN-1 to them is not adequate and a regular enquiry needs to be conducted against the delinquents in accordance with the Service and Conduct rules as incorporated in the PU Calendar, Vol. III, 2009," said the report.

Two tenders issued instead of one  

About 200 wooden beds with boxes and PVC chairs of worth Rs 13.24 lakh and 154 steel almirahs, worth Rs 14.93 lakh, were found to be processed by the Junior Purchase Committee in a meeting on January 16, 2013. "Considering the fact that all these items are of the similar nature (i.e. furniture items) which are supplied by the common vendors, the tender should have been one instead of two as was actually processed by the PU Construction Office," said the report. 

It added, "Had it been processed in one tender enquiry it would have been the case of press tender enquiry not the limited tender enquiry which actually was followed by the PU Construction office. Virtually, it becomes a case of splitting of quantity which has been overlooked by the Junior Purchase Committee while approving both cases in the same meeting on January 16, 2013." 

The committee further observed, "They have not asked for security deposit or performance guarantee/ bank guarantee from the supplier." 

"The proper procedure of inspection of the goods delivered was not followed by the concerned officials. In the instant case, they relied on the gauge provided by the supplier for measuring the thickness of the goods supplied without proper specifications."  

Hurry in clearing bills 

The committee procured data from accounts branch about time taken to clear the bills submitted on specific dates; October 18, 2012, December 17, 2013, and March 6, 2014. On these dates, bills of M/s Diwedi Steel Furniture were passed for payment.  

The committee noted that in processing of bills in most of the cases, minimum of 13 of 14 or 18 days or more days were taken to clear the bills. "But the bills sent by XEN office for payment to M/s Diwedi Steel Furniture on the above mentioned dates took only one day." 

A bill of Rs 10.08 lakh for 30 dining tables and 180 dining chairs was sent from XEN office on October 18, 2012 and was cleared the next day for payment and cheque was also issued the same day. 

Another bill of Rs 14.93 lakh for 154 steel almirahs was sent by XEN office on December 17, 2013, and was cleared the next day for payment, and the cheque was also issued the same day. 

One more bill of Rs 13.24 lakh for 200 wooden beds with boxes and 200 PVC chairs was sent by XEN office on March 6, 2014, and was cleared for payment the next day. The cheque was issued on March 11, 2014. 

During the committee proceedings, Registrar Col GS Chadha (retd) said that in these particular bills the XEN office did not ask for security deposit and bank guarantee from the supplier. "The findings of this committee is that specification whatever were required in the above mentioned three purchases were not as per the specifications mentioned in the tender notice. Proper inspection of the goods supplied by the firm M/s Diwedi Steel Furniture was not done by the concerned officials of the XEN office. It is clear cut favouritism," he added.  

During the committee proceedings, Secretary to Vice Chancellor Col PS Sandhu (retd) was of the view that if there was an urgency to clear these bills in one or two days, the approval of the head of the accounts branch or competent authority should have been obtained. 

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