A CAG Expose
Multi-crore stamp scam in Orissa
By Deepak Kumar Rath
The stamp scam kingpins are now active in a poor state like Orissa causing a huge loss to the public exchequer. Even after the arrest of Abdul Karim Telgi in the multi-crore stamp scam, more Telgis have cropped up in Orissa, if the administration takes pain to investigate the stamp paper and court fee scam amounting to a whopping sum of Rs.15.22 crore.
A cross-verification of stamp papers sold by the treasuries with the stamp papers utilised in registering offices reveals that there was an excess utilisation of stamp papers worth Rs.15.22 crore in execution of documents in eight districts, namely Khurda, Jajpur, Balasore, Kendrapara, Sambalpur, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Jharsuguda. But the state government has maintained a studied silence over the issue for one year. The case was reviewed between February 2004 and July 2004, covering the period 1993-94 to 2002-03 by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for the year ended March 31, 2004.
CAG in its report found that the actual receipts against the budget estimate were less during 1998-99 to 2002-03 and the shortfall ranged between 16 per cent and 27 per cent. The Inspector General of Registration (IGR) has clearly violated the Orissa Supply and Sale of Stamps and Stamped Paper (OSSSP) rules, 1990 as details of receipts of indents from treasury officers, which are recorded by the office of the IGR, and their onward transmission to Deputy Controller of Stamps, Nasik, were not available during the entire period.
CAG in its report found that the actual receipts against the budget estimate were less during 1998-99 to 2002-03 and the shortfall ranged between 16 per cent and 27 per cent. The IGR has clearly violated OSSSP rules.
As per the Government of India Orders of May 1998, all the states had to create nodal points for collection of bulk supply of stamp papers from ISP, Nasik. But surprisingly it is seen that no such nodal points have been created in the state of Orissa and all indenting treasuries received stamp papers directly from Nasik. Twenty-four treasuries out of 34 indenting treasuries revealed that on many occasions there had been either nil supply against the indent or much less than the indented quantity, whereas there were instances of more supply than the indented quantity or supply even without indent. There is a huge mismatch between indent and receipt. As per the OSSSP rules, stamps are to be received by Railways or by post. But it was noticed that SPP, Hyderabad was supplying stamps and stamp papers through private trucks instead of Railways or post.
In several case, it was also seen that the treasury officers in the state did not take prompt action for accounting and disposal of stamp papers. In Jajpur district treasury, non-judicial stamp papers worth Rs. one crore received on May 13, 1998 were taken to stock register on August 30, 2000. In Puri district treasury, non-judicial stamp papers worth Rs. 50 lakh were declared damaged on December 30, 1998. However after a lapse of four years the DTI during its inspection declared them fit for sale. In Dhenkanal district treasury, the opening balance of non-judicial stamp papers as on April 1, 2001 was shown less by Rs. 1.45 lakh while carrying forward the balance from 1999-2000, however reasons for short account were not investigated.
In some cases it is seen that there is no submission of sale registers by the stamp vendors. In Sambalpur, Jajpur, Kendrapara and Jharsuguda districts, the vendors did not deposit their sale registers with the licensing authorities. It was further found that the licensing authority also failed to ensure deposit of these sale registers and did not take necessary action to cancel the license of the vendors. Due to failure on part of the licensing and registering authorities, the opportunity to identify the genuineness of the vendors who might have sold the fake stamp papers was lost. The government already admitted the fact of non-submission of sale register by stamp vendors in December 2004. During its review, CAG found that 15 vendors purchased stamp papers valued at Rs. 24.93 lakh from five treasuries. However, a cross-verification of records of these vendors with the copies of the documents registered in the registering offices revealed that the vendors utilised stamp papers valued at Rs. 47.41 lakh. Thus, there was an excess utilisation of stamp papers of Rs.22.48 lakh.
The irregularities in the procurement, sale and registration of stamps were referred to the government in April 2004 but in vain. When Organiser contacted Revenue Minister of Orissa government, Manmohan Samal, and asked him about the government'saction against the culprits, he said: ?We have taken up the issue seriously. It is a matter of concern that large amount of public exchequer had not been managed properly by the authorities. We would investigate the matter and the culprits would definitely be punished.