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SC notice to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)
September, 05th 2009

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to the country's top auditor Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and others on a petition accusing it of failure to recover "around Rs 10,000 crore" from banks and deploy it for welfare of the disabled.

The petition filed by one Ravi Shankar Bhushan, a disabled person working in an NGO, said that CAG had not complied with the apex court's directions given in April 2004.

CAG was to recover the money illegally collected by banks from individual borrowers by rounding-off interest rate and ensure that the money was used for welfare of disabled.

A bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan sought replies from the Ministries of Finance and Social Justice and Empowerment, CAG, RBI, the Indian Banks' Association and 26 public sector banks, including State Bank of India.

The petition has sought a direction to the ministries to disclose details of disbursements made to disabled in accordance with the apex court decision's and also frame appropriate schemes for disabled like their rehabilitation, entrepreneurial activity, prevention and early detection.

Bhushan claimed that only Rs 150 crore had been recovered so far against Rs 10,000 crore collected by banks by rounding-off interest rates.

The petition noted that RBI had given approval to the system of rounding-off of the rate of interest to be levied by the banks by up to 0.25% and shift the burden of the same on to the borrowers.

Bhushan alleged that CAG was not collecting the money expeditiously and the banks were also not giving full details about the dues in a time-bound manner.

Though a Trust headed by CAG was set up, it appeared that apart from starting a scholarship scheme for disabled students envisaging a maximum expenditure of Rs one crore per year as late as August 2008, nothing further seems to have been done in the matter, the petition said.

Further, the amount recovered was to be used for separate schemes and not for funding existing government programmes for disabled persons, it said, adding that the amount was to go into a fund which was over and above the sum spent by the Government of India for disabled persons.

It is in the interest of justice and transparency that prominent NGOs working in this area and disabled persons should be involved in framing of schemes, the petition said.

The apex court had in 2004 barred banks and the Centre from keeping the money, which was collected illegally by rounding-off interest rate, and had directed CAG to recover the excess amount from them and deposit the same in a corpus fund for the benefit of the disadvantaged.

Bhushan, who had collected the information under the Right to Information Act, said that the apex court's decision in 2004 had not been implemented.

The apex court, while deciding the PIL in 2004, had held that the fund managed by CAG should be collected for the benefit of disabled persons and the excess collection of Rs 723.79 crore collected annually since 1993 by the banks all over the country should be deposited in the fund.

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