Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shunglu gets Supreme Court judge status

V.K. Shunglu, who heads the two-member high-level committee set up to probe the alleged financial irregularities in the Commonwealth Games (CWG), has been given the status of a Supreme Court judge. The government notification, issued by the Cabinet Secretary, has invested Mr. Shunglu, a former Comptroller and Auditor General, with greater authority, and will provide him with greater resources in the form of secretarial and other support staff, government sources told The Hindu.

The notification also gives Shantanu Consul, the other member on the committee, the status of Secretary to the Government of India. Mr. Consul, who is currently Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, will join the high-level committee after October 31, when he retires.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on October 25 had announced a comprehensive and all-encompassing 10-point Terms of Reference (TOR) for the committee. It has been given the authority to summon officials, inspect records, call evidence and to look into all the official documents pertaining to the CWG, that came under the scanner, following allegations of massive corruption.

But despite the wide-ranging TOR, government sources said the focus will be on the role of the Organising Committee (OC) which as a non-governmental structure is not part of the governmental system. These sources pointed out that the Rs.2,600 crore that had been given to the OC by the government was meant to be recovered through money raised from the sale of tickets, the issuing of TV rights and sponsorship. But the OC has been able to raise only about a fifth of that amount and, as a result, the government has lost a great deal of money.

The sources pointed out that other agencies and departments involved in the management of the Games were already answerable to agencies such as the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). While the Shunglu panel would look at the gamut of agencies and departments, the OC would come in for special attention.

The panel will submit its report in three months and its recommendations will then be handed over to investigative agencies for further action, these sources said.

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