A 63-year-old retired government servant has been awarded a seven-year jail term by a special court for depositing Rs 13.67 lakh of public money into her daughter's bank account, using her as a ghost employee.
Special CBI Judge Gurdeep Singh, who also imposed a fine of over Rs 15 lakh on CGHS staffer Neelam Sehgal, awarded five year jail term to her 77-year-old husband Jagdish Sehgal, himself a retired government servant, for being part of the criminal conspiracy in the offence.
Besides, the court imposed a fine of Rs two lakh on their daughter Ritu Sehgal for misappropriating government funds, noting that she herself withdrew the amount despite knowing that she had herself not deposited it and the money did not belong to her.
"The facts of this case unfold as to how a gainfully employed government servant, whose husband is also a retired government servant getting pension, and daughter is also employed and had sufficient for their needs, but greed had taken over her...," the court said.
It said that "despite being in a position of public trust entrusted with the task of preparing salary bills, arrears bill and bills of other allowances, she (Neelam) abused her position and the money, which was otherwise to be used for medical care of the working and retired government servants, was siphoned off in the account of her daughter."
While awarding the jail term to the husband, the court said the charge of conspiracy was duly proved against him.
According to the CBI, Neelam was working as an upper division clerk with CGHS from September 2008 till she retired on May 31, 2013. During this period, she was entrusted with the job of preparing bills of salary, arrears etc.
However, she inserted the name of her daughter as a ghost employee and transferred the money in her account through Electronic Clearance Service (ECS), the CBI had claimed.
Public prosecutor K P Singh submitted that Neelam had transferred Rs 13.67 lakh through ECS in her daughter's account and also fraudulently claimed Rs 69,025 for herself in excess of what she was actually entitled for, which comes to Rs 14.36 lakh.
Regarding the husband, the CBI had claimed that he was withdrawing the money from his daughter's account.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.
"The convict in the present case had breached that utmost
trust which all government servants have been bestowed upon and thereby needs to be given the punishment which is proportional to the gravity of the offence," the court said.
It further said "it is true that present offence does not fall in the category of conventional heinous offence such as murder or rape, but it is far more serious as it amounts to corruption".
In its order, the court held that "the case reveals the highly inadequate system of auditing which failed to detect that the money was being paid to a non-existing employee from the government exchequer."
"It also unfolds that the pruning of the government department of their staff in essential working areas results in complete lack of supervision which causes huge loss to the government exchequer which they might have saved.
"Therefore, the work audit of the government staff is very imperative so that sufficient manpower are available at the important areas," it said.