By Accommodation Times Bureau
The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to file an audit report to explain the discrepancies in the real estate Cess amounting to Rs 5,000 crore which was meant for the construction of real estate workers.
The bench led by Justice Madan B Lokur said it was ‘shocked’ that the money meant for the welfare of the poorest people in the country was going ‘somewhere else’
The CAG was directed to file a report within two weeks as the court observed there was no record or any kind of accountability as to how Rs 5,000 crore was spent out of a total of Rs 26,000 crore.
“We do not know where the money has been spent. You have to ensure that it is not spent in tea or lunch…. Lot of money is involved in this. It is supposed to go to the poorest people of the country. It is not going to them. It is going somewhere else. It is a very important matter. The money should reach to the poorest people,” the bench said.
A PIL was filed by an NGO, National Campaign Committee for Central Legislation on Construction Labour, which alleged that in absence of any concrete mechanisms to identify beneficiaries, the statutory cess levied on real estate firms meant specifically for the welfare of construction workers was not being allocated to them rightfully. The bench has now fixed the matter for hearing on 5th May.
However, appearing on behalf of the Central Government Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh refuted the allegation. He told the bench that money was lying with the state governments and has not disappeared.
The court however expressed shock and stated that the Centre must find a solution to deal with the situation. “What has been told to us is very shocking. You have to find out a solution. It is a matter of Rs 26,000 crore,” the bench told the ASG.
Appearing on behalf of the petitioner, Senior lawyer Colin Gonsalves, claimed that huge amount of money was transferred and it was being used for “all kind of sundry purposes”.