Published On : Thu, Nov 29th, 2012

Mumbai CA to go on hunger strike following 100 cr. scam in Nagpur ICAI

Nagpur News: Rashmikant Mahapatra, a 41 year old Mumbai based chartered accountant, has waged a war against corrupt practices in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). With his exposure of scam in an institute’s project in Nagpur to the tune of over Rs 100 crore, Mahapatra is now all set to dig the things deeper in his fight against corruption.

Mahapatra, an Anna Hazare activist had also initiated “switch off lights” movement last Independence Day in support of Lokpal Bill with the crusader.

Not happy with the way the corruption exposed in the said land deal is being handled by the ICAI Nagpur chapter, Mahapatra is now planning to come down to Nagpur to observe fasting against the apathy. “I will just wait for a week or two and if nothing substantial happens then I will launch hunger strike in Nagpuritself,” he said in a revelation to Nagpur Today.

A six member committee has been formed to probe the matter, which prompted Mahapatra to question the veracity of the investigation as the alleged members including the ICAI Nagpur President Jaideep Narendra Shah are himself investigating the matter. “How the person against whom the charges are leveled could investigate his own case?”, he amused.

He has demanded the matter should be investigated through independent agency or CBI, if necessary, owing to the serious allegations that have put the image of ICAI at stake. “We at ICAI are controlling the accounts ofIndiawith great deal of transparency through our 1,20,000 members across the country. We are known to highlight financial discrepancies but for few tainted person the institute’s prestige could be challenged now,” he lamented.

Mahapatra said that the project which involved the purchase of land and construction of ICAI’s study center was awarded to a builder without bringing it to the knowledge of the central council members. Even the 10% of the estimated cost (100 crores) has already been disbursed. Not even the tender was invited for assigning the task, which should be primarily followed for contracting out such a huge project running in crores, he alleged. Nagpur ICAI President Shah was alleged to have secretly sealed the deal for a nine-acre plot inNagpurfor setting up the center.

Since ICAI was formed under parliament act, its meeting minutes does not fall under the purview of Right to Information Act which has created another hurdle for Mahapatra who was looking forward to seek more details.

Mahapatra said since the scam came to light, Shah tried to mess up the information saying there are various other projects being investigated since 2004. He smelled rat in the investigation as the scam he exposed was of 2012, and even if any investigation for other matter was going on for the last 8 years, it would have been acknowledged to the council members but this too was kept under the wraps.

The land, said to be valued at Rs 80 crore, has been registered after paying a nominal advance to the owner. In all, the institute has spent Rs 10 crore so far, including the registration fee and stamp duty. Mahapatra revealed that the land is heavily overpriced and people involved have taken huge cuts. ICAI’s central council, in its meeting on October 15, set up a committee to investigate the deal but it won’t help much as the investigators are culprits himself. It should have been handed over to some independent agency like CBI, he urged.

The land deal was finalised and registered between July 13 and August 3. “The central council met in between these days and there was no mention about the deal, either by the president or the institute’s finance department, at the meeting. It is only after members fromNagpurinformed the institute about the land deal did the central council members come to know of it,” Mahapatra said.

Another member wishing not to be named said, “Since the institute has been set up by an act of Parliament, land to set up a branch or study centre can be obtained from the state government concerned. There was even no request from the western region seeking a study centre in Nagpur and the president has acted on his own keeping the central council in the dark.”