Gujarat High Court Asks to Central Vigilance Commission to Probe MNC Aid to ONGC Mahila Samiti

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Also Read : Corruption in ONGC, CSR Funds Paid to Wife

INDIACSR News Network

AHMEDABAD: A bench of Gujarat High Court on Monday, 22 April 2013 ordered the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to probe into the allegations that officials of Oil and Natural Gas commission (ONGC) had received funds from 49 contractor companies in the name of charity and had also misused their official powers.

ongc logoThe bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice JB Pardiwala ordered CVC to start inquiry into the issue within two weeks and submit their findings within three months.

The matter relates to collection of funds to the tune of Rs 3.25 crore given by offshore contractor companies to the ONGC Officers’ Mahila Samiti (OOMS) under the influence of top ONGC officers for charitable work and in return allegedly took undue advantages.

While delivering the order, the court held that the Central Vigilance Commission had made a very slipshod inquiry into the matter but did not take any prompt action even after finding about the unethical practices that have been adopted as the funds had been collected from various contractors of the ONGC.

“Indisputably, the OOMS received a sum of Rs 3.25 crore (Rs.32 million) from 49 offshore contractors and each of the contractors is directly concerned with the business of ONGC. No inquiry was conducted to ascertain whether any undue advantage or favour was obtained by such contractors,” the court order states.

The court further said, “The most important finding recorded by the CVC is that the contractors who gave huge sum of money to the OOMS could have viewed it as an opportunity to avail of future goodwill, or to avoid hassle under the ongoing contracts.”

The court issued the order following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by KC Harikumar, chief geophysicist and Anil Dhavan, chief engineer of the ONGC in this matter.

 The PIL alleged that, ONGC adopted OOMS, headed by Sharma’s his wife, as a partner in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and diverted huge funds under guise of social work. In the year 2010-2011 an amount of Rs 4.11 crore  was given as grant, and that such allocation of fund led to misuse and misappropriation.

Mukul Sinha and KG Pillai, counsels for the PIL, submitted that, RS Sharma, the then CMD of ONGC and Sudhir Vasudeva the then Director (Offshore), Mumbai, now CMD of ONGC, with the help of other Directors and senior Officers had helped OOMS headed by Rashmi Sharma wife of RS Sharma, in collecting huge sums of money – to the tune of Rs 3.257 crore – as donation from 49 multinational contractors including Schlumberger, Reliance Industries. The companies have contracts of offshore drilling in Mumbai.

 The PIL also stated that donations collected in the name of charity, is in contravention to the Rules of the Corporation and Anti corruption Law. The ONGC officers had collected the details through RTI and complained to the CVC but its inquiry had not yield any result and was just eye wash, they alleged.

High Court advocate Dr Mukul Sinha told that ONGC chief geophysicist K C Harikumar and chief engineer Anil Dhavan had gathered the details about the scam through right-to-information (RTI) applications and had under the whistle-blower policy complained to the corporation, the CVC and the federal government in 2011 but no action was taken, forcing the duo to approach the High Court.

The PIL alleged that R S Sharma, the then CMD of ONGC and Sudhir Vasudeva the then Director (Offshore), Mumbai and now CMD of ONGC, with the help of other directors and senior officials, had helped OOMS headed by Sharma’s wife Rashmi in collecting Rs 32 million as donations from the 49 MNC contractors. The PIL also said that donations collected in the name of charity were in contravention to the ONGC rules and the anti-corruption laws.

It is to be noted that ONGC Officers’ Mahila Samiti (OOMS) has organized various fund raising events aimed at raising funds for community development activities of ONGC under their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes.

Also Read : Corruption in ONGC, CSR Funds Paid to Wife

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