The Meghalaya High Court has directed the state's Home secretary to file a report on measures taken on the alleged illegal procurement of vehicles by some officials of the police department in the state.

"Unfortunately, the greater scam in this country is not in the scams themselves, but in the inquiries that follow the scams", the Court observed in its order.

"More often than not, tomes of paper are wasted to bury the truth and seldom have the guilty been taken to task or any attempt made to recover the public money that was wasted", the Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W Diengdoh added.

Senior Advocate K. Paul appeared for the Petitioner while K. Khan, Sr GA, appeared for the Respondents.

The High Court also sought to know if any arrest was made against those who were prima facie found to be involved in the police vehicle racket to remove their assets or funds.

"Such report should be filed when the matter appears next on October 17," the Bench said in an order on Friday while hearing a PIL on the alleged illegal procurement of vehicles by officials of the Police department in the recent past.

The petitioners claimed that different vehicles were purchased by the Police department since 2019 without any valid sanction from the competent authority and that a total number of 29 official vehicles were in the personal custody of the then Assistant Inspector General (Administration) of the Meghalaya Police.

The petitioners suspected that though there was some hue and cry after the matter surfaced and some semblance of an inquiry may also have been conducted, there may be an attempt to cover up the entire episode and, worse still, no steps against the guilty nor any attempt to recover the public money that has obviously been squandered.

In its reply, a counsel for the state informed that an inquiry has been conducted and the matter is under consideration and that charges may be framed against some persons against whom prima facie material has been found.

The counsel has, however, informed that it was too early for any "drastic action" to be taken immediately.

Asked if any steps have been taken to ensure that those behind the defalcation do not remove, dissipate or transfer their assets, the state counsel said that it is only after any person is found guilty of defalcation that steps may be taken to recover the money that may have been misappropriated.

The Police department had earlier this year conducted a fact finding team headed by Inspector General of Police MK Singh which recovered 29 vehicles under the personal custody of a senior police officer GK Langrai without any orders from the competent authority.

According to the report submitted to the Home department, it was found that some of the vehicles violated environmental norms and did not comply with the directions of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highway.

At least eight motor cycles were found purchased in 2019 but no documents were available, the report had stated, adding that these vehicles were used for his personal purpose without any sanction from Police Headquarters.

"No log books were ever maintained for these vehicles even though POL/DOL coupons were issued by AIG A himself on a regular basis," the report stated.

Cause Title: Riewad Vicharwant Warjri & Anr vs State of Meghalaya & Ors.

Click here to read/download Order

With PTI inputs