The central government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court there had been corruption in the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in Tripura, The Indian Express reported.
The government’s claim comes just days before Tripura has its elections on February 18, and after a non-profit told the court that states were not able to provide employment to people in rural areas under the scheme because the Centre was “forcing” them to reduce demand for funds, PTI reported.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act guarantees 100 days of employment per family every year.
Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the NGO Swaraj Abhiyan, told a Supreme Court bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and NV Ramana, “Today, more than half the state governments are controlled by the party which runs the central government.”
Bhushan said the Centre was asking these states “not to make a fuss” about funds. “The Centre is saying if you [states] make a fuss about it, we will cut the budget,” he told the bench.
Bhushan said the average employment provided under the Act had come down to 40-45 days against 100 days annually. Bhushan told the bench several states, including Tripura, had written to the Centre demanding more funds under the Act.
Responding to this, the Centre said, “As far as Tripura is concerned, serious allegations of corruption were made and our audit team had gone there.”
Senior counsel V Mohana, representing the Centre, told the bench the state had asked for more funds, but because of the corruption allegations, an audit team visited the state in 2017 and submitted a report that referred to some “irregularities”.
The bench will hear the matter again on March 5.