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Tithe trouble for UDF candidate

- Probe initiated after Robert Royte donates Rs 30 lakh to church

Aizawl, April 4: The controversial tithe that the United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate Robert Romawia Royte gave to a local church four years back has resurfaced as campaign for the April 9 Mizoram Lok Sabha election intensifies.

Tithe is one-tenth of a church member’s income contributed to the church.

When in June 2010 Royte contributed Rs 30 lakh as tithe to Chhinga Veng Presbyterian Church, some civil organisations became suspicious as Royte was then an officer on special duty (OSD), Mizoram Education Mission Society. His was a government job.

Prism, Sosa and Fomtu, three NGOs, filed an FIR with the Anti-Corruption Bureau demanding an inquiry, saying that calculating Royte’s known sources of income, he could not have acquired such a huge amount of money legally.

When Royte contributed Rs 30 lakh as tithe for a single month, he earned Rs 3 crore in the previous month, apart from salaries and perks.

Royte claimed Rs 3 crore was received by him as consultancy fee from the Nagaland government following an agreement signed between his firm North East Consultancy Firm (NECS) and the Nagaland government.

The inquiry found that Royte, an officer-on-special duty in the Mizoram government, engaged directly or indirectly in business, in this case the NECS. He violated financial rules and supplementary rules by undertaking work for another government and accepted fees without the sanction of the competent authorities.

As stated by Royte himself, the inquiry found that though he obtained permission to undertake work for the Nagaland government, he did not obtain permission to collect such huge amounts of money.

The inquiry suggested that departmental proceedings be taken up against Royte.

In a press statement on Thursday, Fomtu said Royte took voluntary retirement from government service before a departmental inquiry was initiated, that too without obtaining vigilance clearance.

“By taking voluntary retirement without a vigilance clearance, Royte violated conduct rules. Action must be taken against him and his case must be re-investigated,” Fomtu said.

Royte, however, is said to have formally obtained a vigilance clearance without which he would not get voluntary retirement.

“Royte certainly had the required vigilance clearance. But whether or not the clearance was issued legally remains a big question,” Vanlalruata, president of Prism, said.

A high school teacher before joining the state school education department as a circle education officer, Royte became district project coordinator of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in Aizawl district after the scheme was introduced in the state.

He played an important role in formulating plans for the state SSA mission when posted as an officer-on-special duty for the state education mission society.

In 2010, he left government service to join North East Consultancy Service (NECS) as chief managing director, providing consultancy to states in the region, such as Nagaland and Meghalaya, in getting more funds from the Centre.


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