Judicial probe into 'irregularities' in construction of Assembly, HC
The Jharkhand government on Tuesday ordered a probe by a judicial commission into the alleged irregularities in the construction of the Assembly and high court buildings at Dhurwa in Ranchi.
A release issued by the government’s public relations department informed about the judicial probe.
Both the buildings were constructed by Ramkripal Construction Company during the tenure of then chief minister and current BJP national vice-president Raghubar Das.
A petition is also pending in the high court regarding irregularities in the construction of the new court building. The government had initially said that an administrative approval of Rs 365 crore was given for the construction of the building. However, the estimated cost was later reduced to Rs 265 crore and again revised to Rs 697 crore without taking administrative approval.
“As per government norms, if there is cost escalation beyond 20 per cent, an administrative approval is needed, but this was not done in the case of the new high court building. Similarly, the Assembly building cost was reduced to Rs 332.03 crore initially but later the amount was enhanced to Rs 465 crore citing architectural defects,” sources in the state building department said.
The three-storey Assembly building, built over 39 acres, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2019 and the foundation stone was laid by Raghubar Das in 2015. In December 2019, during the construction of the building, a fire in the rear part of the building damaged the Opposition lobby and the pressroom. In May 2021, part of the false ceiling of the western corridor of the first floor of the building collapsed during rains, raising question a mark on the quality of the construction work.
The Hemant Soren-led government had ordered a probe into the irregularities into the construction of both the buildings by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), a wing of the Jharkhand police, in July last year.
“It has been consciously decided to hand over the probe to a judicial commission as ACB was a part of the state government and would have been questioned for helping the government. Some of the changes in the under-construction high court building were requisitioned by a few HC judges. The ACB team won’t have the authority to seek clarifications from those judges. The judicial commission won’t have such limitations. Also, the commission won’t have to get prior sanctions from the governor to question Raghubar Das who held the building portfolio then,” a senior government official said.
The government, in its communication, did not mention about the progress of the investigation by the ACB into the alleged irregularities.