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CBI books Leela Samson over irregularities

Leela Samson. File

Leela Samson. File   | Photo Credit: S. Subramanium

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It relates to the alleged ‘unfruitful expenditure’ of ₹7.02 crore on the renovation of Koothambalam auditorium of Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has booked a case against Leela Samson, renowned Bharatanatyam dancer and former director of Kalakshetra Foundation and four others, for losses incurred due to not holding open tenders for the renovation of the Koothambalam auditorium at the Foundation.

The case was booked on Thursday, following a complaint from Secretary-cum-Chief Vigilance Officer, Union Ministry of Culture in 2017, for unfruitful expenditure of ₹7.02 crore on the renovation of the Koothambalam auditorium of Kalakshetra Foundation (KF), Chennai. The complaint alleged that work orders for the renovation of the auditorium were awarded by officials of KF at a higher rate through the consultant architect M/S Centre for Architectural Research and Design (CARD) without following General Financial Rules(GFR), 2005

Kalakshetra Foundation was declared as an institution of national importance and was brought under the Union Ministry of Culture as an autonomous organisation in 1993. Since then, it has received aid from the Ministry for its developemental activities. Ms. Samson took over the charge of director on May 6, 2005 and continued till April 30, 2012.

In 2006, it was decided to upgrade/renovate auditorium with upgradation of civil engineering works, electrical works, air-conditioning and architectural features. A total of 28 works were carried out with a total expenditure amounting to ₹ 7.02 crore.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) audited the expenditure of the Foundation and submitted a report in August 2011. The CAG report brought out various lapses in executing the renovation work of the Koothambalam auditorium.

In April, 2012, the 38th General Body meeting directed the conducting of a detailed enquiry over the procedures followed in the selection of the consultant architect and the awarding of contracts, besides stopping the work. Following this, Ms. Samson resigned from her post and Karunaker K. Menon was appointed as director-in charge in August 2012.

Subsequently, an enquiry by technical examiners from the Central Vigilance Commission in 2016 pointed out certain irregularities -- works allotted without tender, estimates not prepared and substandard work. The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) was asked to assess the works awarded to the contractors. The CPWD found that KF had spent ₹ 62.20 lakh more than estimated amount.

“It was found that Ms. Leela Samson, being the director and administrative head of the foundation had failed to ensure that transparent procedure as laid down in GFR in selection of consultants and award of contracts”, said the First Information Report(FIR) of the CBI besides listing six more charges.

“Ms. Leela Samson, the then director, T.S. Murthi, then chief accounts officer, S. Ramachandran, accounts officer, V. Srinivasan, engineer officer of the Kalakshetra Foundation Chennai and Ravi Neelankandan, proprietor of CARD prima facie committed the offence by abusing of their official position in criminal conspiracy with each other which resulted in wrongful loss to Kalakshetra foundation and wrongful gain to themselves which is punishable under section 120B (Criminal conspiracy) read with section 409(Criminal breach of trust by public servant) of IPC and two other provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act 1998”, said the FIR registered by Anti-Corruption Bureau of the CBI, Chennai.

The FIR has been sent to the Principal Special Judge for CBI cases, Chennai.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 5:04:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cbi-books-ex-sangeet-natak-akademi-chairperson-leela-samson-over-irregularities/article30304973.ece

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