Guwahati: Assam’s well-known businessman, film maker and a vivid social media user Luit Kumar Barman has lodged a complaint in the court of Kamrup (metro) chief judicial magistrate on Wednesday against Prateek Hajela, IAS (the former State coordinator for National Register of Citizens), Wipro limited and Integrated System and Services (ISS, represented by proprietor Utpal Hazarika) for their suspected roles in money laundering to the tune of Rs 155 crores in the NRC Assam updation process (May 2014 to October 2019).
Barman, who introduced himself as a concerned & vigilant Indian national against corruption, cited the recently released report of Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on social, economic and general sectors for the year ended 31 March 2020, where the issue of corruption involving a large amount of public money was mentioned. The highest national audit body also recommended penal actions against Hajela (who was recently released by Madhya Pradesh government after his three-year deputation term is over) and Wipro (an acclaimed IT company of international repute).
Barman in his compliant (Kamguwcjm, registration no CR/155/2023, date 12 April 2023, Luit Vs Prateek) introduced three individuals as witnesses namely the complainant Barman himself, Hitesh Devsarma, IAS-retired (who was the immediate successor of Hajela as NRC State coordinator) and Aabhijeet Sarma (president of Assam Public Works, the original petitioner in Supreme Court of India for NRC updation in Assam). Both Devsarma and Sarma had lodged five FIRs against Hajela in the last one year alleging financial mismanagements as well as the intentional inclusion of illegal migrant’s names in NRC.
The complainant narrated that the process of NRC updation in Assam was done under the supervision of the SC and since the initial stage Hajela was appointed (and served) as the State coordinator. A large number of contractual data entry operators (DEOs) and specialized software developers were also involved in the tedious process where shockingly the DEOs were denied the minimum salary as per the country’s Minimum Wages Act.
“Hajela, without any due process of transparent tendering, delivered the task of supplying DEOs and software development to Wipro (the system integrator). The system integrator illegally engaged one sub-contractor (ISS, owned and managed by Hazarika) and paid the DEOs only Rs 5,500 to 9,100 per month (per person) during 2015-2019, whereas it was sanctioned Rs 14,500 to 17,500 every month for one DEO by the NRC authority (read Government of India),” said Barman.
He opined that an undue benefit to the tune of Rs 155.83 crore to the system integrator ignited the suspicion that kickbacks and money laundering must have occurred in the process. After going through the CAG report, Barman lodged a complaint at Paltan Bazar police station in the city on 19 October 2022 and put necessary facts including the unlawful engagement of a subcontractor by the system integrator. The CAG report observed that the difference of margin was exorbitant after allowing Wipro 10 % reasonable profit margin.
But the officer-in-charge of Paltan Bazar PS did not register the FIR and even avoided any kind of enquiry over the matter. Finding no other way, the complainant also sent an electronic mail (on 17 March 2023) to the city police commissioner in vain. Non-registration of the concerned complaint by the police created doubts on the integrity of investigating agencies empowered by the laws. Hence, Barman fervently begged for justice from the court over the sensitive issue associating millions of genuine residents in Assam, who suffered from the process in different ways.