Vigilance to probe contract given to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Insurance in J&K

J&K State’s Finance Department had reportedly made an advance payment of ₹60 crore to Anil Ambani’s Reliance General Insurance Limited without the approval of the Governor or the Chief Secretary

Vigilance to probe contract given to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Insurance in J&K

Ashutosh Sharma

After having cancelled the controversial Group Medical Insurance Policy contract for state government employees allotted to the Reliance General Insurance Limited (RGIL), the Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Satya Pal Malik has now asked State’s Vigilance Organisation (SVO) for probing the ‘fraudulent’ contract on priority basis.

Malik has asked the SVO to complete the probe within two months. “I will tell the Vigilance people to stop all their work to complete the inquiry. I’m going to lodge even criminal case against those found guilty,” he was quoted as saying in a local daily. “All those found guilty will be punished”.

The contract was reportedly awarded to the RGIL less than a month ago. The huge embarrassment has encountered the company when it’s promoter, Anil Ambani, is embroiled in a controversy surrounding the ₹59,000-crore Rafale jet deal.

The growing resentment among employees is said to have forced the Governor to cancel the contract after he had cleared it while chairing the state administrative council on August 31. “I gave go ahead but when Government employees and others started raising fingers over the Policy, I had a detailed and fresh look at it and found discrepancies. I ordered scrapping of the contract,” the daily further quoted him, adding that Malik knows “who got what (in the scam), who is behind this (the policy)”

State’s Finance Department, according to official sources, had made an advance payment of ₹60 crore to RGIL without approval of the Governor or the Chief Secretary on account of the Group Mediclaim Insurance contract to cover over  400,000 government employees, including the employees of PSUs, autonomous bodies, local bodies and the universities besides pensioners.

The entire process of awarding the contract lacked transparency. The tenders, according to sources, were not floated online but advertised through a broker, M/S Trinity Reinsurance Brokers Ltd, in some newspapers

Recently, Governor Malik had maintained that the policy “was full of frauds” and the entire process was carried out secretly. Even the tenders—which were floated by a private firm and not by the government—were opened on a holiday to suit RGIL, Malik had revealed in a TV interview.

“Employees wanted it to be cancelled. There was some bungling. I read the entire file and when I reached the conclusion that something is wrong, it did not take me a minute to cancel it,” Malik told the media in Srinagar.

The entire process of awarding the contract lacked transparency. The tenders, according to sources, were not floated online but advertised through a broker, M/S Trinity Reinsurance Brokers Ltd, in some newspapers. Similarly, a mandatory clause in the original tender that bidding companies should have experience of working in Jammu and Kashmir, was also removed. Another caveat that only those insurance companies with a turnover of ₹5,000 crore in 2017-18 were eligible for the bidding was also removed to facilitate the contract to RGIL.

The scraped policy, an annual premium of ₹8,777 was fixed for the employees and ₹22,229 for the pensioners. This would have almost amounted to nearly ₹400 crore and ₹350 crore respectively the RGIL, according to sources.

Agitated over the high-priced premium amount, the Jammu and Kashmir government employees led by Employees Joint Action Committee had been opposing the contract. The issue had snowballed into a major controversy after the policy was made mandatory even for those employees who had already availed insurance services from open market and extended to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board and Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board.

However, RGIL has said that it had not received any information from the state government. In a statement issued late Thursday evening, it said: "The policy has commenced on October 1, 2018. Reliance General Insurance has not received any subsequent intimation with regard to the policy till date."

The tender process involved both technical and financial evaluation, and Reliance General Insurance's winning bid was almost 30% lower than the second best quote, the company added.

Earlier, It was alleged that the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Entertainment had made payment to actress-producer Julie Gayet, partner of the former French President Francois Hollande for a French film for which the shooting was to be facilitated at the exquisite locales of Ladakh.

Congress has been attacking the Modi government for having scrapped the earlier deal for 126 aircrafts, which was negotiated with the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Rahul Gandhi had also taken potshots at Anil Ambani over insurance deal in Jammu and Kashmir.

"When your BFF is the PM, you can get the 1,30,000 Cr. Rafale deal, even without relevant experience. But wait. There’s more!" Gandhi tweeted, adding that “Apparently, 400,000 JK Govt staff will also be arm twisted into buying health insurance only from your company!"

(With IANS inputs)

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