17th March 2015
IAS Officer D K Ravi found dead at his residence
IAS officer D K Ravi, posted as Additional Commissioner (Enforcement) of Commercial Tax Department, was found dead at his residence near Koramangala on Monday.
The 2009-batch IAS officer was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his ninth-floor flat (Number 903, E block) at Prestige St John’s Wood Apartment at Suddguntepalya on Tavarekere Main Road by Kusuma, his wife, at around 6:30 pm. Police Commissioner M N Reddi said: “Prima facie, it looks like a case of suicide. Until the inquest is conducted, we cannot come to a conclusive understanding.”
Ravi, 35, had moved to this official flat, provided by the department, just one-and-a-half months ago. He had married Kusuma, daughter of former Rajarajeshwarinagar CMC president Hanumantharayappa, four years ago.
Ravi, from Tumakuru, used to visit his father-in-law’s house in Mallathalli, off Nagarabhavi, on weekends. This weekend, too, he was at his in-laws’ house, and left for office from there on Monday morning.
At 10:35 am, he left office for his apartment. His driver waited for him at the parking lot from 10:45 am.
The police said it was only in the evening that his wife and other family members grew suspicious when there was no response to repeated calls on Ravi’s cellphone.
Kusuma opened the door to their flat using a duplicate key around 6:30 pm. “His wife and father-in-law found him hanging from the bedroom ceiling fan by a cloth. A special team led by DCP (Southeast) Rohini Katoch Sepat, a qualified medical doctor, will probe the case,” said Reddi.
The young bureaucrat had hit headlines when, as deputy commissioner of Kolar, he initiated a drive to clear encroachments on government lands. Kolar residents had observed a bandh to protest his transfer last November.
From the day he took charge as Additional Commissioner (Enforcement South) on November 14, 2014, Ravi led several raids on various business establishments—especially real-estate majors—for tax evasion.
While there were reports that Ravi was being receiving threats from the underworld over the raids, the police commissioner said Ravi had informed neither the police nor his superiors of any such call.
“He did not contact anyone after 11 am. He was not in the habit of returning to his flat early. Also, he used to have lunch at office. We have not found any suicide note from the apartment. Naturally, his family is not in a position to respond to our queries. Forensic experts have examined the spot and have stated that prima facie it is a case of suicide,” said Reddi.
The IAS officer’s body was shifted to Victoria Hospital where the post-mortem will be conducted on Tuesday.
Hundreds of people from Kolar and Kunigal gathered at the hospital and protested, saying that the corrupt system had led to Ravi’s death.
20th MAY 2014
Lokayukta raids bureaucrat’s premises; unearths illegal assets
Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta Police today raided the official residence and other premises of State Joint Director, Industries, R C Kuriel in two cities and unearthed details of immovable properties worth crores, disproportionate to his known sources of income.
Acting on a tip-off, the raid was carried out simultaneously at Kuriel’s official residence in Anna Nagar at Bhopal and his private house in Jabalpur district, by a team of Lokayukta officials from the city, Lokayukta’s Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) SP Chouhan told PTI.
So far, Lokayukta sleuths have recovered documents of properties including seven houses (of which two are in Minal Residency, Bhopal) three farm houses including one at Bairagarh, Bhopal and two shops, allegedly belonging to him.
The actual value of these assets is still being calculated, he said adding further investigations are on, the DSP added.
DMK MP, two IAS officers get two years’ jail in cheating case
DMK Rajya Sabha member T.M. Selvaganapathy and four others, including two retired IAS officers, were Thursday sentenced to two years’ rigorous imprisonment each after being convicted in a cheating case by a CBI court here.
The court also levied a fine of Rs.25,000 on each of them.The case related to the time when Selvaganapathy was minister for rural development and local administration in the AIADMK government (1991-1996).
29th January 2014
IAS officer bundled out for proposing realty reforms
An effort to bring about hi-tech reform to check irregularities in sub-registrar offices and augment stamp duty revenue has fallen flat, and the officer who proposed this idea was quietly moved out of the department.
In a move to check undervaluation of properties, the Inspector-General of Registration and Commissioner of Stamps (IGRCS) had proposed to chalk out digital maps using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to provide information on guidance value of properties and host them online. But IAS officer P Manivannan, who held additional charge as IGRCS and proposed the move, was abruptly relieved of the responsibility. He was with the department for just two weeks.
Sources in the know said that staffers in sub-registrar offices lobbied for the bureaucrat’s transfer, and confirmed that Manivannan’s proposal is certain to die a quiet death.”The proposal was intended to check undervaluation of property, particularly in sale and lease agreements,” Manivannan said, adding: “I was given additional responsibility without asking for it. I have no reason to get upset when it’s taken back.”
A senior stamps and registration department officer said: “The staff at sub-registrar offices were upset with the idea and even met revenue minister V Sreenivas Prasad on this issue. Officers who’ve tried to bring in reforms in our department have always met with a similar fate.”
At present, guidance value of properties is not easily available to the public and they have to get it from the local sub-registrar’s office.”GIS-based guidance value will become an excellent planning tool to identify priorities for buyers and sellers of property. There is no scope for undervaluing or overvaluing property when this information is open, transparent and available to all,” said Yogesh M Deepak, a realtor.
Describing Manivannan’s transfer as routine, c minister said: “Undervaluation of immovable properties during registration, especially in Bangalore, has been the order of the day for 15 years. The government is trying to streamline work at sub-registrar offices and check revenue leakage. There is no question of succumbing to any pressure and compromising.”
HOW PROPERTY IS UNDERVALUED
Guidance value — the value of land determined by the government based on its metrics, including facilities and infrastructure growth — is the minimum value at which property has to change hands.
Guidance values in Bangalore vary widely for areas adjacent to each other. Parties to property transactions misrepresent facts pertaining to location of properties, quote lower guidance values and pay less stamp duty than what is due.
It’s common knowledge that market value of land is much higher than guidance value. Parties to a property transaction undervalue its worth by stating only the guidance value in their documents and paying stamp duty for this amount.
The GIS proposal was aimed only at property transactions quoting prices lower than guidance value, revenue officials say. The proposal was to mandatorily use GIS maps to endorse property locations in documents and evade misrepresentation of facts.
About 95% of registration of immovable assets recorded in Bangalore and the state are undervalued, stamps and registration officials admit.
CHEATING THE SYSTEM
* While registering a building on MG Road, buyer describes the address as ‘near Church Street’. Guidance value for MG Road properties is Rs 14,500, while it’s Rs 13,500 on Church Street
* While registering a site in Yelahanka New Town Sector A, a property is described as ‘off Puttenahalli’, an adjacent village. The guidance value of Yelahanka New Town is between Rs 3,500 and Rs 4,500 per sqft, while it is between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,800 per sqft for Puttenahalli.
26th January 2014
Award winning bureaucrat in land row
For M V Savithri, the euphoria of winning a national award was short-lived as a probe report found her guilty of tampering with forest land records for a bribe.
Savithri, the district election officer in Karnataka’s Chamrajnagar during the last Assembly elections, was on Saturday awarded for the best electoral practices. She was felicitated for innovation in technology use and infrastructure management for recording election proceedings.
But, the bubble burst no sooner than later as Regional Commissioner M V Jayanthi, who probed into alleged encroachment of forest land in survey No 1 and 74 at Sattegala in Chamarajanagar district, found Savithri at fault for the irregularities when she was the deputy commissioner. The State Revenue Department and the regional commissioner will appeal to the high court in this regard, said MLC Madhusudan.
Jayanthi’s report claimed that the status of the forest land, located in the midst of the Gaganachukki and Barachukki falls, was altered in violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, Karnataka Forest Act, 1963, and the Karnataka Forest Rules, 1969. Madhusudan said the report, which was submitted to the government a week ago, also pointed out that Savithri had directed conversion of the land from “forest” to “kharab” on July 8, 2013, without conducting a spot inspection.
Land records for survey No 1 were also tampered with. Eighteen of the 20 signatures were found faulty. The report concluded that Savithri was responsible for the illegalities and she must be tried before a court of law.
8th January 2014
Durga No.2: IPS officer transferred for handling corruption
At the time when the entire nation is speaking out against corruption, an Indian Police Service officer, posted in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, had to pay the price for acting against the corrupt. Aslam Khan, posted as the superintendent of police (anti-corruption) in the Andamans, arrested eight government officials for taking bribe in October and November last year.
Khan arrested four officials of the Port Blair Municipal Council in October for purchasing electrical items at exorbitant rates. She then went on to arrest four more government employees, including a traffic police sub-inspector, for taking bribe.
“All of them were trap cases where she conducted raid after receiving a complaint and nabbed the officers red handed. The series of raids created lot of news and for an islander, it was for the first time someone was trying to act against the corrupt. She even gave out a common mobile number and email for complaint,” said a local activist, requesting anonymity.Khan, posted as additional deputy commissioner of police in Delhi, was transferred to Andaman in November 2012. She was initially posted as the superintendent of police (headquarters) and in February 2013 she was given the charge of the anti-corruption unit. She took leave on health grounds and resumed charge in September.
Fearing more arrests, the 2007 batch officer was transferred as head of the Police Training School in Andaman in December.Angry locals moved an online petition urging the government to re-install her in the anti-corruption unit after the news of her transfer came in.
“The fact that in a short span she proved her mettle by trapping so many corrupt government servants is ignored by the administration. Series of successful operations had started to create a sense of fear,” the activist added.
Chief secretary, Anand Prakash, however, said it was a routine transfer.”It was an administrative decision and there was one more officer who needs to be adjusted. A proposal was put by the police establishment board and she was transferred,” said Prakash.
Usually, an IPS officer serves at least two years on any post.Khan’s case is reminiscent of that of Indian Administrative Service officer Durga Shakti Nagpal.
28th December 2013
IAS officer suspended for delaying..
The UP government has suspended senior IAS officer and sports director ShaileshKumar Singh for delaying execution of projects in a sports complex, including a swimming pool, in Safai- the backyard of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Suspension of Singh, believed to be close to BSP chief Mayawati, threatens to snowball into a controversy. Singh, due to retire next month, learnt about the suspension on Wednesday while on way to Saifai to attend a function to honour India’s six London Olympic medal winners.
The charges levelled against the officer relate to the construction of a world-class all-weatherswimming pool coming up at the sports complex in Saifai. Sources said the CM was expecting the swimming pool to be ready for inauguration and use before the Saifai Mahotsava, a week-long extravaganza organised annually by the Samajwadi Party and the government (since the party is in power), that began on Thursday. The ‘unwarranted’ actions of the sports director had led to unnecessary delays in the project, government sources said.
A government statement said Singh initially held back files related to assessment and estimates for the swimming pool that had been sanctioned in principle shortly after the Samajwadi Party came to power on March 15, 2012. He sent the files to the state government after repeated reminders but did not mention the reason behind the delay in dispatching the documents.
Moreover, according to the government, even after the funds were sanctioned for the project, Singh held back payments to be made to the government and private agencies that were engaged in the project despite repeated reminders. The government spokesperson said Singh went ahead with releasing funds for the purchase of furniture and other similar needs under the central purchase policy. These delays and anomalies had prevented the government from proceeding with the welfare of sports in UP, he said.
The state government said the officer was found prima facie guilty of “irregularities and gross negligence” resulting in delay of government projects and hence had been suspended with immediate effect under the relevant provisions of the All India Service Rules (1969). Akhilesh Yadav’s attention was drawn towards the Saifai swimming pool while reviewing the preparations for the Saifai Mahotsava.
On November 7, Rs 103.21 crore was approved for the construction of the swimming pool at the sports complex in Saifai. The facility will comprise a pool for practice, one main pool and another one for diving competitions. It is also supposed to have a gymnasium, a VIP gallery, an administrative building and residential facilities for players. Nearly three acres of land were earmarked for the complex.
Singh is believed to have been close to leaders of the former BSP government, including Satish Chandra Mishra — trusted aide of BSP chief Mayawati — with whom he once studied in Allahabad University. Soon after Mayawati stormed to power in 2007, Singh was made Lucknow municipal commissioner, a post he held till 2012 when the SP government took charge. Singh was then shifted to the labour department.
Sources close to Singh said the officer was always under the close scrutiny of the Akhilesh government. The CM is reported to have often pointed out there were some officers who worked to malign the state government’s image.
Source: Times of India
11th December 2013
India’s Top 10 Bureaucrats
Effort, time and hard work—the three mantras of success. People who rightly employed this three mantras become successful and further extends their hands for the well-being of the country.
Pulok Chatterjee: is an Indian civil servant presently serving as the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India. He moved to the PMO as Deputy Secretary when Rajiv Gandhi took over as PM in 1985. Prior to this, he was the Executive Directorto the World Bank
2. Montek Singh Ahluwalia: Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia is an economist and civil servant. Before taking up his position at the IMF, Ahluwalia was a Member of the Planning Commission in New Delhi as well as a Member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister.
3. 0.P. Saini: is a Special CBI judge who is known for his tough stance when it comes to delivering justice. He started his careeras a Delhi Police sub-inspector and shot into fame as a special Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) judge after delivering the Red Fort shoot-out case judgment, where the main accused was sentenced to death.
4. Ranjit Sinha:Bihar cadre Indian Police Service Officer, Ranjit Sinha is now the Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Sinha, a 1974 IPS cadre served as the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) chief prior to working with the CBI.
5. Nandan Nilekani:Nandan Nilekani, an IIT-ian is presently the Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a cabinet-ranking position that he entered in 2009 under the invitation of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. After a successfulcareer at Infosys, he is now heading TAGUP, the Government of India’s technology committee. Nilekani is credited for rolling out UPA’s major direct benefit transfer scheme and is in charge of giving a unique identity number to a billion Indians.
6. Sam Pitroda:Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda popularly known as Sam Pitroda is an engineer,business executive and policymaker who is currently serving as an advisor to the Prime Minister of India on public information infrastructure and innovations and the chairman of National Innovation Council.
7. D.Subbarao: Duvvuri Subbarao, an economist, central banker, and civil servant was the 22nd Governor of Reserve Bank of India, served under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The former RBI Governor has been pushing the government to curb its fiscal profligacy and has adopted a strong stance on cutting interest rates.
8. Ashok Chawla:Head of the anti-trust body -Competition Commission of India (CCI), Ashok Chawla is a Gujarat-cadre IAS bureaucrat of 1973 batch who was heading a committee on allocation, pricing and utilization of natural resources. He is one such bureaucrat who dares to take on India’s leading cement manufactures to the tune of 6,300 crore fines in June 2012 for fixing prices and going against the consumers.
9. Rahul Khullar: is the current Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India who was selected by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.
10.10. Shivshankar Menon: is a top diplomat in India, presently serving as National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Before serving as the Foreign Secretary, he was Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, and China. A significant milestone of his career was the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, for which he worked so hard to convince Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) nations to get a clean waiver for nuclear supplies to India.
30th November 2013
Bengal cop removed for arresting
Siliguri Police Commissioner K. Jayaraman was Saturday removed from his post after he “exceeded his power” and arrested Malda District Magistrate Godala Kiran Kumar in a corruption case, a senior West Bengal government official said.
“Today Siliguri Police Commissionerate arrested Malda DM. We feel the arrest was warranted only if the accused would have tampered with the evidences or absconded, but nothing such was applicable in thiscase,” Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra said announcing the Jayaraman has been asked to hand over his charge.
Kiran Kumar has been accused of siphoning funds from the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) during his tenure as its chief executive officer. He was arrested Saturday under the IPC as well as the Prevention of Corruption Act and presented before a court.
“Procedurally, before taking such a big step, either the permission of the state government is required or at the least it should be informed. But nothing was done in this regard and we feel he (Jayaraman) exceeded his brief and transgressed his powers,” said Mitra.
Mitra said Inspector General of Police (North Bengal) Sashi Kant Pujari has now taken over the charge from Jayaraman with Deputy Inspector General of Police (Jalpaiguri) Jawed Shamimslated to take over later in the interim.
While the legal process will continue against Kiran Kumar, Mitra said the State Election Commission will be approached regarding his replacement as the Malda district magistrate, as the electoral process is on in the district.
28th November 2013
IAS officer who took on sand mafia transferred
IAS officer and Beed District Collector Sunil Kendrekar, who took action against sand mafia and illegal constructions, has been transferred sparking protests today by local activists and political parties which called a bandh tomorrow.
Several people gathered in front of Collector’s residence as the news of his transfer spread this morning. Kendrekar had taken action against illegal constructions, water tanker mafia and sand mafia during his 17-month tenure here.
Shiv Sena, MNS, Bhrastachar Virodhi Jana Andolan and a few other organisations called a general strike tomorrow demanding that the IAS officer be reinstated as Beed Collector.
RTI activist advocate Ajit Deshmikh alleged he was transferred because of political pressure.
Kendrekar, who was not available for comments, has been shifted to Aurangabad as Chief Administrative Officer of CIDCO. Sources said Yavatmal district Zilla Parishad CEO Naval Kishor Ram got orders to take charge in Beed last night.
27th November 2013
24th November 2013
Victimised: IAS officer Pradeep Sharma
Suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, who has been fighting a legal battle against the Narendra Modi government, on Saturday pleaded with the apex court to order a CBI probe against the chief minister in the snooping controversy saying it was done illegally.Sharma urged the court to take cognisance of audio tapes aired by news portals saying it contains proof of how the state government had tried to frame him in “frivolous” cases.
“Take on record the documents and transcripts annexed with the instant application and direct CBI to register a case and conduct a thorough inquiry into the violation of the Telegraph Act 1885 and other applicable laws by Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and any other such persons,” he said in his application filed in the apex court.
Sharma, a 1984 batch IAS officer, is facing six criminal cases including a case for alleged irregularity in land allotment to private firms in Kutch district in 2008. He sought that the probe in these cases be handed over to CBI.
“The said tapes/transcripts reveal a strong bias and prejudice of the state of Gujarat against him and the state’s intent to somehow implicate him in criminal offences,” he said adding “these transcripts now present an ex post facto confirmation of his apprehension”.
Sharma, who last served as Bhavnagar Municipal Commissioner, was arrested on January 6, 2010 in a case involving alleged irregularities in Kutch earthquake rehabilitation.
The IAS officer in his petition, however, alleged he is being targeted by the Modi government.
“The petitioner happens to be the brother of Kuldip Sharma who has unmasked many misdeeds of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, the ex-home minister, since the 2002 Godhra riots. The two siblings have been very close to each other right from childhood and share very strong fraternal bonds. In order to cause prejudice to Kuldip Sharma, the petitioner has been victimised by chief minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah,” the petition said.
Meanwhile, Union minister Salman Khurshid said the Centre would not play any role in the snooping case as of now.
“As of now, the central government is not going to play any role in connection with the snooping on a woman in Gujarat on the directives of chief minister Narendra Modi,” Khurshid, who was on a visit to his parliamentary constituency, said.
“The matter is being looked into by the women’s commission and it would take an appropriate decision on it,” he added.
The Union minister said that Modi is treating his associate Amit Shah as a dustbin in which he dumps all the muck thrown on him. The time is not far when this would be full and all the muck would overflow, he added.
23rd November 2013
14th November 2013
Karnataka: Chief secretary surprise check, 40 employees lose day’s salary
Khemka’s post given to another IAS officer
After drawing flak from various quarters for transferring controversial IAS officer Ashok Khemka 19 times in eight years, the Haryana government has again put itself in a spot by handing over his assignment to another officer.
The Bhupinder Singh Hooda government has posted another Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, Pradeep Kasni, to be secretary-archives and director general-archives during the election duty of Ashok Khemka.
However, Khemka, who is presently on leave, has claimed that he has not been assigned any election duty by the Election Commission of India.The Hooda government’s move over Khemka’s post comes even as it is preparing at least four charge sheets against him.
The government is planning to impose major penalty against him, which could even lead to dismissal from service. Khemka has been transferred 43 times in his career as an IAS officer spanning over 21 years.
Khemka had, October last year, cancelled the mutation of the Rs.58-crore land deal between United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra’s company, M/s Sky Light Hospitality, with realty giant DLF.
He had claimed other major wrong-doings by the Hooda government in multi-million rupee land deals across Haryana.
10th November 2013
Independent Civil Service Board is a dream come true, but there should be no slip ups;
An independent multi-member Civil Services Board is a dream come true, to say the least. Judging by the way in which our politicians have methodically thwarted systems, the country should be alert to ensure that the Supreme Court’s directions do not go in vain. Following are ways in which the Civil Services Board system would be attacked:
FALSE ARGUMENT State politicians will start making a hue and cry by saying this is an intrusion into states’ rights. The fact is that the Indian Constitution has not given a free, corrupt hand to the state government.
SECURITY OF TENURE This should not be about throwing honest civil servants in insignificant posts and forgetting about them. In the IAS, they call it an ex-cadre post. These posts are created by states for a temporary purpose. But over time, these posts have become a permanent feature. Inconvenient and honest IAS officers are accommodated in these posts. In my 23 years in the IAS, I have served more than 12 years in these insignificant posts. It is extremely important to abolish ex-cadre posts and creation of such posts should not be allowed.
VINDICTIVE VIGILANCE CASES The state vigilance directorate is under the control of respective chief ministers. It is easy to bring round an honest civil servant through this mechanism. State vigilance commissions and directorates should be brought either under an independent body such as the CVC/Lokpal or in the interim under the overall supervision of the independent CS Board.
CONFERRED IAS OFFICERS States are very comfortable with conferred IAS officers who are promoted from the state services. One third of the All India Services officers come through this route. This is a big loophole in maintaining integrity and honesty in civil services. A pattern can be observed in Tamil Nadu that majority of key positions such as district collectors, secretaries to government and heads of departments are manned by conferred IAS officers. The security of tenure enjoyed by the conferred IAS officers is absolute. They stay 3-5 years in key assignments undisturbed. Promoting state officers to IAS is largely a political decision. It would be wise to equate them with direct recruit officers by forcing them to commit to service anywhere in India.
CIVIL SERVICES BOARD This is a crucial issue. Every political party would want to take absolute control over the appointment of the members of the Civil Services Board. Today, the state public service commissions do not have any credibility. The nation should not allow such a thing to happen to the Civil Services Board. At least 50% of the members should be from outside the state. Care must be exercised that the board should not be stuffed with members from one caste. The board should have an objective framework to assess the efficiency of civil servants. Inefficient or corrupt civil servants should be dismissed. Currently, inefficient civil servants easily climb up to the top. By turning a Nelson’s Eye to wrongs one can remain “noncontroversial” and become a darling of the corrupt politicians. The Board should work out a mechanism to identify these black sheep and dismiss them. The issues above are only illustrative. Between the cup and the lip there should not be a slip. TheSupreme Court should deploy a high-powered committee to monitor the implementation of its directive.
(C Umashankar is an IAS officer and Commissioner of Disciplinary Proceedings in Chennai.)
10th November 2013
6 former bureaucrats who influenced the way government runs
Bureaucrats rarely hog the headlines and when they do it’s inevitably when they wage a lonely, and often futile, battle within a faulty system. It’s only once they quit the system and pursue their reformist passion that they become a much-needed catalyst for change. Some civil servants leave the service midway, and others begin a second life only after retirement. In both ways, their vantage point remains the same. After all, they are insiders with direct knowledge of the fault-lines.
“Changing the system is not easy. It can’t happen overnight. Many of us have been knocking on the system with a hope that positive spirals begin,” says former cabinet secretary TSR Subrahmanian, who along with some of his colleagues had a moment of satisfaction last week when the apex court heeded to their petition on fixed tenures for civil servants. NC Saxena, one of the other petitioners in the same case and former Planning Commission secretary, adds: “Lack of good governance is still the biggest challenge in India. The government must address the hurdles that come in the way of creating a better delivery mechanism.”
Subrahmanian and Saxena chose to be social activists only after they had retired from the government. But some don’t wait that long. Arvind Kejriwal, a former income-tax officer and founder of the Aam Aadmi Party, and former IAS Jayaprakash Narayan, founder of the Lok Satta Party, took the plunge when they had many years left in the service. Both said yes to politics with a hope they would garner support on the plank of good governance. Narayan is an MLA in Andhra Pradesh and Kejriwal is pitting himself against Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit in the December 4 Assembly polls.
But there are others like Aruna Roy who left cushy government jobs at a young age to join the brigade of full-time social activists. By making the transparency tool RTI a reality, Roy has demonstrated that one can achieve social goals by influencing the political brass who matter. ET Magazine picks out six former bureaucrats who have made visible impacts in changing the way the government is run:
TSR Subrahmanian, 75
Ex-IAS, former cabinet secretary
Left government service: 1998 (Retired)
Education: Masters in mathematics, public administration
No Fixed Tenure for Him!
In the 15 years since retirement, Subrahmanian has focused on improving governance and administration. To make his point loud and clear, he spends a lot of time on television talk shows but, when it comes to reaching his goals, he uses the judiciary.
For instance, the former cabinet secretary along with a clutch of former bureaucrats scored a huge victory recently when the Supreme Court heard their petition for a fixed tenure for bureaucrats. The apex court agreed in principle with their argument and has requested the government to frame rules to enable such fixed terms.
Subrahmanian, who is happy that the SC has paid heed to what they had lobbied for, has just finished writing a book on governance, and is scouting for a suitable title. Any suggestions?
Ex-IAS, former secretary of Planning Commission
Left government service: 2002 (Retired)
Education: Doctorate in forestry Of a Different Tribe
Post-retirement, Saxena got busy raising social issues. Be it equal inheritance for the girl child or forest rights of tribal people, Saxena began to pursue causes he had signed off on as a GoI secretary, both in the rural development ministry and the Planning Commission. He recognizes that a faulty system can be repaired only via involvement and not by remaining a distant commentator.
As a member of the National Advisory Council (NAC), the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi-led think tank, Saxena brought about changes in tribal areas in particular. He made a big impact when the government refused to give clearances to Vedanta Resources to mine bauxite on the Niyamgiri hills of Odisha after his panel warned in August 2010 that mining would threaten the survival of the Dongria Kondh tribe there.
Jayaprakash Narayan, 57
Left government service: 1996 (Resigned)
In many ways, Jayaprakash Narayan or JP as he is known, was an activist even when he was serving as an IAS officer in Andhra Pradesh. His massive rehabilitation bid for 8,000 youth belonging to displaced families of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant was a milestone in his bureaucratic career.
But he knew that he could never be a highly effective change agent as long was he was constrained in a sarkari straightjacket. So JP left the elite service to launch the Lok Satta Party in 2006 and became a state legislator. He is a staunch believer that society needs great ideas and the best of the technology rather than freebies like TVs and grinders in poll seasons.
Aruna Roy, 67
Left government service: 1974 (Resigned)
Education: MA in English
She left the IAS when she was just 28. After serving the government for six years, Roy chose to become a fulltime social activist. She founded the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan which advocated people’s rights to scrutinize official records; that eventually led to the enactment of the Right to Information (RTI) Act in 2005.
Roy convinced Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the need to have a more transparent government when the Congress was in the Opposition. When the UPA came to power, Roy joined the Gandhi-led NAC and exerted pressure to adopt the RTI as a transparency tool (Roy left the NAC this May after pointing to differences with the government).
JM Lyngdoh, 74
Ex-IAS, Former chief election commissioner of India
Left government service: 1997 (Joined as Election Commissioner)
Education: MA in Economics
During his career as a bureaucrat in Bihar, Lyngdoh’s biggest challenge was how to handle political pressure. The man who hails from Meghalaya invited trouble on several occasions as he refused to oblige white kurtaclad netas. Post-retirement, he became more vocal about corruption in the country’s political system.
To steer his agenda, he joined hands with former chief justice of India RC Lahoti and former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) VK Shunglu among others to launch the India Rejuvenation Initiative. Lyngdoh moved court to oppose the appointment of PJ Thomas as Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) citing a corruption case dated back to 1992. The SC annulled Thomas’ appointment.
PC Parakh, 68
Ex-IAS, former coal secretary
Left government service: 2005 (Retired)
Education: Engineering from IIT-Roorkee
Don Who Took on the Mafia
Parakh’s activism began even when he was with the government. He wrote letters to the cabinet secretary and PMO arguing in favour of auction of coal blocks as he noticed a “mafia” within the coal ministry.
Later, he turned a whistleblower for CAG, which smelt a huge scam in allocation of coal blocks; CAG’s audit did factor in Parakh’s leads. But the CBI found Parakh as a conspirator in allocating a coal block to Hindalco. No wonder when the investigative agency filed an FIR against Parakh, former CAG Vinod Rai came into Parakh’s defence.
10th November 2013
Bureaucratic reforms, misplaced elation
The Supreme Court judgment directing the Central and state governments about certain bureaucratic reforms has been hailed as ‘path breaking verdict’, ‘great day for bureaucracy’, etc.
As per the press reports, in a nutshell, Supreme Court has given three directions: (i) Central Government and all the state governments should issue directions within three months providing fixed tenure to civil servants; (ii) Civil Services Board should be constituted at the Centre and State-levels; and, (iii) bureaucrats should not take oral orders.
The above directions have been given by the Supreme Court on a PIL filed by
T S R Subramanian, former cabinet secretary and 82 other retired IAS officers. It is not clear what were the actual prayers made by the petitioners and what was the reply submitted by the Union of India and the states. The latest position of IAS cadre Rules were perhaps not clearly brought to the notice of the apex court.
As per this, in the case of Andhra Pradesh, the Government of India notified minimum tenure for each cadre posts in the state excepting that of chief secretary, as two years. The same might have been done for other states also.
I do not find that the first two directions of Supreme Court are anything different from what the above Rule itself provides. In such a circumstance, if the legal provisions are not being followed, the prayer has to be for implementation of the law and not for fresh directions. The very fact that in spite of this rule, the affected IAS officers did not challenge their premature transfers speaks volumes about the internal dynamics of transfer and postings of IAS officers.
As far as the direction of the Supreme Court that officers should not take oral orders from the political executive, Rule 3 of All India Services Conduct Rules provides detailed instructions on similar lines.
The problem is not that the ministers are able to get things done from bureaucrats against their wishes but it is that in such matters, both are in collusion with each other and the bureaucrats don’t mind taking oral orders. The problem is that of nexus. Recent spat between politicians and IAS officers in Andhra Pradesh when the CBI enquired and charge sheeted some of them in the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy case underscores this point.
When the CBI started enquiring and found fault with various governmental decisions, political executives and bureaucrats started blaming each other. The general defence of ministers was that they signed only on the proposals prepared by bureaucrats and bureaucrats maintaining that they were compelled to sign on the dotted lines. And they were the same officers who were very close to the powers-that-be and were high and mighty in the system. In fact, it was a classic case of consensual partnership and crying hoarse after the issues came to light.
Subramanian is reported to have elatedly told the press “we knew where the shoe pinches.” And that the verdict targeted the major weapon of transfers and postings that the politicians wielded to control the officers.
With due respect to Subramanian, perhaps we have failed to understand where the shoe pinches. The problem of bureaucracy does not lie in transfers but in postings. The problem with today’s bureaucracy is not premature or punishment transfers but posting ineligible junior officers in plum positions, posting the corrupt and tainted officers in important positions including that of chief secretaries that too in blatant violation of Cadre Rules (CRs.) The problem may be more clearly understood by a simple example.
The Cadre Rules provide a limited number of posts in chief secretaries’ rank, say three posts, and three officers can be promoted against these posts. If the cadre rules are followed then these three officers are certain to get one of these three important posts.
This not only reduces the discretion of the political executive but is also likely to make the officers independent. But what government does is that it illegally promotes 15 officers and posts the junior officers of their choice in these three important positions while seniors are sent to junior positions. Thus, a situation of glorious uncertainty is created regarding postings which makes every officer run around the politician to grab the plum posting or avoid innocuous posting. And the whole process of posting becomes a tool of reward and punishment for obedience and disobedience, respectively.
Politicians do their homework well in advance as to who are to be given plum posts and hence they hardly require premature shifting of the officers. It is very few cases of mid-stream ‘aberrations’ by an officer selected by them where political executive requires shifting the officer prematurely. In such a situation, the rule of minimum tenure becomes counter-productive as it gives legitimacy of permanence to illegal postings.
The moral of the story is break the nexus between political executives and the bureaucrats and this is the need of the hour. This cannot be done unless the postings of officers are done strictly as per the IAS Cadre Rules. Any violation of Cadre Rules in this regard is treated as serious misconduct on the part of the officers who are associated with making the postings, leading to disciplinary action. And till such time, any talk of administrative reforms will remain only cosmetic.
(The author, a retired IAS officer, is a former special chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh)
What the Second Administrative Reforms Commission favoured which SC cited
* Set up Civil Services Authority to be headed by an eminent person with experience of public affairs to be appointed by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha; give it statutory backing
* It should deal with matters of assignment of domains, preparing panels for posting of officers at the level of SAG (senior administrative grade) and above, fixing tenures for various posts, deciding on posts which could be advertised for lateral entry etc
* After enactment of the State Civil Services Law on the lines ofthe proposed Union enactment, the proposed State Civil Service Authority should deal with matters concerning appointment and tenure of senior officers of all ranks in state governments
* State governments should take steps to constitute State Civil Services Authorities on the lines of the Central Civil Services Authority.
Source: Md Shafiquzzaman,DH
10th November 2013
Too early to see changes in civil servants
The recent judgment, though dubbed as landmark, is being analysed with a pinch of salt. The directions for fixing a minimum tenure and issuance of no oral order from superiors, besides setting up of Civil Services Board, could prove to be catalyst for the bureaucrats. The babudom may undergo metamorphosis in the changed scenario.
However, there is a lurking fear, which is not unfounded. The 2006 verdict on police reforms by the apex court is yet to be implemented fully. Political executives simply do not want to loosen their stranglehold on the bureaucracy. Fixing the minimum two-year tenure for a director general of police, then ordered, is still a far cry in the present scenario, even though some states amended the rules for the purpose.
Political class is not alone to be blamed for all the mess that the bureaucracy in the country finds itself in. It is not rare to see senior bureaucrats pandering to the political class for plum postings.
A day after passing a host of reformatory directions for civil servants, a different bench presided over by Chief Justice P Sathasivam did not entertain a PIL filed by Singh for direction to implement mandatory two-year cooling off period for civil servants to accept a government position after his retirement.
Bhaskar Ghose, a 1960-batch IAS officer, in his book ‘The Service of the State: The IAS reconsidered’ related a quote by his colleague on the relationship between the IAS officer and the political parties in power. Some officers are very adept at lobbying with politicians for plum postings. Wrote Ghose: “In a sense the IAS can be divided into three groups – the ‘wives’ (those who remain attached to one party), the ‘nuns’ (officers who remain unattached to any party) and the ‘prostitutes’ (who attach themselves to whichever party is in power and switch when there is a change of government.)”
The quote aptly describes the status of bureaucracy in the country.
The apex court, while examining the PIL filed by 83 eminent retired civil servants, went into details the recommendations made by the Hota Committee, Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption, 1962 and reports of the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission.
Germane here to point out that a notification providing for two years minimum tenure for IAS posting having been issued by 13 states including Karnataka, Harayana, Andhra Pradesh Odisha and Jharkhand. But states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Punjab, which have taken certain initiatives like establishing transfer policy, are desired to do a lot.
Interestingly, the All India Services (Conduct) Rules 1968, mandates that the directions of the officials-superior should ordinarily be given in writing. In case issuing oral direction becomes unavoidable, the official-superior shall confirm it in writing immediately thereafter.
The court acted on the PIL after finding that certain states were neither consistent nor positive on the issues of creation of an independent CSB, fixed tenure of civil servants and recording of directions. It, however, was hesitant to accept the suggestion of Hota Committee to constitute an independent CSB at the Central and state level without executive control and comprising persons outside the government.
Instead, the court went for the CSB with the cabinet secretary at the Centre and chief secretary at the state as a “better alternative” till Parliament enacted a law for the purpose.
According to the court, the decisions taken by the CSB, also comprising high-ranking serving officers, on transfers, postings and disciplinary action could be overruled by the political executive but by recording reasons with the purpose of ensuring good governance, transparency and accountability. The issue of including some independent persons like retired officers in the board has been left to the wisdom of legislature by the court.
There is also no dearth of honest officers who worked against all odds and withstood all kinds of pressures to work for the welfare of general public. But there are a high number among them who become a part of the corrupt system and form a vicious nexus with their political masters for mutual gain. It would be interesting to see the change in India’s steel frame in the days to come.
Highlights of the Judgment
* “We notice that much of the deterioration of the standards of probity and accountability with the civil servants is due to the political influence or persons purporting to represent those who are in authority”
* “Repeated shuffling/transfer of the officers is deleterious to good governance. Minimum assured service tenure ensures efficient service delivery and increased efficiency”
* “Where in exceptional circumstances action has to be taken on the basis of oral directions, it is mandatory for the officer superior to confirm the same in writing. The civil servant, in turn, who has received such information, is required to seek confirmation of the directions in writing as early as possible and it is the duty of the officer superior to confirm the
direction in writing.
* “Civil servants have to function in accordance with the Constitution and the laws made by Parliament. In the present political scenario, the role of civil servants has become very complex and onerous. Often they have to take decisions which will have far reaching consequences in the economic and technological fields. Their decisions must be transparent and must be in public interest. They should be fully accountable to the community they serve.
“We are of the view that the civil servants cannot function on the basis of verbal or oral instructions, orders, suggestions, proposals, etc and they must also be protected against wrongful and arbitrary pressure exerted by the administrative superiors, political executive, business and other vested interests. Further, civil servants shall also not have any vested interests. Resultantly, there must be some records to demonstrate how the civil servant has acted, if the decision is not his, but if he is acting on the oral directions, instructions, he should record such directions in the file.
If the civil servant is acting on oral directions or dictation of anybody, he will be taking a risk, because he cannot later take up the stand that the decision was in fact not his own. Recording of instructions, directions is, therefore, necessary for fixing responsibility and ensure accountability in the functioning of civil servants and to uphold institutional integrity”
10th November 2013
Corruption in IAS is increasing
Former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian led a group of 83 retired bureaucrats in filing the PIL before Supreme Court seeking measures to insulate bureaucracy from political influence, among others.
The 1961 batch IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh cadre spoke to B S Arun of Deccan Herald on the verdict, its implications and the challenges ahead.
Why did to you decide to move SC? Are you happy with the verdict?
Am I happy?
Yes and no. Our three prayers were independence for the service, security of tenure and no verbal orders. We hoped tenure is a key area. The court accepted principle of independence but did not pass any order, and to that extent, I am not happy. I am happy that the above areas addressed are no more in private domain. It has now become people’s matter. Article 32 (empowering a person with a right to constitutional remedy and the SC the power to issue directions) has come into play.
Do you think the judgment would bring in some reforms in bureaucracy and make it more accountable?
The apex court decision could be a turning point to improve things. Don’t forget that no sane person in a democracy can object to our three prayers. We think their recognition is a step in the right direction.
How far the directions like fixing minimum tenure and taking no oral orders from superiors would help civil servants shed vice-like grip of political bosses on them?
We have seen two cases, those of (Haryana cadre officer) Ashok Khemka and (UP cadre officer) Durga Shakti Nagpal against whom government initiated actions. These cases reflect deep malaise in the system. Many officers are scared (of such actions.) They are professionals and not activists. Short tenure means they don’t get to know of their department properly or visit a taluk even once. Now, the order should improve governance.
There is lurking fear among the political class that the verdict has a propensity to make civil servants autocratic. How can you allay this fear?
The political masters are in charge, Constitution gives them the right. No decision-making power of the political master is taken away. They can change anybody but they have to give reasons. This is not dictatorship and the country does not belong to politicians but to the people. The prayers we sought were implementation of the recommendations made by the ARC which was headed by a politician – Veerappa Moily – and a committee headed by Santhanam (who gave a report in the 1960s) who was also a politician.
What are the other reforms that the civil servants can look forward to in order to improve their efficiency?
This is the beginning. Every reasonable person understands the need for rationality in transfer. Then there will be groups of politicians who want to block it. We saw the same in RTI, Lokpal, etc.
How do you wish to tackle those officers who pander to the political bosses for retirement benefits or some gains to their own relatives or kith and kin?
They do much more than that. Many are corrupt to the core. They bow
before the politicians to get benefits. Financial corruption was unheard of 10 years ago in top echelons of bureaucracy, now it pervades India. It is important systemic changes are required, as it now encourages the corrupt and punishes the honest. I am not against the political system but we need better governance.
Is not the SC trampling on the authority of the executive by directing that the Civil Services Boards be set up?
Please go back to fundamentals. A point of argument is the SC has no
locus standi to enter into a matter between political and permanent executive. Where the welfare of the public is involved under Article 32, it is no private matter between politician and the officer.
6th November 2013
Bureaucrats aren’t saints!
The administration faces threats not only from corrupt politicians but also from corrupt and insensitive bureaucrats.
The Supreme Court, on October 31 last, gave a significant judgment in T S R Subramanian and others v. Union of India, directing the Union and state governments to ensure that officers should be given a fixed tenure and that they should not be given any verbal orders. The court further directed that independent Civil Service Boards (CSB) should be constituted at the Central and state levels so that there is complete transparency in transfers and postings of civil servants.
Former bureaucrats and police officers numbering 83 had filed a PIL in the apex court asking it to come to the rescue of honest civil servants who are pressured by dishonest political executive. The petitioners quoted the recommendations of the Hota Committee (2004), which recommended the constitution of CSB, main recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008), the statement adopted at the conference of chief ministers on effective and responsive administration (1997), recommendations of the Jha Commission (1986) which recommended fixed tenure and the report of the Santhanam Committee (1962).
The Supreme Court accepted most of the pleas of petitioners and directed the Union and state governments as well as Union Territories to issue appropriate directions to secure providing minimum tenure of service to civil servants within a period of three months. The court has expressed concern about the political interference in administrative functioning: “We notice that much of the deterioration of the standards of probity and accountability with the civil servants is due to the political influence or persons purporting to represent those who are in authority. Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption, 1962 has recommended that there should be a system of keeping some sort of records in such situations. Rule 3(3)(iii) of the All India Service Rules specifically requires that all orders from superior officers shall ordinarily be in writing. Where in exceptional circumstances, action has to be taken on the basis of oral directions, it is mandatory for the officer superior to confirm the same in writing. The civil servant, in turn, who has received such information, is required to seek confirmation of the directions in writing as early as possible and it is the duty of the officer superior to confirm the direction in writing.”
The Supreme Court directed to give the security of tenures to police officials also in its historic judgment in Prakash Singh’s case in September 2006. The Union and the states were directed to constitute independent security commissions to decide their transfers and postings of police officers. It is yet to take any concrete shape. The government of Bihar formed the commission comprising the chief minister, the chief secretary and the director general (police) which can hardly be independent. What will be the fate of the CSB? The Supreme Court agreed to its formation but refused to go by the recommendation of the Hota Committee that its members should not be from the government to ensure its independence. The CSB will consist of government functionaries only. However, civil servants will get a minimum tenure and they will be able to move the court if removed earlier.
While it is true that the credibility of the political class is at its lowest ebb, it will not be fair to apportion all the blame on them and exculpate civil servants.
The report by Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy ranks bureaucracies across Asia from 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst possible score.
India scored 9.26 on this scale which is worse than Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and China.
The report makes a searing indictment that India’s bureaucracy was responsible for many complaints businessmen had about India, like lack of infrastructure and corruption, and adds that Indian bureaucrats were seldom held accountable for wrong decisions. It further says, “This gives them (bureaucrats) terrific powers and could be one of the main reasons why average Indians as well as existing and would-be foreign investors perceive India’s bureaucrats as negatively as they do.”
Singapore remained the country with the best bureaucracy, with a rating of 2.25.
Most Indians share this perception. Bureaucrats in India are considered depraved, uninnovative, arrogant, abrasive and anti-poor. The genesis of the problem lies in adopting the colonial bureaucratic structure without even the slightest of modifications. No country, after dismantling the yoke of colonialism, did so. The British came to India to rule, not to serve. So, DMs and SPs had sprawling bungalows, several orderlies, chauffeur-driven cars and several other amenities which gave them the trappings of rulers. Penderel Moon, an ICS officer, has written in his book ‘Strangers in India’ that ICS officers used to go to various universities in England and showed them a tantalising future if they agreed to go over to India.
Ironically, these bureaucrats remained rulers even after the country attained independence. CSDS and Lok Niti conducted a survey for ascertaining people’s opinion about bureaucracy. Most of those interviewed felt that these officers are arrogant and insensitive. Two-thirds of them said that they would like to approach political leaders in case they need any help instead of bureaucrats. Further, civil servants have adequate protection under Article 311 of the Constitution. The country’s administration as a whole faces threats not only from corrupt politicians but also from corrupt and insensitive bureaucrats.
Source: DH, Sudhanshu Ranjan
1st November 2013
SC declines plea for bureaucrats cooling off-period.
The Supreme Court Friday declined a petition seeking direction to the government to observe a cooling-off period of two years before a retired senior civil servant is offered re-employment with the government.
The apex court bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Ranjan Gogoi, turning down the PIL plea as withdrawn, said it was for the competent authorities to decide on the re-employment of a retiring civil servant. “How can court issue directions?”
Senior counsel Harish Salve, who appeared for PIL petitioner Prakash Singh, told the court there were existing rules providing for cooling-off period but these were not being adhered to.Salve told the court he was seeking guidelines on the cooling-off period so there could be transparency in the matter of appointment at senior levels.
“Suppose if someone (retired bureaucrat) is an expert, it is for the man who is dealing with the situation to decide,” said Chief Justice Sathasivam.
31st October 2013
SC verdict will help in good governance
The over 4,700-member strong Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers’ association today welcomed the Supreme Court verdict favouring fixed tenure for bureaucrats, saying it will help in ensuring good governance.
“We support the judgement. It vindicates our stand. It will help in good governance across the country,” IAS officers’ association secretary Sanjay R Bhoos Reddy told PTI.
It is necessary that the judgement not only gets implemented in letter but in spirit also, he said.The association of Indian Forest Service (IFoS) also supported the apex court verdict.”We support the judgement. It is a good judgement. It will check in arbitrary transfers and suspensions,” said IFoS association’s President A R Chadha.
There are about 11,000 members of the three services– around 4,737 IAS, 3,637 IPS and about 2,700 IFoS officers— working across the country.
“This is a landmark judgement. Public servants are not private servants,” said former Cabinet Secretary T S R Subramanian.”Today faith in our Constitution has been reaffirmed…our faith in the strength of democracy has been reaffirmed because the highest court of the land has recognised the problems,” he said, adding “malgovernance affected people and quality of administration”.
Former Election Commissioner T S Krishna Murthy lauded the verdict, saying
“Good governance is critical to good quality democracy.
“Most of us have seen in our career how most of the transfers, promotions, postings and foreign assignments, all of them are decided on whimsical basis very often,” he said.Former CBI Director Joginder Singh said, “I am happy over this judgement but having said that I am aware that similar judgement was passed by the Supreme Court on September 20, 2006 on fixed tenure of police officers but all states are dilly-dallying”.
The PIL on which the apex court had given its verdict had alleged that at present, the system of transfers, postings, promotions, disciplinary action and other personnel matters pertaining to the members of civil services are ad-hoc and non-transparent.
31st October 2013
IAS OFFICERS SHOULD NOT TAKE ORAL ORDERS FROM POLITICAL BOSSES:SC
The Supreme Court on Thursday said bureaucrats will no more take oral orders from their political bosses, as it sought an end to frequent transfers and suggested a fixed tenure to protect them from political interference.
The judgment comes close on the heels of controversies surrounding alleged persecution of Uttar Pradesh IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal and Senior Haryana cadre IAS officer Ashok Khemka.
Suggesting sweeping reforms in the functioning of bureaucracy, a bench headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan said Parliament must enact a law to regulate postings, transfers and disciplinary action against bureaucrats.
Holding that much of the deterioration in bureaucracy is because of political interference, it said that civil servants should not act on verbal orders given by political executives and all actions must be taken by them on the basis of written communication.
The bench ordered the constitution of the Civil Services Board at the Centre and state-levels.The apex court passed the verdict on a PIL filed by 83 retired bureaucrats, including former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian seeking its directions for insulating bureaucracy from political interference.
The petitioners also include former Indian ambassador to the US Abid Hussain, former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami, former Election Commissioner T S Krishna Murthy, former IPS officer Ved Prakash Marwah, and former CBI directors Joginder Singh and D R Kaarthikeyan.
Source : HT
28th October 2013
PM assuages IAS officers’ fears of retribution
At a time when a former IAS officer facing charges in the coal block allocation scam has given rise to concerns among bureaucrats, who feel that such actions could tie their hands, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that there is a need to remove the perception that it could discourage government functionaries from taking decisions.
In his message to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which is celebrating Vigilance Awareness Week from Monday, the Prime Minister said the positive contribution of vigilance in promoting good governance is “very important”, because the ultimate objective of any vigilance activity should be to improve governance.
He said there is a need to make the role of vigilance mechanisms more positive. He also emphasised the need for “removing the perception that these mechanisms sometimes discourage government functionaries from taking decisions”.
“It is in the interest of every organisation, striving to bring in efficiency and transparency, to re-engineer its processes for effective use of information technology,” she added.In its advisory on the observance of the awareness week, the CVC has reminded officers that no amount of developmental schemes can bring in improvements in the quality of life of citizens without good governance. It said a lot more remains to be done, despite several initiatives having been taken to improve the quality of governance.“Improved governance in the form of eliminating corruption by strict action in respect of tax evasions and black-market economy, as well as increased transparency in public procurement, is very necessary,” said the CVC. Experience has shown that increased transparency, competition and leveraging of technology lead to decline in corruption, it added.
22nd October 2013
Khemkha alleges he is being Victimized
With Haryana Government set to slap a second charge sheet against him, whistleblower IAS officer Ashok Khemka, who shot into limelight for questioning controversial Robert Vadra-DLF land deals, has alleged that he was being victimized and publicly humiliated without being heard for exposing “open public loot”.
In an 11-page letter to the Chief Secretary P K Chaudhery, he attacked Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary S S Dhillon and alleged that he along with senior officers had “ganged up” against him and he was facing action for failing to toe the line of the political masters.
Dhillon was not available for comment despite repeated attempts to reach him while sources in the Haryana Government maintained they were yet to receive the letter from Khemka.
The Haryana Government is in the process of serving the IAS officer a second chargesheet for alleged irregularities in wheat seeds sale during his tenure in Haryana Seed Development Corporation as its Managing Director from October 15, 2012 to April 4 this year.”If anything adverse was held against me for the unsold seed stocks, the minimum expected was to at least afford me an opportunity to explain before publicly humiliating me with the announcement of a second charge sheet in the media,” Khemka, who has been transferred over 40 times during his career so far, said in his letter yesterday.
Meanwhile, Khemka said that he had not received any charge sheet so far.
Three weeks back, the Haryana government had decided to charge sheet Khemka for alleged administrative misconduct in cancelling the mutation of the land deal between Vadra and DLF in Gurgaon.
The 1991-batch IAS officer has been held liable for alleged administrative misconduct for overstepping jurisdiction in passing orders to cancel the mutation of 3.5 acre land in Gurgaon’s Shikohpur village. The land was sold by Vadra to DLF.
Khemka claimed that the motive of charge sheeting him without an opportunity of hearing and announcing the same in the media “is to publicly humiliate me for conscientiously doing my duty and to instill a sense of fear in others as to what would happen in the event the desire of the political masters is not fulfilled.”
He alleged that the favours dispensed to colonizers in the Town & Country Planning and Urban Estates Departments by way of granting change in land use permissions, colony licenses, tweaking town development plans, acquisition and release of land is too well known and need not be further elaborated here.
“My position is like the batsman in a cricket match who is asked to bat in a match where the umpire is totally biased and he knows that the umpire will raise the dreaded finger on any frivolous appeal by the fielding team. The umpire in this matter is not neutral, but is the mentor of the fielding team continuously goading the players of the opposing team to appeal so that he can raise his dreaded finger,” he wrote.
Khemka said he was facing action “for daring to speak out in the course of my official duty against the open public loot and conflict of interest by public servants in the release of land, change in land use permissions, grant and transfer of colony licenses….”
21st October 2013
IAS body seeks safeguards for bureaucrats
Agitated over CBI’s FIR which named former coal secretary PC Parakh as an accused in the Coalgate scam, central IAS officers’ association has decided to approach highest authorities in the government to ensure necessary safeguards for bureaucrats who make honest decisions.
“We are going to give our representation at the highest level in the government. Officers who are honest and made honest decisions in public interest should not be hounded.
Necessary safeguards need to be there,” central IAS officers’ association secretary Sanjay R Bhoos Reddy said.In the present regime, an officer can be booked by investigating agencies for making a decision which benefits a company or individuals, he said.
“All members of the associations are agitated over it. If somebody is corrupt, hang him at the lamp post. But the honest must be protected,” Reddy said.”We will be meeting Prime Minister, MoS for personnel, cabinet secretary and secretary, department of personnel and training and will give representation to them.
The IAS officers body, which has also recently changed its constitution to cover all IAS officers working in central and state government departments across the country, said they wanted the same safeguards for members of other services like Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS).IPS and IFoS associations have also rallied behind Parakh.
14th October 2013
UP govt suspends senior IAS officer
A day after his transfer, senior IAS officer Sarvesh Chandra Mishra was today suspended and a departmental probe initiated against him over a controversial letter convening a meeting to discuss “reconstruction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya on lines of Somnath Temple.”
Mishra, a 1997-batch officer, was the Home Secretary of Uttar Pradesh before he was shunted out yesterday.”Secretary (Home) Mishra mentioned a wrong and extremely misleading subject on a disputed issue in the letter regarding a meeting to be chaired by the Principal Secretary (Home) on October 14, and signed it,” an official statement said here.
Mishra’s act created confusion and gave a completely wrong message among the people, the statement said.
“It has been decided to suspend Mishra, an IAS officer of 1997 batch, with immediate effect and initiate a departmental inquiry against him,” it said, adding that during suspension period, Mishra will remain attached with the Revenue Board.
A controversy had erupted over a communique by the state Home Secretary convening a meeting to discuss “reconstruction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya on the lines of Somnath Temple,” with a red-faced SP government calling it an “error” and promising action against the guilty.
Principal Secretary (Home) R M Srivastava had to apologise for the “error” and take responsibility for the folly of “junior level” officials.
“There are errors in the letter issued on October 9 by the department for convening the meeting and parts of intelligence input on the VHP sponsored Sankalp Diwas on October 18, which should not have been made public, got mentioned in it,” Srivastava had said at a press meet here.
“The language used in the letter is not correct,” he had said.
5th October 2013
President Trashes Charge sheet against Whistle-blower officer
A Haryana government charge sheet against Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who took on the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led dispensation on forest scams and faced its ire, has been quashed by President Pranab Mukherjee.
This is the third time the President has intervened in Chaturvedi’s case in the past five years. In January 2008, he had revoked his suspension, and later quashed major penalty proceedings in January 2011 for preventing destruction of a wildlife sanctuary and misuse of public funds for the construction of a herbal park.
“The charge sheet issued to him by the government of Haryana, dated August 21, 2012, and March 18, 2013, vide which an inquiry was ordered against Sanjiv Chaturvedi, stands revoked/quashed with immediate effect,” said the October 3 order signed by the chief vigilance officer (CVO) of the Environment Ministry on behalf of the President.
Chaturvedi, transferred 12 times in five years, had alleged that he was first suspended and later the chief minister got a case of abetting suicide registered against him after one of the accused in the scam ended his life.
He also claimed that the government has kept the case open even now, despite the investigating officer having given him a clean chit.After the Haryana government allegedly began targeting him, he approached the cabinet secretary, who ordered an inquiry by two officers. The inquiry committee report vindicated Chaturvedi’s actions in this case and came down heavily on the role of the Chief Minister’s Office.
In July 2011, the Central Vigilance Commission issued directions to the Central Bureau of investigation to look into the plantation scam, and the agency recommended registration of a case in November that year. However, it is alleged that the Haryana government refused to sanction a CBI investigation.
The state government also reportedly refused to relieve Chaturvedi on central deputation in May last year, and initiated framing of a departmental charge sheet against him without considering his reply in the Jhajjar plantation case, only to withhold his vigilance clearance and thereby his relieving for central deputation. The Centre rejected the state’s move and brought him under its own jurisdiction.
27th September 2013
Khemka to be charge-sheeted for major
The Haryana government on Thursday ordered a charge sheet against 1991 batch IAS officer, Ashok Khemka for major penalty under Rule 8 of All-India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules.
Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is the competent authority in disciplinary matters pertaining to IAS officers on Wednesday, approved action against Khemka.
Primarily, Khemka has been held liable of administrative misconduct – overstepping jurisdiction in passing orders to cancel the mutation of 3.5 acre in Gurgaon’s Shikohpur village, the tract that was sold by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s businessman son-in-law Robert Vadra to realty major DLF and indulging in public criticism of the actions and policies of the state government.
The IAS officer, after being transferred on October 11, 2012 from the post of director general, consolidation of holdings (DGCH) and inspector general, registration had on October 12 and 15 had ordered an inquiry into the alleged undervaluation of assets owned by Vadra or his companies in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Mewat districts and set aside the mutation of 3.5 acres respectively.
This, as per the state government, constituted an administrative misconduct.
A committee of officers constituted by the government to ascertain facts and inquire into the matter to ascertain acts of omission and commission by various authorities involved had termed Khemka’s orders as inappropriate and without jurisdiction.
Khemka has also been held liable for his public criticism of the actions and policies of the state government during the course of these development. He took part in television interviews and was quoted extensively in the print media.
Subsequently in May 2013, Khemka submitted a detailed response on the findings of the committee, justifying his October 2012 orders.
In his 100-page response, the IAS officer also changed tacks to question the manner in which the sale of 3.5 acres from Onkareshwar Properties to Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality took place, terming it a “sham transaction”.
He had also questioned the issuance of a commercial colony licence granted to Sky Light Hospitality by the town and country planning department.
The state government recently sought comments on Khemka’s May 2013 response from the revenue department and the town and country planning department (TCPD). The two departments – pertaining to whom issues were raised by the IAS officer- completely disagreed with his response.In fact, the town and country planning department in its response said that Khemka should be penalized for publicly criticizing the actions and policies of the state government.
24th September 2013
Bureaucrats Ordered To Slice Out Lavish
Spending On Trips
With India’s economy going down the drain, several bureaucrats have been ordered to downsize the expenses of their luxurious living. To tame the nation’s monetary deficiency, members of the Parliament ministry have now been restricted from spending on pricey travelling, reports Anant Vijay Kala and Prasanta Sahu for The Wall Street Journal.
The recent internal order issued from New Delhi directs all its ministries and departments to cut short unnecessary spending such as travelling in business class flights. Also, ministers have been asked not to conduct conferences in five-star hotels as that adds on to a grand amount. Expensive trips must be avoided as much as possible and lavish travelling to countries overseas should be slashed. The bureaucrats will have to manage the expense of their companions from now on, unlike earlier where they could get a tag-along for free.
23rd September 2013
Senior IAS officer arrested in Srinagar
A senior IAS officer was arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) Monday for suspected corruption over a land lease at the famous Gulmarg ski resort.
Basheer Ahmad Khan of the Indian Administrative Service, who was posted as district magistrate of Kishtwar, was arrested by the SVO police station in Srinagar. He was produced before the court of the special anti-corruption judge, and was charge sheeted for alleged involvement in what is being called the Gulmarg land lease scam.
“Khan was arrested by the SVO and taken to the court of the special judge (anti-corruption) in Srinagar, where the SVO produced the charge sheet against the IAS officer.
“The court granted bail to Khan and he was allowed to go back to report for duties.
The sources also said Khan had been called to Srinagar by the SVO and he cooperated with the sleuths of the anti-graft body.
22nd September 2013
Durga Nagpal ‘regrets’ actions,suspension may be revoked..
After being suspended from her post for alleged involvement in the demolition of an under-construction mosque in a village in Gautam Buddh Nagar, IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal has reportedly “regretted” her actions and could be reinstated in the next couple of days.
According to sources here, Nagpal met Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav briefly, and expressed regret over her actions, “paving the way for revocation of her suspension”. Her husband Abhishek Singh, also an IAS officer, accompanied her to the meeting.
Sources said the chief minister was satisfied with her explanation and that she could be reinstated as early as Sunday.
The government had earlier asked Principal Secretary R M Srivastava to investigate the matter. Srivastava has not yet submitted his report, sources said.
15th September 2013
Retired IAS official arrested in illegal mining
case of Bellary
Retired IAS officer Shameen Banu was arrested on Saturday and remanded in judicial custody by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court. She will be in judicial custody till September 21.
Ms. Banu, who is member of the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal, was arrested for her alleged role in renewing the lease of Deccan Mining Syndicate, which is accused of being involved in illegal mining.
It is also said that Ms. Banu’s counsel filed for bail. The CBI has sought time to file its objections to this. Sources said the CBI is yet to file a charge sheet in the case.
Sources added that Ms. Banu is the second IAS officer to be arrested in connection with the illegal mining case. The CBI had also arrested N. Vishwanathan, retired chief secretary, as well as Rajendra Kumar Jain, who owns Deccan Mining Syndicate (DMS), Ritesh Milapchand Jain, DMS senior executive, and Ramakanth Hullar, Sandur circle inspector.
It is said that DMS was sanctioned 50 acres for mining in 1966. The lease came up for renewal in 1996, by which time the company had been blacklisted by the Department of Mines and Geology. The Central Empowered Committee found that DMS had encroached the mines owned by the National Mineral Development Corporation. This, sources said, had caused a loss of the over Rs. 100 crore to the State’s exchequer. Overlooking this, it is alleged that the lease was renewed.
4th September 2013
Maharashtra facing shortage of 60 IAS officers
There are over 60 vacancies in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) cadre in Maharashtra, with almost 19 per cent posts yet to be filled up. The sanctioned IAS cadre strength for the state is 350.
However, presently, there are only 286 IAS officers in the state, Mantralaya sources told PTI. Of the sanctioned cadre strength of 350, the ‘regular recruitment’ (RR) posts are 244, while the promotees from the state public service are 106. However, the RR posts filled presently are only 203 and there are 41 vacancies. Similarly, of the 106 posts meant for promotees, only 83 are filled and there are 23 vacancies, the sources added.
A senior official in the general administration department said there was nothing to be alarmed over the shortage of IAS officers, which he said was only around 20. The quantum of vacancies is similar to, and in some cases, even lower than in other states, he added. Regarding the delay in filling up of vacancies in the promotion quota in the state IAS cadre, the official said, there is normally a year’s time lag in the process.
Source: The Hindu
30th August 2013
Post Women Bureaucrats near home
Single women who are government servants should be given postings closest to their hometown or to places of their choice, a parliamentary committee recommended on Friday.
Women government servants who travel beyond office hours should be provided with security and proper transport by the employer in order to ensure their safety, said a statement issued here by Shantaram Naik, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on personnel public grievances, law and justice.
Calling the government an “ideal employer”, Naik, a Rajya Sabha MP from Goa, said that it was its responsibility to “enable women employees to work in a very congenial atmosphere”.
The committee, he said, had also called for protection officers appointed under laws dealing with women’s commissions should be lady officers.
“The committee recommended that all organisations should ensure proper transport facilities to its employees, particularly the women, while commuting to and from place of work beyond office hours, to ensure their safety,” he further.
Lamenting the dearth of women government servants in semi urban and rural areas, the committee said that “measures to handle such a situation can be evolved at ground level only so that women workers feel motivated to be part of those organizations too”.
23rd August 2013
But, then home minister Sardar Patel was particular to have an all-India service to articulate the feeling of unity and to maintain the diversities prevailing in the country. The service would also, Patel asserted, ensure that the Indian constitution remained supreme in the medley of pulls by different states. Two all-India services, Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service (IPS), were constituted. They came to occupy top positions in the states.
This arrangement worked fairly well till the early ’70s when the rot started due to the Centre’s maniac effort to concentrate power and the states’ ambition to play politics through civil servants. This has practicably nullified good administration. The IAS has become a glorified state service. The rulers use it in the manner they like. In real, the 1975 emergency is the watershed. Then prime minister Indira Gandhi suspended the constitution and used the IAS officers to enforce illegal acts and suppress the critics. This was the time when the thin line between right and wrong, moral and immoral was erased. Only a couple of officers stood up against what was sheer dictatorship.
The service has not recovered from its emergency scars. In fact, it is going out of the way to placate the rulers. The latter, in turn, have rewarded those who did what the rulers wanted. The malaise is largely because of two reasons: one, the rulers do not respect the regulations and violate them to reap benefits for themselves and their parties; two, the IAS officers who are allotted to the states, have surrendered because of threat of transfer or posting to an unimportant position.
Therefore, it is heartening to see IAS officers like Durga Shakti Nagpal from UP and Ashok Khemka from Haryana, standing up against the wrongs the rulers wished them to do. She has been suspended because of stopping the illegal mining by sand mafia. The Samajwadi Party, ruling UP and placating the Muslim electorate, has justified her suspension, saying that she had endangered the communal harmony by ordering the demolition of an outside wall of a mosque. One, this is not true. Two, she was within her right to demolish any unauthorized structure on the government land. In a judgment, the Supreme Court has said that a place of worship should be pulled down immediately if the government land had been encroached upon.
It is a pity that the Supreme Court rejected a public interest litigation (PIL) petition challenging her suspension. The court is technically correct that it cannot interfere in matters between the government and the employees. The court had the opportunity to set right the rot. It should have realised the anger which swept through the country following action against the two officials.
In many foreign countries, there is a committee for civil service supervising the suspensions, transfers and promotions of officials. A similar committee can be constituted in India as well. The task can also be entrusted to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), which is also the recruiting authority. The service itself will have to do
introspection if officers were to act only on the basis of self-promotion. Today when the common man does not get even what is rightfully due to him, he is disillusioned with the entire system. True, politicians will continue to keep an eye on the electorate, but the IAS cannot afford to fall prey to their designs. A public functionary must display a degree of vigilance and willingness to sacrifice.
The Gandhi dynasty should draw a lesson from the example of Feroze Gandhi, son-in-law of Jawaharlal Nehru. Feroz Gandhi would take up cases of corruption in Parliament, even to the embarrassment of Nehru. He was so upright that he did not even live at the prime minister’s house but had a separate bungalow to which he was entitled as a member of Parliament. It is another matter that Feroze Gandhi’s son, Rajiv Gandhi, got the atmosphere contaminated when, as the prime minister he bought the Bofors guns.
Corruption of the dynasty has not lessened either in tone or tenor. Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, has created a stench.
Coming back to the IAS, its name is in the mud. It must retrieve itself not only for the sake of the Durgas and Khemkas, but also for the public which is still hoping against hope that the service will not dance to the tunes of the rulers. That is how the democratic structure in the country can be made safer.
20th August 2013
Why not jail BDA commissioner: HC
The High Court asked the State on Monday why the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) Commissioner, Shyam Bhat, should not be jailed for not complying with the court’s orders.
Justice Ram Mohan Reddy asked the counsel representing the BDA why the commissioner had failed to comply with the court’s orders and the resolution while acquiring land for forming a layout at Talaghattapura in Banashankari 6th Stage. Justice Reddy said that BDA was deliberately showing non-compliance with the court’s orders and that it was not the first time.
Bhat appeared before the court during the hearing. Lakshmamma, the petitioner, had questioned the BDA’s acquisition of her one acre and five guntas of land although the agency had deleted the land acquired surrounding her property. She sought to know why her property was not dropped from acquisition proceedings.
The High Court has asked the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike to comply with its direction on clearing garbage in the City by August 30.
The Division Bench comprising Justices N Kumar and B V Nagarathna, during the hearing of a batch of petitions, observed that the Palike was lethargic in acting on its directions and may have to face “ serious consequences” for not following its orders.
The government has allotted Rs 100 crore to tackle garbage crisis while no initiative has been taken to address the issue. The Palike commissioner would be held responsible if the directions are not followed, the court warned.
Questioning the decision of the Palike to penalise those found throwing garbage on streets, the Bench said: “First, give publicity about the resolution passed and then implement it. Start penalising people for throwing garbage and the entire City will learn about it.”
It referred to Chief Justice all the petitions related to garbage crisis as there were several orders passed by other benches.
17th August 2013
Power to suspend IAS officers should stay
with state government
Former union cabinet secretary and ex-Uttar Pradesh chief secretary TSR Subramanian is known as an upright bureaucrat and for his forthright views on issues concerning the bureaucracy and governance.
As an officer, Subramanian has worked with many politicians at the centre and in Uttar Pradesh.
The retired IAS officer spoke to Hindustan Times over the recent suspension of Gautam Budh Nagar subdivisional magistrate Durga Shakti Nagpal.
Excerpts from an interview :
IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal’s suspension is in focus now. Your views?
What impact is it going to have?
Suspension is no punishment. It is, however, considered to be a bad patch on the suspended officer.
There is a demand to withdraw the state government’s power to suspend IAS officers?
I do not agree with this. The IAS officers work under the state government’s control. So, the power to suspend them should vest in the state government. There should, however, be certain safeguards to protect the officers. The Government of India should review the suspension if any injustice is done to a officer.
Controversy over the suspension has strained relations between the politicians and bureaucrats?
Unfortunately, people are forgetting politicians and bureaucrats are two sides of the same coin. There can’t be any master and servant relationship between the political bosses and the bureaucrats. Officers should also not think that they are the rulers. They are public servants.
The Samajwadi Party is demanding that the IAS officers should be withdrawn from Uttar Pradesh?
The politicians and the bureaucrats are part of the same system. The head can’t say I do not want the liver or I do not want the lungs. The demand that the state does not want IAS officers is not acceptable. Any side should not cross limits. There should not be any pressure on bureaucrats and they should be allowed to express their views freely.
Do other states have better working conditions?
There is hardly any difference in the way the political class in the state and other parts of India functions.
Do the politicians need to be more sensitive?
I have worked with the politicians who are sensitive. I worked as chief secretary during the tenure of Mulayam Singh Yadav as chief minister. I worked as cabinet secretary when Mulayam Singh Yadav held the office of defence minister. He used to understand every point and listened to the problems put up before him. He always respected others and got respect. He did an excellent job and never acted without consulting me and the then defence advisor APJ Abdul Kalam.
What about chief minister Akhilesh Yadav?
I do not have any experience of working with the current crop. This issue of Durga Shakti Nagpal should have been handled in a mature manner. All aspects should have been examined before suspension, instead of ordering suspension at midnight.
How can things improve?
A balance has to be maintained in the relationship between the bureaucrats and the politicians. The bureaucrats run the government. The politicians just give directions. But there are certain bureaucrats who get too close to politicians. Such bureaucrats look at the politicians with utter contempt. The politicians should treat the bureaucrats generously.
Should there be any checks?
There are provisions to check the bureaucrats. Unfortunately, there are hardly any measures to check the political class. The politicians can either be voted out or legal action may be taken for their wrongdoings.
What about the media’s role?
It’s the media’s job to raise the issues. The media is doing its job. It should not be blamed for doing so. It was because of the media that the issue of rape was brought in focus.
14th August 2013
I am just doing my duty: Ashok Khemka
In an interview with Hindustan Times at his Chandigarh office, Khemka was cautious and combative while answering a range of questions:
HT: When you went about cancelling the mutation of the Vadra-DLF deal of 3.5 acres in Gurgaon, did you expect a backlash?
Khemka: I didn’t expect to be garlanded for whatever I had done. Holy Gita speaks about nishkaam karya (selfless service). You have to do your duty without fear and favour and dispassionately. I do my duty with the philosophy of the Gita.
HT: But did you expect this kind of a response? Are you worried about consequences?
Khemka: I do not expect anything, and I am not worried.
HT: But after your exposure you suddenly went public saying I have nothing against Robert Vadra
Khemka: I have nothing against anybody. I am just doing my duty. If I don’t do my duty, it is dereliction of duty; it is a misconduct of omission and betrayal of public trust. It is not a question of friendship or enmity. A referee is supposed to blow the whistle when there is a foul or a goal.
HT: So you are a whistle blower in this case?
Khemka: No. I am not a whistle blower. That’s a dirty word to use. I am just doing my duty.
HT: Are you worried with what’s happening?
Khemka: So much of pressure is being applied. After all, I am human. Don’t think that I am super God.
HT: Have you received some threats?
Khemka: I would not like to comment on that now.
HT: You have said your efforts to procure documents/files pertaining to grant, renewal and transfer of licenses to the companies of Robert Vadra, including Skylight Hospitality; ownership of M/s Onkareshwar Properties, all cases concerning transfer of licenses in the past 10 years etc were stonewalled by Haryana govt. What is your locus standi in seeking this information?
Khemka: Please read the report. All the information is given there. I would not like to comment. It’s not fair for me at this stage to say anything about my response when I know it is being debated in Parliament.
HT: But this was not the issue you were dealing with when you were director-general, Consolidation of Holdings/ DLR/ IGR?
Khemka: That’s your interpretation. I think you know more than I know about my job. You are free to draw your own conclusions.
HT: But the three member government committee has said in its findings that you did not have the jurisdiction.
Khemka: Let the committee or the government pose those questions to me. They will be answered too.
HT: But they have posed those questions to you in their report
Khemka: I have answered them in my 105 page response with annexures. Let the government respond to it.
HT: But if you were not given any records, how is your response fool proof
Khemka: That’s for you to interpret.
HT: Was it difficult to compile the response since you did not have access to records
Khemka: It was very difficult. I would have done a better job if I had access to records.
HT: You have gone off the tangent in your response, leveling allegations against your bureaucratic colleagues and even making a reference to the chief minister. How do you justify this?
Khemka: It is all contained in my response. It may be read and interpreted accordingly.
HT: What was required from you was a reply to the fundamental issues inquired by the committee. Haven’t you gone beyond the brief?
Khemka: That’s for the reader to interpret. Please go through the letters addressed against my transfers on October 12, 2012. You are free to interpret in your own way.
You are being accusatory. It is for the government to read the report and come out with its conclusions.
My response is under the state government’s consideration. In case any objection or clarifications are to be made, they can address a letter again and it shall be replied to.
It is not for me to comment on the response which has been submitted to the state government.
HT: Who will finally decide who is right? The government has not agreed with your contention.
Khemka: Government’s action is to be taken by the government. I can’t make the government decide in a particular way.
HT: But if there is any difference of opinion with regard to interpretation of law who will decide?
Khemka: I won’t make any comment regarding my response to the report of the three member committee.
HT: So what next now?
Khemka: How can I hypothesize? The ball is outside my court. I have submitted my response to the government.
IAS SUSPENSION: GOVT MAY
10th August 2013
In the backdrop of controversial suspension of Durga Sakthi Nagpal, the Centre is considering amending rules to ensure an IAS officer is not suspended or transferred due to vested interest.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT)–which acts as nodal body for administrative matters related to Indian Administrative Service (IAS)–may revisit rules that outlines procedure for disciplinary action against an officer of the service.
“We are considering to make changes the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969 to ensure that an officer of such services is not suspended due to political vendetta or any other vested interest. The move is aimed at ensuring hassle-free working of the officers,” a senior DoPT official said.He said that no decision has been taken as of now on how to go about it.
If changes in rules are made applicable, they will also have bearing on two other All India Services–Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS)–besides IAS.
“The Centre will seek opinions from concerned cadre controlling authorities like Ministry of Home Affairs (for IPS) and Ministry of Environment and Forests (for IFoS) before going ahead with the change in rules. The matter is under discussion within DoPT,” the official said.
The move comes in the backdrop of suspension of Nagpal, a 2010 batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, who had taken o sand mining mafia active in Gautam Budh Nagar district of the state.The 28-year-old officer was suspended ostensibly for ordering demolition of a wall of an under-construction mosque without following the due process.
Political parties including BJP and BSP, besides central and IAS associations of various states have demanded immediate reinstatement of the Nagpal.
The over 4,700-member IAS Officers’ Association has recently also suggested changes in rules including prior sanction of the Centre before any officer of the service is suspended by a state government among others.
“Revisit all rules regarding All India Services, in particular ‘All India Services (Disciplinary and Appeals Rules, 1969, wherein a provision for seeking prior approval of central government should be made before suspending any IAS officer working under control of state governments,” the association’s Secretary Sanjay R Bhoos Reddy had told PTI here.
He had recommended provision for serving of a “mandatory show cause notice” to an officer seeking his or her explanation within a specified time period before suspension.
“Only after perusal of that particular IAS officer’s reply to the show cause notice, suspension should be decided,” he had suggested.
The Association has met Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy in this regard.
4th August 2013
Saluting Durga’s Shakti
Source: Tarun Vijay, TOI
The name, a bit uncommon, is enough to feel the real substance behind it. She did what an IAS officer is supposed to do and what many others like her do not dare to do.
The way the institution of a politician has seen a rapid fall in the eyes of the masses, the administrative officialdom too has gone down in public esteem. To get a simple work done smoothly in any government office is simply not possible, thanks to the nexus between the corrupt politician and the doubly smart and conniving babu. It’s only officers like Durga Shakti, very rarely seen to be receiving media sympathies, who make a difference and help restore people’s confidence in the system.
I had a couple of friends, classfellows and roommates in the early struggling Delhi days who made it to the IAS. Bright, dreamy eyed, full of vigour to change the system and become genuinely ‘people’s servants’. They faced hurdles at every step. Initially they were called, ‘immature, adventurist, ‘naya naya hai, kuch din mein seekh jayega (he is a new recruit, will learn soon) etc. After a couple of years, they found not much could be changed. Netas and parties may change but the colour of corruption and file-raj remains the same. Then finally what changes them is the needs to have a better place for children’s education, a comfortable life for family and a land for post-retirment time in Gurgaon, NOIDA or Dehradun. And the saheb becomes ‘mature and seasoned’.
It happens that those who are ‘liked by the neta’ are given plum postings like districts of their choice and the high earning departments. The ‘others’ are sent to so called hard postings like border areas. In some states, even the district-postings are said to be given to the ”highest bidders’, like the one we saw in a recent movie-Jolly LL.B..
The corrupt politician and his cronies will never let an honest officer work in peace. And to become ‘seasoned, mature and reliable’ also sometimes means a pliable officer who cooperates with the corrupt politicians.
People hate politicians more than the corrupt officers because they feel these netas are the real cause of the fall in administration’s standards. In Uttarakhand I have seen how officers behave rudely and are ruthlessly arrogant. Such insensitive and arrogant officers were the other face of the disaster during Kedarnath tragedy.
The colour of the party hardly matters. The colour of nexus overwhelms everything else. Even the letters of Members of Parliament remain unanswered by secretary and joint secretary level officers. One letter I had sent got a reply exactly after 13 months. The others are still awaiting a two-line acknowledgement. One officer, whom I expected to reply immediately, told me after one and a half months, ‘we couldn’t accept your request to help a Vivekananda yatra for government school students hence the reply was not sent’.
What gives such officers to wear an unhealthy attitude and still get away with it? How can they afford to live like a king and ignore people and their representatives? The key to have a shield is to have a political protector that might be a CM, a minister or a senior office bearer of the ruling party. Be on his right side and live happily without caring a hoot for the public responsibilities.
Whom can we report about them? The Chairman of Rajya Sabha? The Union minister for Personnel? The chief minister? The chief secretary? No sir, none among us believes anything will be done on any genuine complaints. The politicization of the bureaucracy has become so rampant and widespread that barring an honest and upright officer absolutely nothing can be done against an erring and corrupt babu.
They are the first to know which way the political wind is blowing and much before anything has happened on the 2014 electoral prospects, these officers have already started cozying up to the leaders of the parties they think would have a winning chance.
So no surprise that it was too easy for a politician to take action against Durga Shakti of NOIDA. She is comparatively junior, hasn’t become a ‘seasoned’ and ‘mature’ officer who would ‘understand’ the demands of a political crony, wont be able to make much noise as she would know her career is in the hands of these netas. Might yield early after a few murmurs of ‘ protests’.
Normally those who control the fate of these IAS/IPS officers in New Delhi advice such enthusiastic officers to avoid confrontation, lie low even if they are unfairly and unjustifiably treated, accept a quiet transfer and follow the system.
Suppose Durga Shakti is able to get a reprieve from Central Administrative Tribunal, it will be a slap on the face of the Akhilesh government. In that eventuality will he accept this gracefully or wait for another opportune time to teach her a befitting lesson? These are the long-term fears that finally make the initial enthusiasm of an officer die down soon and become a ‘seasoned’ yes man.
Whether it is Ashok Khemka of Haryana cadre who was transferred after he ordered a probe into Vadra land deals or a Durga Shakti, these are the salt of our earth, less in numbers but having great value in sustaining hope and trust of common people in Satyamev Jayate.
3 rd August 2013
Bureaucracy Dilemma: To Govern or not to Govern nation?
The controversial suspension of young Uttar Pradesh IAS officer Durga Sakthi Nagpal has triggered a major national debate on the “arbitrary and whimsical ways” of an incumbent government and how a system should be in place to restore dignity to the civil service that was once known as the ‘steel frame‘ of governance.
Former CAG Vinod Rai, who himself recently demitted office after a considerable amount of criticism from the ruling establishment for his reports on various scams, supported Nagpal.
“Suspension of an officer is a serious issue. It is done when there are grave charges against him or her. She has been denied natural justice as she was not given an opportunity to present her case before being suspended,” Rai told PTI.
He said Nagpal’s seniors should have stood by her. “Chief Secretary and Secretary (of the department concerned) should have not succumbed (to any kind of pressure),” said Rai, a former IAS officer who demitted as the chief of country’s top auditing body.
Former Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) N Vittal saw political vendetta in Nagpal’s suspension and called it as an example of “very unhealthy tradition” established in the country’s bureaucracy.
“It is one more example of very unhealthy tradition we have established since independence. Suspension and transfer have been two ways by which politicians feel they can break bone of civil servants.
“There should not be arbitrary suspension of any officer. It is a political vendetta,” said Vittal, who had served in various key posts as a former IAS officer before becoming head of anti-corruption body.
He demanded a mechanism to check on such whimsical transfers of bureaucrats.”There should be a procedure of review of transfer by Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in case of officers serving at Centre. Whereas, State Vigilance Commissions or Lokayuktas should review any such transfer in case an officer is posted in states. Only after confirmation from CVC or Lokayuktas, as the case may be, such suspension should continue,” he suggested.
Vittal said the central government must intervene in the matter. “Durga is a young officer. She should be reinstated immediately,” the former CVC said.
Note:This exclusive space is information related to IAS/IPS/IFS/IRS officers who get brickbats or bouquets for performing their duties in the largest democratic nation.