HYDERABAD: IAS officers on Friday marched on the warpath to the chief minister’s office to protest that they are being made scapegoats in the high-profile cases being investigated by the CBI.
About 70 IAS officers lodged a strong protest that bureaucrats are being arrested or summoned for interrogation for deeds committed under duress or by oversight.
“We do not understand why only we are being targeted.
Innocent officers are being lumped with those who were complicit in illegal decisions.
Finally it is only officers who are taking the rap,” said Prasanta Mahapatra, principal secretary for irrigation, after an hourlong meeting with the chief minister.
Finance minister Anam Ramnarayana Reddy was present at the meeting.
Three serving IAS officers, Y Srilakshmi, B P Acharya and L V Subrahmanyam, and one retired steel framer Vishweshwara Rao have so far been arrested or named as accused in the three cases entrusted to the CBI by the High Court -- the APIIC-Emaar deal, the Obulapuram mining scam and the Jagan Mohan Reddy assets case.
In addition, 16 officers have been summoned for questioning, including former chief secretary P Ramakanth Reddy who was grilled for a total of five hours over the last two days.
The IAS lobby is miffed that while officers have been put through the wringer, ministers in whose watch the malfeasance took place have been treated with kid gloves.
After the meeting with the chief minister, the officers who briefed the media made no direct mention of who was doing the scapegoating, using the passive voice instead.
But in their representation to the CM, they made it clear that the high-stakes decisions now under scrutiny were taken in pursuance of instructions from the cabinet.
Mahapatra said angrily: “Can anyone believe that a high-stakes decision with huge financial implications was taken by an officer on his own? Would anyone keep quiet if such a decision is implemented without the clearance of those in high places? Without the approval and knowledge of the competent authorities, how can a GO with high financial stakes be issued?” The response from the chief minister was that he would take appropriate steps to protect IAS officers who discharge their duties in accordance with the law.
The officers expressed confidence that something good would come out of their meeting.
“The chief minister was gracious enough to promise steps to protect innocent officers,” Mahapatra said.
The chief minister also promised that he would create an atmosphere in which officers can disagree with their boss if the latter’s decisions are against the law.
The mood in the IAS lobby is that the time has come for them to rein in the CBI.
A few of the officers who met at the IAS Officers’ Association office on Friday morning, wondered why CBI officials were unfailingly polite when they question politicians but do not always extend such courtesies to IAS officers.
“They go to the houses of politicians and ask polite questions, When it comes to us, they summon us to Dilkusha guest House and ask all sorts of questions,” one officer said.
CBI joint director V V Lakshminarayana drew some of the ire too, especially his alleged description of some of the impuged GOs as illegal GOs.
“All important GOs are issued in accordance with decisions taken by the cabinet.
How could he call them illegal GOs,” one officer said.
IAS officers were also angry with the CBI for naming L V Subrahmanyam as an accused in the APIICEmaar case at a time when his son’s wedding was to happen the next day.
This is vindictiveness, one officer argued.
Some officers said that if this trend continued, they would not be able to sign even an innocuous file and the result would be that the development of the state would be stalled.
“Decisions are taken by the political class, We only issues GOs.
But they are going scotfree while we are landing in trouble,” the officers at the meeting felt.