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Tainted babus everywhere

NEW DELHI: Rust appeared across the vaunted steel frame of the Indian bureaucracy last year, with the UPA government giving the go-ahead to chargesheet IAS officers in 15 corruption cases. The

Published: 08th April 2012 12:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 10:27 PM   |  A+A-

BABU

IAS officer L V Subrahmanyam being taken away by CBI after he was produced before a court in the Adarsh scam

NEW DELHI: Rust appeared across the vaunted steel frame of the Indian bureaucracy last year, with the UPA government giving the go-ahead to chargesheet IAS officers in 15 corruption cases. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had released a list of 13 corrupt babus in response to a RTI query. Of the 13, three are from the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre. Two each are from Punjab and Odisha. Files have been sent to the PMO seeking permission to take action against three others.

The officers include Karan Bir Singh Sidhu (Punjab), R K Shrivastava (AGMUT), Kavaddi Narsimha (AGMUT), J S L Vasava (Assam-Manipur), R S Shrivastava (Rajasthan), L V Subramaniam (Andhra Pradesh), Mandeep Singh (Punjab), Sanjeev Kumar (Haryana) and Subhash Chand Ahluwalia (Himachal Pradesh), Rakesh Mohan (AGMUT), Prafulla Chandra Mishra (Orissa), Sudhir Prasad (Jharkhand) and Vinod Kumar (Orissa). Shrivastava has eight different cases against him and Vinod Kumar six.

The Adarsh scam highlights the unholy nexus between the political class and the bureaucracy. Last week, the CBI arrested Dr Jairaj Phatak, a senior serving IAS officer and Member Secretary of the Regional Welfare Board of Western Maharashtra and along with a retired colleague, Ramanand Tiwari. An IAS officer from the 1978 batch, Pathak’s resume is impressive: IIT Mumbai, a Harvard master’s degree, and a doctorate from Mumbai University. He was slated for promotion to Additional Chief Secretary and by this year-end would have made it to Chief Secretary. Pathak’s son owns a flat in Adarsh. Forty-nine-year-old Pradeep Vyas of the 1989 batch was working as secretary in Maharashtra’s finance department when he was picked up by the CBI on March 21, 2012, a day later the state government put him under suspension. His wife Seema Vyas, also an IAS officer, owns a flat in Adarsh.

If Adarsh was vertical scamming, in Andhra Pradesh, corruption plumbed the depths. The mining scam, which felled powerful politican Janardhan Reddy, also claimed the liberty of two senior IAS officials— Y Srilakshmi and BP Acharya. Srilakshmi, regarded as one of the most powerful IAS officers in the state, was arrested in the case related to the illegal iron ore mining by former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhan Reddy’s Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) while Acharya was arrested in the APIIC-Emaar scam. Srilakshmi worked as a secretary (industries and commerce) between May 2006 to October 2009 when the YSR government allotted iron ore mines to the OMC. The CBI investigation shows a deliberate omission by Srilakshmi in granting the mining lease. The CBI also alleges she demanded a huge bribe, running into crores of rupees, from an applicant C Shashi Kumar to grant a Prospecting Licence. Now she is lodged in the Central Prison for Women, Chanchalguda, charged under Section 120-B read with 409 of IPC and Section 13 (2) read with 13 (1) (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. B P Acharya was serving as the principal secretary (home) when he was arrested for corruption regarding the APIIC-Emaar scam. He was the managing director of AP Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) when the alleged irregularities leading to the dilution of APIIC’s equity in the joint venture with Emaar properties, the Emaar Hills Township Private Limited (EHTPL), took place. The CBI alleges he played a key role in the APIIC deal with Emaar Properties and the subsequent dilution of the government’s stake in the project that caused a huge loss of revenue to the state exchequer. Acharya was arrested on January 30 this year and charged under Sections 120-B read with 420, 409 477-A of IPC and Section 13 (2) read with 13 (1) (c) and (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act.

Disproportionate assets are a sure sign of corruption. In November 2011, the enforcement directorate attached property worth Rs 350 crore belonging to supended Madhya Pradesh IAS officers Arvind and Tinu Joshi. The same month, a young 39-year-old IAS officer K Dhanalakshmi Gowda of Uttar Pradesh cadre, 2001 batch, who was serving as Director in the Ministry of Social Justice, was chargesheeted by the CBI for allegedly possessing disproportionate assets of Rs 3.15 crore; the CBI raided her bases in Delhi and Bangalore. “Most of these assets have allegedly been acquired by her as benami properties in the name of her mother, who abetted [her] to acquire the assets in her name,” a CBI spokesperson had stated about the bureaucrat who had at one time served as PS to Foreign Minister S M Krishna. In August 2011, 1991-batch IAS officer of Jharkhand cadre Pradeep Kumar was jailed for his role in the Rs 130 crore National Rural Health Mission scam—he allegedly accepted a bribe of `4.85 lakh and acquired disproportionate assets. Kumar was the state health secretary when the `130-crore scam took place.

Vigilance officials in Odisha arrested 1989-batch IAS officer Vinod Kumar last year for evading summons. The bureaucrat is facing trial for allegedly conniving, forging documents and sanctioning more than Rs 88 lakh to two builders fraudulently during his tenure as managing director of the ORHDC in 2001. Arrested earlier in 2006, Kumar has been under suspension since July 27, 2006.

The Central Vigilance Commission has been awaiting permission for four months from various government departments to prosecute 45 officials for graft. Of the total 29 corruption cases, nine belong to the Ministry of Finance, four to Ministry of Railways, two each to Ministry of Human Resources and Development, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, State Bank of India and one each to the Defence Ministry and Government of National Capital territory of Delhi. According to CVC data uploaded in February, permission to prosecute officers in Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Dena Bank, Canara Bank, Industrial Development Bank of India, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Steel and Ministry of Home Affairs is pending.

Four hundred and fifty four Class ‘A’ officers, including eight joint secretaries and 44 directors haven’t declared their immovable property yet. The government has recommended “appropriate action” against them. The list includes eight joint secretaries and 44 directors. Out of these 454 Central Secretariat Service Officers, the highest number of defaulters are from the department of agriculture and cooperation (58). The home ministry  is next with 40 followed by the ministry of health and family welfare (36), environment (32), defence (28), culture (14), coal (11) and bio-technology (7).

Corruption has a long history in the bureaucracy. 1971-batch IAS officer Neera Yadav is the first Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh to be jailed for corruption.  In 2010, she was sentenced to four years after a CBI court found her guilty of violating rules to help Flex Industries get an industrial plot in Noida in 1995 when she was the chairman of the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (Noida). The Commonwealth Games scam also claimed bureaucratic scalps—Prasar Bharati CEO BS Lalli and Director-General Aruna Sharma were sacked, and the CBI registered cases against them for colluding with the UK-based broadcast firm SIS LIVE during the Commonwealth Games 2010 that resulted in a loss of `135 crore. Ravi Inder Singh, an IAS officer in the home ministry was arrested by the Delhi Police and jailed for passing on sensitive information to business houses in exchange for cash and sexual favours.

The police is also on the roll of dishonour. The CBI booked Delhi Police assistant commissioner Udayveer Singh Rathi for amassing disproportionate assets. Last year, the Mumbai unit of the CBI’s anti-corruption wing registered a case against Manoj Malviya, the additional commissioner (security) of the Bureau of Civil Aviation, New Delhi, (1998 batch) for accepting favours from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and GVK industries. IPS officer K K Indoria was on the run after the Himachal Pradesh High Court rejected his bail application in a corruption case involving a bribe from a hydro-power company during his posting as SP, Kullu; last week he surrendered and was sent to jail. Around 33 IPS officers are facing trial on criminal charges in CBI cases. Last year, CBI started investigating two IPS officers of the Punjab cadre in connection with a `1.5 crore bribe after Punjab’s Chief Parliamentary Secretary (CPS) Raj Khurana and a senior officer Devinder Singh Bittu were arrested for graft.

Tomin Thachankary, an IPS officer and former Inspector General of Kerala, has brought much shame to the state government after being involved in many controversies right from amassing of wealth to his illegal foreign trips.

Thachankary, who was appointed as the Marketfed MD by the UDF government, was placed under suspension soon after the appointment was made. The government suspended him after the Union Home Ministry directed the state government to initiate immediate disciplinary action against Thachankary. Thachankary has been under suspension since April 2008 on charges of going on a foreign trip without mandatory permission while serving as IG (law and order) in Kannur. Besides, he had faced an National Investigation Agency probe on his alleged meeting with terrorists who were accused escaping the police net in Kerala and hiding in the Gulf in 2010. He also figures in cases related to custodial torture, disproportionate assets, piracy of CDs and suppressing facts in a passport renewal application.

The first bureaucrat to be jailed in Independent India was Union Industries and Commerce Secretary S A Venkatraman in 1951, in a cycle parts import scam. The cycle continues.



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