Friday, April 20, 2012

Corrupt babus want protection from law enforcing agencies

Adarsh scam: Maharashtra bureaucrats seek protection
The writer has posted comments on this article Prafulla Marapakwar, TNN | Apr 20, 2012, 02.57AM IST

MUMBAI: Left anxious by the Adarsh housing society scam and the course of the investigation into it, top bureaucrats have urged the chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to introduce a mechanism whereby law enforcement agencies have to first seek the permission of higher authorities before taking action against a civil servant.
Last week, chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad along with senior office bearers of the IAS association-including finance secretary Sudhir Shrivastav, forest secretary Pravinsinh Pardesi, revenue secretary Swadhin Kshatriya and CM's principal secretary A K Jain-called on the chief minister. During the meeting, Chavan was asked to take steps to restore the confidence of the bureaucracy, which has ebbed in the wake of the Adarsh scam.
"Our contention in the meeting was that those bureaucrats who took decisions in the interest of the state should be protected. At the same time, we made it clear that we are not asking for errant babus, who took decisions with mala fide decisions, to be protected," said a senior bureaucrat who was part of the delegation. The officer added that the meeting was not to defend the "accused in the Adarsh scam since our view is that law should take its course".
The bureaucrat asserted that there is a real need for a mechanism that prohibits law enforcement agencies to take action against senior civil servants until they have first received the permission of higher authorities. He said such a safeguard is necessary because, many times, officials take decisions while discharging duties with honest intentions. But investigators do not first verify the facts. As soon as an FIR is lodged, law enforcers arrest the babus under the scanner.
Also, the senior bureaucrat maintained, officials at the level of principal and additional chief secretary have to sign a large number of files every day. It is therefore not possible for them to thoroughly read all the files. Under such circumstances, unwitting mistakes are possible. "We feel that the investigating agency should verify the intention of the bureaucrat and then decide the course of action," he said.
"We told the chief minister that if there is a criminal complaint against an official for taking a decision, such a complaint should be brought to the notice of the appointing authority. Action should be taken on the basis of the appointing authority's recommendations," the bureaucrat said.
Meanwhile, a senior bureaucrat said that after the ongoing budget session is over on Friday, Chavan will meet the chief secretary, law secretary and advocate general to decide the course of action following the Adarsh commission report.
Chavan has said that his government will not ask the CBI to abandon its investigation nor will it submit a report of the Adarsh commission to defence minister A K Antony. "The judicial commission has submitted a report on limited issues, while the CBI is probing wider issues. As such, there is no question of asking the CBI to stop the probe," Chavan said.
Maharashtra bureaucrats seek protection
Comment: Only an effective Lokpal as suggested by Anna Hazare will deter babus from money laundering, benami and black money transanctions. Governance in India is reduced to Ground Zero.

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