PR Function

PR Function
Chief Election Commissioner of India and former Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer OP Rawat among others during the celebration of national public relations day at NDIM campus on April 21.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Probing Officers and Sanction for Prosecution: The story behind

DURING the last three and half years, 129 officers of the rank of joint secretary and above have come under the CBI net, out of which sanctions for prosecution are pending in case of 14 officers. With AK Antony-headed Group of Ministers now examining whether senior bureaucrats on deputation to public sector undertakings can also be provided the same protection under Section 197 of Criminal Procedure Code, here are a few facts on what this sanction for prosecution is all about, how officers at times pay a price for “honest mistakes” and what the Supreme Court has to say about this provision:
First, let’s face the reality that there are serious charges against a few top bureaucrats in the country. Among the cases in the last three and half years for which the data is available, the CBI has charge-sheeted 31 officers of JS and above. One can argue that in percentage terms it is still not alarming, but the fact remains that babus at the top, in particular, are not expected to be mired in corruption cases.

Secondly, there is something called witch-hunt in the government. You never know who is working against whom, and at times senior bureaucrats pay a heavy price for “honest mistakes”, a term often used in corridors.

That’s precisely why Section 197 of Criminal Procedure Code was inserted, under which the investigating agency requires the Central government’s nod for prosecution.

Also, additional sanctions are needed to prosecute high-ranking officials. For example, permissions under section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, for conducting enquiry/investigation, are now pending in case of 23 officers of the rank of JS and above.

The Supreme Court’s judgement dated December 18, 1997 in the case of Vineet Narain Vs. Union of India, is a reference point here. The SC said “time limit of three months for grant of sanction for prosecution must be strictly adhered to. However, additional time of one month may be allowed where consultation is required with the Attorney General (AG) or any Law Officer in the AG’s office”.

The government however says that it is not always possible to adhere to the time-limit. The need for a detailed scrutiny and analysis of voluminous case records and evidence, consultation with CVC, state governments etc, and sometimes non-availability of relevant documentary evidence, cause the delay, the DoPT says.

Finally, the committee headed by ex-UPSC chairperson PC Hota recommended in 2010 that Section 197 of CrPC be amended so as to make Central sanction mandatory for senior government servants working on deputation to PSUs as well.

Cancellation of ACC orders
The ACC has cancelled its earlier order of appointing 1980 batch Rajasthan cadre IAS officer Sunil Arora as development commissioner (handlooms). He will now remain in the state.
It has also cancelled the appointment of another Rajasthan cadre IAS, VS Singh of 1978 batch, as Adviser in Inter State Council Secretariat under the ministry of home affairs.

Action and Appointments
a) Bimal Julka, a 1979 batch MP cadre IAS, presently additional secretary and Director General in the Directorate of Currency, has been appointed as additional secretary and financial adviser in the ministry of external affairs. Julka was seen as a blue-eyed boy of earlier Pranab Mukherjee regime.
b) Arun Kumar Jain, a 1977 batch Nagaland cadre IAS, currently Member in Prasar Bharati, has been appointed as Adviser in Inter State Council Secretariat in the pay of additional secretary.
c) Ms B Bhamathi, a 1979 batch Bihar cadre IAS, presently additional secretary in the ministry of home affairs, has been appointed as additional secretary and financial adviser in the department of rural development in the vacancy of Arvind Mayaram, a 1978 batch Rajasthan cadre IAS who recently joined as DEA secretary.
d) K Skandan, a 1982 batch Tamil Nadu cadre IAS, presently joint secretary in the ministry of home affairs has been promoted as additional secretary in the same ministry.
e) Ms Gauri Kumar, a 1979 batch Gujarat cadre IAS, presently additional secretary and financial adviser, in ministry of environment and forests, has been appointed as additional secretary in the ministry of mines.
f) Ms Rita A Teaotia, a 1981 batch Gujarat cadre IAS, presently additional secretary in the department of electronics and information technology, has been appointed as additional secretary in department of telecommunications. The vacancy arose after 1978 batch Gujarat cadre IAS SR Rao moved to commerce ministry as a secretary.
g) Rajiv Gauha, a 1982 batch Jharkhand cadre IAS, presently joint secretary in the ministry of environment and forests, has been appointed as additional secretary, in the department of electronics and information technology.

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