Monday, May 18, 2015

Shakuntala Gamlin Saga: Who will defend an officer if she is publicly shamed?

THE controversy around two IAS officers, Shakuntala Gamlin of Delhi and Amit Kataria of Chhattisgarh, during the last one week, has raised one pertinent question: How should an officer react to or defend herself if she is shamed publicly? If the officer speaks directly to the media to defend her, there is a possibility that she could be charged of violating the conduct rules. And if she does not, it will be assumed that the officer concerned has conceded to be guilty! Let’s first see how 2004 batch Chhattisgarh cadre IAS…
Amit Kataria, who was served a notice by the state government for wearing a sunglass while receiving prime minister Narendra Modi in Bastar recently, choose to react? He refused to talk to media in his defence, but as The Times of India reported on Sunday, the officer reportedly clarified his position in a Whatsapp group of IAS and IPS saying that wearing bandhgala for hours while looking after arrangements is not practical particularly when Bastar’s temperature in May is above 40. Kataria is district magistrate in Naxal-hit Bastar district. He reportedly said in the social media group that he was dressed in formal dress -- blue shirt, black trousers, black leather shoes. So, the question remains: will wearing sunglasses make an officer “unbecoming of a bureaucrat”? It’s however not clear whether PM actually called him (sarcastically) a “Dabang collector” as reported in a section of local media which many thought prompted the state administration to send him a formal notice. But as the state chief secretary clarified later it was a mere warning, meaning that the episode would end at this stage only.
For Shakuntala Gamlin, 1984 batch AGMUT cadre IAS and Delhi’s new acting chief secretary, the situation is even trickier. Till two days ago, she was probably a “well-meaning” bureaucrat and power secretary of Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government. There has been no vigilance case against her. But if someone listened to what Delhi chief minister said publicly about her on Sunday in a north Delhi public meeting, the listener would get an impression that Gamlin probably adopted corrupt practices to work in favour of rich corporate houses! 
According to Kejriwal, Gamlin wanted to trick the government into signing a document which would have given a guarantee of whopping Rs 11,000 crore to power firms and resulted into a hike of power tariff. No doubt, it’s quite a serious charge against the officer. But the question is: should the officer come out and tell her part of the story publicly? Shouldn’t she defend her openly if she is shamed publicly? Many civil servants find it a disturbing trend, as unlike politicians who come forward to defend themselves in front of the camera, the supposedly anonymous civil servants can’t interact with media and talk against political representatives, forget a chief minister.
For those who have not tracked the sequence of the event, here is why Kejriwal chose to shame the officer in a public gathering. The Delhi CM wanted another IAS officer to be acting chief secretary during the 10-day-long absence of incumbent KK Sharma who is currently in US on a personal visit. Incidentally, Gamlin’s name also figured in the list of nominees. But Lieutenant Governor chose Gamlin over the CM’s candidate, something which could be possible because Delhi is not a full-fledged state. As reported, CM’s office asked Gamlin not to assume charge, but she took over as Delhi’s acting chief secretary on Saturday saying that not obeying the order of the LG would mean dereliction of duties. The CM then said he would keep a tab on the files that she would sign as the chief secretary. Also, the principal secretary (services) Anindo Majumdar, who had issued the appointment letter to Ms Gamlin following the LG’s order, was removed by Delhi government from the post, but the LG intervened and declared that order null and void.
Many a bureaucrat is upset over the fact that senior civil servants could be collateral damage in a war between political rivals. The question that remains unanswered is whether bureaucrats would be risking themselves for public shaming if they refuse to toe a particular political line. After all, Gamlin was considered as a well-meaning bureaucrat only till a couple of days ago. No one in the Kejriwal government ever accused her of any corrupt practices.
But in just one day, as she refused to toe a particular political line, she turned out to be a “corrupt officer”. So, the question is how should she defend herself? Should she hold a press conference to clear her position? And if that happens, will it be seen as an open confrontation between a state chief minister and chief secretary?


  1. Hello Everyone, Here i want to submit my observation about this issue.

    1. Amit Katariya DM Bastar issue
    Mr Katariya and other IAS officers are well aware about conduct rules for All india services officers. As per existing rules officer should recieve PM in formal dress which is well defined as per rules as Bandgala black suit. No one can change it as per his/her own conviniance. whatever arrangment done their by DM Mr Akatariya was not exceptional, even every DM make it sure in this country, nothing special if he is giving excuse of massive arrangment, you will have to follow rules regulations. Is mr Katariya above than all india service rules ? you cant act as per own rules when you are in such a service as an IAS officer. if you break the rules then you will have to face law accordingly.


  2. District Magistrates' are the most harassed officers in States' administrative hierarchy. More vulnerable to illegal political demands than Commissioners , Principal Secretaries and Chief Secretaries.
    Section 3 (1) of the Conduct Rules ,is draconian ,vague and ambiguous.
    If the employers can't initiating disciplinary action, he can be covered under Section 3, that comes in handy. Total indiscretion, arbitrariness and non-application of mind.
    Any innocent act can be called a misconduct " UNBECOMING OF A GOVERNMENT OFFICER " and the fellow can be served with a show-cause notice.
    Had the Bastar DM bowed to touch the feet of PM,could it be a symbol of respect ?
    Why was no action taken against bureaucrats who prostrated before Amma and Mayavati ? Were these not misconducts ?
    Did Raman Singh ,who in his anxiety to please Modi ji, issued a warning to Bastar DM, ever realise the implications of his impulsive action and the extent of demoralisation his action has caused to the entire fraternity.
    He was expected to behave with a modicum of maturity.
    There is no dress code for govt employees.
    Wearing Aviator sunglasses and smart dresses are not misconducts by any stretch of imagination.
    Efficiency, honesty , team-manship, quality decision making,responsiveness are indicators for performance appraisal.

    A K SAXENA (A retd civil servant)

  3. Monday, May 18, 2015
    Shakuntala Gamlin Saga: Who will defend an officer if she is publicly shamed?
    Kejriwal is a failed civil servant and a much failed Delhi's CM.
    His ongoing face-off with LG,Delhi will reach the flash point.
    Posting of bureaucrats is the bone of contention.
    Kejri wants a committed bureaucracy that is now vertically divided-- A large majority owing allegiance to LG.
    His indictment of Shakuntala Gablin on corruption charges ,is an open affront to the North-east Indians.
    There is a case for filing a defammation suit by the aggrieved against Kejriwal.
    Collapse of Constitutional machinery in Delhi , is imminent.
    Uncertainty and municipal decay all around.
    Conditions are ripe for imposing President rule in Delhi.
    Will Modi sarkar please take the call ?

    A K SAXENA (A retd civil servant)

    1. Sounds like pucca BJP bhakt...Kejri, North-East Indian, Constitutional collapse...hahaha..Mr Saksena is another BJP wala who is not able to absorb the shock of heavy defeat in Delhi...Take care...

  4. Dear friend, i am ignorant about any such rule saying "formal dress which is well defined as per rules as Bandgala black suit".

    I will be glad if you can show me any such rule.

    In my opinion it is unfortunate that the DM's of the 2 most difficult districts i.e. Dantewada and Baster have been warned for such small thing. 90% of people in any service (leave alone IAS, IPS) may not want to serve in these districts.

  5. Small correction. It is not that she became villain in one day as mentioned in the article.

    On 9th of may, almost a WEEK before, power ministry wrote letter to CM about a possible collusion of Gamlin.

    1. The 9th May letter is a back-dated letter. Otherwise when in the note to the LG, they wrote the Mr. SP Singh cannot be considered for reasons known to everyone (indicating his questioned integrity), why they wrote we can chose from Mrs. Gamlin and Mr. Parimal Rai. Why they did not indicate that there is report against Mr. Gamlin so she cannot be chosen.

      Incidentally, while there is no case against Mrs. Gamlin, there is a CBI case pending against Mr. Parimal Rai regarding corruption in Common Wealth Games.

  6. Gamlin Case: It is unfortunate that a CM chose to ridicule his senior officer in such manner, if what he says is correct, what prevented him in initiating a vigilance enquiry ? if not, he does not have any rightful position to critisize this way.

    Kataria case: a DM is supposed to work in the district by extensively touring and finding the ground realities, if he feels its is hot, he cannot follow the decorum, then is he really touring villages during the 3 months of summer ? Every organization be it Govt or Private have expectation of how senior officers need to present / behave themselves for such VIP occassions, certainly there is a lapse from the officer and it needs introspection by the officer

  7. In a democracy, Chief Minister should have right to appoint his team. CM has to deliver and face people in elections. LG is not elected and should have no say in this matter unless CM is committing any criminal act.
    In case of Kataria, an officer should be allowed to wear whatever they want, of course within limits of decency. We can't expect performance from them when they are uncomfortable. Attention should be also paid to the comfort of police constables. They have to stand for hours on VIP duty.

  8. Mr Katariya found it difficult to wear a Bandgala coat because he was busy doing arrangements prior to PM visit. But during the program he got enough time to change his shirt. He received PM with a blue shirt and saw him off with a striped shirt. I hope the glasses were same. So much vanity


  10. Just curious .. Can Gamlin Saga put a FIR against Kejriwal for not allowing her to discharge her duty as a public servant.

    Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any person being a public servant in the execution of his duty as such public servant, or with intent to prevent or deter that person from discharging his duty as such public servant, or in consequence

    of anything done or attempted to be done by such person in the lawful discharge of his duty as such public servant, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 2[ three years], or with fine, or with both.""