THE Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed disciplinary proceedings initiated by Kerala government against 1998 batch IAS officer B Ashok who had in a 2013 article supported the proposed visit of the then Gujarat chief minister (and current Prime Minister) Narendra Modi to a Sivagiri Madhom function, something which the state government had disapproved of. An apex court bench said, merely writing a newspaper article could not be construed as a breach of All India Services (conduct) Rules, 1968. BoI here presents 10 things about IAS officer Ashok and the case he got embroiled into:
1. Ashok is a 43-year-old IAS officer of Kerala cadre. He also hails from the state of Kerala.
2. The above-mentioned case dates back to 2013 when Ashok was the vice chancellor of Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, and had backed Modi’s visit to Sivagiri Madhom in a newspaper article titled, “What if Modi Comes to Sivagiri?”. The article was published on April 24, 3013 in the Kerala Kaumudi daily.
3. In that article, the IAS officer conceded that 2002 riots in Gujarat were avoidable and the government there did not effectively prevent the killing of innocents. But he added that such “genocidal” riots did follow the murder of Indira Gandhi in 1984 in New Delhi. “…If we hold that Modi must not be welcomed or invited, we must keep in mind that the Sivagiri Madhom has not held it against Rajiv, Sonia or Prime Ministers that rioting happened during their tenure.”
4. Kerala government, run by Congress-led UDF, did not take the view of a serving IAS officer very kindly, and ordered setting up of an inquiry panel which finally concluded that the officer did violate the All lndia Service (Conduct) Rules.
5. In August 2015, the Kerala High Court upheld the state’s jurisdiction to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the officer, as he was appointed as vice chancellor on deputation from the state government.
6. The Supreme Court’s relief came after it was argued that only the chancellor, not the state government, had the authority to initiate disciplinary action against a vice chancellor.
7. Ashok did his graduation in veterinary science before getting into IAS. He is also an alumnus of London, Turin and Duke Universities in various courses.
8. He served as a project director in a World Bank project, director in veterinary and dairying department, and then collector in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala.
9. He also served as private secretary of union minister for agriculture and food, and deputy director in Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie.
10. Ashok also served as a director in urban development ministry, managing director of Film Development Corporation of Kerala and secretary (at director’s level) of State Chalachitra Academy.