|HC Gupta as coal secretary (File photo)|
Harish Chandra Gupta, 67, is a 1971 batch IAS, retired as union coal secretary in November 2008. He is currently in jail in corruption cases related to the allocation of coal blocks, something being investigated by the CBI. But for quite sometime, serving IAS officers across cadres and batches have not only been vouching for Gupta's “honestly”, but have gone one step further— openly lobbying for his case particularly after Gupta told a CBI court that he did not have money to engage a good lawyer. His batch mate and former chief election commissioner Dr SY Quraishi calls him one of the most honest officers “who lived like a sadhu”. Without going into the merits of the case, BoI here presents 10 facts about Gupta who is being implicated for what many others are calling as “honest mistakes”:
1. A 1971-batch IAS, Gupta hails from Uttar Pradesh and served as an UP cadre IAS.
2. He is a post-graduate in two subjects — physics and mathematics.
3. Apart from knowing English and his mother tongue Hindi, Gupta has a working knowledge of Sanskrit.
4. In his first deputation to the Centre, he was appointed as a director in the ministry of coal (September 1987 to July 1989), one of the reasons why Gupta had an advantageous position to be selected as coal secretary later.
5. He was also union joint secretary in petroleum and natural gas ministry (1989-92) and then again joint secretary in the chemical and fertilizer ministry (2001-2002). Gupta also served as additional secretary and special secretary in the ministry of defence.
6. He was Union coal secretary for almost three years — between January 2006 and November 2008, the period when coal blocks were allocated without auction, something which later came to be known as coalgate.
7. Post-retirement, Gupta was appointed as a Member of the fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India, but he resigned from the post in 2013 before he was to be questioned by the CBI on the coal allocation case.
8. It’s a rare instance that IAS Association and senior IAS officers have been openly vouching for the honesty of a retired IAS, currently in jail. Many IAS say, if Gupta can go to jail, “then most of us should be behind bars”.
9. Former Chief Election Commissioner and Gupta’s batch mate Dr SY Quraishi tweets: “HC Gupta is one of the most honest officers who lived like a sadhu. Pained to see how he is being treated.”
10. But there are a few opponents too. Haryana principal secretary Ashok Khemka tweets: “Monthly pension of retd. GOI Secy. is Rs 1,12,500 from Jan-2016. Indigent application of ex-Coal Secy. to CBI Court seems clever melodrama”.