Thursday, January 12, 2017

An IPS vigilance director; disgruntled IAS officers and the Kerala CM; 10 things on officers-government friction

KERALA chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said his government maintains a warm relationship with the IAS fraternity, in an apparent bid to normalize ties between the Kerala government and top administrators after IAS officers had threatened to take causal leave en-mass against what they called “abuse of power” by state's director of vigilance and anti-corruption bureau Jacob Thomas. The officers, however, called off their proposed strike on January 9 after chief minster Vijayan took a strong stand. As reported, there was a stand-off between state CM and state chief secretary as well. Here are 10 things to explain the government-IAS friction in Kerala:
1. The friction began when the vigilance department named additional chief secretary (Industries) and 1983 batch IAS Paul Antony as an accused in an alleged nepotism case concerning the appointment of a relative by former state industries minister EP Jayarajan. The former minister is the main accused in the ongoing case.
2. Paul Antony, 58, is a senior and respected IAS officer, and his naming in the case infuriated most IAS officers serving in the state. 
3. Antony is not the only IAS officer getting named in corruption cases in the state. Already, KM Abraham, 1982 batch IAS who is retiring by the end of this year and 1982 batch IAS Tom Jose, are also facing charges of disproportionate assets. Another IAS S Padmakumar, who is a former managing director of Kerala-government owned Malabar Cements was arrested for alleged irregularities in the company.
4. IAS officers’ association of the state met and took a resolution proposing that all officers would go for casual leave on January 9. As the press note released to the media said, the protest was to “express our sadness, frustration and professional dissatisfaction and to show our solidarity with our aggrieved colleagues, in allowing the present Vigilance Director to continue abusing his powers.”
5. The note also said: “In the past few months, there have been other instances when the Vigilance Director has unleashed vindictive actions against officers who have either pointed out his illegal misdoings or questioned his powers to take the law into his hands”. 
6. Vigilance and anti-corruption bureau director Jacob Thomas is a 1985 batch Kerala cadre IPS. Known as a “rebel cop", he was brought in to head the vigilance department soon after the CPM-led LDF came to power last year. And he began to crack the whip on senior IAS officers. 
7. IAS officers said, Vigilance Director Thomas unleashed vindictive action against IAS officers who questioned his powers to “take the law into his hands”. 
8. IAS officers further said, they were deeply aggrieved that “such an officer, whose integrity is prima facie doubtful and not beyond suspicion, is allowed to sit in judgement as Vigilance Director on the conduct of other civil servants.”
9. CM was upset with the IAS officers as they chose to speak to the media and released a detailed note. But after it called off its strike, CM  now says — all is well.
10. But is everything okay in Kerala administration? If IAS officers fear for their honest mistakes, there's a possibility that they delay key decisions, leading to a situation of semi-policy paralysis. 

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