Monday, March 07, 2016

Retired IAS babus make beeline to head "toothless" anti-corruption watchdog Gujarat Vigilance Commission

By Our Representative
Four retired bureaucrats of the Gujarat government – Haribhai Patel, HK Dash, Rajesh Kishore and SK Nanda – are said to have made the beeline to head a state organization which is long considered toothless, Gujarat Vigilance Commission (GVC). Patel retired from the IAS in 2014, Dash and Kishore in 2015, and Nanda more recently, in February 2016.
“They have applied for the top GVC post, often used as a sanctuary for high-profile IAS officials who feel dissatisfied”, a senior official in the state government said. “The state home department will decide on whom to choose from among them.”
SK Nanda
Patel retired as state commercial tax commissioner, Dash and Kishore retired while on deputation to Delhi, and Nanda – who was refused chief secetaryship because of his alleged closeness to Congress politicians – last served as chairman and managing director of the state-run Gujarat State Finance Corporation.
A commission, which is supposed to look into complaints – including those received from individuals – of misappropriation by state officials, it is currently headless. At present, additional chief secretary, home, PK Taneja, a serving IAS bureaucrat, is heading the organization as additional charge.
Having recommendatory powers, the GVC website seeks the cooperation of all “right thinking people” eliminate the scourge of corruption by making complaints. “Any member of the public can lodge a complaint with the GVC of those relating to malpractices, misconduct or corruption in public services relating to officers/employees of Gujarat government”, it says.
Ashok Narayan
The website shows that the GVC has released its annual report – which is generally a compilation of the number of complaints it received over the year – till 2013. However, it has not made public annual reports for 2014 and 2015 for unspecified reasons.
The GVC has no powers to begin legal action in case substance is found in the complaint. It makes recommendations, which have to be implemented by the concerned departments. “Therefore, the applicant should find out further progress in the matter from the concerned authorities”, the GVC website says.
Ironically, the GVC has powers to take “appropriate legal action” against an ordinary application, in case the complaint she or he has made is found to be “false.” The website quotes a Gujarat government order in an order warning complainants regarding this so that they refrain from indulging in what it calls “falsehood.”
The recommendations it can make include starting a departmental inquiry against an official, prosecution in case of there is an “element of fraud/misappropriation”, and suspension and transfer to “non-sensitive posts” to facilitate an inquiry. 
HN Chhibbar

Even its recommendations have remained on paper. An inquiry was instituted against IAS bureaucrat HN Chhibbar on the last date of his retirement, November 30, 2011, despite a clear-cut GVC recommendation, which insists such act of chargesheeting officialson the last day should be “avoided”.
Chhibbar, it is widely known, was asked by the chief minister’s office to dig out facts to persecute Congress politician Arjun Modhwadia when he was district collector, Porbandar. Failing to find none, he instead found a BJP leader, Babu Bokhiriya, a Cabinet minister in the current Gujarat government under Anandiben Patel, was involved in a mining scam.
Ashok Narayan, a Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrat, who failed to be state chief secretary despite being the senior most, is known to have been appointed Gujarat vigilance commissioner in 2003 in controversial circumstances. “It's a toothless body. They don’t give us any powers. What’s the use of these inquiries?”, he reportedly told a senior journalist in Gandhinagar.
Rajesh Kishore
Narayan had won the displeasure of the then chief minister Narendra Modi for refusing, as state home secretary, to give permission to the Gaurav Yatra ahead of the December 2002 Gujarat assembly elections. The Gaurav Yatra was a Modi effort propagate the “pride” of Gujarat against the backdrop of 2002 Gujarat riots.
He remained in office for five long years, and is known to have written several letters to the state government to make the vigilance commission an effective body with semi-judicial powers, but to no avail. Given extension every six months, Narayan was succeeded by former chief secretary Manjula Subramaniam in 2008.

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