UT Advisor’s powers not restored yet

It has been almost a week since the Union Ministry of Home Affairs sent a communiqué to the UT Home Secretary,asking the Administration to restore Advisor Pradip Mehra’s powers of writing the annual confidential reports of his subordinate officers.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh | Published: March 11, 2009 11:51 pm

Rodrigues sits on decision despite CVC clean chit and MHA’s orders

It has been almost a week since the Union Ministry of Home Affairs sent a communiqué to the UT Home Secretary,asking the Administration to restore Advisor Pradip Mehra’s powers of writing the annual confidential reports (ACRs) of his subordinate officers. UT Administrator Gen S F Rodrigues (Retd) is,however,yet to comply with the orders.

Rodrigues had last year withdrawn the powers from Mehra after an anonymous letter accused the Advisor of using Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation (CITCO) funds for the renovation of his house in New Delhi.

In his letter to Home Secretary Ram Niwas,Director,MHA,Ashwani Kumar has categorically termed the withdrawal of Advisor’s powers a “clear departure from the guidelines laid down by the Government of India”.

The letter added: “…Ministry is of the firm view that the prevalent channel of writing ACRs of subordinate officers by the Advisor be restored forthwith and status quo ante (no further change of the order) is maintained.”

The issue dates back to late 2008 when the anonymous letter reached Punjab Raj Bhawan. Rodrigues,without verifying the author’s antecedents or authenticity of the allegations,referred the matter to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC),New Delhi. The author of the letter still remains untraceable.

While the CVC initiated a probe against Mehra,Rodrigues stripped him of his powers to write ACRs. Highly placed sources in the Administration said the General’s unprecedented act was an attempt to save his favourite officers from Mehra’s fury.

On February 21,the CVC sent a communication to the UT Administration,giving a clean chit to Mehra and categorically stating that they did not find any substance in the allegations.

The MHA letter reached the Home Secretary’s office,which acts as a router between the MHA and the UT Administrator’s office,on March 6. It forwarded the communication to the Administrator for necessary action,but Rodrigues has not yet revoked his orders.

Home Secretary Ram Niwas said: “I do not want to say anything on the issue.” Mehra’s reply,too,was on similar lines.

Quasi-judicial powers: Probe officer 24 years junior to Mehra
Punjab Superintendent of Police (Vigilance) R S Ghuman will be the inquiry officer probing the six orders in which UT Advisor Pradip Mehra had allegedly exceeded his quasi-judicial powers. UT Chief Vigilance Officer Ram Niwas marked the inquiry to Ghuman on the orders of UT Administrator Gen S F Rodrigues (Retd). The officer,who got into the IPS cadre in 1999 (he was a DANP cadre officer earlier),is 24 years junior to 1975-batch IAS officer Pradip Mehra,the senior-most bureaucrat in the UT.

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