Most retired and serving bureaucrats indicted in the Adarsh judicial commission report will escape severe punishment, with the state government reiterating that it saw no need to file a fresh criminal case in the alleged scam. After Maharashtra Chief Minister, Prithviraj Chavan accepted the commission’s findings in January this year, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha member, Kirit Somaiya had filed a complaint with the Marine Drive police, demanding prosecution action against those indicted by the commission.
But the state government, following inputs from the home and law departments, shot down this demand last week, contending yet again that there was no need for another criminal case as the CBI had already filed an FIR against 13 accused in the matter.
The judicial commission’s report had found former Maharashtra Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan guilty of quid pro quo, while indicting several top politicians, including three other former CMs Sushil Kumar Shinde, (late) Vilasrao Deshmukh and Shivajirao Nilengekar-Patil, NCP ministers Sunil Tatkare and Rajesh Tope for providing ‘political patronage’ to Adarsh. Besides this, it had also indicted 12 retired and serving bureaucrats of violating service conduct rules.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government has decided to make use of provisions of the All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement Benefits Rules), 1958, against retired bureaucrats indicted by the judicial commission. Nine indicted bureaucrats have retired from service.
Provisions under the rules permit the government to withhold pension and gratuity, either partly or in full, of retired bureaucrats against whom departmental proceedings are underway.
The Centre’s go-ahead is, however, required before invoking this provision, which can be done only after the departmental inquiry is completed. Another catch is that five out the nine bureaucrats retired over four year ago. Sources said that the sanction to withhold pension or gratuity can be sought in respect of an event which took place not more than four years before institution of the departmental proceedings.
A senior state official, however, said that the 1958 rules contain special provisions in cases where the judicial commission had indicted officials of grave misconduct. While Chavan had announced the departmental probe against the officials in January itself, sources said that the proceedings were being conducted at a snail’s pace. The government is yet to frame a chargesheet against any official, a senior official pointed out. Further, in certain cases, the proceedings are yet to commence.
On June 19, the state general administration department rapped the urban development department for delays in confirming charges raised by the commission against four retired officials. Preliminary notices for the departmental probe can be served only after the charges are confirmed, a senior official said. He added that a “chargesheet can be framed only after that milestone is achieved.”
At a recent meeting, state chief secretary Jageshwar Saharia had also criticised department heads for delays in action taken on findings of the judicial commission.