A senior scientist working with the Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT) in Pune,who is CBIs key witness in a case of alleged corruption at the institute,has been dismissed for reporting late for work. Various courts have observed that the dismissal is disproportionate and against natural justice. The CBI,saying that their witness is being targeted,has written to the Union Ministry of Road Transport to look into the matter.
The CBI had filed a chargesheet in September 2011 against officials of CIRT,including one of its former directors and some officials of a private company,for corruption,cheating and criminal conspiracy. The case pertains to sub-standard plywood supplied for 90 low-floor buses purchased by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) before 2009. The plywood had failed to pass the fire safety test. The First Information Report (FIR) in this case was registered in July 2010. Deputy superintendent of police Rajpal Singh is investigating the case.
N R Kachare,a senior scientist (E Grade) with the institute,who headed the engineering division in 2009,is the CBI key witness in the case. A senior CBI officer said,In 2009,Kachare refused to replace the faulty plywood sheets when they failed the test. He was then immediately transferred as head (projects),a post that never existed before. In July 2010,after the FIR was lodged,Kachare was served a notice for dismissal,citing that he came late by 10-15 minutes 10 times in seven months in 2009. He was finally dismissed in November 2011.
When contacted,Kachare said,Whatever I wanted to say I submitted to the CBI and the court.
Vidya Kulkarni,superintendent of police with CBIs Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in Pune,said,From time to time,various courts have stated that the punishment given to Kachare is disproportionate. We have written to the ministry concerned to review the decision. Kachare,too,has given his statement to us and has been making appeals to courts for stay order. Asked whether Kachare was being targeted,Kulkarni said,Yes. It is clear.
The CIRT attendance book (copies of which have been accessed by Express) shows that many others have been coming late by longer margins. Whenever Kachare was running late for work,he had informed the PA of the director,who had testified this before the court. CBI has been trying hard for the cancellation of the dismissal as protection of witnesses includes protection of their livelihood. In one of the orders,court even called the decision biased, said an officer.
Kulkarni added,Some staffers have been charge-sheeted in the case but they still continue to be on the rolls. We have written to the ministry to suspend these employees.
Despite several attempts,Brigadier (Retd) G Dinshaw,the present director of CIRT,could not be contacted. His office staff said he was busy in a meeting.