Air safety regulator,Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA),has questioned the civil aviation ministrys silence over its investigation report recommending major penalties on eight of the nine DGCA officials whose wards were employed with private aviation companies. These officials had flouted service rules by failing to obtain government sanction before their wards took up private sector jobs.
In a scathing letter to civil aviation secretary Nasim Zaidi in October last year,DGCA chief EK Bharat Bhushan expressed his displeasure with the lackadaisical attitude of the ministry.
The letter accused the ministry of stonewalling further action in these cases. It said that the ministry should decide on the future course of action instead of seeking repeated clarifications, said a top source,revealing the contents of the letter. The action based on DGCA recommendations could lead to dismissal,the source added.
The DGCA had initiated an inquiry in March 2011 and submitted a report to the government in August,2011. According to sources,civil aviation minister Ajit Singh,also recently sought details of these cases and action taken by the ministry. As is mandatory,any action against Class I officers requires administrative ministrys approval. The DGCA letter exhorted the ministry to take a decision and not delay the matter.
A DGCA source said,The clarifications sought by the ministry seem frivolous. Ministry officials,however,said the DGCA inquiry against officials did not follow laid-down procedures.
They did not seek first stage advice from the Central Vigilance Commission before beginning inquiry against Class I officials. The ministry has raised two clarifications to which it has not received any response till date.
The ministry sought to know the fate of the representation sent by erring officials and the quantum of involvement in procuring jobs for their wards. When contacted,Bhushan refused to comment.
In reply to the show-cause notices sent to nine officers in April 2011,most feigned ignorance about the service rules,and only one sought retrospective permission. Their excuses cant be accepted. The rules are clear,central government employees need prior approval, said a DGCA official.
It is next to impossible to determine the involvement of officials in procuring jobs for their wards. The cases have been sent to the minister for his considered opinion, the official said.
DGCA barred them in May,2011 from handling any matter related to the respective companies where their wards are employed. An inquiry in March 2011,initiated by Bhushan soon after he took office in 2010,had revealed nine officers wards employed with private aviation companies without prior government clearance.
These were senior-most DGCA officials AK Sharan (joint DG),Charan Dass (JDG),VP Massey (Director,Airworthiness),RS Passi (Director,Air Safety),besides MM Kaushal (assistant director),Rajiv Gaur (assistant director),R Yadav (senior airworthiness officer),BS Nehra(junior pilot) and RNS Bisht (assistant). It later emerged that questions were raised over flying abilities of wards of Passi and Sharan who were employed as pilots with budget carriers SpiceJet and IndiGo,respectively.