November 29, 2021 12:49:10 am
Four staffers in the BMC’s License Department have been given executive postings even though they are facing enquiries into allegations that they took bribes.
A Review Committee headed by the municipal commissioner had directed the concerned department to reinstate these staffers only on non-executive posts until the enquiry against them was concluded, according to the BMC’s internal records.
On November 5, 2020, the Review Committee held a meeting under the chairmanship of Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal to decide on the reinstatement of about 50 officials who had been caught by Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) over the years.
Following the meeting, on March 22 this year, the order was issued to give these 50 officials non-executive postings until the trial in court is over and departmental inquiry is completed.
As per the directions, on May 14, three officers and two workers from the License Department were reinstated in the License Department head office in Dadar on non-executive posts. The five — Santosh Sawant (Senior License Inspector), Sachin Sankhe (Inspector), Anil Rathod (Inspector), Shivaji Bhosle (Labour) and Deoraj Shetty (Labour) — had been separately caught by ACB taking bribes over the years. After the ACB action, they were suspended by the BMC.
BMC documents show that, on June 7, the License Department wrote to the Enquiry Department seeking directions to appoint these five staffers to executive posts on the grounds that there were no non-executive posts in the department and shortage of manpower. In a reply, the Enquiry Department on June 6 directed them to follow the order of the Review Committee.
However, on July 22, Superintendent of License Department Sharad Bande, in violation of these orders, with approval from Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Special) Sanjog Kabare, issued an order under which four of the five staffers were given executive postings. One had retired in May.
Santosh Sawant was appointed in P-north ward (Malad) as senior inspector, Sachin Sankhe as inspector in H-east (Bandra east), Anil Rathod as inspector in S ward (Bhandup) and labour Deoraj Shetty in R-north (Dahisar). Another worker Shivaji Bhosle retired on May 31.
The matter came into light after documents were accessed by a hawker under Right to Information (RTI) regarding the appointment of these four staffers.
BJP corporator Bhalchandra Shirsat filed a complaint on September 24 with Sanjeev Kumar, Additional Municipal Commissioner (City). Shirsat alleged that Bande misled the BMC on the issue and took approval on appointments. “Bande should be suspended for this and departmental inquiry be initiated,” he had said.
Bande issued another order on September 30 revoking the appointments and directing them to report to the head office of the License Department.
However, the hawkers’ union alleged that only one has joined back and three others are still continuing on executive posts despite an order issued two months ago.
“Despite the order, three staffers are yet to join back in the head office. The superintendent of License is hand in glove with these staffers and his role should be probed in this matter. How can he violate the commissioner’s order and give executive postings to corrupt officials?” said Syed Haider Imam, member of Central Town Vending Committee and general secretary of AITUC Hawkers Union.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Deputy Municipal Commissioner Sanjog Kabare said there was an “administrative error” in appointment of these four staffers on executive posts. “There was some administrative lapse in the appointments. But after it was pointed out to us, all four have been asked to join back in the head office. As of now three staffers have been sent to the head office and one is remaining. Soon he will also return,” said Kabare.
Bande, Superintendent of License, was not available for comment.
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