Updated: June 8, 2021 11:39:44 am
In December 2019, an Assistant Police Inspector (API) who had been fined Rs 14 lakh for overstaying in police quarters, appealed to the Maharashtra government to waive the penal rent on compassionate grounds. He said he had overstayed for three years because his mother, 80, required spinal surgery, one of his sons was preparing for the chartered accountancy exam, the other for SSC.
Documents show that the API’s appeal was rejected.
In July 2019, then Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve had sought a waiver on his penal rent of Rs 9.08 lakh. He got a full waiver.
Penal rent is fine levied on police officers who stay on in government quarters even after their tenure on the post has ended. An officer can appeal to the Maharashtra Home Department and the local Commissioner’s office for a waiver. “The final decision is taken by the government,” a Home Department officer said.
The Indian Express filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act for details of officers whose penal rent has been waived over the last 10 years. The government’s reply shows high ranking IPS officers have a better chance of obtaining a waiver than junior officers.
Besides Barve, the government waived penal rents of three other IPS officers, all of whom are now retired — former Director General (Legal and Technical) S P Yadav, former Director General, State Security Corporation D Kanakratnam, and former Police Commissioner of Pune, Gulabrao Pol. Eight other IPS officers have applied for waivers, The Indian Express has learnt.
In a judgment passed in September 2018, the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) observed that “it is clear and evident that deficiency of distinct treatment is given to subordinates police staff while a favoured treatment is given to the higher officers.”
MAT, which takes up service-related issues of government employees, was hearing a plea by retired Inspector Sampat Sawant, who had approached the tribunal after the government rejected his request for a penal rent waiver.
A document obtained under the RTI Act shows Barve did not give up possession of Krutika, a 1,000-sq-foot bungalow on seafacing Carter Road in Mumbai’s Bandra until 2019, even though he was transferred to Nashik as Director, Maharashtra Police Academy, in 2010. Barve was transferred five times to departments outside the Mumbai Police Commissionerate, but he held on to the bungalow — with his family staying there — until he retired.
After he became Mumbai Police Commissioner in February 2019, Barve sought a waiver, and the government accepted his request in July. He was told to pay the licence fee of Rs 86,427, which he did promptly, while the remaining Rs 9,08,334 was waived.
Asked for a comment, Barve said: “Government has all the information on it. I do not wish to comment.”
S P Yadav’s family overstayed in police quarters at Byculla for seven years until 2019, seven months after he had retired. In his application for a waiver, Yadav said he required a place to stay during frequent official visits to Mumbai when he was Additional Director General at CID in Pune. He also said that he was undergoing medical treatment in Mumbai.
In October 2020, the state government waived the penal rent of Rs 8.66 lakh due from him. Yadav confirmed that he had received a waiver, but declined to comment further.
Gulabrao Pol’s penal rent of Rs 1.5 lakh was waived in December 2011, the reply to the RTI query shows.
When contacted, Pol said “the information is not true”, but made no further comment.
Kanakratnam’s family continued to stay in a 750-sq-foot European police quarters in Matunga from 2007 to 2014, during which time he was transferred from Mumbai to Thane, and then to Nagpur.
In a plea to the government in October 2020, Kanakratnam said he had overstayed to ensure that his daughters’ education was not disrupted. In February 2021, the government asked him to pay just Rs 80,748 from his accumulated dues of Rs 11.12 lakh, waiving the rest.
When contacted for a comment, Kanakratnam said this question should be put to those who had waived his penal rent.
Information obtained through RTI shows the waiver plea of only one high-ranking IPS officer has been rejected so far — former Mumbai Police Commissioner Satya Pal Singh, who is a two-time BJP MP from Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh.
Singh had submitted a plea to waive the penal rent of Rs 8.70 lakh for overstaying in government accommodation between July 2004 and August 2010.
In July 2020, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government rejected his request, and noted that his dues were in fact higher, Rs 12.94 lakh. The government noted that Singh owned two houses in Navi Mumbai and Mumbai suburbs while he was overstaying in government quarters.
Asked for a comment, Singh said, “I occupied the accommodation with due permission from the government.” When reminded that the government had said in its order that there was no document reflecting such permission, Singh said the documents may have been destroyed in the Mantralaya fire of 2012.
Contrasting with the outcome of appeals from these IPS officers, is the case of another API, who had requested that Rs 32,000 due from him for overstaying 20 days be waived. The appeal was turned down.
The API told The Indian Express that he had overstayed at a time when he was waiting to be given a posting after being transferred to Nashik range in September 2019.
“I was not at fault, I was not given any posting by the department due to which I decided to keep my family in Mumbai quarters. I did not take up any apartment until then: what if I had rented an apartment in Ahmednagar district and then got a posting in Ahmednagar city?” the API, who declined to be identified, said.
An officer said IPS officers manage to get their penal rents waived as they are better networked and help each other out.
“We (non-IPS) are not even given time to appeal as they start threatening that they will deduct from our salaries. Whereas the government waives off huge sums due from officers who have network and power,” said an Inspector.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Manu Kumar Shrivastava did not respond to calls and messages seeking a comment.
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