Himachal Pradesh governments decision to chargesheet two IAS officers,including states additional chief secretary Deepak Sanan,on Himachal Pradesh Cricket Associations (HPCA) five-star hotel (The Pavilion) issue has created quite a resentment in the states elite service with some of the senior bureaucrats terming the action as ‘too harsh and uncalled for.
Sanan,a 1982-batch IAS officer,was additional chief secretary (revenue) when he approved the ‘land use change of common village land,given to the HPCA for creation of hostel facilities for the national and international sports persons at Dharamsala.
Another officer R S Gupta,who is on verge of retirement,was Deputy Commissioner,Kangra,at Dharamsala when he had recommended the case to the government for allowing the land to be used for commercial purpose - building a luxury hotel.
HPCA is headed by Anurag Thakur,Hamirpur MP and son of former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. Though the personnel department,which has issued the chargesheet under the All India (Discipline and Appeal) Rules,1969,for imposition of major penalty on the officers - warranting even their removal from the service - asserts that all legal aspects have been taken into account. The reply filed by Sanan and Gupta in response to the showcause notice sent to them in March 29 was rejected as it was unsatisfactory, said an official.
The move has left the IAS personnel completely divided and annoyed. The action is unfair. We will take up the issue in the next meeting of the IAS officers association and if needed will meet chief secretary Sudripta Roy and Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, said a member of the association.
Sanan,who is on leave,is learnt to have chosen to stick to the stand in his reply that he had earlier taken. I am not in a position to say anything till I see the list of charges against me. I will certainly reply and contest those charges, he said when contacted over phone.
Inquiries from the personnel department reveal that Sanans reply was elaborate and he has quoted certain rules to justify his action as bonafide exercise of powers vested in the secretary (revenue) after proper application of mind. No where it bypasses the authority of cabinet,rules,legislations and regulatory field, his reply reads.
His reply,also claims that since the cabinet had already approved the leave of the land in accordance with the law,there was no need for its fresh approval as per the lease rules and legislations.
The HPCA,in its application dated September 1,2009,addressed to principal secretary (tourism/ youth services and sports) had asked for allowing commercial use of the land to create residential facilities like five star hotels or resorts to accommodate international players and guests. The lease money was also raised later to Rs 27,03,215 per annum against the earlier Rs 13,40,454. The hotel was also given registration number by the tourism department.