Accusing them of not doing the job assigned to them and passing off personal tours as official tours, the Congress government has served showcause notices on the chairman and members of the Madhya Pradesh State Minority Commission, asking why they should not be removed from office.
Calling the move politically motivated and the allegations unfounded, the chairman and four members have threatened to move court if they are removed, arguing that the likely removal does not conform to any ground mentioned in the legislation governing the commission.
Chairman Niaz Mohammed and members Amarjeet Singh Bhalla, Anand Bernad, Kamal Bhai and Tukdya Das Vaidya were appointed during the BJP regime. While Bhalla’s term is set to end later this year, the three-year terms of others will end in July 2020. They told The Indian Express that the new government wanted them to resign in March and their refusal was followed by these notices.
New dispensation may bring changes
The state government and members of the minority commission are on a collision course. Appointments to bodies like the state minority commission are largely influenced by the appointee’s political leanings, followed overtly or covertly. There is no compulsion on the appointees to quit with the change of regime, which in MP’s case may happen after 15 years. A change of regime usually brings new claimants for such posts, with the new dispensation willing to accommodate them.
They have replied to the notices and asked the government to provide documentary evidence to support the charges. Log books and an alleged backlog of cases, among other things, were submitted by the government. The members presented their case before a bureaucrat and the matter is pending.
The notice, served on the chairman on June 21, points out that the commission spent Rs 5.8 lakh on a vehicle provided to him but the daily log book does not reflect the official work it was used for. The notice further alleges that it appears the vehicle was used for personal travel and that many complaints received by the commission are lying unattended. “Though so much money is being spent on your convenience, the commission has not benefited from it,” stated the notice, and sought a reply within a week or face removal. The notice also gives details of annual expenditure on the chairman.
Threatening to move court if he is removed before the end of his three-year term without being given the opportunity of personal hearing, the chairman said, “Your notice is legally untenable. I have performed my duties with full commitment. I was appointed based on my reputation, social service and commitment. The allegations are baseless and false.” He attached details of meetings held during his tenure and of his travel, which he said was meant to take stock of development work for minorities.
The commission later provided him documents to back the allegations against him. But on August 8, the chairman wrote to Ramesh Thete, Secretary of the Backward Classes and Minority Welfare Department, that the documents are neither certified nor back the charges against him. “If they remove us on political grounds, we will move court. They are choosing our successors, and will remove us once they finalise the names,” the chairman told The Indian Express.
Thete said, “They were given notices, they have been heard in person and were provided the details they sought. The matter is under consideration.”
“The notices are politically motivated. There is no ground for removal like abuse of power or corruption. The government has taken law into its hands,” said Bernad, who has received a similar notice.