Shield For All?
When it comes to protecting babus from “harassment”, the BJP Government seems to be aligned with the views to its predecessor. In May, in what was considered a progressive step towards fighting corruption in Government, the Supreme Court had set aside a law that mandated investigating agencies such as the CBI to seek prior sanction from the Government to investigate and prosecute any official above the rank of Joint Secretary. Undoubtedly, the UPA Government had been rattled by the involvement of a few senior babus in mega-corruption scams, including 2G and Coalgate. Now, two months later, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi in the BJP Government believes that babus need this protection “regardless of rank”. He has gone further and suggested that the sanction should be granted by the Chief Vigilance Commission (CVC) instead of the Government. Predictably, the Congress party is opposing the suggestion. Wonder which party’s stand will the babus appreciate?
IAS couple Arvind and Tinu Joshi has been dismissed from service, four years after income tax raids revealed disproportionate assets worth a staggering Rs 350 crores from the Madhya Pradesh-cadre officers’ home. The case became the cause célèbre in babu circles and has since been quoted as an example of a corrupt bureaucracy. Meantime, the State Government is already claiming the dismissal of the babus as an example of its policy of “zero-tolerance of corruption”. Interestingly, while Arvind Joshi was due to retire next month, his wife was also retiring in October this year. They also plan, sources say, to contest their dismissal at the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) or even appeal to President Pranab Mukherjee. Despite the publicity attached to this case, the fight against corruption in sarkari corridors is not an easy task. That it took four long years for the System to act against the tainted officers is a point to ponder over, say observers. The Joshis are only the second instance of IAS officers being dismissed from service in Madhya Pradesh. The first instance was 22 years ago when a MP-cadre IAS officer Ram Singh, on Central deputation, was apprehended by the CBI while accepting a bribe.
Grounded By Apathy
From the detritus of the decade-long UPA rule, the BJP Government of Narendra Modi will have to deal with urgently is the slew of vacancies at the top levels in several Government agencies and departments. Apparently at least five sarkari aviation companies and agencies are either functioning without heads or with incumbents reaching the end of their tenures without replacements in sight. For instance, the tenure of Air India Chairman Rohit Nandan is ending next month while that of Airports Economic Regulatory Authority chairman Yashwant Bhave is ending much before that! Babu-watchers say that the Civil Aviation Ministry has not shown any signs of starting the process of appointing a new Chairman for the national carrier or extending Nandan’s tenure. The situation is no different in Pawan Hans and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security which are functioning without full-time heads for more than a year.