Clarify stand on tainted officials’ postings: Himachal court
Shimla, The Himachal Pradesh High Court has asked the state government to clarify its stand on the postings of tainted officials occupying crucial posts.Taking note of officers of doubtful integrity being placed in sensitive posts by the government, a division bench of Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice V.K. Sharma asked the chief secretary to file an affidavit.
‘The chief secretary (Rajwant Sandhu) is to state as to whether posting of such officers of doubtful integrity and particularly those officers who have actually been found guilty and whose cases are still under investigation or are facing the trial and yet are posted on sensitive posts,’ the judges said in a ruling Thursday, a copy of which was made available Friday.
They also directed the government to inform the court as to ‘how many officers who have been caught red-handed accepting bribe and were yet reinstated in service and posted in sensitive posts’.The court observed that the government, in its affidavit, had said that it was committed to zero tolerance on corruption.However, it has asked the government ‘whether it’s required or at least advisable to have clearance of the vigilance bureau at the time of review/revocation of suspension of officers involved in corruption’.A senior official of the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau told that it had registered 271 cases against government officials and functionaries from January 2008 to Jan 31, 2010.He said that charge sheets have been filed in various courts against 65 people and seven have been convicted during this period.Prominent officials who were facing charges but were reinstated are: Sher Singh – former drugs controller; Subhash Ahluwalia – principal private secretary to former chief minister Virbhadra Singh; and Sanjay Gupta – former General Industries Corporation (GIC) managing director.Ahluwalia, a 1989 batch IAS officer, was arrested by the vigilance bureau in October 2008 on charges of illegally amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income by misusing his position.IAS officer Gupta was arrested by vigilance sleuths in July 2009 on charges of corruption and possessing an unaccounted Rs.2 lakh in cash. He was booked for irregularities earlier as well in Kinnaur district.Similarly, Sher Singh was caught red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs.5 lakh in the Baddi-Barotiwala industrial belt while he was drugs controller.The high court order seeking details of tainted officers ironically comes on the plea of Sher Singh, who is demanding a stay on the departmental proceedings against him.He pleaded that the departmental inquiry and a criminal trial could not run simultaneously.