Kejriwal said he has information of at least 376 other such instances where IRS officers, including him and his wife have been posted continuously at New Delhi for more than 10 years. He also questioned why Chatterjee, a close confident of Sonia Gandhi, is serving in Delhi for over 25 years
India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Arvind Kejriwal, while accepting that he and his wife Sunita Kejriwal (both belong to the Indian Revenues Services-IRS) were never transferred out of Delhi, said that this happened due to shortage of honest and competent officers with technical skills. While Kejriwal forgot to take note of Ashok Khemka (the IAS officer from Haryana, who cancelled the mutation of the over three-acre plot that Robert Vadra's company allegedly sold to DLF last month, has been transferred for 43 times during his 20 years service), he pointed a finger towards IAS officer Pulok Chatterjee, who shares good relations with the first family of the Congress party.
A release, issued by IAC, says, “Posting within Delhi is not unique to Arvind. Arvind has information of at least 376 other such instances where IRS officers have been posted continuously at New Delhi for more than 10 years. Due to the severe shortage of honest and competent officers with technical skills, Arvind’s tenure/postings were repeatedly extended wherever he was posted, approvals followed in due course.”
“Shree Digvijaya Singh may kindly provide, in his next letter to Arvind, all postings of Shree Singh’s good friend Shree Pulok Chatterji, IAS during past 25 years, including his deputation to serve private non-governmental organisations (NGOs) closely associated with Honourable Chairperson of National Advisory Council (NAC) (Sonia Gandhi),” the release said.
At present Chatterjee, perceived as being close confidant of Sonia Gandhi, is working as principal secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
The IAC release also tries to convince that Kejriwal’s wife Sunita is an honest and competent officer and the Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) extended her tenure over the years. “Due to her qualities the SFIO had on its own repeatedly requested her tenure to be extended. Shree Singh is making such personal allegations to ensure that honest officers are not posted to sensitive offices inquiring into the business dealings of Mr.Singh’s cronies. In June 2009 Smt Sunita Kejriwal was also appointed as the Central Public Information Officer for RTI disclosure of the SFIO,” the release said.
Here are the questions raised by Digvijay Singh, Congress spokesperson and replies given by IAC...
IAC HQ denies that Arvind has violated provisions of All India Service Rules as alleged by Sh. Digvijaya Singh. Arvind has repeatedly applied under provisions of
* The All India Services (Leave) Rules, 1955
* The All India Services (Study Leave) Regulations, 1960
* The All India Services (Joint Cadre) Rules, 1972, etc.
When his applications were malafidely not disposed of in time, Arvind followed the dictates of his conscience in the larger public interest.
Q1: Is it a fact that in your entire service of 20 years in Indian Revenue Service, you never served outside Delhi, even though the norms of the service are that all IRS officers serve a posting only for 3 years in a place‘?
A: The facts, reasons and reasons for Arvind not being transferred out of Delhi are very well known to the prime minister and the finance minister. Everything which Arvind has ‘contributed’ during his posting at Delhi was ‘shared’ with his senior officers under the finance ministry and certainly up to the level of finance ministers. Posting within Delhi is not unique to Arvind. Arvind has information of at least 376 other such instances where IRS officers have been posted continuously at New Delhi for more than 10 years. Due to the severe shortage of honest and competent officers with technical skills, Arvind’s tenure/postings were repeatedly extended wherever he was posted, approvals followed in due course. Just recently the Income Tax department has again written to the DoPT stressing there is a severe shortage of qualified officers extending to 21,000 vacancies. Sh. Digvijaya Singh may kindly provide, in his next letter to Arvind, all postings of Sh. Singh’s good friend Sh. Pulok Chatterji, IAS during past 25 years, including his deputation to serve private NGOs closely associated with Hon’ble Chairperson NAC.
Q2: Is it a fact that even your wife, who also is an Indian Revenue Service officer, has never served outside Delhi?
A: Same as above. Smt. Sunita Kejriwal is an honest and competent officer deputed in sensitive postings like the Serious Frauds Investigation Office under the ministry of corporate affairs. Due to her qualities the SFIO had on its own repeatedly requested her tenure to be extended. Sh .Singh is making such personal allegations to ensure that honest officers are not posted to sensitive offices inquiring into the business dealings of Mr Singh’s cronies. In June 2009 Smt. Sunita Kejriwal was also appointed as the Central Public Information Officer for RTI disclosure of the Serious Frauds Investigation Office. As a consequence of discharging her designated functions in an open and transparent manner, Smt. Sunita Kejriwal was ‘selected’ to go for advanced training in Public Administration at IIPA Delhi in 2011-12 vide DoPT’s letter no. 12103/01/2011-Trg dated 27.May.2011
Q3: Is it a fact that any serving officer who goes on a study leave for two years with full pay, has to submit a full report of his study to GOI?
A: In terms of Regulation 3 of the “The All India Services (Study Leave) Regulations, 1960” such full report is to be submitted in only in the situations covered u/r 3(1)(ii) and 3(1)(iii) therein. This does not encompass Arvind’s study leaves. Sh. Singh may kindly refer to DoPT’s letter AIS-III dt.9.8.1994 to broaden his knowledge.
Q4: Is it a fact that you didn’t submit a full report, but only an interim report to G0I with a promise to submit a full report later, which you never did?
A: Please see answer to previous question and the concerned letter of DoPT.
Q5: lsn’t it a fact that the Service Rules provide that an officer who goes on a study leave has to compulsorily serve GOI for 3 years?
A: Sh. Digvijaya Singh is advised to again read the aforesaid Service Rules and DoPT’s clarifications. The said Rule provides that an applicant for study leave who has previously had long term training abroad must serve the State for at least 2-3 years before the leave is sanctioned.
Q6: Is it a fact that you went on an unsanctioned leave, without permission, after serving for only one and a half year, post the study leave?
A: All the facts and circumstances concerning this are in the records of the PMO and the finance ministry, including the letters of recommendation sent by Hon’ble Chairperson of NAC and Smt Aruna Roy member NAC etc.
Q7: Is it a fact that you were transferred to Chandigarh once, but you never joined?
A: All the facts and circumstances concerning this are in the records of the PMO and the finance ministry, including the letter sent by Hon’ble Chairperson NAC.
Q8: Is it a fact that you then sought voluntary retirement from service and even without it being approved, you absented from your office?
A: All the facts and circumstances concerning this are in the records of the PMO and the finance ministry, including the letters sent by Ho’'ble Chairperson NAC.
Q9: As a serving officer of IRS did you take permission of Gol to form your NGO?
A: Arvind was not associated with any NGO while actively serving as an IRS officer. Doing this would be in violation of the service rules applicable to him.
The irony is that capitalist analysts’ and economists’ predictions rely so much on government policy rather than the market forces and not just in China
Air Kerala, a state government promoted venture, is set to become a reality in April next year. It remains to be seen how the Directorate General of Civil Aviation reacts to offer Air Kerala a license to fly first, after which the five-year mandatory rule will have to be overcome to enable it to fly overseas
Conceived in 2004 by Oommen Chandy, salted away in 2006, Air Kerala has now been revived after he became chief minister, and is set to fly on 14 April 2013. It is a not wishful thinking of a Keralite but a Vishu undertaking, determined to settle scores with Air India which has been charging high rates on the Gulf sector, affecting the large population of Keralites working in the Middle East.
The Air India drama last week, has now precipitated the resolve and is certain that expeditious moves are afoot to ensure that Air Kerala is a reality that will takes its wings on Vishu day.
The unfortunate incident, if the media reports are to be believed, has been blown out of proportion due to inept handling of the irate passengers, who apparently had poor customer service from the very outset. The flight itself was inordinately delayed before it took off from Abu Dhabi. The upset passengers may have had arguments with the cabin crew, who were also subject to insults for no fault of theirs, and, when the commander of the aircraft had sufficient safety concerns to divert the plane, announcements may have been made only just prior to touching down at Thiruvananthapuram. The full story will become known once an internal investigation is carried out and the report is made public.
Expressing the right of the state government to establish an airline with 26% holding, with the balance equity being made easily available (or secured) from NRIs working in the Middle East, it will be a cake-walk for Air Kerala to become operative. There are an estimated three million Keralites working in Gulf countries, a large number of them living in this area fore decades now. Almost every single family has at least one or more of the family working in the Middle East.
Although there is a general mandatory requirement of five years of successful domestic service before an airline is allowed to “go overseas”, there has been exception to the rules in the case of Air India Express, where this was waived on the pretext of it being a subsidiary of the national carrier—Air India.
It remains to be seen how the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) reacts to offer Air Kerala’s license to fly first, after which only the five-year mandatory rule will have to be overcome. Any leniency by DGCA will set a precedent with applications coming in for Dravida Vimanam, Air Deccan or Vayu Karanataka, Andhra Air, Punjab Express, Maratha Speedways and Gujarat Airways. And, Air India will disintegrate or find itself as a minor working partner with some of these airlines. Consolidation and regrouping of airlines, mergers and acquisitions can be expected in the next 12-18 months at best.
There is no doubt that Air India has a strong technical and commercial base. Why is the government not thinking in terms of selling out the national airline or allow it to branch out, in a manner of spin off, into regional airlines and letting the survival of the fittest?
And how will Air Kerala operate? Successfully and profitably because of full occupancy in all flights. The bulk of Air India’s passengers have been Keralites from the Gulf and they will now fly directly from their Middle Eastern locations to main airports in Kerala without having to stop over at Mumbai, Chennai or Bangalore or even Mangalore.
This airline will have all economy seats and the cabin crew will speak Malayalam also; during the holy month of pilgrimage to Sabari Malai, special food will be offered and several flights a day will take care of the rush. Similarly, their Haj flights will strictly adhere to Islamic requirements for making the holy trip a joyful experience.
In all cases, food packets will be pre-sold and collected against coupons as you enter the aircraft and drinks will be served once airborne. During the pilgrimage seasons, only soft drinks will be served apart from food requirements.
Finally, if the DGCA puts any sort of stumbling blocks due to political pressures, chances are that Air Kerala and other prospective regional airlines will come in via foreign collaborators such as Emirates, Gulf and other airlines operating from the Gulf who have been awaiting such an opportunity to enter the Indian aviation market for a long time.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US. He can be contacted at email@example.com.)