A tussle with the managing director of Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO), Tanvi Garg, over flagging of issues pertaining to irregularities has apparently led to suspension of the senior-most general manager of the corporation, AK Malhotra.
The haste of the suspension order, issued on Tuesday night, has also raised eyebrows. Malhotra, who was holding charge as GM of Hotel Mountview, tourism and steel depot, was handed his suspension letter around 8pm at his residence on Tuesday, but the authorities neither specified the reasons for his suspension in the letter nor gave him any hearing.
It has been learnt that Malhotra recently raised several issues with the management regarding rise in indiscipline in the corporation and tumbling revenue. On finding irregularities in the allotment of stalls in the recently concluded Rose Festival, Malhotra had written to the CITCO chief general manager, director (tourism), and even the UT home secretary, requesting for a vigilance probe in the matter.
Explaining the reasons for suspending Malhotra, home secretary Anil Kumar told the media that Malhotra was "shooting off communications to higher authorities without following the hierarchy". Kumar underlined that a vigilance inquiry, over delay in giving contract for manufacturing of the body of a double-decker bus, was also pending against Malhotra.
It is learnt that the UT administration had purchased chassis of a double-decker bus in 2012 for around Rs 15 lakh. A committee comprising Malhotra and other officials - general manager, finance; general manager, Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU); chief CGM, CITCO; and MD, CITCO - was constituted for the tendering process. Tenders to contruct the body of the bus were called on four occasions, but failed to materialise. Recently, a complaint was lodged with the Chandigarh vigilance department for probing the cause of delay, which allegedly caused losses. Subsequently, an inquiry was initiated and a team of the vigilance department visited the CITCO headquarters to inspect the file on February 24. Inspector (vigilance) Gurjeet Kaur said they had just started the probe and it would take some time in submitting their report. "We have not arrived at any conclusion so far," she added.
However, against the principle of natural justice, the administration did not issue a showcause notice to Malhotra before putting him under suspension. City-based activist-advocate Ajay Jagga commented, "It's advisable to give showcause notice to person against whom allegations are levelled for providing him an opportunity to explain his actions, so that the person is not condemned unheard."