The AAP government’s latest appointment to the post of deputy labour commissioner has raised eyebrows within the labour department as the officer in question has been penalised twice by the union home ministry for alleged irregularities.
The transfer of Kamal Malhotra, an officer of the DANICS (Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Services) cadre, to a public dealing section in posh south Delhi has come under criticism with department officials saying the officer is “close to the CM’s office”.
Malhotra was earlier the deputy labour commissioner at department headquarters, a mainly administrative profile.
Documents accessed by Hindustan Times showed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) – which controls the DANICS cadre - had penalised Malhotra on two occasions. In the first instance, the officer was issued a censure in 2006 and barred from benefits like promotion for a year for allegedly sitting on an enquiry into a corruption case while he was posted in Daman and Diu.
In the second instance, the MHA downgraded his service for five years in 2010 for giving a no objection certificate (NOC) to a builder within a day of application without following due procedure while he was the sub-divisional magistrate in northwest Delhi.
According to an AAP government spokesperson, charges against Malhotra were known but shortage of staff had led authorities to transfer him to a public dealing section.
“If an officer is serving in Delhi and has not been suspended, we have to place him somewhere. The cadre controlling authority is MHA and they should have suspended him. We can only transfer these officers and if an officer is not fit enough, he should not be posted in any department,” said a government spokesperson defending Malhotra’s transfer.
When contacted, Malhotra told HT: “It (the transfer) was an administrative decision and I have nothing to do with it. I won’t comment on the equity since it is over.”
A Delhi government official in the labour department, however, had a different take. “The government claims it is here to end corruption but is posting officials who have been penalised by MHA for irregularities. The officer concerned is close to the CM’s office and, thus, has been given a plush posting,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Another government official detailed MHA’s first censure against Malhotra. “Kamal Malhotra, the officer in question, was asked to conduct a preliminary enquiry into a case of financial irregularity when he was posted in Daman and Diu in 2000. Instead of conducting the inquiry, Malhotra carried the files to Delhi and returned it in 2003 after a memorandum was issued to him.” According to documents accessed by HT, Malhotra failed to initiate the enquiry for 33 months and carried official records on his person for the entire duration.
A letter issued by the MHA in 2006 said: “Malhotra failed to satisfactory explain his failure to carry out the inquiry. The fact that he has delayed the inquiry for a very long period is fully established. No satisfactory explanation has been given for the delay.”
Another letter issued by the ministry in 2010 said his NOC to a builder was “suggestive of ulterior motive”. As SDM in northwest Delhi, Malhotra allegedly entertained the builder’s application personally and processed it himself.
“Malhotra displayed extraordinarily haste and imprudence in issuing the status reports, suggestive of ulterior motive/nexus, lack of responsibility and also not giving priority to protect government interests. Malhotra failed to maintain absolute integrity and exhibit a conduct unbecoming of a government servant. The disciplinary authority imposes hereby a penalty of reduction to a lower stage in a time-scale of pay for a period of five years,” said the MHA letter.
According to sources, a separate inquiry is pending against Malhotra for taking the salary hike despite not being authorised to it.