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Bihar bureaucracy, police on warpath

Indian administrative service officers in Bihar are strongly protesting against the ‘unwarranted’ arrest of a colleague, while the state service bureaucracy and police are mulling similar action over analogous grievances

india Updated: Feb 27, 2017 20:49 IST
Vijay Swaroop
IAS officers sporting black bands in protest against the arrest of their colleague Sudhir Kumar, in Patna on Monday.
IAS officers sporting black bands in protest against the arrest of their colleague Sudhir Kumar, in Patna on Monday. (Santosh Kumar/HT photo)

Bureaucracy in Bihar is restive and uncomfortable with recent arrests of members and punishment to others. On Monday, even as the IAS association members wore black bands to work , the Bihar Administrative Service Association (BASA) leaders sought time from chief minister to air their grievances.

Also, during the day, the Bihar Police Service Association (BPSA), the body representing the Bihar police service officers, held an emergency meeting to chalk out its strategy in the wake of action against two of its members. 

The turn of events, which began with the arrest of senior IAS officer Sudhir Kumar, in connection with the Bihar Staff Selection Commission (BSSC) question leak case, came soon after action taken against BASA and BPSA officials for alleged dereliction of duty , which led to a boat tragedy in the Ganga, which claimed 24 lives, on January 14.

Amidst all this, Kumar, chairman of BSSC, faces suspension as per the administrative rules for having spent 48 hours behind bars since his arrest early Friday. 

With the state’s budget session on, the Bihar government is facing the worst kind of opposition from premier service associations, namely, the IAS, IPS, BASA and BPSA, in the first such scenario in the state.

“We worked on Monday wearing black bands in protest against the arrest of Sudhir Kumar,” said Vivek Singh, secretary of the IAS officers’ association. Later, in the evening, association members met speaker of Bihar legislative assembly Vijay Kumar Chowdhary and apprised him of their concern over ‘unwarranted’ arrest of their colleague.

“We want to apprise all about the wrong done to Kumar,” said an association member. 

The association has been opposing the police action of arresting the BSSC chairman ‘even before the conclusion of the inquiry into the question leak case’. Its members had submitted a memorandum to the governor on Sunday, demanding adequate safeguards for officials to work in fairness, as the ‘officers no more feel secure in performance of their official duties’.

Their demands included that whenever an officer of SDM or above rank was under scanner, the inquiry/investigation team should be headed by a civil officer in the rank of super time and above only. “No haranguing should be permitted in the name of special investigation/ regular investigation,”the memorandum added. 

The association made it clear that as the President was the appointing authority for the personnel of the All India services (IAS, IPS etc), only he was competent to remove or dismiss them from service, as per article 311(1) of the Constitution of India. The government can at best suspend or transfer them. 

The Bihar police service association, which met on Monday, also decided to give a representation to the government opposing the alleged practice of adopting different yardsticks for different officers for the same administrative lapse. 

“The officers felt that suspension of our colleague (Sonepur SDPO) following the inquiry into the boat tragedy was wrong and against the principles of natural justice, as he was not even issued a show-cause. It was a case of administrative lapse, but while others were transferred, the SDPO was suspended. It would have been better to let the department take action in this regard, if the same was required,” said Rakesh Dubey, president of BPSA. 

The BASA, which represents the state administrative service officers, on Monday sought an appointment with chief minister Nitish Kumar after state government took action against three of its officials, Rajesh Choudhary, ADM law and order (Patna), Manzoor Alam, control room in-charge (Patna) and Madan Kumar,SDO, Sonepur, for their alleged laxity leading to the boat tragedy.

While Choudhary and Alam have been transferred, SDO, Sonepur has been suspended. 

“We are awaiting the chief minister’s response. Only then will we decide our future course of action,” said BASA general secretary Sushil Kumar.