Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is trying hard to retain the services of Karnataka IAS officer Rajender Kumar Kataria for another year.
Kataria, who is the son-in-law of Haryana Congress president Phool Chand Mullana, has been working in Haryana for six years on inter-cadre deputation, which ends on August 17. The chief minister, who wants to retain him for the seventh year, has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, requesting him to extend the inter-cadre deputation of Kataria to the state as a "special case".
"The overall performance of Kataria during his tenure in the state has remained outstanding. He has been handling very important assignments in the state government," he wrote to the PM last month. Kataria, a 1996 batch IAS officer, is currently posted as administrator, HUDA, in Panchkula.
The IAS officer's name recently figured in a controversial case in which the Punjab and Haryana high court dispensed with the services of Sirsa additional district and sessions judge Ashwani Kumar Shori for not conducting himself in the manner required of a judicial officer. Shori had recorded adverse remarks against a "whistleblower" HCS officer, who had unearthed irregularities in the sarva shiksha abhiyan in Kaithal, under the alleged influence of the then deputy commissioner Kataria.
In his letter, Hooda has also cited shortage of IAS officers in the state to build his case.
However, the letter makes no mention of the Kataria's connection with the state Congress chief. "I have been given to understand that the All India Service (AIS) Officers Rules provide that the total period of deputation of an AIS officer away from his cadre can be extended up to admissible period of seven years. There are a few recent precedents wherein the AIS officers have been allowed inter-cadre deputation up to seven years," Hooda said.
Efforts were made to contact the CM, but he was not available.
In 2010 too, Hooda had written to the PM and then union minister of state for personnel Prithviraj Chavan for extension of deputation of Kataria for three years in "public interest" after he completed his five-year inter-cadre deputation to Haryana.
"The officer is handling important and prestigious projects like Delhi-Gurgaon Metro Project, Western Peripheral Project (Kundli-Mansear-Palwal Road Project) and NCR Water Channel Project. In addition, the government has appointed him as the nodal officer on behalf of the state government to monitor the progress of construction of hotels and tourism related to other projects in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Rewari and Sonepat for the Commonwealth Games 2010," the CM wrote to Manmohan Singh on December 23, 2009.
Kataria was then deputy commissioner, Gurgaon, and the CWG shooting competition was to be held in CRPF camp in Gurgaon.
However, the Centre rejected the request. Chavan communicated to Hooda in June 2010 that the proposed extension had not been approved.
"It is not covered under the extant policy as he would be completing maximum prescribed period of five years of his inter-cadre deputation," the union minister, who was also Congress general secretary in-charge party affairs in Haryana at that time, wrote back.
The CM pushed the case again and sent another letter to Chavan on July 27, 2010, seeking reconsideration of the decision.
However, he then requested for a two-year extension for the officer as his continuation in Haryana was "highly essential". The department of personnel and training (DoPT) relented after strong lobbying by the CM and granted extension for only one year.
The state authorities had started working on the officer's extension well in advance. The chief secretary had sent a communication to DoPT in August 2009 for extension of the officer's tenure for three years, citing his compelling family circumstances. The chief secretary wrote the letter after receiving a request from Phool Chand Mullana.
Kataria, who came on deputation to Haryana shortly after the Congress attained power in 2005, was posted as deputy commissioner, Kaithal, in June 2006.
He was then shifted to Panchkula district where he remained DC for nearly 18 months. Later, he got the coveted post of Gurgaon DC in May 2009.