The Deputy Commissioner of Faridabad — an IAS officer known as the District Magistrate in other states — may have been empowered by the Indian Constitution to act against corruption in offices under his jurisdiction, but on Tuesday he set the authority aside and turned for help to an extra-constitutional power to beat any: god.
The DC organized a grand havan in the Tehsil Office here to cleanse the soul and mind of each of the staff members, making them swear on the Gita, the holy fire and their families that they "would not be corrupt for an year." He did not specify how their souls would continue to remain spotless after the period had lapsed.
The bizarre drama was set in motion when DC Pravin Kumar reportedly received complaints of corruption in the Tehsil Office, close to his own. Kumar rushed to the office and swung into action.
He discovered that this specific corruption complaint was about an outsider posing as an employee of the Tehsil Office. The outsider — who had access to official files — would always be found sitting in the office, said sources, without any staff member questioning him, probably doing public works for bribes, said an employee of the Tehsil, refusing to be identified for fear of reprisal.
When Kumar entered the Tehsil Office, the man, whom Tehsildar Chander Prakash later identified as Dharminder, fled the office. In the aftermath, Kumar camped there for hours, discussing immediate measures to be taken to arrest the menace of corruption in the office, said the employee.
However, said the employee, instead of initiating action against staff members who allowed the outsider access to the Tehsil Office and official files, the DC adopted the “novel idea” of invoking God to create “sense of responsibility among the staff members towards the common people.” Kumar decided to have a havan performed inside office premises to cleanse the souls of staff members.
A pujari (priest) was summoned and wood and ghee bought.
“Yes, it is a fact an outsider, Dharminder would always sit in the Tehsil office despite the fact that he was warned of dire consequences some time ago," said Tehsildar Chander Prakash. “But he would keep coming back,” Prakash added.
“I thought making the employees swear on their families, Gita and agni that they would not resort to corrupt practices would yield better results,” said DC Pravin Kumar, not specifying compared to which alternative would this yield a superlative result.
“I got it done then and there when I visited the office yesterday,” he told HT on Wednesday. “Employees swore to keep off from corrupt practices for a year and let us see how this idea works till then.”
The Pujari was paid Rs 100 for performing the havan, Prakash said.