DISTRICT PANCHAYAT Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ashutosh Avasthi has been given a clean chit by Additional Collector Rameshwar Gupta in the inquiry conducted against him following suicide committed an employee of his office Shahid Khan on April 9, 2006. But the inquiry has left many questions unanswered.
On the basis of inquiry report, District Collector Vivek Aggarwal has acquitted Avasthi of the charges made against him and sent the acquittal report to Divisional Commissioner Ashok Das.
Khan in his suicide note had charged Avasthi with humiliating him and driving him to take the ultimate step. The inquiry report, ironically, has avoided addressing key issues related to Khan’s bid to end his life.
The six-point inquiry report (a copy of which is available with Hindustan Times) submitted on June 9, 2006, investigated whether Avasthi misguided the district administration in conducting the inquiry, misplaced government documents related to Shahid, initiated mass transfers, suspension of his subordinates that were later cancelled and purchased goods worth lakhs of rupees without being a member of the purchase committee.
The report also looked into demands made for removal of Avasthi from the CEO’s post.
To begin with, the report nowhere inquires whether Khan was constantly humiliated, a charge his widow Parveen made. The inquiry officer has recorded statements of Avasthi, who obviously professed his innocence. But he has not documented Parveen Khan’s version.
The inquiry report says that her statement has been ignored on the ground that she had left with her parents for Kanpur and her flat at 305, Ashirwad Apartment in Anoop Nagar, Indore, was found to be locked when she was called to giver her statement.
This appears to be an excuse for the simple reason that administration handed over the GPF and pension papers to Parveen and must have noted down her parents’ Kanpur address. If the administration wanted, it could have obtained the address from Kanpur Municipal Corporation from where Parveen’s father M A Khan retired as revenue inspector and could have received statement from her by post.
What is baffling is why the administration did not initiate an inquiry immediately after Shahid’s suicide case was registered with police and specially when his family stayed here for more than a month after the incident, which would have granted it enough time to record Parveen’s statements.
Other pertinent issue is why did Avasthi call on Divisional Commissioner Ashok Das with a plea to post Shahid in his office, specially when he had suspended him for dereliction of duty? Avasthi made this plea to Das after the latter reinstated Shahid in the service.
Ashutosh told Das that he wanted Shahid back, as there was staff shortage in his office. Why would the CEO who accused Shahid as being a negligent worker want him back? The inquiry report doesn’t answer this.
Besides, the cause cited by Avasthi for suspending Shahid before the inquiry officer is not too grave. According to inquiry report, Shahid was suspended for not compiling the official details in proper order that were needed for Chief Minister’s meeting on February 11, 2006, and for giving irresponsible replies when asked to state reasons for negligence.
But inquiry report fails to pinpoint what documents were sought by Avasthi that were not put in place by Khan. As for the alleged purchases made by CEO, the inquiry report cites non-availability of procurement details.
Inquiry officer Rameshwar Gupta also holds the ADM charge. But his inquiry report doesn’t answer Parveen’s questions about what led Shahid to commit suicide, a phone call Shahid received in the morning before he ended his life, which was later deleted by police and the blood-stained cloth found in bathroom, which she said did not belong to the household and the injury marks on his chest and other parts of the body.
Incidentally, police investigation into Shahid’s suicide case is still underway. His post mortem report says that Shahid committed suicide and denies outside attack on him before he hanged himself from the fan in sitting room of his two-room flat.