Four days before the state government presents its annual budget to the legislature, the CBI arrested finance secretary (expenditure) Pradeep Vyas on Wednesday.
Significantly, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan was unaware of the arrest of one of his serving bureaucrats.
When journalists asked Chavan why he did not suspend Vyas and senior bureaucrat Jairaj Phatak, who is also an accused in the Adarsh scam case, the CM said he wanted the CBI to provide him with solid reasons based on which he could take action. He said the government needed to have a stronger case to suspend a serving officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). Vyas was the Mumbai collector, while Phatak was the municipal commissioner when the scam took place. "In case of weak reasons, IAS bureaucrats can always get the suspension revoked from the Central Administrative Tribunal. The service rules favour them so much," Chavan said.
By arresting Vyas, the CBI has eased Chavan's job to a great extent. Service rules stipulate that any employee who spends more than 48 hours in police custody must be suspended from the service. The government is expected to take a call on this when Vyas completes the required duration in police custody. Sources in the government said that the arrest and his subsequent CBI custody will facilitate his quick suspension. Vyas is accused of getting a flat in Adarsh society for his wife Seema, also an IAS officer, in exchange of approving membership of persons who did not fit the income criteria for such a cooperative society.
Phatak has been charged of approving the extra height for the 31-storey tower without consent from the high-rise committee.