In a bid to clean up its image following the Adarsh society scandal, the state government has issued a dictat for expediting departmental inquiries against errant officials and bureaucrats who are about to retire.
Chief secretary JP Dange has ordered all departments to initiate inquiries against a soon-to-be retiring officer at least three months before their retirement and complete it within one year after the officer gives up work. The order states that it has come to the notice of the government that many pending departmental inquiries are not initiated against officials until the end of their careers. This leads to errant officials being exonerated without a detailed inquiry or can end in court cases causing embarrassment to the government, the order says.
The government rulebook says any inquiry can be conducted against an official up to four years after his retirement. Until the inquiry is complete, the government officer is placed under suspension and all his dues, including pension, are withheld.
A senior bureaucrat, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said: “Disciplinary action has bite only if the official is serving because it marks him and can be humiliating. After retirement, many such officials, who already have substantial income, have very little to lose.’’
Sources say post retirement, complaints are often watered down and the inquiry is eyewash. Former additional chief secretary Ashok Khot is probably the only bureaucrat, who had to face suspension while in service after he was sentenced to a month’s imprisonment in 2006 for contempt of court because he allowed six saw mills to operate in the Tansa Wildlife sanctuary despite a Supreme Court ban on it.
Recently, a case of disproportionate assets was filed against a bureaucrat, who retired recently. The state is facing huge embarrassment over the Adarsh society scam in which many government officials colluded to give faster clearances to the society in return for homes in the Colaba tower. The state has kept mum over action against these officers.