Presenting a rare show of political unison, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking’s committee members, however, ensured that a senior official accused of corruption got away scot-free.
SA Purnaik, suspended deputy general manager (power), got off the hook on his last day in office because the BEST administration didn’t serve him a show-cause notice within the stipulated time. The dilly-dallying by the ruling Shiv Sena, the Opposition, Congress, and the BEST officials delayed the notice.
The EOW had arrested Puranik earlier this year for allegedly cheating the undertaking to the tune of Rs 5.40 crore.
The BEST legal department officers said action had to be taken against Puranik within the working hours of his last day. The notice would be invalid if it is served after 5pm on Tuesday.
Nominated councillor Shivaji Singh told the legal department that action should be taken without any further delay or Puranik would go unpunished. But his colleagues seemed to have something else on their minds.
Congress corporator Ravi Raja spoke for 90 long minutes. When he finished at 4.30 pm, BJP corporators, led by Dilip Patel, asked the officials to make a clarification. But committee chairman and Sena corporator Sanjay Potnis stalled the move and demanded a debate. “The one-member committee, led by former high court judge Ranjana Kochar, had found Puranik guilty of 15 out of 17 counts. What was the point of a discussion?” asked Patel.
Just before 5pm, the Opposition staged a walkout. Defending his 90-minute-long speech, Raja said: “The administration should have told us before the meeting began that action had to be taken before 5pm.” At 5.05pm, the body finally gave a nod to the proposal to question Puranik why action should not be taken against him.
A BEST official said: “We are on weak ground because drafting of the notice will take at least half-an-hour more. This means Puranik can always challenge the fact that the notice was served after he officially retired.”