For the second time in seven months, the home ministry has goofed up on a list put in the public domain.
In March, the home ministry had handed over a list of 50 terrorists suspected to be in Pakistan to Islamabad. But the list led to red-faces in Delhi when it transpired that two of them had already been arrested from within the country.
This time, the home ministry put out a list of over 850 Indian Police Service (IPS) officers who had defaulted on submitting their property returns, but erroneously included names of several retired police officers for failing to file the returns.
One among them was KC Verma, former chief of India's external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).
Verma figured his name had crept into the list after HT carried a report on the defaulters - "One in four IPS officers fails transparency test" - on Tuesday.
The R&AW chief had retired on December 30, 2010. "Because of my superannuation, I neither was, nor am, under any obligation to file my returns for the period ending December 31, 2010 (when he was no longer in service)," he told HT, pointing out that he had regularly filed his returns in previous years.
Verma later complained to home secretary RK Singh, "to let him know my deep anguish and anger over the fact that my name has been included in the list of defaulters".
Singh promptly ordered the officers concerned to take a re-look at the list and make corrections.
By Wednesday evening, Verma's name was removed from the home ministry website. "I am grateful to the home secretary for the prompt action," Verma said.
But the review revealed Verma wasn't the only retired officer on the defaulters' list. Former chief of the joint intelligence committee, Hridayanand Upadhyay, was also on the list. So was former special director of Central Reserve Police Force Vijay Raman.
Government sources said the full picture would emerge on Thursday when the review was expected to be completed.
The idea of putting the list of 850-plus defaulters - this means one in four IPS officers defaulted - in public domain was to create a disincentive for police officers to default.
"It is difficult to believe that so many officers didn't file the returns… It seems to indicate systemic problems of record-keeping in states as well as the home ministry, rather than a cavalier attitude of police officers," a senior police officer said.