Chief minister Virbhadra Singh has given the go-ahead to the state vigilance & anti-corruption bureau to prosecute former Himachal chief secretary Ravi Dhingra and ex-additional chief secretary PC Kapoor in a case relating to misuse of public office.
The case, related to the retirement concession given to an IPS officer, AN Sharma who was inspector general of police at the time, dates back to 2007 and was investigated by the bureau’s special investigating unit. The bureau later charged former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal along with Kapoor and Sharma with misusing their office to facilitate the latter who had quit his job during the assembly elections and later rejoined office. A criminal case was filed against the three in June last year under sections 120B & 420 of the Indian Penal Code and section 13B of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
After the Congress party assumed power in the state two years ago the government had ordered a probe to ascertain the permission granted by the government to withdraw the voluntary retirement of Sharma, considered Dhumal’s “blue eyed officer.”
The probe revealed Sharma had moved an application on November 21, 2007 seeking voluntary retirement from services. At that time Kumar was home secretary and the home department was headed by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. Sharma had sought voluntary retirement since he was in the race for the BJP ticket for the Naduan assembly segment in Hamirpur district. The ticket was announced on November 26 and the BJP preferred Vijay Agnihotri over Sharma. Sharma had written to the department for continuation of service. However, the findings revealed the government had heeded Sharma’s request on November 21 while the application for continuation of service was received on November 28, 2007.
Sharma later moved the Central Administrative Tribunal to seek a stay on the process of his retirement. After the CAT granted the stay, he withdrew his case and made a plea for continuation of service, which was regularized soon after Dhumal took over as chief minister in 2008. Kapoor, who retired as additional chief secretary, was home secretary when the government considered Sharma’s application for continuation of service while Dhingra was the chief secretary.
According to sources, Virbhadra, who also holds the home portfolio, had accorded his sanction to prosecute the two former bureaucrats before he left for Delhi to attend his daughter’s wedding. “The draft of the sanction order has been sent to the law department for vetting,” high ranking government officials said.