(This article constitutes Episode IV of the series ‘A Review in Heavens’)
Mr. Adharkar and his friends meet at their usual place of retreat.
Mr. Adharkar says, “It is a long time since we met last. I am sad to say that things in the ESIC have taken a turn for the worse, since the arrival of Mr. Sis Ram Ola on the scene as the Minister for Labour. As politicians, these Ministers know the art of wielding authority without responsibility. Mr. Ola wants to acquire authority over the transfers and postings of officers who head the Regions and Sub-Regions. He is also showing interest in construction matters and medical college buildings. It is plain unlawful on his part to demand a role in the transfer of officers in the ESI Corporation. But, he never cares for law. Besides, there are so many things murky in the area of construction and medical college matters. Crores roll there. Instead of setting right things one should not add to the already existing problems. Hope the CAG takes note of the facts”.
There was sullen silence. It was Prof. Adharkar who broke the ice again. He said, “In regard to construction matters the less said the better. It becomes difficult for the Director General to protect the organisation from the people who have vested interests, because there are so many persons with such interests. Now that the post of Chief Engineer has become vacant, with the exit of Mr. Om Kumar, who was on deputation, proper course of action is only to fill up the post of Chief Engineer through the UPSC. But, no proposal is stated to have been sent to the UPSC, although it should have been sent last year itself, after giving proper advertisement calling for applications for appointment on deputation, if the people in the feeder cadre did not meet the requirement to be considered for promotion. But, the latter one is the better option. It is better to promote cadre officers, even by relaxing the condition of the period of residency. Action for that also should have been taken last year. But, it was not done. Anyway, the ESIC should avoid recruiting anyone as Chief Engineer directly in violation of the rules and regulations on the subject.”
“How can there be appointment to a post, and that too, to the post of Chief Engineer, in violation of rules?”, asked Mr. Beveridge.
“Oh, dear!” said Mr. Adharkar, “You people in England follow conventions. You hold them dear, there. But, in India, conventions were given a go-by, immediately when the British rulers declared in 1945 that they were prepared to leave India to Indians. Nothing is sacrosanct now in India and one would do anything if one could get power or money through something”.
“How to save India, then, from such people of India?”, said Mr. Murray.
“It is possible. The silver lining is already there. The Central Information Commission has already declared that the political parties must make their source of income public. This is the precise remedy for the Indian malady. Once this is implemented, the politicians in power as well as in opposition cannot make money for themselves, in the name of collecting funds for the party. Collecting funds for the party is the euphemism for accepting corrupt money that is shared between the individual politicians and their political parties. When one cannot collect money secretly in the name of his political party, he cannot put up a brave face and demand corrupt money for himself saying that it was for his party. Everyone would know that that unaccounted for money is only for him. Corrupt politicians and Ministers cannot wear a mask of honesty anymore. They would stand exposed in public, if their political parties are compelled by law to make the source of income public. That is the mortal fear of the present day politicians. All of them became so scared that they pass a resolution in the Parliament to nullify the orders of the Central Information Commission. The resolution, even if made an Act, is unlawful and can and will be struck down in the Court of Law.
Because, these politicians who made the law do not have the locus standi to pass such a law, when they are a party to the issue. If at all, the orders of the Central Information Commission is to be annulled, it must be done only by the people through a referendum and not by the so-called people’s representatives who are afraid of the people and want to keep the people in dark. But, that is a different story. The issue now is that unless the political parties are made to make their source of finance public, corruption in the nation cannot be controlled.
The enthusiastic consequence of implementing the order of the Central Information Commission is that, once the CIC’s orders are implemented, the present set of politicians would, as a breed, run away and vanish from the political scene and only those who are interested in public welfare would dominate the political field. No politician would have the urge to make his son or daughter or daughter-in-law, as his successor. Politics would not prove to be a field for making money. Indian people must learn from Scandinavian countries in this regard”, said Mr. Adharkar.
“That, definitely, is a very encouraging solution. Every Indian must thank the Central Information Commission for it. I find that once the source of funds to the political parties becomes transparent, the tendency of criminals entering political fields, the tendency of the political parties to appoint and patronize local criminals to be their party workers, etc., would cease”, said Mr. Dengill.
“I think we were discussing about appointment to the post of Chief Engineer in the ESI Corporation”, said Mr. Beveridge bringing the course of the conversation to the back to the original issue.
“Yes, yes. There had been violations in the past in the appointment of Chief Engineer in the ESIC. Convenient persons had been appointed and were attempted to be appointed. That was the reason the UPSC asserted itself when the Recruitment Regulations were framed. The Recruitment Regulations for the post of Chief Engineer was, thereafter, notified in the Gazette with the condition that the consultation with the UPSC “is” necessary on “all” occasions.
There was, then, a Minister who wanted one Mr. R.N. Singh to be appointed as Chief Engineer for one year temporarily, in the year 2004. He cited the provisions in Sec. 17 (3) of the ESI Act, to achieve his purpose. But, Sec. 17 (3) of the ESI Act, 1948 has to be read with the very restrictive provisions of the Recruitment Regulations for the post of Chief Engineer in the ESI Corporation which necessitate consultation with the ESIC ‘on all occasions’ and the instructions of the DOPT on temporary and officiating posts as found in the Swamy’s Manual of Establishment and Administration. When this fact was taken to the notice of that Minister, he was convinced of the stand and left the issue at that.
But, thereafter, one Mr. P.R. Roy was appointed as Chief Engineer in an unlawful manner on the basis of a single application, in the year 2007. He was also given an unlawful extension in the year 2008. The consequences are not described here. But, the UPSC is understood to have taken serious note of it, when it came to know of the facts in the year 2010. Because, no one could answer how Mr. Roy came to know that there was vacancy in the post of Chief Engineer in the ESI Corporation. A single para in the office note decided the appointment and projects worth more than Rs. 10,000 crores cleared through him”, concluded Mr. Adharkar. Others were just watching him wondering how things could go astray in the ESI Corporation. They went through the following Office Note also, which had been obtained through the Right to Information Act, 2005:
Filenoting that led to the appointment of a Chief Engineer
Dr.K. M.Soni, Superintending Engineer, was recommended by the UPSC to be appointed as Chief Engineer in the ESI Corporation on deputation. When he did not join, a note had been put up on 28.11.2007 as under:
“Thus the appointment of Dr. Soni through UPSC could not be effected. As a matter of recourse, DG may like to consider the name of Shri Prithwi Raj Roy EE in Rural Engg. Services, Govt. of UP, for being hired on deputation basis for one year, w.r.t. the application of Shri Roy, flagged “A”. A formal proposal in this regard is put up pl.”
The Administration Division entertained the application only from one person, Shri P.R. Roy and appointed him as Chief Engineer on deputation. Shri P.R. Roy was only an Executive Engineer in his parent department and he was posted here on deputation by naming him as Chief Engineer. He was, thereby, vested with administrative and disciplinary powers over the other regular UPSC-recruited Executive Engineers already working in the ESI Corporation. The riddles were:
- How did Shri. P.R. Roy come to know of the existence of vacancy in the ESI Corporation?
- How did he alone come to know?
There was no answer to these riddles. The proper course for the Administration Division was to inform the UPSC about the non-acceptance of the offer by Dr. K.M.Soni and ask for substitute or further course of action, if there was no one in the Reserve List. It should also have followed proper procedure in appointing the Chief Engineer. It should have intimated the UPSC about the appointment of Shri Prithwi Raj Roy, immediately and asked, at least, for the ratification of such action. It was not done. The UPSC had not received any intimation for more than one year and eight months. The UPSC received the intimation only on 14.9.2009 (UPSC letter dated F.No. 2/39 (1)/2010-ADT-1 dated 11.2.2010).
The file-notings dated 6.1.2009 in Page 7 of the Note file show that ‘the Secretary, UPSC had already been intimated about the appointment of Shri P.R. Roy as Chief Engineer in ESIC’. But, the UPSC which went through the copy of this note-file page concerned said that it had been informed of the said appointment only on 14.9.2009, more than eight months after the date of the file-noting itself. This was how a false declaration had been given in the issue of appointment of Chief Engineer.
The file noting dated 7.1.2009 contained the remarks that ‘it (the UPSC) was informed to continue the services of Shri Roy as CE till regular selectee joins in ESIC’. That was another false declaration.
The same Chief Engineer had been given an unlawful extension also in the year 2008 in total violation of all the rules on the subject. The file-notings dated 6.1.2009 and 7.1.2009 in Page 7 of the Note file did not refer to the specific proviso to the contrary under Sec. 17(3) of the ESI Act, 1948.
Moreover, the UPSC came to know of the extension given to Shri P.R.Roy only on 11.1.2010, just five days before the expiry of the extended term. Nobody cared for Sec. 17 (3). There was no discussion either about Sec. 17 (3) or about the concerned Recruitment Regulations in the notes submitted on 11.12.2008, 6.1.2009 or on 7.1.2009.
Mr. Adharkar and others went through the above note. Mr. Adharkar then said, “Now that the post of Chief Engineer is vacant, it would be proper if the Administration is permitted to follow the lawful methods of filling it up, through UPSC”.
Mr. Beveridge said, “Besides, there must be some Public Interest Litigation about the matter of Medical Colleges to render justice to the contributing insured populace. The legislation in this regard in 2010 was made by hoodwinking the Parliamentary Committee of Labour”