With Dr. Anup Kumar Patnaik, the Disturbing Trend Continues at OPSC

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Post-superannuation appointment of Dr. Anup Kumar Patnaik to Orissa Public Service Commission (OPSC) may add an active component to the constitutional body, kept starved of members by the government run by Naveen Patnaik.

As against sanctioned strength of six members including the Chairman, there are now only two in the OPSC: one chairman and a single member.

Both are retired officers. The Chairman is a retired IAS officer and the member is a retired OAS officer in senior administrative grade. Dr. Patnaik shall now be of the same category as he has just retired as Orissa’s Director of Vigilance-cum-DG of Police.

As Director of Vigilance, Dr. Patnaik has reason to claim credit for for use of the Orissa Special Courts Act, 2006, in confiscation of properties of two IAS officers, as their assets were prima-facie disproportionately higher than their legitimate income.

The Act was there, the vigilance apparatus was there, the government was there and the Chief Minister was there. But such steps were never even in contemplation sphere.

Confiscation of properties of IAS officers was beyond imagination till Dr. Patnaik decided to use the power that the Act was equipped with.

During his tenure as Director, Vigilance cases not only increased phenomenally year after year, but also more than a hundred Class-1 officers were subjected to prosecution with around fifty per cent of them charge sheeted.

This achievement was unprecedented in the history of Orissa vigilance, as was the creation of a ‘Prosecution Cell’ addressed to streamlining investigation and efficiency in managing the cases.

To him the credit goes for striking on and stymieing of smuggling of mines and hounding the mining mafia out of their safe havens and their dogs in the mining directorate/department.

His proposal to create a new apparatus such as ‘Economic Offense Wing’of the sate vigilance to spot and to stop tax frauds by big business houses and companies/corporations will, if the government agrees, be a boon to Orissa exchequer.

But, more than everything he did as Director, Vigilance, he will continue to evoke admiration in administration and in the minds of whosoever keeps a watching eye on administration, for the unique team spirit he epitomized and positive approach he stood for in intricate cases.

So, putting such a person to OPSC is perhaps the best thing to happen.

But, his posting also adds to a very unhealthy trend that Naveen Patnaik is infesting administration with.

Since Naveen has taken over as Chief Minister, the OPSC, like the State Election Commission, has been made a hub of retired officers, who, when in service, had been in his close circle.

An incumbency chart of OPSC chairmen shows that the last in-service chairman was Prof.Dr. Hadibandhu Mirdha, appointed by the Congress government preceding Naveen. After Mirdha, the post has gone to retired officers only.

About two years after Naveen took over, as Mirdha retired on 28 December 2002, Vivekananda Pattanayak IAS (Rtd) who was inducted to OPSC as a member on 9 December 2002 by Naveen, was given the Chairman post. He continued till 11 December 2004, when Pradipt Kumar Mohanty, IAS (Rtd) took over from him. On end of Mohanty’s term on 31 August 2006, a retired IPS officer Suchit Das was placed in the post on 1 September 2006. He continued till 8 February 2010. A retired IFS officer Pravat R. Mohanty then got the job on 12 March 2010 with the intervening period handed over to another IAS (Rtd) officer Manoranjan Saran, who was already working as a member of OPSC after superannuating. Mohanty held the post till 10 May 2011. Before the last chairman Chinmay Basu IAS (Rtd) got the berth on 7 July 2011, K.C.Mohapatra, IAS (Rtd) had remained in charge from 24 May to 6 July 2011. Mohapatra continued as a member till February 9 this year, as B. S. Deo, OAS (SAG) continues. All these officers were very close to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik when in Office. So, their post-superannuation rehabilitation is indicating a trend that is as peculiar as questionable.

Is post-superannuation rehabilitation in highly coveted constitutional bodies meant to buy the silence of the rehabilitated officers as it is they that were/are the ones who, when in service, were privy to the most sensitive files wherein Naveen had/has strong involvements? May be, may not be. But it certainly cannot be said, that the phenomenon is not abnormal.

On this premise only, it should have been better if a good trendsetter like Anup Patnaik had not accepted the OPSC assignment.

It is necessary that the trend should end as otherwise many a good officers may corrupt themselves to earn the CM’s favor for fetching post-retirement benefits.

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