Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
In the matter of gross illegality resorted to by Government of Orissa in selection of OAS officers to IAS in 2002, I had exposed how crystal clear was the transformation of the State Secretariat into a breeding place of favoritism and clientelism and how the selection was made in stark disregard to administrative impartialism. The caption of that article was – Crowning Corruption: Promotion to IAS smacks of Manipulation. It was published in ORISSA MATTERS on 11 June 2006 dwelling on the topic from manipulation in preparation of eligibility list by the General Administrative Department to verdicts of Administrative Tribunal, High Court of Orissa and finally the Supreme Court of India.
Following that exposure, genuine and deserving officers who had been victims of the manipulation and leg-pulling had of course been promoted to IAS. It should have been better had they prosecuted the fellows that had harassed them to help the undeserving persons. But, years to serve the government, tired of litigations upto the Apex Court, once the promotion was achieved, they did not dare to put their shoulders to the wheel in punishing the villains.
The trend has not changed. This time, the man the client entertainers are already in action to prey upon, is a Class I officer in Orissa Information Service, by name Sri Niranjan Sethi. He belongs to a Dalit caste, but to the envy of upper caste officers dazzling in power, his manners are magnificent, majestic and remarkably polished. He has been and is going to be a victim of this envy. Caste-supremacists had marred his promotion to IAS once in the past and I have evidence-based reasons to apprehend that they have started their mischief in advance, lest he gets shortlisted for promotion to IAS, when the next occasion comes.
In normal conditions, his promotion may not be stalled, if selections are done impartially.
So attempts have already been initiated to soil his name, which after stumbling upon, I have been investigating.
My investigation makes me convinced that Vigilance Police is being used for this nefarious purpose and even the Chief Minister is being used therein.
For proper understanding of the mischief, it would be better to look at how his prospects for promotion to IAS were marred last time in 2010.
Government of Orissa had received a total of 14 NSCS officers from different departments for filling up two vacancies in IAS of state cadre in 2010 out of which 10 officers were shortlisted. They were Ajay Kumar Bhuyan, Basant Kumar Dash, Bijaya Mishra, Gopabandhu Satapathy, Manoj Ranjan Nanda, Niranjan Sethi, Pradeep Kumar Biswal, Prasanta Kumar Patra, Sasanka Sekhar Panda and Sunil Kumar Panda. Vigilance police was called upon to clear their names.
Vigilance is a wing of GA department of which the concerned minister is the chief minister. It reported on 19.8.2010 that no case/enquiry was pending against Sri Niranjan Sethi. But its report went against one Sri Sasanka S.Panda. Panda was of I&PR department to which Sethi belongs.
Caste-supremacists contrived a new strategy immediately thereafter to drop Sethi from the shortlist.
Somebody raised an allegation against Sethi and without looking into veracity of the said allegation, the same vigilance police informed the Government on 4.9.2010 that, during an issue based enquiry the involvement of Sri Sethi came out in awarding of a contact of Rs. 3 crores to a private production house. Vigilance tried to baffle authorities with suggestive words to show as if Sethi awarded the contract by manipulating records. Juxtaposing this uncalled for communication from vigilance with its earlier report that “no case/enquiry was pending against Sethi, the administrative office correctly rejected the vigilance mischief and decided to recommend Sethi’s name to UPSC along with the name of Sasanka Sekhar Panda, Pradeep Kumar Biswal et al. Subsequently, a new list, reducing the shortlist from 10 to 9 by dropping Sethi’s name was sent to UPSC, without mentioning why his name was dropped. When challenged in the Administrative Tribunal, the Government had tried to take refuge under the plea that vigilance had telephonically informed of Sri Sethi’s involvement with the Rs.3 crore contract allocation. The tribunal had no problem in understanding the mischief. The entire eligibility list sent to UPSC after dropping Sethi from the same was set aside by the Tribunal, as, in its view, he had been illegally deprived of his right to be considered by the selection committee.
Two of the shortlisted candidates filed Writ cases in Orissa High Court challenging the verdict of the Tribunal. The High Court held that, the Tribunal’s determination that Sethi has been illegally deprived of his right to be considered was “absolutely just and proper”. But, yet, the Court did not want the interview to be nullified. It asked the government to send Sethi’s name afresh to the selection committee and asked the UPSC to withhold the result of its interview till examining Sethi and to take his performance together with the interviewed ones for publication of the results.
Sethi was subjected to interview by a new body, which forced him to a distinctly different pattern of test and evaluation. The two fellows, who had filed the Writ cases in the High Court assuming that they were selected, were declared selected, clearly suggesting that the selection was on dotted lines; and thus, the entire selection to IAS from NSCS quota was a great farce. Had Sethi been a Brahmin or a Karana or a Khandayat, this farce could never have got even the birth.
From note sheet dated 9.9.2010, it transpires that, when a mysterious telephonic call allegedly from the director of vigilance was cultivated to obstruct the recommendation in support of Sethi, the dealing bureaucracy had rightly pointed out that, if the so-called telephonic message could be taken as pregnant with an allegation against Sethi, then, “there is only one allegation in respect of Sri Sethi. No chargesheet has been issued against Sri Sethi, No chargesheet has been filed in any court of law against Sri sethi. As such, there is no bar for recommending the case of Sri Sethi to the UPSC for selection to IAS by appearing interview before the selection board”.
The above quoted note of the dealing bureaucracy was based on the explanation under proviso to Regulation 5 (5) of the IAS (Appointment by Promotion) Regulation, 1955, which says, ‘the proceedings shall be treated as pending only if a chargesheet has actually been issued to the officer or filed in a court as the case may be’.
In view of this, this time, the villains coming out of hibernation, have started playing their tricks for chargesheeting Sri Sethi. This time under a new plea. And, under a bigger conspiracy.
The Servants of the People Society has occupied the Samaja by using a forged will of Pt. Gopabandhu Das. In orissamatters.com, re-posted in savethesamaja,com, Radhanath Rath and Lingaraj Mishra – the former two editors of Samaja as well as ministers of Orissa – have been exposed to have forged the will of Gopabandhu to grab the powerful, popular paper. Rath had taken maximum benefit till his death from the Samaja by projecting himself as the most loyal colleague of Gopabandhu. But, as I have already exposed, he was a low-paid servant of Gopabandhu, torturing him so much that the great humanitarian leader had to die a pathetic premature death. The occupiers of the Samaja know the truth and know that forgery committed on Gopabandhu’s will would one day wake up the entire population of Orissa against them. So, to hoodwink them permanently and to make their propaganda stronger that Gopabandhu has given them the Samaja by way of a will and Radhanath Rath was his real loyal colleague, they had prevailed upon Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to produce a film on Gopabandhu. Fellows of Brahmin caste – in consonance with the preferences of the illegal occupiers of the Samaja – were engaged to coin legends under the guise of research, to write the script and to direct the film. For a little time, Sethi was associated with the project as a production officer.
Now, the villains are using this small period of his link with the project to injure his prospects for promotion. I have already exposed how a member of the Assembly was used to ask coined questions and how the Chief Minister was used to give a reply on dotted lines. That set of question-answer was meant to harass Sethi with a design to affect his promotional prospects.
Joint Accounts, Collective responsibility
Records of the Assembly show that various members have time and again raised questions on this issue and the CM has answered in naming Sri Sethi, when production of a film is a team work involving officials from the dealing assistant to the Chief Minister. Moreover, funds dedicated to production of the film were never under disposal of Sethi. Whenever any amount was to be drawn from the sanctioned fund, the same was being operated through a joint account under orders and superintendence of the sanctioning authorities. So, there was no scope for Sethi to handle the funds by himself. But the Vigilance, it seems, has singled out him in the answer given by the CM.
Misuse of Assembly Answer
Intriguing is that, ghost writers are being used to use the same question-answers in invoking vigilance action against Sethi.
Referring to answer of the CM to UDAQ 1154 dated 23.6.2014, someone claiming to be Dr. Manoranjan Raut, Ex-Reader in Political Science, SCS College, Puri, has addressed a letter to B.K.Singh IPS, Director cum Addl. D.G. (Police),Vigilance Department, seeking action against Sethi. He has given copies to CM, Chief Secretary, Pr. Secretary, I&PR, I.G.Vigilance Cell, S.P. Vigilance Cell, and to Smt. Pranita Ray, Inspector, G.A. Vigilance Cell. Surprisingly, he has made many mention of profuse praise for Smt. Ray in this letter. A criminologists can, if engaged, only interpret the purpose of the profuse praises for Smt. Ray in this letter. But on investigation I found, that in SCS College, Puri, there was never a Political Science Reader by the name Dr. Manoranjan Raut.
Is vigilance a pawn?
Has he been created by someone who wants to please Smt. Pranita Ray?
The Director of Vigilance should look into this matter and keep necessary watch on Smt.Ray.
Vigilance police should not be a pawn in any villain’s hand to spread innuendos against any officer or to put stymies on way to any officer’s promotion.
The Chief Minister should be more cautious in answering seemingly motivated questions and before mentioningthe name of any particular officer in context of any corruption, he should ascertain whether all other officers suppoedly involved with a collective official project have been duly investigated into and set free, leaving the said single officer to be held responsible.
Assembly be not a Slaughter House of Natural Justice
No officer has any right to defend himself/herself in the Assembly against his wrongful naming by the Chief Minister. And, therefore, he should not make the Assembly a slaughter house of natural justice.
So, it would be proper for the Chief Minister to ask the vigilance police to investigate into who vitiated his repeated replies with motivated venom against a particular officer – Niranjan Sethi – who, on the basis of my five decades long watch on the Directorate of I&PR, I can vouch, is one of the finest officers with administrative spirit and probity the department can ever boast of.