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CIMA Gallary

Secy shown door after spat

A senior IAS officer who had recently dubbed the process of recruitment of 2,268 home guards “unlawful” was removed from the civil defence and fire and emergency services departments on Tuesday.

An order issued by the personnel and administrative reforms department stated that N.R. Banerjee, the additional chief secretary in charge of the civil defence and fire and emergency services departments, would be divested of both responsibilities. The 1981-batch officer will retain the charge of the central valuation board, which he holds as additional charge.

The Telegraph had on June 22 reported on a spat between Banerjee and the civil defence and fire services minister, Javed Ahmed Khan, over recruitment of home guards.

“I had no role in the transfer. It was a routine affair,” Khan told Metro.

Banerjee refused to comment on the issue.

The general feeling in the secretariat, however, was that the officer was transferred because he had spoken against alleged irregularities in the recruitment process.

“It is clear that he has paid the price for raising questions over the faulty recruitment process. Otherwise, he would not have been transferred from both departments held by Javed Ahmed Khan,” a senior official said.

Though Banerjee was removed, the official pointed out the questions he had raised would remain in files. “All irregularities in the matter may come to light if a thorough probe is conducted in future.”

Sources in the civil defence department said the proposal for recruiting home guards was made last October. Following government norms, the file was sent to the finance department for approval before the proposal was tabled at a cabinet meeting.

“The finance department had asked what would be the recruitment procedure. The civil defence department replied that all rules would be followed. Based on the reply, the cabinet and the finance department approved recruitment,” said an official.

Soon after, the civil defence department ordered a change in the enrolment committee. S.L. Bhakat, a former secretary of the department and now re-employed as officer-on-special duty to minister Khan, was made chairman of the panel.

“According to the rules, the district police superintendents conduct the recruitment process under the supervision of the director-general (home guards). But the new government decided to delegate the monitoring authority to Bhakat. Secretary Banerjee opposed the move and called it unlawful, said the official.

Sources said that after changing the enrolment committee, the department diluted the criteria for recruitment.