The health department has accused its former minister and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Choubey of not returning some of its files even after four months of his removal from the post.
Choubey, who was the health minister in the NDA government before Nitish Kumar parted ways with the BJP in June this year, however, denied the charge.
At present, chief minister Nitish Kumar is holding the health portfolio.
The department, said sources, has sent three reminders to Choubey so far but has not got any reply from him.
They added that the missing files are hampering the department’s progress in the matters mentioned in them.
On Thursday, Deepak Kumar, principal secretary, health, told The Telegraph: “Yes, 12 files of utmost importance have gone missing from the department. As far as our knowledge goes, the former health minister has not returned those files. We have sent him reminders in July, August and the end of September but to no avail.”
On his defence, minister Choubey said: “I have returned all the files to the department along with their photocopies and accordingly communicated that to the principal secretary, health. I don’t know why such false allegations are being levelled against me. The department has made a big mistake by asking me about the files which I have already sent. Those who are conspiring against me have to be punished. I shall ask the chief minister and the principal secretary, health, to take action against the conspirators.”
Lending credence to the principal secretary’s allegations, a department official said: “There is no confusion that the files have not been returned by the former health minister because we maintain a register in which we note down the name of the person to whom the file has been provided and whether he has returned it or not. Everything is mentioned in the register.”
Explaining the way the register is maintained, the official said: “When we get the file from the official concerned, we mark a cross before his name. Our register shows that the 12 files, which have gone missing, were last sent to the former health minister. A missing cross proves that he has not returned the files. What is adding to our woes is that the minister is not replying to us even after three reminders. Can’t he take the pain of writing to us?”
Sources said of the 12 missing files, some are important.
“One of the files is related to the recommendations of the Assembly’s zero hour committee on Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, another to promotion of contract tutors and residents at government medical colleges apart from a file related to health insurance and a confidential sealed file,” said a source in the health department.
“We have checked all our sections. The files are not there,” he added.
Sources said if the health department fails to trace the missing files, it would be difficult to function.
“We would have to find out all the letters which we have issued regarding the issues concerned. Then, we would have to make a file again but all this would take a lot of time. It would definitely reduce the pace of work.”