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Question on letter veracity

- Lawyer payment order to PMC boss

Patna Municipal Corporation commissioner Kuldip Narayan has written to the urban development and housing department seeking the credibility of a letter ordering him to pay the civic body’s panel advocate.

A letter dated January 10, 2014, has asked Narayan to pay the civic body’s panel advocate, H.S. Himkar, from his own salary. Suspecting the authenticity of the letter — it is signed by an undersecretary but has no name — Narayan on Tuesday wrote another letter to the department seeking the letter’s credibility.

The department could not be reached for comment, as government offices were closed for Makar Sankranti.

The letter sent to Narayan reads: “The department, through a number of letters in the past, had ordered removal of Himkar, against which no action has been taken. It was also said if payment would is made to Himkar, it would be considered as financial irregularity. Thus, if you continue to avail services of Himkar, then make the corresponding payment to him from your own salary.”

Narayan told The Telegraph: “This letter is suspicious, as it does not have any file number nor have I received any letter in the past with the signature made in this one. It has been sent in the name of an undersecretary but does not name anyone. It does not have any reference number to the earlier letters too. So, I have written to the department seeking its authenticity.”

Retired bureaucrats have termed it a foolish move.

“If such an order has been issued in writing, then it is complete nonsense and the limit of foolishness. This order cannot be implemented as the commissioner is not taking personal services of the lawyer. The commissioner receives salary for his services to the municipal corporation. So, the government cannot ask the municipal commissioner to use his own salary to pay the advocate. The commissioner should challenge the order,” said V.S. Dubey, a retired IAS officer who has served as the chief secretary of Bihar and Jharkhand.

Himkar represents the civic body as its panel advocate in the high court as well as in vigilance cases against illegal building construction activities in the city. The tussle over Himkar between Narayan and the department is on for the past several months.

Narayan added: “Most letters on the service of Himkar were issued in the name of the deputy secretary. I have requested the department to send me a photocopy of the file with the letters on this matter.”

On Tuesday, he also wrote a letter to the department to initiate internal vigilance inquiries.

He has sought the vigilance inquiries on approval of maps of several buildings constructed illegally in the SK Puri and Rajendra Nagar areas, lowering tax rates on outdoor advertisement space on government property and pending payments to A2Z Infrastructure Limited that looked after solid waste management work.