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Same post dent in anti-graft drive

An urban development department officer accused of corruption has been reinstated in the post he was holding when he was arrested for taking bribe.

The startling fact came to the fore during the review of corruption cases at a high-level meeting headed by chief secretary A.K. Sinha last week. The meeting was convened on the instruction of chief minister Nitish Kumar, who also holds the urban development portfolio.

Sources in the secretariat said Krishnadev Paswan, a head clerk and accountant in the Dehri Nagar Parishad office in Rohtas district, was caught red-handed by a vigilance bureau team while accepting Rs 1,900 as bribe from one Sudhir Kumar Rawat in his office on June 14, 2007. Paswan was produced before a special vigilance court in Patna and subsequently remanded in judicial custody. The deputy inspector-general (vigilance bureau) then, Vimlesh Prasad Sinha, informed the urban development department about Paswan’s arrest on corruption charges through a letter.

After one-and-a-half years, Paswan was released on bail. Few days later, he was reinstated in the same post in the same office from where he was arrested by the special trap team constituted by the bureau’s headquarters in Patna. Since then, Paswan has been discharging his duties at the Dehri Nagar Parishad office.

Officials at the Dehri-Nagar Parishad said Paswan’s suspension was revoked after his release from jail. The executive engineer concerned, Rajeshwar Jha, reinstated Paswan.

Jha, too, is facing the charges of gross financial irregularities in the execution of development works in Rohtas.

Paswan is not an isolated example. There are several such cases.

Dinesh Kumar Singh, an employee of the revenue department arrested on graft charges from Nawada, has been reinstated in the same post in the same office. He was arrested on the instruction of district magistrate, who had received a complaint against Singh.

Singh had allegedly demanded Rs 1,500 from a person for land mutation.

A revenue department official said such anomalies were prevalent in all the departments except the home (police), which dismissed 42 police officers arrested on graft charges. “This is only the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Director-general (vigilance) Pramod Kumar Thakur expressed his surprise over the practice of reinstating tainted government employees in the same office. “The public servants caught in the trap (read corruption) cases should not be posted in the same office ever after their suspension is revoked,” he told The Telegraph.

He said disciplinary action had been taken against the heads of the department concerned for allowing such postings. “I can’t recall the instances right now. But disciplinary action had been taken against the heads of the department concerned for committing such anomalies,” he added.

A senior vigilance department official said the then principal secretary of the vigilance department, V.K. Verma, had sent letters to all the department heads, divisional commissioners and the district magistrates on March 31, 2008, asking them not to reinstate the employees arrested in trap (corruption) cases in the same office. Verma’s letter, a copy of which is in possession of The Telegraph, said the practice of allowing the tainted employees to work in the same office was clear violation of the directive of the general administration department issued on May 23, 2007.

“If such anomalies are not checked, the whole exercise to tame corruption would prove a futile exercise,” said an IPS officer.

Graft review

The chief secretary has decided to review the corruption cases at division-level. He reviewed the cases pending under the jurisdiction of Patna division on Monday.