Ranchi, June 2: The state labour department is facing difficulties in filling up the post of chief inspector of factories (CIF) with three senior most contenders facing either corruption charges or departmental inquiries.
The key post fell vacant after the retirement of former CIF Awdhesh Kumar Singh in the first week of May.
The CIF, with the help of deputy chief inspectors of factories (DCIF), inspectors of factories and inspector of factories (medical), ensures enforcement of laws governing occupational health, safety, welfare, work-environment, leave, wages and working hours etc. in all government, semi-government and private firms.
As such, the absence of the CIF is not only undermining law enforcement but also delaying disposal of labour-related disputes.
According to sources, three inspectors of factories Vinay Kumar, Navneet Kumar Shishu and A.K. Mishra, who also hold addition charges as DCIFs, are vying for the coveted post. A couple of them have also met state labour minister K.N. Tripathi to lobby for their case.
Vinay Kumar, the senior most among the three, is facing departmental proceedings for protecting the owner of Natraj Chemicals in a child rights violation case of 2000. Then he was posted as the factory inspector in Munger and Lakhisarai of unified Bihar. After the bifurcation, Vijay joined the Jharkhand cadre.
As per the department’s records, Vinay was asked to conduct an inquiry after the National Human Rights Commission lodged a complained against Natraj Chemicals, which had employed child labourers at its vermillion factory in Lakhisarai.
“Vinay shielded the factory owner. He did nothing to ensure justice for child labourers employed there,” the departmental record stated.
However, the matter lingered for more than a decade before a departmental probe confirmed his complicity. Finally, the Jharkhand labour department ordered proceedings against him in February this year.
Vinay is facing another departmental probe constituted on orders of governor Syed Ahmed in 2013 for dereliction of duty and corruption.
A contract labourer, Deepak, sustained injuries in 2011, while another worker Motka Hansda died in 2012 in two separate accidents at Tata Steel and Distributors Limited.
Vinay, who was posted in Jamshedpur in 2012, instead of taking action against the company for improper work condition and ensuring compensations for the victims, connived with the management and kept the department in the dark on the matter.
Later, the department formed a three-member committee of factory inspectors to probe the matter. Vinay allegedly threatened them with dire consequences.
Then labour secretary Vishnu Kumar, in a confidential note last year, said, “The probe clearly finds him guilty of inappropriate and corrupt conduct. He has threatened the inquiry team and his conduct is unbecoming of a government servant.”
The second contender for the CIF’s post, Navneet Kumar Shishu who is currently posted in Bokaro, was caught by the state vigilance bureau while accepting bribe in 2006. He remained in jail for a year, before getting bail. However, the case is still pending before the vigilance court.
Third contender A.K. Mishra, currently posted in Jamshedpur, is learnt to be facing allegation of nepotism.
When contacted, state labour minister Tripathi conceded that some of them had approached him with the request (to make them CIF).
“It’s true that the appointment is getting delayed. Once officials make a panel of suitable candidates, the process to appoint someone will start,” Tripathi said.
Labour secretary Rahul Sharma, however, said the process got delayed due to the model code of conduct.
“We will soon make a final decision in this regard. The senior most and eligible candidate will be appointed. Bur right now, I am not in a position to comment on specific charges against anyone. It is an administrative matter,” he added.