The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sting operation awaits scrutiny

Ranchi, Sept. 12: The pictures are hazy, shot with a mobile phone with camera.

But those who have seen the CD claim to be able to make out the face of the Assembly employee offering to recruit someone for monetary considerations.

The conversation (recollected from memory) is telling, to say the least.

But BJP legislator Sarayu Roy, who claims to have the CD as proof of huge irregularities in the appointment of assistants in the Assembly, is in no hurry to release it. He would like an inquiry first and would release the CD only if it becomes necessary, he says.

The sting operation’s legality appears doubtful although former advocate-general Anil Kumar Sinha points out that all electronic evidence is admissible in court. A judicial intervention alone can unravel the truth, say constitutional experts, but the judiciary will interfere in the “internal” matter of the legislature only in exceptional cases and only after being convinced about the illegality.

The “sting operation”, however, has come as no surprise to people familiar with the Assembly. It is a bloated body with 150 “clerks” and as many peons. The undivided Bihar Assembly with a strength of 325 MLAs had the same number of clerks and peons as the Jharkhand Assembly, which has just 81 members or one-fourth of the parent body’s strength.

What it means is that for every MLA in Jharkhand, the Assembly has generously provided two clerks and two peons! Of course, in addition the House has 70 sweepers, 40 drivers, 30 reporters and as many security personnel. The present Speaker has also appointed a horticulture supervisor and an assistant public relations officer.

The fresh appointments have run into trouble with the finance department pointing out that prior sanction of the department was not obtained before making the appointments. “Since we approve the service books of the Assembly staff, our consent is needed for the creation of additional posts,” claimed a finance department official. In the absence of such approval, he pointed out, the appointees are likely to miss out on retirement benefits.

Irregularities in appointments are traced to the tenure of the previous Speaker, who is said to have appointed 49 “Grade IV” staff and promoted a majority of them to clerks in “Grade III” within six months. The present Speaker’s term too has been marked by several ‘class IV’ appointments, which look suspicious because of the presence of a large number of ‘high caste’ people, who are unlikely to opt for class IV jobs. They too could be waiting for a promotion soon.

The Speaker, Alamgir Alam, however, ruled out any foul play. “ We have followed the established norms and there were no anomalies,” he said today while referring to his decision to get answer scripts of an examination held in 2004 examined by Assembly staff and recruiting 122 of the applicants as ‘Assistants’.

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