The recent anti-corruption drive of the Vigilance department touched a new low when the Himachal Government recently reinstated the infamous drug inspector Sher Singh and the mai-baap class (IAS) officer Sanjay Gupta. Both were caught red handed while accepting lakhs in bribes. Sher Singh’s case was an eye opener for us the junta class as we marveled at the money one can make serving as a ‘humble’ government ‘servant’.
Sample this, a kothi worth just Rs. 2 crores, numerous bank accounts, land papers, plots, flats, the list seemed to be unending. When he was arrested our ruling netas from top to bottom were thumping their chests and announcing on roof top, ‘Look here we are and now the people will have corruption free environment’. Sher Singh have had some powerful godfathers all these years. He was merely a drug inspector who was then asked to look after the work of drug controller as the one before him was also suspended. Since his suspension was revoked he has been given a plum posting of Registrar of the Pharmacy Council.
Earler there used to be a three member licensing authority which was quashed by the present government and all powers were handed over to Sher Singh. In other words Sher Singh starting minting money alone which was earlier being shared by three people. This must have caused heart burn among some quarters ultimately resulting in his arrest. Those were the earlier days of the present regime with Vigilance given go ahead to flex it’s muscles and this ‘poor, humble’ servant fell into it’s dragnet. Similar has been the case of the IAS officer Sanjay Gupta. He too was caught with Rs. 2 lakhs in his person. Since he happens to be from the mai-baap class, nothing can technically happen to him. As they happens to be our lords and masters they have impunity over all crimes. Case in point is another IAS Subhash Ahluwalia who too after being suspended is back to being a humble public servant.
Once the Vigilance catches a person, it recommends a departmental action against the accused. Cases are filed seprately with the police. If the government has honest intentions of punishing the guilty it can chargesheet the accused and hold daily hearings of the departmental enquiry and recommend termination of service. There is no need to pursue the case in courts. But what happens is the opposite. It suspends the accused and files a case in court which drags on for years. The accused is reinstated after some time without directions from any court making the entire exercise futile.
Vigilance seems to be doing it’s job and catching the guilty regularly. It recently announced a mega – win a prize scheme to help catch officials accepting bribes. The informer now will get 15% straight on the amount seized. But this can become a great business for the Power – ful.
This is a win win situation for the Power-ful. 15% is a peanut to be be paid and that too from the seized bribe money. Consider the math to get re-instated. Imagine how much will be later paid by the accused to get back into the service. Hypothetically, any guesses how much money a person like Sher Singh Thakur would be ready to offer from his ‘treasure’?
Few PWD officials were recently caught near Manali and large amount of money was recovered from them. These are from the electrical wing of the PWD whose budget is just 10% of the entire PWD budget of repairing and building roads. Already an officer of the same electrical wing of the PWD was arrested in Shimla while accepting bribes earlier. One can easily draw conclusions about the money being exchanged in the PWD department on the rest 90% budget. No prizes for guessing whose names will be there in the next list of the re-instated officials.
Finally it may boil down to robbing the robber. The accused here cannot even complain of bribing the power-ful. A shameful chapter has been initiated in the state. Catching the corrupt and then reinstating them is going to be next big industry in Himachal.