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IPS officer’s letter puts govt in a fix

Ajanta Chakraborty , TIMES OF INDIA, Nov 10, 2010, 06.35am IST

KOLKATA : Mamata Banerjee’s blue-eyed officer has put the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government in a fix.

Nazrul Islam, known to be a no-nonsense officer from the Bengal cadre and hand-picked by Mamata as executive director (security) Railway Board, has shot off a letter to the CM and his home department.

He has sought to know why the government has not paid him Rs 50,000 as ordered by the West Bengal Information Commission (WBIC). He also wants an explanation on the vigilance inquiry against him, based on an anonymous letter alleging that Islam had amassed disproportionate assets. The other important question is whether the state government has adhered to a high court order deducting Re 1 from the salary of the vigilance commissioner who had conducted the inquiry.

Islam first upset the government with a controversial book on his experience as an IPS officer trying to keep the force “insulated from the CPM’s political machinery.” And now his letter has put Writers’ Buildings in a fix.

It’s the first question that is bothering the government most. Writers’ Buildings is in no mood to pay up the Rs 50,000 compensation. “The home department has sought the law department’s views whether there is provision for moving court against the commission’s order,” said a home department official. State legal remembrancer and law secretary K Y S Manhas was tight-lipped. “This is our internal matter. We cannot talk about it,” he said. Former state information commissioner Arun Bhattacharya, who has recently retired, said, “I remember passing such an order, but can’t say whether the government can move court against it.”

WBIC passed the order a year ago when Islam was ADG (traffic). On June 4, 2007, Islam had filed his RTI petition seeking information on the vigilance inquiry against him. When he received no reply in the next 30 days, Islam filed his second petition in August 2007, but the commission didn’t hear his matter. Islam had sent nearly two dozen reminders, but in vain. He then moved Calcutta High Court and on August 27, 2009, the court directed WBIC to dispose of the appeals within four weeks.

Finally, the commission started proceedings and passed the order on December 15, 2009, censuring the home department: “The commission considers that the home department being one of the most important departments shall have to pay a price for such procrastination.”

Islam had moved court against his own vigilance case and on June 25, 2008, Justice S P Talukdar directed the state government to pay Re 1 as compensation to Islam for initiating an “illegal” vigilance inquiry. It also asked the government to hold the officer responsible for initiating the “illegal” case against Nazrul, then Inspector General (welfare). During the hearings, Prasad Roy, then state home secretary, conceded that the vigilance inquiry had not been initiated as per law making the court dub the vigilance probe as “inherently illegal.”

The judge directed that the compensation (Re 1) be deducted from the salary of the errant officer and be paid to Islam in four weeks. Following the order, the state government issued a cheque of Re 1 to Islam in July the amount had come from the state treasury and the government chose not to identify the individual responsible for Islam’s harassment.

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