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Farewell gift to backroom boys

The moment the elections are announced and the code of conduct is in place, governments in power usually desist from taking important policy decisions. This is an age-old tradition based on ethics, morality, propriety and respect for the opponent. But, today, who cares? When you have the Election Commission willing to turn a blind eye to the illegitimate whims of the government, everything goes. Neeraj Mahajan reports

The government appointed Admiral RK Dhowan as India’s new Navy chief, superseding Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha

AT the fag end of its tenure, the UPA government is setting examples of bad governance and politicising the appointments in various government institutions. Most of these appointments are being seen as a motivated exercise to change the Line of Succession by a government that is unlikely to return to power when the results are announced on May 16.

A case in point is the manner in which Lt General Dalbir Singh Suhag has been named as Gen Bikram Singh’s successor. Since the COAS was due to retire in July-end, more than two months after the new government takes charge, this decision could have been left to it.

Similarly, in unprecedented haste, the government has appointed Admiral RK Dhowan as India’s new Navy chief, superseding Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha. Interestingly, commissioned in 1975, Admiral Dhowan has been Flag-Officer-Commanding, Eastern Fleet and was Chief of Staff (Headquarters), Eastern Naval Command. But, he has never been Flag-Officer-Commanding-in-Chief of any operational naval command.

Ironically, Dhowan has been staff officer to Admiral Ramdas, who was made the Chief of Naval Staff, bypassing Admiral S Jain. This led to an intense power struggle in the Navy, with Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat alleging high-level corruption. Admiral Bhagwat later rose to be chief, only to be dismissed from service under mysterious circumstances.

Archana Ramasundaram, who has been appointed CBI Additional Director

One fails to understand the urgency now to announce the naval chief when the Navy had been without a chief for almost eight months since the resignation of Admiral Devendra Joshi in August, owning moral responsibility for a series of lethal accidents.

Justice RM Lodha, at 64 years of age the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court, was sworn in as the 41st Chief Justice of India. Justice Lodha took over from Justice (Retd) P Sathasivam, who demitted office after nine months as the head of the judiciary.

In a related development, Justice G Rohini was appointed the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court—she is the first woman Chief Justice of the court.

Similarly, eyebrows were raised when the government decided to appoint Archana Ramasundaram, IPS, Tamil Nadu cadre, as the CBI’s Additional Director besides clearing the appointment of one Deputy Inspector General (DIG) and five Superintendents of Police (SPs), less than a month before the formation of a new government. The post has been vacant for a few months now.

Significantly, the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), not once but twice, suggested West Bengal cadre IPS officer RK Pachnanda’s name for the CBI Additional Director’s post. But the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was reportedly in favour of Ramasundaram.

In a typical bureaucratic game of musical chairs, Pachnanda, who was found unfit to be appointed as Additional Director of the CBI, was posted as the Additional Director General (Operations and Works) in the Central Reserve Police Force, the country’s largest paramilitary force. “A man who has been the Calcutta Police Commissioner, if his track record was suspect, then why was he given charge of anti-Naxal operations, counter-insurgency tasks and other law and order duties?” a Home Ministry official asked.

What was the urgency to appoint DK Pathak, IPS, as the new Director General of the Border Security Force when the post was lying vacant since Subhash Joshi retired on February 28?

MEANWHILE, another attempt to appoint a Special Director in the CBI failed at the last minute. Odisha DGP Prakash Mishra, Kerala DGP KS Balasubramaniam and BPR&D chief Rajan Gupta were considered for the Special Director post by a committee headed by CVC Pradeep Kumar. At present, Anil Sinha is the only Special Director in the CBI. It is one of the posts lying vacant since December after K Salim Ali’s retirement. Among the three, Mishra has the longest tenure ahead—till February 2016—and, if chosen, may go on to be CBI Director. So, why should the post of CBI Special Director be filled barely 22 days ahead of the Lok Sabha results?

Similarly, what was the urgency to appoint DK Pathak, IPS, as the new Director General of the BSF when the post was lying vacant since Subhash Joshi retired on February 28, 2014?

Further, Rajiv Takru, a 1979-batch officer of the Gujarat cadre, has been appointed the Revenue Secretary and Gurdial Singh Sandhu, a 1980-batch officer of the Rajasthan cadre, the Secretary, Department of Financial Services. Also, the 1978-batch Arvind Mayaram, Economic Affairs Secretary, has been appointed the new Finance Secretary, a post lying vacant since Sumit Bose retired on March 31, 2014. Likewise, the retired Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne has been cleared to take over as the next ambassador of India to Norway.

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