A six month old spat with an MP has come back to haunt Collector bro after he did not heed the Chief Secretary's wishes.

Exclusive Collector Bro targeted for not obeying Chief Secretary Faces action in Raghavan spat
news Controversy Tuesday, January 24, 2017 - 19:38

Is this retribution for refusing to play along with the Kerala Chief Secretary’s political game?

On January 11, SM Vijayanand, the Chief Secretary through a notice informed Kozhikode Collector Prasanth Nair that he had been charged with misconduct in relation to a spat he had with Congress MP MK Raghavan.

What is interesting and points towards a case of retaliation is that the spat occurred more than six months ago. But the notice was sent on January 11, just two days after the Chief Secretary’s aborted attempt at a strike. On January 9, IAS officers in Kerala, at the behest of the Chief Secretary had decided to go on mass leave, protesting against vigilance head Jacob Thomas for purportedly targeting bureaucrats.

Sources confirmed that Kozhikode Collector Prashant Nair, also known as Collector Bro, had refused to go on leave. He had informed his senior officers that he believed it was a bad move to target an individual like the VACB chief, and charges of corruption should be fought and disproved. He also reportedly informed senior officers that such a move would send a wrong message to the public that bureaucrats are on the side of corruption.

The Chief Secretary’s letter says that the Collector could not give a satisfactory explanation on his public disagreements with the MP and that he could be punished under AIS (D&A) Rules 1969.

Prasanth Nair, who was on leave on Tuesday, was unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts.

A staff member in his office said that the inquiry had been done in August last year and was surprised that action was being taken now.

The spat with Raghavan and the notice

The notice says that the Collector had criticised MK Raghavan and raised allegations against him through social media.

It also says, “You have criticised the Member of Parliament and raised allegations through social media and press note issued through Public Relations Department that Shri MK Raghavan, Member of Parliament, has threatened the officials in District Collectorate and persuaded them to pass certain Bills for the contractors.”

The notice also says, “Shri Prasanth N IAS failed to observe the standing instruction of Government of India on the procedure to be observed in official dealings with Members of Parliament and State Legislatures while dealing with Shri MK Raghavan, Honorable Member of Parliament in connection with review meeting of MPLADS held on 29.06.2016 in the Collectorate Kozhikode.” 

It also accused the Collector of closing down the MPLAD facilitation centre for forty days during assembly elections.

The letter says that the Collector’s actions amounted to violation of Rule 3 of the All India Service (Conduct) Rules 1968. The Chief Secretary has given the Collector 15 days’ time to submit a written statement of defense.

Giving him 15 days to explain his position, the notice concludes, “You are required to show cause, why disciplinary action as contemplated under AIS (D&A) Rules 1969 shall not be taken against you.”

In July 2016, Raghavan had sent a letter to the Collector seeking an explanation regarding delay in releasing money from the MP fund. He had also asked for an apology or ‘Maapu’.

Instead of apologizing, the Collector posted a map on his Facebook page, punning on the word ‘maapu’. What irked Raghavan more was the map was of the Kunnamkulam town in Thrissur, which was a reference to a movie scene featuring a mentally unsound person.

The MP had earlier apparently barged into the Collectorate and threatened the staff with dire consequences for throwing the rule book at him. The Collector responded with a press note released through the PRD, reiterating that nothing would get done under political pressure or threats issued.

“Public money can be spent only after proper inquiry and evaluation. There are procedures to be followed and no deviation whatsoever would be entertained,” the release said.

‘The Chief Secretary’s notice is flimsy’

A senior IAS officer told TNM that Rule 3 of the conduct book deals with general rule for IAS officers and cannot be used for a disagreement with an elected Member of Parliament. “MPLAD facilitation centres are closed during every election under directions from the Election Commission of India. How can a state’s Chief Secretary issue a notice on that?”

“The Honorable Member of Parliament has requested to take appropriate action against Shri Prashanth N IAS. Remarks of the officer were sought on the complaint received from the Member of Parliament. Government have examined the remarks offered by the officer and have found that the officer could not defend the allegations raised by the Honorable Member of Parliament satisfactorily. Hence the charges."

Signed - SM Vijayanand,

Chief Secretary to Government.

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