You Can Bring That Change
SMEARING BHATIA - CHIEF MINISTER'S OFFENSIVE Anti-Corruption Enquiry Against Bhatia
Corruption in the management of rural land ownership records has always been notorious and the main officials involved are Talathis and Circle Officers of the Revenue Department. These officials are well connected with the larger farmers and politicians who escape land reform legislation (tenancy and land ceiling laws) by manipulating records through these officials.
While working as the Commissioner, Pune Division, in 1999, Bhatia unearthed the corruption of 102 Talathis and Circle Officers and proceedings were started against them. Bhatia was transferred. Government was criticised in the media.
Then as Commissioner, PMC (Pune Municipal Corporation) Bhatia continued to curb corruption and demolished illegal structures of the powerful. He also prosecuted the sitting Chief Secretary (the head bureaucrat in the state), A. Bongirwar, for corruption in awarding road contracts. Bhatia was again transferred within a week.
Pune citizens (Mrs. Susanda Das, Mrs. Hila Moitra and Mrs. Mohini Seth) approached the Bombay High Court in a public interest litigation defeating the government and reversing the transfer order.
The Chief Justice, on 13.4.1999, in Writ Petition 1395 of 1999 observed that "the decision to transfer Bhatia, in the facts of the present case, is so outrageous that it defies all logic and any moral standard. No reasonable person could have arrived at such a decision. We wish to emphasise that during the present days when, unfortunately, corruption and dishonesty are at their peak, honesty and action as per law deserve a pat, rather than punishment. The transfer of Bhatia, in our view, is in the nature of punishment".
Angered and humiliated by this defeat the government struck back hastily and recklessly and started an enquiry against Bhatia in 1999 alleging that he had favoured his friend, Maharaj Singh, and pressurized subordinate officials to pass orders certifying that Singh's land holding did not exceed the ceiling area and granting permission to Singh to sell land to an educational institution (United World College).
The true facts were that neither of these two orders were passed by Bhatia. They were passed by officers in the Collector's office. Secondly, the land ceiling order was later verified by the Additional Collector, Jain, IAS, and found to be perfectly correct. Singh's land holding was legal and not above the prescribed ceiling. Nothing illegal had happened. The question of applying pressure on subordinates did not arise.
AFTER 9 YEARS, IN 2008, THE ACB (ANTI-CORRUPTION BUREAU) CLOSED THE INVESTIGATION AND SENT A REPORT TO THE COURT WHICH GAVE ITS APPROVAL FOR CLOSING THE CASE.
A copy of the ACB order can be obtained from the party office.
For 9 long years Bhatia's name was maligned by showing that he was facing an ACB enquiry.
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