Arun Bhatia

Citizen Empowerment

Cases Uncovered and Fought

Whenever Bhatia detected corruption and initiated action against the culprits protected by the establishment, he was transferred. In subsequent postings when he raised the old issues and asked for action against offenders, he was told that this was no longer his concern. Transfer is an instrument not only of harassment but also of silencing protest within the system. Bhatia's protests and findings remained suppressed and law breakers walked away unpunished, unassailable and stronger than before.

And so in 26 years of service (excluding the training period and service in the United Nations), Bhatia was removed from his post (transferred) 26 times.

As a Member of Parliament he will be in a far stronger position to obtain information and organise citizens to monitor the government, litigate against corruption and redress the grievances of the common person. He will also not be liable for transfer!

Some Examples of corruption cases detected/reported to Goverment /Police by Arun Bhatia and action taken (or not taken) by Goverment.

  1. Corruption: Purchase of steel in Zilla Parishad, Osmanabad (1972)

    As the Chief Executive Officer of the Zilla Parishad, Mr. Arun Bhatia refused to purchase steel from a bidder who was not the lowest but had been proposed by the Executive Engineer and the President.

    Action taken by the Government:

    Mr. Arun Bhatia was transferred prematurely for this and other similar reasons (teachers' transfers etc.).
    It was written in the ACR that Mr. Arun Bhatia was not able to work with non-officials (political office bearers) in local self-government institutions.
    No action was taken against the Engineer or President.

  2. Corruption: Rehabilitation of Bangla Desh refugees (1975)

    As the Director of Relief and Rehabilitation, Chandrapur, Mr. Arun Bhatia detected the purchase of draught animals (bullocks) below contract specifications, for the Bangladesh refugees, free supply to a senior official etc.

    Action taken by the Government:

    Some action was initiated by the parent department but results are not known.

  3. Missing files in Mantralaya (1981)

    While working as a Deputy Secretary in the Urban Development Department in Mantralaya the records of a Desk Officer were inspected and amongst other things, files could not be accounted for. But corruption was not established.

    It was learnt later that the officer was of the backward class and a backward class association was intervening to protect the official.

    Action taken by the Government:

    The Secretary, Urban Development, D.N.Capoor, wrote well about Mr. Arun Bhatia in the ACR but the Chief Secretary, P.G.Gavai, wrote adverse comments.

    The Desk officer was suspended.

    (The same Gavai was the Lt. Governor of Delhi in 1984 when the Sikhs were massacred. When he was blamed for not calling the army in time, he stated that he was being accused because he was of the backward class.


  4. Corruption: Employment Guarantee Scheme, Dhule District (1982)

    As Collector of Dhulia district, Mr. Arun Bhatia uncovered corruption in the prestigious Employment Guarantee Scheme meant to sustain the rural poor. 42 police cases were lodged against officials of various departments. The report of the High Powered Legislature Committee under Mr. R.S.Gavai, appointed to report on the corruption, appreciated the work of the Collector and specifically recommended that he should not be transferred. These facts are documented in the printed and published report of the Committee.

    Action taken by the Government:

    In spite of the Committee's request that Mr. Arun Bhatia should not be transferred till the investigation in all cases was over, the government transferred Mr. Arun Bhatia.

    No action was taken against the Supdt. of Police who had issued written orders to police stations not to register the cases.

    No action was taken to protect witnesses. 20 years later, in 2002, Mr. Arun Bhatia sent survey teams to interview the surviving labourers who revealed that they had been intimidated/paid to change their evidence.

    The Secretary, Ranganathan, ignoring the report of the Committee, wrote bad comments in the ACR stating that Mr. Arun Bhatia had antagonized colleagues etc. (Later, on Bhatia's appeal, these comments were deleted).

    Cases can be reviewed and criminal complaints filed against officials, even if retired.


  5. Corruption by MLA in cement allotment, Raigad District

    As Collector of Raigad district, Mr. Arun Bhatia reported the corruption in the cement allotment committee headed by the MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly). Those were the days of acute cement shortage and rationing.

    Action taken by the Government:

    For this and other similar reasons Mr. Arun Bhatia was transferred within a year. No action taken against the MLA.


  6. Bombay Land Scandal no. 1: FSI (Illegal Construction) (1984)

    As the Collector of Bombay city, Mr. Arun Bhatia lodged policecases against the Bombay builders' mafia for illegal construction and Floor Space Index (FSI) violations. (Some cases had been detected by his predecessor but police complaints (FIR) had not been filed). Amongst the more well known cases were the illegal construction of an entire building (Arihant) in a prime location in south Bombay which was detected by Mr. Arun Bhatia and illegal floors in "Pratibha".

    Action taken by the Government:

    The Government took the enquiry out of "A's" hands and placed it exclusively in the hands of the Municipal Commissioner, knowing that the Municipal Corporation was a necessary partner in the corruption as was clear from the records.

    The Bombay Municipal Commissioner, Sukhantankar, continued to proclaim that the Corporation was not to blame even though it had sanctioned building plans on plots where the areas had been inflated by the revenue officials by hundreds of square meters.

    Transfers of staff in the office of the Collector, made by Mr. Arun Bhatia were cancelled by the Government.

    No action was taken against the police officer who initially refused to register the offences reported by Mr. Arun Bhatia.

    Mr. Arun Bhatia was transferred prematurely within a year.

    However, the Chief Secretary, R.D.Pradhen, wrote in "A's" Confidential Report: "Shri Bhatia showed himself as an honest, strong willed officer who did not succumb to extraordinary pressure exerted on him in connection with the exposure of Bombay city FSI (Floor Space Index) record scandals. An exceptional officer who did not endear himself to superiors but won acclaim of the press and the public".

    Mr. Arun Bhatia continued to write to the State and Central Governments to take action against senior officers who had protected the corrupt in the FSI and ULC scandals. The Government retaliated by starting a Departmental Enquiry against Mr. Arun Bhatia for maligning senior officers, leaking information to the press etc. His promotion was withheld. Ultimately the enquiry ended with a warning. (The State Government proposed dismissal. However the Central Government closed the case with a warning).

    This is narrated here to show that the presence of extraordinary pressure was acknowledged by none other than the Chief Secretary of the state. It also records in black and white, that senior officers were displeased at the corruption being exposed.

    All these are recorded facts.


  7. Bombay Land Scandal no. 2: ULC (Urban Land Ceiling) (1984)

    As Collector of Bombay city Mr. Arun Bhatia had reported the corruption in the implementation of the Urban Land Ceiling Act pointing out the modus operandi with some examples and asking for an investigation.

    False and back dated entries were made in the official records and city maps to show bogus additional structures/construction on the appointed date to claim exemptions under the urban land ceiling law. (The open area to be surrendered by the landowner depended upon the extent of constructed area).

    Action taken by the Government:

    Victimisation and victory in court.

    4 years later (1988), when Mr. Arun Bhatia returned to India after a United Nations assignment, and asked for action to be taken against senior officers he found his promotion blocked and had to go to court. In court (Central Administration Tribunal) the Govt. was defeated (1991) and ordered to promote Mr. Arun Bhatia.

    The investigation has not been done to this day in spite of the modus operandi and concrete examples being reported to government. (Additional copies of the report were sent to the government by Mr. Arun Bhatia even after his transfer).

    Mr. Arun Bhatia was transferred within a few days of sending his report.
    • The enquiry should be held now.
    • Action should be taken against the secretaries (Urban Development and Revenue Depts.) for suppressing investigation.


  8. Corruption in Nagpur Municipal Corporation (1989)

    While holding temporary charge of the post of Commissioner, Nagpur Corporation, some cases against engineers were started.

    Action taken by the Government:

    Action taken by government (Urban Development Department) is not known but it was informally learnt that suspended persons were reinstated.
    • Action against officials should be taken now.
    • Those guilty of ordering wrong reinstatement should be punished now.


  9. Corruption - Social Welfare Department (1993)

    As Secretary, Social Welfare Department, Mr. Arun Bhatia submitted enquiry reports regarding corruption in the Department Employment Exchange, corruption of officials etc.

    One report sent to the police pertained to the Personal Assistant of the Minister molesting a woman in an institution managed by the department.

    Action taken by the Government:

    The Applicant was transferred within a year.
    • The offence of molestation and its suppression should be investigated.


  10. Action against drug manufacturers: Glaxo etc. (1994)

    As the Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration, a series of cases relating to the manufacture/sale of spurious drugs were detected and police cases lodged. Action was also initiated against Glaxo and other large pharmaceutical companies. Regarding Glaxo the charge pertained to the leakage of rejected drugs, labels and packaging material from their Bombay factory and violation of rules which led to the preparation/sale of spurious/defective drugs.

    Glaxo appealed to the High Court but lost. The court confirmed the punishment of closure of factory for a specified period.

    Action taken by the Government:

    Mr. Arun Bhatia then ordered the inspection of another Glaxo factory in Nasik. A few days after this inspection started he was transferred. What was discovered in that inspection was not divulged in spite of asking.

    That Nasik factory inspection report should be divulged now.

    Mr. Arun Bhatia was transferred before the proceedings in the High Court could be completed. He had only completed a year in the post.


  11. Corruption in distribution of cash relief to women (1997)

    Staff from the Collector's Office had prepared false vouchers showing cash relief given to women who had lost their husbands in accidents. The amounts given were less than those shown in the vouchers.

    On receiving complaints, the staff was suspended, verification teams sent to villages and police complaints filed.

    Action taken by the Government:

    It was learnt that prosecutions were successful in spite of the receipts obtained from beneficiaries.

    However the suspension of staff brought retaliation from the staff association which threatened to strike and staff attended office wearing black bands. Mr. Arun Bhatia addressed the staff and appealed especially to the lady members not to support corrupt officials who robbed poor women etc. This is mentioned to show that staff associations do not hesitate to intervene on the side of corrupt officials or in matters that have no concern with employment condition or remuneration etc. The government served no notice on the association.


  12. 107 corruption cases against revenue officials (talathis and circle officers) (1999)

    As Divisional Commissioner, Pune, Mr. Arun Bhatia organized an anti - corruption drive in the management of rural land records in which 107 hard core corruption cases were discovered.

    The Talathis and Circle Inspectors are influential officials with political linkages and close relations with the landed rural aristocracy even though they function at the village level, because of the vast powers they exercise in respect of maintaining and updating the records of land ownership, the role they play in facilitating the evasion of land reform legislation etc.

    Action taken by the Government:

    Mr. Arun Bhatia was transferred after the institution of cases against these talathis so that soft punishments could be awarded. Mr. Arun Bhatia was asking for dismissal of the officials.

    Later it was learnt that minor punishments had been imposed. The cases should be reviewed.

    Mr. Arun Bhatia reported these facts to the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) with no result.


  13. Report on corruption in Pimpri Chinchwad New Township Development Authority (PCNTDA), Pune District (1999)

    This report was sent to the Government while Mr. Arun Bhatia was the Divisional Commissioner. The loss involved in illegal contracts and land allotments was 8.25 crores and another 60 crores was also pointed out by the Accountant General.

    Construction work worth crores was undertaken without inviting tenders, the contractor was paid at inflated rates in stark violation of rules and standard procedures etc.

    The names of senior officers have been stated in the report.

    Action taken by the Government:

    The government has not punished the guilty.
    • They should be punished now.
    An old freedom fighter, Mr. Deshmukhe, has been valiantly pursuing the case in court for many years.


  14. Report on corruption in the irrigation department (1999)

    A report was sent to the Government while Mr. Arun Bhatia was the Divisional Commissioner regarding corruption in the repairs of canals said to be damaged by heavy rains.

    Action taken by the Government:

    Action taken not known.
    • The guilty should be punished now.


  15. Corruption of Mr. Mathankar, (IAS), Secretary.(1999)

    Mr. Mathankar, as Collector, Pune, illegally gave a residential plot to oblige a Desk Officer in Mantralaya named, Mr. Belote. Mr. Arun Bhatia sent a report to the Government with a proposal to suspend Mr. Mathankar.

    Action taken by the Government:

    There was also a Legislative Assembly question on this issue and it would also appear that the Assembly was not told the truth in the matter.

    The Applicant was informed by the Chief Secretary not to raise the issue and to concentrate on his present job.

    When the Applicant persisted, he was informed by the government that action had been taken but the nature of the action taken was deliberately not divulged. It is a clear case of corruption and Mr. Mathankar would have to be prosecuted. Nor can the matter be condoned or regularised by the Government since the case involves the corrupt and illegal disposal of a public asset.

    • Mathankar should be suspended and prosecuted now.


  16. Black marketing of kerosene meant for poor ration card holders Corruption of Chief Minister, Rane, and Mr. Rajiv Agarwal, (IAS), Secretary, in shielding Mr. Tukaram Pawar, Foodgrain Distribution Officer. (1999)

    A complaint was received regarding the black marketing of kerosene by the Narmada Sales Corporation. The Tehsildar, conducted an enquiry, confirmed the black marketing and reported that the Zonal Officer, Mr. Adsul, had told the shopkeepers to make false entries showing false receipt of kerosene and had given them false cash memos to support the false entries.

    Mr. Pawar ordered a second enquiry to be conducted by the culprit himself, Mr. Adsul, and then sent a false report stating there was no black marketing.

    Mr. Arun Bhatia ordered a third enquiry by the Deputy Commissioner who confirmed the black marketing and proposed the suspension of Mr. Pawar. Mr. Arun Bhatia suspended Pawar and an FIR was also lodged.

    (True, the quantity was 12,000 litres only, but more investigation against the same wholesaler would have led to more discovery. Protection of crime right to the top would have been exposed.)

    Action taken by the Government:

    The Chief Minister cancelled the suspension order of Pawar.

    Mr. Arun Bhatia refused to post Pawar in the same post and was charged in a departmental enquiry for disobeying government.

    "A's" successor, Mr. Agarwal, Commissioner, Pune, sent a false report to the government that Pawar was not involved in the black marketing as he was not holding charge as the Food Distribution Officer when the offence took place. The observation was irrelevant because Pawar was guilty of shielding offenders, preparing a false report etc.

    • Mr. Pawar should be suspended and prosecuted now.
    • Mr. Agarwal should be suspended and prosecuted now.
    • The conduct of the Secretary, Civil Supplies, should be investigated now.


  17. Corruption of Chief Secretary, Mr. Arun Bongirwar, (IAS) (1999)

    Mr. Arun Bhatia reported the corruption of Mr. Bongirwar while he was the Chief Secretary, Maharashtra.

    When Mr. Bonirwar was the Pune Corporation Commissioner, he had illegally favoured road contractors in awarding contracts. The Applicant lodged an FIR against Bongirwar and sent it to the Police Commissioner.

    The FIR was based upon the observations and strictures passed against Bongirwar in four court orders which are on record . Some contractors had moved the court against Bongirwar and obtained an injunction and then having achieved their objective and Bongirwar having decided to withdraw from going ahead with the contracts in question, the contractors did not pursue the case further which came to be dismissed in the court for lack of prosecution. However, this fact does not wipe out the illegal and corrupt acts of Bongirwar.

    Action taken by the Government:

    However at that time Shri Bongirwar was the Chief Secretary and the police refused to register the FIR filed by the Applicant.

    Mr. Arun Bhatia therefore wrote to the government in 2002 regarding registration of the FIR but received a letter from the Chief Secretary saying Mr. Arun Bhatia should concentrate on his present job and not the previous posting. The Applicant then wrote to the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) but this produced no result either.
    • Mr. Bongirwar should be prosecuted now.
    • The Police Commissioner who refused to register the FIR should be prosecuted now.
    • The Chief Secretary who wrote to the Applicant in 2002 should be prosecuted now.


  18. Missing files in Mantralaya (1999)

    A politician obtained possession of valuable Pune Corporation land through an illegal lease without tenders or a public auction and has been using the land commercially for his private profit and business for many years as a show room for display and sale of two wheelers.

    Mr. Arun Bhatia ordered the eviction of the politician.

    Action taken by the Government:

    There was also a Legislative Assembly question on this issue and it would also appear that the Assembly was not told the truth in the matter.

    The Applicant was informed by the Chief Secretary not to raise the issue and to concentrate on his present job.

    When the Applicant persisted, he was informed by the government that action had been taken but the nature of the action taken was deliberately not divulged. It is a clear case of corruption and Mr. Mathankar would have to be prosecuted. Nor can the matter be condoned or regularised by the Government since the case involves the corrupt and illegal disposal of a public asset.

    • Mathankar should be suspended and prosecuted now.


  19. Corruption of relatives of a Pune politician (1999)

    Mr. Arun Bhatia detected the case while working as Commissioner, Pune Municipal Corporation. Theft of municipal water had been happening for many years by relatives of the politician for industrial use.

    A police complaint was lodged.

    Action taken by the Government:

    Mr. Arun Bhatia was transferred within a few days. Action taken against offenders is not known.

    • Those responsible for suppressing the offence should be prosecuted now.


  20. Corruption in Pune Municipal Corporation (1999)

    In September, 1999, after being transferred from the Corporation, Mr. Arun Bhatia prepared 19 charges against the Corporation pertaining to corruption and mismanagement. Some were serious, such as purchasing materials and doing construction work without calling tenders. He sent a report to the Government for dissolving the Corporation under the Municipal Corporations Act.

    Action taken by the Government:

    After many years no action has been taken against the offenders. The government merely killed time by appointing persons to make further unnecessary enquiries. Many of these persons were retired officials lacking the security that service provides and were even more vulnerable to pressure. In one case the citizens themselves objected to the appointment of an enquiry officer. The applicant informed the Chief Secretary that if action against the corrupt officials and corporators is not initiated immediately the matter would be reported to the Chief Vigilance Commission and the Chief Secretary would be charged with dereliction of duty. The CVC was informed.

    • Corporators and officials should be disqualified and prosecuted now.
    • Those responsible for delaying the enquiry should be punished now including the Chief Secretary.


  21. Illegal construction in Pune Corporation area Mala fide acts of Chief Secretary unpunished (1999)

    For demolishing the illegal structures of influential persons (son-in-law of previous Chief Minister, owner of "disco" in Holiday Inn Hotel etc.). Mr. Arun Bhatia was transferred from the post of Commissioner, Pune Municipal Corporation, within 7 days. This time citizens went to the High Court, defeated the Government and brought a verdict canceling the transfer and exposing the mala fides of the Govt. and the Chief Secretary.

    Action taken by the Government:

    Victimisation and second victory in court.

    The Hon. Chief Justice, S. Radhakrishnan, 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".

    Since malafides had been exposed in none other than the High Court, action should have been taken against those that ordered the transfer.

    • The Chief Secretary should be prosecuted.

    (These are unorthodox suggestions. No one is ever prosecuted for ordering bad transfers. Arbitrary and mala fide transfers are said to be difficult to prove. But here the court itself had passed a verdict (given a finding) on the nature of the transfer. Transferring an officer for enforcing the law amounts to breaking the law. This concept can be fitted into the sections of the Indian Penal Code without straining them.)


  22. Corruption detected through physical audit of some rural development schemes

    Physical audit refers to the physical verification of the work shown to have been done in the records. This verification was done in 2002 while working as the Commissioner, Tribal Research and Training Institute, Maharashtra.

    Sr. No. Schemes Inspected In 2002 Percentage Of Corruption
    1. Distribution of financial assistance to pregnant tribal women 25%
    2. Watershed development - land terracing 61%
    3. Watershed development - bunds (small dams) 32%
    4. Watershed development - short payment to labour 62%
    5. Construction of minor irrigation dams
    (The technical inspection of materials and specifications could not be done. Therefore in this case the corruption figure is based upon the entire cost of broken dams recently constructed and one "missing" dam.)
    42%
    6. Distribution of agricultural inputs 12%
    7. Distribution of roofing material (tiles and wood) 47%


    Action taken by the Government:

    Action taken is not known.

    • Corrupt officials and NGOs should be prosecuted.


Arun Bhatia's political party - People's Guardian - is registered with the Election Commission of India, New Delhi.
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