Act against officers disobeying law: SC to Haryana

Act against officers disobeying law: SC to Haryana

New Delhi, Oct 8 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday said Haryana government officials, who have failed in carrying out their duty of curbing the illegal mining in the Aravali ranges, should be punished.

The apex court’s green bench consisting justices Jagdish Singh Khehar, J. Chelameswar and A.K. Sikri said this as it asked Haryana’s additional advocate general Narendra Hooda to provide the names of the officers posted to keep an eye on mining activities and act against illegal mining in Aravali ranges.

The court direction to the state government came during the hearing of an PIL by NGO Bandhua Mukti Morcha drawing its attention to the unabated illegal mining in the Aravali ranges and official entrusted to curb it turning a blind eye.

Deprecating the inaction by the state government in making its officers, who are paid by the state, to account for dereliction of duties, Justice Khehar said: “Why should we be doing their work?”

As Hooda gave one alibi after another to justify the inaction by the state government, the court said: “It would not lead us anywhere. It is like going in the circles. (Situation on ground will not change) Unless we prosecute some officers and monitor it (action against them).”

Saying that it had to change its tactics, the court said: “We have to change our tactics. Those who are responsible to do it (curb illegal mining) are not doing their job. We must prosecute them. Send them to jail.”

Making clear the course it was going to travel now, the court asked Hooda to make available the list of the officers posted in Aravali area with their duties and responsibilities, number of FIRs filed against illegal mining and chargesheets filed by police.

In the course of the hearing when Hooda sought to offer some defence of authorities not taking cognizance of the illegal mining, Justice Singh said, “Then we will have to let them do whatever they want. Let them destroy Haryana and Rajasthan.”

Justice Chelameswar wanted to know what prevented the state government from invoking Section 217 of the Indian Penal Code that provide for proceeding against the officer disobeying direction of law.

As court confronted Hooda with the report of the empowered CEC on environmental matter saying that illegal mining was going on even in February 2014, Hooda said during that period illegal mining was taking place in Aravali ranges as most of police force and other security forces were deployed for the Lok Sabha polls.

Asking Haryana to provide the details of the officers and their duties, the court adjourned the matter for six weeks. The court will take up the matter again Dec 9, 2014.



Bihar suspends four officials in drug purchase scam

Bihar suspends four officials in drug purchase scam

Patna, Oct 12 (IANS) The Bihar government has suspended four health officials and terminated service of one for their alleged involvement in a drug purchase scam running into crores of rupees, a top official said here Sunday.

It also recommended action against four other officials.

“The state government acted against top health officials following an order of Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi after a probe report into irregularities in the purchase of medicines worth crores of rupees was submitted Saturday,” principal secretary of health department Deepak Kumar said.

The probe report said the Bihar Medical Services Infrastructure Corporation Limited (BMSICL) purchased drugs worth Rs.14.48 crore at a rate higher than what was fixed by the state health society.

Besides, the report said the BMSICL purchased drugs worth Rs.19.60 crore from Medipol and Laborate, which are blacklisted in other states.

Deepak Kumar said suspended officials were director in chief (health services) Surendra Prasad, BMSICL managing director Praveen Kisore, state drug controller Hemant Kumar Sinha and former deputy superintendent of the Patna Medical College and Hospital Bimal Karak.

The state government also dismissed BMSICL general manager Tripurari Kumar from the service for his role in the scam.

Besides, the government recommended suspension of then joint secretary (health) Sanjay Kumar, who is on central deputation, and deputy director (industries) Om Prakah Pathak to the central government and initiated departmental proceedings against then assistant director in the state health society D.K. Raman.

It served show cause notice to Ram Charit Mandal, superintendent of Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital in Bhagalpyr.



Following frauds, I-T department starts secure email system

Following frauds, I-T department starts secure email system

New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANS) Following some instances of breach in its email system, the Income Tax department has launched secure email system for staff asking then to get new email IDs prepared after validation of log-in procedure.

The department has discontinued its earlier email system, and an official told IANS that “the new email system is for secure communication within the department and will ensure that no confidential information or data is stolen”.

“There have some instances of breach in the system earlier which led to fraudulent transfer of funds,” he said.

As per the new system, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) will create an email ID and a password on the basis of details of the employee code, designation, personal email ID, mobile number, the commissionerate that he or she is working in and bona fide signature provided by the employee. The new IDs will be registered under the ‘incometax.gov.in’ or ‘incometaxindia.gov.in’ domains.

The I-T department communications involve sensitive information about taxpayers like refunds and returns data, while it has been, of late, concerned about misuse of cyber tools and attempts of phishing, that is the process of trying to acquire sensitive information like user name, password and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy source in an email.

“Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer. Do not click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious e-mail or phishing website then do not enter confidential information like bank account, credit card details,” the CBDT said in a recent public advisory.

The income tax department is poised to launch the updated version of its website that will be a single-window for all online services offered by the department.

The website will be more user-friendly and robust, so that it can handle many hits at a time, the official said.



RTI activist fears threat to life in Bihar

RTI activist fears threat to life in Bihar

Patna, Oct 13 (IANS) An RTI activist from Bihar says he faces threats to life after exposing people who are claiming pension meant for freedom fighters though they took no part in the independence struggle.

Manohar Mishra, who is in his early 30s, said the racketers had threatened to kill him and his family members and that his terrorized aged parents were spending sleepless nights.

Mishra, who spoke to IANS on telephone from Kolkata, has urged Home Minister Rajnath Singh to provide him and his family protection.

“After I exposed the fake freedom fighters, the freedom fighter mafia is after me,” Mishra said.

“I am afraid they can harm me physically or can trap me in some fake cases,” he said.

In a letter to Rajnath Singh, he has demanded a high-level probe over the non-availability of records in respect of the Swatantra Senani Samman Pension scheme.

Mishra said he had requested the departments concerned through RTI to provide a complete list of freedom fighters drawing pension in Bihar.

He said he was informed that there were no such records with the Bihar government.

“It is a matter of deep concern that the government is spending crores of rupees annually without any accountability.

“I can tell you confidently that nearly 90 percent of claims of freedom fighters in Bihar are forged.

“These people are getting pension after submitting fake documents. Interestingly, 80 percent of them were not even born during our country’s freedom movement.”

According to Mishra, some people running the racket in Bihar were forging documents to “create” spurious freedom fighters.

He said he was “in deep trouble” because the mafia had threatened him and his family.

“I am getting calls from unknown numbers. They are threatening me with dire consequences.

“They are also threatening to seize all my assets and land in my native village (in Bihar). Due to this, my parents have been living in trauma for the last two weeks,” he said.

As per 2012-13 figures, Bihar has over 23,000 freedom fighters, the highest in the country, an RTI query by Mishra revealed.

Interestingly, there has been no change in these numbers in the last five years.

The home ministry has informed Mishra that it does not have records for many freedom fighters.

Mishra is seeking detailed information on each freedom fighter’s role in the independence movement including documents to show they took part in the freedom struggle.



Jethmalani attacks Jaitley on black money

Jethmalani attacks Jaitley on black money

New Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS) Senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani has written a fiery letter to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley hitting out at him for handling the black money issue in an inappropriate manner.

Jethmalani’s letter is full of criticism. He said that the steps taken to deal with the black money issue were not right and accused Jaitley of not wanting the truth to come out.

The letter written Thursday said: “I strongly suspect that your conduct shows that you too like many others do not want the truth to come out. Your public statements … on one day and next day are products of a troubled conscience and mental confusion; a deadly combination.”

He said: “You are out to help the biggest criminals to escape.”

In the letter, the senior lawyer urged Jaitley not to send the name of account holders to the Swiss authorities.

He said: “Send them to the SIT (Special Investigation Team) so that they can tell them what to do.”

Referring to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s stand in the court last week that it cannot make public the names of black money account holders in foreign banks due to the confidentiality clause under the Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty (DTAT) with some countries, he said the DTAT or any equivalent document is not to be used and cannot be used.

With his humour intact, Jethmalani ends the letter signing of as “Expelled BJP member”.