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UP govt 'saviour' of IAS officer jailed in NRHM scam

August 17, 2012 17:52 IST

His father and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav did not hesitate to appoint the most tainted bureaucrats at chief secretaries of the state during his last stint as chief minister of India's most populous state.

And now evidently, son Akhilesh Yadav -- the youngest chief minister of Uttar Pradesh -- apparently does not wish to lag behind in creating a similar record by reinstating an IAS officer who spent three months in jail as prime accused in the Rs 5700-crore National Rural Health Mission scam.

Pradeep Shukla, topper of the 1981 batch of the elite Indian Administrative Service, was arrested for his "dubious" role as NRHM mission director in May last and granted bail by a special CBI court last week in Ghaziabad.

And no sooner than he presented the bail documents before the appointments department of the Akhilesh government, he was ushered back as Member (Judicial) in the Board of Revenue, where he was shunted after CBI exposed his alleged involvement in the large scale bungling.

The state government did not even care to see that Shukla's reinstatement was in gross violation of the Service Rules, which clearly lay down that any government official spending more than 48 hours in jail must be suspended from service. Shukla was however not suspended even after staying three months in Dasna prison in Noida.

Asked to comment on the case, UP's appointments secretary Rajiv Kumar told mediapersons, "All I can tell you is that Pradeep Shukla was not placed under suspension; I am not in a position to tell you anything else about the case."

Even officiating chief secretary VK Sharma parried queries related to Shukla. "I have not seen his joining report so I cannot make any comment on his joining", he remarked.

Sharma was currently holding dual charge of chief secretary as well as his substantive posting as chairman, Board of Revenue, as chief secretary Javed Usmani is on holiday in the United States.

Speculation is also rife that Usmani, who had initially proceeded on a 10-day leave to meet his wife and family in US, eventually extended his leave twice simply because he wanted to avoid getting embroiled in the Shukla controversy.

Sure enough he knew of Shukla's deep nexus with chief minister Akhilesh Yadav's uncle and the government's most powerful minister Shivpal Yadav, who even went to the extent of visiting the IAS officer in Dasna jail last month.

Meanwhile, the Allahabad high court has taken serious note of Shukla's case. While hearing Shukla's petition opposing his prosecution by the CBI on the plea that being an IAS officer the state should have sought permission of the central government, a division bench comprising Justice Amar Saran and Justice P Naqvi took the state government to task.

Seeking to know, "Why Pradeep Shukla was not suspended?", the bench has also asked CBI to explain why the investigating agency had not cared to file a chargesheet against Shukla for three long months after his arrest.

The state government CBI's reply to the court are awaited on August 30, the next date for the hearing.

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow