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April 13, 2000
Kerala IAS officer sent on leave for defying government
D Jose in Thiruvananthapuram
Indian Administrative Service officials in Kerala are up in arms against the state government's decision to send a senior officer on a one-year leave following differences over the implementation of a court order.
The State Cabinet recently sent Kerala State Co-operative Marketing Federation managing director Raju Narayanaswamy on compulsory leave after he issued a notice to convene a meeting of the federation's board of directors in compliance with an order of the Kerala high court.
The government, however, did not take kindly to the move which apparently went against an earlier direction of the registrar of cooperative societies not to hold such a meeting till a court case wherein the election of a member of the federation has been challenged was settled.
However, many in the state's administrative circles feel that Marketfed controversy merely provided the immediate provocation. Narayanaswamy, a 1991 topper, has never been very popular with politicians.
Also, this is not the first time he has been asked to go on leave. He was forced to stay away from office for five months once earlier after he protested against his posting under an IAS officer two years his junior.
Trouble for this brilliant academic and an administrator par excellence started quite early in his career when he ordered raids on the residences of some liquor contractors when he was the district collector at Thrissur. He was immediately relieved from the post and posted as the commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment, an insignificant assignment.
Later, during general elections he was posted under a district collector who was two years junior to him.
Though Narayanaswamy's colleagues feel that the government decision to send him on leave would not stand legal scrutiny, they have expressed inability to initiate any action unless or until he files a complaint with their association.
Narayanaswamy on his part has refused to speak to the press. Nobody knows what his future course of action will be.
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