The Jharkhand government’s surreptitious move to extend the services of CS Rajbala Verma has dragged CM Raghubar Das into an unseemly controversy that could have been better avoided to save the image of the BJP administration.
Verma (IAS:1983: JH), who is scheduled to retire on February 28, may appear to have done little credit to her reputation by her acts of omission and commission during her eventful career.
Her past seems to have come to haunt her.
Jharkhand’s Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Saryu Rai has requested the CM to direct Rajbala Verma to provide an explanation as to why she should be allowed to continue without giving a clarification on the CBI’s queries in the despicable fodder scam that took place when Jharkhand was still a part of Bihar and the state CM was Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Opposition parties, too, have lent support to Rai’s argument.
While probing the fodder scam cases, the CBI had observed that Verma, during her tenure as West Singhbhum DC between 1990 and 1991, did not apprise the state accountant-general of irregularities at the Chaibasa (headquarters) treasury. The DC is normally the custodian of district treasury. She also reportedly did not sign audit reports or start corrective steps to plug the gaps that were being exploited by scamsters.
According to Rai’s letter, the successive Jharkhand chief secretaries from 2003 to 2014 issued more than 15 show-cause notices to Verma on this and asked her every time to submit her reply within 15 days. But she never complied with the instructions.
The state Parliamentary Affairs minister’s letter warns of serious moral and legal complications in continuing the services of Verma. The letter says: “My only point is that no one is above the law, which will only strengthen the BJP’s image.”
Under the All India Services code, a retired officer is not liable to answer queries related to cases more than four years old from the date of retirement. Since Verma is scheduled to retire on February 28, it may be interesting to see whether she still cares for an extension as CS or prefers to get out of the political storm building around her.