RTI exposes vendetta by union minister

BY Vishnu Rajgadia| IN Media Practice | 04/09/2007
In its reply, Coal India admitted that the transfer was based on the reference from a VIP, but was silent on the name.




Vishnu Rajgadia in Ranchi



Again an historical victory of Right to Information. It was impossible earlier to check misuse of power by VIP. But the RTI has made it very simple. You can expose any misuse of power by just paying ten rupees.

This is quite a story. The Union Minister of State for Food  Processing Subodh Kant Sahay  misused his power to transfer a CCL(Central Coalfields Limited)  officer. This has been exposed through RTI. Based of the information, the  Jharkhand High Court has stayed the transfer. The court has also issued notice to the minister to explain his role in such illegal transfer.

Hitesh Verma is an Executive IV grade officer in public sector company Coal India Limited. He was posted in its subsidiary company CCL at Ranchi as Deputy Sales Manager. In October 2006, he was transferred to MES, Assam. He knew  that the Union Minister has misused his power to harass him. But thanks to RTI, his mother Saroj Bala Verma filed an application seeking a reply to 22 points relating to the transfer. She demanded to know the policy of transfer in Coal India. She also sought information on why and at  whose insistence her son was transferred. She also asked whether some other officers had also been transferred to Assam from CCL or to CCL from Assam or not.

In its reply, Coal India admitted that the transfer was based on the reference from a VIP. But Coal India was silent on the name of the VIP. The Mother sent an letter the Prime Minister requesting him  to provide the name of the VIP. The PMO ordered the coal ministry to provide the requisite information. Ultimately, the Coal India Ministry disclosed the name of the VIP as Union Minister of State for Food Processing Subodh Kant Sahay. There was no reason for seeking this transfer and the Coal India had no administrative ground for such action. It was clear that the minister had wanted Verma transferred because of personal reasons. It was also clear that the transfer order violates CIL rules. The information reveals that CCL had not transferred any of its officers in E4 grade, to which he belongs, to the Assam coalfields or vice-versa in the past five years. Therefore, the transfer of Hitesh Verma was malafide.


Based on this information, Hihesh Verma moved the Jharkhand High Court. The Court of Justice RK Merathia passed the order on August 30, 2007 to stay the transfer order and to withdraw the relieving order. The court also issued a notice to the minister Subodh Kant Sahay, seeking an explanation over the transfer.


It transpires that the Minister’s misuse of power was for a personal reason. Verma is his sister’s son in law and following the death of Verma`s wife, the minister’s niece, there has been some ugly family politics leading to Verma spending time in jail and being accused of kidnapping. Through Sahay, his in-laws are still targeting him.   


 (Vishnu Rajgadia is  Resident Editor, Prabhat Khabar, Dhanbad, Jharkhand)





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