Lucknow, May 10 (IANS) Bureaucracy in Uttar Pradesh found itself in the firing line of the judiciary this week, with almost 50 officials served contempt of court notices and non-bailable warrants.
They include senior members of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS).
In one case, the principal secretary (home) was detained by the Allahabad High Court for more than three hours, rattling the government.
Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani had to issue fresh guidelines, asking officials to take serious note of court proceedings and directives and to ensure that their actions did not embarrass the government.
Informed sources say Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has given the officials a dressing down over their casual approach to court directives on matters of public interest.
“It is clear that the political executive will not bear the brunt of the irresponsible behaviour of its officials. That has been made amply clear by the chief minister,” a close aide to Yadav told IANS.
The law department has been instructed to be readily available to officials in need of advice and guidance.
The sources say that of the 9.82 lakh cases pending in the high court, as many as three lakh pertain to government departments.
In many such cases, petitioners have won cases against the state but failed to get any relief from bureaucrats as further action was stonewalled.
In the Lucknow bench of the high court, of the 2.51 lakh cases under consideration, as many as a third have various government departments as a party.
Lawyer Ashok Pandey admits that the government has become casual in its approach toward judicial directives and orders and was now paying a price for this.
“This is bizarre that non-bailable warrants are issued against senior officials like deputy inspector generals and principal secretaries… But what other option do the courts have to make them act?” Pandey asks.
Officials are now shaken up. In the last two days, all departmental heads have asked their subordinates to list court matters and ensure that there was no contempt of the courts.
“It is the same situation across the state… It is a chaotic situation,” says Nutan Thakur, a social activist.
Officials rapped recently by courts include the principal secretary (stamp and registration), Lucknow District Magistrate Anurag Yadav, Lucknow DIG Navneet Sikera, Amethi District Magistrate Jagatraj Yadav and Principal Secretary (rural development) Rajeev Kumar.
The high court issued contempt of court notices to former sugarcane commissioner Kamran Rizvi, Special Secretary (education) Harendra Veer Singh and Divisional Commissioner of Varanasi Chanchal Kumar Tiwari.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui terms it as “malice that is reflective of a larger problem” in the state government.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s Vijay Bahadur Pathak blames the Samajwadi party government for the conduct of the officials.
“I am sure that in times to come, there will be many such incidents which will leave the government red-faced,” Pathak said.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])