Grave lapses at Export Inspection Council nailed

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IMG-20170125-WA0039Documents in Tehelka’s possession show that India’s Export Inspection Council (EIC) has a total of 18 members on its governing board of which Chairman and Director are the nominees of the government of India. As government nominees, it is their primary duty to see that no untoward decision which goes against interests of the government is taken and also to maintain quality to ensure that the credibility of Indian exports is maintained in the international market. The present EIC Chairman is A V Chaturvedi, who is an IAS officer who holds the post of Additional Secretary in Department of Commerce. SK Saxena appointed in the year 2009 is Director and Member Secretary.

The wrong doings relate to SK Saxena, Director (I&QC), in alleged connivance with the officials of the Department of Commerce. The irregularities include wasteful expenditure; employing more persons than sanctioned strength against various group posts; some question able appointments and taking on rent large office space that has cost EIC close to 2.75 crore. The Indian Audit and Accounts Department, in its report, has also found glaring financial irregularities in the working of EIC and has pointed out irregular expenditure on travel, extra expenditure in award of the work at higher rate in violation of CVC guidelines.

Harassment of women
In clear violation of the Supreme Court Orders, the Government of India notifications and DOPT guidelines on matters concerning sexual harassment at work place, the EIC failed to constitute statutory committees. Even the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for ensuring safety of women employees was constituted only in the year 2015. That too after receipt of the first complaint in this regard from Mumbai office. There are allegations that employees who were involved in heinous crimes were shielded. One officer of EIA-Chennai, who had been arrested by the police and was suspended thereafter, was allegedly reinstated as officer in-charge of EIA-Hyderabad, considered to be a plum posting. This is in spite of the fact that this case is still being investigated by the police. As per the DOPT guidelines, there should have been departmental proceedings against the charged officer and he should have been kept out of duty till investigations are over.

In another glaring incident, a female employee had charged an officer of joint director rank of Mumbai for seeking sexual favours and duly lodged an FIR No.271/15 on October 14, 2015 under IPC 354(A)/354(D) and IPC 509 at DB Marg, police station, Mumbai. The ICC, which was constituted in 2015, indicted the said joint director and found him guilty. The inquiry report by ICC submitted to director EIC by Akhila, assistant director, EIC, and presiding officer of the Internal Complaint Committee noted “prima facie, after examining evidence available with the committee, it is evident that, there is considerable substance in the allegations made by the complainant against VK Singh, joint director (I/C)-Mumbai”.

However, in spite of the findings of the ICC in sexual harassment case, no disciplinary action was initiated against the concerned officer as per the directives of the DOPT and the apex court. To allegedly dilute the case, second ICC was constituted in June 2016 allowing 90 days mandatory time period to lapse. Ironically in this case the complainant was transferred out allegedly to pressurize her to withdraw the complaint. Since October 2015, the said officer has been designated as in-charge of Eastern Region of EIA with many female employees directly under his supervision thereby causing a potential threat to them. In this case too, an inquiry should have been ordered and action taken. Significantly, it is worth mentioning here that director, S.K Saxena had been named by an Officer of EIA Mumbai for abetment to sexual harassment against her. Saxena has also been charged for abetment to harassment in her complaint to the Commerce Minister, Additional Secretary, MOCI, DOC and Mumbai Police for protecting the culprits of sexual harassment cases.

The Indian Audit and Accounts Department has noticed glaring financial irregularities in the working of the council

Financial improprieties
There are allegations and documents in record to prove how the said director on several occasions, travelled by a non-entitled class (that is approval of economy class and actual travel by Business class). He also submitted forged air tickets mentioning different ticket numbers than the tickets that were actually used for travel. For instance on January 11 and January 12, 2016, the director, SK Saxena travelled by air from New Delhi — Kolkata — New Delhi. The Chairman EIC approved “Y” class denoting economy class travel but he actually travelled by “C” Class (business class). For this purpose, he submitted forged tickets bearing No. 0989649517570 and 0989649517571 stating that the travel was by economy class whereas actual tickets used were 0989649517572 and 0989649517573 which state travel by “C” class (business class).

Earlier too on January 5 and 6, 2016, the EIC chairman approved his travel by “Y” class (economy class) from New Delhi – Kochi – New Delhi, but he travelled by business class. On December, 30, 2015 her had allegedly submitted forged tickets bearing numbers 0989649525351 and 0989649517571/0989649517568 stating that the travel is by economy class whereas actual tickets used were 0989649525352 and 0989649517571/ 0989649517568. Interestingly during all these visits, there is no mention of his place of stay and who had foot the bills. On yet another occasion, forged tickets 0989647800511 and 0989647800512 were submitted stating that the travel was by economy class whereas actual tickets used were 0989647800514 and 0989649517515 which state travel by “C” class or Business Class.

His New Delhi — Ahmedabad — New Delhi trip of October 5, 2015 to October 6, was approved by Chairman EIC by “Y” class by he travelled by business class. Forged tickets 0989645998188 and 0989645998189 stating that the travel is by economy class whereas actual tickets used were 0989645998190 and 0989645998191. He again submitted forged tickets for his travel from New Delhi — Chennai — New Delhi on September 22, 2015 to 23. Similar act was reported on September 16 by submitting forged tickets having ticket no 0989645998190 and 0989645998191 stating that the travel is by economy class whereas actual tickets used were 0989645998192 and 0989645998193 which state travel was by “C” class or business class.

This has been continuing while it could be for his visit from New Delhi-Hyderabad-New Delhi on August 27, 2015 to 28 Aug 2015 or earlier. Even in this case he submitted forged tickets 0989644658962 and 0989644658963 instead of actual tickets used -0989644658964 and 0989644658965. New Delhi — Chennai-Visakhapatnam-New Delhi August 16, 2015 to August, 21 showed tickets having numbers 0989644666774 and 0989644809829 against actual tickets used — 0989644666775 and 0989644809830. New Delhi-Bhubaneshwar-New Delhi on July 15, 2015 to 16 July, New Delhi – Chennai-Trivendrum — New Delhi on May 5 to 7, New Delhi — Mumbai — New Delhi on April 29 to May 1 had the same modus operandi. Besides this, misusing his authority, he withdrew excess payment of salary and other allowances due to incorrect pay fixation. The Indian Audit and Accounts Department report says that it amounted to “overpayment of 3.31 lakh of pay and allowances due to incorrect fixation of pay”.

Documents prove how Saxena submitted forged air tickets mentioning different numbers than the tickets that were actually used on several occasions

Violation of export rules

It is on record that Export of Milk Products (Quality Control, Inspection and Monitoring) Rules 2000 were notified in Gazette of the year 2000. The Gazette notification clearly identifies that the products are subject to inspection and quality certification prior to export.

The order “prohibits the export of milk products by a unit in the course of international trade unless it conforms to the standards applicable to it and is accompanied by a certificate stating that such unit is approved and monitored by the Export Inspection Agency established under Section 7 of the Export (Quality Control and Inspection) Act, 1963 (22 of 1963)”.

A new clause 16.3 was added to the notification which introduced the concept of consignment wise inspection of milk and milk products in gross violation of the provisions of the notification. This was allegedly done with ulterior motive to enable a group of exporters to benefit financially. The executive instruction after inserting clause 16.3 violates the provision 14(d) of the Order for quality control of milk products for export.Tehelka sent a detailed questionnaire to SKSaxena, Director, EIC seeking his version. However, till date there has been no reply from his side.

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