For over a decade, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Karnataka cadre, MN Vijayakumar earned the reputation of being a whistle blower by exposing corruption in high places. At the end of April this year, Vijayakumar was penalised with ‘compulsory retirement’ for “indiscipline”. The shocking order came just three days before he was to retire from service.
Having raised his voice on several issues, the 1981-batch officer did not take the order lying down and accused the secretary of Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT), Sanjay Kothari, of misleading the Prime Minister into signing his retirement order. Vijayakumar wrote in his reply on 29 April, “You misled the Hon’ble Prime Minister to compulsorily retire me when there were just three days to go.” Vijayakumar’s compulsory retirement was initiated on the basis of the report submitted on behalf of former chief secretary of Karnataka PB Mahishi in 2009. The first question that emerged was what prompted the DOPT to act against one of its own officers.
Vijayakumar said it had been done to deprive him of his full retirement benefits. Vijayakumar said his only mistake was to repeatedly raise his voice against the corrupt practices of the ias officers at various levels. This attitude of Vijayakumar earned him more foes than friends in the bureaucracy.
Levelling serious charges against bureaucratic functioning in an open letter, Vijayakumar had called some specific people as the “IAS mafia”. The IAS officer has also alleged that it was the corrupt officials who controlled the bureaucracy. He further said that it only needed moral courage on the part of the government to act against corrupt elements in the bureaucracy.
Speaking to Tehelka, the former IAS officer said that he had taken the extreme step of going public with some internal communications only to protect himself. Vijayakumar said, “Two former DG & IGPS of Karnataka who met me and my wife (Jayashree) in person on 7 May have warned us to be extremely cautious now that I have retired from service. I will face more threats from now on.”
The documents that Vijayakumar made public last week are also on the Internet (www.depenq.com) and could open a can of worms. He also said that the dopt did not respond to his petitions to help clean up the top echelons of the bureaucracy.
He further alleged that the senior IAS officers in the DOPT did not respond to over 30 reminders sent to them. Vijayakumar said that his removal was a message to other honest officers to toe the line of the corrupt majority.
“I feel it is more of a punishment to the society. The message that is sent out to honest officers is that if they don’t toe the line of the corrupt officers, this will be consequence,” he said.
Vijayakumar was last posted as Officer on Special Duty, Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms, (Departmental Inquiry Manual).
“In an order dated 27 April 2015, the Government of India, Department of Personnel and Training, has imposed the penalty of Compulsory Retirement on the Charged Officer, MN Vijayakumar, with the direction that the retirement benefits admissible to him shall be two-thirds of the admissible amount of pension prescribed in the All India Services (Death-cum- Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958 (sic),” read a Karnataka government notification.
Pursuant to the order, Vijayakumar was relieved of his duties with effect from the afternoon of 27 April. Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee refused to comment on the issue but a Karnataka government official, on the condition of anonymity, said that the recommendation on compulsory retirement was sent three years ago and the decision had been taken by the Union government as he had been charged with indiscipline. Vijayakumar certainly didn’t agree with the above mentioned theory. “I have written several letters to the chief minister’s office but did not get any response,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vijayakumar has given a deadline of 30 May to the DOPT to reconsider its actions against him. When this writer asked him whether he would opt for legal action, Vijayakumar replied, “We will decide on it as there are many options but my fight will continue.”