M N Vijayakumar, a 1981-batch IAS officer, has been punished for ‘indiscipline’, and sent on ‘compulsory retirement’. A former additional chief secretary said it was the first such case in the history of Indian bureaucracy. Vijayakumar will get just two-thirds of what is due to him as pension.
Vijayakumar’s rule-book approach had ruffled many in administrative and political circles. Colleagues joked that he was a ‘man of letters’, referring to his practice of writing complaints against his colleagues. All through his career, Vijayakumar had been transferred repeatedly and placed in insignificant posts. Although he was an officer of principal secretary rank, he was last posted as officer on special duty in charge of the Departmental Inquiry Manual.
A notification issued on Tuesday by U H Narayanaswamy, under secretary, Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms, said Vijayakumar had been relieved on Monday. Vijayakumar had reached the age of superannuation on April 4, but his service was extended, as is routine, till the end of the month. Ironically, he was punished at the fag end of his extended service.
A senior IAS officer said he was sad about the plight of an honest colleague. “Many in the administration ganged up against him,” he said.
Former additional chief secretary V Balasubramanian said the government had been vindictive. “The notification of compulsory retirement is mala fide. Vijayakumar should approach the Central Administrative Tribunal. He will get full retirement benefits,” said Balasubramanian, who had headed a committee to mark out encroached government lands.
After retirement, Balasubramanian became chairman of the Karnataka chapter of Transparency International, an anti-corruption monitor. “Vijayakumar’s is the first such case in the country,” he said. Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee justified the action, though. “It is a very old issue. The decision to send him on compulsory retirement was taken by the Union government as he had been charged with indiscipline,” he told Express on Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the action only on Monday, he said, when asked why Vijayakumar had been sent home three days before he was to retire. “The recommendation had been sent three years ago,” he explained.
Sources close to Vijayakumar said he would appeal to the Centre against the decision. “The family can bear the financial loss, but is this the way to treat an officer who did not compromise with corruption?” asked another senior bureaucrat.
He described the reasons cited for the disciplinary action ridiculous. “They said he was speaking out against corruption, and so was his wife…. He was not given a fair opportunity to explain himself,” he said.
Worried Spouse: Jayashree J N, wife of Vijayakumar, said she was just happy to see him alive despite all his suffering, and three attempts on his life.
“Now, we are more vulnerable because he is not in service. The government wants to send out a strong message against future Vijayakumars,” she told Express.
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