Comment: Removal of Dr. Shipra Paul as DHS- a step too little, too late

4 weeks ago TPP Comments Off on Comment: Removal of Dr. Shipra Paul as DHS- a step too little, too late

RAZIA BEGUM

After prolonged vacillation the administration has finally taken a step, which can, at best, be regarded as too little- too late. It is anybody’s guess as to why it took so long and why such a half-hearted measure taken against someone who has been alleged to have swindled Government exchequer to the tune of several crores, in connivance with her trusted retinue with particular reference to a low-rank pharmacist of irrelevance. It’s none other than the Prime Investigative Agency (Read: CBI) which got sufficient incriminating evidences against the tainted Govt. official and based on that they even went ahead with lodging F I R against the same official under relevant section of IPC and yet the Administration tried it’s level best to look the other way, pretending to be knowing nothing about her modus operandi. It doesn’t need a rocket science to understand that the same scam-tainted official could not have done all the mischiefs without the divine hand of someone higher-up, more so since she was not even a regular DHS (with all executive and financial power) rather she was merely holding Current-Duty-Charge of the DHS which, by all accounts, means for every major purchases she was obliged to take approval of the respective secretaries. Therefore if the controversial DHS has indulged in any non-essential and avoidable expenditure, the respective Secretary should be construed as equally responsible as the DHS is. Therefore, it’s but natural that the Administration would tread a tight rope while taking stringent action against the DHS lest the said tainted official not only spills the bean but also latches on to that very excuse and drags the senior officers too in the same net in a desperate bid to wriggle herself out of the controversy. Now it is the job of the C B I to swallow the bitter pill and explore that link and every other link as well.

Apart from the charges of wasteful expenditure in the procurement of medicines, the DHS has also been accused, by none other than the CBI, of abusing her position of power by taking illegal gratification from various suppliers of medicine during the marriage of her daughter at posh Bangalore hotel.

Anyway, those who are unaware of the modus operandi that the scam-tainted DHS was adopting, with impunity, would do well to know that the DHS was procuring tens of thousands of tablets and other medicines from her chosen suppliers when not more than a few thousands of such tablets or other medicines were actually needed and thereafter she would hurriedly arrange to dispatch those tablets in bulks to various health institutions in the peripheries even when there were no specific indents for such medicines. Subsequently the Medical officer –in-charge would be asked to place back-dated indents as a cover-up for these nefarious deals. The Medical Officer-in-charge, more often than not, would readily oblige the DHS for fear of reprisal. This is how the system was going on for quite sometime but the controversial DHS had perfected the art and carried it on with a vengeance. Even now several medicines will be found stock-piled in various PHCs and CHCs, which are practically never prescribed by any Medical Officer working there. A simple verification of records of the stocks of medicines indented and matching it with the ledger of medicines used there will reveal the fact beyond an iota of doubt. This is just one way how indiscriminate purchases were made in the name of free health services.

In any case, now the public perception is that there has been an inordinate delay on the part of Administration to act decisively against the corrupt official. Going by the sluggishness with which the administration acted upon in this particular case,  it appears as though the administration was applying every trick of the trade to save this official and finally when it ran out of it a miniscule step has been taken which can at best be termed as mere tokenism. Or else on the very first instance when the CBI found prima facie  evidence of corruption against the officer the administration ought to have immediately shifted the official out of the administrative post so that she couldn’t exert any influence on the ongoing investigation. But nothing of this sort had happened. On the contrary, she was well ensconced in her coveted post with the blessings of the higher-ups. In other words every opportunity was given to her to tamper the remaining evidences and coax and cajole the witnesses to speak in her favor. And it is said that she could even become eligible to get her promotion during the pendency of her case from ad hoc to regular CMO (NFSG) by the UPSC recently. How could she manage to get her vigilance clearance, for such promotion, is anybody’s guess!!!

With this background it is somewhat incomprehensible as to why the Administration, by its own wisdom, decided to shift the DHS from one administrative post to yet another administrative post, albeit of a lower rank. Even though this reluctant shifting is merely a symbolic one, it  has raised more doubts than it sought to resolve. If, however, the Administration is really convinced that the DHS is indeed involved in some kind of wrongdoings and accordingly warrants a punitive action then why this half-hearted cosmetic measure? Why could she not be divested of every administrative post whatsoever, if not, putting her under suspension, straightway for the nature of crime that she has been accused of? It is truly intriguing as to why it took so long for the administration to even decide on this plane and simple issue of corruption, which has been hogging the limelight for months together.

The plot, in any case, is getting murkier day by day and therefore, it’s now the turn of Administration to come clean of the allegation of favoritism and misplaced application of discretionary power.