Governance lapses in Bihar

Arun Srivastava

The claim of Nitish Kumar to provide transparent and honest governance lies shattered. Ever since Kumar became chief minister his thrust has been to improve the quality of education and enhance the functioning of the education department. But unfortunately this education ministry has proved to be the fountain head of all the major scams that took place during his tenure.
Earlier it was the admission scam. In 2011 it was detected that more than 1.5 lakh fake students were admitted at the primary and middle class levels. Nitish government had pledged to reach the education to the doors of the people. This was also aimed at eradicating the menace of the drop outs. Under the scam crores of government funds were usurped by the education officers. It was detected that office of the district education officers had become the hot bed of the scam.
Unfortunately the government and precisely the chief minister could not carry out a significant operation to cleanse the ministry and department. Of Course some officers were penalized but it was not a deterrent in the real sense. His rhetoric to rid the state of corruption and corrupt people have proved to be merely a false assurance. These people continue to thrive under the wings of the rulers.
This was for the first time in recent past the IAS officers hit the streets and formed a human chain against the arrest of Sudhir Kumar. The state unit of IAS Officer’s Association is “deeply angered and anguished” at the late-night arrest of 1987 batch IAS and chairman of Bihar Staff Selection Commission Sudhir Kumar It demanded that the case be transferred to the CBI for the sake of justice, independence and fair play. It is alleged that four of the officer’s relatives including his professor brother, wife, daughter-in-law and a nephew were also taken into custody in the case. Many of those arrested were candidates who had paid between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 5 lakh for the question paper.
Over 18 lakh candidates had responded to advertisements seeking applications for 9,600 clerical jobs in the state government. The arrest of Bihar staff selection commission (BSSC) chairman Sudhir Kumar along with his four relatives has already turned into a war between IAS and IPS officers. The IAS association peeved over the arrest met the governor and submitted a memorandum against the action. In a statement, the association said that “no member of the IAS association will accept the post of BSSC chairman and the position of controller of examination BSEC will also not be accepted by any of the members.”
What has been the most disgracing aspect of the scam is attempt to dilute the case. A section of the IAS and IPS officers are trying to present the arrest of Kumar as a fight of supremacy. This is being made to confuse he scene and force the SIT to develop cold feet and not to arrest the minister. It is not that the chief minister is not aware of the identity of his minister involved in the scam. But he has refrained from initiating any action.  The officers were no longer feeling secure in performing their official duties, the association said, adding that officers feared executive decisions would be interpreted as wrongdoing. They also submitted a memorandum to Governor Ram Nath Kovind.
Interestingly the SIT probing the scam has arrested the owner of a printing press from Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The SIT had gone to Ahmedabad on specific inputs that the BSSC questions paper was leaked from the printing press there. The arrest of the printing press owner is likely to provide the SIT important leads in the scam, as the police have been claiming that the question paper was leaked from the printing press. Incidentally chairman is the only person who knows where the question papers are being printed and if the role of the printing press owner in the scam is established, many more senior officials will come under the SIT radar.
The role of a Gujarat-based printing press had figured during last year's Intermediate merit scam probe too. The Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) had officially awarded the answer sheet printing contact to a Mathura-based firm. But later, BSEB storekeeper Vikas Kumar, forged documents and gave the tender to a Gujarat-based bidder. Vikash had told investigators that he got the answer sheets from the Gujarat-based company. The Rs 8.5 crore payment was never made to the company.
Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaaj, who is heading the special investigation team (SIT) probing the leak, said Sudhir, his brother Awadhesh, who is a geography teacher at Patna Women's College, Sudhir's sister-in-law Manju Devi, his nephews Ashish and Arun and another relative Rajan were arrested from Patna this morning. Maharaaj said police have evidence to establish Sudhir's role in leaking the question paper:
In view of the wider implication and involvement of some senior politicians and a number of senior officers the Bihar IAS Association has demanded that the matter should be transferred to the CBI. The said minister had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 parliamentary election from one of the parliamentary constituencies in Bihar. He still holds an important portfolio in the Grand Alliance government led by Nitish Kumar, a source in the police headquarters said.
The commission's suspended secretary Parmeshwar Ram, arrested in the case had told the interrogators: "If you have the courage, catch the real culprits responsible for the leak of the question papers. Many bigwigs are involved in the racket." The SSP revealed that the scamsters would lure candidates to get them selected. They were charged anything between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 7 lakh for the purpose. Maharaaj admitted "The racket has spread its network outside the state as well. (IPA)

Tuesday, 7 March, 2017