Hennur Park scam: IFS officer likely to go unpunished

Hennur Park scam: IFS officer likely to go unpunished

A senior IFS officer, S Shanthappa, who was one of the 13 forest officials accused of misappropriating Rs 1.44 crore in developing a tree park in Hennur, may go unpunished due to his retirement even as the government is yet to take a call on chargesheeting him in the case.

The case pertains to the misappropriation of Rs 1.44 crore, while carrying out development works at the Hennur Tree Park. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Punati Sridhar, has written to the government recommending that action should be initiated against the 13 officials in the department, including IFS officers, S Shanthappa, Dipika Bajpai and others.

Sources in the government said as Shanthappa retires on December 31, it would be hard to take action against him. He currently holds the position of Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (APCCF). “This will set a bad precedent in the Forest Department, where nearly 30 officials, including some IFS officers, are currently facing investigation for various violations,” an official said.

As per the handbook of rules, after the retirement, an official “cannot be instituted in respect of any event which took place more than four years ago”.

Further, the sanction of the President is necessary to institute departmental proceedings after retirement.

Though an inquiry committee comprising four senior officers did not call the accused for deposition, notices were sent to them to explain their actions. While Shanthappa refused to receive the letter in July, two other IFS officers, H R Kumar and Dipika Bajpai, have received the letter in June, but, have not replied, the report said.

“Officers who are in service can be held accountable and there is enough time to examine whether it was an administrative error or a planned action. But, once an officer retires, he or she usually goes scot-free. There have been numerous instances like that,” an official said, referring to Shanthappa.

When asked, Additional Chief Secretary of Forests, Ecology and Environment Department, Sandeep Dave noted that the procedure laid down in the book has to be
followed regardless of the report.

“Even after an official retires, the inquiry will continue as per the rules, and action will be taken against those found guilty,” he said.

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