Bars no bar for BDA's 'duty-conscious' officer

Bars no bar for BDA's 'duty-conscious' officer

Ten days ago, BDA Special Land Acquisition Officer M R Hiremath was trapped by Lokayukta police for allegedly accepting a bribe from a man who wanted his land denotified, and was remanded in judicial custody for a week.

Two days ago, he got bail. And on Monday, he was back on duty, as if nothing had happened, even though service rules say that an official who has been in jail for 48 hours or more should be suspended.

On November 16 night, Hiremath was caught redhanded by Lokayukta police in Malleswaram in the act of receiving Rs 5 lakh from the complainant Nagaraj, a farmer who wanted his land measuring 1 acre and 16 guntas in Thanisandra denotified following an order from the Supreme Court. Hiremath had demanded Rs 20 lakh, but later settled for Rs 16 lakh and the Rs 5 lakh was the first installment of the alleged bribe.

A criminal case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against Hiremath and Ramesh, the tout, and were remanded in judicial custody till November 24. Hiremath got bail on November 24 and was released. He is back in the same post as before.

When contacted, BDA commissioner, T Sham Bhatt said he had no powers to take action against Hiremath as the latter was appointed by the State Government.

“The BDA Commissioner does not have powers to keep him under suspension. Being a senior KAS officer, it is the State Government which has to pass an order of suspension against him. No such order has been received by us,” said Bhatt.

The same question was posed to the Urban Development Department (UDD), Principal Secretary, Dr Amitha Prasad, but no concrete response was forthcoming from her.

“I am in fact not in the headquarters. Further, it is the Lokayukta which has to recommend for his suspension. I have instructed my Joint Secretary to forward any such recommendation from the Lokayukta to the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) to suspend him,” she said.

Sources in the Lokayukta claim that their police wing had already dispatched the recommendation for Hiremath’s suspension within two days of his arrest. “In every case of a trap, the Lokayukta police sends across a recommendation of the official’s suspension till he is proved innocent,” said a Lokayukta official.

In a late evening reaction, the DPAR Principal Secretary (Administration), Sanjiv Kumar said: “I have little information on the case to react.”

Hiremath served at the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board, at a time when the department was embroiled in corruption charges.  He was later shunted to a nondescript posting in the education department for three months before making his way to BDA.

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