Professor Dinesh Singh
University of Delhi
Delhi – 110007
Date: 6th January, 2014
Sub: Review of the EC resolution on item 7B-1 (EC meeting of 28 September 2013).
Dear Vice Chancellor,
As you know, the Executive Council considered the report of the Appeals Committee on the case of Shri Lakhan Singh, Former Junior Engineer via Item no 7B-1 on 28th Sept. 2013. (Consideration of the report of the Appeals Committee on the Appeals of Shri G.S. Gupta, Former Executive Engineer and Shri Lakhan Singh). It will be useful to go, once again, into the brief history of this case.
The Engineering Department in 2005 made a proposal of the copper wiring in eight C-type flats (C-8, C-10, C-94, C-86, C-141, C-105, C-7, and C-127) in Reids Line. In a different proposal, it was suggested that seven C/D-type flats (D-78, D-38, D-132, D-87, C-27, C-98, and C-134) in Reids Line also require copper wiring. The approved estimates of these two works were: Rs. 93,279.50/- for C-type and Rs. 93,279.50/-for C/D-type. In the next stage, work-orders were made and tenders were invited. It seems that an error occurred at this stage. The work-order for C/D-Type was totally missed. The University alleged that Shri Lakhan Singh, Junior Engineer, responsible for filling these documents (estimates and work-orders), deliberately overlooked the material fact that works for C-Type had already been completed and a second work-order for the same work was issued by him. Shri Lakhan Singh was suspended on 29.03.2007 and was served an article of charges on 1.06.2007. An Enquiry Committee was set up. Because of the intervention of the National Commission for SC his suspension was revoked on 14.07.2008. The Enquiry Committee in its report held him guilty in respect to charges against him. A Disciplinary Sub-Committee of the Executive Council was set-up. Following the recommendations of the Disciplinary Sub-Committee, Shri Lakhan Singh was sent on compulsory retirement (4 July 2011). He filed an appeal on 16 August 2011.
In the meeting of the Executive Council on 28 September 2013, which was to consider the report of the Appeals Committee, we expressed the view that though it cannot be denied that an error was committed by Shri Lakhan Singh, however, this error does not warrant such a severe punishment. Along with other two members, we dissented on the passing of the recommendations of the Appeal committee. Our dissent was on the following counts:
1. The University has failed to establish through the findings of the Enquiry Committee, Disciplinary Sub-Committee of the EC or the Appeal Committee that because of the error the University incurred any financial loss. The replies to the RTIs reveal that C/D type flats have copper wiring now and thus establish that though there was duplication of the work-orders of C-type flats because of this error, the work was completed in both the sets of flats (eight C-type flats and seven C/D type flats).
2. The process of bill in the Engineering Department is scrutinized by accounts, audit and finance sections of Delhi University, passing through as many as 12 officials. The reports of Enquiry Committee/ Disciplinary Sub-Committee or Appeals Committee offer no rationale as to why it was deemed fit to hold some more guilty of the error than the others. Varying punishments were arbitrarily assigned to officials in this chain:
i. Dealing Assistant, Finance IX, the seventh official in the chain, was penalized only following the discussions in the EC meeting of 3 November 2012 and his one increment was stopped.
ii. Shri. Amarjeet Singh, Assistant Engineer, the second official in the chain, was initially served penalty of Rs 10,000 on the recommendations of the Disciplinary Sub-Committee. It was only following the discussion in the EC meeting of 3 November 2012 that this penalty was increased to Rs. 90,000/-
iii. Shri G. S. Gupta, Executive Engineer – fifth official in the chain- was also served compulsory retirement vide EC resolution dated 1.07.2011. He had over two years of service left.
iv. Shri Lakhan Singh, the very first person in the chain, was given the severe penalty of compulsory retirement vide EC resolution dated 1.07.2011. He had at that time over seven years of service pending.
We would like to further add that it is disappointing to see that the University has faltered in handling this case in the following ways:
1. Replies to various RTIs issued by the University pertaining to the case: In response to the RTI submitted on behalf of Shri Lakhan Singh, raising query on the work order and information of the contractor who worked for renovation and re-wiring of flats of C/D Type, the University responds by saying that the papers are not traceable because there was an incident of fire and change of building of Engineering Department.
2. In violation of procedures, an Appeals Committee was constituted without taking the matter to the EC. . The RTI response shows that meetings of Appeal Committee were held on 2.05.2012, 22.05.2012 and 30.5.2012 and that the Appeal Committee submitted its report on 5.06.2012. As per the RTI responses, Sh Kamal Pathak, Dy Registrar (Council) was the Presenting Officer to present the case before the Appeal Committee and an amount of Rs. 35,700/- has been paid as honorarium to the members of the Appeal Committee. This Committee had made up its mind even before the matter (appeals of Shri Lakhan Singh and Shri G. S. Gupta) was considered by the EC. It is only in the EC meeting of 3 November 2012, that the agenda item 7 puts before the House the appeals of Shri G.S. Gupta and Shri. Lakhan Singh for consideration. Two members dissented on the item on the issue of procedural violations.
3. An appeal was filed to the Central Information Commission against the RTI responses received by the University citing reasons of fire etc. for the non-availability of documents. It is rather disturbing to see that finally in response to this appeal the University produced papers of renovations done in some of these flats in 2002 and 2003. An effort was made to distort facts to hide the truth.
We are forced to conclude that from the very beginning the University moved on this case with a prefixed biased approach. The arguments raised by the members of the Executive Council of 28 September were brushed aside and the report was pushed through, on the basis of brute majority enjoyed by the university authorities without producing counter arguments. This has given scope for a perception especially in a particular community that a man on the last ladder in social hierarchy has been discriminated. We pointed out that Shri Lakhan Singh is the sole bread earner in the family and that education of his children squarely depends on him. This undue severe punishment is thus in turn punishment for the entire family. No wonder, some of the close members of his family could not survive the shock and died.
We urge you to reconsider the case. It is essential for the prestige of the University that the entire University community see that decisions taken by the authorities are not only just but appear to be just.
Abha Dev Habib
Member, Executive Council
Member, Executive Council