Chandigarh’s high-level tussle hits new low

March 9th, 2009 - 11:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, March 9 (IANS) An ongoing high-level tussle between Chandigarh’s Administrator S.F. Rodrigues and the union territory’s senior-most bureaucrat Pradip Mehra has hit a new low with the former Monday ordering a vigilance probe against the latter.
IAS officer Mehra, who is serving as an adviser to Rodrigues, will be probed by the vigilance department for exceeding his jurisdiction in using quasi-judicial powers. He had allegedly allowed concessions to owners of certain properties in the city.

Mehra’s post is equivalent to chief secretary.

The probe was ordered after senior standing counsel Anupam Gupta submitted his 32-page report to the administrator, saying the cases were of “conscious favouritism in the exercise of power”.

But Gupta’s report, though acknowledging that Mehra’s predecessors had also used the quasi-judicial powers to benefit people, kept them out of the ambit of being recommended for a vigilance probe.

Incidentally, the probe is likely to be handed over to an officer junior to Mehra since he is the senior-most bureaucrat in the union territory.

Rodrigues, a former Indian army chief, had last year ordered a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) probe against Mehra and some other officers on the basis of an anonymous complaint that the bureaucrat had got his government house in New Delhi renovated through those officers.

The CVC probe rubbished the allegations and this left Rodrigues, who is also the Punjab governor, embarrassed.

Rodrigues drew flak for recommending the CVC probe on the basis of a fake and anonymous letter.

When another anonymous letter by the same fake addressee levelled serious charges against Rodrigues’ own aide-de-camp, Major Nirvikar Singh, the administrator did not order any probe even though the Punjab Raj Bhawan (governor house) was clearly dragged into it.

Rodrigues and Mehra have been at loggerheads for over a year ever since Mehra raised serious objections to mega-infrastructure projects worth billions of rupees being cleared by the administrator.

The tussle between the two led to the projects being put on hold following major controversies over their allotment and pricing.

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