IAS officers in the State have squarely held Ministers responsible for decisions taken in their respective departments and contended that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) must examine them if it considers the decisions to be wrong and were allowing pecuniary benefit to an individual.
At an extraordinary general body meeting of the A.P. IAS Officers Association held here on Saturday night, the officers ventilated their anger against the manner in which the CBI was conducting its investigations targeting them, leaving out the real decision-makers. Almost all the 150-odd IAS officers based in the State capital and a few from outside were present.
Speaking to the media later, Association president S. Bhale Rao, vice-president Prasanta Mahapatra and general secretary J. Raymond Peter, said the officers clearly held the view that the Minister concerned was totally responsible for everything that happened in the department. The Secretary would get powers only if they were delegated by the Minister.
K. Madhava Rao, former Chief Secretary, who assisted them, said under the present Cabinet system, the Chief Minister, Ministers and officials would have to follow the code of conduct and business rules under which the secretaries would have to submit weekly reports to the Minister. If the Minister failed to get these reports, the Chief Minister should immediately sack that Minister.
Emphasising the issue of accountability, the Association recalled that Lal Bahadur Shastri resigned as Railway Minister owning moral responsibility for a train accident though he was not directly connected to it.
Mr. Madhava Rao said if a Minister took the stand that he/she did not know the content of the file forwarded by the secretary, it amounted to failure on the part of the Minister. By the principal of collective responsibility, it was a failure of the entire Cabinet -- failure to abide by the oath taken at the swearing-in ceremony.
The Association cited the case of L.V. Subramanyam, named as accused in the Emaar case. Although the decisions were taken by the Board of Directors, Mr. Subramanyam was singled out in his capacity as vice-chairman and managing director while the chairman, who signed the minutes, and other directors were not named in the case.
The officers maintained that the CBI did not follow its Crime Manual before proceeding against the IAS officers and at the same time made it clear that they would not support any wrong-doer. The ‘big sharks' were being left out and officers were cornered, thereby demoralising the administration. Mr. Madhava Rao also said that Ministers, by virtue of being decision-makers, were presumed to have received a larger share of the booty than officers in corruption cases.
Mr. Bhale Rao said the association might approach the A.P. High Court at an appropriate time but had no plans to seek the Prime Minister's intervention. They denied that their action amounted to trade unionism as alleged in some quarters.