After weeks’ long high drama, the office of the Ombudsman for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) K. Chenthamarakshan in the district Collectorate was eventually restored to him on Tuesday on the strength of a High Court verdict issued towards the end of last month.
Mr. Chenthamarakshan, however, complained that his costly sunglass and a copy of a muster roll of an MGNREGS scheme run by a panchayat he had kept in his office to take suo motu action were still missing. He had filed a complaint of missing valuables with the police in the aftermath of his eviction from the room in the collectorate.
The Ombudsman said he was yet to resume work in full scale as the internet connection has been restored.
The tug of war between the district administration and the Ombudsman kick-started following what the later alleged as his unceremonious eviction from his cabin at the Collectorate. His office was allotted to a deputy collector while allotting him a space at the Edappally block office.
Mr. Chenthamarakshan, however, refused to shift and confronted the deputy collector who moved into his office. Following this, the office was locked up and the Ombudsman moved into the collectorate library. The library was also closed down soon.
In between, Mr. Chenthamarakshan moved the High Court which directed the District Collector to restore his office at the Collectorate for two months.
Mr. Chenthamarakshan said he was appointed as Ombudsman and given office facility at the district Collectorate based on two government orders signed by the Governor. He said it was only proper that the Ombudsman being an independent autonomous body was allotted space in the Collectorate.
He said it would have been impossible for him to work from a block office populated by officials entrusted with the implementation of MGNREGS, over which he sat in judgment, and which was also frequented by politicians. Besides, it would have led to loss of people’s faith in Ombudsman.
Mr. Chenthamarakshan alleged he was arbitrarily shifted out of his office in the district Collectorate on the strength of an administrative order issued by the Union Rural Development Department. “But the revised instruction on Ombudsman cited for my shifting was just a set of guidelines. I could have been moved out on its basis only if the State government had accepted it and issued an order,” he said.
It would have been impossible for me to work from a block office populated by officials entrusted with the implementation of MGNREGS, over which I sat in judgment, and which was frequented by politicians
Ombudsman for MGNREGS, who was asked to vacate his office in Collectorate