Chennai: P. Rama Mohana Rao’s position as chief secretary of Tamil Nadu became untenable on Wednesday after I-T investigators swooped down on his residence and office. But, Mr Rao could be placed under suspension only if the I-T department or any other agency files an FIR against him or detains him in connection with the seizure.
Though Chief Minister O. Pannerselvam is understood to have held back-to-back meetings on the next course of action on Wednesday, there was no clarity on the position of the Chief Secretary – whether he would be asked to go on leave or he would quit on his own taking moral responsibility.
Former bureaucrats, who had served in various positions in the Union Government, said the law does not distinguish between a Chief Secretary and a bureaucrat and any official can be prosecuted if there is incriminating evidence against him. They also said the question of suspension of a bureaucrat comes only if an FIR is filed against him or he is taken into custody by any of the agencies.
The Delhi government had earlier this year placed under suspension Rajendra Kumar, who served as Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, after CBI took him into custody in a corruption case.
T. S. R. Subramanian, former Cabinet Secretary to the Government of India, told Deccan Chronicle that there was no need for obtaining any prior permission to raid the premises of a Chief Secretary. “As far as I know, there is no need to obtain sanction even for prosecuting a bureaucrat under the Prevention of Corruption Act,” he said, adding that raids can be conducted on anyone based on “credible information.”
“In fact the law does not discriminate between a bureaucrat and a common man. Everyone will face the same kind of punishment. The law does not distinguish between the influential and the common man,” he said. Mr Subramanian suggested that the official could continue in his position until the agency files a charge sheet in a court.
However, former Union home secretary G. K. Pillai said a bureaucrat gets suspended automatically once he is arrested or taken into custody. “In some cases, there is no need to even wait till the charge sheet is filed. Once a bureaucrat is arrested or taken into custody, he gets automatically suspended,” he said.
Former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami, who also served as Union home secretary, said the law applies equally to every bureaucrat and that there is no discrimination. “If there is truth (in the allegations) or if any incriminating evidence is found, he will face the same action that anybody else will face. Why should we even think that anybody else will be treated in a different manner or get a special treatment?” he asked.