Ensure Durga Shakti is not unfairly treated: Sonia to PM

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NAGPALNew Delhi, August 3;Coming out in support of suspended Uttar Pradesh IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ensure that the officer is not unfairly treated.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ms. Gandhi said there is widespread concern that the officer in the course of her public duties was seen to be standing up against vested interests engaging in illegal activity.

“We must ensure that the officer is not unfairly treated,” she told the Prime Minister. Ms. Nagpal had shot into limelight by acting against the powerful sand mafia in the state.

In the letter written by her as chairperson of National Advisory Council (NAC), Ms. Gandhi asked Dr. Singh to focus on such issues as highlighted by the present case and if there was need for bringing in more measures to protect government servants while upholding the law.

“This particular instance has highlighted the need for assessing whether there are adequate safeguards in place to protect executive functionaries working beyond the average call of duty to uphold the rule of law.

“The implementation machinery must feel that the conditions are conducive to the delivery of public services without fear or favour,” Ms. Gandhi said.

Appreciating the good beginnings made with regard to administrative reforms by the government, the Congress President said incidents like Nagpal have highlighted the need to focus on such issues.

A 2010 batch IAS officer, 28-year-old Ms. Nagpal was suspended on July 27 as Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar district, for allegedly ordering demolition of a wall of a mosque on the ground that it could have triggered communal tension.

Ms. Nagpal, whose cadre was changed to Uttar Pradesh from Punjab in August last year, is attached to the Board of Revenue in Lucknow.

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister had declined to answer queries about Ms. Nagpal when reporters asked him about it after the all-party meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath had replied in the negative when asked whether the issue of problems faced by an officer in a state can be raised in Parliament.

“It is a state issue. I do not think…,” he had said.

Speaking separately, Samajwadi Party MP Shailendra Kumar indicated that the issue is being resolved. “This issue is under the consideration of the state leadership. She has met the Chief Secretary. Some way will be found out….the issue is gradually being resolved.”

To a specific question whether the suspension is likely to be revoked, Mr. Kumar merely said, “some way will be found out.”

At AICC, party spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das repeated his Friday’s remarks on the issue.

“Congress at the outset does not support the arbitrary demolition of a mosque wall.

“However, the suspension of the officer seems to have been carried out because of her actions. Accordingly, Congress, while disapproving of the act of demolishing the mosque wall, does not support the suspension of the honest IAS officer,” Mr. Das had said yesterday at the party briefing.

Ms. Gandhi’s letter to the Prime Minister has come amid growing demand for revoking the suspension of the IAS officer.

The Centre had earlier said that it was awaiting a report from the UP government based on which it will decide the future course of action.

“We are awaiting a report from Uttar Pradesh government. As per rules, state government needs to send a report (on suspension of an officer) to the Centre which is awaited,” Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy had said.

He said the future course of action will depend on the UP administration’s report.

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