Former state election commissioner fights back even after retirement

Nand Lal Gupta, an IAS officer, has had many run-ins with politicians in his long career; he has been fighting for his dues from the government since 2006

Former state election commissioner Nand Lal Gupta has successfully fought several memorable battles against politicians in his bureaucratic career. However, he has not been so lucky when it comes to engaging officers of the elite Indian Administrative Service, of which he was a member until some years ago.

Nand Lal Gupta says that the fight is not about money, but about receiving justice
Nand Lal Gupta says that the fight is not about money, but about receiving justice

Gupta is fighting a long-drawn-out battle for getting his dues (allowances and perks) from the government, since 2006. The officer was denied benefits after he was sent to jail in 2008 for defying the legislature’s orders, but the payment was released only after the governor’s directives to the state in 2012.

The retired bureaucrat is infuriated that he has not been paid additional pension (for serving as state election commissioner), leave travel allowance and interest on delayed payments. In a series of letters to Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya, Gupta has asked for permission to prosecute Additional Chief Secretary (protocol, general administration depart- ment) Sumit Mullick for deliberating denying him dues.

He has alleged that Mullick has violated constitutional norms. The officer, who served Maharashtra as state election commissioner till 2009, has been writing letters to the government and governor, seeking his dues which were withheld following a tussle with ex-CM Vilasrao Deshmukh, which saw the officer getting a two-day prison sentence on the charges of breaching privilege of the state legislature in March 27, 2008.

In a dramatic development, Gupta was arrested from the state election commissioner’s office and sent to the city jail when the legislative session was on.

Fight for justice
In his recent letter, which the chief secretary’s office received on November 2, 2015, Gupta has reiterated his demand, citing constitutional provisions in his favour. The letter, a copy of which is available with mid-day, has Kshatriya’s remarks — he wants the Protocol department to place the facts before him.

“It’s not all about money. I have enough resources to run my family. But it’s about fighting for justice. My father had told me that one must not allow highhandedness and suffer injustice, especially when one is upright,” Gupta told mid-day.

Gupta said that the bureaucrats (his juniors in the IAS) have not been responsive. “Sumit Mullick has arbitrarily and mischievously done this due to malice against me,” writes Gupta in his letter to the CS. He said that in his previous letters, he had asked for permission to prosecute Mullick for meting out injustice to him. “The government doesn’t even acknowledge my letters,” he says.

Mullick said that Gupta’s case was very old and he needed to study it thoroughly. “I know that the dues have been paid, but I will have to seek more information about demands that Gupta has raised,” he said, refusing to comment on the allegations made by the retired bureaucrat.

In 2012, the then governor had directed the government to release Gupta’s dues. He was paid R3 lakh then. “From February 2007, I, as state election commissioner, was entitled to similar benefits given to high court judges. Some of my payments were cut in violation of rules and I have not been paid pension with an additional component, to which I’m entitled after serving as SEC,” he says.

Who is Nand Lal Gupta?
An officer of the 1969 batch of IAS, Gupta was sidelined by the government after he unearthed major scams in his earlier postings in the revenue and forest departments.

He had accused then CM Vilasrao Deshmukh of denying him the chief secretary’s post in 2004-2005 and sending him to the state election commission’s office. Incidentally, Deshmukh had got Gupta to probe several scams, but the officer wasn’t happy because his probe reports were never acted upon.

Deshmukh’s government also sent Gupta to jail on the charges of breaching privilege of the legislature. The officer had refused to appear before a committee of legislators, before being jailed. Gupta had investigated scams in Ulhasnagar, Nagpur and Raigad districts. Following the Raigad probe, he was transferred to an obscure post of planning commissioner.

In his July 3, 1999 report on unauthorised constructions in Ulhasnagar, Gupta named 54 corporators, 36 civic officials and politicians for causing financial losses to the Thane Municipal Corporation from 1987 to 1996 by allowing illegal construction. He unearthed a scam in the Nagpur Municipal Corporation where illegal procurement of sport equipment was reported. The government had suspended and arrested 101 corporators.

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