'Notice to move 670 BMC auditors is unconstitutional'

Standing committee decries move as a constitutional breach, civic auditors say it defies their dignity, forces them to accept posts they are unsuited for 

A circular by the additional municipal commissioner has thrust the fate of 670 employees of the BMC into a vortex of uncertainty. All municipal auditors, these civic workers will be dislodged from the municipal audit department and forcefully shifted to others that are not their forte, they claim. Further, the circular was issued without the endorsement of the BMC standing committee, claims its chairman.

Internal shuffle: Over 670 staff of the municipal audit department will
be moved to other civic departments as per the circular. File pic

Calling the directive unconstitutional, Standing Committee Chairman and Shiv Sena corporator Rahul Shewale wrote to Additional Municipal Commissioner (Project) Rajiv Jalota, asking him to explain the circular he passed for transferring the civic auditors to departments like sewerage, water, solid waste management, accounts etc.
"It is unconstitutional. The Municipal Act clearly states that the appointment-transfer-dismissal can be done only after the approval of the standing committee. The amendment to the act, of appointing a municipal chief auditor by the state government which would thereby control the audit of the municipal funds, is inappropriate. And so is appointing a completely new staff into the third party audit of the corporation," said Shewale.
He added that auditors of many years would have to suddenly dispense a different function in a department they are completely uninitiated into and oblivious of.

One of the auditors of the department, which has been in existence since 1938, said on the condition of anonymity, "We are tensed because we would be shifted to a department whose work we used to audit earlier and which we treated as subordinate. It is also about our dignity. Besides, our qualifications do not best suit any random department."

State control?
A civic auditor has to be a commerce graduate and have the knowledge of advanced accounting and auditing. Some have been working for over 30 years. "The auditors who would replace us would probably be from the state government's finance department and they have just manipulated a part of the clause in the act which authorises them to audit funds from the central or state government, which is only Rs 780 crore. While Rs 22,000 crore of the BMC has to be scrutinised by us," said another auditor.

Politicos say
Rajhans Singh, Congress MLA, said, "What is the problem if the Municipal Auditor comes from the state government? Even the commissioner and additionals are appointed by it. Does that mean that it controls the civic body? Funds are used by the corporation from the central and the state government and it is necessary to audit them."

Gopal Shetty, BJP MLA, said, "Unconstitutional things should not be done but if they are clean, they should not fear these changes. If the public elects a representative, it wants to audit the usage of money then isn't it important? But at the same time, if the state government is making changes in the laws, it is necessary to impose it for all the corporations and not only Shiv Sena-BJP ruled ones."

Did you know?
The municipal audit department requires 985 staffers at 21 different designations. While 670 staffers are in service, 315 posts are lying vacant.

The other side
Additional Municipal Commissioner (Projects) Rajiv Jalota refused to comment on the subject.

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