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Mumbai: Suspended officer files writ against firm accusing it of hiring ineligible candidate

Updated on: 01 March,2024 07:25 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Vinod Kumar Menon |

Controversial appointments, alleged rule violations stir up trouble in MERC

Mumbai: Suspended officer files writ against firm accusing it of hiring ineligible candidate

Suspended officer has dragged MERC to HC. Representation Pic

A Suspended section officer of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) filed a ‘Writ of Quo Warranto’ (calling upon a person to explain under what authority of law he was occupying a public post) before the Bombay High Court on Thursday, February 28, challenging the appointment of an individual to a position reserved for the open category. The petitioner claims that the appointee, who previously identified as a scheduled caste (SC) while working in BEST, allegedly falsely represented themselves as belonging to the open category to secure a high-profile job at MERC.

This individual was subsequently promoted and assigned additional responsibilities, contravening the MERC (Recruitment and Conditions of Services of Employees) Regulation 2007. This is the second such petition filed by the petitioner in the past month. The previous petition, filed in January, highlighted the petitioner’s claim that the contested appointment, flagged as erroneous by MERC’s internal panel and questioned by the state’s Auditor General, denied him promotion despite possessing qualifications and experience.

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Notably, the office of Accountant General (Audit II) Maharashtra, during the 2019-2020 audit, raised concerns about the appointment, indicating a loss of R2.76 lakh to MERC due to non-compliance with promotion rules. Despite auditors seeking clarification, no corrective measures have been taken to date. The petitioner has now taken the matter to the Bombay High Court with a writ of Quo Warranto, and the case is scheduled for a hearing soon.

The February 28 ‘Quo Warranto’ writ alleges that the individual appointed, claiming to be from the open category, is allegedly from the scheduled caste and provided false information. Advocate Rajeshwar Panchal filed the writ against the state of Maharashtra, through the Secretary of Industry, Energy and Labour Department (Respondent 1), Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) and its Chairman (Respondent 2), as well as the Executive Director and current In-charge Secretary of MERC (Respondent no 3).

Panchal in his petition has claimed that “The suspended officer, had joined MERC as a section officer on September 9, 2010. In 2008, Respondent No 3 applied for the post of Director (Tariff) reserved against the open category, and while doing so, Respondent no 3, allegedly misrepresented his caste as Hindu Maratha. Thus, Respondent no 3, furnished false information regarding his caste as Hindu Maratha, whereas the actual caste of Respondent No.3 is Chamar falling into the scheduled caste category.”

Panchal further stated, “In 2017, Respondent No. 3 was promoted to the post of executive director illegally, disregarding the rule of seniority. This led to the dismissal of another deserving official’s claim, prompting a complaint to higher authorities within MERC.” “Upon scrutinising Respondent No. 3’s promotion, the commission acknowledged the illegality of the appointment to the Executive Director position. Subsequently, the commission released the seniority list of executive directors as of January 1, 2022, revealing Respondent No. 3’s category as SC. This evidence supports Advocate Panchal’s assertion that Respondent No. 3 provided false information about his caste being Hindu Maratha.

Despite objections during the 2019-2020 CAG audit, which highlighted a loss of R2.76 lakh due to non-compliance with promotion rules, no action has been taken against Respondent No. 3. Panchal noted, “Per the 1993 GR of the Government of Maharashtra, Respondent No 2 should take action against Respondent No. 3 for providing false information. No action has been initiated. Instead, Respondent No. 2, without consequence, has been assigned additional responsibilities, indicating tacit support for Respondent No. 3. This forms the basis for the  petition, urging an inquiry into the alleged improprieties and appropriate action against the MERC employee.”

Advocate Rajeshwar Panchal, speaking to mid-day, stated, “Citing the Government Resolution of Maharashtra, the petitioner urges disciplinary action, including removal or dismissal, against those providing false information for public posts, supported by Supreme Court judgments highlighting the serious consequences of such actions on integrity and honesty.”

MERC unreachable
Attempts made to reach out to MERC did not yield any result.

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