New Delhi, June 1: Ending months of uncertainty, President Pratibha Patil has rejected the city Lokayukta's recommendation to sack Delhi PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan for his alleged involvement in protecting a leading resort in a tax evasion case.
The Home Ministry today conveyed decision of the President through a letter to Lokayukta Justice Manmohan Sarin who indicated his deep disappointment over rejection of his recommendation, saying such reverses are expected when moral values are sought to be enforced.
“The President has not accepted the findings and recommendations made by the Lokayukta against Chauhan,” the Home Ministry said in the letter.
Sarin had in February recommended to the President to “withdraw her pleasure” for the Minister to continue in office, holding him guilty of misconduct of “grave nature”. Home Minister P Chidambaram, when asked about President's rejection of the Lokayukta's recommendation, said the procedure has been followed in dealing with the report by the anti-corruption watchdog.
“There is a procedure to deal with the report. That procedure has been followed,” Chidambaram said.
Justice Sarin's order had come in a case pertaining to Chauhan's alleged involvement in influencing a team of tax officials when they were carrying out a survey in the Tivoli Garden resort in South Delhi in February last year.
The Lokayukta order had said that “the Minister made a telephone call to the Commissioner of Trade of Taxes in the evening of February 20 last year when a team of tax officials were carrying search and survey at the premises of Tivoli Garden Resort to unearth huge evasion of taxes and concealment of income.”
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, welcoming the decision by the President, said the city government's view on the matter has been endorsed by the highest authority of the country.
“Our view has been endorsed by the President,” Dikshit said when asked about the decision.
Earlier this month, Delhi government had sent a detailed report to the Union Home Ministry rejecting the Lokayukta's recommendation.
The Home Ministry had asked Delhi Government to file a report on Lokayukta's recommendation. However, Justice Sarin, said he will consider the option of placing a special report on the issue before the Delhi Assembly.
“Such set backs and reverses are expected whenever systemic changes are required and moral values are sought to be enforced and brought in place. It is for the right thinking members in the society to build an effective public opinion for non acceptance of such conduct,” he said.
Noting that there was a provision to place a special report before the Assembly on the issue, Sarin said “there would always be a conflict with political compulsions and expediency.”
Chauhan, asked about the decision of the President, maintained that as public representative, he gets lots of calls from people requesting for favours and he only responded to such a call.
In his order, the Lokayukta had said that the call was made to “curry favour and ammounted to interference in discharge of statutory functions of the tax officials and was a penal offence under the statute and not a trivial matter.
The Lokayukta had held it as a serious breach of norms of conduct and integrity expected of high public functionary as the Minister. PTI