Minister vs bureaucrats: What the special court said in 2G verdict

Minister vs bureaucrats: What the special court said in 2G verdict


NEW DELHI: Bureaucrats must realize that an elected representative has to be at the helm of affairs of a government department as a minister is responsible not only to his electorates but Parliament as well, the special 2G court said today. Special judge O.P. Saini, while noting that if a minister does not perform he risks being "eclipsed of his political career", said that former telecom secretary DS Mathur was "bent upon" to not let then telecom minister A Raja do anything. He referred to the statements of one of the senior officers of the department of telecom (DoT) who had deposed before the court that he had seen Raja shouting at and arguing with Mathur in December 2007. "What can a minister do with such an obstructive and dithering secretary, except to shout at him? A secretary must realize that as per the constitutional scheme of things, an elected representative has to be at the helm of affairs of a government department," the court said. "A minister is a hard core politician, who is responsible to his electorates as well as to Parliament. He has also to retain the faith of the Prime Minister to stay in the council of ministers. He has to perform to the maximum within the time at his disposal," it said. The judge said that if Raja was working against the government policies, Mathur could have informed the cabinet secretariat or the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) about it. "Nothing of this sort was done by D.S. Mathur. A secretary is a secretary to the Government of India and not to his ministry alone," the court said. Modi's principal secretary applauded Former TRAI chairman Nripendra Misra, who is now the principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was applauded by the special 2G court for his commitment in seeking implementation of recommendations of the telecom regulator. Discussing roles and deposition as witnesses of several high-profile bureaucrats, it said Misra's efforts deserve "appreciation". The special judge said several letters were written by Misra to then telecom secretary DS Mathur but the latter did not send any reply to them. "This shows the attitude of Mathur towards other government functionaries as well as his official duties. The irresponsible and callous attitude of Mathur is reflected by his conduct in not replying to the letters of Misra, who was also at one time, secretary (Telecom)," the court said. It said, "On the other hand, the record reflects the earnestness and commitment of Misra with which he was seeking the implementation of the recommendations. Had Mathur heeded to the advice of Misra, things would not have gone so bad leading to the registration of instant criminal case. "The efforts of Misra for ensuring proper implementation of TRAI recommendations deserve appreciation." Regarding A.K. Srivastava, the then deputy director general (Access Services) who was a key prosecution witness, the court said his oral testimony was contrary to the official record which was rejected and he was "inconsistent" and "blowing hot and cold at the same time". "His evidence indicates how a very senior officer endeavored hard to disown and discredit the official record created by him alone and to malign the minister (A Raja)," it said. The court said that the record showed that Mathur was "largely responsible for the mess" in the DoT and it seemed that was awaiting his impending retirement on December 31, 2007 and that he could have awaited his retirement in a more graceful manner. Regarding the then member (Telecom), K. Sridhara, the court said his statement was of no use to the prosecution. It also concluded that Nitin Jain, then director (ASI), deposed contrary to official record and he testified in a hesitant and roundabout manner and his deposition was not trustworthy. Misra, Mathur, Srivastava, Sridhara and Jain were among the many key prosecution witnesses in the case.

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