UP: Two Years Since Police's Cash-for-Posting Scandal, Govt. yet to Take Final Decision Against Accused Officers
New Delhi: More than two years after initiating investigations into an alleged cash-for-posting racket within the top ranks of the Uttar Pradesh Police department, the Yogi government has said that a final decision on action to be taken against the accused officers is still pending.
The alleged scam was investigated by a three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) that was constituted in January 2020 upon directions issued by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
In reply to an RTI query, the Home Department of Uttar Pradesh has stated that since a decision on action to be taken in the course of departmental proceedings that are already underway is in the final stage, the details of the enquiry report cannot be shared for the sake of confidentiality.
The RTI application was filed by this correspondent in January 2021 with UP's Home Department demanding a copy of the report, if any, submitted by the three-member SIT. Copies of this application had also been marked to the Chief Minister's Office and the office of UP's Director-General of Police in Lucknow.
Nearly 18 months after the application was filed, the Home Department informed this correspondent that the contents of the enquiry panel's report could not be shared. The Home Department replied to the RTI query only after the intervention of the State Information Commission in Lucknow.
Earlier, the Home Department had neither responded to the RTI application nor to the first appeal that had been filed subsequently by this correspondent with the Appellate Authority.
The Home Department had also absented itself from the first hearing of the case held on March 8, 2022, in the court of the state's Chief Information Commissioner Bhavesh Kumar Singh, a retired IPS officer belonging to the UP cadre, in Lucknow. The information commission dismissed the case on June 13.
The BJP-led UP government had initiated an enquiry into the alleged scam during Adityanath's first stint in power. The logical conclusion of the enquiry is yet to be reached even as Adityanath completed three months as Chief Minister in June in his second stint in power in Uttar Pradesh.
On January 9, 2020, the three-member SIT was constituted to probe graft allegations in the UP police department, which had been levelled by the then Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Gautam Buddh Nagar Vaibhav Krishna, a 2010-batch IPS officer. In a confidential report, which Krishna had sent to the office of UP's Director-General of Police and the Home Department in August 2019, he had alleged that certain officials belonging to the prestigious Indian Police Services – or IPS for short – were involved in a cash-for-postings racket in which bribes were paid in lieu of "favourable postings".
“No action was reportedly taken in the matter by the state government till the end of December 2019. Meanwhile, Krishna convened a press conference on January 1, 2020, a few hours after video clips, allegedly containing sexually explicit conversations between him and an unidentified woman, went viral on WhatsApp.
He alleged in the press conference that the videos circulated via WhatsApp were fake and were part of an organized attempt by the accused IPS officers to tarnish his reputation. Until then, Krishna had reportedly sent the report thrice to higher authorities. Following the press conference, it was reported that Krishna had allegedly leaked portions of the confidential report to the media. However, Krishna had vehemently denied the allegation of ever leaking the contents of his report and had asserted that he had only mentioned about the existence of this confidential report during the press conference.”
On January 9, 2020, the UP police department issued transfer orders to all 14 officers named in Vaibhav Krishna's report. These included Krishna's colleagues and fellow IPS officers Ajay Pal Sharma, Sudhir Kumar Singh, Ganesh Saha, Rajeev Narain Mishra and Himanshu Kumar. The accused officers were transferred to postings that are reportedly considered "second-rung" in the police department.
However, on the same day, Krishna was also suspended on charges of flouting the Conduct of Service Rules for leaking the confidential report he had compiled on the cash-for-posting scam. He was reinstated into service by the state government in March 2021 after remaining suspended for more than 13 months.
Even as departmental proceedings are to be wound up, only one of the officers, Himanshu Kumar, has continued in the "second-rung" post that he was allotted, that is, the Superintendent of the Provincial Armed Constabulary in Etawah. His colleagues have since then been transferred to other postings.
As per various news reports, the three-member SIT – comprising the then interim Director-General of Police HC Awasthy, Inspector-General of UP Police's Special Task Force Amitabh Yash and UP Jal Nigam Managing Director Vikas Gothalwal – had submitted its report to the state government in February 2020. One of the news reports had mentioned that the SIT had recommended action against at least two of the five aforementioned officers.
Is the cash-for-postings racket still active in Uttar Pradesh even as the enquiry instituted by Adityanath has not reached its logical conclusion for nearly two-and-a-half years?
In a separate enquiry, the vigilance department of Uttar Pradesh had booked two of the officials named in Krishna's confidential report – Sharma and Himanshu Kumar – in September 2020 allegedly for lobbying to get "favourable postings" for themselves. While separate FIRs were filed against the two officers, some "middlemen" were also booked for their alleged involvement in the cash-for-posting scam.
In September 2021, an anti-corruption court in Meerut had directed the testing of voice samples of Sharma at a forensic laboratory in Lucknow. The court had also directed for testing of voice samples of three former media persons who were allegedly involved in the scam. The court had issued this order after a team of vigilance department officials obtained and annexed certain call recordings and chat clippings from the cellphones of the three media persons to a report that it filed.
The writer is an independent journalist.
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