Select Haryana bureaucrats benefit from Hooda’s rehab policy? (News Analysis)

Chandigarh, Jan 4 (IANS) A select group of top bureaucrats who have worked closely with Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in the past nearly nine years seem to be reaping the benefits of their proximity to him. Though the state government does not have any official rehabilitation policy for superannuating bureaucrats, those close to Hooda are lapping up cushy post-retirement sinecures.

Over a dozen top-ranking bureaucrats, including a husband-wife duo, have been accommodated with high-level post-retirement assignments that not only protect their well-paid salaries but also enable them retain official bungalows, cars with red beacons, security and other government-sponsored facilities like staff and all-costs paid mobiles and telephones. The assignments take care of the bureaucrats for up to five years after retirement.
P.K. Chaudhery, who got a six months’ extension as chief secretary last year after reaching the age of superannuation, finally retired on Dec 31. Just back from a trip to the United States, Chaudhery was Wednesday, the first day of 2014, appointed advisor to the Haryana government for development and governance reforms.
Chaudhery, who is the brother-in-law of Haryana Industries Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala, has been given the rank and status of a cabinet minister. This entitles him to a status even higher than that of the chief secretary.
Krishna Mohan, who retired on Tuesday as additional chief secretary, is also in line for a cushy post-retirement job.
The recently retired additional chief secretary, Samir Mathur, who had been given a three-month extension by the Hooda government after he reached the retirement age, has now been accommodated as information commissioner, a rank equivalent to that of the chief secretary.
Hooda’s earlier principal secretary, Chhatar Singh, was twice given extensions of three months each beyond his retirement, which was to happen on March 31 last year. Chhatar Singh was recently appointed a member of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in New Delhi – the assignment coming with Hooda’s backing.
Former Director General of Police (DGP) Ranjiv Singh Dalal, who remained on the top post for nearly six years under Hooda’s regime, was in October 2012 accommodated as director general of the Haryana Institute of Public Administration (HIPA) in Gurgaon.
Other bureaucrats accommodated by the Hooda government after retirement include former chief secretaries Promila Issar, L.S.M. Salins, R.N. Prashar and Dharam Vir and retired police officer P.V. Rathee.
The husband-wife duo of Naresh Gulati, a former financial commissioner, and Urvashi Gulati, a former chief secretary, was appointed to the state information commission for a five-year stint. Naresh Gulati is the chief information commissioner (CIC). He took over from his sister-in-law and retired chief secretary Meenaxi Anand Chaudhry.
Hooda at present has two principal secretaries – an unusual administrative arrangement – in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO). This has been done to accommodate two serving bureaucrats. The CMO has a fair number of retired officers working as Hooda’s advisers. Most of them enjoy high official status and perks like huge government bungalows, cars and staff.
Hooda’s please-all rehabilitation policy for bureaucrats close to him is coming at a heavy price, literally, for the state’s exchequer. Each rehabilitated bureaucrat continues to cost the state government lakhs of rupees.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected])