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As a Service, we have been declaring, to the world, that we 'stand by' our colleagues, who have apparently been dealt unfairly. The question remains, what do we mean by that? Are we willing to go to jail for them? Or are we willing to go jail with them? Perhaps we can pool in their legal fees then. Except that marquee lawyers take upwards of a crore per hearing, and divided among 5000 odd IAS officers, that is some 2000 rupees per hearing per officer. Not a fortune, but surely it would make many people wary of standing by. 


One has not read the judgement passed in the case. One takes the words of the seniors for it, that our senior colleagues have been hard done by. One has met many seniors who have vouched for the honesty of the officer(s) concerned. One is willing to believe that their 'crime' was something which has now been erased from the statutes.


What one finds hard to understand is how a system, which could not determine who was driving the vehicle on the Bandra road that fateful night, and which could not determine who shot the deer on that famous hunting spree, was so sure of itself that it rejected a CBI final report, and recorded in the rejection order that the conduct "falls within four corners" of an offence under PC Act. Was the investigator left with much choice, except to locate the final situation within those four corners? 


Anyway, why should we blame over-enthusiasm of the system, when the case itself was born out of a glory hunting exercise by our own, even more senior, colleague. Does he 'stand by'? That the glory hunting turned itself conveniently into a political hatchet job was conveniently ignored. After the political price was paid, it was all water under the bridge. Except for the officers of the screening committee, who are left with the albatross of prosecution around their necks.


The most notable of the 'convicted' trio is retired. The two others were serving, at appropriately senior levels that their prosecution required sanction of the government; sanction which seems, was easily given. Do the officers, who gave the sanction, 'stand by'? One supposes those officers were sufficiently senior to understand that the named officers were not criminals. Or did they think otherwise? If they did, why don't they come out and convince the association, so that those who are 'standing by' may sit down. Or did they just roll over to the political desire. Or, worse, they did not even apply their minds before throwing their colleagues under the bus?

Raveesh Gupta (IAS)


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