Friday, November 7, 2014


Saturday, 08 November 2014 | PNS | BHUBANESWAR/ BALANGIR | in Bhubaneswar
Former Balangir district Collector Debraj Mishra was arrested from his residence in Bhubaneswar by the Vigilance police on the charges of gross irregularities and corruption in the appointment of Revenue Inspectors (RIs) and Amins during his tenure in Balangir.
Mishra, who was the Balangir Collector during 2012-13, had been suspended by the State Government earlier this year after the serious charges were levelled against him over recruitment of RIs and Amins. It was alleged that Mishra in collaboration with some of his staff had collected money from candidates on promise of providing them jobs.
The Government had ordered a Vigilance inquiry into the allegations and later handed over the case to the Crime Branch (CB) police.
Mishra, an IAS officer promoted from the OAS rank, was placed under suspension after the preliminary investigation found prima facie evidence against him.
The CB had also registered cases at the Balangir SDJM Court against Mishra and four OAS officers Anita Panda, Binod Bihari Das, Raghunath Mundari and Ripunath Suna and senior clerk Niranjan Tripathy in connection with the scam.
It was an RTI query that nailed the officials, including the Mishra.
The startling revelations about the gross irregularities obtained through RTI first led first to a Vigilance inquiry and then a CB probe, culminating in the arrest of Mishra.
The CB, during its investigation, had found the involvement of the Collector and four other Government employees, including Niranjan Tripathy, in the illegal appointments and had registered cases against all five of them.
“The Balangir Collector was the sole custodian of the recruitment process as well as the almirah where the question-cum-answer sheets were kept. It is now quite clear that Mishra, instead of keeping these question-cum-answer sheets in the Government treasury, had kept them in the almirah at his office room with the key in his possession,” the Vigilance inquiry report had said.
The report also said that Niranjan Tripathy had intervened in the matter and told the answer evaluators that there were no specific guidelines regarding computer practical test which was later conducted as per his suggestion. The report had also stated that the candidates were awarded marks as per the order of the Collector.
The report had revealed that the candidates who had secured mere two marks in computer practical test were given 93 marks while the candidates who had secured 98 marks were awarded zero marks as per the advice of Mishra during the revision of answer sheets, which was conducted by the employees not engaged in the examination earlier.
The Revenue Divisional Commissioner (North) had also conducted an inquiry into the scam and submitted a report to the Government.
An elated Balangir-based RTI activist Nilamani Joshi, who along with others like noted RTI activist Pradip Pradhan and some unemployed youths had raised voice against the irregularities from the very beginning of the recruitment drive, said, “It is good news for us. Now, we demand arrest of other subordinates officials, clerks and invigilators involved in the RI and Amin recruitment scam. The answer sheets should be examined by handwriting experts and in a forensic laboratory to determine the tampering done by invigilators of the examinations.”
Efforts to get a comment on the development from Balangir district Collector M Muthukumar failed as calls to his cell phone went unanswered.


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