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Modi govt asks ‘disillusioned’ IAS officer to rejoin amid Covid-19 crisis, he calls it petty

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Kannan Gopinathan | File photo | Facebook
File image of Kannan Gopinathan | | Facebook


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New Delhi: About eight months after he resigned from the service, IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan has been asked to rejoin as an officer amid the Covid-19 outbreak — failure to do so could invite imprisonment for up to a year or fine.

Gopinathan, a 2012-batch IAS officer from the AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories) cadre posted on Twitter Thursday a letter from the government that was sent to him, asking him to rejoin the service.

“Coronavirus has been declared as a pandemic under Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 and regulations made thereunder, and the NDMA under section 6(2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 has directed all the Ministries/Department of Government of India, State Governments and State Authority to take measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Country,” the letter stated.

“A resignation becomes effective when it is accepted and the Government Servant is relieved of his duties,” it added. However, in August (last year) when he resigned, the government had directed Gopinathan to attend to his assigned duties, which he has not done till date, it further said.

The mention of the NDMA is significant since a provision of the Disaster Management Act states that “any officer, on whom any duty has been imposed by or under this Act and who ceases or refuses to perform or withdraws himself from the duties of his office shall, unless he has obtained the express written permission of his official superior or has other lawful excuse for so doing, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine”.

Gopinathan, however, replied to the government, saying he will continue to “extend his services in health, wealth and mind, to the government in this fight against the Covid-19 pandemic”, but only as “a free and responsible citizen and not anymore as an IAS officer”.

While he is aware of the penalties that can be imposed under the Disaster Management Act, he said in a tweet, “I understand the implications of mentioning DM act in the letter. Let the Govt be as petty and vengeful as it wants to be. I am not going (to) rejoin IAS again.”

Asked why Gopinathan has been asked to rejoin, spokesperson of Department of Personnel and Training Vasudha Gupta told ThePrint: “I have no such information.”


Also read: Modi govt proposes inquiry against IAS officer 2 months after he quit over Article 370


Govt often sits on resignations

Gopinathan had left the IAS after he got “disillusioned” by the events that had taken place in Kashmir following the Modi government’s scrapping of Article 370 last August.

Since there is no upper limit on when the government has to accept a resignation of an officer, civil servants say the administration often sits on resignations endlessly.

While there is no fixed timeline within which the government is bound to accept resignations, civil servants say a central notification can be issued in a month’s time if the administration so wishes.

Guidelines on the procedure to be followed in case an officer wishes to resign say: “It is not in the interest of government to retain an unwilling member of service. The general rule, therefore, is that a resignation of a member from service should be accepted.”


Also read: If India is in crisis, it is because good guys like ex-IAS Kannan Gopinathan rather quit


 

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India

Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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