18th August 2016
A number of people who know HC Gupta have come out in his support. I’m not passing any judgement at this stage, but just noting some of the comments I’ve come across.
- MY BATCHMATES
My batchmates who know him (and I’m only talking about those whose views I trust) vouch for his integrity.
“Mr Gupta is known across the state for being a humble and an upright official. The fact that he has chosen to go behind bars and not even take legal recourse for lack of funds has pained us immensely and we are trying to help him in as many ways as we can,” a principal secretary of Uttar Pradesh told IANS. [Source]
The officials pointed out that under the Prevention of Corruption Act, there was no watertight case against Mr Gupta, as there was neither intent nor a money trail. “We believe he did what is alleged to have done at the beck and call of the then PMO and he is not involved in the whole issue anyhow,” said a senior bureaucrat, not wishing to be named. [Source]
Former Coal Secretary H C Gupta, an accused in several coal scam cases and presently out on bail, has been known among his colleagues, subordinates, and batchmates as a clean and studious civil servants who obeyed the orders of his political boss and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It’s a travesty of justice that for doing what he was obligated to do as a civil servant, he has been hauled up in as many as 20 cases [Source]
“this fine bureaucrat, whom everyone unhesitatingly certifies to be “the most honest officer” of his generation” [Source]
IAS officers back ex-coal secy H C Gupta, to approach PM Modi [Source]
Once again, I’m not putting out my own views till I understand this case better. I’ve asked the mining industry to advise me, as well. I may add, that prima facie, HC Gupta appears to be an honest officer.
On the policy matter, though, it is my view that the Supreme Court went overboard (and incorrectly) in their intervention into coal block allocation.
I’ve already posted about this issue (see this: Modi government’s disastrous mining policy for India. Article: Coal block auctions: A Himalayan blunder?)
And my views on Modi’s mining policy are clear: Fundamental design flaws in the Modi government’s mining ordinance
This does NOT mean I’m absolving HC Gupta of wrong doing (e.g. he may have been honest himself – much like Manmohan Singh is personally honest – but may have agreed to do the biddings of political masters whose only goal is to make money; I consider that corruption as well – even though that may not be precisely covered under the Prevention of Corruption Act).
All I’m saying is that this matter needs careful consideration of policy aspects, as well as implementation aspects. The CBI is (as is the Supremet Court) sorely ill-equipped to evaluate the policy aspects involved.
HOW POLITICIANS MAKE MONEY
Let me elaborate how politicians actually make money. It is never the case that they make money by directly passing written orders in favour of the person who is going to bribe them. When Hiteswar Saikia asked me (when I was Director, Rural Development Assam) to give a cement contract to a particular private company, he wanted me to make all kinds of written excuses in the file to not give the contract to the lowest bidder. It would then appear that I took the decision, not Saikia. I would not get any money (since I never took any corrupt money) but Saikia would get the money and would be exempt from any direct trail to him.
I was kicked out of my job by Saikia the moment I awarded the cement contract to the lowest bidder (Cement Corporation of India).
But here’s the deal: I’d rather be kicked out and do nothing (while in the IAS) than sign things on behalf of corrupt politicians.
It is NOT good enough to not take money for oneself. Is one doing one’s job honestly? That is the question.
In the case of HC Gupta, that’s still an open question. He may not be culpable under the PC Act, but he may still be guilty of corruption in my broader definition of corruption.
Can those who know Mr HC Gupta confirm that he NEVER violated the ideals of integrity in order to appease any politician? Can he be asked to say so?