It is probably the first major decision that the state legislature took almost unanimously in many years. They asked the government to attach senior IAS officer R K Jeerath for insulting a lawmaker and the government had no option but to do. He was removed as Principal Secretary (health and medical education) and his services were attached to the General Administration Department.
Dr Ravi Kulbushan Jerath is the 9th senior-most IAS officer in J&K. The 1980 batch IAS officer has held a number of positions in the state government. During his career, Jerath has maintained a low profile.
However, he was caught into a controversy last week when a BJP’s Bani lawmaker Master Lal Chand accused the IAS officer of insulting him. As the issue was raised by the right-wing party in the house, it triggered an unprecedented chain reaction with all the parties’ – opposition and the treasury benches – supporting action against the officer. Lawmakers wanted to send a strong message to the bureaucracy that they cannot be ignored. The house was adjourned for the day after the ruckus.
Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone described Jerath an “upright officer” but asserted he cannot be punished unheard. The issue was referred to the Privilege Committee that had two sitting with the accused and the complainant.
Master Lal Chand alleged that while he went to Jerath’s chamber with an application duly marked by his minister, the officer said: Chaliye, Chaliye, Bahar Chaliye (get out). Lal said though he tried to convince him that he could not be so discourteous to him as he was an MLA, Jerath did not show any politeness and again asked him to get out of his office, this time more arrogantly.
The lawmaker sought Jerath’s suspension and an inquiry against him.
A day after the Committee submitted its report on basis of which the assembly recommended Jerath’s removal with immediate effect. The report said the IAS officer told the Committee that he had failed to identify the lawmaker. Though he had tendered an unconditional apology, it was rejected both by the committee and the house.
Within a day, the GAD issued an order, replaced Jerath with Suresh Kumar. He has been attached to GAD and nobody knows what to expect next. Meanwhile, his career finally gets a taint.