New Delhi: The Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS) officer shunted for an article critical of Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has said he will resign if “pressured” too much.
Speaking to ThePrint days after the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by the prime minister, repatriated him to the railways ministry, Sanjiv Kumar said he had “written nothing that violates the code of conduct”.
“I have committed no treason,” said Kumar.
In the article, published on the website nationalwheels.com — which appears to have been taken down — Kumar had said the Railway Board chairman was only driven by his own interests and those of his clique, and the railways minister was influenced by this favouritism, which compromised national interest.
“I just wrote what I have experienced and faced as an officer in the railway ministry…” Kumar told ThePrint. “Everyone can give superficial feedback, I wanted to give meaningful feedback,” he said.
“But if they pressure me too much, I will resign from the service,” added Kumar.
As reported by ThePrint this January, the Railway Board had asked the central government to immediately repatriate the 2005-batch IRPS officer in light of the article, accusing him of breaching official decorum, misconduct, and publicly casting aspersions on the Narendra Modi government.
Following the letter, Kumar, who was on central deputation and posted as officer on special duty (OSD) to Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh, was repatriated to the Union railways ministry.
A decision on whether Kumar will also be subjected to a penalty will now be taken by the ministry.
Also read: My name is Piyush Goyal & I’m not a poet
Sought an apology from Piyush Goyal
On 14 January, Kumar sent a written apology to Goyal, saying he had made the statements in question in a Facebook post, which was eventually lifted off his profile and published by some news portals without his knowledge.
It was not his intention, he wrote, to malign Goyal, and he may have written something unsavoury “in the flow of writing”. Kumar said Goyal was yet to reply the letter.
Talking to ThePrint, Kumar, however, insisted that his remarks had maligned Goyal in no way.
Violated no code of conduct
In the letter dated 28 December that sought Kumar’s repatriation, Railway Board secretary Ranjanesh Sahai had said the article written by the IRPS officer was “in bad taste, questions the wisdom of senior functionaries of the level of secretary to the government of India and also casts aspersions on the Hon’ble Minister of Railways”.
“In view of the violation of Rule 9 of the Railway Services (Conduct) Rules, 1966, it is proposed to take up the officer under the Railway Servants (Discipline & Appeal) Rules, 1968,” the letter states.
However, Kumar disputed the charge, saying he had not criticised a government policy, vitiated India’s foreign relations with any country, or caused any tension between the Centre and states through his comments, which, he said, are the three conditions under which an officer can be accused of violating the code of conduct.
“I only highlighted the corruption in the system, which has kept the Indian railways from realising its potential,” Kumar said.
“I thought the government will take it positively since someone who knows the system well is writing exactly what is wrong with it,” he added. “I did not for once think things will come to this pass.”
Kumar even gave a representation to the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), calling the railways ministry’s request to repatriate him “malafide and malicious”.
However, he did not get any response from them either.
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