Consumer affairs minister Danve seeks BIS DG’s reply on transfer of scientists overlooking rules

Tiwari, as per official information accessed by ET, has been directed to furnish to the minister’s office by Monday “a detailed note along with such orders from January 2020, till date” for transferring senior most Group A scientists of categories...

Agencies
Union minister of state for consumer affairs Raosaheb Patil Danve
New Delhi: Union minister of state for consumer affairs Raosaheb Patil Danve has sought a response from Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) director-general PK Tiwari on a large-scale transfer of scientists and other staff during the Covid-19 pandemic without the ministry’s approval.

Tiwari, as per official information accessed by ET, has been directed to furnish to the minister’s office by Monday “a detailed note along with such orders from January 2020, till date” for transferring senior most Group A scientists of categories “F” and “G” and others, allegedly in violation of the rules at the organisation.

More than 175 scientists and other employees, said BIS insiders, were transferred since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.


"It has been reported that the DG has transferred officers at the level of Scientist F&G and above, and made mid-session transfers of officers and staff without the approval of the central government," the minister’s private secretary, SK Jadhav, wrote on October 21.

Tiwari told ET that there had been annual “rotation transfers” which happened as per the transfer policy of the BIS and with the prior approval of the Department of Consumer Affairs, wherever required. “This is a routine administrative issue" and the organisation "has not allowed Covid-19-related problems to come in the way of the discharge of its responsibilities", he added.

The minister’s move to seek accountability comes following BIS allegedly sidestepping former cabinet minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s direction in May to avoid transfer of officials during the pandemic.
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Tiwari, however, transferred a few senior-most scientists of groups F and G, which only the ministry is empowered to do, according to information available with ET.

In May, the BIS, which issues ISI quality certification for goods, sent a proposal for the placement of scientific cadre officers to the consumer affairs department for approval. But, the then minister Paswan, official communications reviewed by ET showed, noted his unwillingness on the file — "Due to prevailing Covid-19 situation, avoid the transfers at present," he wrote.

The department wrote back to Tiwari, a 1991-batch IAS officer of the Assam and Meghalaya cadre, seeking "strict compliance" of the minister's direction. But, the bureau went ahead with the reshuffle of employees.

On July 2, MVSD Prasad Rao, a scientist G and DDG-level officer posted at BIS headquarters here, was shifted out to Chennai. Sanjeev Chaturvedi, a scientist F, was transferred to take over as a DDG at the headquarters — both without the ministry’s go ahead, government sources said. This raised eyebrows in the department and the bureau. Last month, the BIS shifted SK Gupta, a group F scientist, out from its headquarters, and posted him as the deputy director general (East) in Kolkata.
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This time, the peeved ministry sought a “clarification” from Tiwari, who was appointed as the DG last December, a BIS insider said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The moves contravene the BIS (Power & Duties of DG) Regulation, 2018, that states that scientists of F and G categories can be removed only after the prior consent of the central government, said people in the know at the national standards body.
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Apart from that, the BIS for the first time deputed several Group A scientists at different major ports for quality check of imported ISI-certified goods post the Covid-19 outbreak and stand-off with China. Some of them figure on the BIS vigilance department’s list of people with doubtful integrity, according to documents seen by ET.

"As regards posting of officers at ports, it is again a new initiative. BIS is working out the modalities for their effective functioning with customs," DG Tiwari said, responding to ET’s questions. The DG, however, chose to remain silent on why scientists accused of "doubtful integrity" were posted at ports.

One of the officials who was on the vigilance’s scanner had gone to court challenging his transfer and got a stay. At the time, the BIS told the High Court of Punjab and Haryana that "considering his (official’s) integrity and doubtful action, he has been posted for port duty — a highly neutralised and non-sensitive post".

While the BIS considers port posting as non-sensitive despite 95% of the country's trade by volume is through maritime, the finance ministry has for long officially declared stints of Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) officials at ports as "sensitive", which bars posting of tainted babus from the posting.
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