Kerala Kaumudi Online
Tuesday, 07 December 2021 6.34 PM IST

Punishment should be exemplary, not suspension


Two top officials of the forest department and the police have been suspended in connection with two incidents that have embarrassed the state government. It is evident that theirs were not crimes that should be confined to suspension. But as per the rules of service, the department has to suspend the officials as a first step. Chief Forest Conservator and Chief Wildlife
Warden Bennichan Thomas was suspended in connection with an incident involving a permit to cut down trees at Mullaperiyar. The state government had found itself on the defensive due to the order issued by this official. One more high-ranking official was involved in this scam- Water Resources Department additional chief secretary TK Jose. Bennichan issued the order
permitting the felling of trees as per the decision taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Jose. The Water Resource Minister and the Forest Minister have been saying contradictory statements on the issue. Government records show that these statements were part of futile attempts to deny their involvement in permitting the felling of trees. The logic of taking action against only one of
the bureaucrats who was at the helm of an issue involving serious legal issues is not clear. The top official in the water resources department and the top official in the forest department are equally responsible for the controversy regarding the permit to cut down trees. Others may also be associated with it. Shouldn’t their role be brought out as well? The Chief Secretary has been directed to look into the matter. However, the Chief Secretary's inquiry does not seem to be sufficient to fully uncover the truth. As per the rule, a decision on an inter-state issue should be taken only after the cabinet considers it. As the concerned ministers themselves admit that this was not followed in the tree felling controversy, the officer, who issued the order, definitely deserves punishment. The ministers, who shrug off criticisms by saying that they knew nothing about the order, are an insult to the state.

IG Laxman was suspended the other day for allegedly providing all the help to Monson Mavunkal, the biggest swindler the state has seen in recent times. The crime branch has found that this senior police officer was involved in serious criminal cases, including fraud, when he was about to get promoted to the rank of Additional DGP next January. The authorities should have detected and prevented the risks that can take place when a high-ranking police official commits such serious offences. The government should seriously consider whether such a person should be in the police force now that his offences have been detected. Honesty, discipline and sincerity in execution are the hallmarks of the police force. If officials without these qualities remain in service, it can be a great threat not only to the police force but also to the public.

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