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Forest ranger faces show cause notice after fighting for labourers’ wages

Officer asserts that he acted in public interest when asked about his PIL against the state government

Sabrangindia 03 Mar 2021

Anil Kumar Singh

Jharkhand forest officer Anil Kumar Singh received a show cause notice from the state government asking why he should not be given compulsory retirement after filing a public interest litigation (PIL) regarding pending dues of labourers, said the Indian Express on February 21, 2021.

In December 2020, Singh filed a PIL seeking the High Court’s intervention in paying labourers, employed by the forest department, dues worth Rs 10 lakh. At the time, around 250 workers, responsible for the upkeep of a part of the Pakur Forest Division, held a protest outside the division office demanding wages. Labourers stated they had not been paid wages for over nine months despite talking to authorities several times.

Accordingly, Singh wrote in his petition that payments were stuck because the Divisional Forest Officer’s post had remained vacant. He said he was “compelled” to give labourers advances and that was creating “great hardships” for him and the labourers. As the issue received media attention, a Divisional Forest Officer was transferred to Pakur and payments were made.

However, two months later on February 17, Singh received the January 29 show cause notice signed by Under Secretary Santosh Kumar Chaubey that demanded his response on compulsory retirement by March 17.

The notice quoted findings of a departmental inquiry against Singh, citations from the PIL, and mentioned his “indiscipline while doing his duty.” It stated that although Singh was punished in two previous instances his conduct has not changed and questions his continuity in the job.

The first instance involved an allegation against Singh of filling fake vouchers of around 2.41 lakh. Singh said that while the person who filled the vouchers was not affected, he was punished for refusing to give his superiors commission. Similarly, in the second instance, Singh was hauled up for not following biometric attendance while on field. He mentioned that his superiors inquiring into the matter also did not have biometric attendance.

Singh asserted that he filed his PIL in “public interest.” However, according to an unnamed Secretary in the Forest Department, “Singh is a habitual troublemaker. He cannot and should not go to court for any issue, howsoever good the cause may be. As a government employee, he has to follow service conduct rules.”

Related:

Jharkhand: Unpaid for 9 months, Pakur forest labourers move HC

Allahabad HC has not ordered evictions of Surma villagers of Dudhwa Forest

Maharashtra’s fishing community fights to protect its 'golden belt' coast

Tribal leader V.K Geetha leads struggle against destructive development

Forest ranger faces show cause notice after fighting for labourers’ wages

Officer asserts that he acted in public interest when asked about his PIL against the state government

Anil Kumar Singh

Jharkhand forest officer Anil Kumar Singh received a show cause notice from the state government asking why he should not be given compulsory retirement after filing a public interest litigation (PIL) regarding pending dues of labourers, said the Indian Express on February 21, 2021.

In December 2020, Singh filed a PIL seeking the High Court’s intervention in paying labourers, employed by the forest department, dues worth Rs 10 lakh. At the time, around 250 workers, responsible for the upkeep of a part of the Pakur Forest Division, held a protest outside the division office demanding wages. Labourers stated they had not been paid wages for over nine months despite talking to authorities several times.

Accordingly, Singh wrote in his petition that payments were stuck because the Divisional Forest Officer’s post had remained vacant. He said he was “compelled” to give labourers advances and that was creating “great hardships” for him and the labourers. As the issue received media attention, a Divisional Forest Officer was transferred to Pakur and payments were made.

However, two months later on February 17, Singh received the January 29 show cause notice signed by Under Secretary Santosh Kumar Chaubey that demanded his response on compulsory retirement by March 17.

The notice quoted findings of a departmental inquiry against Singh, citations from the PIL, and mentioned his “indiscipline while doing his duty.” It stated that although Singh was punished in two previous instances his conduct has not changed and questions his continuity in the job.

The first instance involved an allegation against Singh of filling fake vouchers of around 2.41 lakh. Singh said that while the person who filled the vouchers was not affected, he was punished for refusing to give his superiors commission. Similarly, in the second instance, Singh was hauled up for not following biometric attendance while on field. He mentioned that his superiors inquiring into the matter also did not have biometric attendance.

Singh asserted that he filed his PIL in “public interest.” However, according to an unnamed Secretary in the Forest Department, “Singh is a habitual troublemaker. He cannot and should not go to court for any issue, howsoever good the cause may be. As a government employee, he has to follow service conduct rules.”

Related:

Jharkhand: Unpaid for 9 months, Pakur forest labourers move HC

Allahabad HC has not ordered evictions of Surma villagers of Dudhwa Forest

Maharashtra’s fishing community fights to protect its 'golden belt' coast

Tribal leader V.K Geetha leads struggle against destructive development

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