He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have, said Socrates.
The appointment of K.Ramanujam, IPS as Director General of Police (Law and Order) for Tamil Nadu on last Wednesday has raised many eyebrows and raised serious questions. By appointing Ramanujam as DGP just 20 days before his retirement, the government has handed over to him on a platter 2 years of extension of service, which would deprive his juniors a chance to head the Tamil Nadu police.
Ramanujam, a directly recruited IPS officer of 1978 batch had a very good track record as an intelligence officer. Ramanujam, who is a native of Salem District in Tamil Nadu served in various wings of the police. But Ramanujam made his mark as in the Intelligence wing, and carved a niche for himself in the art of intelligence. Admired by his colleagues for his shrewd ways of collecting good intelligence, Ramanujam was a trusted man by old fox Karunanidhi. During the kidnap of late matinee idol Rajkumar by forest brigand Veerappan, Ramanujam played a vital role in securing the release of Rajkumar. Even during Karunanidhi’s regime during 1989-1990, Karunanidhi would call Ramanujam directly for information. Karunanidhi, being an experienced man in the nuances of administration knows the vital role of intelligence to administration and relied on Ramanujam. Even integrity wise, there were no complaints on Ramanujam, till 2006.
K.Ramanujam, as Inspector General of Police, Intelligence during Jayalalitha’s regime in 2001 to 2006, crossed the ‘lakshman rekha’ which no police officer worth his salt should do. During the fag end of Jayalalitha’s tenure in 2006 serious back room negotiations were being held between political parties, and Jayalalitha was desperate to retain power. Jayalalitha sensing the strong anti-incumbency waves against her clung on every party for support. MDMK Chief Vaiko, who was negotiating with DMK Chief Karunanidhi to face the assembly elections under the wings of Karuna was also wooed by Jayalalitha. Vaiko, who is known for his melodramatic statements gave interviews to various media, that he would never join hands with Jayalalitha who imprisoned him for a mere speech supporting LTTE for more than 18 months. Even Vaiko’s mother gave an interview to Ananda Vikatan asking Vaiko to stay with Karunanidhi, just a couple of days before alliances were finalized. But, Vaiko, at the eleventh hour, switched loyalties and allied with the same Jayalalitha who just due to sheer arrogance arrested Vaiko for saying that he will support LTTE.
People who are in the know of things, Ramanujam was instrumental in bringing Vaiko into the ADMK fold at the eleventh hour. Sources say, Vaiko was even offered with a sizeable amount for election expenses and Ramanujam was privy to this information. Unfortunately for Ramanujam, DMK came back to power, albeit short of majority. But, Karunanidhi never forgave Ramanujam for what he considered as ‘treachery’. Karunanidhi, who had never headed a minority government, was forced to run a government with outside support. The minority government tag stuck on to Karunanidi till he demitted office. Though Karunanidhi is aware of the tremendous potential of gathering intelligence of Ramanujam, he never posted Ramanujam into Intelligence and Ramanujam languished in insignificant posts till May 2011.
There is a saying, ‘Integrity is like an island, once you leave it, you can’t be sure to return’. Ramanujam’s tenure in the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption too was mired in controversy.
In July 2009, the officials of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) conducted a surprise raid at the Civil Supplies CID wing’s SP’s office, at Madurai. During the raid, the DVAC officials recovered unaccounted cash of more than 4 lakhs in covers kept to be handed over to Ms.Jayashree, then SP. The Head Constable Michael David, from whom the cash was seized gave a confession that the amount was collected on the instructions of Ms.Jayashree. The name of Ms.Jayashree was included in the FIR and the DVAC commenced investigation. Jayashree, who was reportedly close to MK.Alagiri’s henchman Pottu Suresh and Pottu Suresh, in turn put a word to the then all powerful Intelligence chief Jaffer Sait. Following the instructions of Jaffer Sait, Ramanujam transferred the Investiation Officer of Jayashree’s case – Mr.Esakki Anandan, out of DVAC. To add insult to the injury, Jayashree was given a clean chit by DVAC which enabled her to be appointed to the Indian Police Service. Ramanujam not only failed to protect the Investigating Officer, but had listened to the instructions of a rogue officer like Jaffer Sait to save his skin.
Another instance that happened during the tenure of K.Ramanujam as DVAC chief involves IAS officer Apoorva Verma. Apoorva Varma, as Managing Director of Aavin had indulged in financial irregularities in the sale of Aavin Ghee to other states. When the matter was brought to the notice of Ramanujam, by way of a complaint, Ramanujam referred the matter for departmental action to Aavin itself. When Ramanujam referred the matter to Aavin, Apoorva Varma continued as Managing Director for Aavin !!.
However, Ramanujam during his tenure as DVAC chief, took action against some senior public servants for corrupt activities, unlike his predecessors who always targeted small prey.
Election results changed the fortunes of Ramanujam dramatically. For the first time in the history of Tamil Nadu police, Ramanujam was placed in charge of both DGP (Law and Order) and DGP Intelligence. Ramanujam was made DGP (L&O) superseding K.Vijayakumar, Letikha Saran, Bhola Nath, Shyam Sundar, and Vibakar Sharma.
Jayalalitha government which had surreptitiously extended the services of Ramanujam by two years by appointing him as regular DGP, on the month of his retirement, threw law in the air and made Ramanujam as DGP.
A three member Division Bench of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh & others vs Union of India and others framed guidelines for appointment of DGP to a state. The Supreme Court directed that “The Director General of Police of the State shall be selected by the State Government from amongst the three senior-most officers of the Department who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the Union Public Service Commission on the basis of their length of service, very good record and range of experience for heading the police force. And, once he has been selected for the job, he should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation.”
Following the notification of elections in March 2011, the Election Commission of India removed the then DGP Ms.Letikha Saran from the post of DGP and appointed Bhola Nath as DGP. Jayalalitha immediately after assuming charge shifted Bhola Nath and brought in Ramanujam. When Ramanujam was made DGP (L&O), if the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Prakash Singh’s case was followed, Ramanujam was miles away from making to the list.
The real intention of the judgment of the Supreme Court judgment in the Prakash Singh’s case was to avoid frequent transfers of the top cop in a State and to ensure a minimum term. But Jayalaitha’s government has bent the supreme court judgment to its convenience to ensure the continuance of K.Ramanujam, ignoring his seniors and sidelining his juniors who would have made it to the top post.
Sources in police department say that SK.Upadhyay, who is senior to Ramanujam was not promoted as DGP only with an intention to obviate him from contending for the top post. S.K. Upadyay, a 1976 batch officer was placed under suspension on 17 July 2008, following the infamous ‘telephone tapping’ scandal. Transcripts of conversation between Upadhyay and the then Chief Secretary L.K.Tripathy, appeared in the Deccan Chronicle which created a huge uproar. In the conversation, Tripathy was found instructing Upadhyay, the then DVAC chief to implicate Jayalalitha in a corruption case with regard to the purchase of Kodanadu estate. Kodanadu estate is Jayalalitha’s favourite retreat.
A Commission of Inquiry appointed by the government found that Upadhyay had been recording his conversations and recommended disciplinary proceedings against Upadyay following which he was placed under suspension. Mr.K.Natraj, then DGP was appointed as the Inquiry Officer against Upadhyay and sources say, Natraj gave a ‘not proved’ findings against Upadhyay. For reasons which remain a mystery till date, the then DMK government and the present government have not passed final orders in the disciplinary proceedings against Upadhyay.
Sources in police department say, that Upadhyay has been denied of his promotion so that he would not throw his hat in the ring for the top post. Ironically Jayalalitha who had benefitted politically and personally due to the release of the audio conversation in the media, continue to deny Upadhyay of his promotion which is overdue for more than four years. The release of the audio file had exposed the designs of the Karunanidhi government to slap a fresh corruption case against Jayalalitha. Had that tape not been released, Jayalalitha probably would be facing yet another corruption case besides her assets case in Bengaluru.
The dream of every direct recruit IPS officer borne on the cadre of Tamil Nadu is to become Chennai City’s commissioner and DGP (Law and Order). In government employment, irrespective of the merits of a person, rule of seniority should be strictly followed and various courts have upheld this norm. But Jayalalitha, had for reasons best known to her had thrown the rule of seniority to winds and has continuously favoured Ramanujam.
Ramanujam was appointed as DGP intelligence and handed over additional charge of the top post overlooking 5 of his seniors. Now, his appointment as DGP on the month of his retirement, which had given him 2 more years of service has killed the dreams of SK.Upadhyay, Bhola Nath, Sarabjit Singh, Narinderpal Singh, T.Radhakrishnan, Mahboob Alam and SK.Dogra, to make it to the top post. All these officers would retire before Ramanujam demits office.
Any benefit conferred on a person robbing others’ opportunities could only be termed as an ‘undue advantage’. Ramanujam may be a rare gem in Tamil Nadu Police. There could be no one who could match his skills. But no reason could justify the dubious modus operandi of the Tamil Nadu government for denying opportunity to other officers. If at all Jayalalitha wanted to favour Ramanujam for the ‘meritorious’ services he rendered to her like making Vaiko jump ship, she could have created any new post like ‘Officer on Special Duty’ for Intelligence, Law and Order, etc. and rewarded Ramanujam’s loyalty. But rewarding Ramanujam by depriving others’ chances can never be condoned in a democratic country.
Jayalalitha’s action conferring undue advantage on Ramanujam can only be construed as a quid pro quo for the ‘invaluable’ service rendered by by like lathi charging the people at Koodankulam or foisting cases against Sasikala’s relatives at the whim of Jaya and later instructing the police to go slow when things have cooled down between the two. Ramanujam, being the top cop is supposed to uphold the rule of law and not bend the law according to the ruler’s whims. Ramanjuam being the member of All India Service should owe his allegiance to the Constitution and not “Amma” as he is paid from tax payers’ money and not from Amma’s coffers.
The appointment of Ramanujam would be quashed by the Central Administrative Tribunal or the High Court as this is a clear case of mala fide and colourable exercise of power by the state government. The government would find it tough to convince the court for temporarily appointing Ramanujam as DGP for 18 months when qualified seniors were available. But unfortunately, the IPS brass in Tamil Nadu had long back removed their spines. Even for their rightful seniority, the officers affected by this appointment would not dare to approach the Tribunal or High Court fearing that Amma would be antagonized.
The appointment of Ramanujam as DGP, which clandestinely gives him extension of service for two years is nothing but a bribe paid in kind to Ramanujam. Bribe need not be in cash Mr.Ramanujam.