In the celebrated case of the suspension of a senior bureaucrat of the Union ministry of animal welfare, the CAT has, for the first time in its history, sought the help of forensic experts.
Last month N Patel, joint secretary in the ministry of animal welfare was suspended on the charges of making a ‘political comment’ on a government file. Patel had asked his junior officer to prepare a draft for the comments sought by law ministry on the Bihar fodder scam. Not satisfied with the draft, he called the officer to his chamber and advised him to include some more points and returned the draft with the note “Modify, as advised”.
However his junior officer went to the additional secretary and showed him the noting which read “Modi-fy, as advised’. Mr Patel claimed that the hyphen had been inserted by the junior officer to show him in bad light as a supporter of Mr Narendra Modi, while the junior officer maintained that Mr. Patel had even in his chamber warned him to work more seriously since should Mr Modi come to the Centre, work shirkers like him would be in trouble. Taking serious view of this ‘political comment’ on an official file, Mr Patel was summarily suspended by the Government, and he has appealed to the CAT against this order. During the hearing in the CAT Mr Patel maintained that the ‘dreaded’ hyphen had been put by the junior officer to settle scores with him since he had given adverse remarks on his last year’s ACR. He maintained that he never said anything about Mr Narender Modi to his junior officer, but just advised him to work more seriously in future. When questioned, why did he leave space in between letters ‘modi’ and ‘fy’ , Patel lamented that the ink in his pen unfortunately stopped flowing after he had written the first four letters and then he had to write the remaining letters with another pen; thus inadvertently leaving a little space in between these letters.
The CAT found this argument rather amusing but Patel insisted that if a scientific examination was done of the word – ‘modi-fy’ as it now appears in the file, the truth would come out. Accordingly, CAT has sent the file to forensic experts for their opinion on whether the letters ‘modi’ and ‘fy’ have been written by different pens by the same person; and whether the hyphen ‘-‘ has been put in by another person using another pen.
Speaking to our correspondent Patel repeatedly state that though he belonged to Gujarat, he was not an admirer of Narender Modi especially after the tallest leader of their community had been marginalised by BJP. He did not want to mention that before the tribunal lest it should again be seen as a ‘political comment’. Yet very few in the ministry seem to be sympathetic to him.
On inquiry it has been found that he is known to be an upright and efficient officer, but is also a self-righteous hard task master, and a bit abrasive. The fact that his first name is also Narendra– though he always avoids mentioning it, and even his visiting card and the sign board outside his cabin, indicate his name as Patel N.– also does not help his case .
While his junior officers are eagerly awaiting the results of forensic investigation of the file, the senior officers have decided to remove the words like ‘modify’, ‘modification’, ‘modifiable’, ‘modicum’ from their vocabulary. Many senior officers who used to sign files with short initials ‘namo’ have also been advised to use their full names like Nafees Mohsin, Narendra Mohan, Nathan Morris, etc. instead. All eyes are on the results of forensic examination of ‘Modi-fy’.