Should the Government have asked for an explanation and held an inquiry first is the question

Even as people condemned the sense of entitlement of IAS officers, questions were raised whether a show cause notice should have been served and an inquiry held. An interesting discussion followed

IAS officers walking the dog inside the stadium
IAS officers walking the dog inside the stadium

NHS Bureau

The photograph of a couple, both senior IAS officers of the AGMUT cadre posted in Delhi, walking their dog in the Thyagaraj stadium in Delhi invited flak. The report in The Indian Express quoted athletes complaining that security guards at the stadium would force them to vacate the stadium by 7 pm. It was done, they alleged, at the behest of the IAS officers. The officer told The Indian Express that he did not force the stadium to be vacated; that he went to the stadium occasionally only after the official closing time.

The impact was immediate with Delhi CM ordering all stadiums to remain open for athletes till 10 pm. The central government transferred the IAS couple to Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh the very next day

Even as people condemned the sense of entitlement of IAS officers, questions were raised whether a show cause notice should have been served and an inquiry held. There were also insinuations that powerful lobbies wanted the IAS officer out of Delhi; that the officers were actually framed and moved out of the way. Whether the officer had sought and received permission from any quarter remained unanswered. Whether the stadium remained open after 7 pm for others was not asked. And the improbability of intelligence agencies being ignorant of the officers’ walk did not figure in discussions.

It was in this backdrop that an interesting conversation was carried on social media. Here is a transcript:

• Blood sport? The Delhi CM announced that as stadium closure time of 7 pm did not suit athletes, it has been extended to 10 pm. Obviously the IAS officer did not force closure. What kind of inquiry was held in 24 hours to declare them guilty? Lynch justice at work. --Arvind Mayaram

• The symbolism of an officer walking with his wife & dog in an empty stadium is one of power & entitlement. If stadium is closed at 7 pm then why should he go after 7 pm. If he walked when athletes practised, mingling with them he would have become their hero. --Yashovardhan Jha Azad

• Question of media trial is problematic. This happens with bureaucrats and also with police officers. My contention is that the system must follow process and not succumb to media pressure. Unfortunately, even judicial judgement is now often impaired by public opinion. --Arvind Mayaram

• Totally appreciate what you say but this case stares you in your face. You and I always respected the system and people’s needs. Forget everything- can you take a kutta, no matter how expensive, inside a stadium for a walk? Athletes kiss the tracks and worship it! --Yashovardhan Jha Azad

• The behaviour of the two bureaucrats is shameless and did not merit time consuming processes. If the stadium was shut, they should not have been there. A clear case of misusing authority and an exemplary signal to others to be careful. --Narhari Rao

• Is it okay that in a sports stadium which is built with the taxpayer’s money to train professional sportspersons, to walk a dog at all? Why not use a public park like others? The Brown sahib sense of entitlement has to be called out. --Ruchika Talwar

• We must ask the question-is he the only one who walks there? Are others also walking? I am not saying he could not be wrong. All I’m saying is hold a proper inquiry and then pronounce him guilty. Just because he is an IAS officer don’t condemn him on presumption. --Arvind Mayaram

• The MHA would not have acted so speedily had it been their own state govt. Here was AAP govt always at loggerheads with central govt. So, the immediate decision to transfer. Explanation must be called for. --Adesh Jain

• With due respect Sir, you have obviously not seen the testimonies of athletes, their parents and coaching staff. An IAS officer should lead by example, not make a mockery of public infrastructure. --Eklavya Singh

• Our jurisprudence is based on the principle that every person is innocent till proven guilty. What we are beginning to practice is every person is innocent till pronounced guilty by the media (and the twitterati). -AM

• I don’t believe that even IAS officers can force closure of stadiums for walks, and that too in the capital. Seems like someone had an axe to grind. --Dr Randhawa

• Always good to reflect, ask, enquire before jumping to conclusions. It took 8 months to pronounce Aryan Khan not guilty but 8 minutes to judge him. --Dr Vinti Agarwal

• Whoever did it without a proper enquiry erred. --AM

• How can a media report be considered as evidence to conclude and approve judgement that too within a day. --Medhansh

• I also believe that there hasn’t been a proper enquiry. Something is missing. --Monica Dubey

• Tell me sir, a genuine question. Are people allowed inside the stadium after closure? Is there a rule about pets? --Chandramouli

• See what the complaint is- that we could not practice up to 8-8.40 because IAS officer started walking. What does this imply? -AM

• Beats me. -Chandramouli

• Timing for closure of stadium was 7pm. Therefore, the IAS officer did not force closure before time and prevent athletes from practising in the time allotted to them. Therefore, the only question can be whether he forced them to keep the stadium open after closure time. --AM

(The debate continues. It’s open to all)

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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