The Pune Zilla Parishad (ZP) has suspended 14 gram sevaks and two officials in connection with a recruitment scam after it discovered that 702 employees were recruited by 20 gram panchayats violating rules.
“We have suspended 14 gram sevaks and two officials in connection with the bogus recruitments,” Pune ZP CEO Ayush Prasad told The Indian Express on Tuesday. The ZP has also chargesheeted 22 officials.
“The chargesheet against the officials has been filed with the divisional commissioner’s office which has the power of a court,” Prasad said.
Gram sevaks are member-secretaries of gram panchayats, primarily responsible for carrying out the recruitment process for class 4 employees.
This action by the ZP followed the submission of a report on December 17 by an inquiry committee that investigated bogus recruitment in 20 gram panchayats, prior to the villages being merged with Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
The Pune ZP has transferred all the 702 employees found to have been recruited violating rules to the PMC. “Now it is the PMC’s decision to decide the fate of these employees. We have submitted the committee’s report to the PMC,” Prasad said.
Among the 23 villages merged with the PMC, only Mahalunge, Pisoli and Shewalewadi gram panchayats were found to be free of any irregularity in recruitments, he said.
Prasad said 17 sarpanchs and 195 gram panchayat members have been served legal notices. “They have been asked to explain the bogus recruitments carried out by their respective gram panchayats. It is the gram panchayats who had passed the resolution to approve these bogus recruitments,” he said.
Prasad said the recruitments were carried out between December 2020 and July 2021. “In December, the Maharashtra government issued a draft notification for the merger of 23 villages with the PMC. The final merger took place in July. Of the total bogus recruitments, 658 were carried out during this period while 44 earlier, also violating the norms,” he said.
The six-member committee, headed by Dattatraya Munde, found various irregularities. “For instance, one employee was found to be working both as a computer operator and as a clerk and drawing salaries for both the posts,” said an official.
Though gram panchayats did not have the power to recruit more employees than the stipulated number, they went ahead and recruited as per their whims and fancies, the committee found out.
In some cases, the committee said, relatives of gram panchayat members and gram sevaks were recruited. The committee also suspects bribing behind some appointments.
Prasad said the probe committee had received several threats during its inquiry. “Attempts were made to intimidate and get them transferred. But the committee headed by Dattatraya Munde remained unfazed. It did a great job of exposing the wrongdoings,” he said.
ZP officials said that the government should take a cue and investigate the recruitment process carried out by other gram panchayats in the state. “Though gram panchayats are under the Zilla Parishad, they are autonomous bodies who can take the call on recruitments,” Prasad said.
Meanwhile PMC officials said they are studying the report and will take appropriate action in the matter.