A case of ‘whistle-blower’ being victimised, alleges staff body

Whistleblower or blackmailer? The staff and management of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) have adopted diametrically opposite positions in a controversy relating to a joint director, who was arrested on a complaint from the regulator.

S. K. Jain, who is also the Vice-President of the IRDA Officers and Staff Association, was charged with using fake IDs to send e-mails to senior officials, including those in the Ministry of Finance, about corruption and malpractice in the regulatory body.

The remand report of the police dated August 23, 2013, notes that Jain had “noticed some irregularities in promotions, absorbing of ineligible employees and corruption, upon which they have tried to convey them to senior officers but they have showed deaf ear… As such, he had decided to send mails to private persons…’’

These e-mails were sent from as early as February 2013, but the IRDA formally complained about the ‘spurious mails’ only in July.

After discovering that the mails originated from a computer at Jain’s residence, he was arrested under Section 66 A of the Information Technology Act, which penalises “sending false and offensive messages through communication services”.

He is now out on bail. Jain’s mail to the IRDA Chairman in February alleged many irregularities in the filling up of about 25 vacancies , including senior positions such as Executive Director and Actuary.

They also mentioned some unspecified “acts of corruption’’ and alleged misuse of official position by the executive director.

Strong objection

IRDA’s staff body has taken strong exception to the arrest of Jain, saying he has been victimised for being a ‘whistle-blower’.

In a letter addressed to the Chairman of IRDA dated September 10, Suresh Nair, President of the employees association, demanded that the case against Jain be withdrawn immediately and that an independent investigation be conducted into the alleged irregularities. When contacted, Sriram Taranikanti, Executive Director, IRDA, said: “Allegations of corruption/irregularities have been made in 10 to 12 cases but they are baseless”.

When asked whether any probe was ordered on the allegations, he said the authority had looked into the issues but was content with the stand it had taken on each of them.

No employee had a right to disclose or share internal issues with outsiders, especially with those entities which are regulated by it, he said.

“This is not whistle-blowing but black-mailing tactics. We are open to correction or take a re-look at any thing always,” he said.

naga.gunturi@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 15, 2013)
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