Conspiracy against NEEPCO chief exposed in vigilance report

Borgohain, Union MoS, two others named in probe report

SHILLONG: A vigilance report has revealed the alleged role of a top NEEPCO functionary in preventing A.G West Kharkongor from becoming the NEEPCO chief.
The report of the vigilance investigation of the former Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of NEEPCO, Satish Verma, submitted to the Ministry of Power said the current Director (Personnel), S.B Borgohain, has connived with two persons identified as Naba Ram Rabha and Sanjib Kalita to commit a criminal offence of conspiracy and falsely complained to the Centre and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) against Kharkongor, leading to criminal breach of trust.
The report also recommended that Borgohain, Rabha and Kalita may be prosecuted for offences punishable under sections 120-B, 182 and 409 of the Indian Penal Code.
The report highlighted the role of Assam MP Rajen Gohain, who is the current minister of state for railways, for complaining against Kharkongor at the behest of Borgohain. “The role of Rajen Gohain is also questionable in this matter,” the report said.
Both Rabha and Kalita had questioned the tribal status of Kharkongor in their letters to the Union Ministry of Power. The complaints had copies of documents supplied from the official personal file of Kharkongor, which was found to be an inside job.
As per documents available with The Shillong Times, the complaint by Kalita, dated September 16, 2015, apart from questioning the tribal status of Kharkongor, alleged that he has a PGDM degree from IIM Calcutta and it cannot be treated as MBA with specialisation in Finance, and thus he did not have the qualifications to be appointed as Director (Finance).
Curiously, the complaint dated February 24 this year by MP Gohain also asserted that the PGDM degree from IIM Calcutta that Kharkongor has is not equivalent to MBA (Finance), which was the necessary qualification for his appointment as Director (Finance) in 2010.
After the complaints reached the Union Ministry of Power, the matter was referred to CVO Verma.
Verma, after proper inquiry, found that the ST status of Kharkongor was in order after due confirmation from the East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner and traditional heads. Moreover, the inquiry did not find any anomalies in the degree possessed by Kharkongor.
“Kharkongor was granted his Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) from IIM Calcutta in 1985. His PGDM certificate does not mention any specialisation in Finance as PGDM certificates issued by the IIM Calcutta do not mention any specialisation. Kharkongor was appointed as Director (Finance) in 2010 after he was selected by the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB). Since MBA with specialisation in Finance was a pre-requisite, the PESB had obviously considered the PGDM of Kharkongor to be an equivalent degree,” the report said.     Other series of allegations levelled against Kharkongor were also proved wrong following the CVO’s inquiry.
As per the inquiry report, the documents with Kalita and Rabha’s complaints were copied from the official personal file of Kharkongor. Moreover, pages 429-439 from the personal file have been extracted and some of them were attached with the complaint of Kalita.
The official personal files of the CMD and directors are kept in the personal custody of the DGM (HR), S.L Dowerah. The only other person who had access to the official personal file of Kharkongor in the period immediately preceding the complaints was Borgohain, the report said.
According to the probe report, the absence of any official reason for Borgohain to keep the official personal files, especially of Kharkongor, and his conduct of taking photos of pages from personal files with his iPad are suggestive and significant.
“Out of these two persons, Dowerah and SB Borgohain, Dowerah had no motive to make unauthorised copies of papers from the personal file of Kharkongor. That leaves Borgohain as the prime suspect, who had a clear motive of somehow obstructing the application or possible selection of Kharkongor for the post of CMD NEEPCO,” the report said.
Both Rabha and Kalita live in Guwahati in a locality called Kahilipara, where Borgohain has a house and frequently stays there.
The interview for the post of CMD was conducted by PESB on December 28, 2015. Only two candidates appeared – Borgohain and Kharkongor. PESB selected the latter.
Following the selection of Kharkongor, Kalita sent a reminder to the CVC on December 31, 2015, wherein the matter related to Kharkongor’s selection for the post of CMD, NEEPCO, was also mentioned. A fresh complaint against Kharkongor was made on January 4 this year by Rabha. And finally, Gohain not only sent his complaint to the CVC on February 24 but also followed it up with a personal visit to the CVC on March 8, the report said.
Verma as part of his investigation quizzed both Rabha and Kalita who revealed that they did not know anything about NEEPCO and also about Kharkongor. However, they refused to divulge as to who instigated them to lodge complaints against Kharkongor.
Verma went further to examine the call records of both Rabha (9864981784) and Kalita (9085849411).
During the inquiry, it was revealed that a third number which was hidden (9707102529) was frequently used to contact Rabha and Kalita. “The scrutiny of the CDR shows that this is a phone (9707102529) registered in the name of none other than Kalita himself and that SB Borgohain was in frequent contact with him,” the report said.
According to the probe report, it is clear that the complaints in the name of Rabha and Kalita “were engineered by Borgohain by using papers that he had photocopied and/or extracted from the official personal file of Kharkongor”.
The report further said though Verma had requested Borgohain to join the investigation, he had not responded.
As per Verma’s report, Gohain was entertained as a guest of NEEPCO in July 2015 at the behest and initiative of Borgohain.
In this regard, the copy of a confidential note-sheet dated May 17, 2016, of GM (Finance) along with the voucher, approval note, and hotel bill of Rs 25,114 were attached, besides the copy of the statement dated May 17 of Prakash Verma, Senior Manager (HR).
“Thus it is also clear that Borgohain used his acquaintance and relationship with Gohain, MP (Lok Sabha), to make a frivolous/false complaint against AG West Kharkongor, and even caused him to personally go to meet the CVC,” the report said.
According to the report, Dowerah appeared before Verma on his own volition on May 16 this year and stated that Borgohain had been telephoning him from Delhi and insisting that he gave it to Borgohain in writing something that would suggest that people other than the two of them could have had access to the official personal file of Kharkongor.
“Thus it is further clear that Borgohain deliberately did not appear for giving his response in the matter on May 12, 2016, and has been trying to influence Dowerah to somehow not state the truth in this investigation,” it said.
According to Verma’s report, the complaints against Kharkongor have been engineered by Borgohain in order to obstruct his selection and eventual appointment as CMD NEEPCO.
“SB Borgohain has committed grave misconduct by photocopying and taking away from Kharkongor’s official personal file, entrusted to him and under his department in a fiduciary capacity, and using those documents to fabricate baseless and false complaints in the name of two persons named Rabha and Kalita, in order to harm the career and reputation of Kharkongor. Borgohain has used political influence of an MP for furthering his malicious intent. Borgohain has attempted to obstruct the vigilance investigation and has also attempted to influence a witness, SL Dowerah, who is his subordinate,” the report added.
These facts also find place in the application submitted by Verma before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Guwahati Bench, after the Home Ministry filed charge sheet against him for the alleged unauthorised absence from duty.
However, the Tribunal on November 18 had stayed the charge-sheet filed against him in the absence of any preliminary inquiry.
Verma joined NEEPCO in August 2014 for three years, but his tenure was curtailed by the Power Ministry after certain NEEPCO officials allegedly influenced the Ministry to secure Verma’s transfer as he was probing serious corruption charges against top NEEPCO functionaries.