After PGurus ran the report on the Paris rendezvous of Joint Secretary (Revenue) Udai Singh Kumawat, we have been flooded with messages and emails from several officials of the Finance Ministry. A lot of information pertaining to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Black Money, Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meetings, Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), interpersonal relationships in the Revenue Department and on Ease of Doing Business related matters has been received.
How many SIT meetings did said lady officer attend along with Kumawat outside Delhi? Why was the Director in-charge of SIT on Black Money completely sidelined and kept in the dark by Kumawat?
Udai Singh Kumawat was appointed the Member Secretary of the SIT on Black Money headed by Justice Shah. The reports of the SIT usually land at Kumawat’s desk and nowhere else; not even the Additional Secretary (Revenue) is given access to these documents. However, Kumawat, according to officials in the Ministry, made an exception to one particular lady officer. Director (Coordination) in the Revenue handled all matters pertaining to SIT but Kumawat made sure that one particular lady officer was made in-charge of some activities pertaining to the SIT to enable the two of them to travel together to various SIT meetings across India.
The lady officer was made in-charge as the Head of the Department (HoD) for the purpose of sanctioning funds/ financial proposals for the SIT. Kumawat appears to have initiated the file for this particular re-assignment. How many SIT meetings did said lady officer attend along with Kumawat outside Delhi? Why was the Director in-charge of SIT on Black Money completely sidelined and kept in the dark by Kumawat? Why did the Director in-charge of SIT never attend any meetings? Were phone calls made to the Private Secretary of the Vice Chairman to the SIT Justice Arijit Pasayat by Kumawat requesting him to send emails asking for the lady officer also to join the SIT meetings? Did Kumawat and the lady officer overstay after the SIT meetings and who were the private individuals who paid the bills? Why did the Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia not check this kind of behavior that was happening under his watch?
It is also revealed that there are certain note sheets in the Revenue Department where there has been a wide-ranging tussle between the Joint Secretary Kumawat and the then Additional Secretary B N Sharma and in every one of these cases, the Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia sided with Kumawat!
Kumawat, unquestionably, is the blue-eyed boy of Adhia. A group of Under Secretaries raised a red flag over Kumawat harassing them continuously and interestingly, in most cases, Kumawat was not even writing their Annual Performance Appraisal Report (APAR). These complaints fell on the deaf ears of Adhia.
It was not just the Under Secretaries. Every Deputy Secretary and Director working in the Revenue Department has been harassed by Kumawat. One such lady officer from an All India Service, it is learnt, abused Kumawat on his face and left the Revenue Department after having not spoken to her reporting authority – Kumawat – for a long time. Was Kumawat indeed harassing lady officers – barring one – in the Revenue Department? If yes, why did Adhia not stand up and support these lady officers who were being humiliated by Kumawat because they refused to toe his line?
Did the officers working in the Revenue Department, many of whom have discreetly informed PGurus, stand up against the harassment of Kumawat? It is known that Kumawat was throwing files and even abusing women officers. Why was Adhia a mute spectator to all these events? Did he have any compulsion to turn a blind eye to the ugly behavior of Kumawat?
There is a foreign trip angle to this story. Why should a particular lady officer accompany the Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia to Singapore and Malaysia to study the GST models of those countries, when there were many competent officers in the Central Board of Excise and Customs who were handling GST on a daily basis? Later, within a few months, this lady officer was posted on a plum posting to Belgium, ignoring several more accomplished candidates! Why were different norms applied for sending different officers for foreign trips? Also, while it came to ease of Doing Business, why was special preference shown to one particular officer for the visit to Washington DC? It is learnt that the Revenue Secretary was extremely stingy and particular about officers making foreign trips, barring this one officer! Why so? Was it pressure from Kumawat? And if yes, why did he yield to such pressures?
Well, if you thought it was just his juniors Kumawat had a problem with, think again. A senior woman IAS officer who was in the Revenue Department had a long-standing tussle with Kumawat, which apparently even got reflected in a bad (6/ 10) assessment he (Kumawat) had received in his annual performance report. Shockingly, Adhia overruled all the objections and gave Kumawat a 9.8/ 10. The best he has given to any officer till date. Why did Adhia consider an officer who everyone in the Finance Ministry despises as the best in the Ministry? This is more a telling statement on the attitude of the Revenue Secretary than an assessment on Kumawat.
It is not just the Revenue officials who have a grudge against Kumawat. Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel posted in North Block have stories to share about the red light which is on when Kumawat spends time with a particular lady officer and in certain instances, Kumawat has even abused the CISF officers or other Revenue officials who entered his cabin owing to some urgent work that couldn’t wait.
Is such behavior towards junior officers, particularly women, as per the conduct rules? Are they not unbecoming of an officer of the rank of Joint Secretary? Why was no internal inquiry constituted against the errant and abusive behavior of Kumawat? Why were the lady officers ill-treated or sidelined or repatriated if they did not toe the line of Kumawat? Is it a fact that officers who accepted Kumawat were awarded prized postings and others absolutely left in the lurch?
These are more questions than answers and it is a grave matter. Who in the Finance Ministry is responsible for granting extension-after-extension to Kumawat without even briefing the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) on these facts? What about the 360-degree profiling carried out by the ACC? Did they not subject Kumawat to such profiling?
The buck stops with the Finance Secretary, Hasmukh Adhia. Will he give the dignity his officers deserve and stand up for his officers, instead of protecting Kumawat and this lady officer? This crisis is a test of the man’s character and integrity. We will wait and watch.
PGurus is in receipt of many such sleaze stories from the Finance Ministry’s headquarters in North Block from several senior officers and after verifying the authenticity of such information will continue to publish these as a series of articles.
 Top Finance Ministry official US Kumawat tryst in Paris. French Cops handed over tapes to RAW – Mar 11, 2018, PGurus.com