In a major embarrassment to the BJP government in Karnataka, a public spat between two senior civil servants has exposed the rot in the administrative system.
Senior IPS officer Roopa D took to social media to level serious allegations against IAS officer Rohini Sindhuri.
The two women officers have now filed official complaints against each other with the chief secretary of Karnataka, each alleging violation of service conduct and rules by the other.
The spat between two serving women UPSC officers — IPS officer D Roopa, managing director of the Karnataka State Handicrafts Development Corporation, and IAS officer Rohini Sindhuri, commissioner with the Muzrai Department — took a new twist on Monday, 20 February, when Rohini Sindhuri’s husband Sudhir Reddy filed a complaint with Bagalgunte police against Roopa.
Related: Spat between woman officers inspires Kannada filmmakers to register movie titles
Allegations followed by ‘private’ photos
While Roopa has been accusing Rohini of indulging in malpractice and irregularities for over 20 days, the issue grabbed eyeballs on Sunday when Roopa took to social media and posted pictures of Rohini Sindhuri, alleging that the latter had shared them with multiple male IAS officers, and questioning her intent.
Sindhuri has vehemently denied the allegation.
While both officers have complained to Karnataka Chief Secretary Vandita Sharma, Sindhuri’s husband Sudhir Reddy also filed a criminal complaint with the police.
A senior police officer, confirming the development, told South First, “The contents of the complaint so far seem like charges of defamation and outraging the modesty of a woman for allegedly sharing personal/private photographs. However, we will consult with our superiors and legal experts to proceed further on the complaint.”
Roopa accused Rohini Sindhuri of misconduct and indulging in irregularities.
Listing out 20 allegations against the IAS officer, Roopa also posted seven photographs of Rohini Sindhuri alleging that they were shared by three male IAS officers.
Roopa, among her allegations against the IAS officer, asked why Rohini met JD(S) leader and MLA Sa Ra Mahesh.
She termed their meeting a “compromise”, as both Rohini and Mahesh were at loggerheads over corruption charges against each other when she was serving as the deputy commissioner of Mysuru.
Sa Ra Mahesh had accused Rohini of illegally constructing an indoor swimming pool and a gym at her official residence — a heritage building — during the Covid-19 lockdown. The government had also ordered an inquiry into the matter and a preliminary report was submitted.
The next logical step should have been a detailed disciplinary enquiry, Roopa pointed out in her latest letter to the chief secretary, adding that even months after the report, no action had been initiated against Rohini.
In another allegation, Roopa held Rohini responsible for the suicide of IAS officer DK Ravi.
Roopa also asked why Rohini did not block Ravi when he kept messaging her.
Meanwhile, Ravi’s wife Kusuma Hanumantharayappa posted a cryptic tweet.
“ Karma will get back at you , sooner or later it surely will ”
— Kusuma Hanumantharayappa (@KusumaH_INC) February 19, 2023
Roopa was quick to quote Kusuma’s tweet and decipher it.
Kusuma, I understand your pain as a woman. And the pain of many other women (some of them in ias), yet helpless. But finally, someone has to stand up against the perpetrator (even if she is a woman). With u on this matter. May God give “her” empathy n sadbuddhi not to repeat . https://t.co/7H7fjrBrTC
— D Roopa IPS (@D_Roopa_IPS) February 19, 2023
Ravi, an additional commissioner in commercial tax enforcement, was found dead at his apartment on Tavarekere Main Road near Koramangala in Bengaluru on 16 March, 2015.
The CBI took up the investigation on 23 March, 2015, amid allegations that the officer was allegedly murdered as he took up cudgels against realtors and the sand mafia while he was serving as a commercial tax officer and as deputy commissioner of Kolar district earlier.
The investigation revealed that Ravi had communicated his intent to kill himself to an IAS batchmate over WhatsApp. The CBI concluded that Ravi had taken the extreme step due to personal reasons. It was concluded as a case of suicide.
Rohini files complaint against Roopa
Terming the allegations baseless, Sindhuri alleged that Roopa, who holds a responsible position, was making such comments against her out of “personal hatred”.
“Mental illness is a huge problem. It needs to be addressed with medication and counselling. When it affects people in responsible positions, it becomes all the more dangerous,” Rohini said in a statement on Sunday.
“Roopa has been driving a false, personal vilification campaign against me, which is her standard modus operandi,” she added.
Her charges against Roopa became sharper on Monday as she filed a complaint against the IPS officer with the chief secretary.
“She (Roopa) is neither my boss nor my senior. She is not the government. She keeps questioning my professional decisions on public platforms, which is not proper for an officer, and it is against the service conduct rules,” Sindhuri told reporters, adding that she would be taking legal action against her.
The two women officers have accused each other of violating the Civil Services Conduct Rules, and also said that they had brought it to the notice of the appropriate authorities.
Spat puts BJP government in a spot
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra on Monday expressed his displeasure with the two officials indulging in a public spat, and warned of action citing service conduct rule violations.
“They had been warned in the past. Since they are not stopping, the government will consider taking strict measures. They have taken the names of certain ministers and the government. The chief minister is aware of all this, and he will take a strict decision. Let them do whatever they like on their personal issues, but coming before the media and behaving in a way they are doing is not right,” PTI quoted Jnanendra as saying.
While deeming it a “personal issue”, the home minister seemed to brush aside the more serious allegations.
Meanwhile, sources from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) told South First that the chief secretary had been directed to issue show-cause notices to both officials for alleged violation of Civil Service Conduct Rules.
Former chief secretary’s view
Former Karnataka chief secrerary K Ratna Prabha told South First that the public spat reflected poorly on the services.
“The Civil Service Conduct Rules delineate and explain how a civil service official should behave. Members of the general public look up to civil service officials as they hold responsible positions,” she said.
“If I am not wrong, there were certain new additions made to these Civil Service Conduct Rules with regard to the usage of social media. If these conduct rules are broken, it would deeply impact the image of civil service officials,” added Ratna Prabha.
“If the two officers had differences, they would have resolved them in front of the appropriate authorities. Both of them should have brought the matter to the government’s notice and the government could also conduct an internal inquiry into such allegations; but quarrelling in the public domain is unbecoming of a civil service official,” she added.
Meanwhile, Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha, while addressing a public meeting, said that Roopa’s allegations against Rohini are pertinent.
“The journalists should raise such questions and the government has to set up a committee to probe the allegations that are serious in nature,” Pratap Simha was heard saying.
(With PTI inputs)