Consumer affairs ministry to scrap order threatening to sack absentees

It asked officers and staff to inform by April 20 whether they wish to continue with the department

Ram Vilas Paswan
An indication of how significant the Paswan factor is can be gauged from the fact that even Jitan Ram Manjhi, the former chief minister who has allied his Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) with the JD(U), besides several BJP leaders have demanded the Bharat Ratna for the late Dalit leader. 

Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Tuesday (April 14) said the controversial order of his ministry that threatened to sack officers and the staff for not showing up this week despite the government’s directive, will be withdrawn.

“I have come to know about this Office Memorandum of Department of Consumer Affairs. Secretary, DoCA has been instructed to withdraw this OM and issue clarification. Offices shall continue to function as per MHA & DoPT orders during lockdown,” tweeted Paswan. He also attached a copy of the order.

The Union ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution has earlier put out the letter, threatening to sack its bureaucrats and officers who did not show up on Monday and Tuesday despite the government’s directive.

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This came at a time when the entire government machinery is preparing for the fight against the coronavirus pandemic on war footing, and the consumer affairs ministry has an extremely crucial role to play in such times of crisis.

The letter asked all officers and the staff to inform the department of consumer affairs by April 20 whether they wish to continue with the department.

“The undersigned is directed to say that all the officers and officials who are unwilling to continue in this department may intimate the same to establishment section by 20th of April 2020 so that necessary action may be taken for relieving them,” the letter read. It was signed by deputy secretary SK Prasad.

Quoting officials who requested anonymity, NDTV reported the decision of reopening of the offices was conveyed to the officials via phone call and there was nothing in writing. The decision of closing down the offices at the start of the 21-day lockdown, however, came through a written order, he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Modi announced that the 21-day lockdown would now be extended till May 3, and that the restrictions may be eased following an assessment on April 20. Government offices are likely to function during this period, however, there’s no official order regarding this.

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