Pegasus issue: Show-cause notice served to former AP intelligence chief for addressing media

Amid the ongoing controversy over the Chandrababu Naidu-led regime allegedly buying the spyware from Israeli firm NSO, former Intelligence chief A B Venkateswara Rao had reacted to the allegations made on the purchase of Pegasus.

By Sri Lakshmi Muttevi  Published on  5 April 2022 7:38 AM GMT
Pegasus issue: Show-cause notice served to former AP intelligence chief for addressing media

Amaravati: Former intelligence chief AB Venkateswara Rao has been served a show-cause notice for addressing the media during his suspension period. Roa had addressed the media on the Pegasus issue despite being under suspension.

Chief Secretary Sameer Sharma issued a show-cause notice to the officer under rule 6 of All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968. Under rule 6 of the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968, previous sanction of the government shall not be required when the Member of the Service, in the bonafide discharge of his duties or otherwise, publishes a book or contributes to or participates in a public media.

Further, under rule 17, no member of the Service shall, except with the previous sanction of the Government, have recourse to any court or the Press for the vindication of the official act which has been the subject matter of adverse criticism or attack of a defamatory character. Provided that if the Government conveys no such sanction within 12 weeks from the date of receipt of the request, the Member of the Service shall be free to assume that the sanction sought has been granted to him.

Sharma said the act of the Member of the Service is neither in the bonafide discharge of the duty nor vindicating his private character or any act done by him in his private capacity. Therefore, the Member of Service addressed the Press without the previous sanction of the Government, thereby contravening the provisions of rule 6 and 17 of the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968.

"Venkateswara Rao (under suspension) is requested to submit his explanation within a week as to why disciplinary proceedings under All India Services (Discipline & Appeal) Rules, 1969 shall not be initiated to address the Press. If no reply is received within the week, further action will be taken, considering that the Member of the Service has no explanation to submit," he said.

What the former intelligence chief said in the press meet?

Amid the ongoing controversy over the Chandrababu Naidu-led regime allegedly buying the spyware from Israeli firm NSO, former Intelligence chief A B Venkateswara Rao had reacted to the allegations made on the purchase of Pegasus. During the press meet, he said that the DGP office had already announced that Pegasus was not purchased, and now there were allegations that someone else purchased it. "No government agency had purchased Pegasus till May 2019, and he was not aware of what happened later. These are all allegations made on me", said the former Intelligence chief.

Saying that his suspension issue was pending in the Supreme Court, the former intelligence chief has sought permission from the government to file a defamation suit against some Telugu media platforms, YSRC MLAs, and an MP for levelling baseless allegations against him.

Rao's suspension

It may be recalled that AB Venkateswara Rao had written a letter to Chief Secretary to the Government, Sameer Sharma saying that the Andhra Pradesh government does not have the power to continue him in suspension further. He stated that the suspension ended on 8 February 2022 and the Central ministry's review committee has recommended no further extension. He also said that he hasn't been paid subsistence allowance or full salary for February 2022.

In the letter written to chief secretary Sameer Sharma, Mr. Rao said the suspension of a member of the Service on charges of corruption should not exceed two years and the inquiry should be completed. An appropriate order should be issued within two years from the date of suspension, failing which the suspension order shall automatically stand revoked, he wrote.

He said that his suspension was extended beyond 1 August 2021 for 180 days and it will automatically stand revoked on 8 February 2022. Now that his suspension has ended, he asked for payment of his full salary.

"My last suspension expired on 31 July 2021, and there was no information…if the suspension had been extended beyond the date, and G.O could be found on the government website. I came to know that G.O 1259 was issued, extending the suspension for 180 days. The website concerned shows this as 'confidential' G.O and hence, not accessible through the website. However, the G.O does not bear any marking that says it is confidential," he said.

It may be recalled that the YSRCP had raised a complaint against Mr. Rao for working in favour of TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu during the 2019 elections. He was removed from the post of Chief of Intelligence and was suspended for having allegedly purchased surveillance equipment.

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