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Jul 12, 2012, 08.23 AM IST
Director General of Civil Aviation Bharat Bhushan was reportedly sacked soon after signing a letter terminating Kingfisher Airlines' licence for not paying its employees for several months.
Sources say many airlines had complained against Bharat Bhushan's high-handedness. Sources say that airlines had complained to the Civil Aviation Ministry that due to the difficult financial situation they were having a tough time complying with strict guidelines of the DGCA, which was also conveyed to the Aviation Minister.
Aviation Minister had reportedly come to an understanding with the operators. The removal of Bhushan as the DGCA within a week of him getting an extension has led to a divide between the Civil Aviation Ministry and the government.
Government sources say the extension was signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with the approval of all the concerned ministers. But Civil Aviation Ministry sources say that Bhusahn's extension was a procedural error.
Government sources say there can be no discrepancy in procedures as far as Bharat Bhushan's extension as DGCA till December 2012 is concerned.
Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh will discuss the removal of Bharat Bhushan with Manmohan Singh on Thursday.
The Civil Aviation Ministry has also written a letter to the Prime Minister informing about the removal of DGCA and explaining why the step was taken.
The secretary has also written a detailed letter to the Appointments Committee of Cabinet explaining the same. Now if there is a conflict of interest, the Appointments Committee of Cabinet can reply or seek further clarification.
Former civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi had on Wednesday said that the sacking of Bhushan came as a surprise to him as he (Bhushan) was "one of the finest officers" he had known. "Bharat Bhushan is one of the finest officers. He believes in norms. When I was incharge of Civil Aviation, he took all efforts to check corrupt practices, agents. He never spared Air India. I gave full freedom to him, never intervened. He checked the airlines and was a strict officer," he said.
He added, "I don't know what happened there. He was a very good officer."
On lobby groups, he said, "May be some complaints came. Whenever I checked, I always realised that DGCA was right all the time. It's a surprise to me. It was changed within a short span after the Cabinet Committee regularised it for another term. I don't want to comment on why, how he was removed I only said how he was with me when I was the minister."
Bhushan was on Tuesday removed as head of the aviation regulator with immediate effect, six days after his tenure was extended till this year end.
While there was no official word on the reasons for his removal as DGCA by the Civil Aviation Ministry, there has been speculation that his recent warnings to Air India and Kingfisher Airlines to pay dues to their employees may have gone against him.
Bhushan, an IAS officer of the 1979 batch from Kerala cadre who took over from Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi in December 2010 as DGCA chief, will continue to serve as Additional Secretary in the ministry, official sources said.
Bhushan handed over charge to Prashant Narain Sukul, a Joint Secretary in the Ministry, who would also be holding the position as an additional charge, they said.
On July 4, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had approved the extension of additional charge of the post of DGCA to Bhushan for another year "with effect from 01.12.2011 or till the appointment of a regular incumbent, whichever is earlier."
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