The Public Service Commission (PSC) reportedly has blocked two retired senior public officers, their due salaries/ pensions allegedly on personal grudges despite their eligibility to draw their dues.
The Public Service Commission (PSC), the apex authority handling appointments, transfers, promotions and disciplinary conduct of all public officers in the country is accused of taking revenge against those whom they believe are a threat to politicians and their stooges when requests were made seeking approval to obtain stalled salaries/ pensions.
Former Director CID, SSP Shani Abeysekera and former Director Preventive Customs Ranjan Kanagasabai have come under severe harassment at the hands of the PSC over the past two years; depriving their salaries/ pensions although legally they are entitled to draw their respective dues.
“What is the reason for the PSC to hold back our dues once our names have been cleared from courts? It is clear that they are pursuing personal grudges against us, as we have taken action against politicians and their stooges who were engaged in corrupt or criminal activities”
“What is the reason for the PSC to hold back our dues once our names have been cleared from courts? It is clear that they are pursuing personal grudges against us, as we have taken action against politicians and their stooges who were engaged in corrupt or criminal activities,” both SSP Abeysekera and Ranjan Kanagasabai told the Daily Mirror.
SSP Abeysekera was interdicted from the police service on January 7, 2020, on an alleged accusation of bringing disrepute to Sri Lanka Police. But, the Police neither held a preliminary inquiry regarding the matter nor has it issued a charge sheet against this individual to date.
On February 24, 2020, Abeysekera had requested the Police Commission and the IGP to reinstate him or pay half his salary which was his entitlement, as there was no way for him to maintain his family without the income.
According to the Establishment Code, if a person is involved in terrorist activities, drug-related crimes, mischief of public property or charged in a court of law for a criminal offense and if an indictment has been served by the High Court, half the person’s salary can be withheld until his name is cleared.
SSP Shani Abeysekera was interdicted from the police service on January 7, 2020, on an alleged accusation of bringing disrepute to Sri Lanka Police. But, the Police neither held a preliminary inquiry regarding the matter nor has it issued a charge sheet against this individual to date
As SSP Abeysekera had no such allegations levelled against him, the Police Commission, by letter dated May 5, 2020, had recommended paying Abeysekera half his salary. However, till February 2021, he was not paid that amount, but later a combined half salary had been paid until he went on retirement on June 30, 2021.
“On June 29, 2021, I submitted my intended pension papers to the IGP, and in response I was requested to submit a certified copy of my birth certificate. Although I submitted the necessary documents, on July 7, 2022, I was informed that my pension is withheld as per Section 12 of the Pension Ordinance. The Police Department cannot withhold my pension under Section 12 of the Pension Ordinance, as there wasn’t any disciplinary inquiry against me,” SSP Abeysekera told this newspaper.
Meanwhile, on July 31, 2020, Abeysekera was arrested by the CID and a ‘B’ report (B1536/2020) has been filed in the Gampaha Magistrate Court on a purported claim - fabrication of evidence. Later he filed a bail application, but due to lack of jurisdiction powers the MC could not grant him bail.
“My counsels then filed a bail application at the Gampaha High Court which was turned down. Later my wife filed a revised bail application in the Court of Appeal (Case No: CA/CPA/18/2021) and I was granted bail on June 16, 2021. Since there was no charge sheet against me, I am entitled to draw the remaining half salary and the pension. Although I wrote to the Police Department and the PSC, it went to deaf ears and I am yet to get my stalled pension,” Abeysekera further added.
“In order to implicate me in bribery charges, the then Bribery Commission under Balapatabendi produced documents of questionable authenticity of the investigation and served indictment without adhering to proper procedure. The proceedings were wrongfully and maliciously instituted against me by the Bribery Commission which my counsels were able to prove in courts,” added the former Director Preventive, Sri Lanka Customs Ranjan Kanagasabai
As the PSC, under the present administration, is allegedly accused of working to please the politicians in power, and not discharging its duties as per the law, Abeysekera has no other option, but to go before the Administrative Appeal Tribunal (Case No: 23/2022) to seek redress.
When the case came up, on September 29, one of the Senior Assistant Secretaries, who represented the PSC, informed the Administrative Appeal Tribunal that there is a charge sheet against complainant Abeysekera. This Senior Assistant Secretary also informed that that was why his pension has been withheld. The Counsel appearing for Abeysekera questioned the PSC representative on how she claims so when the police has even failed to record a statement with regard to the allegations levelled against him at the time of his interdiction.
According to Public Administration Circular No: 30 of 2019 once a person is interdicted, a preliminary inquiry has to be held within two months and within six months the report should be submitted. With regard to the case associated with SSP Abeysekera the authorised officer has not held a preliminary inquiry even to date; and that period is over 35 months since his arrest.
Although the Senior Assistant Secretary first informed the Tribunal that there is a charge sheet against the complainant, the former when further questioned informed the Appeal Tribunal that the Law and Order Ministry has sent a report on the complainant to which the Hon. Judge has said that a report cannot be considered as charge sheet.
A similar harassment has been meted out against the former Director Preventive, Sri Lanka Customs Ranjan Kanagasabai by the PSC.
Kanagasabai was arrested (Case No: HCB/1967/2013) on January 3, 2013, on purported bribery charges for soliciting and accepting a bribe from a businessman to release a container he had detained. This businessman is alleged to be a friend of Justice (Rtd) Balapatabendi, the then Chairman Bribery Commission.
According to the court documents this businessman admitted during the cross examination of the said bribery case, that he telephoned Bribery Commission Chairman Balapatabendi on his personal mobile number and his residence landline number before Kanagasabai was fixed regarding the bribery.
Although the PSC is dragging its feet on serving justice for those who have worked tirelessly for the country, the Commission is accused of granting undue special favours to their immediate family members
The learned Judge in his order has stated, “When all of this evidence is taken together into consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the accused accepted a bribe from the virtual complainant is not evidence that could be accepted in any manner. And according to all these facts, I have decided the accusation that the accused has solicited a bribe is an assertion that cannot be accepted and therefore I come to the conclusion to acquit and discharge the accused from the indictments”.
On January 22, 2021, Kanagasabai was acquitted of all charges. It is alleged that the PSC on personal vendetta has blocked Kanagasabai from receiving his salary and pension arrears as the latter’s counsel has proved in court that Balapatabendi had a hand in his purported arrest on bribery charges during his tenure as the head of the Bribery Commission.
“In order to implicate me in bribery charges, the then Bribery Commission under Balapatabendi produced documents of questionable authenticity of the investigation and served indictment without adhering to proper procedure.
The proceedings were wrongfully and maliciously instituted against me by the Bribery Commission which my counsels were able to prove in courts,” Kanagasabai added.
By the time he was acquitted, Balapatabendi was Chairman of the PSC, to which Kanagasabai had to make a request to seek approval to get all his dues.
After 11 months of his acquittal, the PSC on December 1, 2021, granted permission to the Secretary Finance Ministry, the Director General of Sri Lanka Customs, the Secretary Ministry of Public Administration and the Director General Pensions Department to pay Kanagasabai’s salary and pension as per Section 17 of the Pension Ordinance. However, surprisingly several months after the said order, the PSC reverted the decision without any reasons given.
By letter dated July 12, 2022 PSC Secretary M.A.B. Daya Senarath terminated the order given on December 1, 2021, without giving any reason.
According to the documents this newspaper is in possession of, the said termination letter further states, ‘With Ref: PSC/DIS/081/201 to our letter dated December 1, 2021, the Public Service Commission has decided to withdraw the given order. I further request you abide by the PSC decision. Copies to: the Secretary Finance Ministry, Director General Sri Lanka Customs and Director General Pension’.
All attempts to contact PSC Secretary Daya Senerath to find out why the Commission has failed to approve Kanagasabai’s request, were futile, as he did not want to talk to the media.
When an application was sent under the Right to Information Act on March 28th to find out why the PSC is delaying granting approvals to pay Kanagasabai, his entitlement, the Information Officer, Senior Additional Secretary R.K.R.R. Ranaveera by letter dated June 6, refused to provide the information. An appeal was then made to the Designated Officer, Additional Secretary (Operations) H.A.D.D. Jayasekera. By letter dated August 9, 2022, the Designated Officer too refused to release the information that was sought by this newspaper.
Although the PSC is dragging its feet on serving justice for those who have worked tirelessly for the country, the Commission is accused of granting undue special favours to their immediate family members.
This newspaper is in possession of official documents to establish how PSC headed by Justice (Rtd) Balapatabendi has acted in conflict of interest in favourably involving himself in the decision making process that had direct impact on the promotions of his kith and kin at the Attorney General’s Department.
This is a clear indication of how the PSC headed by Balapatabendi is bypassing all rules and regulations to favour their kith and kin while harassing honest public officers on petty personal grudges.