While there exists a detailed government record (GR) detailing the programmes that can be hosted at the Maharashtra Government’s Guest House, instances of misuse of this provision have surfaced.
The IAS Wives Association headed by Tanuja Mallik, wife of Chief Secretary Sumit Mallik, held a cooking competition at the Sahyadri Guest House in Mumbai. According to information provided by the Maharashtra government to RTI activist Anil Galgali, it seems that the Protocol Department has bent rules to concede to the demands made by IAS officers’ wives.
RTI activist Anil Galgali had sought information from the government regarding the rules and regulations to be followed for using the state-owned Sahyadri Guest House and also details of the programme conducted there in the past three years. The GAD’s Protocol Department provided Galgali with the details of the usage in the past 6 months.During the period from March 1, 2017 to July 17, 2017, the guest house was reserved for 139 occasions and a revenue of Rs 28,83,197 generated as rental charges. In these 6 months, the IAS Wives Association reserved the guest house 4 times and a rent of Rs 6,150 was charged from them. On March 9, the guest house was reserved for the occasion of the handover of the presidentship from Mrs. Kshatriya to Mrs. Mallik. On July 8, 2017, the same guest house was reserved for holding the cooking competition.
On June 14, BJP MLA Raj Purohit had reserved the Guest House, while Joint Secretary Lata Nandkumar reserved the same on June 22 without mentioning the purpose of the same on telephonic instructions from Deputy Secretary Bhoge. According to the government record dated July 24, 2015, the Sahyadri Guest House can be reserved for meeting, workshops and press conferences headed by either the chief minister, deputy chief minister, ministers of state, chief secretary, additional chief secretary, principal secretary, secretary or an officer of similar status. Despite the GR clearly listing names of those who qualified for reserving their place, the reservations were made for the IAS Officers’ Wives Association, violating the rules of allotment.
In a letter addressed to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, activist Galgali has demanded that action be initiated against officers who cooperated in violating the norms and that commercial rent charges must be recovered from the IAS Officers’ Wives Association and MLA Raj Purohit. And such rules should be made in the future that rent be charged according to the type of programme being booked so that the government could generate additional revenue for using of the Sahyadri Guest House.