Dad & Daughter

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On the following day, after reaching his office at seven-thirty, Wing Commander Mishra asked his PA to inform Squadron Leader Biswas to come to his office at eight in connection with the Court of Inquiry.

Biswas was expecting that call. After finishing certain urgent routine work, he informed his assistant about his absence from office and proceeded to the office of Mishra.

With permission, Biswas entered the office of Mishra. Johar was sitting there awaiting his arrival.

After preliminary discussion, Johar got prepared to record the statement.

In his statement, Biswas said that Flying Officer Jayaprakash had approached him for help to meet his immediate financial commitment. With hesitation, he agreed to intend to help a brother officer. The application for leave advance was prepared and signed. The cheque he received was immediately encashed and handed over to Jayaprakash. He said, he used to take leave advance while went on annual leave and he followed that practice, though his plan to avail leave was towards the year-end.

After recording the statement, Johar read out the whole and took his signature.

After contacting on mobile to confirm the availability, the court moved to the office of Jayaprakash. After offering tea, Jayaprakash was ready to give his statement. First, Mishra gave a rundown of the progress of the court and requested his co-operation with shreds of evidence to make the work simple. As usual, Johar was ready to record whatever was uttered by Jayaprakash, as a third witness.

Jayaprakash stated, “I received an application for leave advance from Squadron Leader Biswas which was not signed by the adjutant. I asked the officer to get that signed by the Adjutant mentioning the leave dates in the column provided. The officer expressed his inability as he had not submitted leave application and the form was submitted to draw the amount to help the Senior Accounts Officer, Squadron Leader Khanna. As Khanna sir was not available in his office, being on leave to supervise his house construction, I contacted him on mobile and talked to him about the advance. He requested me to accept the application and sign in the Senior Account’s column as having approved for payment and make the payment. He also said that he was getting that help from Squadron Leader Biswas, as he needed that amount to make immediate payment to the contractor. I projected my vehement objection to committing such a mistake knowingly, repeatedly. On insistence, reluctantly I did everything as directed by Squadron Leader Khanna, without thinking of the repercussions, he is my superior officer. When squadron Leader Biswas came to collect the cheque, he also said that he was trying to help the SAO to meet his immediate financial needs.”

While writing down the statement, Johar looked at Mishra for recording a diametrically opposite version of the story. Mishra could not contain the conflicting statements, but he gestured him to record as was heard from the witness.

The court asked few questions to Jayaprakash to clarify the veracity of the statement and he insisted on what was told. He repeatedly mentioned that the house construction of Squadron Leader Khanna was to be completed on war footing as he was expecting the posting any time since he had completed more than three years in this station. He did not want to wait for the last installment of loan from the bank that was expected only on completion of certain more civil works. He had narrated the reason for the adjustment to me mentioning of the co-operation from Squadron Leader Biswas, he is his close friend.”

When he was told by the Court of the conflicting statements by both witness numbers 1 and 2, Jayaprakash was taken aback. He looked helpless and said. He sat thinking, “if both have given statements on those lines, I am sure the court will not give sufficient weightage to my statement.” His eyes were full and pulled out the kerchief from the pocket and wiped the face to cover up his helplessness. He felt like crying aloud for the cheating attitude shown by both his seniors, in collusion. His face became bloodless, scared of the music he might have to face without any support from any corners.

The court asked for a copy of Biswas’s application for leave advance and that was kept as an appendix after verifying with the original. The form was found signed by Flying Officer Jayaprakash, in both columns of approved for payment action by SAO and for making the payment, with cheque number and signature of the second witness on revenue stamp.

After the formal inquiry was over, the court decided to leave the office with a firm determination that there was nothing more to be found out and the whole blame was squarely on the AccountsOofficer as a clear case of wangling public funds for short term adjustments. Though the manipulative method adopted was for a short period, Mishra was sure that the authorities would not take that lightly, which would otherwise be a stigma on the whole administrative procedure prevailing in the service. They got up to leave that office. Looking at Jayaprakash, out of the records, Mishra cautiously asked Jayaprakash, “you being a person with so many years of service, weren’t aware of the seriousness of the mistake you committed wilfully?”

Jayaprakash opened out his mind with vehement hesitation, “when I was requested to help by my senior for his personal needs, I reluctantly did that.” He looked into the eyes of Mishra and found them to be too inquisitive on the revelation.

Moving closer to Jayaprakash, Mishra asked, “what did you say?”

Jayaprakash chuckled. “Sir, for the last 26 years, I have been working in various capacities in different Station Account Sections, under different Accounts Officers. Through these many years of experience, I know what is right and wrong. I know very well. When my senior officer requested me tabulating his difficulties for an adjustment of funds, my bad luck made me nod. When I was told that another senior officer was willing to co-operate by putting up an application for leave advance, I did not think further. “He paused and saw both Mishra and Johar moving close to his table and taking their seats. “Now they have colluded to trap me by washing off their hands and making me the scapegoat to bite the nail.”

“But, their versions are different.” Mishra dismayed.

Jayaprakash could not understand why both did so and left a long sigh, looking up.

“If you want to change your statement to bring in these points, you are welcome. We will rewrite the whole.” Mishra was too decent to accept his version with alacrity to help.

Thinking for a while Jayaprakash chuckled. “When both of them gave such statements, me being the custodian of the funds and having signed the voucher in both places of approval and payment, might not hold water in a legal platform. I will not be able to prove my version in front of any authorities.”

“Why don’t you ask him?”

With hesitation, Jayaprakash said, “from the day I came on posting to this place he had been very good to me and sincerely speaking, he is a good soul. Our families are on good terms and socially we are without the distance of seniority.” Thinking he continued, “probably he would have thought of not involving both in apportion of blame.” He paused thinking. “Even if I approach him to find out the reason for his backing leaving the whole responsibility squarely on my shoulders, he will not buckle. As having committed to the court, he will not like to be belittled at this stage to accept the blame of compelling me to get into this blameworthy act.” Shaking the head, he grunted.

Mishra was moved by hearing him. “The court can only proceed in the light of statements given by the witnesses and the evidence produced by them in support of their versions or as required by the court. We can’t arrive at conclusions based on hearsay.” He smiled.

“I know sir.”


In the afternoon, on cessation of working hours, Jayaprakash reached home and straight went into the bedroom and changed his uniform and lied down on the cot looking upwards wondering how people try to save their faces without thinking of the harm caused to their obedient subordinates. Utter callousness!

Saroja was curious to know of his uneasiness and suggested to see the duty doctor in the Station Sick Quarters if he is unwell physically.

Jayaprakash preferred to be left alone and shouted at her to leave the room.

Saroja did not open the food vessels and decided to wait for her husband to join, as and when he felt convenient. Sitting on the sofa, she dozed off and woke up when the children got back from school. Briskly she moved and opened the door to let them in.

On the dining table, Riya opened the vessels with rice and vegetable curries and realized it was not touched. “Why? No one has taken lunch?”

Saroja was hesitant to inform the children of the indifferent behavior of Jayaprakash, but on insistence, she had to tell the fact. “I don’t know why, from the time he came back, he is inside the room. Many times, I went and called for lunch, but he drove me out of the room.”

Riya could guess the problems bullying him and went to the bedroom and sat by his side. “Daddy, come and have your lunch.”

He looked towards her and said., “I am not hungry.”

She pulled him by hand and made him get up. “You know, mummy also hasn’t taken lunch. I know the same problem is haunting you. Why don’t you try to forget about the aftermath of that? Whatever had happened can’t be reversed. Now, the only solution left is to find ways to get wriggled out of that.”

He looked up into her face listening to the consoling words. He knew she was not to leave him unless acted as per her desire. With reluctance coupled with grunts, he moved to the dining hall along with her.

Saroja was made to sit by his side and Riya served them food. Under compulsion, they ate whatever was served.

After washing hands, Jayaprakash moved again to the bedroom followed by Riya.

“I know about your problems. But, over and above what you have told me, is there something else eating up your peace of mind. And I find some sort of helplessness on your face. Daddy, one thing you must understand, if you are very confident that you are not at fault, God will take care of you. Have faith in that.”

In front of her repeated questions with anxiety, he found no alternative than to let her know of what was the latest of the nagging problem. “I had given statement today to the court of inquiry.” He paused. “I came to know later that neither Khanna nor Biswas had ever mentioned the necessity of committing that wrong act. They palmed off the whole blame on me.”

Riya interluded. “Why didn’t you mention, that was done purely to meet the urgent financial commitment of Khanna uncle?”

“I did.” He grunted. “When both had given their statements implicating me, will the facts hold good? Always the guilty will give statements to support him only; it is a universal truth.” He paused. “Let the court use its discretionary power and conclude.” He looked into her eyes. “What the court could do other than proceed as per the statements recorded? They have no discretionary powers.”

“I think, you are too simple in judging the people. A person trying to show off, can’t be trusted. They will bite at the back without anyone’s knowledge.”

“I was under the impression that they would have committed in their statement about the purpose of such an advance of payment. To my dismay, I was told by Mishra sir that Khanna sir gave statement that he never knew of this and came to know only when the officer from Command informed him.” He chuckled. “As I had signed as the approving officer, he could stand by that statement without being contested. On that day, he was on leave and I had handled the whole.”

Thinking, Riya asked. “Then, why Biswas uncle signed as having received the amount.”

“To help me out. That was what he too gave in his statement.”

“Ridiculous and diabolic!” She exclaimed.

He looked at her and smiled.

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