Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has refused to explain why Mr Bhushan was asked to resign just days after his tenure had been extended by six months.
According to reports, Mr Singh was abroad when Mr Bhushan's tenure was extended. After returning, the Civil Aviation Minister asked Mr Bhushan to step down. Mr Singh only said that there were procedural lapses in Mr Bhushan's appointment.
Sources say Mr Bhushan's name had been recommended during his predecessor Vayalar Ravi's tenure and was not in the proposal of the Cabinet Committee of Appointments. Mr Ravi was replaced by Mr Singh in December last year as Aviation Minister. Mr Ravi today said it is a "surprise" that Mr Bhushan has been removed. "He was one of the finest officers with a very strong faith and belief in norms... when I was Civil Aviation Minister he had taken all efforts to check corrupt practices," Mr Ravi said. (Read)
However, as the Minister of Civil Aviation, Mr Singh is not empowered to ask the Director General of Civil Aviation to step down. Only the Cabinet Committee on Appointments is authorised to overturn its own decision. The ministry now might have to explain why Mr Bhushan was asked to quit.
Sources also say that Mr Bhushan may have been relieved due to what is believed to be a sour relationship between him and the Civil Aviation Ministry. Many within the ministry say that Mr Bhushan was a little too straightforward for the liking of the government.
There has also been speculation that Mr Bhushan's recent warnings to Air India and Kingfisher Airlines to pay dues to their employees may have gone against him.
However, Kingfisher Airlines today issued a press statement, dismissing the reports. "It is both highly incorrect and mischievous to even suggest that the transfer of DGCA was in any way connected to Kingfisher Airlines," the press release said. (Read: Kingfisher's denial)
Mr Bhushan is widely known as one of the cleanest officers in the ministry and the man who unearthed the fake pilot scam last year. As the Director General of Civil Aviation, he brought in stringent measures to prevent airlines from compromising on safety matters on account of their financial trouble.
During his 20-month tenure as the head of the aviation regulatory body, the 57-year-old Bhushan handled a series of major cases of flouting of aviation rules, including the fake pilots scam and fudging of records by flying schools.
Mr 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, is still the Additional Secretary in the ministry.
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