Karnataka IAS officer Mohammed Mohsin, who was briefly suspended during Lok Sabha elections in April last year for ordering a check of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's helicopter, has been served a show cause notice for a social media post about the Tablighi Jamaat.
In his post Mr Mohsin praised some members of the Islamic sect that has been linked to over 1,500 coronavirus cases across the country. He said Jamaat members who had recovered from the infection and donated plasma - to be used for an experimental coronavirus treatment - were "heroes" and their contribution to the fight against the COVID-19 virus were being ignored.
"More than 300 Tablighi heroes are donating plasma to serve the country. What about the media? They will not show the works of humanity done by these heroes," Mohammed Mohsin tweeted on April 27.
The Karnataka government has criticised the message, saying: "The adverse coverage this tweet has got in the media has been taken note (of) given the serious nature of the COVID-19 issue".
Mr Mohsin has been given five days to respond to the notice, which was issued on April 30, failing which action will be taken against him under the All India Service Rule (1968), the government added.
"I have shared no less than 40 or 50 posts about helpline numbers to COVID-19 messages from the government and Ministry of Health, including those for appeals for the Chief Minister's Relief Fund," Mr Mohsin said when asked about the show cause notice, adding to news agency PTI, "Yes, I have got the notice and shortly will give reply as per rules".
The Tablighi Jamaat held a religious gathering in Delhi's Nizamuddin locality in March in defiance of social distancing protocols. Thousands, including foreigners, gathered at the 100-year-old mosque complex, with hundreds also staying in a six-floor dormitory on the campus.
As Jamaat members dispersed to return to their homes across the country, over 1,500 coronavirus cases with links to the Delhi event were reported.
Earlier this week in Delhi 10 Jamaat members who had recovered from the infection donated plasma for treatment of other coronavirus patients. Others made similar donations at different quarantine centres across the country, sources told news agency PTI this week.
News of the plasma donations drew a sharp response from Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who said "those who committed sin to spread the virus were now claiming to be corona warriors".
Mr Mohsin, who is a 1996-batch officer now serving as Secretary to the Backward Class Welfare Department, made headlines last year when he ordered a check on PM Modi's helicopter at an election rally in Odisha.
He was suspended for his action, which he described as "doing his duty by the rules" and which he challenged at the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).
The suspension order was stayed but disciplinary action was recommended.
With input from PTI