Pathak has never been known to bend to political pressure. He has faced such situations before “abruptly being transferred from a key post to a less important post”. It was due to Pathak’s efforts that prohibition was implemented with an iron hand. After his exit from the excise department, enforcement slowed down even as seizure of illegal liquor got larger and larger.” A senior IAS officer
By Jay P Gupta
On one fine pinky winter morning in mid – nineties (1994-1995), while sipping tea with the then Muzaffarpur District Magistrate at his residential office, a lanky young man entered the chamber. The DM Rajiv Gauba, now Union Home Secretary, introduced me to him as K K Pathak, a 1990 batch IAS officer, who joined as the new Administrator of the Muzaffarpur Municipal Corporation. Gauba, however emphatically added more to the introduction of this young bureaucrat saying he is a tough officer, a maverick bureaucrat.
I agreed with Gauba’s comments as I was in know of the heroic acts of Mr Pathak as SDM of Barh in Patna district before coming to Muzaffarpur. Pathak and the then Barh ASP RS Bhatti, currently with the CBI in Delhi, had nailed one of the controversial legislators representing Barh even when the Assembly session was on.
The Muzaffarpur Municipal Corporation was then considered a fiefdom of a powerful congress leader and transport king of Bihar who had employed many of his fellow upper caste men on posts like sweeper, drain cleaners and others when he headed the Civic body for decades. While they withdrew their salaries from the Municipal body’s exchequer, they worked at different cinema halls, petrol pumps and in buses run by the powerful leader. Anybody who tried to disturb the system was conveniently sidelined by the civic mafia.
Mr Pathak,began his Muzaffarpur innings much to the relief of the city people, who for the first time saw cleanliness in the city markets, lanes and by lanes. Water logging had become a thing of the past. Even during rains Pathak stood in the knee –deep waters wearing long boots directing the civic staff to clear the water into the drains. JCB machine was hired to clear the choked drains. While everything was going smoothly, he suddenly got embroiled in a controversy after he allegedly rebuked a vernacular daily journalist for the latter’s misreporting of an incident in which Pathak was involved with city legislator.
Pathak had grown up in an environment where there was military like discipline and he did not like such undisciplined acts that the journalist has done. Under political compulsions he was transferred from Muzaffarpur after the incident but the city people vehemently protested the move.
His intolerance towards indiscipline has exploded on many occasions and he has not spared anybody who tried to go beyond limits before him. While posted as District magistrate at Giridih, now in Jharkhand, in 1996-97, he again courted controversy on at least three occasions—once with a reporter of a vernacular daily over publication of fabricated news, other with the local legislator Laxman Swarnkar during anti-encroachment drive, that he launched in full force in the town. The drive badly affected the illegal structure erected by the MLA.
His brief stint in Giridih is also remembered for his completely banning the Tonga ((wooden carts drawn by horses) to check growing traffic across the township.
He is an officer who never compromised self-respect and took up suitable against all such people, how mighty or powerful he has been who tried to play with his dignity. He did not hesitate to send legal notices to leaders like Sushil Kumar Modi and Nawal Kishore Yadav in Bihar when they called Pathak in wrong names. He also responded suitably to an MP from a Union Territory who entered his chamber in Home Ministry defying the procedural norms, where he was posted as Joint Secretary some years back. The issue was later resolved in the Parliament following intervention of the then Speaker Ms Meira Kumar.
This righteous attitude of Mr. Pathak has earned him many admirers in all spheres— in administration, in public and among policy and law makers and also among those who hate him only to love.
Hailing from eastern Uttar Pradesh, Mr Pathak who holds a Masters degree in Economics tried his best to streamline the Higher education Department of Bihar after he was made Secretary of this department. And he was successful too in his efforts.
He took some really tough actions against university officials, lecturers and professors. The classes in the remotely located colleges became regular and teachers had to mark their attendance through fax and other means to the Department through respective Principals and Heads of the Department. It is though another part of the story that he had to even challenge the Governor’s orders in university affairs.
Highly politicized teachers’ community in the state did not like the moves of Pathak and they tried to create problems for him and dragged him in court cases. The Patna high court had to even issue a warrant of arrest against him in a case of criminal contempt of court following his order to recover “excess” payment from teachers of universities despite the court directive not to take any coercive action against them. But it was not a new thing for Mr Pathak who believed in completing his tasks with great passion and firm determination.
He was once also made the District Magistrate of Gopalganj, the home turf and native district of the Laloo Prasad. But once Mr Pathak began working in his indomitable style, Laloo, then Chief Minister of the state, felt his move had backfired and many of his dear and near ones were being affected by Pathak’s move. He had no option but to shift Mr Pathak from Gopalganj to state Secretariat within three months. This was only the second posting of Mr Pathak as the District Magistrate and also the last one. It stayed for three months while the first at Giridih lasted for over a year. But Pathak had no grudge about such moves of the government and kept himself ready for the next assignment.