September 24, 2020

CAT ensures babus don’t have dog’s life

In a landmark judgment that could safeguard the interest of officers victimised by State Governments, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has directed the Centre to either change the cadre of such officers or place them on Central deputation.

The judgment came in the case of a young IAS officer of the Bihar Government who was falsely implicated in a bribery case and arrested by the State Vigilance Department for exposing a collusion between police and officials in allowing entry of overloaded trucks and goods carriers without proper permits and papers into Bihar, inflicting a huge loss of revenue to the State.

2013 batch IAS officer of Bihar cadre Dr Jitendra Gupta has got a relief from CAT, which has directed the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to either allot a different cadre to Gupta or assign him a Central deputation.

Gupta was implicated in false cases by Vigilance department of Bihar in July 2016, when as the sub-divisional officer at Mohania in Kaimur district, he exposed an organsied racket involving entry of overloaded trucks and goods carriers without proper permits and papers into Bihar. He was arrested by a team of the vigilance investigation bureau on bribery charges on July 13, 2016.

The IAS officers’ association of Bihar and Central IAS Association had strongly protested the unlawful action of Vigilance department. In October 2016, the Patna High Court had struck off the criminal case against Gupta, after it was found to be fabricated and held that the process of law can’t be abused.

The order of the High Court was upheld by the Supreme Court in February 2017. The Bihar Government then allegedly started victimising the officer by illegal departmental proceedings, non-payment of salary, delaying his service confirmation and promotion, spoiling his performance report, etc.

The officer after facing extreme hardship, gave representation for inter cadre transfer which was not considered by the Government.

Gupta told the Supreme Court that his fundamental rights had been brutally violated and he was facing great hardship, including threat to his life, in Bihar.

The SC directed the Central Government to look into his grievances and take appropriate action, but nothing was done and his request for cadre change was declined by due to non availability of NOC from Bihar Administration.

The officer then approached Principal Bench of CAT in January 2018 which passed the landmark order on March 22, 2018 asking the DoPT to either change the cadre of the victimised officer or assign him a Central deputation. The CAT sought compliance of its order within a month.

Also, the CAT questioned the role of Appointments Cabinet Committee (ACC) as it had not assigned any reason when Gupta had appealed DoPT for change of cadre.

“It quite clear that ACC is required to record reasons for rejecting a proposal. As noted herein above, in the instant case, the decision of the Prime Minister communicated by his office does not record any reasons. Hence, such a decision is ab initio illegal, arbitrary and unreasonable, and is liable to be quashed and set aside,” said the CAT order by chairman Justice Permod Kohli and member (CAT-A) KN Shrivastava.

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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