The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has lashed out at the Bihar government for not providing security to an IAS officer, who has repeatedly complained of threat to his life from the “transport mafia”, saying it apprehended a “repeat of Satyendra Dubey murder case”.
The Principal Bench of the CAT, headed by its Chairman Justice Permod Kohli, said it was the duty of the Centre and the Bihar government to protect his life.
The Tribunal was hearing a complaint filed by 2013 batch IAS officer Jitendra Gupta, seeking inter-state transfer from Bihar to Haryana, alleging threat to his life for acting tough against the ‘transport mafia’ in Bihar.
“If he is not taken out of Bihar, we are afraid, there could be a repeat of Satyendra Dubey murder case, in which a bright young engineer (Dubey) working as Project Director in NHAI, Gaya, Bihar who had apprehended threat to his life and had sought security, which was not provided, was murdered by the road construction mafia,” the bench, which also comprised member K N Shrivastava, said.
Observing it was unfortunate that no action was taken by the state to provide personal security to the officer and his family members, the CAT said “it is the duty of the respondents (Centre and state) to save the life of the applicant and, prima facie, there is a threat to his life. This can easily be done if the applicant is taken out of Bihar for the present.”
The tribunal also quashed the Centre’s decision declining the request of the officer to be transferred to Haryana, holding it “ab initio illegal, arbitrary and unreasonable” and asked it to consider his name again for inter-state transfer.
Gupta has alleged that the mafia, in connivance with the state vigilance department, has implicated him in a false case alleging that he seized four trucks on July 3, 2016 and demanded bribe for releasing them. He was arrested in the case and had to spend a month in jail.
After being released on bail, Gupta moved the Patna High Court against the FIR against him. The high court had quashed the FIR on October 28, 2016.
The Supreme Court had also upheld the high court order and directed the Centre on May 9, 2017, to consider his inter-state transfer after noting the threat perception.
The state government, in a letter to the Centre, however, said there was no probable threat to the officer’s life and he could continue in the state ‘fearlessly’.
The Tribunal noted that the proposal for inter-cadre transfer of Gupta on the ground of extreme hardship was again placed before the Committee headed by the Secretary (Personnel) of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) at its meeting held on August 17, 2017. The Committee had then recommended that the proposal may be submitted to Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) for consideration.
The Centre, on December 6 last year, had rejected the request for inter-cadre deputation.
The CAT had then directed the Centre’s counsel to submit the reason rejecting “such a sensible and pragmatic recommendation”.
Maintaining that the decision not to transfer Gupta “does not record any reasons”, the CAT said “such an order is obviously arbitrary, unreasonable and illegal” and is “liable to be quashed and set aside”.