The Delhi High Court has upheld the revocation of a 13-year-old suspension order of a top Indian Revenue Service official.
The court held that a civil servant booked for an offence could not be put under suspension for a protracted and indefinite period citing pending internal enquiry.
The official, enforcement directorate's former deputy director Ashok Aggarwal is facing a CBI probe into several cases against him. The centre had filed an appeal against the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order which had revoked the suspension.
The court took a serious note of the fact that departmental and criminal proceeding against Aggarwal suspended way back in 1999 was still pending.
A bench headed by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog said, "A civil servant is accountable for his acts during discharge of official duties. But the process of accountability cannot be stretched indefinitely. It should not become a process where the probity of the civil servant is not being tested but it is his patience which is being tested."
"If he proves his innocence in both departmental and criminal proceedings, it would be injustice for such an officer to continue under suspension for such a long period," the bench said.
The CAT has quashed the decision taken by the Special Review Committee (of finance ministry).The committee's recommendation to continue with Aggarwal's suspension had the endorsement of the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
CAT had first quashed his suspension in 2003, but the department in April 2003 had suspended him again and it was set aside by the CAT in July this year.