I&B ministry penalised for harassment of official | delhi | Hindustan Times
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I&B ministry penalised for harassment of official

The Central Administrative Tribunal has come to the rescue of a senior song and drama division official harassed by his superiors, who dragged him into “avoidable litigation” for years.

delhi Updated: Sep 19, 2011 00:16 IST
Satya Prakash

The Central Administrative Tribunal has come to the rescue of a senior song and drama division official harassed by his superiors, who dragged him into “avoidable litigation” for years.

Such was the bias against song and drama division director Prem Matiyani that his department seniors even passed a punishment order against him on the day of his retirement on June 30, 2010 reducing his pay by one stage with retrospective effect. A bench of ACT chairman Justice VK Bali and member Veena Chhotray on September 16, 2011 set aside the order terming it “arbitrary” and “patently illegal” and made it clear that he would be entitled to all consequential benefits.

“We do not find any justification for reducing the pay of an employee from a retrospective date. Surely, when the order was passed on the very day of retirement of the applicant, and the respondents (information and broadcasting ministry) may not have been able to pass such order on that day, as surely after that day the applicant would not have any pay and would have only pension, the respondents chose to make the penalty applicable from a date earlier to the said date. They appear to have devised a way to somehow or the other punish the applicant (Matiyani),” the bench said.

It ordered the ministry to pay R25,000 as cost of litigation to Matiyani for having dragged him “in avoidable litigation, illegally, arbitrarily and without a semblance of justification”.

The CAT praised Matiyani’s “resolve to fight injustice” and “tenacity” that sustained him, saying “a normal person may have been buried under the spate of adverse and wholly illegal decisions taken against him”.

Matiyani’s ordeal started on September 30, 2005 when the CBI recommended major penalty proceedings in connection with the appointment of one Asha Sanwal in Shimla office under Scheduled Tribe category, without there being any vacancy under ST vacancy.

On the basis of some pseudonymous complaints, it was alleged that while posted and functioning as director, song and drama division, New Delhi during the period 1998-2000, Matiyani “failed to maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty and acted in a manner unbecoming of a government servant”. Accordingly, he was placed under suspension.

However, on April 11, 2008, a review committee recommended revocation of Matiyani’s suspension. But despite that he was not reinstated. In the first instance, the HC dismissed Matiayani’s plea but later on August 4, 2008 granted him liberty to challenge the suspension order.

“The way and manner in which the applicant (Matiyani) has been treated does leave us with an undeniable impression that there was an overall bias on the part of the department against the applicant,” CAT said.