The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has ordered the reinstatement of a senior officer of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), who was compulsorily retired from service for security reasons after her identity become public.
“We are of the confirmed opinion that the applicant has been treated with a large doze of arbitrariness and her statutory we well as constitutional rights stand violated,” the tribunal said, ordering the reinstatement of R&AW director Nisha Priya Bhatia with all consequential benefits.
Bhatia was given a posting in an inferior cadre in 2008. When she challenged the posting, the government told the tribunal on November 26, 2009, that she would be taken back to the executive cadre after six months. But after three weeks, she was removed from service on December 18, 2009.
Bhatia alleged that prostitution rackets were being run from R&AW office premises and funds were being misused. R&AW had denied the charges.
The government counsel argued: ”It was only after mature reasoning that the competent authority, the Prime Minister, decided to retire her from service.” The actual order, however, was signed by an undersecretary in the cabinet secretariat.
A bench headed by CAT vice-chairman M. Ramachandran said: “The Prime Minister obviously might have been acting on the basis of reports presented before him. But it could have been only one-sided, and reports have been prepared by persons who are not friendly with the applicant (Bhatia). The opportunity for hearing any other version has been virtually denied.”
It said: “So long as we are expected to uphold constitutional rights of an individual, we cannot be silent witness to at least such unpalatable happening brought to our notice.”
The bench wondered why Bhatia was not given the protection available to civil servants under Article 311 of the Constitution.
On the government’s contention that an R&AW official becomes “unemployable” once his/her identity is made public, the tribunal said: “Anonymity of personnel of R&AW is more a myth than reality.”