In a major relief to IAS officers, the Delhi High Court on Monday ruled that anti-corruption watchdog Lokayukta cannot summon officers or initiate proceedings against them.
Delhi Lokayukta justice Manmohan Sarin was snubbed for seeking permission to defend himself before the High Court regarding his decision to summon three IAS officers - RK Saxena, Ravinder Balwani and Chetan B Sanghi. The officers are facing complaints of certain irregularities during their tenure as heads of state corporations.
Hearing the plea, justice S Muralidhar criticised him and quashed justice Sarin's order to summon them.
Defending Sanghi, Delhi government counsel Najmi Waziri said they had no problems in producing records before the Delhi Lokayukta, but he "has no powers to summon the IAS officers".
SK Dubey, counsel for Saxena, said, "According to Section 17 of the Lokayukta Act and Upalokayukta Act 1995, a Lokayukta has no authority or jurisdiction to inquire into allegations against any member of the judicial services or of the civil services of the
Union or a member of all India services or civil services of a state." Countering the Lokayukta's stand that IAS officers can be summoned once they are appointed as heads of public institutions, Dubey argued that out of the 64 odd posts of the heads of public institutions in Delhi, IAS officers are posted as the chief of the private sector undertakings in almost 34 posts.
"The IAS officers are posted there on deputation. However, that does not mean that they cease to be an IAS officer," he told the court.
Justice Muralidhar criticised the Lokayukta's "extraordinary" plea for making him a party in the case in the High Court.
Justice Muralidhar was of the view that "so many orders passed every day by judicial officers are challenged day in and day out and reviewed in the higher courts. But judicial officers who have passed the orders never appear in the court to support their orders".
"No authority can expect that its decisions would not be vulnerable to challenge. Fallibility is inherent to decision-making at any level," justice Muralidhar said while dismissing justice Sarin's plea.