The Madras high court has sentenced a former Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief and a director of Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory to three weeks of simple imprisonment, holding them guilty of contempt of court.
Dr VK Saraswat, a Padmabhushan awardee and former scientific advisor to the defence minister, and Dr D Malakondaiah were on sentenced to jail Thursday by the high court for disobeying its April 2009 order related to re-employment to a clerk in a school run by a wing of the government’s scientific organisation.
The court held Saraswat and Malakondaiah guilty of civil contempt under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
Taking a dim view of the non-implementation of its earlier order, a division bench of the Madras high court, comprising justice S Rajeswaran and justice PN Prakash, also ordered them to pay a fine of Rs. 2,000 each.
The bench allowed a contempt petition filed by S Joseph Raj, who was an employee of a school run by the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) at Avadi on the outskirts of Chennai.
When CVRDE closed the school, Joseph Raj and other employees approached the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) challenging the closure.
The court noted that even several rounds of litigations later in CAT, the high court and Supreme Court, the worker was made to suffer.
On April 30, 2009, the high court directed the appointment of Joseph Raj as senior technical assistant (library science) within a period of two months. Joseph Raj was not reinstated.
On April 13, 2012, the officials ruled Joseph Raj ineligible for the post and said that he was not a government servant. It is only after this, that Joseph filed the contempt petition.
"We find the above officers were doing everything within their powers to deny a just benefit to Joseph Raj. We are aware that the officers are occupying very high position in the government, but ensconced in a pedestal, their vision became blurred when it came to the travails of an ordinary employee who was suddenly thrown out of employment, for no fault of his," the judges said.
The bench also said that there has also been no tinge of remorse or an attempt to correct the mistake by the officials.
The high court ordered the duo to surrender within a week and asked the central government to take disciplinary action against them for their “reckless negligence and wilful disobedience of the order of the court.”
The court also asked the immediate reemployment of the worker.