The Punjab government informed the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday that IAS officer Sucha Ram Ladhar who has earned more than Rs. 1.5 crore in arbitration fee from Jalandhar and Patiala farmers while deciding their land acquisition compensation cases has committed misconduct.
The information was submitted during resumed hearing of a public interest litigation filed by advocate HC Arora before the division bench comprising chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain on Monday.
On behalf of the Punjab government, Balwant Singh, deputy secretary, department of personnel, submitted in his affidavit that despite a reminder to the officer on November 22, Ladhar had not deposited the arbitration amount in the arbitration account of the bank.
The conduct of Ladhar (53), a 1991-batch IAS officer, has come under scrutiny following a series of reports in Hindustan Times, starting with 'IAS officer reaps a rich harvest' and 'No policy, Ladhar makes hay as arbitrator' (May 24-25).
Balwant Singh also informed the court about the legal opinion taken by the government in the case from the advocate general's office. It was informed that Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, senior additional advocate general, in his 48 page opinion, had stated, "The fixing/charging and then retaining the arbitral fee by Ladhar has to be viewed as a misconduct on his part, and against the provisions of Rule 13(4) of the 1968 Rules."
The court was informed that the state government had conveyed to Ladhar on October 11 that since there was no interim order from the high court with regard to depositing arbitration fee back into the bank account, any delay in complying with government orders should be viewed seriously.
Appearing for Ladhar, senior advocate ML Sarin sought time from the bench to file the reply after which the court adjourned the case for February 5, 2013.