Uttarakhand HC slams tribunal chairman for strange order; imposes cost on central govt
The Uttarakhand High Court has slammed the chairman of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) for passing a “strange order” on a plea made by the central government seeking transfer of a case, involving whistleblower IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi, to Delhi from the tribunal’s Nainital bench.
While quashing the CAT’s July 27 order in the matter, the court imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on the Central government. It also termed as “vindictive” the attitude of the central government.
“The attitude of the respondents towards petitioner, prima facie, is vindictive,” said the August 21 order by the division bench of the court, consisting of acting Chief Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Manoj Kumar Tiwari.
The bench of CAT had been hearing the case filed by Chaturvedi since July 2017 in the matter pertaining to adverse entries made into his appraisal report of 2015-16 by AIIMS, New Delhi, where he was working as Chief Vigilance Officer from 2012 to 2016.
“It is very a strange order. How the chairman while sitting singly could stay the proceedings pending before the division bench of Central Administrative Tribunal, circuit bench at Nainital,” the court order said.
It said the chairman of the tribunal is first amongst equals.
“He exercises the same judicial powers, which are being exercised by the other members. We are of the considered view that the chairman of the tribunal while sitting singly could not stay the proceedings of the matter pending...,” the court said.
CAT chairman Justice L Narasimha Reddy had last month stayed for six weeks the proceedings by the tribunal’s Nainital bench, in case of adverse entries into appraisal report of Chaturvedi .
Calling the CAT chief’s verdict as laconic and non-speaking, it further said the order passed by the chairman while sitting singly is wholly without jurisdiction.
Chaturvedi, who contested the case on his own before the High Court, had in his plea sought quashing of orders of the CAT Chairman and directions to Nainital bench of the tribunal to allow its proceedings.
In his petition before the Uttarakhand High Court, he had alleged violation of natural justice claiming that the stay order was passed when he was away on a mandatory training in Finland and that as per Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985, such ex-parte stay orders can be granted maximum for a period of two weeks while in this case, the chairman had passed stay orders for six weeks.
He had also mentioned CAT rules, which give right to aggrieved officer, to file application at his place of posting.
Chaturvedi had approached Nainital Bench in July 2017 on directions of Uttarakhand High Court, and since then, hearing was going on there.
In September 2017, the bench had given stay in favour of Chaturvedi and on April 17th, this year, in a major judgement, had rejected plea of Cabinet Secretary, to delete his name from list of respondents.
In its order dated July 18th this year, the Nainital bench had ordered that arguments were part heard and the case shall be taken up as first case of hearing on August 27th .
The central government had moved application for transfer of this case, from Nainital to Delhi bench, in December 2017, before the Chairman of CAT, on which the notice was issued.