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Following Contempt And Several Petitions, CAT Chairman Recuses Himself From Hearing Cases Of Whistleblower IFS Officer

akanksha jain
12 April 2019 9:19 AM GMT
Following Contempt And Several Petitions, CAT Chairman Recuses Himself From Hearing Cases Of Whistleblower IFS Officer
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Over a month after being issued a show cause contempt notice by the Uttarakhand High Court, the Chairman of Central Administrative Tribunal, Justice L Narasimha Reddy, has recused himself from hearing all the petitions moved by whistleblower IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi while calling it all a "rare case in which most unfortunate developments have taken place"."This is a rare case in which...

Over a month after being issued a show cause contempt notice by the Uttarakhand High Court, the Chairman of Central Administrative Tribunal, Justice L Narasimha Reddy, has recused himself from hearing all the petitions moved by whistleblower IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi while calling it all a "rare case in which most unfortunate developments have taken place".

"This is a rare case in which most unfortunate developments have taken place. The very stature of the Office of the Chairman is put to test. Persons may come and persons may go, but the Stature of the office of the Chairman cannot be permitted to suffer any dent. At the same time, the right of a citizen to get fair adjudication cannot be defeated.

"Law does provide for invocation of the doctrine of necessity, to meet eventualities of this nature. However, the peculiar and unfortunate situation that has developed in this case warrants that it be left open to the petitioners in the four PTs to seek their remedies in any forum or court, other than the one provided for under Section 25 of the Act. The Registry is, therefore, directed to return the files in the PTs to the respective petitioners, to enable them to work out their remedies in accordance with law," said Justice Reddy.

The recusal of the CAT Chairman comes after various highs and lows and unprecedented courtroom exchanges.

With this, he has become the fourth judge to recuse himself from matters pertaining to Chaturvedi. Prior to him, in the year 2013, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, and in the year 2016, Justice U U Lalit had recused from hearing his plea for CBI probe against then Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hoods in the Haryana forestry scam. In April 2018, a magistrate in Shimla had recused himself from hearing a criminal defamation complaint filed against Chaturvedi by Himachal Pradesh Chief Secretary.

Justice Reddy recused himself from hearing the petitions moved by Chaturvedi wherein he had sought relief for inter-cadre deputation and quashing of a displeasure memo.

With his current posting as Conservator of Forest at Haldwani in Nainital district of Uttarakhand, Chaturvedi had sought transfer of these applications to CAT's Nainital bench where he had already challenged the "zero" grading in his Annual Performance Appraisal Report for the year 2015-16 during which time he had served as AIIMS CVO and unearthed massive corruption.

A transfer petition moved by AIIMS seeking transfer of Chaturvedi's petition from Nainital to Delhi was also pending before the CAT Chairman.

Justice Reddy was recently issued show cause notice for contempt by the high court on a petition moved by Chaturvedi accusing him of abusing the orders of the high court and insisting on hearing the transfer petition moved by AIIMS despite clear orders of the high court quashing the stay imposed by him on the proceedings before the Nainital bench. The notice has been stayed by the apex court, though.

Prior to this, Justice Reddy had issued contempt notice to Chaturvedi's counsel Mehmood Pracha. He has now sent this part to the Delhi High Court with a request to the Chief Justice to take appropriate action.

Meanwhile, as he recused himself from all of the petitions moved by Chaturvedi, Justice Reddy said, "Application for transfer of cases from one bench to another are entertained day in and day out and orders are passed, depending upon the facts of each case. This batch of PTs has been pending since 2017 and with each passing day, one complication or the other are arising. The content, tone and tenor of the miscellaneous applications or other forms of pleadings make this very clear. The situation has virtually reached the peak when it lead to initiation of contempt proceedings against the counsel, and as a counterblast, filing of a contempt case by the petitioner against the Chairman by name, before the Uttarakhand High Court".

The tribunal noted that the counsel for the petitioner also feels that it would not be possible for him to seek remedy before the Chairman, though his client has a right to seek a transfer.

It all started in June 2017 when Chaturvedi moved the Uttarakhand High Court challenging his "zero" grading. The high court relegated the case to CAT, following which the IFS officer moved Nainital bench.

His case was heard extensively by the Nainital bench, which also passed an interim order that his poor report be not considered for any purposes till the pendency of the petition.

While the matter remained part-heard before the Nainital bench, the CAT Chairman stayed the proceedings on an application moved by AIIMS which had also sought transfer of cases from Nainital to Delhi.

The stay order was challenged by Chaturvedi before the Uttarakhand High Court which noted that the CAT Chairman could not have stayed the proceedings and imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on the Centre, while finding its attitude vindictive.

Despite this, Justice Reddy kept the transfer petitions pending before him and recorded adverse remarks against the high court order as well as Chaturvedi's conduct in approaching the high court 

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