R. Satapathy, Administrative Member
This application has been filed under Sec. 19 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 seeking the following relief:
âto issue directions to the respondents 1 and 2 to include the name of the applicant herein in the Select List for promotion as Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and notwithstanding and without reference to the pendency of charge memo issued in Letter no. 33392/FR Spl A/97-2 dated 16.04.1998 by the 2nd respondent and to promotion him as such and pass such further or other order as deemed fit and thus render justice -
2. The facts of the case are as follows:
The applicant was directly recruited to Indian Forest Service (for short IFS) and was allotted to Tamil Nadu Cadre in the year 1977. He had been further promoted to the post of Conservator of Forests, Chief Conservator of Forests on various dates. He was also promoted as Addl. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests on 14.11.2005 and he is now serving as such.
3. The main grievance of the applicant is that disciplinary proceedings were initiated against him under rule 8 of the All India Services ( DandA) Rules vide Govt. letter No. 33392/FR Spl.A/97-2, Environment and Forest Department, dated 16.04.98 for an alleged incident of the year 1993-1995 and the same has not been disposed of till date which caused his promotion being delayed at every stage. As the disciplinary proceedings are hanging over his head like âDemocles Sword all these years, he filed O.A. NO. 850/2006 before this Tribunal praying for quashing of the charge memo dated 16.04.98. This Tribunal vide its order dated 24.01.2008, allowed the O.A and quashed and set aside the charge memo 16.04.98. One more letter of the respondents dated 21.11.2006 seeking further clarification from the applicant was also quashed.
4. Aggrieved by the said order of this Tribunal dated 24.01.2008, the respondents have filed W.P. No. 12313/2008 challenging the order of this Tribunal. The Honble High Court of Madras vide its judgement dated 14.05.2009, dismissed the Writ Petition and upheld the order of this Tribunal dated 24.01.2008. The operative portion of the judgement reads as under:
â38. However, as stated above, the Disciplinary Authority acted based on the note of the office of the Honourable Chief Minister, without applying its mind and called for fresh report examining the records behind back of the first respondent to replace the enquiry report and therefore, the action of the Disciplinary Authority is arbitrary and violative of Art. 14 of the Constitution.
39. Hence, while we uphold the reasoning of the Tribunal for quashing the charge sheet, we have given the additional reasons as stated above.
40. The Writ Petition is dismissed accordingly. No costs. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petition is closed.â
5. Aggrieved by the judgement of the Honble High Court of Madras, the respondents in O.A (Writ Petitioners before the Honble High Court of Madras) filed SLP (Civil ) No.12114/2010 on the file of Honble Supreme Court.
6. The applicant submits that in some cases pertaining to IFS officers of Tamil Nadu cadre, this Tribunal, even in prolonged disciplinary proceedings, directed the respondents herein to include the names of those applicants in respective panels for promotion to higher grade(s). The State Government had implemented the directions of this Tribunal, whereas the applicant alone had been discriminated. Therefore, the applicant has requested for granting the relief as prayed for in the O.A.
7. Upon notice the respondents have filed a detailed reply denying the allegations made against them except those which are admitted based on records. It is stated in the reply that the 2nd respondent has taken appropriate steps to finalise the charge sheet pending against him in consultation with the advisory departments. The applicant had filed O.A. No. 850/2006 to call for the charge sheet issued to him and pass appropriate orders. This Tribunal vide its order dated 24.01.2008 had quashed the charge sheet. Aggrieved by the same the respondents have preferred W.P.No. 12313 of 2008 before the Honble High Court of Madras challenging the order of this Tribunal dated 24.01.2008. The Honble High Court Madras vide its judgement dated 14.05.2009 dismissed the above Writ Petition. Thereafter the 2nd respondent preferred SLP before the Honble Supreme Court, which is still pending according to the respondents. The 2nd respondent has stated that the disciplinary proceedings are still not completed and the SLP is still pending. They have further contended that the delay is not intentional as submitted by the applicant. It is further stated that this Tribunal passed the following interim order in this O.A on 12.04.2012.
âAny promotion made to the post of Principal Conservator of Forests will be subject to the final outcome of O.A.â.
It is also stated that the 1st respondent committee which met on 06.06.2012 has considered the name of the applicant and resolved to keep its recommendation in a sealed cover. It is also stated that in GO Ms. No. 168, Environment and Forests (FR Spl A) Department dated 16.07.2012 the following officers have been promoted to the post of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests subject to outcome of this O.A.
1. Anugrah N. Singh IFS (1978)
2. Bhagwan Singh IFS (1978)
3. G.S. Rawat, IFS (1978)
4. K.S. Neelankantan IFS (1979)
5. R.Annamalai IFS (1979)
6. R. Gunbasekaran, IFS (1979)
It is submitted by the respondents that the charge sheet under Rule 8 of the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules 1969 is still pending against the applicant and he is not fit for promotion till the charges are disposed of. It is categorically stated in the reply that the delay in finalizing the charge sheet pending against the applicant is due to legal issues and the applicant could be promoted to the level of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests only after he is exonerated from the charges framed against him. It is also stated that there is no specific direction from any Court of law to consider his name for promotion to the post of Principal Conservator of Forests. Therefore the respondents have prayed for dismissal of the O.A.
8. We have heard the learned counsel for both sides and perused the documents carefully. The main grievance of the applicant is that his juniors have been promoted as Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF for short), whereas the applicant is still working as Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests . The main ground, on which the respondents have relied for not promoting the applicant to the post of PCCF, is that disciplinary proceedings are pending against him. They have categorically stated that the applicant would be promoted as PCCF only after he is exonerated from the charges framed against him.
9. In support of his contention the applicant has relied on the following judgement of the Honble Supreme Court in the case of State of Madhya Pradeshvs. J.S. Bansal and anr. [(1998) RD-SC 79]. The relevant portion reads as under:
âAn employee cannot be denied his right at the interlocutory stage of the departmental proceedings as he is still to be found guilty on the basis of the evidence which might be produced against him during those proceedings. Till the charges are established, his right to be considered cannot be defeated as he is not under the cloud of having been found guilty but is only suspected to be guilty. Mere suspicion is not a substitute for proofâ.
10. During the course of hearing, the learned counsel for the applicant has brought to our notice and produced an order of the Honble Supreme Court dated 12.02.2013 in SLP Civil No. 12114/2010, filed by the respondents challenging the judgement of the Honble High Court of Madras dated 14.05.2009 passed in W.P. No. 12313/2008. The order reads as under:
We have heard the learned counsel for the parties at length.
We are satisfied that the order passed by the High Court does not call for any interference. The special leave petition is dismissed accordingly.â
11. Further the respondents have failed to show any other charge sheet pending against the applicant, except the one which has been quashed by this Tribunal and upheld by the Honble High Court of Madras in W.P. No. 12313/2008. The Honble Supreme Court has also affirmed the order of this Tribunal by dismissing the W.P. No. 12313/2008 preferred by the respondents.
12. In view of the matter, we hold that no charge sheet is pending against the applicant and we are of the view that the applicant will be eligible for promotion which may come in his way right from 1998 onwards. The learned counsel for the applicant has produced the details of promotion granted to the juniors of the applicant. Hence it is clear that the applicant is entitled to be promoted to the post of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests from the date when his juniors have been given promotion to the post of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.
13. In view of the above discussion, we direct the respondents to promote the applicant to the post of PCCF from the date when his juniors have been promoted to the said post. The applicant is entitled to all consequential benefits. It is stated by the learned counsel for the applicant across the bar that the applicant is to retire on superannuation on 28.02.2013. Therefore, the respondents are further directed to pass appropriate orders, by promoting the applicant to the post of PCCF and further promotion and grant him all the consequential benefits forthwith without any delay. The O.A is allowed. No costs.