Published On: Thu, Oct 4th, 2018

CAT denies relief to IAS officer from disciplinary action

New Delhi: The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) Wednesday denied relief to a senior IAS officer in Jharkhand against whom disciplinary action has been initiated for releasing around Rs 8 crore which was withheld to various book publishers during 2012-13, saying his “hurried action” as an arbitrator caused “doubt of there being something more”.

The DoPT had initiated disciplinary proceedings against IAS officer B K Tripathi.

The tribunal refused to grant relief to IAS officer B K Tripathi, the then state project director of the Jharkhand Education Project Council (JPEC) who had passed an order in January, 2013 awarding around Rs 8 crore to various books suppliers, under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Project of the Jharkhand government.

CAT noted that the award was passed without ever bringing the order to the notice of the State Executive Committee of the Council.

“I am of the view that even though Tripathi might have acted as a quasi-judicial authority, but his hurried action has definitely given room to a genuine doubt of there being something more,” administrative member of the tribunal K N Shrivastava said.

Tripathi also held two other posts at the same time — the Principal Secretary of the Human Resource Development (HRD) department in the Jharkhand government and the Arbitrator for resolution of any dispute arising between the JEPC and printers/suppliers, from whom the council procured no-cost books.

JPEC was mandated to distribute textbooks free-of-cost to students under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Project of the Jharkhand government.

The state chief secretary, who was also the chairman of the JPEC State Executive Committee, had found some shortcomings in some supplies and had withheld some payments to the printers/suppliers, after which one of them wrote a letter in December, 2012 for releasing the withheld payment.

It was alleged that Tripathi, instead of discussing the matter with the chief secretary, initiated the arbitration proceedings suo motu, even without the supplier ever requesting for the same.

On January 19, 2013, he ordered an arbitration award of Rs 7, 92,33,899 towards the supply received from 2007-08 to 2011-12, which JEPC released the very same day without even bringing the matter to the notice of the State Executive Committee.

CAT said that according to the earlier apex court judgments, a government official exercising powers of quasi-judicial authority cannot be subjected to disciplinary proceedings for “committing any mistake of law” but if there is “something more”, then he can certainly be subjected to such proceedings.

The Ministry Of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions had initiated disciplinary proceedings against Tripathi, who had contended in his application that as an arbitrator, he had acted in quasi-judicial capacity and so he cannot be subjected to any disciplinary proceedings for his actions in that capacity.

PTI

About the Author