Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench of C.T. Ravikumar and V.G. Arun, JJ. dismissed a petition seeking quashing of disciplinary proceedings on the ground of inordinate delay. 

Disciplinary proceedings had been initiated against the petitioner, who was working as Additional Director Income Tax (Investigation), Mumbai, on the charge that he had abused his official position to leak the identity of a particular informant to the assessee, Mr Davinder Ahuja. The petitioner aggrieved by the decision of the Central Administrative Tribunal approached the Court with an application to quash the said proceedings on the grounds of inordinate delay and a second contention that the proceedings would amount to post-decisional hearing. 

The learned counsel for the petitioner, Mr Mohan Parasaran, relying on State of A.P. v. N. Radhakrishnan (1998) 4 SCC 154, submitted that there occurred an inordinate delay in the matter of initiation of disciplinary proceedings. The learned counsel further referred to imputations of misconduct and contended that it was indicative that the competent authority had already arrived at a conclusion on the guilt of the petitioner and hence no fair and impartial enquiry could be conducted thereafter. 

The learned counsel for the respondents, Mr Dinesh R. Shenoy, resisted the aforesaid contentions and submitted that the petitioner was only charge-sheeted and had not filed his written statement of defence, but instead approached the Tribunal. 

The Court after hearing the submissions of both the parties observed that the charge levelled against the petitioner was of a serious and grave nature and hence the authorities were justified in approaching the case with caution and patience. Thus the contention of the petitioner that there was an inordinate delay in initiation of proceedings was rejected by the Court. 

The Court upheld the Tribunal’s observation that the imputations incorporated in the said articles of charge only intended to explain the offending acts allegedly committed by the petitioner and to make the imputation specific and clear. In view thereof, the Court held that the verity of the imputations can only be proved or disproved at the final enquiry and merely because the imputations have been unhappily worded, it cannot be a reason to terminate the proceedings abruptly. It also observed that though the petitioner had attempted to establish the charges against him as baseless, merits of the case could only be established only after an appropriately conducted disciplinary proceeding. 

In view thereof, the Court did not find any compelling reason to interfere with the order passed by the Tribunal, and the petition was dismissed. The Court also directed the petitioner to cooperate with the authorities to complete the proceedings within six months. [Shantam Bose v. Union of India, OP (CAT) No. 205 of 2015, decided on 27-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan, CJ and N.S. Dhanik, J. entertained a writ petition which sought mandamus against respondents and to direct them to re-fix the last cut-off marks for general candidates; to prepare the selected list as per the respective categories; and to appoint petitioner as per his merit in the general category, the exam was conducted in 2015 i.e. four years ago.

The learned counsel for the petitioner, Tapan Singh submitted that, the petitioner applied for the post of Lecturer (Electronics), he succeeded in the screening test and secured qualifying marks in interview, but the list declared by the respondent did not reflect his name. He further submitted that several other candidates who were selected under various reserved categories were initially considered under general category but the respondent by unfair means had given the appointment to them. It was further contended that the petitioner’s grievance was that the candidates who were selected in the screening test under the reserved categories, were treated as in General category after the process of interview was completed; they were appointed in General category posts; consequently, he was deprived of being appointed to the post of Lecturer under the General category; the aforesaid individuals ought to have been selected and appointed in their respective reserved categories; it was pleaded that such candidates were not entitled to be appointed; and the vacancy, caused as a result, in the General category should be filled up with the petitioner, who belonged to the General category only.

B.D. Kandpal, learned counsel for the respondent- State argued that a large number of applications were received from applicants to be considered for selection and appointment to various posts, there was a proper procedure for the selection and various people are involved hence, negating the chances of fraud, the marks obtained by them in the screening test has no relevance thereafter; the entire selection process, thereafter, was based only on the marks secured by candidates in the interview; candidates, who are found meritorious in the interview, are alone selected and appointed to the posts. The various candidates were appointed as per the merit list and there is no misappropriation of seats for general or reserved category. The meritorious one’s were allotted under general category and likewise.

The Court did not pay much attention to the merits and facts of the case relied on State of M.P v. Nandlal Jaiswal, (1986) 4 SCC 566, where the Supreme Court held that Now, it is well settled that the power of the High Court to issue an appropriate writ under Article 226 of the Constitution is discretionary and the High Court in the exercise of its discretion does not ordinarily assist the tardy and the indolent of the acquiescent and the lethargic. If there is inordinate delay on the part of the petitioner in filing a writ petition and such delay is not satisfactorily explained, the High Court may decline to intervene and grant relief in the exercise of its writ jurisdiction. Hence, the petition was duly dismissed by the Court, as it does not ordinarily permit a belated resort to the extraordinary remedy under the writ jurisdiction because it is likely to cause confusion and public inconvenience and bring in its train new injustices.[Suneel Singh Bhandari v. State of Uttrakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 430, decided on 09-05-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: Justice V.K. Jain (Presiding Member), allowed a consumer complaint seeking a refund of money paid to book a residential flat in a construction project being carried out by the developer. 

Complainant herein had booked a residential flat in a project started by the opposite party (OP) by paying a booking amount of approximately Rs 1 crore. As per the allotment letter dated 20-02-2015, possession of flat was to be delivered to the complainant by March 2015; though an additional grace period of six months was available to the OP which could be invoked in case the possession was delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. However, the complainant was not given the possession even after almost 3.5 years.

The OP resisted this complaint on the ground that the delivery of possession got delayed as land on which project was to be developed was acquired by Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA), and the said acquisition was challenged by landowners in Allahabad High Court. Further, the National Green Tribunal had prohibited the use of groundwater for construction purpose. Also, the supply of raw material and labour was disrupted due to strikes/agitation by the farmers whose land was acquired.

The Commission noted that the aforestated contentions had already been considered and rejected by it in its order dated 16-04-2019 in STUC Awasiya Grahak Kalyaan Association v. Supertech Ltd. (CC No. 2335 of 2017). In that case, this Commission had clearly held that it was for the OP to arrange water for construction purposes from alternative sources. Further, the land acquisition challenge had been decided by Allahabad High Court in October, 2011 itself and while the Supreme Court did uphold the said High Court’s judgment in appeal, no order was passed restraining builders (particularly the builders in YEIDA) from raising construction on the land. Moreover, the agreements with the complainant had been executed much later than the Allahabad High Court’s decision. Lastly, no direct evidence had been led by the OP to prove the dates on which farmers had actually prevented the construction work.

It was noted that the completed drawings were submitted by the OP on 15-02-2015 itself, which meant that the construction had been completed by that date but the requisite Completion Certificate/Occupancy Certificate had still not been issued.

Reliance was placed on the judgment in Pioneer Urban Land & Infrastructure Ltd. v. Govindan Raghavan, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 458 where it was held that complainants cannot be made to suffer and wait indefinitely for possession of the flat allotted to him, and is entitled to seek refund of the amount paid by him, along with compensation.

In view of the above, the complaint was allowed and OP was directed to refund the entire amount received from complainant, and also compensate them in the form of simple interest of 10 percent per annum from the date of each payment to the date of refund. OP was also directed to pay litigation costs of Rs 25,000 to the complainant.[Ajai Kumar v. Supertech Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine NCDRC 63, Order dated 22-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Division Bench of Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Anjana Mishra, JJ. rejected a petition assailing the order delivered by Central Administrative Tribunal, on the ground of inordinate delay in filing the petition.

In the instant case, an employee had died in harness in the year 1992. The matter for compassionate appointment in place of the deceased employee was taken up by the Central Administrative Tribunal where it was, ultimately, disposed of in 2008. The instant petition was filed challenging the order of the said Tribunal.

The Court noted that the present petition had been filed after an inordinate delay of almost ten years and the explanation sought to be given for the delay did not appear to be convincing. It was opined that the petition was heavily barred by laches, more so, as the subject matter related to that of compassionate appointment.

In view of the above, the Court declined to interfere on the ground of laches. [Ravi Shankar Kumar v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 255, Order dated 27-02-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission: In a recent case before CIC, appellant pleaded that he had received the information after issue of notice of the hearing from the CPIO of the department  concerned and requested for award of compensation on account of the disadvantage suffered by him due to the unjustifiable delay of more than 2 years in providing him the information sought for.

He told the Commission that he had sought the information with regard to a civil case and due to the delay, the information had now become redundant. The appellant said he feels harassed waiting for the information all this while. On the other hand, the CPIO submitted that her predecessor retired in January 2016, and she assumed office only in February 2016.

On hearing both the parties, the Commission decided to take grave exception to the flagrant violation of the RTI Act by the CPIOs of Cantonment Board, Jabalpur and also of the ignorance of the present CPIO regarding the pending RTI applications from the tenure of her predecessor. Commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha observed that it is incumbent upon the present CPIO to deal with all such pending RTI applications and not wait for the Commission to issue notice of hearing to provide reply to RTI applicants.

Most importantly, the Commission directed the public authority through its Chief Executive Officer to compensate the appellant by an amount of Rs. 5000 for the inconvenience and detriment caused to him and disposed the appeal accordingly. [Aabid Hussain v. CPIO, Cantonment Board, Jabalpur, 2017 SCC OnLine CIC 1506, decided on 16.10.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: While deciding the case of detainment of imported goods of petitioner for the inordinate period by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) or the customs authorities, the Bench of Rajesh Bindal and Harinder Singh Sidhu, JJ, said that the importing company cannot be burdened to incur unnecessary detention and demurrage charges if the delay is condoned by the Port Authority.

The imported goods of petitioner was detained by the Authorities and DRI also requested Commissioner of Customs (Import), Mumbai, for putting on hold the imported consignment of the petitioner as well as five other importers based in Ludhiana till the time they do not obtain the NOC from the said Authority. Even the good imported by the petitioner were not of prohibited nature. The petitioner made several requests to the Authorities that the goods are incurring detention and demurrage charges but he was left unheard by the authorities, so he approached the  High Court.

In the light of given facts and conditions the Court ordered the DRI and Custom Authority that the petitoner should not be held liable for the delay which was condoned by the Authority and thereby the Court also said that the Authorities will be liable to bear the cost of inordinate delay. [Shri Lakshmi Steels v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine P&H 12111), decided on December 23, 2016]