Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by PTI, the Single Judge Bench of Mukta Gupta, J. granted anticipatory bail to an Air India Pilot. He was accused of violating the aircraft rules.

The pilot was accused of forgery and evading the breath-analyzer test.

Pilot had refused to go through the breath analyser test in 2017 before taking the flight from Delhi to Bengaluru and he refused the same when he landed due to which he was suspended for a period of 3 years by DGCA.

“The Court had earlier restrained the police from taking coercive steps against Kathpalia, who was removed as the director of operations of Air India last November after failing to clear pre-flight alcohol test, with the government citing “serious nature of the transgression and (his) failure to course-correct.”

[Judgment Awaited]

[Source: PTI]

Hot Off The PressNews

Ministry of Home Affairs has issued orders to suspend the LoC trade in Jammu & Kashmir w.e.f 19-04-2019. This action has been taken as the Government of India has been receiving reports that the Cross LoC trade routes are being misused by the Pakistan based elements for funneling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency, etc.

It may be recalled that the LoC trade is meant to facilitate the exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir. The trade is allowed through two Trade Facilitation Centres located at Salamabad, Uri, District Baramulla and Chakkan-da-Bagh, District Poonch. The trade takes place four days a week. Trade is based on the Barter system and zero duty basis.

However, reports have been received that the LoC trade is being misused on a very large scale. It has been revealed that the trade has changed its character to mostly third party trade and products from other regions, including foreign countries, are finding their way through this route. Unscrupulous and anti-national elements are using the route as a conduit for Hawala money, drugs and weapons, under the garb of this trade.

During the ongoing investigations of certain cases by NIA, it has been brought out that a significant number of trading concerns engaged in LoC trade are being operated by persons closely associated with banned terrorist organizations involved in fuelling terrorism/separatism. Investigations have further revealed that some individuals, who have crossed over to Pakistan and joined militant organizations have opened trading firms in Pakistan. These trading firms are under the control of militant organizations and are engaged in LoC trade.

After the Pulwama incident, the Government of India has withdrawn the MFN status to Pakistan. Inputs have also been received that in order to evade the consequent higher duty, LoC trade is likely to be misused to a much larger extent.

It has, therefore, been decided by the Government of India to suspend the LoC trade at Salamabad and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Jammu and Kashmir with immediate effect. Meanwhile, a stricter regulatory & enforcement mechanism is being worked out and will be put in place in consultation with various agencies. The issue of reopening of LoC trade will be revisited thereafter.

[Dated: 18-04-2019]

Ministry of Home Affairs

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: The Division Bench of Surya Kant, CJ and Ajay Mohan Goel, J. disposed of the petition allowing the petitioner to continue in the office of Pradhan of Gram Panchayat subject to certain restrictions.

In the case a complaint was made against the petitioner, alleging huge irregularities in the execution of development works, including misappropriation/embezzlement of funds. Subsequently, the preliminary enquiry report was also released in support of the same which later resulted in the petitioner’s suspension. The appellate authority also declined to interfere in the suspension orders and directed to conclude the inquiry within 6 months. However, the Court allowed the petitioner to continue in the office subject to certain restrictions since it would be preposterous to assume the allegations against him would hold true in the ongoing enquiry.

It cannot be overlooked that due to personal rivalry within the village, there would be unabated complaints against an elected office bearers in whom the majority of resident of the village have expressed their faith. Such an elected person should not be lightly suspended from the office and/or be deprived from performing the duties of elected office merely because there is a complaint against irregularities.

The petition was accordingly disposed of. [Roshan Lal v. State of H.P., 2019 SCC OnLine HP 125, Order dated 11-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: A  Bench of Dr S. Vimala, J. addressed a writ petition in which it was stated that petitioner was charged with corruption and put on suspension for which no order has yet been passed in a period of 9 years.

The petitioner in the present case was working in TANGEDCO and was placed under suspension on charges of corruption. For the said charge, a criminal case was filed but after a lapse of even more than 9 years, no order has been passed by the respondents and the grievance of the petitioner for the said issue is that his suspension is prolonged for which he has made a representation seeking to reinstate him in service.

Learned Counsel for the petitioner Mr Ravi Anantha Padmanaban contended that the prolonged suspension was against the decision of the Supreme Court in Ajay Kumar Choudhary v. Union of India, (2015) 7 SCC 291, which held that:

“Currency of a suspension order should not extend beyond 3 months, if within this period, the memorandum of charges/ charge sheet is not served on the delinquent officer/ employee; if the memorandum of charges/ charge sheet is served, a reasoned order must be passed for the extension of suspension”.

Thus, the High Court on perusal of records and the decision of the Supreme Court placed above held that the order of suspension be revoked and the respondents were directed to reinstate the petitioner in service and post him in any non-sensitive post. The petition was disposed of accordingly. [S.P. Chandrasekar v.  TANGEDCO, 2018 SCC OnLine Mad 3607, Order dated 04-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Anant S. Dave and Biren Vaishnav, JJ., allowed a regular bail application along with the order of the suspension of the sentence.

The present application was preferred under Section 389 CrPC for the suspension of sentence and grant of bail for the offences punishable under Sections 302, 307, 324, 452, 118 and 114 IPC including a sentence for rigorous imprisonment for life with fine.

It was contended that both the petitioners who were convicts, were only seen abusing, instigating and giving fist blows, none of which constituted towards the injury conferred on the deceased or the injured person by any weapon of assault. Also, the witnesses present confirmed the same. Further, one of the cross-complainants was herself convicted under Section 323 of IPC and thus this version of the alleged allegation cannot be taken into consideration on the account of being untrustworthy. Hence the two incidences that took place on the same date and the nature of quarrel presuppose the involvement of both the parties.

The Court was of the view that the nature of testimonies implicated the petitioners for a limited role and prima facie, no clear or specific role of both the petitioners could be surfaced on record. Accordingly, the court deemed it just and proper to consider their case for suspension of sentence and grant of regular bail as prayed for and allowed the petition. [Kavlaben v. State of Gujarat, 2018 SCC OnLine Guj 1396, order dated 14-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Arun Bhansali, J., dismissed a writ petition filed challenging the order of suspension passed against the petitioner.

The petitioner was aggrieved by the order of Deputy Director, Secondary Education, Bikaner, whereby the petitioner was placed under suspension and his headquarter was fixed at Senior Secondary School, Gadiyala, Bikaner. The petitioner assailed the said order stating it to be against Rule 13 of Rajasthan Civil Services (Classification, Control, and Appeal) Rules 1958, wherein a suspension can only take place in contemplation of an inquiry or pending inquiry; however, no inquiry was pending against the petitioner as was indicated by the impugned order.

The High Court considered the submission made by the respondent Deputy Director that the order was passed contemplating enquiry against the petitioner. A preliminary inquiry had already started and the prima facie finding was that the petitioner had hit the Principal. The Court perused the impugned order and observed that the language used in the order though gives an impression that inquiry was pending against the petitioner, however, the respondents had clarified the real intention was to suspend the petitioner contemplating inquiry. The Court opined that the use of incorrect phrase in the order does not by itself vitiates it. In such facts and situation, the Court held that no interference was called for in the impugned order. Thus, the petition was dismissed. [Vijay Kumar Sharma v.  State of Rajasthan, 2018 SCC OnLine Raj 1335, dated 01-06-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab & Haryana High Court: In the Haryana Judicial Services Preliminary exam paper leak controversy, the 3-judge bench of Rajesh Bindal, Tajan Gupta and GS Sandhawalia, JJ, has suspended Dr. Balwinder Sharma, Registrar (Recruitment) after the Recruitment/Promotion/ Court Creation Committee (Subordinate Judicial Services) of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, submitted in it’s report that there was, prima facie, material suggesting that he was involved in the paper leak.

On 13.09.2017, it was submitted before the Court that there were total 760 calls and SMSs exchanged between Dr. Balwinder Sharma and Sunita, one of the canditates who has allegedly leaked the paper, during last one year. The Committee had recommended the Court that since atleast two candidates namely Sunita and Sushila had the question papers, the possibility that other candidates may have also had access to the question paper cannot be ruled out and hence, an FIR should be lodged against Sunita, Sushila and Dr. Balwinder Sharma.

The Court, after considering the fact that the exam was held in Chandigarh and the alleged conversations and Transaction also took place in Chndigarh, directed that the FIR be registered in Chandigarh. The Court also made it clear that the investigation in the matter will be done by Chandigarh Police only.

Accepting the contention of the counsel appearing for the High Court that if the investigation is to be done by a Special Investigating Team then it should be done by senior officers only, the Court asked Randeep Singh Rai, Public Prosecutor, UT Chandigarh to submit a list of senior officers who can be a part of the SIT. The Court now hear the matter on 18.09.2017.

On 14.09.2017, the Punjab and Haryana High Court issued a public notice stating that it has scrapped the Haryana Judicial Services Preliminary Exam held on 16.07.2017 in the light of the paper leak allegations. The date of re-exam will be notified soon. [Suman v. State of Haryana, 2017 SCC OnLine P&H 2340, order dated 15.09.2017]

High Courts

Karnataka High Court: Striking a blow against the rampant corruption prevalent in the executive, the Court while deciding the instant case concerning a member of Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC) being suspended on the charges of corruption by the Governor observed that Article 317(2) and the Constitution at large should be given a dynamic and purposive interpretation rather than a rigid textual interpretation and observing thus the Court therefore upheld the suspension of the petitioner under Article 317(2). 

The basis for the impugned order was an allegation of corruption against the petitioner during the selection of Gazetted Probationers which had caused the Governor to order her suspension under the provisions of Article 317(2). The petitioner’s counsel K.V. Dhananjaya argued that an order of suspension must be preceded by a reference  made by the President to the Supreme Court and mere request by the Governor to the President to make a refrence does not amount to the reference as stated in Article 317(1), while Ravivarma Kumar, Advocate General, representing the State refuted the contention. Interpreting Art. 317, the Court observed that the order of suspension by the Governor is binding until an order is issued by the President after receiving a report from the Supreme Court. The Court further observed that Article 317(2) is silent as to when the reference by President to the Supreme Court would commence therefore the provision has a connotation of a continuing circumstance, the starting point of which would be when the Governor makes a request to the President to make a reference. The Court also stated that the provision of suspension must be interpreted in a way so as to give positive content to the power of the Governor and the Governor therefore need not wait for an actual reference by the President.  Mangala Shridhar v. Karnataka Governor, 2014 SCC OnLine Kar 3872, decided on 23.09.2014

To read the full Order, refer SCC OnLine