CAT, Ahmedabad is not competent to dismiss show cause notice in fake encounter case: Gujarat High Court
Rajnish Kumar Rai, IPS (Retd.) V. Union of India,
Bench: Honourable Justice Hasmukh D. Suthar
R/Special Civil Application No. 7133 of 2023
Facts of the Case
In a civil petition challenging the order of Central Administrative Tribunal, Ahmedabad Bench (‘CAT’), wherein former IPS officer Rajnish Rai’s (‘petitioner’) application challenging the show cause notice was dismissed. The Division Bench of Vipul M. Pancholi and Hasmukh D. Suthar, JJ., dismissed the petition and said that CAT, Ahmedabad did not commit any error while dismissing the original application and review application filed by the petitioner.
The petitioner was a member of the Indian Police Service (or “IPS”) class of 1992. On March 30, 2017, the officer in question informed the petitioner that two people who claimed to be members of the NDFB(S) cadre had allegedly been killed in a false encounter in the village of Simlaiguri in the district of Chirang, Assam, during the previous night. Therefore, in accordance with procedure, he duly informed regarding the joint operation to ADJ, NE Zone, CRPF, Guwahati, and other competent authorities as per the practice
The petitioner was relocated to Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, from Shillong. The preliminary investigation against the petitioner was later made known to him. He subsequently filed a petition before the CAT’s Principal Bench in New Delhi, challenging both his transfer and the commencement of a preliminary inquiry against him in the matter of fake encounter. CAT’s Principal Bench dismissed the application on August 9, 2017. The petitioner, who felt aggrieved by the ruling, brought a Writ Petition before the Delhi High Court. A show cause notice with the date December 28, 2021 was sent on the petitioner during the pendency of the proceedings. The Delhi High Court dismissed the petitioner’s writ case ultimately
Later, the petitioner challenged the aforementioned show cause notice issued on December 28, 2021, by filing an application in 2023 before the CAT, Ahmedabad Bench. On February 16, 2023, the CAT, Ahmedabad Bench rejected the aforementioned application. After that, the petitioner filed a Review Application with the CAT in Ahmedabad, which was rejected. In order to show that the CAT, Ahmedabad Bench has the authority to hear and decide the original application submitted to it, the petitioner challenged the order dated 16-02-2023 and asked the court to direct the CAT, Ahmedabad Bench to hear and decide the aforementioned case on the merits.
Whether the CAT, Ahmedabad Bench has jurisdiction to entertain the Original Application filed by the petitioner or not?
The Court took note of the petitioner’s case’s facts and found that the petitioner was required to submit an original application against the issuance of the show-cause notice dated 28.12.2021 before the CAT, Principal Bench, New Delhi, after the Delhi High Court had given the petitioner permission to approach the CAT. However, the petitioner filed an application to the CAT in Ahmedabad.
According to the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987 (the “Rules of 1987”), rule 6(2) specifically states that individuals who have lost their employment due to retirement, discharge, or termination of service may, at their discretion, file an application with the Registrar of the Bench within whose jurisdiction they are ordinarily residing at the time of filing the application. The petitioner’s services were neither terminated nor was he retired in the current instance, according to the Court. There was no presumed resignation in this instance. Rule 6(2) of the Rules of 1987 would not therefore apply in the petitioner’s situation
The Court further stated that because the show-cause notice was issued from New Delhi, the CAT, Ahmedabad, lacked jurisdiction under rule 6(1) of the Rules of 1987. Moreover, the Court ruled that just because the petitioner had received a show cause notice, it cannot be assumed that the respondents have violated or are threatening to violate any of the petitioner’s legal rights as a result of the issuance of the aforementioned show cause notice.
The Court said that the CAT, Ahmedabad, had rightly rejected the review application of the petitioner on the ground that there was no apparent error on the face of the record. The Court also said that the CAT, Ahmedabad has no jurisdiction to entertain the original application filed by the petitioner. Thus, the CAT did not commit any error while dismissing the original application and review application filed by the petitioner
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY AMIT ARAVIND
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