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Centre fights it out with retired IRS officer in Delhi High Court

Top former IRS officer sought change of bench, govt opposed claiming it is bad in law

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Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court saw tension between the Central government and one of the 27 Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers compulsorily retired by it as the two locked horns over listing of the case before an appropriate bench.

A contempt plea moved by one of the compulsorily retired IRS officer, Ashok Kumar Agarwal, was listed before a single judge bench of Justice Vinod Goyal according to the roster of the Delhi High Court. However, after the case was mentioned by the counsel for Agarwal, the same was non-roster special bench comprising of Justices Siddhartha Mridul and Anu Malhotra, sources close to the development said.

The mentioning of the matter was done without informing the counsels for the central government, the sources said.

After Justice Goyal allowed the plea by Agarwal to transfer the matter from his to the two-judge Bench, the central government raised objections to it and claimed that the “court had been misled into passing directions to post the application before non-roster special bench”.

Following objections from the central government, Justice Goyal recalled his earlier order and directed the matter to be listed in the afternoon.

While Agarwal’s counsel kept insisting on the matter being listed before a different bench, the government argued that asking for matters to be posted before a specific bench is a “bad practice in law”.

“The government may object to such litigation strategy attempting to decide as to before which bench a matter should get listed disregarding the roaster issued by the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court,” the sources said.

The petitioner, Agarwal, could however mention the matter before the Chief Justice for change of bench, one of the sources said. For now, the case is scheduled to be heard on July 15 by Justice Goyal.

On June 18, the government had issued orders to compulsorily retire 12 senior income tax officers, including one of the ranks of the joint commissioner, on charges of corruption and professional misconduct. The list is topped by a Joint Commissioner rank officer against whom there are serious complaints of corruption and extortion from businessmen accused of helping self-styled godman Chandraswami. Sources indicated that the said senior officer could be Agarwal.

Other officers who had been forcibly retired by the government include an IRS officer in the post of Commissioner (Appeal) in Noida, who was accused of sexual harassment to two lady IRS officers of Commissioner rank.