The Delhi High Court has sought the response of an IAS officer on a plea moved by the Centre, claiming that it was unable to take disciplinary action against the bureaucrats of the AGMUT cadre, due to an order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that neither the Home Ministry nor the Joint Cadre Authority (JCA) was the competent authority to act against them.
The CAT, in a March 22 order, had said the government of the state, where such an officer was serving, was the competent authority to take disciplinary action and impose penalty on him. However, the JCA had to be consulted if penalty was to be imposed, the tribunal had added.
The cadre comprises the IAS officers serving in Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and other Union Territories (AGMUT).
The CAT order had come on a plea moved by AGMUT cadre IAS officer Padma Jaiswal, challenging the disciplinary proceedings initiated against her by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and its subsequent order removing her from service.
A bench of justices Hima Kohli and Rekha Palli has sought Jaiswal's response on a plea moved through the Centre's standing counsel, Arun Bhardwaj, and listed the matter for further hearing on November 20.
In its petition, the Centre has claimed that due to the CAT order, it will not be possible to take disciplinary action against the IAS officers of the AGMUT cadre.
The CAT had, on March 22, quashed the proceedings and the subsequent actions against Jaiswal.
The tribunal had said the JCA "did not have the legal sanction to act as the disciplinary authority or impose penalty" and the MHA, which was not an authorised delegatee of the president, also did not have the legal authority to initiate such proceedings.
"Imposition of penalty is a serious matter and should not be exercised by any person or authority without the sanction of law. Penalty has serious repercussions and affects the statutory rights of a government servant with civil consequences.
"We are of the considered opinion that the Ministry of Home Affairs is not an authorised delegatee of the President and has no authority of law to initiate disciplinary proceedings. The disciplinary proceedings have not been initiated by the competent authority and thus, all subsequent proceedings are rendered vitiated," the tribunal had said.
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