Fifteen years after he was dismissed from service by the Chandigarh Administration, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday set aside dismissal order of K K Jerath, former Chief Engineer and Secretary Engineering Department, Chandigarh. Also, the court has imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on the Administration.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul set aside Jerath’s dismissal order dated March 8, 1999 on the ground that he was never afforded an opportunity to defend his case. Jerath was placed under suspension on November 24, 1997 and the orders in this behalf were signed by Anuradha Gupta, the then Home Secretary.
A criminal case on charges of disproportionate assets was registered on February 3, 1998 and he absented from the headquarters during the period of suspension for a few days so as to get anticipatory bail from the high court.
Having failed to seek anticipatory bail, Jerath remained absent from Chandigarh for some time. Consequently, he was chargesheeted on allegations that he had remained absent from Chandigarh during the period of suspension.
K K Jerath was later dismissed from service on this very charge. Having failed to get any relief from the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), he filed a petition in the high court which was admitted in February 2000. After 14 years, the petition finally came up for hearing on Wednesday.
Appearing on Jerath’s behalf, senior lawyer Deepak Sibal contended that Jerath was denied principle of natural justice and that he, for reasons best known to the Chandigarh Administration, was never afforded an opportunity to present his case before the concerned authorities.
Sibal contended that the prosecution evidence was fixed, before a local court, on November 19, 1998 but this date was not communicated to Jerath. The date of defence evidence was fixed on November 27, 1998 but K K Jerath surrendered before the Judicial Magistrate because of a pending criminal case against him.
It is Jerath’s assertion that Satish Chandra, an IAS and the then subordinate of Anuradha Gupta under pressure from her submitted the enquiry report on November 28, 1998 thus denying opportunity to K K Jerath to defend himself.
Jerath to get all benefits
* As a direct fallout of Wednesday’s verdict, Jerath will now be entitled to all benefits from the year 1999 (date he was dismissed) to the year 2002 (in which he was to retire). Also, he will be entitled to pensionary benefits.
* Of the total nine criminal cases instituted against him, Jerath stands acquitted in six cases, one case is pending trial in the district court and appeal is pending against conviction in one case. Jerath was convicted by a CBI court for three years. He had filed an appeal against the order in the high court which is hanging fire.