After the recent government decision of compulsorily retiring 15 senior indirect tax officials over charges of corruption and bribery, a single-judge bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has stayed the retiring of two of the officials, an order that the government saw as not good in law and transferred the judicial member of the tribunal.
The judicial officer was transferred the next day of the order, a transfer order issued by the Principal Bench of CAT, New Delhi on June 26 showed. The government has now challenged the stay in the Calcutta High Court, which will hear the matter on Friday.
A K Patnaik of the Calcutta bench of CAT on June 25 stayed the government order terminating the services of customs and central excise officers G Shree Harsha and Ashok R Mahida. This stay order, sources said, has been challenged by the government in the Calcutta High Court as it believed a single-judge bench of CAT was not competent enough to deal with orders issued invoking rule 56(j) of Fundamental Rules of service of government employees.
A day after he gave the stay order, Patnaik was transferred from the Calcutta bench and sent to the Hyderabad bench of CAT, they said.
Sources said the government questioned Patnaik’s order as it mentioned that the Standing Counsel representing customs and central excise department had made his pleadings whereas the officer concerned has claimed that he did not even appear before the bench.
The government had on June 18 dismissed from service 15 senior customs and central excise officials, ranging from the ranks of Principal Commissioner to Assistant Commissioner, on charges of corruption and bribery, invoking rule 56(j). Of these officers, two had approached the Calcutta bench of CAT, and one S S Bisht had approached the Cuttack bench, sources said.
“The government has filed petitions in the Calcutta High Court which has listed the matters of G Shree Harsha and Ashok Mahida for hearing on Friday,” a source said.
Harsha, who was a Commissioner rank officer, was retired from the post of ADG DGPM, Chennai, on alleged possession of disproportionate assets worth Rs 2.24 crore. Mahida has a disproportionate assets case to the tune of Rs 4.52 crore against him. SS Bisht (Assistant Commissioner) Bhubaneshwar GST Zone too has approached CAT challenging his removal, sources said.
The tribunal has reserved its order, they added. Bisht was sacked on the grounds of alleged bribery of Rs 10 lakh from M/s Universal Agency, Kolkata for grant of permission for transportation of fertilisers and other materials to Nepal. The CBI had registered an FIR on January 4, 2013, in the matter.
The CAT was established under Article 323A of the Constitution for adjudicating disputes and complaints with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services.
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