In a major relief to IPS officer Rahul Sharma,the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has held that he enjoys immunity against any civil or criminal proceedings initiated against him by the state government with reference to the phone call records CDs that he produced before the Nanavati Commission under the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry (COI) Act.
The tribunal has held this while admitting Sharmas petition where he has challenged the show-cause notice issued to him by the state government for not producing the original CDs to the concerned authority and instead allegedly taking it away with himself.
Immunity against any state government action in this regard under the provisions of the COI Act is the major defence that Sharma has put forward before the tribunal.
Sharma was issued the show-cause notice by the state government last year. And he has challenged the same at CAT. Sharma has claimed immunity on the ground that the departmental action cannot be initiated against him since he has deposed before the commission in the year 2004 with reference to the said issue. Had I not made such statement (regarding the CDs before the Commission),no action would have been proposed against me,Sharma had submitted before the tribunal.
Upholding Sharmas contention on immunity,the tribunal bench of Ashok Kumar and Chameli Majumdar observed,The admitted position is that the Gujarat Government came to know about the said CD when the counsel of the government in the commission made the government aware of the existence of such CD. Therefore,the statement of the applicant before the commission of inquiry was the basis of initiation of both preliminary inquiry as well as framing of all the charges levelled against the applicant on the basis of the preliminary inquiry.
We further hold that since the commission of inquiry is seized of the entire matter in connection with the CDs,particularly the circumstances of obtaining the same,dispute regarding returning the said CDs and when the commission has intended to go for an inquiry for that purpose,the respondents (the state government) ought not to have taken any action for initiating an inquiry which has nexus with the subject matter of inquiry by the Commission, the bench further observed.
Deciding this crucial immunity issue and admitting the petition,the tribunal has restrained the state government from taking any action against Sharma with reference to the charge memo issued related to the CDs.
We are inclined to pass interim order restraining the respondents from taking any action or further action pursuant to the impugned charge sheet…till this…is finally heard out, the bench ordered keeping further hearing on April 27.