FORMER PRESIDENT of the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) Bar Association Chandigarh, advocate Inder Partap Singh, on Monday filed an application before the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking transfer of Harcharan Singh, presiding officer of DRT-I, for his alleged involvement in financial irregularities and misbehaviour.
The application came up for hearing before a division bench comprising Justices S S Saron and Darshan Singh but the court recused from hearing the case. Since Harcharan Singh is a relative of Justice Darshan Singh, the court ordered that the case should be heard by a bench of which Justice Darshan Singh is not a member.
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A connected case of similar nature will be heard on February 22 before a division bench headed by Justice A K Mittal.
Inder Partap Singh filed the application in an already pending petition before the High Court since 2015. The High Court had taken suo motu cognisance of the functioning of the DRT-I in 2015 and had ordered its Registrar Vigilance to conduct an inquiry into the allegations of misbehaviour and financial irregularities by Harcharan Singh in July 2015.
After going through the sealed cover report of the Registrar Vigilance, Justice Saron had observed that the report speaks more of the working and conduct of the presiding officer of DRT-I than the functioning of its registry.
In his application filed on Monday, I P Singh countered the submission made by the Central government counsel earlier that there is no provision in rules for the transfer of DRT president.
He submitted that an amendment has been made in August 2016 in the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993, and as per the amendment, there is no bar to transfer the presiding officer of DRT to any other DRT.
“In case of a serious complaint against any judicial officer, this Hon’ble Court normally transfers the judicial officer concerned or in certain cases, withdraws his work till the enquiry is conducted as per rules,” the advocate has submitted.
The petitioner counsel has also requested the court to consider his application pending for around a year to supply him a copy of the inquiry report submitted in Harcharan Singh’s case by the Registrar Vigilance of the High Court in 2015.
The court has also been informed that even the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had last year issued contempt of court notices to Harcharan Singh in “M/s J&K Aluminium Company and others Versus Union of India and others.”
DRT Bar Association members had from July 1 to July 7, 2015, refrained from work in their protest against Harcharan Singh.
The members had alleged that Harcharan is not only in the habit of misbehaving with the advocates but also with various senior bank officers after summoning them and his attitude is vindictive against them.