The Chandigarh bench of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has directed the Punjab government to consider the claim of two Punjab Cadre IFS (Indian Forest Services) officers for post of Head of Forest Force (HoFF) and pass a fresh a order within three weeks.
The CAT order came while disposing of a petition filed by IFS Jitendra Sharma, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), who stated that in 2014, he was sent on central deputation. A process was initiated for promotion to the post of HoFF in Punjab, on which Kuldeep Kumar, another PCFF who was junior to him, was selected and appointed , on the sole ground that he (Sharma) was not immediately available.
Sharma stated that on completion of deputation, he made a representation to the government stating that when he is very much available and willing to serve as HoFF, there was no basis to select and appoint Kumar, who is junior to him. Meanwhile, on his representation the Punjab government passed an order on August 28, 2017, extending benefit of the proforma promotion and posting him as HoFF.
But then, the state Department of Forest and Wild Life Preservation passed an order again on August 9, 2018, transferring Sharma as Managing Director, Punjab State Forest Development Corporation and posting Kumar on the post of HoFF, against which Sharma moved the Tribunal.
The Punjab government in reply submitted that Kumar was selected and appointed as HoFF in 2014, as Sharma was on central deputation. Sharma was given proforma promotion after he returned in October, 2017, he was posted as HoFF, replacing Kumar, and on realizing the mistake, the state government has taken corrective steps.
The Tribunal in the initial stage of case, had stayed the order of the Punjab government on August 13, 2019, which has been vacated now in the final order.
The Tribunal bench of Justice L Narasimha Reddy (chairman) and Mohd Jamshed (Member Administrative), in the final order released on January 16, held that as of now, “we do not find any illegality in the Punjab government order and we do not find any serious infirmity, warranting interference with the same and by the time the order for stay had been passed, Kumar had already joined the post of HoFF”.
The Tribunal, while disposing of the matter, directed the Department of Forest and Wild Life Preservation, to consider the claim of the Sharma vis-à-vis Kumar in the context of posting on the post of HoFF and pass a fresh order, within three weeks from the date of receipt of order copy.
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