The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Chandigarh bench, has directed the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to consider the claim of the seven retired Forest Department officials for induction into IFS (Indian Forest Service) with all the consequential benefits.
The petitioners, Balbir Singh Khokha and Rajesh Kumar Chugh, Rajesh Kumar Gulia, Om Parkash Sharma, Ram Karan Sharma, and Raj Kumar Bhatia — all retired HFS (Haryana Forest Services), and Satyavir Singh Sheoran, retired DFO (Divisional Forest Officer), had moved the Tribunal seeking directions to the Centre and the Haryana government to consider their case for appointment to IFS at par with other appointees, as per select lists for the years 2008-2015, being selected for the select list of 2012, with all the consequential benefits. The petitioners stated that they joined Haryana Forest Department as Forest Rangers and were inducted to Haryana Forest Service (HFS), and then for promotion from HFS to the Indian Forest Service (IFS). They had further claimed that despite availability of vacancies and their eligibility, recruitment to IFS by way of promotion could not be finalised for the years 2008- 2015 for one or the other reason and primarily due to disputed seniority lists and court cases.
It was further stated that Balbir Singh Khokha and Rajesh Kumar Chugh, retired from HFS on attaining age of superannuation of 58 years on July 31, 2019 and July 31, 2018 respectively, and had they been inducted into IFS, they would have continued in service up to July 31, 2021 and July 31, 2020, respectively.
It was also contended that in the select list issued in March 2020, the Haryana government had recommended Centre that all the 16 HFS officers (including applicants) in select lists of 2008 to 2015 may be appointed to IFS, however, the Union government in its notification of May 2020, appointed various persons to IFS but names of petitioners were missing presumably on the premise that they stood retired from service.
On the other hand, two retired HFS officers Malkit Singh and Ved Parkash were included on the ground that there was a direction by CAT.
While Centre had opposed the plea before the tribunal, the Haryana government backed it.
After hearing the arguments, the Tribunal bench of Sanjeev Kaushik (Judicial) and Ajanta Dayalan (Administrative) held, “…it is not in dispute that Malkiat Singh was colleague of the applicants of same cadre. Once he has been extended benefit, then similar treatment cannot be denied to the applicants…”
The Tribunal added: “…It is also not in dispute that at the relevant point of time the applicants were eligible, available and within the zone of consideration. The delay has taken place on the part of the authorities. Thus, the applicants cannot be made to suffer on the part of the delay caused by the authorities…and as such they cannot be denied appointment to IFS.”
It was thus ordered that the applicants be granted benefit of induction into IFS against relevant select lists in the same terms as has been granted to Malkiat Singh, with all the consequential benefits.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines