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Home / Case Analysis / SC expounds: CAT Chairman is one among equals, cannot stay matters subjudice before Larger Bench. Read Judgment

SC expounds: CAT Chairman is one among equals, cannot stay matters subjudice before Larger Bench. Read Judgment

February 09,2019:

In the Judgment of the case, All India Institute of Medical Sciences v. Sanjiv Chaturvedi & Others , the Supreme Court division bench consisting of Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Indira Banerjee, have expressed considered view that The Uttarakhand High Court division bench on February 1, 2019, have rightly allowed the writ petition.

Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India

The Chairman of the Central Administrative Tribunal, like the Chief Justice of the Higher Courts or the or the Chief Judge of the subordinate courts, may be higher in order of protocol and may have additional administrative duties and responsibilities.

However, the Chairman acting judicially, is equal to any other Member. The Chairman being one amongst equals, could not have stayed proceedings pending before a larger Bench. The Court found no ground to interfere with the reasoning of the High Court .The HC rightly allowed the writ petition with costs.

Since, the Supreme Court has upheld the High Court division bench’s order under appeal and held that the order of the Chairman of the CAT staying proceedings before the two-member Bench was without jurisdiction and unsustainable in law, the SC did not go into the various other contentions raised on behalf of the First respondent- Sanjiv Chaturvedi.

The appeal in this case is against the final judgment and order of August 21, 2018,passed by a division bench of the HC of Uttarakhand at Nainital allowing the writ petition filed by the first respondent and quashing the order of September 18,2017passed by the Chairman of the Central Administrative Tribunal(CAT) at its Principle Bench at Delhi, staying proceedings in OA 331/00790/2017 filed by the first respondent, and pending before a division bench of the CAT at Nainital.

The First respondent –an Indian Forest Service Officer of the Uttarakhand Cadre of of 2002 Batch was posted as Deputy secretary at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, at New Delhi from June 29, 2012 till June 28, 2016.

The said post of Deputy Secretary was created with the approval of the Department of Expenditure to coordinate and manage infrastructure projects and ensure their timely completion, to exercise management and control of the Institute and to coordinate with multi Disciplinary Experts.

At its 195th meeting held on July 20, 2010,the Standing Finance Committee of the Institute, decided against the creation of a new post of Central Vigilance Officer and resolved that the work of Central Vigilance Officer should also be assigned to the officer, joining the newly created post of Deputy Secretary of the AIIMS. The Governing Body and the Institute Body of the AIIMS headed by the Union Health Minister ratified the decision of the Standing Finance Committee.

An order was issued on June 23, 2011 was issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare enumerating the duties pertaining to the said post of the Deputy Secretary of the AIIMS.As per the Work Allocation Order , the first respondent was also made Central Vigilance of the AIIMS.
The First respondent – Ramon Magasaysay Award winner in the year 2015,beiong aggrieved he had filed an application before the Principal Bench of the CAT at Delhi, for directions to the concerned authorities to allocate the work of the Deputy Secretary to the First respondent. The said application was dismissed by an order on May 17, 2016.

As per his allegations, the duties of the Central Vigilance Officer were withdrawn from him as he had unearthed irregularities and corruption in infrastructure projects. The nature or the reasons for the dispute between him and the appellant are not relevant to the issues involved in this appeal.
On June 28,2016, the 4-year deputation of the first respondent as Deputy Secretary at AIIMS came to an end and he joined his new post at Uttarakhand in 2016,after availing leave of two months.

Through an order of January 11, 2017, AIIMS communicated an adverse Annual Confidential Report for the year 2015-2016 to the first respondent wherein he had been uniformly given ‘Zero’ grading in all attributes.

On January 23, 2017, the first respondent filed an appeal against the order of January 11, before the Competent Authority. The appeal was rejected by an order of April 15-20,2017.

On June 19, 2017, the first respondent filed a writ petition being 225/2017before the Uttarakhand HC there, challenging the orders of January 11, 2017and April 15-20, 2017.The First respondent also filed an application before Principal Bench of the CAT at Delhi. for transfer 0f his O.A. 1342/ 2016 from the Principal Seat of CAT at Delhi to its bench at Nainital.

By an order on June 19, 2017, the HC division bench in the said petition relegated the first respondent to approach the CAT under the administrative Tribunals Act, 1985, and to seek all reliefs available to him with liberty to approach the HC in the event any relief prayed for by the respondent is rejected by the CAT.

Thereafter the First respondent filed an a Original Application before the Nainital Bench of the CAT challenging the Annual Performance Appraisal Report of the year 2015-16 whereupon an interim order was passed in favour of the First respondent on September 18, 2017 by a division bench of the Tribunal.

The Chairman of the CAT, while considering the transfer application filed by the Union of India seeking transfer of the OA to the CAT’s Principal Bench at Delhi, sitting singly passed an ex-parte order on September 18, 2017, stayed proceedings in the OA pending before a two judge Bench , Nainital for six weeks and directed issuance of notice to the first respondent.

Through the impugned order under appeal on August 21,2018, the HC allowed the petition and set aside the impugned order passed by the Chairman, CAT with the observation that the Chairman sitting singly could not stay the proceedings pending before the Division Bench. The HC imposed the costs of Rs. 25,000/- on the appellant.

The Chairman of the CAT may on his motion transfer4 Any case pending before one Bench to the another without notice.

A careful reading of section 25 of the Act makes it clear that the Chairman, deciding the question of whether a matter should be transferred from one Bench to another cannot grant interim stay of proceedings , there being no power conferred on the Chairman under the said section to pass such interim stay.

The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal with costs quantified at Rs. 25,000/- to be deposited with the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee within 4 weeks from the date of this order.

Read Judgment @LatestLaws.com:

Supreme Court Judgment on CAT Chairman’s Powers (Download PDF)

Supreme Court Judgment on C… by on Scribd

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