Curbs on probe against tainted Gujarat official lifted


Gandhinagar : Curbs on departmental action against a government employee allegedly involved in lapses can be lifted if there is an undue delay in the disposal of a criminal case against him in the matter, the Gujarat High Court has ruled.

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A division bench comprising Justice Bhagwati Prasad and Justice S.R. Brahmbhatt said this in a case related to provident fund (PF) department employee Ajit Patel, lifting the restraint imposed on departmental probe against him.

Patel, who was working as section supervisor, was caught red handed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) while demanding and accepting illegal gratification for settlement of PF dues of some employees.

The petitioner was chargesheeted in 2001. He approached the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Ahmedabad, which dismissed his application in January 2005.

Due to pendency of the criminal case against Patel, departmental proceedings were stayed by the high court earlier.

The division bench in its order made available Monday said: “It cannot be ordered that the departmental proceedings are required to be stayed for indefinite period.”

“Accordingly, the stay order granted by this court is vacated and the department will be at liberty to proceed against the petitioner. The department will follow the requisites of law,” the court said.

The division bench upheld the argument of the counsel for the central government seeking lifting of restrain imposed on departmental inquiry against Patel.

Justice Prasad said: “The Supreme Court in case of Capt. M. Paul Anthony (supra) has held that if the criminal case does not proceed or its disposal is being unduly delayed, the departmental proceedings, even if they were stayed on account of the pendency of criminal case, can be resumed and proceeded with.”

The department proceedings can be resumed to conclude them at an early date, so that if the employee is found not guilty his honour may be vindicated. In case he is found guilty, the administration may get rid of him at the earliest, the court said.