CAT quashes DoT's charges against its ex-official due to delay
Terming DoT's delay as a "classic case", New Delhi-based principal bench of CAT also ordered it to release various post-retirement benefits of former General Manager R P S Panwar of Muzaffarnagar Telecom District, who retired in 2006, two years after the probe was initiated against him.
"Present is a case where we find no good reason for delaying the inquiry. Further, the present case may be a classic example where there is not even a hope that the inquiry would come to an end in near future," the Tribunal's bench, headed by its Chairman Justice V K Bali, said.
"For the reasons mentioned above (in the order), we have no hesitation in quashing the memorandum of (charges) of October 25, 2004, in consequence whereof the applicant (Panwar) would be entitled to all consequential benefits that he may be entitled to under the rules," it added.
The CAT's order came on Panwar's complaint, saying he was accused of committing a series of irregularities during his
tenure as General Manager of Moradabad Telecom District GMTD) between April 1999 and June 2003.
He said though he was served a memorandum of charges on October 25, 2004, for a probe against him, the DoT was yet to
complete the probe against him despite his retirement in April 2006. Pending conclusion of the inquiry, his pension etc has been withheld, he added.
He said though the chargesheet was served in 2004, the inquiry officer held the first sitting for probe only in 2007.
Responding to Panwar's complaint to CAT, DoT said the inquiry officer has concluded the probe but his report was awaited.
Seeking to explain the delay in completing the probe, it added it was due to several factors, including various court cases filed by Panwar for quashing the probe.
The CAT bench, however, rejected DoT's contentions saying DoT's reason for not filing the probe report for over four years was "completely unjustified."
"Applicant (Panwar) is a retired person. Surely, a long agonising trial, which may have no hope of its culmination, would be a matter of great deal of anxiety and tension to anyone.
"Not only the respondents would give no good reason for the delay, they would not even state during the course of arguments that some reasonable time may be given to them to conclude the matter," the bench said.