Srinagar, Dec 12 —– The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has upheld its single bench’s verdict, quashing government’s order against then in-charge chief engineer PHE, Prem Nath who was one among 63 “deadwood” officials sacked in 2015 by ruling PDP-BJP government based on report by a high-level committee constituted for the purpose.
As per the government, the committee headed by Chief Secretary the order against Nath was passed after considering that the officer was involved in Case FIR No. 05/2010 P/S VOJ on allegations of construction of overhead tank at Dokh, Paloura, Jammu, which collapsed due to substandard construction material. After registration of FIR against the accused he filed a petition and High Court granted stay on said FIR.
“The accused officer has also figured in verification No. Veri-C-2/2013 regarding the illegal promotion/ raising disproportionate assets beyond his known source of income. The matter is under probe with the Vigilance Organization,” the government said, adding, “The committee took note of the fact that the accused indulged in corrupt practices during his service, thereby, substantiating the fact that he has outlived his utility to the public.”
Nath challenged the order of pre-mature retirement came on the ground that order impugned had been passed arbitrarily without recording the requisite subjective satisfaction on the basis of the service record as was required to be done in terms of the provisions of Article 226(2) of the J&K Civil Services Regulations and the instructions appended thereto. It was also urged that the order had been passed solely on the ground that there was an FIR registered against the petitioner.
In Nath’s case, the court found that committee has not discussed as to what was the source or material based upon which he was said to be not enjoying good reputation. If that be so, the court said, the order of pre-mature retirement based upon any such assessment can only be said to be arbitrary and “cannot be upheld on the legal touchstone.”
“Testing the facts of the present case on the touchstone of the law discussed hereinabove, it can be seen that the Committee constituted by the Govt. did not at all consider the relevant material and had taken a decision based only upon the fact that an FIR had been registered by the Vigilance Organization Jammu against the petitioner. In that view of the matter, there was no justification for the State to pre-maturely retire (Prem Nath) from service,” a division bench of Justices Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Sanjeev kumar according to news agency GNS said. ”Having considered the entire issue, we cannot persuade ourselves to take a view different from the one taken by the learned Single Judge,” the court said ad dismissed the appeal.